February 2007 Archives

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hooray! The Best of the Blog, Volume 1 is now orderable! Thanks for your patience, folks. This volume covers the first six months of SurvivalBlog posts, from August, 2005 to January, 2006. This period included some of the most important SurvivalBlog posts that spell out all of the crucial steps for family preparedness. Also included in this volume is The SurvivalBlog Glossary. In all, a whopping 295 pages of useful, no-nonsense "how-to" information. Fully indexed! Wire-o bound. (Lays flat for easy reference.) To make it easy to find what you need, the book is organized by subject area, rather than chronologically. Available as a print-on-demand book from Cafe Press. (The same folks that publish Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.) Someday the power grid may be down, but you can still have all the crucial SurvivalBlog material at your fingertips! Order your copy today!

Here is the Table of Contents for The Best of the Blog, Volume 1:

Introduction 7
Part 1: The “Worst Case” and the Survival Mindset 9
Part 2: Retreat Logistics: Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids 25
Part 3: Gardening and Livestock 49
Part 4: Retreat Security and Self Defense 71
Part 5: Retreat Locales 105
Part 6: Communications and Monitoring 111
Part 7: Food Storage and Cooking 121
Part 8: Fuel Storage 133
Part 9: Vehicles 143
Part 10: G.O.O.D. and Bug Out Considerations 153
Part 11: First Aid, Medical, Sanitation, and Physical Fitness 163
Part 12: Recent Experiences and Emerging Threats 187
Part 13: Self-Sufficiency and Home-Based Businesses 197
Part 14: Investing, Economics, and Barter 215
Part 15: Gleanings from the Odds ‘n Sods 235
Appendix A: Sources, Suppliers, and Consultants 239
Appendix B: References 241
Appendix C: The SurvivalBlog Glossary 243
Index 281

Now back to what you were expecting to see in SurvivalBlog today...

The large volume of letters that I've received (about half of which are posted below) illustrate that I must have stepped on some toes when I bad-mouthed .223 Remington as a defense rifle cartridge. My apologies if I offended anyone's sensibilities. (My comment ""I consider an AR-15 equipped with a Beta magazine as the ultimate defense weapon for a retreat under attack by a human wave of palsied, midget, and/or wheelchair-bound looters" was meant to be humorous.) All kidding aside, I stand by my statement that .223 is not a sure man-stopper especially at long range. In contrast, .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO is a well-proven stopper, from zero meters to out beyond 400. As a survivalist, I strive for versatility in all aspects of my planning, and .308 clearly provides greater versatility than .223. Nuff said.

I'd like to make a few points regarding the .223 cartridge. I am not as enthusiastic about it as Stephen D. seems to be, but I think it's good for more than defense against, "a human wave of palsied, midget, and/or wheelchair-bound looters." The .223/5.56 produces its nasty wounds through fragmentation, rather than tumbling. Any spitzer projectile, including the .308, is going to tumble when it hits a dense medium like water or human flesh. A bullet will generally flip around 180 degrees and continue it's travel through the body backwards (for a body that's pointed on one end and
blunt on the other, blunt end first is the most stable configuration).
Simply getting a .223 bullet to do a 180 doesn't increase it's wounding potential much, since it flips over rather quickly and then makes the same size hole going backwards as it did going forward. Fragmentation, on the other hand, is what causes truly devastating wounds. While fragmentation is rather inconsistent, it is not random. There are a lot of variables that determine whether or not a .223 round is going to fragment (including bullet construction, what part of the body it hits, etc.), but by far the most important one is velocity.
The cutoff seems to be around 2500-2700 feet per second. Faster than 2700 fps, fragmentation is practically certain, below 2500 fps, you have a .22 caliber ice pick. So anyone who wants to inflict serious wounds with their .223 rifle needs to ensure that the bullet arrives with sufficient velocity.
There are the big things that affect the velocity of the bullet when it hits the target: barrel length, bullet weight, and range. To give an idea of how the first three can interact, consider this example. A
55 grain M193 bullet (the old U.S. military standard issue round) fired from a 20-inch barrel will stay above 2700 feet per second out to almost 200 meters. On the other hand, a 62 grain M855 bullet (the current U.S. standard issue) fired from a 11.5-inch barrel will drop below 2700 fps in less than fifteen meters! Many of the recent 'failure to stop' incidents reported from Iraq and Afghanistan (and
even as far back as Somalia) involve soldiers firing the M855 bullet through M4 carbines with 14.5 inch barrels. This combination will only produce fragmentation out to about 50 meters or so. Beyond that, the odds of doing the target a lethal injury go way down. Soldiers with longer barreled weapons (like the 20-inch barrel of the M16 rifle and 18-inch barrel of the M249 SAW) tend not to have as many problems.
The other big obstacle to fragmentation is cover. This is perhaps the .223 round's greatest weakness, it's inability to penetrate barriers. The little 55 grain round just doesn't have the mass to punch through even fairly light cover and retain enough velocity to fragment. So, anyone who wants to employ the .223 round for personal defense should keep these factors in mind: Use a fairly long barrel. 20-inches is best, but it means you give up some of the handiness that's an advantage of a .223 rifle in the first place. 16-inches (the longest easily available to civilians in the U.S.) is a good compromise. Use a fairly light bullet. A 55-grain bullet like the old M193 round is probably best. Lighter 'varmint' bullets are available, but though they will fragment readily, they may not have sufficient penetration to reach the vitals. They may also break apart in flight if fired through a gun with a fast twist (1 in 7 or 1 in 9) designed to stabilize the heavier 62 grain round. Don't rely on a .223 for extreme ranges. A 16-inch barrel with a 55 grain bullet will stay above 2700fps (fast enough to fragment) out to about 150 meters. Beyond that, lethality is going to drop off quite a bit.
Don't shoot through stuff. If an opponent is behind cover, a heavier caliber is going to be necessary to dig them out.
So how does the .223 stack up as a defensive round? In a true SHTF situation, not all that well. It's perfectly possible to use 55 grain bullets and a longer barrel to get pretty good performance from a .223
rifle. The limited effective range is a disadvantage, but just how big of a disadvantage depends on the terrain to be defended. In wooded or urban areas, long shots are rare and the extra reach of a
round like the .308 may not be necessary. The really serious disadvantage is the inability to penetrate cover. Potential opponents probably aren't going to charge across and open field to be mowed
down. Having a rifle that can penetrate through a substantial tree or the bodywork of a car and still have enough punch left to inflict a lethal wound is a big advantage.
On the other hand, if the Schumer has not yet hit the fan, the .223 is a much more appealing choice. In a situation where authorities will be investigating claims of self defense, a truly long range rifle
isn't necessary. If a target is beyond the effective range of a .223 rifle, it is going to be very difficult to justify using deadly force.
Similarly, for those of us who live in urban areas, the .223's anemic penetration is actually an advantage. A .308 round has enormous penetrating power, particularly through wood frame construction. Fire
it in self defense and miss and it could pass through every house on the block before coming to a rest. A .223 allows the greater effectiveness of a rifle while decreasing the damage an errant round
might do.
If you can only have one rifle, a .308 is probably the best all-around choice. However, if you are worried about home defense right now, rather than just in case of TEOTWAWKI, a .223 rifle is very appealing. If funds allow, it might be useful to get a rifle in each caliber. To avoid the need to learn two completely different rifles, the best
option may be to purchase the same design in both calibers. Several weapon systems [allowing commonality of training] are available for both rounds, including the AR-10/AR-15 and the HK91/HK93.
Most of the technical information given above comes from www.ammo-oracle.com. For those who are interested in the subject, this site has an extremely thorough discussion of the ballistics and
wounding potential of the .223 round. - Chris


I would have to agree with Stephen on the 5.56 ammo. If you are shooting either the m193 55gr. or the SS109 62gr. as long as the bullet velocity is maintained above 2700fps then there is dramatic fragmentation. This is due to the military cannelure, when the bullet enters flesh it starts to yaw (tumble) once the bullet reaches 90 degrees the jacket comes apart causing massive wound injuries. This is only true of military style ammo, not plinking ammo or wolf. I feel that the 5.56 is more effective then 308 at 200 yards or less, but after 200 yards I would only recommend the 308. I do not expect you to believe just me so go to www.ammo-oracle.com or there is a link on www.ar-15.com also. Another thing we must all take into consideration that the supply of surplus 308 is getting scarce and no major military is using it in mass quantities (that I am aware of) 5.56 is here to stay for a while and is readily available. In the event of a NATO or military invasion of US soil it is what the troops will be carrying so it would be nice to know that the enemies ammo can be used in our guns. Just a little food for thought. Great blog - Brian in Wyoming


I thought you, and the readers might find this link interesting The same site offers a daily e-mail with all their stories. Some good stuff as to the internal workings of government and the defense industry.
Also, as far as cartridges go, while you may think the .223 a bit anemic, I think it's ideal for CQB, provided you are wearing ear protection, and your adversary is not. However, one thing that constantly seems to get overlooked in all firearm technology (especially when it comes to the .223 vs anything debate) are some of the newer bullet technologies out there.
Specifically frangible ammunition offers some advantages over your standard military ball ammo. For the most part, humans are relatively thin. I'm sure even the largest of people are no more than 1-2 feet thick. Which means, any bullet striking the body has to do whatever it is that it does in that distance. While I am in total agreement that M193's fragmentation capability is arbitrary and not something to count on, explosive varmint bullets (like the Hornady VMAX and AMAX), and frangible bullets are more likely to increase the lethal effects of these "mouse gun" cartridges.
One thing that the .308 has in it's favor these days is availability. There is still a substantial amount of "on the shelf" stock in .308 as well as surplus 7.62mm. As opposed to .223 which seems to be in incredibly short supply. The other day my friend stopped by, he was on his way to the range, and was only able to find 2 boxes of .223 and for $10 each! I gave him 100 rounds
with the agreement that they were to be replaced with 100 rounds of .308 ammo, and on the way back from the range he dropped off 5 boxes of American Eagle .308. Once again, it really pays to be prepared! Sincerely, - Drew


Dear Jim:
I second your opinion on the .308. Besides the ability to stop an attacker much faster and more consistently, another big factor is that the .308 has the huge advantage of penetrating much more cover than the .223.
Tactically, most often after the first few rounds, all will be hit, behind cover, or moving to it. Do you want to keep their heads down with a.223, or shoot through that tree or wall they are hiding behind?
Sometimes you just have to lug the weight, if you want the right tool for the job. Half measures don't cut it. The .223s are great for small game, training, youngsters and petite folks, but if you have the upper body strength carry a .308, then do so. And if you don't, then hit the gym!
Also you can modify .308s to make them more balanced, ergonomic and easier to handle:
-- retrofit more ergonomic pistol grips, e.g., ergogrips.net, or file down your grips to get a better grip angle
--cover grip surfaces with 3M Safety Walk grip tape (the stuff used on steps to prevent slipping - in the paint department at Home Depot)
-- shorten the barrel (the weight at the end of the barrel is harder to hold up) and lose the bipod
-- take off the buttstock pad to shorten the buttstock and bring the weapon in closer
-- put a mag in a SpecOps buttstock mag holder to balance out muzzle-heaviness
-- add a vertical foregrip, etc., etc.
Any other suggestions to make heavier .308s more ergonomic? Regards, - OSOM


Dear Jim,
As any readers of mine know, I'm a tremendous fan of the AR-15 platform. However, it would not be my first choice of a survival weapon.
For survival over a long period, one should not be shooting large amounts of ammo. One should be in a secure position, preferably with neighbors for backup, and hunting occasional game, fighting occasional intruders. If things are bad enough you need a military type weapon, you've picked the wrong location in which to survive. (Assuming you're not in a retreat community where such weapons are a good choice, with good logistical support, in addition to basic weapons.) However, it could be a very good choice for getting to a retreat.
I've tried the Beta C-Mag, and I concur with the US Army: Unacceptable Mean Time Between Failures (UMTBF). I've had it double feed, jam with both feed mechanisms at the bottom of the tower, and if you slam or drop it loaded on concrete, it will break. It's adequate when pre-lubed, pre-loaded and ready to go for one time use before cleaning and re-lubing. That limits its utility. Add in the price tag, and there are better accessories to get.
For a long term survival rifle, a bolt action rifle chambered in 7.62x54R, .30-06, .308, or 8x57 Mauser is my recommendation. Easy to get ammo for, reliable, and if you have to reload with improvised propellant, bolt actions will fire it. (A self loader will not.)
I do recommend the AR-15 for bugout scenarios, based on the fact that parts are readily available, the ammo is the most common in the US, and doctrine for bugging out is to make holes in mobs--wounded or dead is the same, the military term being "Mission kill." Someone not able to attack you is an effective kill for the duration of the engagement.
While I don't think the 62 gr round was a wise change, I recently spoke to a Navy medic who is on a second tour in Iraq. His feedback was that any good hit with an M16 or M4 was almost always an effective hit. Most of the "I hit him three times center mass and he didn't stop" stories are because soldiers didn't hit. Stress can do funny things to one's shooting. (Witness Peter Hathaway Capstick's ["live rounds on the ground"] story of a hunter who cycled every round from the magazine [of a bolt action rifle] and ejected them, without pulling the trigger, and swore he'd hit the elephant four times.)
The military uses small caliber almost universally across the world, because militaries win wars through logistics and resupply--running out of ammo is always bad, so a larger volume of ammo is more militarily effective than a smaller volume of heavier ammo. A prepared individual in a retreat is only going to have what is on hand, and must make it count. One good rifle that will work out to 500 yards is the better choice. Obviously, funds permitting, you can do as I have--compromise and have both.:) - Michael Z. Williamson

In reference to MQB's letter about box-wine inserts. While I have only had the misfortune of drinking box wine on several occasions (It is best described as a "wake up in jail" drunk) I do really like the uses mentioned. I would also like to add that using baking soda in place of Clorox [plain liquid hypochlorite bleach] for washing out the bags may work better, and impart less of a taste to any future contents. I have been using straight baking soda for cleaning out my hydration bladders (platypus brand) for several years and have found this to be superior to using bleach, soap, or just about anything else. For a little bit of extra cleansing action, hydrogen peroxide can be added and with a little bit of scrubbing will make things good as new.
I have also used the pony kegs (they are a 5L mini-keg) for storing water for trips and the like. They are made of aluminum and are quite durable. It takes some effort to get the top bung plug out, but you can find new bungs as well as kegs at many brew shops. Usually I add just a little nugget of dry ice as I'm sealing them up to give a little bit of positive pressure, I've even added quite a bit of dry ice and had lovely club soda, a real treat on hot desert days. Best of luck. - AVL

JWR Replies: Show extreme caution when putting dry ice in any sealed container. Use just a tiny bit, otherwise the result can be a dangerous explosion.

Matt in Texas sent the link for this Acres USA article in PDF format on the Prehn method for spring development: Milking Water from the Hills

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Frequent content contributor M.P. sent us this one: The Case Of The Vanishing Bees--Beekeepers In 22 States Report Insects Disappearing In Huge Numbers

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"Going, going..." Rob at $49 MURS Radios tells us that his supplies of the used MURS radios that he has been selling at $49 each is dwindling fast. He reports: "I expect only another few weeks of availability at the current rate of sales. Once they are gone, that's it. I do have a small supply of Kenwood TK-260G, 5 watts, 8 channel VHF portables (currently programmed on business itinerant frequencies) for $79 that includes the radio, antenna, good used battery, belt clip, and drop in charger."

"Survivalists are cursed with enough intelligence and awareness to deny them the blissful ignorance under which most others live their lives." - Rourke

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The high bid is now at $300 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar from Schecter's Tempest series is decorated in a military aviation motif. It was kindly donated by Schecter Guitar Research. (Where there are some SurvivalBlog fans.) This guitar has a $729 retail value. Please tell any of your friends that are guitarists about this auction, which ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

We are seeking additional overseas correspondents and/or Profiles for SurvivalBlog, particularly in countries with high crime rates, countries with religious persecution, and/or countries with recent insurgencies or economic troubles such as: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Haiti, India (preferably someone living in or near the Kashmir), Indonesia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Our readers would benefit from your "lessons learned" and even just hearing about your day-to-day experiences. (How you survived hyperinflation, how you've avoided kidnapping, your countermeasures for street crime, et cetera.) I'd also appreciate hearing from anyone that has recently lived in a high crime inner-city area in the United States.

The pay for your writing: zero.  (Well, perhaps the occasional free book or sample merchandise.) The rewards: tremendous.  You'll know that you are helping many thousands of people gain valuable knowledge and motivation to be able to survive, if and when the First World starts to resemble the Third World. Don't worry about your spelling or grammar. We'd like your input, even if English is not your first language. I'll handle the editing. Thanks!

Have you read through this bill? The way things seem to be going/looking, is that 4-shot/capacity turnbolts will be all that'll be "allowed". Yes; I am scared. Any thoughts/comments/advice/assurances?- Ben L.

JWR Replies: The H.R. 1022 bill scares me, too. Paragraph (L) is the nasty catch-all. That paragraph leaves the determination of what constitutes an "Assault Weapons" up to the arbitrary whim of the Attorney General (AG)--a political appointee. (Remember Janet Reno?) The real weasel phrase in paragraph (L) is "...and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event." That phrase is the "back door" that they leave open for banning M1As and virtually any other model that the AG deems sufficiently ugly or "evil" looking. The NRA warns us that this law would also "begin backdoor registration of guns, by requiring private sales of banned guns, frames, receivers and parts to be conducted through licensed dealers." In case this law ever morphs into a more draconian mandatory registration or confiscation law, I recommend that all American "black gun" gun owners look seriously at buying a few "sporting" semi-auto such as a Valmet Hunter, Galil Hadar, HK SL6 (or 660), SL7 (or 770). Also consider FN-49s, which have a fixed 10 round magazine and no pistol grip. Ditto for M1 Garands, which use a 8 round en bloc clip. You should also show foresight and look beyond this particular piece of pending legislation. In the event of eventual "worst case" legislation--e.g. universal registration or confiscation of all modern firearms--you should hedge your bets by buying a few pre-1899 cartridge guns. (Such as those sold by The Pre-1899 Specialist.)

The only saving graces of the proposed ban are that it only affects new manufacture and importation. That still leaves a lot of existing ("grandfathered") guns and full capacity magazines. If it passes, I predict that this law's effect will be much like the 1986 machinegun freeze. And you've seen what has happened to the prices of Class 3 guns. The law of supply and demand is inescapable. Prices went up a lot during the 1994-to-2004 Federal ban. This time, prices will surely skyrocket even more, since this is a much wider-reaching law. My advice: Stock up, especially on magazines. Buy at least a dozen for each of your guns. Buy hundreds, if you can afford them. Again, based on the experience of the 1994-2004 ban and the 1986 Federal machinegun "freeze", I expect magazine prices to at least triple. If you can, buy lots of extras, even for models that you don't own, to use for barter. Buy a mix of mostly commonplace magazines (like HK91, FAL, and AR, and M14), and a few exotic ones (like Glock 33 round, Galil, SIG, Valmet, et cetera.) There may come a day when practically no amount of cash will buy you a pre-ban semi-auto or detachable magazine, but trades will still be considered.

Prices are still reasonable, because the full implications of this pending legislation have not yet registered with average American gun owner. For example, the last that I heard, TAPCO was still selling alloy 20 round HK91 magazines (that also fit CETMEs) at 50 pieces for $50. I think that in a couple of years such prices will seem like a dream. BTW, be sure to buy only factory original or original military contract magazines. Avoid all of the after-market junk.

The only other suggestion that I can make is: call, e-mail, and FAX your congressman frequently about this bill or any similar legislation. H.R. 1022 is blatantly unconstitutional legislation, plain and simple. And the only two assurances that I can make are: 1.) Regardless of whether or not this bill passes, the guns and magazines that you buy in the next six months will likely gain much more value than any money you put in the bank, and 2.) You can trust in God's providence.

If there were an EMP event, what would be the primary mode of transportation: shank's mare; the bicycle; horses? Likely all three would rate pretty high on the list of most likely. Accordingly, are most prepared? I would anticipate most have the necessary footwear. A bicycle would be viable for personal and logistics transport...if one has an appropriate unit and the maintenance supplies...in fact, this would be a practical way to move young children from one location to another as they already have their bikes.

But what about the eventual and likely need for horse transportation? While it may be and is very impracticable for urbanites to keep horses for post-EMP days, it is very practical for urbanites (and others) to keep and maintain a complete component of necessary equestrian tack: a saddle that fits; quality bridle and reins; halters; saddle blankets; feed sacks; leads; gun scabbards; saddlebags; etc. See, being lucky enough to 'acquire' a horse would be quite possible; however, 'acquiring' the tack/gear to outfit a mount is another story altogether. Better prepared than wondering one day why you weren't. Anyway, just a notion. Keep up the great work from your undisclosed venue. - Matt, Somewhere South of Kentucky & North of Alabama

JWR Replies: You are right that horses will be very important, post-Crunch. So buying horse tack is a great idea, Matt! You can also consider those purchases part of your "just in case" Peak Oil insurance and just one more "tangible" investment. Just be sure to keep that leather well oiled, inspected often, and away from moisture and vermin. (Mice and rats do love to chew, and chew, and chew.) OBTW, one alternative is purchasing the biothane nylon tack that is now favored by some "endurance" riders. Regardless of what tack you select, think ahead in terms of maintaining your tack. Buy extra hardware, rolls of different widths of nylon webbing (in olive green and brown, of course) sheet leather, leather working tools, a sewing awl, spools of heavy nylon thread, Barge Cement, Shoo Goo, et cetera. Those are all available from Tandy Leather Company. I have found that slightly used tools can often be found at garage sales, flea markets, and via eBay, from people that flirted with the hobby, but gave it up when they discovered that it was too much like work. BTW, those tools and supplies could form the basis for a second "post-Crunch" source of income or barter. Also BTW, I predict that post-TEOTWAWKI there will suddenly be lots people that want to carry handguns daily, but that will be short on holsters. (Just ask the average American gun collector if he has a practical holster for each of his handguns.)

Dear Jim,
Basic leatherworking [suggested in the recent poll on potential TEOTWAWKI home businesses] is fairly easy, if time consuming. Shears, a punch and strong thread are all that's needed. Fine work or more elaborate items than pouches, belts, hats and such take practice, but the leather can frequently be salvaged from mistakes and reused.
I think the most important aspect of the skill for a TEOTWAWKI environment would be skinning, curing and tanning. Brain, urine, vegetable and oak tanning are time consuming (Everything about leather is), but books exist and functional (as opposed to pretty) leather isn't too hard to produce. It's worth practicing once or twice now.
Also don't forget that dried rawhide, or leather boiled for a few seconds. (Oil isn't necessary. Water is preferred) is hard enough to armor against cutting edges and some blunt impacts. -
Michael Z. Williamson

JWR Adds: Most SurvivalBlog readers will recognize the name Michael Z. Williamson (since he frequently sends us e-mails), and many of you have probably read some of his books. (He is a well-known science fiction and military fiction writer.) But you may not have heard that he is also a part-time sword and knife maker. He is a co-owner of a custom edged weapon biz called, appropriately enough Sharp Pointy Things. He has also considerable experience doing historical reenacting. So when Mike mentions the utility of boiled leather for armor, he speaks from first hand experience! And for any of you thinking about about buying any sharp pointy things to prepare for that dreaded multi-generational TEOTWAWKI ("MGTEOTWAWKI") scenario, then Mike is the man to see.

Simon M. mentioned that following Mossberg's lead, the newly-minted "we're conservatives, honest!" management at Smith & Wesson has jumped on the "survival kit" band wagon. They now offer "Disaster Ready" kit packaging for four variants of their Glock-like Sigma Series 9mm and .40 S& W pistols. Simon says: "I see that the kit is missing a good knife and a holster. I hope there is a good flint in the Pocket Survival Pack. Now if they did one of these [kits] based on there M&P15 (AR-15) that would be a bit better." As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, S&W already offers a survival kit tailored for the Montana/Alaska/Canada "bear country" market including one of their whompin' huge .500 revolvers.

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I'm often asked for gunsmith recommendations. One that I can recommend highly is Rich Saunders, who operates CGW in Gardnerville, Nevada. He is an awesome FAL/L1A1 gunsmith that has branched out into other gunsmithing work, including AKs. Rich has done five FAL-type rifle builds for me in the past four years. (Three L1A1s, an L2 heavy barrel, and a custom inch magazine compatible "Para".) He does amazing work. All five of these rifles were absolutely gorgeous guns that function flawlessly. Rich also does custom coatings on firearms, and now sells knives and field gear. Highly recommended!

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Bob B. mentioned this book review of The Dangerous Book for Boys. Sounds like my childhood!

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?" - Thomas Jefferson, Works 8:404; P.P.N.S. p. 141.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The high bid is now at $250 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar from Schecter's Tempest series is decorated in a military aviation motif. It was kindly donated by Schecter Guitar Research. (Where there are some SurvivalBlog fans.) This guitar has a $729 retail value. Please tell any of your friends that are guitarists about this auction, which ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

In no particular order, the following are the first batch of responses to my poll question on the best occupations or home businesses for both before and after TEOTWAWKI:

Locksmith/Home security systems installer/repairman
Small scale vegetable gardening.
Growing herbs (medicinal)
1) Electricity:
a. Recharge batteries for folks, rebuild the bad batteries, and lots of folks don’t know squat about electricity for lighting, etc. Got several methods: Solar, miscellaneous generators powered by hand, animal, wind and even the old one lung gas engine with that darn heavy flywheel.
b. Also use the above for communications when there aren’t cell phones or twisted pair communications. HF, VHF, UHF and Wi-Fi.
c. Also for Wi-Fi between homes and towns if computers survive.
2) Maintain RVs and trailers with their associated systems: furnaces, lighting, water, pumps, et al.
3) Make more Stills like the one I have and produce nerve tonic and fuel.
4) Medical: Apply those smelly herbs I find, grow and use. Not to mention sewing up the occasional cut and tear, set the odd bone and generally try to avoid surgery (Ha!) Let’s not even talk about handling boils, although that will be around too.
5) Sorta medical: Collect, cure the Knick-Knick and sell tobacco.
6) Use my HF radios to send mail to and from families far away.
7) Make leather cups for pumps when there isn’t any molded rubber around.

Growing and maintaining quality heritage based [heirloom /non-hybrid] produce for a local farmers market but also a "seed saver" program to provide quality heritage seeds for sale or barter for future gardens.
Almost anything in the medical field: EMT, Nurse, doctor
Stay at home parent
Translator - post TEOTWAWKI, there won't be handy computer programs to help out, and there are a lot of non-English speakers in any suburb, let alone anything larger
1. Mechanic / bodywork man. People tend to hold onto cars and equipment much longer during hard times, and fix up their existing vehicles instead of buying new.
2. Handyman - Same basic idea as above. Also lots of work installing insulation, wood stoves, energy-efficient appliances, security improvements and of course repairing damage from natural disasters.
3. Musician - The guy who can play the guitar always seems to do okay anywhere where people suffer. Whether it's in a prison, a starving country torn up by civil war, or just a campfire with a bunch of tired cowboys, people want to be able to relax and forget about the real world for a while.
Clothes and shoe manufacturing/repair
Dentistry/Oral Surgery
Make/sell small DC generators, and use them for charging batteries for cash/barter), as shown at The Epicenter.com
Health care (physician, nursing) is always good.
Farmer or Rancher (self-sufficient and rural)
Mechanic (keeping stuff running)
Any sort of health care provider - Doctor/Nurse/Paramedic/EMT (*the only down-side is you may get wrapped up treating endless victims though)
Leatherwork. "It is a booming business for skilled leather workers right now; people will pay ridiculously high prices for custom made goods. Being able to build and mend saddles, shoes, bags, belts, and all manner of useful items is not only a handy skill to have, but there's decent money in it. Right now, it's more of a luxury to most people to have leather goods custom made for them, since there are many other options on the market for our everyday needs. But once the supply of cheap garbage from China is cut off, and our technology is thrown back a couple hundred years, leather will return to its place as an essential material. And knowing how to work with leather will be a prized skill. As well as having the proper tools to do it."
Chicken raising/breeding
Mechanic - "An automobile or aircraft mechanic (and perhaps some other similar crafts) has developed the skills to repair a number of existing devices in addition to the devices they were specifically trained on, i.e. generator/appliance repair or gunsmithing."
Farm equipment repairman

1. Survival skills trainer/practitioner (firearms instructor, gunsmith, hunter/trapper, adventure guide, blacksmith, carpenter (if with manual tools), plumber, cooper, potter, candle maker, stonemason/bricklayer, etc.). Skills that you can use or have value in trade, and that do not depend upon electricity are definitely the most valuable of all occupations. Having an array of these skills is the very best.
2. Physician (especially general practice, surgeon, or OB-GYN)
3. Farmer/rancher
4. EMT, RN, midwife
5. Survival supplies dealer
6. Engineer (mechanical, electrical, civil, metallurgical/materials) - if practically oriented and skilled outside of the computer, and not management.
7. Electrician (power generation & distribution, communication
8. Army, Marine, or SpecOps military officer below rank of General (for both hard skills and leadership)
9. Engine repair / mechanic / machinist
10. Teacher
11. Lawyer (just kidding!)
Nurseryman with perennial food plants- berries, fruits, herbs, rhubarb, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, etc.
Solar power technology business

I would like to add a comment on the viability of the "same caliber pistol and rifle" concept. The .357 Magnum offers an interesting choice for a survival rifle.
In a revolver, the .357 is certainly powerful enough to be considered a defense caliber by most folks. The 16" barreled Winchester or Marlin lever action rifles can push out a 180 grain slug at close to 2000 fps with handloads, making it usable on deer out to 150 yards or so.
Loading up light .38 special loads makes this rifle capable of taking small game without destroying all the meat.
The .357 is easy to load with tools like the Lee hand loader, and runs just fine on cast bullets. Depending on the load, you can get over 1,000 rounds of 38 Special out of a pound of powder, and store everything you need to cast and load in a 50 cal ammo can.
Depending on your needs and whether you think you'll be spending a long time away from civilization, having an easy-to-sustain weapon for game getting and home defense could make sense.
A 10-shot lever action is certainly not a substitute for a modern battle rifle, but it's easy to shoot and not intimidating to women and young shooters.
Just my $.02 - J.N.


Mr R
Interesting post on pistol cartridges in carbines. Since becoming a regular reader, I've taken up reloading. I have a couple observations about handgun & long gun combo as a novice.

The concept makes sense to me, from the versatility standpoint. When I started looking at what we had and what we might get, I settled on the .38 Special /.357 magnum revolver plus Marlin 1894 carbine combo. We already had revolvers for those cartridges. The ease of reloading and obtaining components for those calibers was attractive. The Marlin carbine is robust, easy to carry and shoot, respectably accurate up to 100 yards ( even for my middle-aged eyes, with iron peep sights) .... and Corbon manufactures a "heavy" 200 gr round designed for light game. Various powder and bullet combos coming out of the Marlin's 18" barrel make it a pretty decent round. As a reloading novice, I noticed that Alliant 2400 worked well for both .357 hot n' heavy rounds, as well as for intermediate 7.62 x 39 mm rounds. Again, some commonality in supplies drew us.

As you note, a good bolt gun, or good semi-auto intermediate-cartridge gun ( AR-15, SKS ) is surely going beat a "handgun" round, but we felt that those needs could be addressed later, and they were. We got bolt guns ( CZ 527 ) that launch the 7.62 x 39mm round, enhancing the ability to use that round, and conversion uppers (Olympic Arms ) that will allow the .223 / 5.56 NATO ARs to fire the same 7.62 x 39 cartridge.

Following the "path of simplification and versatility" works well for us You are on the money again, particularly as regards 9mm / .40 S&W "long guns" Their price, versus a Marlin 94 carbine is pretty much a dead-heat. If I can effectively load .38 Special /.357 Mag, anyone can. Light loads ( .38 Special) are are great for 2" revolvers, and the heavyweights ( .357 ) work well in medium and large frame revolvers and the Marlin. We can all handle their recoil.

Novice observation: We looked at accuracy/reliability/cost for our bolt guns, and settled on the CZ, and Savage. The Savage line (Model 110 series) has " package guns" with low-cost scopes already aboard and bore-sighted, and they are acceptably accurate. We got very nice Bushnell 3200 Elites in both regular and Firefly reticles at www.DigitalFoto.com. (The best prices we could find, believe me) and they are as accurate as will be needed. Their 110-line has both 30.06 and .308 packages, covering the cartridges I assume most folks will have or are planning on.

Your emphasis in [your novel] "Patriots" on self-illuminating (tritium) sights and scopes is one that readers should have burned into their consciousness and purchasing plans. Batteries die. Replacement batteries may not be available, and they have to be installed, maybe under stress. Why bother [when you can get tritium lit scopes that don't need batteries]?

In a pinch, the small ( 1.5" ) red light sticks ( try Botach Tactical ) can be carefully affixed to barrels, giving low-light capability--better than none. Luminescent paint can be applied to rear and front sights. Anything trumps nothing. I'm currently re-reading "Patriots". Thanks for the info. Best Regards, - MurrDoc


Great subject. Anyone that desires cartridge commonality out to check out the Beretta Storm Series. Now certainly weapon choice is one of personal preference and typically based on purpose, familiarity and geographical location. If one is looking for a true defensive weapon with some crossover potential for sporting than I believe you out to at least give the Beretta CX4 Storm series a serious look. Not only does the carbine, CX4, come in three different cambers (.45, .40 and 9mm), Beretta has a matching cambered handgun. Additionally, the magazines are cross platform compatible. Yes, the .45 ACP magazine used in the CX4 carbine will also fit the Beretta's Cougar 8045 handgun. Other positives on the CX4 would be its lightweight, easy to mount accessories, easily converted to accommodate a right or left handed shooter, easy to break for cleaning, easy for a non-armorer to remove and replace defective components. Some negatives would be trajectory, range and limited steel site adjustment capability. Semper Fi, - Richard N.


The recent “One Common Caliber for Retreat Rifles and Handguns” letter got me rethinking the ideal of caliber commonality. Not handgun and rifle in the same caliber – but the ideal of only one rifle caliber for everything. In a perfect world, this would be the most efficient use of money and time and gear redundancy. One would own one rifle caliber and one platform, say, several M1As and a boatload of .308.
But this paradigm is predicated on the assumption of unlimited amounts of inexpensive ammo, to feed the requirements of ongoing practice and training. Four years ago, this made perfect sense. Back then, I bought many cases of the Portuguese .308 milsurp at $150 a case. At that price, I could keep five cases around, and burn through a case a year for practice and training. But now, with .308 milsurp pushing a surreal $500/case – and worse, the prospect of the supply literally drying up – I’ve had to shift gears. I can no longer shoot much .308. Now, I’ve reverted to “hoard” mode in that caliber. [Even] .223 has been following a similar price trajectory.
As a result, I’ve been motivated to diversify rifle calibers, somewhat against my “caliber commonality” philosophy. For example, the AK-47 isn’t my favored platform, although I have one – but cases of 7.62x39 can be had easily for $160. So I bought five cases of that, and am looking to buy a second AK-47.
In the years ahead of perpetual wars and hence perpetual military-caliber ammo shortages, I think we need to be flexible, even at the cost of losing commonality, and accruing redundant ammo stockpiles. It’s important to have ammo, not just for a rainy day, but for the ongoing duties of practice and training. - Don in Philadelphia

JWR Replies: The current ammo shortages and the recent hefty price increases do indeed put a new spin in preparedness planning. If a large quantity of inexpensive non-corrosive ammunition in a caliber like 8x57 Mauser, 7.5 Swiss, 7.62x54R, or 7.62x39 become available, then folks should seriously consider stocking up (to the tune of several thousand rounds all at once, preferably all from the same lot), and then buying one or two guns in that caliber. These would preferably be either pre-1899 Federally exempt antiques (such as those sold by The Pre-1899 Specialist), or via in-state private party sales (sans paper trail). These rifles and their corresponding ammo would be designated for use as "secondary/training" arms. Watch for upcoming sales at the major surplus ammo dealers such as AIM Surplus, Cheaper Than Dirt, Dan's Ammo, J&G Sales, Midway, Ammunitionstore.com, Natchez Shooter Supply, and The Sportsman's Guide.

Ralph H. pointed us to this article: Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half

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Mike in Seattle recommended this "must read" piece at The Market Oracle: US Housing Market Crash to result in the Second Great Depression

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SurvivalBlog reader Doc Holladay notes: "A possible relocation area is the vicinity of the Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Kentucky/Tennessee. This is about as isolated as it gets east of the Big Muddy."

"Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Wilson Reagan, speaking at a prayer breakfast.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wednesday will be the last day of my February special "support our troops" sale on copies of the new expanded 33 chapter edition my novel "Patriots" . If you place an order directly with me during February, and you have us mail it to an APO or FPO address, then the price is just $12 per copy, plus $3 postage. (That is $10.99 off of the cover price--right near my cost.) I now offer a couple of additional payment options for book orders: both AlertPay and GearPay. (I prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.) In my experience, AlertPay has a frustratingly labyrinthine account set-up procedure, but GearPay seems much quicker and easier to set up.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net

I was browsing around by way of "Steyr Puch" (long story) and came upon the following URLs. My oh my, I thought; "I won't need an H1 Hummer after this." (The topmost link has some 4x4 prices at around $10,000+). Okay, they're gasoline/electronic ignition, but look at those those prices [versus $30,000 for a commercial HMMWV H1]. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Steyr+Puch&btnG=Google+Search

Regards, - Ben L.

JWR Replies: Even though getting spare parts for European military surplus trucks can be a problem here in the States, I'm a big believer in Pinzgauers and Unimogs. At the current surplus vehicle prices, you can practically afford to get a second vehicle with some body damage to cannibalize for spare parts.

Over this past weekend, I began re-reading "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" . I hadn't touched it since mid-2000. Wow! page 10 includes:..."just before the Crunch...unofficial debt topped 19 trillion dollars..." a president that didn't let trifles life ledger sheets and statistics get in his way...the real deficit was growing..."a full scale default on US Treasuries appears imminent..."
Then I look at Internet financial and economic news feeds [and see] Fleet Street (London's Wall Street) recommending that their client firms get out of the US Dollar (USD), China, UAE, Russia and others moving out of the USD. Many estimates of the debt are running at $40+ trillion, if you count off table and un-funded "liabilities". A graph of the $USD index since 2003, shows a 30+% drop (no joke!). Pundits like Kudlow crowing that the economy has never been better, even claiming the "dollar is strong!"

In my opinion, we are close to a USD collapse! I'm not blowing smoke at you, as I think its hard to call tops or pick times of events and really no one can, but we are close, if not there!!! - Wardoctor

I've heard many, many people bash our 'just in time' distribution model. but, I've never heard of even a single military official from any other country brag or boast of the same assertions. Our 'just in time' delivery of goods is one of the most survivable, re-configurable and defend-able supply chains ever in the history of mankind. It can grow to surge resources into a disaster area, it can shrink to conserve fuel, it presents fast moving small targets of no individual strategic significance, it can bypass destroyed cities, it can use improvised warehouses, it can cluster around railway junctions or sea ports, it can support the military and civilian infrastructures concurrently. In short it is a very, very hard nut for a foreign enemy to crack.
In my opinion, many Survival/Preparedness people who disparage 'just in time' delivery, dislike it for the underlying perception that it depends on a group of un-elected, publicly unaccountable people managing the system and is driven by corporate profits. And these people have throughout history, worked to keep the rich, rich and not so much worried about the plight of the common man, especially during hard times. I agree with this and would add that a wartime nationalization would replace the corporate management with less experienced military people, and that these people would be focused on keeping the military supplied, and again not so much worried about the plight of the common man.
I believe our 'just in time' supply system and infrastructure was fostered by our post-WWII and cold war governments to safeguard the American way of life, even in the presence of multiple massive disasters. It will do well, and America will survive. But the system we have is not going to guarantee anything to individual Americans. I urge everyone to prepare your families accordingly.
Regards, - Mark

JWR Replies: I wish that I could share your optimism. I would only have a warm fuzzy feeling about our wonderfully resilient and fast-reacting JIT supply system if we had both the benefits of that resilience/quick reaction and a deep inventory at key points in the pipeline. But unfortunately, in most industries, consumer sales, and especially in the medical field, the supply chain is perilously lean. These supply chains are not prepared for major disasters that will degrade transportation systems. If the trucks simply can't get through, then the world's best organized supply system cannot compensate for lack of supply where it is needed. What is required are deeper inventories much closer to where they are actually needed.

I just had a phone conversation with my brother. He mentioned that a power surge in the local utility lines caused $220 in damage to his washing machine. It seems that microcircuits are ubiquitous in household electronics and appliances. Its not just your computer, televisions, radios, and and stereo that are at risk. Your automatic bread maker, your washing machine, and perhaps even your dishwasher use vulnerable microcircuits. His advice: Spend $100 and buy a few high quality surge-arresting power strips. Even better would be the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) variety that automatically trip in the event of a brown-out. (Although most of these are much more expensive.) Someday you will be glad that you invested in extra protection for your home electronics.

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S.F. in Hawaii notes: "Rotary cultivators are finally back in stock at Lehman's. A must if you don't have a tractor. Get them while they are in stock."

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There is a free service in Australia called IPS Flare Alert that provides free e-mail notifications of any X-ray solar flare event larger than C8 in intensity. I recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers subscribe to this service, whether or not you are a shortwave listener or ham radio operator. BTW, keeping track of solar flare activity is also fun for those of us that enjoy watching far northern (or southern) latitude auroras.

"Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants." - William Penn

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Arguably the most important factor in wound healing is the potential for infection. Ever since Semmelweis and Lister demonstrated that strict hand washing made a tremendous difference in reducing the incidence of postoperative infections and puerperal fever after childbirth, health care workers have tried to refine methods for decreasing bacterial contamination of wounds in an effort to avoid infection. Thus we have some practitioners who still soak wounds in betadine solutions lengthily even though more modern research has shown that this kills viable tissue and makes wounds less amenable to suturing. For the concerned individual who must deal with a wound outside the emergency room or clinic setting, for whatever reason, I have some reasonable advice on avoiding infection that is not widely taught, even in some health care settings. (The following applies to wounds that an experienced parent could evaluate and immediately know that a band-aid alone would not be appropriate.)
Bleeding is Nature's way of cleaning a wound, but a little goes a long way. Remember that as long as the wound is "down-stream" from the heart (pump), bleeding will be under pressure. So don't forget to elevate a bleeding extremity above the level of the heart to get control of bleeding. This may be accomplished in some novel ways in the field, and may require improvisation. To elevate a leg or foot, for example, you might need to place the patient on the ground and prop the leg on an ice chest or stump. Scalp wounds especially bleed profusely and may be frightening to the uninitiated: Use multiple layers of absorbable material---sterile gauze or a clean towel (or the cleanest cloth you have available)--- and hold direct pressure until bleeding ceases or is at least reduced to a slow ooze. A patient who is taking aspirin will have a prolonged bleeding time, so you will have to hold pressure for a longer period of time.
Plain soap and tap water have been shown to be just as good for washing the wound as an antiseptic soap and sterile water. It turns out that some of the antiseptic solutions available kill so much good tissue that they are not preferable to regular soap. I would recommend a liquid soap, to avoid the bacterial culture waiting to launch itself from the bar on the counter, but would avoid the "antibacterial soap" (with triclosan) widely available that has been shown to increase bacterial resistance. In a perfect world I would prefer Hibiclens, but would certainly use a "no-tears" baby shampoo (neutral solution) or even diluted Dawn. One could apply it to a clean washcloth wet from the tap and use it to gently scrub the wound.
The sterile water solutions that are available bottled are fine, as long as they have not been opened previously, since they are contaminated when opened, but non-sterile bottled water is not preferable to tap water. Studies have shown that tap water is sufficient for cleansing of most wounds. I would not use this for an open fracture, although you would certainly not be dealing with one in the field or at home if you had the option of doing otherwise. Of course, freshly boiled water would be more reliable than non-sterile bottled water or water that you have previously drawn up in a clean milk jug, but better to wash a soiled wound immediately if you have clean water available than to take the time to boil and then cool water, leaving a heavily contaminated wound to stay in its dirty state. One could always re-rinse the wound with sterilized water. The length of time that the cleanser is in contact with the wound and the degree of flushing that takes place will determine the number of bacterial contaminants remaining and thus have a significant effect on wound infection rates, so spend several minutes on this step. Of course the examiner/caregiver should scrupulously wash his own hands and any instruments used to probe the wound beforehand. Thoroughly cleaning the wound will usually result in resumption of bleeding: When finished, pressure can again be applied as before.
A foreign body remaining in the wound can be a focus of infection and prevent healing in a wound that has been well cleaned and closed, so it is imperative that care is taken to rid the wound of any and all particles that may be present. This is why a relatively clean knife wound can be simply washed prior to closure but a contaminated wound or one sustained through layers of clothing must be explored and scrubbed. It may take a long time, and I have done just that in the ER, picking out particles of wood dust or grit of various types. This is why I sometimes prevail on the surgeon to take a patient to the operating room to debride a wound under anesthesia. A large syringe or squirt bottle can be used to administer a stream of water into the wound under a little pressure in order to thoroughly clean and dislodge particulate matter. Chainsaw wounds may require debridement of the margins with a scalpel to remove seared tissue in addition to removal of particles and clothing fibers, as searing prevents the wound edges from closing together in healing.
In the hospital or clinic setting, I use a sterile scrub brush for contaminated wounds. If I were in a wilderness setting and had the option of boiling or sterilizing equipment such as a scrub brush or tweezers, I would certainly do so, but in any case removing all foreign material from the wound is necessary. (Cleaning instruments with alcohol and/or soap and water would be better that nothing.) Blood clotted in the wound must also be removed by scrubbing, as dried blood serves as a "foreign body" in this setting. After thorough cleansing with soap and water, if a wound is to be sutured, betadine (if available) could be swabbed on the skin in pinwheel fashion, from the skin at the wound edges out to two or three inches away from the wound.
Anesthesia is certainly desirable prior to any painful manipulation or procedure, and if it is possible should be mercifully administered prior to any vigorous cleaning. Even the most stoic among us can appreciate pain relief, even if it is only temporary. So a vial of Lidocaine (1% or 2% ) and a syringe to administer it may be part of your wilderness medical kit. If the Lidocaine (xylocaine) has epinephrine mixed in, it will help a lot to keep the wound from bleeding as you try to sew it, but you must not use epinephrine in a wound on an extremity such as a finger or toe, as it could result in necrosis (tissue death). On the face or scalp epinephrine is a welcome additive, since these wounds tend to bleed so freely that you can scarcely see what you are sewing without it.
Adjuncts in keeping the bleeding slowed while you are attempting wound closure are elevating the wound above the level of the heart (always recommended) and limited tourniquet banding with a wide strip. (In the ER I might use a blood pressure cuff pumped up to the point where it stops the bleeding). This should be very temporary in order to maintain a bloodless field for closure only. Carefully and slowly infiltrating the margins of a wound with a few milliliters of an anesthetic solution, a learned technique, will result in control of bleeding and pain (for closure). Then you must give the anesthetic a few minutes to be absorbed before commencing your repair. Whether you use anesthetic or not it would be wise to administer pain medicine of some kind, either orally or by injection, since the wound will throb even after the repair is done.
Wound closure is a key factor in healing and infection rate as well. Wounds left open will be infected to some extent. The six-hour rule for closure is followed for minor wounds; that is, if care is sought within those limits the wound can be cleaned and sutured with impunity. This follows from studies that showed infection rates increasing after that time-frame, and of course there is leeway for wounds that were clean a priori. But for large wounds or cosmetic disasters the rules are frequently bent. Field studies from Vietnam proved that delayed closure of wounds (up to several days old) could be performed with good results if the wound margins were "revised" (old tissue cut out with a scalpel) and the new margins sewn together. And surgeons will usually close facial wounds up to or even over twelve hours old even without revising the margins.
Closure may involve suturing (sewing), or may be as simple as using Dermabond (super glue), steri-strips or staples made for this purpose. In the ER I tailor the method to suit the patient and the situation, but you might not have that option in the wilderness or homebound setting. If you do, or if you can reach qualified medical help within a suitable time-frame, I wholeheartedly advise you to do so. But if that is not possible, even duct tape may be preferable to non-closure.
One must be careful to hold the wound margins together tightly to apply Dermabond, as any solution that makes its way into the wound may itself prevent healing, and with Dermabond the trick is to keep one's fingers from being glued to the wound as you wait the few seconds for it to dry. I do not advise Dermabond for a wound that has a tendency to continue bleeding the minute pressure is removed, nor in a wound that is deep or under stress. It works well on some facial lacerations, but really I trust steri-strips to do the job and they could easily be part of a medical kit. Dermabond is expensive but really comes into its own when trying to repair a wound in a very small child who could be expected to try to remove strips. Dermabond should be left on the skin to dissolve on its own, which will occur in several days, usually too soon for larger wounds or wounds of the lower extremities.
If applying steri-strips or tape, wound margins should be closely approximated prior to the application of any binding material. If I were reduced to using duct tape, I would tear several inches off the roll (use for another purpose), so that what I used on the wound would not have been in contact with a dirty surface. Then I would tear or cut three or four inches off and cut that into 1/8 to 1/4 inch strips, taking care to keep my hands from touching the part of the tape that will be over the wound. Pressing the wound edges together with one hand, or having a helper hold them together by pushing from each side, I would apply the strips of tape, starting on one side and pulling firmly to apply some tension before allowing it to adhere to the other side of the wound. I would space these strips 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart to allow the wound to breathe and then cover my work of art with sterile gauze secured by tape or an ace wrap (or cotton bandage) to keep it from being re-contaminated.
I would not worry about small defects or ragged edges unless I could easily trim this and have plenty of loose skin to work with. Individuals who are sensitive to adhesives may develop blisters where the steri-strip or tape is located, but this is usually just a local reaction and does not cause systemic allergic symptoms. In someone known to be unable to tolerate them sutures or staples should be used for larger wounds requiring closure.
Suturing is a technique that is learned, and should be practiced prior to use, which is not to say that any accomplished seamstress couldn't master it. Many wounds will be greatly benefited by needle and thread. However, to reinforce the importance of asepsis in wound care, I should again point out that a wound should not be sutured by an untrained individual in a non-sterile environment if there is an alternative. If there is not, then any asepsis that can be accomplished by boiling or autoclaving (pressure-cooking) would be of benefit, and extreme care should be taken not to further contaminate the wound while attempting to close it in the best possible way. There are manuals or courses that teach sewing technique available for the motivated person, and that is outside the scope of this short essay. What is obvious to medically trained personnel---microbial contamination and how to avoid it--- is the major impediment for the "lay-person". Sterile drapes and sterile gloves are a bonus. But most medical staff would agree that primary closure is better than a large wound left open in most cases. In our current political-legal climate one could be prosecuted for "practicing medicine without a license" if it appeared that extraordinary measures were undertaken by the layman who had other options, so be sure that you are doing it from necessity and not just for fun. :-) In a TEOTWAWKI setting, you will probably wish that you had at least studied the technique (and had obtained the proper equipment and had practiced on some animal skin).
Some wounds are by definition contaminated or infected and are better left unclosed. These include puncture wounds, stab wounds (=deeper than they are wide) that are not bleeding profusely, and animal or human bites. These should be cleaned and scrubbed as above, taking even more care to flush them out if possible, and bleeding controlled with pressure only if at all possible. If not, then one or two sutures or steri-strips can be strategically placed, in this case being careful to only draw the wound edges together enough to control the bleeding and not to closely approximate them, as you want the wound to be able to drain easily. These are the wounds for which an ER doctor would probably give antibiotic prophylaxis, with an older drug such as doxycycline or trimethoprim-sulfa or a cephalosporin like cephalexin (Keflex). Crush wounds of the extremities also should not be sutured, even if they look awful, but should be cleaned as much as possible given the level of contamination and then bandaged. Because they can be expected to swell so much, primary closure of crush wounds could be detrimental.
Keeping the bandaged extremity above the level of the heart will help to prevent pooling of blood and swelling and therefore reduce the proclivity for infection. This holds true as long as inflammation is present. Elevation is important in pain control as well, and the patient may need to be reminded of this when the wound starts to throb. Propping an arm or leg on a pillow will be a very useful adjunct to any analgesia you have available, as is an ice pack applied over or adjacent to the bandage. Ice will definitely help to slow swelling in the first 24 hours and can be used to alleviate pain even longer than that if it seems to help that particular patient.
In a Katrina-type setting, where it could be days before a medical professional would be consulted, it might be good to know that sutures of the face (and scalp) should be removed in four to five days, lest the sutures themselves cause scarring. An uninfected facial wound should be healed in that time. Steri-strips can be left off at that time if they are employed on the face. For wounds of the upper extremities leaving sutures in for 7-10 days is advisable, depending on the extent of the wound, and for the lower extremities up to 2 weeks. If steri-strips have been used (or tape) the strips may need to be re-applied during that time period. Keeping the wound clean and dry is the goal, but if sutures are used to close the wound it can be washed daily with soap and water after the first 24 hours. If a wound becomes obviously infected, with purulent (yellow or green) discharge and swelling and redness, it will have to be opened up at least partially and allowed to drain to prevent septicemia.
Tetanus prophylaxis should also be addressed. Puncture wounds and deep, heavily contaminated wounds are considered "tetanus-prone" wounds, and I can testify that tetanus does exist and it is not pretty. It could easily be deadly in this setting, although I have seen a young victim recover after six weeks on the ventilator. The vaccine for tetanus has been used for several decades and is considered very safe if one is not allergic to any components, so I would advise you to keep your vaccination status for tetanus up-to-date. It is considered up-to-date if it has been given within the last ten years, unless the wound is very large and very heavily contaminated (think a tractor accident in a muddy barnyard), in which case I would be more conservative and say within five years. If tetanus toxoid is not available and the patient has had the primary series in the past but is not up-to-date, a booster should be given as soon as it becomes possible.
I will close with the most valuable advice: The best way to avoid wound infection is to avoid the wound in the first place. Be careful. Make your children wear their shoes outside of the house. Lacerations from stepping on broken glass and puncture wounds from thorns or tacks in the feet are fairly common in the ER and are usually preventable. Acting "macho" or being a daredevil is one thing when emergency care is a short distance away, but stupid when there is none available. A dull knife will slip and cut you when you put more force on it instead of taking the time to sharpen it. Accidents will happen to even the most cautious, but they will be proportionately less than to the heedless or reckless.
With the hope that this will not be needed in the future, but that if it is it will prove to be useful. - E.C.W., M.D.

Wow! Have you noticed the spot prices of silver and gold in the past few days? If you think that you've "missed the boat" on precious metals, you are wrong. I still predict that spot silver is heading past $40 per ounce in the next few years. I've said it many times, but it bears repeating: Diversify your investments into precious metals, especially silver.

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An alternative for those of you that live in gun-grabbing Nanny States: .50 Caliber Air Rifles. BTW, these might be a nice addition to every survival gun battery, since they will allow folks to hunt very quietly, after TSHTF. (Of course check your state hunting regulations first.)

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Safecastle is in the midst of a big product-giveaway promotion that is highlighting the deep Safecastle Royal buyer's club member discounts on the wide variety of products they carry. Everything is always discounted and ships free for members, but have a look at the current list of FREE products that are available with a qualifying purchase. Tell them you saw it on SurvivalBlog

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just;
That his justice cannot sleep forever." - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, February 23, 2007

The high bid is now at $150 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. Please tell any of your friends that are guitarists about this auction. The auction ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Mr. Rawles,
I have enjoyed your site for years. I was compelled to write when I saw a situation in Maine this week that ties the two current threads on your site together (Just in time delivery and propane as a fuel source). In the State of Maine we have had a stark reminder of the inelasticity of the energy (propane) supply chain. As a result of a Canadian railroad union strike and weather that impacted the the normal shipping schedule, we have had a mini propane crisis requiring the governor to get involved, have the US Coast Guard to expedite the flow of tankers into Portsmouth New Hampshire and dealers to ration deliveries. This is significant because these adverse effects began occurring six days after the strike by railroad workers in Canada began. It is not hard to imagine several non-SHTF different scenarios where the propane would simply run out.

It isn't a direct problem in our household, but as we have seen in other places, a problem for some people can quickly become a problem for all the people (at least the unprepared ones).

Here is a link to the article in The Bangor Daily News: Rationing eases lack of propane Please keep up the good work. I visit your site every day. - LL in the Northeast

Mr. Rawles,
I took the two day defensive handgun course [at Front Sight] 2-1/2 years ago, and I agree on the value of the experience. Prior to that class, my pistol range time was just punching paper. Now its presentation, safety rules review, malfunction clearing, etc. I had never considered malfunction clearing! In all my reading of the gun magazines, I had never come across the topic. Maybe it's not sexy enough to sell magazines.

I also appreciate your review of [the television series] "Jericho." I had the same impression, though your experienced eye caught more. I guess if they showed the reality of it, it wouldn't have made it past five episodes. - Brian

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I know you're busy and I don't expect you have time to chat about old ground but I did have some observations on guns that you might consider.
While the AR-15 in .223 cal. is not a bear killer nor a long-range sniper weapon, it seems to have been completely dismissed in "Patriots" (which I greatly enjoyed and profited from) and in the writings on the Blog. However, there are two cartridges that make this little gun lethal: the [55 grain] M193 Round/Q3131 Round and the 68 gr. Black Hills Match Hollow Point. The M193/Q3131 round has a bullet that upsets and fragments drastically on fibrous targets and delivers all of its hydrostatic shock to that target. All that is required is a velocity that is easily sustained by my Bushmaster 16" barreled rifle out to 140 yards. After that, it is more of the conventional ice pick. The Black Hills HP round is on the FBI's lethality list of the top 5 or 6 killer .223 rounds. The range requirements for its expansion and lethality may be greater than that of the M193 since it relies on expansion rather than fragmentation.
While I have and love my .308s, the .223 Bushmaster 16" barreled rifle has some real advantages in weight, maneuverability and firepower and I feel should not be discounted unless one lives on the prairie. In wooded or urban areas, the little rifles offer excellent mid-range accuracy, lethality (with the proper bullet) and can be tricked up with a scope and 100 round [Beta] C-MAG to make it decidedly unhealthy downrange.
The M193 [ammunition] is not currently in issue in Iraq, I believe, but was an early round for the M16. The later, current .223 cartridges do not give the same lethality and were adopted for reasons other than maximization of lethality. Even later, longer, heavier bullets in .223 are used for sniping, etc., but none in issue currently can compare in lethality to the M193 and the hollow points offered on the market today.
As you have time, you can review the data on AR15.com which supports my comments.
One other cartridge that I feel has been overlooked is the 7.62 x 54 Russian rimmed round. Dirt cheap and sold by the sealed can, this round is the equal to the .30/06 military and is perfectly paired with the Finnish M39 bolt action rifle that sells, like new, for about $300. The Finns converted the Mosin Nagant and made an excellent little military rifle complete with top quality barrels.
Thanks for your good work, Best Regards, - Stephen D.

JWR Replies: I don't consider the 100 round Beta C-MAGs very practical. In my experience they are heavy, cumbersome, and quite noisy. (When loaded, they rattle when you walk, as the cartridges slide forward and back. That is a tactical no-no.) They might have some utility for fixed-site defense, but if you are manning a fixed site retreat, then you probably should be using a rifle chambered in something more powerful than a .223. I consider an AR-15 equipped with a Beta magazine as the ultimate defense weapon for a retreat under attack by a human wave of palsied, midget, and/or wheelchair-bound looters.

I must politely disagree with you regarding .223/5.56. Granted, the 55 grain .223 can have some spectacular "tumbling" wound effects, but not consistently so. As often than not, especially when a bullet does not strike bone, it can have the "ice pick" effect. In essence, .223 puts Bad Guys in hospitals, but .308 puts Bad Guys in graves. If I ever hear shooting nearby and have my choice of grabbing either an AR-15 or FAL, then I'll grab the FAL. Yes, a .223 platform does have some advantages, particularly as a weapon for a shooter that weighs under 100 pounds. It is also ideal to carry for LRRPs or long distance E&E. (In a survivalist context: walking several hundred miles to a retreat, as a few of the characters did in my novel "Patriots" .)

I greatly appreciate your mention of the 7.62 x 54R Russian cartridge. It is one of the most overlooked and bargain basement options available in the current market. Both the ammo itself and the Mosin-Nagant rifles that shoot it are quite reasonably priced. Ballistically, this cartridge is roughly comparable to .30-06. It is noteworthy that this is the same cartridge that is used in the Russian Dragunov sniper rifles, so it is obviously capable of great long range accuracy. The other nice plus is that it is fairly easy to find a Federally exempt pre-1899 production Mosin Nagant. Like you, my favorite rifles in this category are the M39s. In particular, I prefer the antique Russian Mosin receivers that were re-arsenalized into Model 1939s for the Finnish army. (Mosinnagant.net has a great web page with some details on this model.) These are very sturdy, reliable shooters that can be bought across state lines with no stinkin' FFL paperwork! (BTW, I describe how to distinguish the year of manufacture of these receivers in my FAQ on pre-1899 guns.) To do so, you need to disassemble the rifle and examine its receiver tang markings.

Two different readers mentioned this short essay by Peter Schiff on U.S. indebtedness and the encroaching foreign ownership of U.S. corporations: Selling Our Cows To Buy Milk

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"J Eagle" mentioned that MSN Money has a current article listing property tax rates by state. This is an important data point to consider when choosing a state for a retreat or for retirement.

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Our correspondent in Brazil recommends the survival novel "Wolf and Iron" by Gordon Dickson. Used copies are often available dirt cheap on Amazon.com.

"Four things come not back - the spoken word, the sped arrow, times past, the neglected opportunity." - Omar ibn al Halif

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One of our family's favorite activities when we take trips into town is counting eagles. It isn't unusual for us to see as many as six Bald Eagles on each drive to town--usually for church and home school meetings. And right here at the Rawles Ranch, we regularly see two or three Bald Eagles a day, cruising down The Unnamed River. When I'm out doing chores and I see one flying over, I take off my hat and reflect for a moment. I guess I'm just overly patriotic. I do thank God for all our blessings. And living in a place like this is one of them.

Dear Jim,

For the 'Survival Minded/Preparedness Bent' all the things we use daily should be reconsidered for alternative uses. For my part, I drink wine, the good stuff mind you. It comes in a box! Interesting thing about it is that each box that is consumed leaves behind another useful tool for any 'rainy day' event.

The bladder in the box that holds the wine is about 15"x15". It is quite durable and contains a very efficient valve. The valve is self sealing and easily removed from the bladder itself. When the wine is gone, I remove the [box insert mylar] bladder from the box and the valve from the bladder. The bladder and valves are rinsed out with hot water and then an adequate amount of Clorox is poured into the bladder which is then topped off with water and the valve replaced. After an appropriate amount of time has passed, the valve is removed and the bladder rinsed. Ultimately, the bladder is allowed to dry in the sun (it takes a while).

The uses for the bladder are numerous:

1) The dried out bladder will collapse to fist size with the valve attached, i.e. easily transportable in a day pack.

2) The bladder will hold a considerable quantity of liquid that is easily dispensed and stored.

3) The bladder will easily double as a camping pillow.

4) Or as a flotation device to 'swim' a heavy pack across a deep stream; or as a flotation bag for person or property.

5) If one thought about it ahead of time, the bladder could be filled with a predetermined amount of Clorox (bleach) and then filled with pond/stream water as needed, allowed to sit, and there you go, potable water.

The gist is this: common household post-consumer waste is or can be a treasure trove if we as individuals 'think out of the box' and apply our minds to the potential future needs and uses ahead! - MQB, Somewhere South of Kentucky & North of Alabama

Dear Jim:
Clearly the CBS TV show Jericho is limited by confines of being an early prime time network show (nothing graphic like on HBO), a for-profit venture (thus requiring advertisers who willing to buy time and be associated with the show), budgetary constraints of a filming a new show, and of course the politically correct pressures of Hollywood. This is very much the antithesis of the 1983 "The Day After" which was conceptualized, financed and produced by ABC, specifically by the Motion Picture Department President http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After who was impressed with the anti-nuclear power movie "The China Syndrome", and obviously sent out to make this an issue oriented movie (or agenda oriented) without concern as to profit, IMHO. I seem to recall that during the original airing of "The Day After" there were no commercials (I was in high school at the time). It should be noted that "The Day After" did have a profound impact. As for myself, it steeled my resolve to learn more about survivalism (probably the opposite of the intent of the producer). It should be also noted (citing the Wikipedia link above again) that when President Reagan signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the director [of The Day After] got a telegram from the Reagan administration that said, 'Don't think your movie didn't have any part of this, because it did." That is pretty powerful. Some also refer the movie "Red Dawn" this way, as having had an actual impact on the cold war, by serving to convince Russia that an invasion of the US simply would never hold against resistance (I should note that movie made Mexico an invading enemy of the US, remember?).

Taking into account how a program can create images and impressions, to allies and enemies both, this is the basis of my real issues with Jericho. Although the "mythology" of the plot, as the producers refer to it, is still largely unknown (probably also best laid out in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jericho_tv) it clearly involves a coordinated nuclear strike to about a dozen US cities (the show is deliberately unclear – adding to the sense of drama of Jericho being cut off) which appears to be terrorist in nature, with the inference that in NY people were apprehended in a truck with a bomb before it went off, but this remains uncertain. These strikes are not military, they are at population centers. I therefore note, with the apparent exception of Washington DC, US military bases and installations, as well as non-DC Federal facilities, State, County, and local governments remain intact – just faced with the [power] grid down, transportation down, and fallout problems. I am not saying that isn’t massive, but to some extent, I think some American resilience is not being credited here, especially with the rest of the World apparently intact.

Although I think this show has been great in waking people up to the new reality that there could very well be a very limited nuclear exchange (such as being terrorist based), I was disappointed and alarmed as to where the show left off most recently "8 weeks" after the bombs went off. I think that many of the accusations about the show painting too rosy a picture are true. Jericho is shown to have at least one water tower, and be a city (has a mayor) of some 5,000 people. It is important to note, that once the power went out, even with rationing, that water tower is probably going to run dry within a week. This leaves serious problems as to water, sanitation, and hygiene for so many people. Would it really take until a Chinese generator was air dropped before they got any sort of power going again? The constraints of time and show only allow little blips of the factual realities, and in between all the interpersonal drama which holds most of the audience I’m sure. Still, the lasting impression is one that a small rural town would be helpless, when in fact, I think, such as place would be the least helpless. The pathetic defensive force that Jericho mustered is a good example of this. I find this to be the product of writers who have never spent any time in a Midwestern rural town, nor hunted, nor ever owned a gun. Having lived in a Wisconsin town of less than 1,500, I can assure you that long before 8 weeks past the bombs, a militia group, run through the volunteer fire dept and Village Hall most likely, would have had the town secured defensively. I can think of a single deer hunting group that was 17 guys, and they were highly organized, with radios for their hunting drives, and would have easily convinced the Ravenwood Group in Jericho that the fight was not worth it. Also, in the pilot episode, we saw a gun store in town. At the beginning of episode 2, people were openly carrying shotguns in front of City Hall. Did the writers get flack about that and back off?

Another issue that remains open is the ICBM launch in the evening which preceded the EMP attack. We don’t know yet who those missiles were targeted against, and I am somewhat worried about where they are going with this. This was a moment of great excitement for me, because I thought it was payback, that this show was going to show that a nuclear attack on the US would have a nuclear response. The post-911 world makes this more difficult, because such an attack may be not officially carried out by a government you can just target in retaliation. It is too early to really comment intelligently on this in the saga, but to be honest it very much worries me. Because the image Hollywood creates does matter, this is dangerous place alternate reality PC logic stuff. Freedom of speech, yeah I know, but you can’t yell “Fire” in a cinema, right? How about CNN covering the riots in LA after the police trials with Rodney King, reporting there were no cops on the scene. How about them showing part of the video over and over, the beating, without framing the context that he was high on drugs and had attacked the police. Is that merely reporting the news, or is that creating news by spin doctoring and fanning the fires, which bring up the issue of intent. That would have made an interesting lawsuit, if someone had the guts to bring it, rights vs. responsibility.

Overall I’m all for Jericho. It is a great show to watch and debate. So much drama between all the characters. Great cast of actors, and also of different age groups. Something for everyone! Tune in if you have not, and give it a chance. The Hawkins character is really cool, the closest thing to being a survivalist, even though he’s some sort of secret government agent or something. My only worry is that this show does more damage than good with some sort of backwards to reality politically correct “mythology”. Let’s face it, there are a limited number of people who can and would nuke US cities and kill innocent civilians as portrayed. I hope the writers/producers are willing to be realistic about that or they may do more harm than good, the good being to encourage people to prepare, the harm being to encourage evil enemies of the US that such damage could be done, and with minimum reprisal. - Rourke (Moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group)

I’m a concealed carry handgun instructor for the state of Kansas. I haven’t come across any articles or news reports that made mention of whether or not the shopping mall had posted “no concealed carry” signs. Have you heard anything? I would like to know as I can use this incident in my classes. - Rick

JWR Replies: According to several published new stories, including this one, there were indeed signs at some of the Trolley Square Mall's entrances emblazoned, "No Guns." So we can surmise that ostensibly "gun free zones" such as public schools, public buildings and shopping malls with "No Guns" signs are not safe places for the citizenry. Clearly, mass murderers prefer them, because they assume that they will only face unarmed victims.

S.F. in Hawaii found a web page about a very interesting "castle" monolithic dome home. S.F.'s comments: "Nice view from the roof. And the little holes for a rifle?. Good commanding view and a bulletproof/fireproof concrete home, to boot "

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Thanks to Ben L. for sending this news story: More from inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe: Mugabe Throws Lavish Birthday Party as Zimbabwe's Infrastructure Crumbles. My comment: Clearly, times were much better back when the city now dubbed "Gweru" was called "Gwelo." Remember Rhodesia!

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Homeland Security analyst Stephen Flynn: U.S. not prepared for the next 'big one'

"The way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to. Let the national government be entrusted with the defense of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State government with the civil rights, law, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body. " - Thomas Jefferson, Works, 6:543; P.P.N.S., p. 125

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

There are many ways to be prepared for whatever the future may hold and no feasible way to be prepared for every scenario. While “Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids” should be given the top priority, there are many situations where a small band saw mill fits the bill.
In the current situation, it’s a cheap source of lumber for building projects. On a homestead/retreat there is always a need for lumber. Having selected a remote area for security reasons, by default, places an individual a long way from any supplies, but usually an abundance of trees are available. There have been many times when I needed just a few boards to complete a project. It’s simple to place a log on the mill and saw the boards to the dimension needed. It saves a 40 mile round trip to the lumber yard. It’s free and best of all the tax man hasn’t yet figured a way to tax it! The mills are relatively simple and inexpensive to operate. Even my wife enjoys running the saw. Of course, it becomes my job to load and turn the logs and pull and stack the lumber and slabs when she operates the mill. Once people find out you have a mill, it seems like they all have three or four logs just lying around that they are glad to give you if you will just haul them off. Just keeping my eyes open around these 200 acres provides all the logs I need from diseased or storm damaged trees. These are trees that would otherwise decay in the woods. Everywhere I go, I see trees that need to be salvaged that would make good lumber. One day I will run completely off the road while looking at a load of logs on a passing truck. At our house, this is referred to as “Log Envy”

People will often barter with you to saw their logs. Usually this is in the form of you, the mill owner and operator, taking a portion of the lumber from the logs they bring to you. This amount ranges up to 50 percent. Be sure to report the fair value of this lumber on your income taxes. It seems as though most people appreciate getting anything free and will gladly leave some of the lumber with you in exchange for turning their log, that otherwise would most likely have rotted, into something they can use. In the future this ability to barter could really save the day.

The mill has saved more than enough to pay its own way and continues to be used regularly. The cost delivered, was abut $8,000. I set it up as a stationary mill and built a shed over it. (There is no bought lumber in that shed!) I recently sawed 6,000 board feet of pine on less than 10 gallons of gasoline. Certainly at some time in the future, gasoline could become hard to obtain, but most likely a few gallons would be available, even though the cost may go up significantly. Even if fuel cost $20 a gallon, the fuel cost for an 8 foot 2x4 would only be $0.20. I typically have enough stabilized fuel stored to saw many tens of thousands of board feet of lumber. Logs could be harvested and with a little manpower maneuvered to the mill by hand if it had to be done. A wheeled carriage could be constructed to make this fairly simple. However, a tractor with pallet forks on the front of the loader makes the job much easier and uses a surprisingly small amount of fuel. Certainly a horse or other draft animal would be a worthwhile addition in a fuel shortage. Another advantage now, but especially during a fuel shortage, is the ever abundant supply of slabs that make excellent firewood.

The set up I have has the ability to saw logs up to 24 feet in length and a diameter larger than I care to handle. There are considerably more board feet of lumber in a large diameter log, but small logs are much easier and safer to handle. Many types of log scales are available to measure to small end of a log and provide some prediction of the number of board feet of lumber in the log. They typically look like a complicated yard stick, but anyone can learn to use one in a matter of minutes. A board foot is a measure of lumber that contains 144 cubic inches of wood. That would be 12 inches square and one inch thick. A 1 X 4 three feet long would be one board foot. A typical band mill will often saw 50 to 75% more than scale while sawing small logs due to the thin blade as compared to a commercial mill. I have regularly sawn 500 board feet in a day in addition to the regular chores that are required to be done around the farm.

The bands (blades) do become dull and sometimes break. Currently they can be replaced for about $20 or sharpened for about $7. If I’m careful to clean the dirt off the logs and don’t hit an ingrown object (nail, fence staple, etc.), up to a thousand board feet can be sawed with one blade. I typically keep 30 blades on hand. In a push, they could be sharpened by hand, but I have no intention of doing this when I can get it done right for $7. I’m sure that in a crunch I could find several uses for the blades as they are dulled. Although I haven’t tried it, I see no reason why a slow but workably bow saw could not be made from them. It would only cut when being pushed instead of cutting both directions.

Green (freshly sawn) lumber cannot be used in many projects without proper drying, most often in a kiln. The lumber will shrink and cause many problems in furniture and indoor woodwork. There are ways around this for the woodworkers, but that is beyond the scope of this article. However there are many applications where a little shrinkage, warping or bowing doesn’t cause any real problem. Barns, hay sheds, equipment sheds, an outhouse when the water stops magically filling the white porcelain bowl, deer blinds for the present time which can do double duty as listening/observation post when things become less secure, work shops and many other projects. Many houses were built in rural areas years ago with green lumber. They usually are not particularly level or square, but they are still standing and serviceable long after those who built them are gone.

In a situation where the economy has broken down, there are definite advantages. Lumber yards, if they still exist, would have very limited supplies for very exorbitant prices. In any kind of grid failure or fuel and transportation crunch, the big commercial mills would shut down. Some lumber could be scavenged from abandoned houses and buildings. But I doubt people would take kindly to others helping themselves to their structures even if they were not using them. Most modern construction makes use of a considerable amount of paneled products such as sheet rock, oriented strand board and plywood that is very difficult to disassemble and maintain the integrity of the products. Having a few thousand feet of "stickered" lumber in the dry could be like money in your pocket at a very critical time. The investment required to store this lumber is very small. With a few select people joining us at the retreat in a bad situation, we can accommodate them in our house for a time. If the situation drags on for a long period of time, we have the capacity to construct semi-permanent or permanent dwellings at different strategic locations around the farm at very little to no cost.

A sawmill opens many opportunities in an uncertain future. When it’s all said and done, an opportunity is all we can really expect out of life.


Food grade diatomaceous earth (DE)--not the swimming pool grade-will flush your system of parasites. In addition, the scientific literature states DE is shown to remove methyl mercury, virus and more.
I "accidentally" cured myself of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) while using it, just in case I had worms. I had been feeding it to my cattle (works great!) and decided to take some myself. No more IBS?
I am no doctor; however, the first thing I would do for ulcers/IBS/Crohns/divertic ailments, would be to dose myself with DE, as I now suspect that microscopic uglies are involved in all bowel disorders due to my results.
"Dirt" cheap from your farm and ranch store (used for a long time to worm sheep/goats/cattle), or in large bags from Internet vendors. As its name suggests-microscopic diatom fossils cut the worms and
their eggs to shreds, or make eggs unable to attach to walls of intestines (will not hurt earthworms).

DE is also great around house for bugs and will kill fire ants-just scoop out and mix it in the ant mound. Expect to pay about a dollar a pound for a ten pound bag.

Mix in water as spray for fruit trees-avoid breathing dust and eye contact.
Use on pets for lice/fleas/mites-put in pet food-1 tablespoon for seven days for dogs under 35 pounds-2 for dogs over to kill internal parasites. An Internet search will show all about it.

Humans: Mix 1 heaping tablespoon per day in water or juice-can take more and more often depending upon ailment.

I think everyone should be on this as an assist during viral outbreaks, [since it is] harmless to humans and animals. Thanks, - Martin P.

Jason in North Idaho pointed out this article: Mogadishu's fathers turn to the gun -- again. Jason's comment: "It looks as if the Africans know that the only way to guarantee one's safety is to take the responsibility into their own hands--and I notice that the elitists want to change that."

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We could see this one coming from the now Democrat-controlled congress: H.R. 1022: To reauthorize the assault weapons ban. Note that unlike its predecessor, this law would include a total import ban on 11+ round magazines, regardless of year of manufacture. If this legislation troubles you, then please contact your congresscritters, early and often.

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S.H.. recommended this site with a round-up of European bird flu news stories.

"It is certain that free societies will have no easy time of it in a future dark age. The rapid return of universal penury will be accompanied by violence and cruelties of a kind now forgotten. The force of law will be scant or nil, either because of collapse of machinery of state, or because of difficulties in communication and transport. It will be possible only to delegate authority to local powers who will maintain it by force alone. - Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Based on a query from blog reader Mike F., I'm starting a new SurvivalBlog reader poll: What are the best businesses for individuals that will have utility both before and after any major disaster or other disruption of society? Home-based, self-employment businesses are preferred, but perhaps there are other categories that I haven't considered. Please make your recommendations via e-mail and I will post them later this week. Thanks!

In trying to standardize equipment for a retreat, what do you think of .40 S&W in handguns (already own) and the various [semi-auto] carbines that can be purchased that shoot that [same] round .(Like Ruger [Kel-Tec, and Marlin.] )? I know they (.40 S&W) are slower than the .223 or .308, but still effective. I know the smaller magazine capacities (like 10 rounds) might be an issue.
The major "plus" would be a complete compatibility of ammunition for all the guns so that you only have to worry about stocking and carrying one type (except for the .22 [rimfire]s which don't count for [self defense] planning purposes.) Is this a good idea or bad one? (Assume that we also get one larger caliber gun (.30-30 / .308 / .30-06) for hunting deer, etc., in a bolt or lever action.)
I haven't seen this [concept mentioned] in your web site, so please forgive me if it is posted somewhere. Thanks, - Mike in "Seattle"

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning this idea, because I often hear it suggested by my consulting clients. The only problem is that "one common caliber" sounds like a great idea, but it just doesn't work in today's world--at least not for primary defensive firearms. Let me explain my reasoning, starting with a little historical background:

Much of the recurring "cartridge commonality" thinking stems from America's pioneer Old West experience. In the late 1800s it was popular to carry a Winchester lever action .44-40 rifle or carbine, and a Colt or S&W revolver chambered in the same cartridge. This is just what my great grandfather Robert Henry Rawles did. He came out west by covered wagon in 1857, at age 12. From the late 1870s until his death in 1911, he habitually carried a Colt Single Action Army (SAA), and when on horseback or while hunting he supplemented the revolver with a Winchester Model 1873 rifle. Both guns were chambered in .44-40. (Which at the time was often called ".44 Winchester Center Fire", or more commonly just "Winchester .44") One of his cousins did essentially the same thing, but instead carried a Smith & Wesson .44-40 Top Break revolver and a fairly uncommon but highly sought-after Colt pump action .44-40 rifle. Doing so indeed had a big advantage in cartridge commonality. But that was back in the days of blackpowder cartridges, that all had high-arcing trajectories. Today, if you were carrying a carbine chambered in a pistol caliber, and your opponents had a detachable magazine 7.62x39 or .308 battle rifle--with high velocity and flat trajectory--then you'd be badly outmatched.

Typical pistol chamberings (such as 9mm Parabellum and .40 S&W) are not sure and quick man stoppers at two to seven yards (typical combat pistol shooting distance), and they are absolutely pitiful stoppers at 200 or 300 yards. They just don't have the requisite "oomph" at long range to penetrate and put Mr. Badguy out of the fight. Furthermore, at long range they have a "rainbow" trajectory, which is difficult to compensate for under the stress of combat. For your primary defensive rifle, you are much better off with a flat-shooting high velocity cartridge like .308 Winchester. There is some utility in owning a pistol caliber carbine, but in my opinion that is limited to small game hunting, pest shooting, and training youngsters. But do not make the mistake of thinking that they are fully adequate for self-defense.

The only two possible "one cartridge for carbine and pistol" compromises that I can envision might be either:

1.) Selecting a quite powerful handgun cartridge cartridge like .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, or perhaps a .45 Winchester Magnum. As political pundit (and gun enthusiast) Kim du Toit so aptly put it: "To put it in perspective, a 250 gr. bullet in .44 Remington Magnum arrives with 775 ft.- lbs. of energy; [but] the 260 gr. bullet in .45 Win Mag arrives with 1,300 ft.- lbs. Ouch." In my opinion, both of these cartridges are slightly over-powered for a combat handgun, but still underpowered and not flat shooting enough for use in a carbine or long range self defense. Because .44 Magnum is a traditional rimmed cartridge, nearly all of the carbines that are available (such as those from Marlin, Puma, Winchester, ) are lever actions with tubular magazines. Ruger does make a semi-auto .44 Magnum carbine ( a complete re-design of their .44 carbine from the 1960s) and a lever action (the Model 96/.44), but unfortunately both use a fairly fragile four round rotary magazine. (Hardly suitable for self defense.) For handguns there are a lot of great .44 Magnum revolvers made (including the S&W Model 629) , and of course the .44 Desert Eagle pistol. But given its clunky ergonomics, I consider the Desert Eagle strictly a choice for advanced shooters. (It would take a lot of training to learn how to shoot fast and accurately.)

The .45 Winchester Magnum is a rimless cartridge, which makes it compatible with a wider range of magazine designs. Three years ago, I read that Collectors Firearms, was doing .45 Winchester Magnum conversions for M1 Carbines. But unfortunately their web site no longer mentions those, so I suspect that they are out of production. (Perhaps they still have a few pieces of old inventory.) But I'm sure that some enterprising individual will soon come up with one on an AR-15 platform. Nor would I be surprised if either Ruger and Marlin expand their semi-auto carbine offerings to do likewise.(Carbines in .45 Winchester Magnum would be a good market niche.) Pistol options for .45 Winchester Magnum include the Wildey and the LAR Grizzly, but given the heavy recoil of the cartridge, I presume that even more training would be required than for mastering the Desert Eagle.

As for .45 Colt, I don't consider it a serious self defense cartridge for two reasons: First, nearly all of the factory loads are extra mild, for liability reasons--since ammo makers fear that they might be loaded in an early iron-framed Colt SAA. Second, the exposed rim width of. .45 Colt is considerably smaller than the .44 Magnum. In my experience it is not unusual for a fired piece of brass to slip past the revolver's extractor "star" on the ejection stroke and get jammed underneath. This would be a Very Bad Thing(tm) to have happen in the middle of a gunfight.


2.) Buying both a pistol and a registered ("Class 3") submachinegun chambered for the same cartridge, preferably .45 ACP. By substituting a submachinegun (SMG) for the carbine, three shot burst capability and 30 round magazine capacity could make up for a pistol cartridge's lack of power at moderate ranges. (Although the practical accuracy of a three shot burst from a SMG at more than 100 yards is dubious.) And of course you would have to weigh the risk/reward ratio of making yourself "high profile" by getting a registered Class 3 SMG. (Fingerprinting, $200 Federal transfer tax, background check, and the consent of your local sheriff or chief of police.) Other possibilities with the same magazine capacity (but a lower social profile) might be semi-auto SMG clones. These include the HK USC semi-auto carbine in .45 ACP (the semi-auto variant of HK's UMP SMG), the Rock River Arms or Olympic Arms AR-15s chambered in .45 ACP, or the semi-auto versions of the venerable Thompson SMG. But with any of these guns, you are still limited to the relatively low power and rainbow long range trajectory of .45 ACP.

The two preceding approaches might work if you live in a heavily wooded eastern state (or perhaps a western rainforest such as Washington's Olympic Peninsula), and all of your anticipated combat shooting will be at less than 120 yards. But I don't think that if I were in that circumstance that I would be willing to put my life on the line, all for the sake of being able to say that I had achieved absolute one cartridge commonality nirvana. And as for anyone living in open country--like in the Plains states and most of the western states--limiting oneself to only a pistol cartridge--even the whomping .454 Casull--would be absurd.

One other consideration is that even if you were to get a pistol and a semi-auto carbine chambered in the same cartridge, odds are that their magazines would not be interchangeable. Hence, if you needed to "Rob Peter to pay Paul", then you would have to unload one type of magazine and reload it into another magazine. This doesn't sound like much fun to do in a hurry, when the air is thick with lead.

All of the preceding discussion of "maybe this" and "maybe that" marginal one-cartridge solutions bring us to the bottom line: In my estimation, the best that you can hope for in terms of maximizing cartridge commonality yet still be able to "reach out and touch someone" is to have all of your handguns chambered in one cartridge, and all of your rifles chambered in another. For example, here at the Rawles Ranch, nearly all of our handguns are.45 ACPs, and nearly all of our rifles--both bolt bolt actions and semi-autos--are .308s. (We do have a couple of .30-06 rifles, but only because we are in elk and moose country.)

Here is an excerpt from an article I read in “Fast Company” that provides some insight to the “Coming Collapse” The full version can be found here http://www.fastcompany.com/subscr/113/open_fast50-essay.html: “Water provides a typical example: By 2030, more than one in three human beings will not have enough to drink, or will run the risk of dying by drinking what they've got. Today, the prospect of such scarcity is causing countries to mine so-called fossil water from deep aquifers that were formed millions of years ago. Parts of India are pumping water at twice the recharge rate, causing water tables to fall between one and three meters per year. However, there is not much of an alternative: If India gave up groundwater mining, its grain production would likely fall by 25%, leaving it incapable of feeding itself. Nobody knows precisely how long this can continue, but the answer will be measured in decades, not centuries. Its little wonder that the World Bank says freshwater scarcity may well become one of the major factors limiting development in the years ahead.
Resource scarcity is going to be a front-page business issue as well, affecting industries from transportation to electronics. According to estimates by the International Institute for Environment and Development, at today's levels of production, there may be only another 28 years' worth of copper in the ground, another 21 years' worth of lead, a 17-year supply of silver, and 37 years' worth of tin. We will certainly get better at extracting, recycling, efficiently using, and finding replacements for these materials, but it is likely that basic industrial inputs will come under increasing pressure in the decades to come. A shortage of industrial-grade silicon, for instance, has recently spooked both the solar-cell industry and Silicon Valley. Moore's Law never assumed we would run out of sand.
Worse, the most worrisome trends are interrelated and self-compounding. Consider population growth and energy use: Over the past half-century, the consumption of energy worldwide has grown more than 400%, far outstripping overall population growth. The reason is simple: As people move up the economic ladder, they use more "discretionary energy" on everything from heated floors to trips to Vegas. Improving energy efficiency does not begin to address this gap--lighting your home with compact fluorescent bulbs will not make much of a difference if you (or your neighbors) move into a higher-wattage McMansion every year.
Apply this insight at a global scale, and things quickly become alarming. As enormous, rapidly growing and developing countries such as China and India seek to swell their middle classes in the coming decades, their energy demands will increase geometrically, not linearly. China intends to add at least 250 million citizens to its middle class, and create a well-to-do society by 2020, with a per capita income for the whole country that is five times the present one. In the meantime, China continues to burn almost one-third of all the coal mined from planet Earth to meet its annual needs, making Chinese cities among the most polluted and China the world’s second-largest source of CO2 emissions. And that's today: What happens when all those new Chinese middle-class consumers decide to drive to work? Are they any less entitled to the lifestyle model we've exported around the globe?”

Along with many other sources this confirms why ammunition has increased 10% across the board this year, and why silver is slowly, yet steadily rising. Here in Southern California there are increasing incidents of copper piping stolen from the rooftops of businesses. With fewer resources, available crime and desperation will increase. It is just a matter a time before our economy along with the rest of the world collapses in on it’s self.

I have to mention as well that I received your book “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation”. I have read it several times and have found it to be a great resource. I plan to sell my house here in Southern California and set up shop in one of your recommended retreat states. I have a brother who is a crew chief for the A-10 Warthog and a dynamite car mechanic. He plans to live near us when we find our retreat. I am seeking to “exit” my government job and start my own business. I have lost my faith in my Government backing up LEOs, such as the case with Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Copean. - Mike F.

These recipes are in addition to the letters on hard tack that you posted on your site:
Union Army Hardtack Recipe
2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of Crisco or vegetable fat
6 pinches of salt

Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter, knead several times, and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of 1/2 inch on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake for one- half an hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough. Turn dough over, return to the oven and bake another one- half hour. Turn oven off and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. Remove and enjoy!

Confederate Johnnie Cake Recipe

two cups of cornmeal
2/3 cup of milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix ingredients into a stiff batter and form eight biscuit-sized "dodgers". Bake on a lightly greased sheet at 350 degrees for twenty to twenty five minutes or until brown. Or spoon the batter into hot cooking oil in a frying pan over a low flame. Remove the corn dodgers and let cool on a paper towel, spread with a little butter or molasses, and you have a real southern treat! Two main staples of that cataclysm--and maybe the next as well. Regards, - J.K.

Mike the Blacksmith flagged this piece: Study sees harmful hunt for extra oil

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Keith mentioned: A draft UN treaty to tackle any future giant asteroids heading for Earth is to be drawn up this year. Keith's comment: "An interesting story, may be more likely to happen than Peak Oil or Sudden Climate Change, at least this is not as complex." Meanwhile, NASA's JPL dropped the impact risk of CA 19 (a one kilometer diameter asteroid due to approach Earth in 2012) from Torino Scale 1 to Torino scale 0.

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Rob at $49 MURS Radios is trying a novel barter "bidding" experiment: He writes: "I have been reading all the references to bartering on your blog and would like to try an experiment. I'm going to put a couple of pairs of the $49 MURS Radios aside and offer them up to the bartering process. Readers can make an offer to trade something they have in exchange for something I have. Offers will be accepted on the basis of value and desirability. At the end, I will report back on how well it worked out. I set up a special we page with more details. Thanks! - Rob"

"Freedom is not synonymous with an easy life... There are many difficult things about freedom: It does not give you safety, it creates moral dilemmas for you; it requires self-discipline; it imposes great responsibilities; but such is the nature of Man and in such consists his glory and salvation." - Margaret Thatcher

Monday, February 19, 2007

I have once again expanded and updated The SurvivalBlog Glossary. Please send me an e-mail if you notice that I left out any noteworthy acronyms or terms. Thanks!

Hi Jim,
Regarding the thread on converting generators to propane, last year I installed a tri-fuel conversion kit on my 7.5 KW generator, that has a Honda engine. [Since the conversion] it works perfectly and [the conversion kit] was very easy to install. If the [grid] power goes out, I can switch it to the piped-in natural gas and if that goes out, I can either use propane or gasoline.
I also got an inexpensive solar trickle charger and connected that to the battery, so that the battery is always fully charged. Best Regards, - Kurt

JWR Replies: I consider the small (5 watt) 12 VDC battery trickle chargers that you mentioned a must for every retreat. We have one for each of our vehicles here at the ranch. Keeping one of these connected to your backup generator battery is a great idea. They are available from Northern Tool & Equipment. (One of our Affiliate Advertisers.) At Northern Tool's web site, search on Item # 339973.

Propane is a good long term fuel for home and engine use as long as "the system" continues to work. How long will you be able to maintain your power needs after the balloon goes up?
Things to think about, [are]:
What are the common failure parts in you genset and automobile?
What are your consumables, gas, oil, diesel, hoses, gaskets?
How long can you practically extend oil changes and not damage your engines?
Can you add a oil purifier to your engine?
Wood gasifiers are a proven and reliable source of fuel to run engines for the long term. As long as there are trees and shrubs then you have fuel.
The GENGAS web page has charts and plans for a stratified down draft gasifier that can run all manner of internal combustion engines including diesels cars and generators.

If you want to see the kind of engines that stand the test of time go down to your local farm and see how many of the old tractors are still running [that were made] from the 1940s to the 1960s.
I would be careful about spending money on conversions that will only be useful while the [modern commercial] supply system is running.

One other note: How safe is your fuel storage from fire and to incoming [small arms] fire? Large propane tanks can and have leveled city blocks when set on fire. In some locales underground tanks are illegal so a block house away from your main structure would be in order, and security for same must be reviewed.
Now think of your last power outage. How quiet was your neighborhood? How far does the sound of your genset carry?

Remember that needs and wants are a long way apart. Skills are cheap and you can accumulate lots of those and no one can take them from you. Goods cost money and they can be taken or lost. The short of it is: do not buy what you can learn to build or do without. In my humble opinion the best way to survive is to organize like a Special Forces team with overlapping skill sets. And never rule out mobility as strategically v have any choice. Learn all you can about it. Good reference books to have are the U.S. Army's FM 7-8 on infantry tactics and battle drills and the Ranger handbook. A third "must have" is ST 31-91B US Army Special Forces medical handbook. As the motto [borrowed from the British SAS] goes: "Who dares, wins".
Sorry for the rambling but I read your blog every day at 0400 and don't get to write that often. so I start my day with a good cup of coffee and good friends. God Bless and Semper Paratus, - Mike H.

Having both worked in a hospital and worked for hospitals for the last 18 years I must loudly concur with "Mike the MD in Missouri". As a service specialist in an un-named Level 1 trauma center I had access to almost every inch of the facility(s) including the warehouses where we stored our unused equipment and all the patient care products. Naturally I was able to assess the on hand stock versus the use and replenish rates at a glance. I was always amazed at how little there actually was for a hospital in a city of
150,000 people.
Let me assure everyone that Mike the MD is absolutely correct. This, is due largely to the hospitals spiraling cost of doing business. The paltry or sheer lack of adequate funding to healthcare facilities has caused management to resort to Just in Time (JIT) inventories. Lean stock management is a necessity for all but the largest big city hospitals and even those are lean.
The small rural hospitals are, by far, the leanest and also will be the hardest hit if there is a disruption in transportation. Anyone remember the phrase "the sacrifice of the few for the benefit of the many"? This mentality applies to rural hospitals. The big inner city hospitals will get resupplied (albeit perhaps scantly) first.
It is incumbent upon each and everyone of us to have the appropriate, on hand, quantities of prescription medicines, symptomatic medications (helpful for those manning a LP/OP), med supplies in the form of gauze pads, bandages, tapes and wound closures including the "medical grade super glue" style, cleaners, skin preps, splints, wraps, towels, antiseptics, soaps and shampoos (un/minimally scented), tooth past and brushes, gloves, sutures (if possible), ointments, tools (medical and dental) of all sorts. Don't forget crutches, walkers, (if possible) a wheelchair, feminine hygiene
products, et cetera. Diabetic folks need to stock up heavily on syringes and needles. [JWR Adds: And they should absolutely stock as much insulin and test materials as possible without using them beyond their expiration dates. Be sure to label and conscientiously rotate these supplies on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis.]
Thanks to Mike the MD for broaching this topic and thanks also Jim for the platform to which the topic can be addressed. - Joe from Tennessee

Readers Scott S. and Gokuryu both mentioned this article: Saudi-Based Al Qaeda Group Calls for Attacks on Oil Facilities Worldwide to Cut Off Flow to U.S.

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"The Werewolf"--our correspondent in Brazil--sent us this bit of emerging technology: Pinpointing land mines with ultrasound beams.

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RCP mentioned this article: Grocers Prep For Pandemic Run On Food

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Notes from JWR: My only comment on the recent tragedy in Salt Lake City (where Sulejman Talovic, an 18-year-old Bosnian Muslim refugee ran amok with a shotgun and a .38 wheelgun) is that if we had a better armed citizenry, this madman would have been stopped much more quickly. (Probably long before he could have shot ten people.) I have no doubt that the gun grabbers will try to capitalize on this sad event. But they don't have an intellectual leg to stand on. Madmen will always be able to get hold of weapons, regardless of how many gun laws that the Barbara Boxers and Hitlery Clintons of the world put on the books. If Vermont-style concealed carry (with no permit required) were adopted nationwide, we would live in a much safer country. An armed society is a polite society.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon out with our primary chainsaw (a Stihl 029 with a 24" bar) cutting some firewood for next winter. It was a good opportunity to brief our kids about chainsaw safety--especially the necessity of wearing Kevlar chainsaw chaps. The widespread use of these chaps in recent years has greatly reduced those messy trips to the Emergency Room.

Speaking of cutting things off, I'm about to cut off the current debate on climate change at SurvivalBlog, since there are obviously some almost diametrically opposed views, and the debate is starting to run in circles. Thanks for your input, folks. The bottom line, in my estimation: Just be ready, regardless of what happens vis-a-vis short term weather patterns, or potential long term climate change.

Dear Jim and Family,
Wow, people sure are getting worked up and personal about climate change aren't they? I agree that as survivalists we should do our best to plan for reasonable emergencies. Cold weather gear in Central America? Probably not. A larger cistern system than you think you need in the desert or great plains? A good idea. Why? Climate change, whether caused by man or not, makes for changing rainfall patterns. Maybe heavier so your soil gets waterlogged and you get unexpected floods. In Hawaii this may mean more hurricanes. Or maybe Hawaii turns into a desert island with little rainfall and ends up collapsing like Easter Island did. If the rain gets more brief and falls less often, aqueducts, which keep your well full, could fail and you're suddenly out of water. Drought has a very long history in North America in particular, topping several advanced and complex civilizations: the Mayans, Hohokam, Mississippi Mound Builders, and the Anasazi. In north america, climate can be accurately mapped by tree ring growth and several other methods, and the region has a tendency of a couple centuries of reliable weather, then a couple decades of severe drought. We've had 150 years of reliable weather, and I guess now we're going to have drought. The Mayan calendar maps that to 265 year cycle of growth and destruction, which is purported to end around 2012, which should be around 4 years into the Peak Oil collapse.

A couple degree water temp difference means a huge difference in Cod catch in the North Sea near Norway and Iceland. There are centuries of records on those, if anyone is interested. A couple degrees can mean glaciers grow or retreat, which they've been doing for millennia before man began burning coal or oil. I think that the IPCC report is inconclusive, but I'm a geologist and nobody asks us about climate since our viewpoint is a lot longer than theirs and our conclusions don't make good headlines: "It's Interglacial. Climate changes because its erratic until the next ice age begins." But that's not as sexy as claiming the <s>sky is falling</s> world is melting and everything will die. I'm pretty tired to explaining this to ignorant masses who want to believe we're all going to melt into the sea.

When all is said and done, climate change is something the governments of the world have decided to accept as truth, regardless of whether it is or not. They are prepared to mandate "solutions" to "stop warming", when their own vaunted report says that if we start now with the most extreme measures (no CO2 emissions at all), it will take 50 years to see any change.

As survivalists, we should be thinking about the political consequences of that decision, such as banning the burning of firewood to cut CO2 emissions, outlawing internal combustion engines, perhaps even seizing rural properties without active agriculture because the cost of transit from this rural location makes it environmentally damaging under the Kyoto protocols. Think about that. Are there alternatives to allow your lifestyle to survive? Yes, but they'll be expensive and bid up by demand. Electric cars actually cost around $40K, and are subsidized by the government down to $22K. A mass release of electric cars to the general public won't scale up for subsidies, so expect to pay that $40K for the first models. Instead of seeing the price drop, it will probably rise with time as demand for the most efficient models and latest innovations (and inflation) will bring it higher. As metals will cost more to make thanks to the lack of fuels and restrictions on CO2 emissions, special taxes are added on for a personal transport vehicle, and road taxes and GPS tracking of mileage that gets very expensive. I can easily see cars costing $70K (before inflation) by 2012. How many households can afford that? I sure can't.

The IPCC report invites all sorts of oppression and we should fight misuse and abuse of the data aggressively. They'll take your guns today (UN says self-defense is illegal) so they can take your cars tomorrow (personal vehicles release too much CO2, use precious fossil fuels/electricity), then your furnace/fireplace (CO2), then your pantry. (Ration Cards). You can see where that's going. Pretty soon you're living in Orwell's 1984. Letting government, and their politically motivated scientists, tell me I can't burn wood, coal, or oil to heat my home because it releases CO2, thus denying my right to survive the winter in a rural retreat, is the same as a putting a gun to my head and telling me to obey and die. I have real problems with that. Things like this convince me that the UN is the enemy of the Free Man.

Even if the science behind the IPCC report is correct, the threat of forcing First World countries to suffer like the 3rd World is too high a cost, particularly when it means death for so many of us. Regardless of effort applied, change will have to be endured over the next 50 years, so basically the rest of our lives. It is in our own best interests not to abide by the Kyoto protocols and to adopt affordable alternative energy. Any changes we make must make economic sense and the radicals frothing at the mouth over the IPCC report want aggressive changes made now, the kind that kill a lot of people. These are not people we should be taking advice from.

So, think about rainfall totals, falling well levels, potential oppressive laws, and how to deal with them all at your location while you try and make a living under the radar with a modicum of both privacy and comfort. Best, - InyoKern

Dear Jim,
I see that folk myths are becoming part of the Ad-hoc Working Group (AWG) "science." Regarding: "Greenland! Those who bought the stories they were told about it were sorely disappointed when they arrived."
Repeating: there are currently Viking Era farms melting out of the glaciers in Greenland, proving it was warmer then than currently. Greenland was not a garden, but by the standards of the Norse it was quite viable. The furthest north discoveries of artifacts are near 80 degrees north, well above the ice line for centuries in between then and now. Greenland was occupied for 450 years, by people who had boats as a standard. Think of where the English word "Skipper" comes from, also "Starboard" and many other nautical terms. If it had not been viable, they would have left. The Inuit arrived around the year 1200, fully two centuries after the Europeans, and survived the climate change the other way--colder. This is established fact.
"(freakish warmth in Greenland at some point is not a basis for concluding that a world-wide trend was evident, as it wasn't) .
It's sad to see this myth persists."
As to there not being supporting evidence, here's a secondary source linking to lots of others: See: http://www.john-daly.com/hockey/hockey.htm This one smashes the notion that there was no Medieval Warm Period, with evidence from the Antarctic, Africa, North America, South America, Australia, the Pacific...all supporting a period warmer than today, followed by the Little Ice Age, and no measurable change in sea level.
The best quote from here is: As a prominent Finnish scientist remarked about a historical military event in his country's distant history, "if `anecdotal' ice is thick enough to carry a whole army, we can infer the ice was both thick and durable as an objective conclusion based on a documented historical fact."
To suggest that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) didn't exist is revisionism on par with Orwell's 1984. Any "scientist" claiming so is a charlatan, plain and simple. Too many disciplines, from geology to geography to botany to history to cartography all concur for them to be wrong on such a scale.
The other point I shall address is:
"In another widely held misconception, the rise in sea levels is not pegged to the weight of ice in the sea, but rather the melting of land ice and thermal expansion of the ocean."
This is an easy one (I had a physicist assist me, but my college math and HVAC thermodynamics is well able to grasp it):
The average temperature of the ocean surface waters is about 17 degrees Celsius
90 % of the total volume of ocean is found below the thermocline in the deep ocean. The deep ocean is not well mixed. The deep ocean is made up of horizontal layers of equal density. Much of this deep ocean water is between 0-3 degrees Celsius (32-37.5 degrees Fahrenheit)!
its volume is over 1340 million cubic kilometers
Average Depth: 12200 feet (3720 m).
A Calorie or kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water one Celsius degree.
Although the metric unit of energy is the joule, heat is commonly also measured in units called calories (there are about 4.19 joules in a calorie)
Oceans volume: 1.34x1021 l
Oceans mass: 1.4x1021 kg
90% of the water is below the thermocline and can be ignored -
surface heating won't affect it.
Average surface water temperature: 17 C
Energy required to raise average surface water temperature to 22C
5x1.4x1020 KJ = 7x1021 KJ
Solar power input to the Earth is about 1050 W/m2 after counting the
amount reflected. Earth's cross-sectional area is 1.27x1014 m2, so
total solar power input is 1.33 x 1020 W
So 50 million seconds of solar output would do it.
Giving density at 17C as 1.024193346 kg/l
and at 22C as 1.020066461 kg/l
So our 10% surface water of 1.4x1021 kg has a volume of
1.36692940397x1020 l at 17C and 1.3724595931x1020 at 22C
which is a difference of about 5.5x1017 litres = 5.5x1014 m3
The surface area of the oceans is 3.61x1014 m
which give an approximate level rise of 1.5m or five feet, about 0.41%.
So, if the sun doubles in output for TWO YEARS, enough energy will enter the system to raise the ocean level about 5 feet.
If we decreased the energy radiated from the Earth by 1% (a SIGNIFICANT change for a system in equilibrium radiating on average as much as it absorbs), and if all that extra energy went into the oceans, that would raise the water temperature by 3C over 100 years, for less than a 2 foot rise.
This disregards that the upper ocean is not a parallel-sided tank, but slopes, that 30% of that energy would fall on dry land, and that toward the poles much of it would be soaked up or deflected by atmosphere. Also, in the last 3 billion years, the solar influx has INCREASED 40% without catastrophe. http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/nineplanets/nineplanets/sol.html#solarconstant
This disregards additional cloud cover raising the albedo and reflecting some of the incoming energy.
Atmospheric warming is irrelevant to sea level expansion (it can affect surface ice), because the transfer rate from gaseous air to liquid water is very low.
And yet, this is an idea that so-called scientists are endorsing? I certainly hope not.
And there is certainly no consensus that warming is taking place to the degree some argue:
Supports global warming. Says he doesn't trust Mann's paper.
http://www.nps.gov/archive/mora/ncrd/glaciers.htm some advance, some retreat
http://www.nasa.gov/lb/vision/earth/environment/sea_ice.html Antarctic ice may be increasing
There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 million years ago), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.7 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 18 times higher than today.
The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today-- 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming."
One can say that the scientists working for the energy companies are "biased," but bias works both ways. One could also say that those getting paid higher wages by the private sector are competent. Those who can, do, and all that.
Certainly we are facing climate change. Certainly it will affect life, cause local disasters and shift society. But the planet, life and even the human race have withstood much worse with much less knowledge. - Michael Z. Williamson

On the Yahoo discussion group survivalretreat, the other two moderators and I recently posted a very boiled down and simple philosophy: “The more who prepare, and the better they each prepare, the better off we all are. We welcome people to join us as survivalists.” I hope this is your attitude as a survivalist, and if you think about it, wouldn’t this be an incredibly wise policy for any government to take. It would make its citizenship stronger, less needy, and more resilient to against any catastrophe or hard times. The best part is, it’s free. This is merely information, advice, and encouragement for people to ready themselves with some realistic advice as to how to do so. Survivalblog.com, to a significant extent does this for all of us through the continued posting of and debate of ideas, for free. Advertisers here make this financially possible, and offer the products and services that allow you to expand and improve upon your preparations. I hope you consider patronizing them first for this reason. I have.

Special thanks to James Rawles for the continuing level of quality and fresh material on the site. Is there financial self-interest for the advertisers? Of course there is. But don’t kid yourself about them becoming rich off this. Survivalism is unfortunately a very small market, and thus we should all take special appreciation as to how this blog site brings so many of us together internationally. I see that it is now been a year since I took the Ten Cent Challenge , and is time for me to renew. I encourage you to as well, as you are able.- Rourke

Reader Alfie Omega recommended some very sobering observations from Peak Oil guru James Howard Kunstler. Yes, he's coming from a left-of center political perspective, and the timing of Hubbert's Peak may be decades (or more) premature, but this is still worth pondering.

  o o os

Those RFID chips just keep getting smaller and more numerous. Now Hitachi has announced a nascent RFID dust.

   o o o

JB in Tennessee spotted a disposable toothbrush with self-dispensing toothpaste in the handle called Fresh 'n Go. JB notes: "It is advertised as good for about two weeks use, but I find that I can stretch one to 5-6 weeks. I have packed a handful in my family BOB, as well as in individual camping and survival kits. They were available initially in a few drugstore chains, but now the only reliable source seems to be direct from the manufacturer at $10 for [a package of] six units."

"In a free society, government has the responsibility of protecting us from others, but not from ourselves." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The first piece today is from a SurvivalBlog reader that took the Four Day Defensive Handgun course at Front Sight, outside Pahrump, Nevada. (Just under 40 miles from Las Vegas.) The Memsahib and I have taken the same course there, and we can attest that the trainers are excellent and that already well-experienced shooters will return from the course at a much higher plateau of skill and confidence with a firearm. There is no macho posturing, no shouting, and no belittling of students at Front Sight. Just very courteous instruction from some of the very best in the business. I highly recommend the training at Front Sight. Safety is stressed throughout. Near the end of Day Two of our course when they transitioned to "hot range" conditions, I felt no apprehension at all having all of my classmates with holstered loaded guns behind the firing line, because I knew that they had been drilled in safe gun handling procedures.

Perhaps the thing that I appreciate the most about Front Sight is the fact that they have a "train the trainer" approach. Thus, someone with a limited budget can attend Front Sight and then go home and pass on those skills to their family members and friends. Remember: A true survivalist collects skills, not gadgets. Just having a big defensive firearms battery does not make you well prepared. In fact, by itself an assortment of guns can give you an unrealistic sense of confidence. Get the training.Your life or the life of a loved one may depend on it.

Special thanks go to Dr. Ignatius "Naish" Piazza, the founder and director of Front Sight. He has very graciously provided us with the four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificates (worth up to $1,600 each) that we have been awarding to the first place winners of the the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This is how "S.F." earned his way to Front Sight.

I recently returned from a four day handgun course at Front Sight, courtesy of SurvivalBlog's writing contest. Upon arriving I made a quick headcount of the handgun class. ~50 students, 10 female and 40 male. Mostly 30 to 50 year olds but a few teenagers and 60 year olds as well. The first pleasant surprise was how safe and peaceful I felt in a location where I was surrounded by absolute strangers all of whom had a gun in plain sight on a holster. I've never been around so many armed people and never felt so comfortable either. Crime in such a situation was an utter impossibility. This was man (and woman) in their natural state: armed, and polite. No victims and no criminals here.
The class progressed from proper standing position, angles and presentation from the holster to trigger control, malfunction clearing, tactical situations and simulations (including night shooting), entering and clearing a room and hostage situations. There was also a good deal of class time where ethical, legal and tactical situations were discussed.
While there isn't space to delineate everything I've learned, here are some highlights:
1) Keep it simple. I thought my tricked out Glock 19 was a great idea but the first thing that they did was to take off the Jentra plug and Magwell. They told me that they would interfere with stripping out the magazine in certain malfunctions. On the other hand my tritium big dot XS sights did make rapid target acquisition much easier than the standard sights. I think it gave me a fraction of a second advantage over the other shooters. This may not seem like much but consider what happens if someone shoots you a fraction of a second before you can shoot them. There is no second place in a gunfight.
2) Know your weapon. Just owning it isn't enough. Having Heirloom seeds in my refrigerator doesn't make me a farmer and having a gun collection didn't make me a skilled shooter. Practice did. I had 35 high-brass malfunctions on Day 3. Was this due to underpowered ammo, a bad extractor or "limp wristing" a ported gun? I'll find out shortly when my gunsmith takes a look at it. Having your gun jam when a man is pointing an AK-47 at you (even if it is a paper simulation) it quite disconcerting, not having the automatic reflexes to clear the jam even, more so. Also, finding that your gun shoots 4 inches to the left at 10 yards makes tactical shooting a bit unnerving. There are many survival situations where you have the luxury of a few mistakes and correcting them in the field. So what if it takes you 30 minutes to start a campfire your first time with a flint and tinder. If it's not freezing it's no big deal. Next time you'll be faster. A gunfight is not the place to learn your lessons. A school is.
3) Know how to clear malfunctions. You should be able to clear type 1, 2, and 3 malfunctions in under 3 seconds. If you don't know what lock/strip/rack/rack/rack/insert mag/rack means, then you'd better find out now.
4) Whereas basic hand to hand combat skills can give you a degree of comfort in 1 on 1 unarmed encounters giving you a 'sphere of confidence' [of only] 5 feet in every direction, being skilled with a handgun can give you a sense of confidence against an armed opponent or multiple opponents out to 10 yards or better.

On the last day I was put 7 yards from a paper hostage target. A hostage was in the center of the target and offset to the right and left of the hostage's head were the silhouettes of two hostage taker's heads. Only a part of the hostage taker's head was visible. The instructors then asked for the name of a loved one (I gave my wife) and wrote the name on the hostage. The task was to put 5 controlled shots into the cranium (an area the size of an index card) of the the hostage takers on both the right and left without hitting the hostage. Ten shots later I breathed a sigh of relief. When I unrolled the target and showed my wife a few days later (I took the target with me) that the bad guys were shot and her target was unharmed, I felt more proud than if I had handed her a diploma from Harvard University.
I'll be going back for their rifle and advanced handgun courses without question. The instructors were very qualified and the entire experience was both sobering and enjoyable. I'm very grateful to the staff at Front Sight and Jim Rawles for the opportunity to learn. I recommend their training wholeheartedly. - SF in Hawaii

This "just in time" thinking has transformed the medical industry, especially hospitals. The "Central Supply" or stockpile in hospitals has disappeared and in its place are vendors with same day and next day shipping. This includes band-aids, medications, ventilators, equipment etc. In the business setting it makes sense, but in the medical setting it often falters on a day to day basis. In a crisis medical event, surge capacity is limited to how fast the vendors can respond. In a contained disaster, vendors can shift needed supplies to a hospital in as little as several hours. But, in a local area or larger disaster, when several hospitals are requiring materials, vendors can and will run dry. Recently we had an episode where we had to transfer several patients due to lack of ventilators at our facility. We requested more, but the the vendor had already sent them to another hospital that was in need, and this was only the typical flu/pneumonia season! Medications, IV fluids, surgical supply are all limited in supply at most hospitals. Add transportation and trucking problems, and many hospitals with cease to provide our current level of care. Pharmacies are in the same boat, antibiotics and even the OTC meds will quickly run dry, as vendors try to cope with a surge in usage. Thinking in terms of pandemic flu, this will reach crisis levels very quickly, and will set off a domino effect in local area, including rural hospitals and the big city hospitals, affecting routine and critical care. Lesson to be learned, is to stock up on medical supplies including any prescription meds you need, but also antibiotics and symptomatic medications such as Tylenol, Aspirin, Motrin, Imodium, but also on IV fluids, oxygen and other medical materials that could save your life. Obviously, getting an EMT, paramedic, RN, or doctor into your group will be priceless, and life saving, now and into the future.
Another aside, what is the recommendations for your tool cache? Everyone gives there opinion on weapons, and what foods to stock up on, but what basic tools do you recommend to have on hand?
- Mike the MD in Missouri

JWR Replies: I will discuss tool selection in detail in my upcoming non-fiction book: "Rawles on Guns and Other Tools for Survival". I hope to release it this coming summer.

I believe I mentioned this to you before. There is a company in West Virginia that makes the whole kit to convert just about any generator to propane, even tractors, with a phone call:
http://www.propane-generators.com/ - Sid, Near Niagara Falls, New York

Hi Jim:
Hit the nail on the head didn't you? Jericho is nothing more than the standard protagonist/antagonist Hollywood pipe dream of heroes coming out of the woodwork to save the day.

I certainly hope no one is seriously considering this show as a realistic depiction of life after "the pulse". Rather, I compare this show to the "Dark Angel " series, i.e. for network TV, fairly good science fiction with almost nothing based in fact. Actually, I retract that statement. As far as depicting the scenario after an EMP event; the "Dark Angel" series was quite a bit more realistic than Jericho, if you ignore the mutants that were the basis for the show. The "Dark Angel" series depicts a repressive and corrupt socioeconomic system fostered and encouraged by the so-called "government" that came into place after all "normal" government had failed. Checkpoints, passes to enter and leave the city, national ID cards. Sound familiar? These are realities that have and will occur if a major catastrophe strikes.

Back to Jericho: Nice mercenaries? Way too many Steven Segal movies. Backing down a crew of heavily armed mercs with shotguns and 22 rifles? I Don't think so. One realistic part was the sniper shot by the only fellow in Jericho who has a lick of sense, the double agent. I doubt he makes it all the way thru the third season, if there is a third season. The response to that scene was not so realistic!

I understand that the anticipated rush by the general populace to stock up on "survival" supplies due to the influence of this show never materialized. I imagine this is because the viewing audience of Jericho either:
1] Feels they are already prepared and watch the show because it validates their preparations or 2] Takes the show with a grain of salt. Pretty cool situation drama, and beats the heck out of the That 70s Show reruns or one of the other "pabulum" shows on network TV or 3] Simply have their head in the sand! Their thought processes may be as follows: "This can never happen, and , if it does, we can live like those folks on Jericho."See how well they live?".And, "They have power, food, water, even beer and a transistorized juke box that still seems to work after a half a dozen megaton nukes go off all over the US!"
Enjoy the show, take it for what it really is, and Lord help us if the depicted scenario actually occurs. - Bob in GA

Mr. Rawles:
I appreciate your take on Jericho, but I see it a little differently from an average person's perspective. Jericho is not going to be an accurate portrayal of how the US would react because the general public could not handle it if it were. The show would be too violent, too depressing and would never garner ratings, let alone be aired by politically correct network. To make it an entertainment vehicle, it has to have the very elements that make it more fantasy than reality (girls and makeup, lack of arms, etc.). On the flip side, what makes this show wonderful is that it actually has a large audience of ordinary folks who may never have thought of survivalism or may never have thought they could survive such a cataclysmic event. So yes, it is not accurate. But if it gets people talking and moving towards preparedness, then it's saving lives. That is heck of a lot more than you can say about CSI or American Idol. LOL. I speak from personal experience since up until last fall, I was one of those 'sheeple' whose eyes were opened by the show and the survival [Internet] groups I joined as a result. - Tarran

Reader CM flagged this piece: Flu pandemic could choke 'Net, force usage restrictions. CM's comments: "I came across this article in LinuxWorld and thought it meshed very well with your thoughts on lean supply systems. Everything's great when the critical people continue to show up to work and system disruption or damage can be limited. As the article states, no one can war game out exactly what those critical people will actually do in a real Crunch."

  o o o

David in Israel recommended this inspiring story of survival, from World War II.

   o o o

Mike F. sent this CNN news story: National Guard troops aid motorists stranded by winter storm. Mike's comment: "Here is a great example of why we all need a survival kit in each of our vehicles."

"'My country right or wrong' is like saying, 'My mother drunk or sober.'" - G. K. Chesterton

Friday, February 16, 2007

Today is the first day of a new SurvivalBlog benefit auction. This one is for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar! This is an awesome guitar, in eye-catching stylized U.S. Air Force A-10 livery. It has a $729 retail value. It was kindly donated by the fine folks at Schecter Guitar Research.) Please tell any of your friends that are guitarists about this auction. The auction bidding starts at just $50. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Congratulations to Mike in Missouri, the high bidder in our most recently ended benefit auction, for a pair of upgraded MURS hand-held radios.

Airing of new episodes of the television series Jericho will resume on February 21st here in the States. (After some sort of "split season" break.) I've watched most of the episodes via the Internet, since we don't own a television here at the Rawles Ranch. Here is my "$.02 worth" evaluation of the show, based on my own viewing and from comments that I've distilled from Internet discussion boards: Jericho severely stretches credulity for accurate portrayal of a post-nuclear America. Apparently all of the female characters must have been secret adherents of the Maybelline School of Survivalism and hence stocked up heavily on cosmetics in anticipation of WWIII. Viewers deduced this because none of the female characters show any signs of running out of lipstick or mascara, or for that matter the requisite time to apply them. And as for the men folk? Well, apparently hardly anyone in the town of Jericho owned a decent .308 semi-auto battle rifle, or if they did then they must be hiding them. Now that the proverbial Schumer has hit the oscillator and flown around copiously, nobody in Jericho feels the need to go about their daily business armed. That seems odd, since in a recent episode the town of Jericho was attacked by a large groups of rogue Blackwater-ish looking mercenaries bent on "requisitioning"" food and fuel. If the show were less politically correct and a bit more pragmatically honest, then they would portray the majority of the adult citizenry--both male and female--armed at all times when they are outside of their homes. It only stands to reason that they would do so, both for their individual and collective defense. My other problem with the show is that it trivializes the need for basic necessities like food and water. For example, there they are on dead-level Kansas terrain, yet they seem to have no problem obtaining drinking water, without benefit of grid power. Perhaps the script writers don't want to bore the audience with mundane things like the struggle to obtain the bare necessities of life, or the fragility of our technological infrastructure. I realize that the producers are trying to appeal to a broad demographic, but the characters seem to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing relationships. Come on! America has just been nuked back to 19th Century technology and population levels, yet they seem oh-so concerned with who is dating who. Lastly, for a town that has had no 18-wheelers arriving with milk, Nutter Butter cookies, and Pop-Tarts for several weeks, the citizenry seems remarkably well-fed and law abiding. Given the fact that the average American home has less than a week's supply of groceries on hand, I am dubious that Mr. Joe Sixpack would just quietly starve at home. In actuality, there would be a lot of burglary and siphoning going on. Lots of it. Oh well, perhaps I'm too critical and cynical. It may not be very realistic, but at least Jericho beats watching re-runs of situation comedies or the umpteen different geographical flavors of CSI forensics shows.

OBTW, I should mention that airing of the new Jericho episodes should reinvigorate the Jericho Discussion Group, which is moderated by Rourke. (Who you'll probably recognize as a frequent SurvivalBlog content contributor.)

Hi Jim,
A friend just sent this note to me and I thought I should pass it on to the SurvivalBlog readers:

I finished the generator conversion this weekend. I converted my generator from gasoline to propane. I had to order the big regulator (Garretson) from an online supplier.
These are a 'demand' [feed] regulator and will only deliver propane if something is pulling on it. Once the engine is shut off, it quits delivering gas. I started by removing the gas tank and fittings, then
stripped the carb down, removing everything that had anything to do with fuel delivery. I left the throttle and choke in place.
Using RTV/Silicone by Permatex, I plugged every hole and orifice in the carb except the main fuel delivery tube. Ace Hardware provided most of the brass fittings. The really tough fitting was the elbow that goes into the bottom of the carb. I managed to find an elbow with a heavy wall barb and just threaded the barb to match the threads in the carb. Everything else was 'plug and play'.
Skagit Farm Supply was the source the tank regulator, 12 foot hose, and fittings to adapt the hose to the Garretson regulator. I elected to go with a tank regulator having about four times the flow capacity
of a barbeque grill regulator. I salvaged the propane tank fitting from an old barbecue grill and modified it by drilling out the passages and knocking out the check ball. This modification was done to assure
adequate gas flow in cold weather. I also took the needle valve apart and cleaned it, then applied a liberal dose of Crystolube 111 lubricant to the threads and "O" ring. Crystolube is an oxygen-safe
lubricant and is not affected by any petroleum product. I tightened the gland nut down to the point that the needle valve has enough drag/resistance so that it won't move from vibration when the genset
is running.
The 1/4 inch fuel line (regulator to carb) was sourced from a Shuck's Auto Supply store and the fuel line clamps were salvaged from the original gas tank. This really isn't critical, as there is no positive pressure in this line.
I made the regulator bracket from a piece of 1/8" x 3/4" mild steel strap and installed it with fasteners I salvaged from the gas tank mounting.
Total cost of the conversion parts was in the neighborhood of $110 (perhaps a little less.)

So, how does it run? Perfectly. I should have removed the choke and will the next time I have the carb off. The choke is unnecessary, as the Garretson regulator has a 'prime' button it to give the carb a
shot of propane. The engine starts on the first pull and the mixture was very easy to adjust.

[My generator set is a] 4000/4400 Watt genset with Subaru Robin 9 h.p. engine. It should run about 12 hours on a 'grill size' tank of propane. I will eventually be plumbing this into the house propane system so I don't have to mess with the little tanks.

I am impressed with the little Subaru Robin engine. It is an overhead cam / overhead valve engine and is beautifully made. It also runs at less than half the noise level of the last genset I had. I would say
this engine is equal to or better than a same-sized Honda engine, and having heard a Honda genset run, the Subaru is quieter. I would not hesitate to do this again.

Hope this can be beneficial to you and your readers. God Bless! - Steve, Still in Seattle

A scary video on binary explosives. I can now see why US and UK transportation officials recently got so anxious about allowing any cigarette lighters and any liquids aboard commercial airline flights.

  o o o

For those of you considering a "blue water" or "brown water" bug out, Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that he has in stock just one high capacity PUR-Katadyn Model 35 MROD-type desalinator that has been freshly factory reconditioned. It produces 1.5 gallons of fresh water per hour. These are normally around $1,500 each. Ready Made Resources is selling this one for the bargain price of just $895 and it comes with four bottles of biocide, which are otherwise $35 each.

   o o o

James K. tells us: "This video [titled "Old Friends'"] over at YouTube.com has been making the rounds, and I thought it would be of interest to your readers. It depicts a semi-prepared family trying to hunker down, and survive a pandemic of bird flu. Sadly, the video shows that half-way measures only get half-way results. [JWR Adds: Warning. Graphic violence!]

"There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes, and the other is the Bill of Rights." - Major General Smedley Butler, US Marine Corps 1930

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today is the last day in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. Many of the storage food items have sold out. This is your last chance to stock up at these prices. (Their prices are less than half of retail!)

Today is also the last day of bidding in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a pair of MURS band handheld transceivers, with extended range flex antennas. The high bid is still at $175. These radios were kindly donated by Rob at $49 MURS Radios.

And today we present another article submitted for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Here is my approach to actively preparing for disasters:
1. Identify potential threats.
2. Gather quantitative and qualitative information on impact.
3. Identify which threats are the most likely.
4. Identify critical needs for survival.
5. Estimate outage time that can be tolerated.
6. Compile resource requirements.
7. Identify alternatives.

1. Identify potential threats.
Threats will come from two main areas: man-made or natural. Man-made threats include labor strikes, riots, fires, chemical spills, terrorism, and vandals. A labor strike might mean that garbage collection or that public transportation stops. Urban riots have hit cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, Miami, and Cleveland in recent years. Wildfires are the number one disaster threat in much of the south. Industrial areas have large amounts of chemicals hauled in and out by the trainload, these tracks run the length and width of the nation. Terrorism might have a direct or in-direct impact upon you. Finally vandals might come upon your second home and destroy it and its contents.
Natural threats are things like tornados, snow storm/blizzards, hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. These tend to be even more destructive than man-made threats. Much of the center of the nation is covered in tornado alley. Tornados do massive amounts of damage where they strike and little can resist their forces. Snow storms and blizzards affect the northern states and can stop all but the most determined from traveling. Hurricanes are no stranger to those states on the Gulf of Mexico and along the southern Atlantic coast. These huge storms are able to do massive damage to wide areas and will often hit the public rescue and support infrastructure just as hard as the public. Flooding can happen nearly anywhere within the United States where homes are built within flood zones. California is famous for earthquakes but the central Mississippi valley is also a large earthquake zone. Earthquakes are like hurricanes in that their damage is widespread and can prevent public services from reaching the needy.

2. Gather quantitative and qualitative information on impact.
Quantitative information are those things that one can put a number on. For each identified threat what is the likelihood of that threat occurring and just how bad that the affect likely be. How often does that threat occur over time? Looking back over the history of your location can help as well as looking at other areas similar to yours. Aircraft crash all around the United States each year but if you live under the take-off path of a busy airport in an area prone to bad flying conditions that risk is greater than if you didn’t live there. An area might be prone to flooding and you can normally pull the 100-year flood plan to see if the particular plot of land that you’re living on falls within that flood plain.

3. Identify which threats are the most likely.
Using your quantitative and qualitative assessment rank which threats are most likely and which are least likely to occur in your area. Raw numbers can not always provide the answer. Sometimes there is a gut feeling or rough judgment that has to be made.
If you remember the Star Trek television program from the 1960s Kirk and Spock went about solving the monster attack of the week differently. Spock would use the facts, figures, and history available to him to make a quantitative judgment … “Captain, there’s an 87% chance that if I adjust the ships’ phasers …” where on the other hand Kirk would make judgment calls … “Spock just do it this way because it feels right”. Both characters work their way toward the answer from different sides of the logic/gut feeling equation.
Two people living side-by-side might be given the same data and come up with different solutions to the same threats. They both ought to have that threat on their list but their solutions aren’t right or wrong because they don’t match. This is Captain Kirk’s judgment call based on what feels right. Spock can’t analyze everything to come to a 100% logical conclusion so some rough judgment needs to be made if something is ever to get done toward a solution.

4. Identify critical needs for survival.
Again this seems simple enough but what is needed by some families might not be needed by another. We all can agree on the basics like food, water, shelter, and a method of defense but a family with an infant that is bottle feeding is going to have different requirements than one with adults, as an example. Look at you and your family and identify what is needed for their survival. Special requirements like medicines have to be kept in supply. Water might be available in your area but a massive chemical spill might render it contaminated, do you have the ability to purify it with a filter? Winter storms can be a killer in Minnesota and North Dakota or a nuisance in Phoenix or San Antonio. Your requirements are going to differ both based on the make up your family and your location.

5. Estimate outage time that can be tolerated.
For each of your critical needs how long can you do without them? Some might call electrical power a critical need. If that electrical power is required for a medical device that loss could be tolerated a whole lot less than one who requires that same power for communication purposes. Living without heat in Miami is easy as is without an air conditioner in Duluth. If you have a clean running source of water close-by the loss of city water utility service will be easier. What is the likelihood of an outage of a given length of time occurring based on past experience and history? The likelihood of electrical power going out during a hurricane is high but based on experience does the power remain out for a day, a few days, a week, or several weeks? [JWR Adds: For those of you that live in a "four season climate", the acceptable length of outages will also vary greatly, depending on the season--e.g.: you'll probably have a lower tolerance for a power failure in mid-winter.]

6. Compile resource requirements.
Now based on your focused threat assessment and your now identified needs across the estimated outage time, make a list of items. Make sure that you look for interdependencies. If grandpa needs his medicine for a three week service outage you might need to refrigerate it meaning you’re going to need a power source like solar power or a backup generator. If you have a generator you’re going to need fuel, a fuel storage area, fuel conditioner, a maintenance plan for the generator and possibly more. Having a bunch of firearms without the ammo, skills, and training in tactics to use than is a half baked plan. Communications equipment requires power, training in operation, and often a license. Start to gather your items over time until you’ve completed your list. No one expects to run out one weekend and run their credit up to the limit prepping. A sustained effort over time will make better sense. Keep an eye out for alternatives to paying full price like finding an item at a yard sale, buying one used at an on-line auction, or pick one up during an off season sale.
Gathering your supplies together for rapid use or deployment (see alternatives below) helps keep things organized and accounted for. Location depending you may need to store things inside and out for best life span of the materials.
Once you’ve completed your list do a second analysis to see if you want to lay in some more of one item or another possibly even for barter or to help a needy neighbor. Often the material in your supplies will have an expiration life span so keep a list of expiration dates for future purchases. Routinely do a visual inspection of your gear and supplies to ensure that things are rusting away quietly or that rodents haven’t found your emergency food supplies.

7. Identify alternatives.
Sometimes staying put through a disaster doesn’t make sense or is impossible. You can’t hold back the flood waters and it makes sense to move to higher ground. Always have a plan “B” and I would recommend that plan “C” be not too far off either. There are people who don’t have the good sense to leave when it’s time to leave. These people are held in place by emotion. A plan “B” would give them an out and likely they’d come out better than doggedly sticking with plan “A” as it fails.
Leaving the home is never easy. Hopefully you make the decision to leave in time to save yourself but also before everyone else in the area does too or else you’ll find yourself stuck in traffic. Depending on your location and the distance to safety from the disaster area you may need anything from a good pair of boots and a backpack, to a well supplied 4x4 SUV, to a boat. Often you lessen the severity of a disaster with each step you take from it. You might not make it to complete safety but you can make it to survival. Bugging out to a work location or a public area might work where bugging out of state might not. Good enough sometimes works.
Having a plan “B” means that from time-to-time you’re going to need to practice it. In the military that’s called a training exercise and can involve anything from a sit down around a table and looking over plan “B” to a full-scale run through.[JWR Adds: One crucial thing to test is your loading plan. You won't know what will fit in your vehicle(s) until you actually try it. I predict that most of you will find that you grossly overestimated the available cargo volume versus the volume of your "to go" pile. Based on this "test load", you can much better evaluate the list of items that you need to pre-position at your intended retreat.]
It’s been said that if you don’t focus on the target you’ll miss it every time. This brief primer isn’t meant to cover all aspects of disaster survival but it is meant to get you to start thinking in a focused manner on your plans. Over time things change and both the primary and secondary plans to be reviewed to ensure that they are current. A key point becomes when to actually activate the plans and it’s often better to error your judgment to the safety side rather than the less safe side of a non-qualitative judgment. You can analyze yourself into danger and sometimes the gut feeling is the one that you have to listen to.- Paul C. in Southern California

Frequent content contributor Michael Z. Williamson found an amazing web site, by way of an Internet discussion on asthma. Mike notes: "It seems a bit extreme by modern standards, and I hope I never have a need to try the traditional cure."

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By way of our friend Noah at the DefenseTech blog: British SAS troops use a commercial gravy mix to darken their skin for Middle East infiltrations.

"Liberty is lost through complacency and a subservient mindset. When we accept or even welcome automobile checkpoints, random searches, mandatory identification cards, and paramilitary police in our streets, we have lost a vital part of our American heritage. America was born of protest, revolution, and mistrust of government. Subservient societies neither maintain nor deserve freedom for long." - Congressman Ron Paul, August 9, 2004

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tomorrow is the last day of bidding in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a pair of MURS band handheld transceivers, with extended range flex antennas. The high bid is still at $175. These radios were kindly donated by Rob at $49 MURS Radios. Check out his products. What Rob sells are a lot of radio for the money. I've heard nothing but rave reviews from the SurvivalBlog readers that have bought these. As previously mentioned in the blog, Kenwood 2 watt MURS handhelds have far better range than FRS radios, they require no license, and can be custom programmed for, MURS, 2 Meter Band frequencies and/or weather warning (WX, receive only) channels, and they are also compatible with alert message frequencies for Dakota Alert intrusion detection systems. (A license is required if using 2 Meter Band frequencies.) I strongly endorse these hand-helds! If you don't already own a pair, look into getting some.

I often have people ask me if state or Federally-managed forest land or BLM land would be a viable place to take temporary or long term shelter in the event of of a societal collapse. There might be exceptions, but my blanket assertion is no, that is a bad idea for even a temporary retreat locale. Here is my rationale:

Access: Access is a huge issue. Public lands are intended for visits, not residence.Odds are that if you make camp on state or Federal land, men with badges and guns will arrive within a couple of weeks and forcibly send you packing. In bad times, the local land owners will not want any perceived "riff raff" residing in the nearby public lands. The "we/they paradigm" dictates that the locals will lump all newcomers and assorted straphangers--good and bad--together into the category of "undesirables." So assume that the locals will make the call to report any new forest land interlopers. In extremis, they might even take matters in their own hands.

There is also no guarantee that once you get in to public lands that you can get out. Many roads inside forest lands are not maintained in winter. Depending on the latitude and elevation, this could mean getting truly "snowed in" for the winter. And, depending on the depth of your larder and your available fuel for heating, you might not have chances any better than the ill-fated Donner Party. (But by the same token, if you have a lot of food and fuel, then getting snowed it would be a good thing . (Snow-blocked roads will insure your privacy.)

Shallow larder: It goes without saying that if your family arrives with only what it can carry in a couple of vehicles, then you won't have a long term food supply. One of the greatest advantages of a fixed-site retreat is the "deep larder." A deep larder can make up for a bad season of gardening, or a bad season of hunting. But a shallow larder leaves no margin for error. I've often said that the last category that you want to be in when the Schumer Hits the Fan is "refugee." If you are traveling light, then you are just one step away from homeless/unprovisioned/refugee status.

Hunting pressure: In the event of a full scale economic collapse or a major natural disaster, there will suddenly be a lot of people trying to subsist on wild game, year round. The hunting pressure on the wild game flocks and herds will be tremendous. I anticipate that in most states in CONUS--except perhaps for parts of Idaho and Montana--the game will get both heavily thinned and badly spooked. After just a few months it will probably be difficult to hunt with any reliable chance of success. Furthermore, hunting on public lands may become a dangerous proposition. It is not too difficult to envision that in TEOTWAWKI, someone that is really desperate might see bagging you as their opportunity to return to their camp with both meat and a nice new rifle.

Security: This is the biggest risk. A cluster of tents or vehicles is almost impossible to effectively defend against attack by determined looters. It takes mass to stop bullets. (I presume that if someone had the money that it would take to buy a couple of military surplus APCs, then they would also have the budget for a nice cozy retreat property. Hence, anyone camping on public lands probably isn't going to be in an up-armored conveyance.) Here is the basic problem: Since you cannot legally build any structures or even fell any trees on public land (except with a firewood cutting permit), you will have no substantive ballistic protection. The alternative of camouflaging yourself by hiking in to camp a remote area might have some merit. But then, away from your vehicles, your larder would by necessity be even shallower. It is also difficult to avoid the smoke from campfires being spotted from a long distance. Yes, you could "cold camp", but that would be even less comfortable. If you try to go totally "low profile" out in public forest lands then you will fare no better than those using the "Batman in the Boondocks" approach that I previously discussed (and dismissed) in both SurvivalBlog and in my non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

All of the foregoing does totally not rule out some hardy soul finding a way to make camping on public lands viable. With sufficient planning it could be done in a truly remote area. Yes, you could conceivably cache a large quantity of food, smokeless fuel (such as propane), tools, tentage, and supplies. But to be ready for a "one trip bugout" in a WTSHTF situation, this would only be practicable if you cached all of that gear well in advance. And that brings up a while 'nother set of problems, including curious bears, persistent wood rats, and some serious legal issues. (Caching any private property anywhere on public land, is to the best of my knowledge illegal and not advised!)

Nor does the foregoing rule out buying a small parcel of land that adjoins state forest land, BLM land, or national forest land. This a great way to have a "big backyard" both for hunting and to provide a buffer from population. For example, here at the Rawles Ranch, we have contiguous public land on two sides, giving us far more privacy, wood cutting, and hunting opportunities than we could otherwise afford. Here in The Unnamed Western State (TUWS), a one firewood cutting permit from the forest service still costs just $5 per cord. (Actually, you have to buy a minimum of a four cord permit, for $20. The maximum that the forest service will sell is a 10 cord permit.)

The bottom line: Using state or national forest lands just isn't a viable alternative for 99% of us. If you can't afford to buy a retreat of your own, then you should team up with an existing retreat group, or form a new group, and pool your resources. The only other decent alternatives that I can see are "bugging in" (which has serious drawbacks in a full scale societal collapse), or depending on the good graces of some country cousins.

Mr. Rawles,
I live in Southwestern Missouri. Did you followed the ice storm that buried the Midwest? We got hit pretty hard. We get hit hard every four or five years. Which brings me to my point. I have never seen so many unprepared people in all my life.

After day two of the ice storm power was out (for a month in a lot of places like Springfield). There were no gas cans to be found at any store. Batteries, disposable propane bottles, flashlights, milk, and meat were missing from the shelves of every store. Even Wally World [Wal-Mart] was bare. Kerosene shot up to as much as six dollars a gallon just before the pumps went dry. And generators? Forget it. Blood sucking companies were trucking in generators in 18 wheelers then selling them in parking lots for outrageously inflated prices.

I work part time at a nation wide auto parts store so I got to see some ground level action. Folks were buying seven dollar flashlights just for the two D cell batteries in them. I watched a guy buy a twenty dollar torch kit just for the three dollar bottle of propane it came with. I know we're not talking about TEOTWAWKI or WTSHTF. We're just talking about a relatively short period of time without any utilities and day to day comforts.

It was business as usual at my place. We had plenty of food, warmth, and lights.

I have several ceiling mounted light fixtures in my house with 12 volt/75 watt bulbs in them. Two batteries in the garage power them. I used my fireplace for heat. I have Plenty of stored water. I keep lots of those disposable propane bottles around for my lantern and cook stoves. A gas stove and a gas hot water heater are a must. I would never own a home with an electric kitchen. A few number 10 cans of bulk food, a few MREs, and even some frozen meats and foods took care of our meals. My scanner and my Wife's small palm sized TV kept us informed of the weather and police activity in our area.

We never missed work, we never missed any meals, we never missed a hot shower, and we never got cold. All because of a few simple things I did years ago. What I did wasn't expensive, hard, or complicated. Any one can do it.

[Odds are that] in another four or five years we will be hit by another devastating ice storm. I hope that the folks around here have learned something. - Bob F. in Missouri

I'd just like to exhort readers to invest whatever modest sum they can in helping to keep SurvivalBlog up and running--stepping up to the Ten Cent Challenge or whatever other means of providing support they feel up to.

There's nothing else of this type and quality out there on the web, and if folks think that anyone can live on the paltry ad fees you collect for the site, then they are obviously not aware of the details.

It's to all of our benefit that you have given this your best shot--committing your full attention to making sure your readers get the best advice in survival available. I know well what it must take for you--I am, in similar fashion, trying to keep Safecastle LLC moving forward. It's a load and a half, and if you don't have a similarly dedicated and understanding client/reader base to help you with your vision, then ultimately, it can all disappear.

Yes, I'm an advertiser here. You could say I have my own reasons for wanting SurvivalBlog to succeed. But that would be a bit too cynical. My own view is that all of us with a mind to help others prepare are on the same team. There's a lot of work to do out there, and none of us can make a dent in it by ourselves.
Stay strong and on the path! - Vic at Safecastle

I don't know how I overlooked it for so long, but I should have mentioned that there is a great web resource on post-Peak Oil living at Life After the Oil Crash (LATOC), hosted by California attorney Matt Savinar. They also have their own Forums, which are quite active. See: The LATOC Forums.

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Mike F. sent this article link: Mystery Ailment Strikes U.S. Honeybees. Apiary expert "The Bee Man, Jr." tells SurvivalBlog: "The CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) is a real and devastating threat to our nation's food supply and economy. At this time, there are few indicators what actually CCD is. We know the result of the infection. There seems to be signs of fungal, bacterial and viral infections found during dissection. As of this moment, the vector is unknown. Most small Beekeepers are doing everything possible to save their hives from using essential oils to massive doses of antibiotics." He also mentioned: "The pollination of human food, Ethanol-based fuels and animal feed (this includes wildlife feed) is in jeopardy. The only thing I can recommend at this time is to pray a "cure" is found and stock up on a good supply of "raw" honey. It'll keep for a long time!

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"The Werewolf"--our correspondent in Brazil--sent us this link: RioBodyCount.com.br. His comment: "It´s sad, but the turmoil in Rio de Janeiro has become so ugly that an NGO created a counter. The counter only shows the results of gun fights (bad guys, good guys, policemen, children...) For those that don't speak Portuguese: "Fevereiro" = February", "Mortos" = Dead, and "Feridos" = Wounded.

"The monastic communities for survival will be located in high places, because in dangerous times it is heights that are easiest to defend. They enable the advance of hostile hordes to be seen from a distance and prepared for; and they favor the traditional counter- attacks that are helped by force of gravity -- the rolling down of rocks and stones against assailants. Further, hilltops are naturally protected against floods; they are also very likely to be left alone by the large masses of people on the move, since migrant hordes are inclined to go after easy prey rather than undertake an arduous siege of doubtful outcome." - Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm continuing my special "support our troops:" sale on copies of the new expanded 33 chapter edition my novel "Patriots" through the end of the month. If you place an order directly with me, and you have us mail it to an APO or FPO address, then the price is just $12 per copy, plus $3 postage. (That is $10.99 off of the cover price--right near my cost.) OBTW, speaking of supporting our troops, be sure to visit the AnySoldier.com web site, and "do your bit." As previously mentioned, some young enlisted troops that are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan get no mail from home, so anything that you can send them--even just a postcard--is appreciated. I now offer a couple of additional payment options for book orders: both AlertPay and GearPay. (I prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.) In my experience, AlertPay has a frustratingly labyrinthine account set-up procedure, but GearPay seems much quicker and easier to set up.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net

When I give lectures or do radio interviews, I'm often asked for proof when I mention that we live in a "fragile society." Here is one prime example: kanban. The kanban or "just in time" inventory system was developed in Japan, and became popular in America starting in the 1970s. It is now ubiquitous in nearly every industry. The concept is simple: Through close coordination with subcontractors and piece part suppliers, a manufacturer can keep its parts inventory small. (Kanban is a key element of "lean manufacturing.") They only order batches of parts as needed ("just in time"), sometimes ordering as frequently as twice a week. Companies now hire Six Sigma consultants and Kaizen gurus, they buy sophisticated data processing systems, and they hire extra purchasing administrators. But these expenses actually save them money at the bottom line. I have a close friend, "B.A.", that has worked as a lean process consultant, and he chimed in on a draft of this article that I sent him last weekend. (See his interspersed notes.) "Just in time" inventory systems have several advantages: Less warehouse space, less capital tied up in parts inventory, and less risk of parts obsolescence.

B.A. Adds: Actually, in many cases, if the simplest [lean process] methods are revealed through asking the "5 Whys" and understanding optimum flow, the sophistication (including data processing systems) can often be greatly reduced or eliminated; I think the perception is that complexity is better is often a sales job from folks selling the hardware and software!

The downside is that lean inventories leave companies vulnerable to any disruption of supply. If transportation gets snarled, or if communications get disrupted, or a parts vendor has a strike or a production problem, then assembly lines grind to halt. Just one missing part means that no finished products go out the door. In some industries, the complexity and length of the supply chain can be staggering. Some manufacturers of complex products-such as automobiles--now rely on many dozens of parts vendors on several continents. American businessmen have built very big, very complex, very vulnerable supply chains.

The kanban concept has also been taken up by America's retailers, most notably its grocery sellers. In the "old days"--say 20 years ago--grocery stores had well-stocked "back rooms", with many extra cases of dry goods. But now in most stores the "back room" has been replaced with just a pallet break-down area. Merchandise comes in from distribution centers, and it all goes immediately to the consumer shelves out front. Thus, what you see on the grocery store shelf is all that the store has on hand. What you see is what you get. The bar code scanners at the checkout counters feed a complex re-ordering system. If Mrs. Jones buys three bottles of pasta sauce, that could trigger a re-order. (Even the U.S. Military has embraced some "lean" techniques in their maintenance and logistics infrastructures, and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.) As long as communications and transportation work smoothly, then the entire system hums along like a Swiss watch.But what happens when the transportation infrastructure gets disrupted?

B.A. Adds: One of the 9 Wastes (I added one of my own :-) is excess Transport. Ideally, a systemic approach to manufacturing will co-locate (in theory) to the point where no transportation, or even movement is required, so transportation is one of the "nasties" that effective lean thinking tends to eliminate; here are the 8 Wastes (to which I would add "E" for Energy to the TIM WOODS acronym, which now becomes TIMEWOODS :-)
Transport (excess)
Inventory (excess)
Skills, Savvy, Smarts (squandering the inherent genius in all people involved)

One of the factors that has strongly encouraged lean inventories is that many states levy an annual tax on business inventories of finished good or sometimes even semi-finished subassemblies. Also, under the Federal tax law, businesses must "keep an inventory and use the accrual method for purchases and sales of merchandise." As is the case with most other government intervention in the free market, this is another "unintended consequence." Businessmen hate paying a nickel more in tax than they absolutely have to, so by keeping their inventory small, they avoid the taxes. In some states like California, it is not unusual to see annual "inventory reduction" sales, timed for the month before before the annual inventory tax is levied.

The big "lean machine" works great in normal times. But in times of economic instability, or following a natural disaster, the machine can't cope. Panic buying can clean out supermarket shelves in a matter of hours. And again, in most cases there is no longer a "back room" with extra inventory. The important lesson in all this is to be prepared. DO NOT count on being able to buy anything to provide for your family on TEOTWAWKI Day +1. Stock up.

B.A. Adds: "Good points, although I'd emphasize the caveat of stocking up (where it makes sense) on the items that you know you will personally use, and you have the space to store, and that won't suffer any significant shelf-life deterioration, spoilage or nutritional loss (whole grain, water, honey, et cetera.) Also, have some silver for barter currency, [to trade for the items that you overlooked or that you didn't stock in sufficient depth.]"

Also, while the sensitivity and stability of authentic lean manufacturing and production (as is practiced ... or not in many cases) is of some concern, one emphasis that lean senseis make is flexibility and responsiveness, so that, for example, mixed inventory models can respond almost instantaneously to changes in demand (and the intent is to hone the bidirectional speed of communication so that the entire supply web is informed at a much quicker rate to adjust).
The concerns you raise are valid. However, as in so many areas of life, the optimum solutions are not either/or, but both/and. In the case of dependence on technologies such as computer and telecommunication networks, the initial concentration of processing power (mainframes) has given way to vastly distributed, parallel and redundant systems that are far more tolerant of disruptions than ever before.

The subject of Global Warming is one that creates an intense reaction in people who have a political investment in opposition to it. As you can see by the letters my comment generated, it made the writers so angry that it actually interfered with their ability to read! We, as survivalists, need to be acutely aware of when this happens to us, as the ability to react to any information coolly and logically is a cultivated adaptation that will give us a leg-up in stressful situations.
In reply to M.W.A., I should probably expand on something about CO2 that I only touched on for brevity's sake. Contrary to how it might seem to us laymen, not all CO2 is the same, which is why I talked about man-made CO2's "distinct isotopic signature". The Carbon component of Carbon Dioxide is composed of three different isotopes (C14, C13, C12) and man-made CO2 has an identifiable ratio of these isotopes. Lest anyone think that the proofs of Global Warming are generated only by climate scientists, these isotopic ratios are recorded by those in many varied scientific disciplines (such as oceanographers and geochemists) and the results consistently concur with the basic premise, that increasing man-made CO2 levels parallel with increasing global temperatures. The collection of data like this has long been a characteristic of science and has nothing to do with attempts to control anyone or anything, as implied by M.W.A. As to the semantics of "Global Warming deniers", we're speaking of a very small group of dissenters, almost devoid of scientists (let alone ones working in the sciences associated with the earth's climate). Even the Bush administration, after repeatedly rejecting (and attempting to suppress) the conclusions of the scientific community, just this week said that they wholeheartedly embrace the U.N.'s IPCC report (which concluded that Global Warming is man-made) and called the evidence for Global Warming "unequivocal". Anyone who clings to the notion that this is nothing more than a ruse invented by environmentalists belongs to a tiny minority at this point. By the way, if M.W.A. would like to provide proof for his assertions about making "climate change denial" a crime, I'm sure we'd all like to see it.
I'm not sure where Michael Z. Williamson is getting his quote of raising ocean temperatures "a few degrees" as it isn't in my letter (or any other letter on your site) but his claim that "the Antarctic is growing" is incorrect. There was a temporary mitigation of the trend of ice loss due to some unusual precipitation but the first ever gravity survey (GRACE) of the entire ice sheet by NASA has detected significant Antarctic ice mass loss. "The mistake of one scientist" which he claims is insane to suggest was not connected to the "Medieval Warming Period" as Mr. Williamson misread, but rather the assertions of the growth of glaciers worldwide (I urge him and anyone else confused about this to re-read what I said). As I said about the so-called "Viking era", there may have been regional anomalies but this does not result in a conclusion of world-wide warming at that time (indeed, the evidence suggests nothing of the kind). The "records from the timeframe involved" don't actually "document" anything other than an attempt by the Vikings to expand settlements there. When I was a kid in school (in the distant past), we were taught a bit about Viking history, including their early use of propaganda. One of the most self-evident proofs of this is the very name of their colony: Greenland! Those who bought the stories they were told about it were sorely disappointed when they arrived. Instead of the fertile farmlands (capable of growing vineyards?) they had expected, they found a cold wasteland that was anything but green, ultimately incapable of sustaining the small (and initially, quite hardy) colony there. If there were warm periods in the area (and there is little to suggest that there were), they were freakish and short-lived. It would be foolish to assume that selectively chosen Viking literature on the subject of Greenland is a worthy substitute for accurate documents about conditions at that time.
As I implied in my previous letter, anyone who chooses to disregard the overwhelming conclusions by the scientific community is more than welcome to do so. I have no doubt that one could find some fantastic real estate buys along the Mississippi coast, for example, and if you feel that Global Warming is nothing but a hoax, there's no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of a buyer's market. I wouldn't even have dipped my toe into this controversy save for seeing disinformation presented as fact. Keep in mind that ExxonMobil has contributed a huge amount of money to support the distribution of non-peer reviewed papers critical of Global Warming science and the establishment of friendly "think tanks". In my mind, it's one thing to argue the concept based on it's economic effects but it's highly unethical to distort (or outright lie about) about the science involved. As survivalists, it would seem logical for us to pay very close attention to the potential catastrophic events that could domino when the climatic "tipping point" arrives, rather than be distracted by a corporation intent on buying "the best lies money can buy" to increase it's short term profits. However, (as I keep saying), that's your choice to make. To me, there's not much difference in how I prepare to survive, Global Warming simply increases the impetus for me to do so. Best Regards, - Hawaiian K.

Anyone near any body of salt water should consider purchasing something like the Navy/Coast Guard [approved] Manual Reverse Osmosis Desalinator (MROD) They are sold on eBay and as far as I know are only made by PUR. They can provide drinkable water at sea for one to two people with quite a bit of work but PUR also makes a larger bicycle pump model. I have tested mine in both
the Med (not as salty as ocean) and the Salt Sea (the saltiest water in the world). More salt just means more work.
A creative person might make a desalinator from a home reverse osmosis filter system but I would highly suggest having at least one PUR hand unit as a backup. The U.S. Navy/Coast Guard issue MROD-06-LS includes a great add-on thigh strap and lever extensions not on the civilian models. - David in Israel

Another indicator of inflation ahead? SurvivalBlog reader Bill H. notes: "A trend that I have not seen mentioned on your web site, apart from gold and silver investment, is that [fine] "art" is going through the roof. Most of us cannot afford to invest in art, myself included. However, we can still see the writing on the wall when the moderately wealthy are flocking to acquire art at record prices. You don't have to buy thousands of pounds of gold when you can pay $20 million for a painting that will only appreciate. That's a fairly extreme example, but you get the idea. Just today there was an article on Yahoo about a London art auction bringing in record prices." JWR Adds: This lends further credence to my investing philosophy, which leans heavily toward tangibles. Of course, I prefer more practical tangibles like guns, ammo, productive farm land, and tools. You can't drop a deer at 800 yards with a work of art by Paul Cézanne, but you can with a work of art by Paul Dressel--although I'm sure that it would be more practical to spend the same amount and get several pieces by Kelly McMillan.

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From the new Iraqi government: "Would you mind sending all of that $4 Billion in cash?" Its a good thing that al this money printing isn't inflationary.

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Reader "RBS" mentioned a web site dedicated to ham radio and RACES [Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service] news, and so forth: Emergency Radio.

"The new Hillary Rodham Clinton, coldly calculated to appear warm and spontaneous."- Rourke

Monday, February 12, 2007

The SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a pair of MURS band handheld transceivers, with optional extended range flex antennas ends on February 15th. The high bid is currently at $175. These radios were kindly donated by Rob at $49 MURS Radios. Check out his products. What Rob sells are a lot of radio for the money.

Mr. James Wesley; Rawles:
I keep a lot of extra gas in five gallon jerry-cans around my new farm/retreat wanna-be, for emergencies. (Stabilized with PRI-G, of course.) Yeah, I know that siphoning--especially if you prime it "by mouth"--is not safe. (Gag!) To make it easier and safer to transfer gasoline into or out of vehicle gas tanks, is there any transfer device that I can use use? Perhaps something that would plug into my pickup truck's cigarette lighter [12 volt DC power] jack? What can I buy that is cheap off-the-shelf, or cheap to cobble together myself? Oh, and its also gotta be safe--I don't want to accidentally create a fuel-air explosion. <VBG.> TIA, - Lt. Dan

JWR Replies: Every well-equipped retreat should have at least one "field expedient" 12 VDC fuel transfer pump. These pump rigs are popular with dirt bike, ATV, and snowmobile enthusiasts. They are very simple to construct. Here are the materials that you will need:

1 - Automobile or truck electric fuel pump. (The least expensive pumps come from automobile wrecking yards.)

2 - 15 foot lengths of heavy rubber hose--approved for use as fuel line--of the proper diameter for the fittings on the fuel pump.

2 - Stainless steel fuel line clamps. (Such as "Aero-Seal" brand, or similar, that are tightened with a screwdriver.)

15 to 20 ft. - 16 AWG (or heavier) gauge insulated two conductor wire. (This will be the power cord for the pump.)

1 - "Cigarette Lighter" type male plug, available from any Radio Shack store. (Again, for the power cord for the pump.)

1 - Roll of black plastic electrician's tape or better yet, some thermoplastic "heat shrink" tubing.

1 - Scrap of 3/8" thick (or greater thickness) plywood, measuring roughly 16" x 16". (To mount the fuel pump.)

The construction method should be self-evident, based on the materials listed above. If you'd like, you can add an electrical switch to the power cord for convenience, but make sure that you get a high amperage switch that is rated for DC, and that you position the switch within a couple of feet of the dashboard plug so that the switch is inside the cab of your vehicle. That way there is far less chance of generating a spark inside of a gas vapor cloud.

If your vehicle uses an electric fuel pump, then I suggest that you use an identical pump to that used in your vehicle as the basis for your transfer pump project. That way you will have spares on hand, in the event that your vehicle's fuel pump or any portions of your fuel system's flexible fuel lines ever fail.

OBTW, you can also add and "in line" fuel filter to your fuel transfer pump rig. Again, it is best to use a filter cartridge that is identical to that used in your vehicle. (Always think in terms of: "Spares and redundancy, spares and redundancy.")

One other optional nicety is a one foot square scrap of plywood, to bolt the pump onto. This will keep the transfer pump out of the mud or snow. It also provides a handy place to mount some large hooks, so that you will have a neat way to coil up the power cord and the fuel transfer hoses, for storage. A 15 foot length of hose should be able to reach any vehicle fuel tank, or even down into an underground tank.

There are commercially made equivalents to this fuel pump rig, but they cost more, and they won't provide you with a spare compatible fuel pump--for the event that your vehicle's original pump goes Tango Uniform.

Important Provisos:

1.) All of the usual common sense precautions for handing gasoline and gas cans apply: Use only DOT-approved fuel containers, No sparks, No open flames, Don't turn on any radio transmitters, Beware of static electricity build up, et cetera. See this Oregon State University web page for details on fuel handing safety.

2.) Some later model vehicles have "anti-siphoning" filler necks on their gas tanks. Check for this before you head for the boonies with an ATV trailer.

3.) Cover any exposed electrical connections with tape or heat shrink tubing, to avoid sparks or shorting.

4.) Keep one eye on your vehicle's gas gauge and your other eye on the can that you are filling (or pumping from). It is not just an expensive waste to spill gas on the ground. It is also toxic and a fire hazard!

By coincidence, soon after I wrote the first draft of my reply, I got an e-mail forwarded by Alfie Omega, a regular over at the outstanding Alpha Rubicon web site. There, "Pike" has plans for building a very similar fuel transfer pump rig. (I guess that he had seen the same type that I had seen.) A couple of nice touches with his with his design that mine lacked are that the mounting board has a carrying handle cut into it, and there are hooks mounted all the way around the perimeter of the board, for hose and power cord stowage. But a couple of detractors are that his photos show and on-off switch mounted to the board (which as previously mentioned could put it in proximity to gas vapors), and I saw some exposed wiring terminals. If those terminals were touched by a metal object could cause a spark.

In January, our home burned down. The family made it out safely thanks to our dog waking us up. The fire started outside and once it entered the house it was engulfed in minutes.

My question is how to restore books, firearms, et cetera that have been damaged by smoke and fire. Since getting burned out is a possibility in survival times this information could be quite handy. BTW Smoke eats the finish on guns. My Mini-14 got eaten up pretty badly, but the CETME in the rack next to it came out just fine. I guess they used a different type of bluing. Thanks, - Chad

JWR Replies: Let me start by encouraging all SurvivalBlog readers to carry both fire and theft insurance. A house fire can be a very traumatic event, but they are even more so if you are uninsured or underinsured. Note that many insurance policies have specific limits on firearms, often absurdly low dollar figures unless you get a separate "rider " to your policy, at additional cost. If you aren't sure about your coverage, then pull out your policy and read through it in detail. Second, I encourage all of you to get a gun vault. Not only will it deter 98% of burglars, but it will also usually prevent the sort of damage that Chad described. (Unless of course, the house burns to the ground, and even then a "fireproof" vault may not save your guns.) I also recommend taking a list of serial numbers and detailed descriptions of each gun. (OBTW, I have found that using 3"x5" index cards is convenient for updates, since your collection will change over time. Also take a few detailed photos of each gun. Store the 3"x5" index cards and hard copy pictures annotated with each gun's serial number in a vault belonging to a relative or a trusted friend, and offer to do likewise for them.

Now on to the repairing the damage: I've seen lots of smoke and fire damaged guns at gun shows over the years, and it is never a pretty sight. If a fire is intense enough to burn the stock or grips off of a gun, then it is generally beyond salvageability. This, among other things, is because springs lose their temper and actions can warp and bind. If there is only smoke damage, then they can definitely be salvaged. It is important to immediately 1.) Photograph each gun in detail to support your insurance claim. then 2.) Grease the gun from stem to stern (and down he bore) with rust inhibitive grease (RIG). This will protect any remaining finish from corrosion. Depending on how your insurance agency handles paying your claim, you may end up salvaging your smoke-damaged guns yourself. I recommend sending them off for bead blasting and an exotic coating such as NP3 or METACOL. This will leave them better than new, since they'll have a more durable finish that their original bluing or parkerizing. There are now a wide range of exotic materials such as Teflon and Zylan are frequently used as "after-market" gun finishes. The Robar Company uses a nickel/Teflon composite that they call NP3. My personal favorite of the exotic finishes is called METACOL (METAl COLor), which is offered in a wide variety of colors by Arizona Response Systems Exotic material finishes offer rust protection that is exceeded only by stainless steel. They are quite durable. Parenthetically, for anyone that that dislikes the highly reflective surface of stainless steel, it too can be coated with one of the exotic materials such as green Teflon, with a matte texture. If you have wood gun stocks that have had their lacquer go "bubbly" or smoke darkened, you can either refinish the stocks (which takes about 30 to 50 minutes each), or better yet replace them with fiberglass or Kevlar-graphites stocks from a vendor like Choate, Brown Precision, or H-S Precision.

As for your books, check first with your insurance agent. If your policy covers "full replacement cost", then it is probably best to just buy replacement copies of each book. This is fairly quick and easy, using Amazon.com's "One Click" purchase option. If your policy only covers part of the loss, or if you have any rare, memento, or otherwise irreplaceable books/albums, then consult with a restoration service such as Serv-Pro. (They specialize in restoring books and artwork that have been smoke and/or water damaged.) BTW Chad, if your loss included a copy or two of any the books that I authored and the insurance company doesn't cover replacing them, just let me know and I will send you complimentary replacement copies. May God bless you in the rebuilding process.

Blog reader B.H. sent this snippet: "Last month I was at the NRA headquarters in Virginia. I noticed a sign across the street for condos for sale for $260,000. I made a comment on how expensive that sounded when a NRA headquarters employee said that he sold his condo in the same development for $465,000 just eight months prior. That's a decline of 44% in one year. Ouch for the guy that bought at the top of the bubble."

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There are just 3 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. Looking at their running inventories posted on the web page, I can see that many items have sold out. Don't dawdle on this one, folks! All of the storage food items are "first come - first served." The prices are less than half of retail.

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Apparently the outbreak in Britain of H5N1 Avian Flu was caused by a turkey farm importing turkeys from their Hungarian factory farm to their British factory farm:

"To ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow... For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding." - Jeff Snyder

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Our special thanks to the folks at Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) for expanding their advertising on SurvivalBlog. They now have the exclusive "nailed up" top position SurvivalBlog banner ad. Be sure to sign up for their "Safecastle Royal" buyer's club and give them your patronage. They have a fantastic line of preparedness products!

Today we also welcome our newest advertiser, Health Treasures. They provide a great assortment of health and survival products, including water test kits, aerobic oxygen, potassium iodide (KI) anti-radiation (thyroid protection) tablets, health books, and survival books. They also sell nutritional supplements such as coral calcium, Klamath Lake blue green algae, aloe vera, and much more. When you contact them, please mention that you saw their ad on SurvivalBlog.

Both M.W.A. and Michael Williamson bring some sanity and reason to the subject of climate change. Thanks for publishing their letters. Weather/climate is probably the most complex system on earth. For anyone to say they can tell with any kind of certainty what the climate on earth was like millions of years ago is ridiculous and what is the point. On a very basic level, the one universal truth about the weather/climate is change, unending change. You could even make the case that change is a universal physical law. The writers are correct to question the motives of the climate change promoters. I believe most are socialists, trying to get more control over our lives thru the politics of climate change. As in the past, humans will have to adapt to any changes in the weather/climate. Think about it, has the weather/climate ever been unchanging, with or without man on the planet? Regards, - Keith

I would suggest the www.iceagenow.com site for a balanced view of global warming. However, I do believe we are heading for climatic upheaval due to a cyclic pattern- go to www.thehorizonproject.com and order their DVD for additional info. Many things seem to be converging. [You can read] my two-cents worth at www.countdownto2070.com
Thank you, - Martin P.

There is an awful lot of money being spent by Big Oil to contradict the global warming research, and in particular their efforts to refute the recent UN ICPP report. As I read the 21 page Summary for Policy Makers, the report really seemed to want to avoid speculative consideration of methane feedback loops or nonlinear warming effects, i.e.:glaciers sliding into the ocean. My sense is that it was very conservatively written. Any rise in ocean level has profound implications for our way of life and Peak Oil issues since refining in the US is mostly at sea level. [Some ranting, snipped.] - Bruce F.

JWR Replies: The media hoopla over the UN report has ignored mention that what has been released thusfar is just a 21 page summary. The full 600+ page report won't be released for several months. There is definitely a divergence of opinion within the scientific community on this issue. I think that the jury will be out for quite some time. Draw your own conclusions. In my opinion, what we should take away from all this debate is that as well-prepared individuals, it is prudent to make preparations for both short term weather changes, and if we can afford to do so, for the possibility of longer term climate change. (But again, the degree, the direction, and even the cause of that potential change is still a matter of conjecture and heated debate.) To illustrate my point, let me digress: I had a friend named Richard, who sadly died of leukemia at age 45, a couple of years ago. He was a first class eccentric, but he had a sharp wit and was a lot of fun to be around. Richard was a single man that traveled the world. He made his living as a computer programmer in the States, but he owned both a home on a small island in the Philippines and a condominium in Thailand. (He only worked in the U.S. in alternating six month contract stints to support his "travel habit".) As an adherent of the Art Bell/George Noory school of paranormal conjecture, Richard was convinced that severe climate changes could happen "any time, and maybe even overnight" because of "pole shift." He was so concerned that he had all three of his homes stocked with arctic clothing. (N3B extreme cold weather parkas, insulated boots, Wiggy's Ultima Thule sleeping bags, the whole works.) Objectively, I think that Richard was over-prepared, but in the back of my mind is a small but lingering doubt. What if that ever really happened? What if Richard was right? I suppose that if I ever have a really big budget (read: somebody in Hollywood ever sends me a big fat check for my Pulling Through screenplay), then I might buy a second retreat in Central America, just in case. And I might even stock it with some cold weather gear, in memory of Richard.

As reported by The Daily Reckoning: "The Central Bank of Zimbabwe announced this week that henceforth inflation would be illegal. Anyone who raises prices will be arrested." Do they honestly believe that they can put the brakes on a 1,200% per annum inflation rate, by decree? The Zimbabwean government is beyond corrupt, and beyond incompetent. Comrade Mugabe and his band of fools from the ZANU-PF must go!

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RBS mentioned this news story at CNN.com: Vagrant: "We killed for scrap metal, hid bodies in manholes." Human nature hasn't changed. When times get really hard, you can expect a lot of people to revert to savagery.

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Oh, that beloved "lake effect": Oswego County (New York) gets nearly 100 inches of snow in five days. (A hat tip to J.M. for sending us the link.)

"A man is finished when he makes pleasure, not duty, his main object," - Cicero

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wow! Looking at our hit map, I can see that the global readership of SurvivalBlog is continuing to grow. We now have readers in about 80 countries, Thanks for spreading the word!

I live in Georgia and we have more than our share of tornados. We usually go to the basement to my office during storms but I've decided that even though it's underground on 3 sides, with only 3/4 plywood and sheet rock between us and the garage doors that it is no longer a viable option.
I've looked at FEMA plans and I've scratched my head and come up with this idea but wanted to kind of say it out loud to someone to see if it sounds too crazy. The back part of the basement is almost completely underground. I have built a french drain around the outside of the basement due to some previous leakage problems and then decided to build flower gardens on top of the drain lines. The gardens are about 4 foot wide, held in place by landscaping times and then filled with 6 tons of tops soil (a shovel full at a time) and now the basement walls, to the roof are bermed in with dirt that just happens to go as high as the top of the foundation. That's taken care of outside. For inside I'm going to construct a 4x4 frame, anchored to the slab and to the concrete walls, complete with crossing 4x4 in case the house caves in on top of us. The big question was how to deal with high speed flying projectiles (be they wood or bullet) and having looked at all the home and garden stores, have found that 40 pound bags of top soil at .97 a bag give a good solid footprint and stack almost as well as the sandbags I used to have to fill in some other un-named wars and countries. I figure, 4x4 frame, 3/4 inch plywood wall, bags of dirt stacked crosswise on two sides with a protected opening area for the door, followed by an additional outside 4x4 frame holding the dirt bags (or is that someone in office, I get confused), in place between the two walls. Since it will sit on a concrete slab the actual weigh is not a concern. I see this as both a storm shelter and a safe room (semi-safe anyway) with metal reinforced door with all the survival supplies packed inside. We are not going to bug out but will stay home. (Less than 20 miles from Atlanta, along I-20 but far enough off the road that stragglers shouldn't come to our area since there are much nicer pickings between us and the main road.)
Anyway, that was a long winded way of asking if you think bags of top soil would be effective projectile stoppers. The only thing I have to test it with right now is 20 gauge shotshells with 00 buckshot and some .38 cartridges. I traded off all my assault rifles and pistols to help get out of debt, keeping only 15 .22 rifles, 4 .22 pistols, a dozen CZ-52 Czech pistols and a couple of pump 20 gauge shotguns (wife does not like and refused to fire 16 or 12 gauge) with many thousands of rounds for each weapon.
Take care and keep coming up with the neat links and ideas you have. I've read the ink off the pages of my copy of "Patriots", so I'll be replacing that soon :) - Cliff

JWR Replies: Inch for inch, dry sand or gravel are at least twice as effective bullet stoppers than dry loam topsoil. And FWIW, I actually prefer gravel over sand, since bags of gravel do not have the "hourglass" dribble effect that is seen when sandbags filled with dry sand get hit by bullets. Yes, filling sandbags with gravel will be more laborious than buying commercially pre-filled bags of soil. But I recommend that you order several hundred sandbags and a few cubic yards of "3/4 minus" gravel, for upgrading your basement's ballistic protection. A bonus is that gravel filled bags will also increase your basement shelter's radioactive fallout shielding. The woven polypropylene sandbags will last for decades if they aren't left out in sunlight. Take a few minutes to watch this military training video: "Concealment does not Equal Cover." As you can see from the video, standard wood frame houses get thoroughly ventilated by modern high velocity rifle bullets, even from little .223 poodle shooters. You do not want to be in an unprotected wood frame house when the Schumer hits the fan. One important safety note: If stacking sand or gravel bags more than four feet high, it is essential that they be stabilized with stout shoring or crisscrossed steel cables, to prevent wall collapses. And if you plan to put up any overhead (ceiling) mass, be sure to consult a qualified engineer!

Regarding your plans to use a steel door: Be sure to get the heaviest gauge door that you can find and mount it a sturdy steel frame. Use at least four heavy duty hinges, and three deadbolts on the opposite side--top, middle, and bottom. I should also mention that hollow steel doors can be filled with gravel to increase their ballistic protection. Anything heavier--like extra steel plate--requires an extra heavy duty frame and massive hinges. (See my novel "Patriots" for door bulletproofing details, including a handy formula for determining the weight of plate steel.)

I have been reluctant to comment on the climate change hysteria, but the recent letter by Hawaiian K was too much. There are several important facts to remember on this topic: 1) We don’t have enough data to determine whether we are in a long-term warming trend, or in a counter-cyclical move in a long term cooling trend. Lot’s of people have ‘data’ but no ‘facts’ have been established. Remember in the 1970’s how the next ice age was right around the corner? 2) Even if we do happen to be in a warming trend at the moment, there is no causal connection between the activities of man, and the warming itself. Lots of circumstantial ‘evidence’, but no causal connection. The earth is warming, and there is more CO2 in the air. Which causes which? Maybe there is a third factor, or fourth, or a hundredth!!! There may be some kind of correlation between CO2 and atmospheric temperature, but that does not mean that one causes the other. The environment is an extremely complex, dynamic system and to think that there is a straight-forward, reasonably linear relationship between the levels of one compound in the air and the overall temperature of the entire atmosphere is simplistic in the extreme. Heck, these guys can barely tell what the weather will be like next week, and we are supposed to think that they can tell us what will happen in 100 years? 3) The entire environmentalist movement is about control, nothing else. Environmentalism is a topic one group of people have used, repeatedly and successfully, to get governments around the world to implement social programs that sacrifice people in order to save bugs and weeds. Obviously these programs are detrimental to individual freedoms. A clue to the true intent of the ‘movement’ is contained in the language they use. Even Hawaiian K called the rational, objective scientists who have not bought in to the collective dogma of global warming, ‘climate change deniers’. Clearly this language is intended to imply that these guys are the same kind of whack jobs as the ‘holocaust deniers’ and should be treated as such. There have been stories recently about scientists who are losing their jobs because they haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid, and even talk of laws to make ‘climate change denial’ a crime! Clearly, anyone who needs the force of law to protect their pet theory cannot defend it against rigorous science in the open market. Will we soon have a Global Warming Inquisition? The truth does not need a law to defend it. And if you think this is just an American thing, you are wrong. I spent a couple of weeks in Canada since the UN report came out, and they are getting it bad up there! 24/7 coverage of how we are all about to fry in our own juices while there is a negative 30 degree wind chill outside. (Just so everyone knows, I am an ‘Elvis is dead denier’ and a ‘Loch Ness monster denier’ but please try to keep it quiet.)

Obviously, survivalists want to plan for as many potential outcomes as they can, and I am not discouraging anyone from taking the steps that they think they need to take to protect their families. I would just encourage people to examine the motives of climate change proponents from the standpoint of the harm that the environmentalist movement has caused, the individual rights they have denied, and the outcomes that they have desired and produced in recent decades. - M.W.A..


Dear Jim,
The energy involved in raising the oceans "a few degrees" to effect a sea-level increase would almost involve the Sun going nova. I can calculate it if you like.
The Antarctic ice cap is growing, so there's no increase in water level from there.
The current climate trends are available online and show a steadying of the climate the last decade.
To suggest that the Medieval Warm Period is the mistake of one scientist is insane. It's documented from ice core samples, and the fact that Viking era farms in Greenland are melting out of the ice cap as we speak. Not to mention the northern hunting grounds and other sites the Norse used were, until quite recently, pack ice. Then there's all those records from the timeframe involved, documenting the plants, harvests, weather, etc.
That strikes me as more hand waving by the catastrophists. I had a detailed debate with a student of this, an earnest young man in grad school, who pointed me to "one of the best papers on the subject." The paper was full of "It seems to me"s and "I feel"s, an admission that when satellite data was inconclusive, just because it didn't contradict the assumptions made, it could be assumed the assumptions were correct (the data didn't support the assumptions, either), and a statement that any climate studies done before 1990 were "politically motivated" (Aren't they all?) and therefore suspect.
So, by the admission of a shoddily written article that's purported by a student to be "one of the best," the field is less than two decades old.
Now, how long have physicists and astronomers been trying to describe the universe?
I'm certainly concerned about long term effects to the environment, and storms can cause damage lasting weeks, trends damage lasting years...but I'm about as worried about a catastrophic climate failure as I am about aliens landing. It's a huge planet and system, and people are very small. Let's not, religious or not, give ourselves too much credit in the face of God's greatness. - Michael Z. Williamson

Flagged by HPF (one of our regular content contributors): Retired CIA Energy Analyst's Latest Comments on Peak Oil

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There are just 6 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. Many items have already sold out. Don't dawdle on this one, folks! All of the storage food items are "first come - first served." The prices are less than half of retail.

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It is nice to see that silver has come out of its doldrums and appears to be back on its long term bull market trajectory. (At the Kitco charts page, scroll down to the five year chart for "the big picture.")

"Most people would rather die than think. In fact, they do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, February 9, 2007

For those of you that have been waiting, we just received another 10 copies of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery. This book is a "must" for the bookshelf of every well-prepared family. See my mail order catalog for details.

Hi Jim,
I found an article in the latest issue of "The Backwoodsman" magazine that talked about using chamber adapters to employ different caliber ammunition in single shot, and over-and-under [rifle/shotgun combination gun]s like the Savage 24V. Here's the [MCA Sports] web site mentioned in the article that sells the adapters: http://www.mcace.com/adapters.htm

It seems like a neat idea to have the capability to convert a firearm to shoot different types of ammo that might be scrounge during a long term TEOTWAWKI . Do you think there is any merit in investing in chamber adapters? Or would it be wiser to buy the different caliber firearms instead? Best, - Ron

JWR Replies: Many thousands of chamber adapters were made in the last century by the Marbles company. If I'm not mistaken, MCA Sports in Alaska now owns the tooling that was originally developed by Harry Owen, who advertised for many years in The American Rifleman magazine. The variety of adapters that MCA Sports produces is amazing. (Don't miss the web page of the rifle and pistol cartridge adapters that they make for shotguns!)

I have been a proponent of using chamber adapters for non-tactical use, in single shots, double guns, and bolt action long guns, for many years. They are indeed a practical way to use scrounged ammunition for target practice, pest shooting, or small game hunting. One advantage is that they are generally quieter than shooting full power rifle cartridges. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we have four Harry Owen chamber adapters that I bought more than 20 years ago:

.30 Carbine adapter for .308 Winchester
.30 Carbine adapter for .30-06
.32 ACP adapter for .308 Winchester
.32 ACP adapter for .30-06

BTW, we don't even own any guns chambered in .30 U.S. Carbine or .32 ACP, but we keep the adapters handy, just in case. These adapters don't weigh much and they take up very little space.

It is important to mention that the point of impact will be different when using alternate cartridges. Do some target shooting tests with each of your guns. Following these tests, make note of the aiming offsets required. One good way to keep track of this is to note the aiming offset at 25, 50, and 100 yards on a business card and include it, along with a small packet of silica gel, in a heavy duty zip lock bag for storing each cartridge adapter. It is also a good idea to carry a short length of dowel stock in the same bag, so that you can push fired cases out the adapters, in the event that they get stuck. Luckily, this doesn;'t happen very often.

I have found that one piece adapters (such as those listed above) are particularly easy to use. However, the two piece adapters (such as those used for shooting .22 Long Rifle in a .223 Remington) are much slower and more cumbersome to use. When I tried using one of these with a Remington Model 7 bolt action in the field, I was always afraid that I would drop the adapter's solid steel insert "plug" and lose it in tall grass. (The steel plug is designed to transfer energy from a center-fire rifle's firing pin to a rim-fire cartridge's priming rim.)

Another very handy adapter is the now-discontinued Savage "Four-Tenner." These are long one piece chamber adapters that allow .410 shotgun shells to be used in a 12, 16, or 20 gauge shotguns. It is a clever design that transfers the force from your shogun's extractor to its own shell extractor. These Savage "Four-Tenner" inserts can sometimes be found on eBay or on the various gun boards, such as GunBroker.com. (For example, here is 12 gauge model that is currently being auctioned on eBay. And here is a 20 gauge model.)

It may take some patient Internet and gun show searching to find some of the more obscure chamber adapters that are no longer produced. But even the old Marbles brand adapters come up for sale often come up for sale on eBay from time to time. For example, there is currently an eBay auction running for a .22 Hornet adapter for .223 Remington.

With regards to the recent flurry of postings on Global Warming (I prefer this term to the Frank Luntz, focus group tested "climate change", which is designed to remove anxiety about the issue and thereby stifle any action on it), I wanted to clear up some common misunderstandings that have been intentionally spread around to confuse folks.
I live very close to the laboratory on the slopes of Mauna Loa that first discovered the Global Warming trend over 30 years ago. After a long search for truth on the subject, I've come to understand that climate scientists are dealing with problems of almost unimaginable complexity and as a group, are exceedingly conservative with regards to predictive claims. I doubt that many of us who are non-scientists can really appreciate what must go through a climate scientist's mind when he/she encounters ill-informed individuals spouting off commonly repeated misnomers about the CO2 levels of volcanoes (for example), as though the scientists had somehow forgotten to factor major natural data in! The little reported fact of the matter is that volcanoes produce about 110 million tons of CO2 per year, an amount that is naturally absorbable by earth and ocean. Man-made CO2, which has been rising steadily since the dawn of the industrial revolution, is contributed to the atmosphere at a rate of 10 billion tons per year (and is identifiable by it's distinct isotopic signature). In another widely held misconception, the rise in sea levels is not pegged to the weight of ice in the sea, but rather the melting of land ice and thermal expansion of the ocean (anyone who has ever tried to top off a warm gas tank with cool gas from an underground tank on a hot Summer's day will see how the latter works). The so called "Viking era" (also incorrectly called "the Medieval Warm Period") is a myth that continues to be perpetuated, based on misreadings of historical regional temperatures when applied global-scale (freakish warmth in Greenland at some point is not a basis for concluding that a world-wide trend was evident, as it wasn't) . As to the claim that glaciers are increasing in size rather than retreating, I'm afraid that this misinformation is based on the poor typing of a single scientist (botanist David Bellamy) who, when trying to type "55%", slipped on the shift key and put the number "555" into his calculations (such is the rigor of the Global Warming deniers)! According to the definitive source on the subject (World Glacier Monitoring Service), most of the world's glaciers are in retreat.
You and I, as survivalists, can opt to try to ignore what's happening to this planet and hope that the effects of it don't end up having a lethal effect on us or someone in our family. On the other hand, we might want to become proactive in some way, just in case. Many people would reflect on their geographic area and how it might cause them problems, for example, shore areas that could suffer destruction from rising ocean levels, coastal areas from increased hurricane activity, tornado prone areas becoming dangerous year round (as we're seeing this year). It just seems like common sense to me to consider a couple of aspects of your home's architecture, it's overall strength and it's ability to deflect heat. Given the weather trends we're beginning to see, I would think that there would be a sudden renewed interest in earth sheltered and underground homes. Vast areas of the American south and midwest could well become a landscape filled with splintered plywood and and empty cement pads if current trends continue. We're also likely to see massive crop failures (this might cause some of us to dig out our calculators to figure out the weight and cost of lifetime supplies of wheat) and civil unrest on a nation-wide scale.
We, as survivalists, should all be very careful about being too reactionary to claims concerning Global Warming, simply because they don't fit neatly into our political philosophy. The climate scientists I've come to know are deadly serious people disinclined to represent their subject in any but the truest way possible. Personally, based on what they've told me, I'm going to completely reevaluate the way that my house is currently constructed with an eye to making it significantly stouter. By way of example, I'm considering the utilization of the Line-X blast-proof coating (mentioned downthread) as a way of attempting to make my home more hurricane resistant. It's also possible, with proper water-proofing and termite prevention, that conventional homes could be retrofitted with earth berms. I've even heard of roof-sized nets designed to attached to earth anchors, to hold the roof on a home in hurricane conditions (which might be workable with enough advanced notice). Obviously, windows and lightweight doors will require superlative coverings, complete with heavy hardware that is solidly anchored. As to the potential rise in temperature, one might use a system of earth covered "cool tubes" to bring cool air though vents in one's floor, which could rise to a "solar chimney" placed high in the house for an effective passive ventilation (approaching natural air conditioning). There are fantastic ceramic roofing paints available that utilize Space Shuttle tile technology to keep a normally hot roof as cool as the surrounding air, resulting in dramatically cooler interior temperatures! Water could become a rarer resource, so a strongly-built catchment tank might end up being worth it's weight in gold.
I'm sure that the creative minds of the survivalblog community are capable of expanding on this theme with solutions that are designed for their particular circumstance. Hopefully, they'll share them with us so that a bank of solutions might be available that will help us all learn from their individual experiences. Best Regards, - Hawaiian K.

I've been a regular reader of your blog for a couple of months now and I'd like to point out something regarding one of the global warming letters you published on Sunday, February 4th. The letter says, "Nor is a sea level rise likely--fill a glass with ice water, let it melt, and the level will drop, because ice is less dense than water". There are two potential sources for sea level rise, melting ice is one of them. The problem isn't ice that's already in (or floating on) the water, like the Arctic ice pack, it's ice that's sitting above sea level, such as various glaciers, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The other source of sea level rise is the expansion of the seawater already in the oceans. Like most other materials, water expands as it gets warmer. If the average ocean temperature rose by a few degrees, sea levels would rise even if the amount of water in the oceans remained the same. Thermal expansion is actually a bigger potential contributor to sea level rise than all of the world's the ice sheets and glaciers combined. - Chris

"Kon Tiki" recommended this article from Tom Feeley's Information Clearinghouse Blog: The Great Dollar Crash of ‘07

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From CometGold.com comes this disturbing news story: Strange Visitors at Barrett Firearms.

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Our friend JB in Tennessee recommend this site: www.urbansurvival.com, and its sister site, www.independencejournal.com (The former is heavy on economics, while latter has more of emphasis on frugal living and self-sufficiency.)

"The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. He is my ally of the moment and I should presume nothing more." - Rourke

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The folks that sell preparedness products have reported a sales slump for the past several months, as Americans have gone into "cocooning" mode and curtailed their discretionary spending. (On everything, it seems, except big screen televisions.) Consequently, that has meant that several of our advertisers have scaled back their advertising budgets. We presently have room for several more advertisers, including a special "nailed up" top of the ad stack position--that is, an ad that will stay fixed above all of the scrolling ads. If you contact any potential advertisers, please ask them to get a SurvivalBlog banner ad. My advertising rates are absurdly low, especially compared to magazine ads. The small ads are just $55 per month. If my ad revenues don't recover soon, I will be forced to go back to a full-time job and I would therefore have to sharply curtail or perhaps even shut down SurvivalBlog. (My other sources of income--mostly from book sales and subscriptions--are not enough to pay even our most essential monthly bills here at the ranch.) We have just 79 loyal Ten Cent Challenge subscribers, representing the nearly 14,000 people that read SurvivalBlog every week. (Subscriptions are entirely voluntary.) I want to specially thank you folks. You know who you are. Thank you very much!

Hi Jim,
I read today's offering with great interest. There is no point in trying to resolve the debate on boats vs. land retreats ("the army of maneuver vs. the army of the fortress") as this is all a matter of personal conjecture and preferences. However, I would suggest that for those folks who live in a coastal area where if the balloon goes up their home location may be untenable, and their highway escape as well, a boat does provide at least a viable mid-term option.

Many areas of our Atlantic and Gulf coasts have most of the people concentrated into a relatively small percent of the land, and vast areas of bays, rivers and estuaries that are almost in virgin condition, and unreachable except by water. There are literally thousands of miles of such places where a person living on a sailboat or other craft could stay off of the radar for months or even longer, while the emergency situation ashore sorted itself out. At that point, the low-profile boat survivalist could decide to return home, stay put, move to another state, or even to cross an ocean.

A boat is not a panacea, and it's not for everyone, but given a choice between "bugging in" in a potentially violent urban area, or heading out into gridlocked highways, I know what I would choose if I lived near the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts. (Most of the Pacific coast presents a very different picture, due to its geography.)

A low-profile shoal draft houseboat (is there any other kind?) would also work in many coastal and even inland areas, although of course the oceans are off limits and fuel will eventually run out. A diesel powered houseboat would work well with cached drums of fuel hidden in likely areas. The idea with a houseboat is that they would rarely move, (burn fuel), but that they have that option. Houseboats are also very easy to camouflage, and can be located where fish would be available and also small crop farming could be concealed, all while hiding well off of the highway and road systems. - Matt Bracken, Northeast Florida

JWR Replies: Many thanks for your input. Until you mentioned it, I hadn't seriously considered the "brown water" option for boaters in delta or estuary regions. Perhaps painting a house boat in a flat earth tone color might work--along with some judicious use of camouflage nets and burlap to cover any windows or chrome that might reflect. Readers that do a little searching might find just the right place to tie up, deep in a delta. Many delta regions have extensive state and Federal park "wetlands" that are seldom traveled by anyone. And you are correct in your assertion that a lot of that country can only be accessed by water. That would make someone relatively safe from bands of looters.

BTW, there is one part of the Pacific coast that is intriguing: The Sacramento River delta region. This delta is said to have more shoreline than the entire California coastline. It is unfortunately downwind from several nuclear targets (most notably the Concord Naval Weapons Station), but in anything other than a nuke scenario, the Sacramento delta region might make a practical bug-out locale.

I have parts of my home secured with a trip wire activated pepper spray device called 'The Burglar Bomb" a.k.a. AB-2000 by Revel Technology Inc. This device with contaminate a 2,000 sq. ft. area when activated, and will most certainly repel all but the most determined. Revel Tech also has a couple more advanced devices that are infrared triggered.

I am not affiliated with the company other than being a satisfied customer. I thought this might be a great non-lethal option for folks that have unattended retreats or pre-positioned storage facilities to secure. Combined with the stealth motion activated digital camera systems [such as those sold by Ready Made Resources], an AB-2000 adds an additional layer of protection.

The company web site has testimonials from customers, as well as details of what each model is capable of. As a side note, they have regularly advertised in Shotgun News for as long as I can remember.
Check them out. - Cowboy255 in Maryland

Dear Jim
I just noticed your advice on Smokecloak. We were the Smokecloak dealers in a number of countries for years, and have just launched FlashFog, our new product that brings up a couple of notches the area denial capabilities of these systems. FlashFog also includes a powerful strobe light that keeps the eye in shock and makes the blinding effect much more powerful. FlashFog also comes at a better price. We just launched FlashFog at the SHOT Show in Orlando, with amazing comments from people who had seen us the year before with Smokecloak
Here is what some people are saying:about FlashFog. Regards, - Alfredo Arias, Arias Tech Ltd.

Your readers who are looking to evade "progress and mass population" need to pay particular attention to the proposed NAFTA [High Priority Corridor] super-highways. These linked pages will cover all projected builds in all 50 states [see details on the High Priority Corridor routes], many of which are planned for "remote" areas favored by survival-minded folks. This is seriously bad news. - Jay in Florida

Jason in North Idaho mentioned: Far-flung exurbs hard hit by housing downturn

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There are just 8 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. I can see from their availability chart that some items have sold out, and that they are now running low on their remaining inventory of both the "Bacon bits" (bacon TVP) and the shortening powder in the #2-1/2 cans. One bit of unexpected good news: The owner of Survival Enterprises just e-mailed me and mentioned: "We just found 10 more cases (we thought we were out) of Corn Starch in the #10 cans." Don't miss out on tis sale, folks! All of the storage food items are "first come - first served." The prices are less than half of retail.

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Tim P., Doug S., and Michael Z. Williamson all suggested I put up a link to this article: U.S. companies prepare for bird flu pandemic.

"Liberty is the prevention of control by others. This requires self-control and, therefore, religious and spiritual influences; education, knowledge, well-being." - Lord Acton [John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton] (1834-1902), First Baron Acton of Aldenham

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a pair of MURS band handheld transceivers, with optional extended range flex antennas ends on February 15th. The high bid is currently at $150. These radios were kindly donated by Rob at $49 MURS Radios. Check out his products. What Rob sells are a lot of radio for the money. I've heard nothing but rave reviews from the SurvivalBlog readers that have bought these. As previously mentioned in the blog, Kenwood 2 watt MURS handhelds have far better range than FRS radios, they require no license, and can be custom programmed for, MURS, 2 Meter Band frequencies (2 Meter Band transmission is legal only for licensed individuals), and/or weather warning (WX, receive only) channels, and they are also compatible with alert message frequencies for Dakota Alert intrusion detection systems. I strongly endorse these hand-helds! If you don't already own a pair, look into buying some.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have a few points to add to the golf cart idea. first, It is feasible [to convert an electric golf cart into a quasi-ATV.] I worked a a mechanic at a golf course. Power is power. Most carts use four 6 volt batteries [cabled] in series to make 24 volts. Second, some very necessary tools and parts for the job, many feet of battery cable, end fittings and a good swagger [--a cable terminal swaging tool.]
Look for these at your nearest auto store. [JWR Adds: These tools are also available at most marine supply stores. I cannot overemphasize the importance of a solid terminal connection with high current DC cables. Don't just borrow or rent a swaging tool. Buy your own so that you will have it available when it is needed for periodic cable repairs or replacements.] The arrangement of the batteries during high [current] use kills the cables within weeks. Have spares ready. Third, most electric carts use a rheostat as the input for how fast you go. By finagling your "go pedal" and the rheostat, you can go faster, however this is at the cost of your batteries and the motor - B.B


I think that The Bad Boy Buggy is what you are looking for in an off-road four wheel drive electric buggy. - Russ

Something to very careful with when composting sawdust is to be absolutely sure you do not have any sawdust from pressure treated wood. There is a myriad of nasty chemicals in this wood that will destroy your compost heap. Sawdust should not be added directly to your garden because it absorbs and holds moisture and other nutrients. Wood ashes are fine, but only add 1 or 2% Phosphorus and 3 to 7% of potassium. Wood Ashes have an alkaline effect on your soil. I put eggs shells and coffee grounds and wood ashes directly into the garden all winter on top of the snow so as it melts in the spring it helps incorporate into the soil. Before I roto-till in April, any compost I have accumulated since the previous April goes in and then I get a load of Cow /Horse manure from a neighbor. Then I roto-till and let it set until mid to late May when I plant. One last thing: Never add Chicken manure directly to the growing garden unless it has "matured" for about a month or more. It is very high in nitrogen and tends to burn plants. - Carl In Wisconsin.


Dear Jim and Family,
I have a comment on the sawdust in soil issue: Sawdust absorbs between 12 and 32 times as much nitrogen as soil which does not contain it. The nitrogen helps it decay but the downside is that it makes the soil infertile. If someone tries to sell you "topsoil" and you can ID sawdust in it, you've just met an enemy who trying to pull a fast one on you, and with TEOTWAWKI looming, it could doom your whole family. The only solution to sawdust contamination in your soil is to dump a lot of nitrogen into your soil and let it fallow a year or two to convert all the sawdust into useful nutrients. Covering it in plastic sheeting and doing ammonia gas injection isn't a bad idea, as that will speed it along. Pay an expert for that. Its dangerous and explosive (Remember The Mosquito Coast? That was an Ammonia gas explosion). Then retest your soil with a kit from the farm supply store and wait for your balance to settle down. Then you can get back to building up the humic and folic acid values again (planting and harvesting crops). It's very irritating and I keep running into people who pull this particular fast one on the unsuspecting. Don't let them dump that ac**p on your land, and don't let them BS you into thinking its "good fer ya soil". It's not.

However, if the soil contains rice hulls, you've got a winner. Turns out rice hulls decay very slowly and don't absorb nitrogen but do wonders for your soil aeration, which lets roots breathe better and improves your plant health and fertility. Rice hulls are a good thing. Really good quality compost and potting soil has this. Perlite is much more common (tiny white volcanic glass beads) and does a similar task through not quite as well as rice hulls.

If your topsoil is full of clay, you'll need to add a lot more fertilizer as clay absorbs it into its crystal structure ([under a microscope] clay looks like a xylophone when it swells and shrinks depending on water content). The upshot of that is the nutrients act on your soil and plants for years afterwards so you can get your money's worth out of it. If you have too much clay in your soil, till in gypsum as it causes an important chemical/structural change. The clay reacts with gypsum and turns into small pellets which allows better aeration, drainage, and nutrient absorption. Its important to remember: Do not walk on wet clay soil. Make paths with boards around the beds. Don't compact the soil or your plants will die.

Its not too late to take a soils and horticulture or gardening class at your local community college, or look into books like "Gardening When It Counts", written by the greener side of the survival community.

One other important thing: if you use well water in volcanic areas, test it for boron or borate. Boron kills plants. Kills them really well. Its mostly harmless to humans, but to plants it's like their kryptonite, even worse than salt. Apparently using borax soap powder was a common prank for killing lawns in the 50's, though I'm not old enough to verify that one.

If your soil does get contaminated for some reason, you may need to either plant special crops to remove the toxins, or use a special chemical poison which destroys its fertility but kills everything (even nasty nematodes and soil parasites), or flood the soil for a few weeks to leach out the salts and then drain it off (method for removing sodium salt, potassium salt, selenium or borates from soil). You'll have to start from scratch with all but the plant method, rebuilding your soil fertility from ground zero takes years, most of the time, unless you've got a lot of chemical additives and a working tractor. If you want to do that, consult an expert (I'm just educated, not practically employed in that field), get a quote, and hire another expert to inspect the work.

And if you get insect problems, use sulphur based insecticides. Unless you're personally allergic to sulphur compounds they are the best bet for your soil. Plants tolerate sulphur well, and for some its an essential nutrient. It bonds to clay well and keeps out of the way after use so its win-win, for all but the allergic people.

Soils maps are easy to get from the federal government, as well as USGS, and most counties keep stocks of these maps though I've never felt the need to seek one out. I will when I someday buy a house so I know what I'm dealing with. Most government soils maps were made in the 40's and usually detail potential uses, indicating fish farms for poorly drained clay soils and suggested crops for specific soil types known to be naturally suited to them. Soil Survey Maps are a very good tool for retreat property hunting.

Incidentally, for desert soils, with irrigation and the right temperature range, will grow nearly anything. They are the most fertile soil type. You just have to avoid the borates and salt flats and washes (those aren't soils, just alluvium).Sincerely, - InyoKern

Federal budget explosion: $2.9 TRILLION! Gee, you don't suppose that this will be inflationary or that it will force higher taxes...

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An interesting article ran in Disaster Recovery Journal's 20th Anniversary issue: No Rain, No Power. Written by Ugandans, it describes how the recent drought in Eastern Africa has created a systemic power crisis. Lack of hydroelectric power has forced the Ugandan power utility resort to lengthy "load shedding" power blackouts.

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The folks at Safecastle wrote to remind me that they now have a Safecastle Royal Buyers Club, with hundreds of high-quality preparedness products listed, and more going up every day. They offer free shipping on all items all the time. And members get at least 20% off the listed prices on everything in the store, even off special sale prices. Safecastle sells freeze dried food, water storage and purification products, optics, communications, and security products, NukAlerts, Paratrooper folding bikes, knives, emergency response kits, and much more. And of course, they're well known for their prefabricated vaults/shelters/safe rooms.

"The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against unarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: Such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

There are just 10 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. Based on the running inventories posted on the web page, many items have sold out.Get your order in while there is still a good assortment of these long term storage foods! The prices are less than half of retail.

I live in Florida where there are a lot of oak trees with a lot of acorns. Is there any way to prepare acorns so that humans can eat them in a survival situation? Thanks. - Joe in Florida

The Memsahib Replies: Yes! The California Indians' main staple was acorns. Along the creek where I played as a child, there were many grinding holes in the rocks where the native California women ground their acorns into flour. One anthropologist has speculated that it was the acorn as a diet staple that made the development of civilization in Europe possible. The tannins in acorns make them bitter, make you feel sick, and can cause liver damage. So it is important to leach out the tannins before eating acorns.

Here is the basic "how to" from the University of Illinois Extension Solutions Series: Around the House:

"Acorns are very high in tannins, which make them very bitter and astringent when eaten raw. They need to be boiled or roasted, or both to make them palatable. The sweetest nuts come from the white, burr, and chestnut oaks. The black, pin, and red oak acorns are bitter.
To use: Collect the acorns in the fall, when ripe. Remove the shells and caps. The shells will come off easier if you first slit them with a sharp knife. Boil the acorns whole for at least two hours, changing the water each time it becomes light brown in color. This boiling removes the bitterness and they become pleasantly sweet. You will find, after this boiling, that they are quite dark brown in color. Toast in a 350 degree F oven for another hour. They can then be eaten as they are or ground into flour."

Here is an article which includes some recipes for using acorns, that ran in one of my favorite magazines, Backwoods Home: "Harvesting the Wild: Acorns" by Jackie Clay

Mr. Rawles,
Given the unique nature of a flu pandemic, (or a "biological" attack), how would one assemble their retreat group after possible outbreak in one's immediate area, (within 50 miles) with confidence? The vehicle alone that they travel in could be laden with contamination and the door handles become a scary transmission device. Seeing is believing, invisible is invisible.
"To Group or not to Group?", that is the question. - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: There is no way to be certain to avoid exposure if an influenza outbreak is in close proximity. But odds are that the first outbreaks will be in distant regions. That will be the time to act. I've done consulting work for members of three different retreat groups in recent months, and all three had essentially the same concept of operation: If there is news of an outbreak of a rapidly spreading human-to-human ("H2H") flu strain anywhere on the planet, they plan to send out an alert (via e-mail/phone tree), meet up, lock their gates, and hunker down. One group mentioned a 24 hour deadline. The other two groups quoted 36 hours. Nobody will be allowed in after those deadlines. One of these retreat groups plans a novel procedure for any group members that who get delayed and arrive after their deadline: They will be forced to "quarantine camp" on adjoining National Forest land for two weeks, to establish whether or not were infected. With all seriousness, one of the group members that I interviewed said, "If they start getting sick, we'll say say prayers for them--from quite a distance--and then we'll toss them some Sambucol and a shovel."

I'm just finishing up the nine-lesson [Citizen Corps] CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training. I highly recommend it. Besides the very good information on dealing with a variety of scenarios, I really like the heavy emphasis on taking care of yourself and your family first. This gets constant reinforcement. So though the training is intended to help you be useful as a first responder, it is even more useful in helping you harden up your home, yourself and your family members.
Of course it's also a very good way to invite your neighbors into a local cohort group: instead of fending them off, you have a natural reason for engaging them in getting into CERT, and therefore themselves becoming more self-reliant as well. - Bob B.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I just finished "Patriots" and enjoyed it very much. I have been reading SurvivalBlog for over a year now. Today I went to my local gun shop to trade off a Springfield 1911 Micro Compact, which never worked worth a hoot, even after a return to the factory. The Micro Compact is not the only 1911 I have ever owned, I have several Colts, full size, Gold Cup, Government Model, et cetera. I wanted something different, and I have always wanted a Beretta M9, ever since seeing the movie "Die Hard". So with a little haggling I traded for a brand new Beretta M9 [9mm.] I then took the new Beretta out to the range. Low and behold, out of the box, this Beretta shoots better and more accurately than any 1911 I have ever owned or shot! On top of that it holds 15 rounds. That [much ammunition in the magazine] can buy you a lot of time to get to your rifle, in a jam. I know about knock down power and all the benefits of both. But after years of 1911 loyalty, I have been shaken down to my core. I know that if I go out to the range tomorrow and plink some more, I am going to wind up liking the Beretta more. I have a crisis on my hands, what is a loyal 1911 man to do? - Dan in Oklahoma

JWR Replies: First, I wholeheartedly agree with your assertion that a handgun is not a substitute for a rifle. It is just a tool that buys you time--something that allows you time to "fight your way back to your rifle." (An old saying, popular with U.S. Army trainers.)

It may surprise you hear that I am not a Model 1911 purist. My general advice is: shoot whatever you are best at shooting. Only hits count, so shoot with the tool that will give you more hits. For most shooters, that means choosing a Glock or perhaps a Springfield Armory XD. Just be sure to use enough gun to stop your opponent. I consider the 9mm cartridge marginal, at best. The .40 S&W cartridge is a bit more of a sure stopper (but still perhaps marginal), and the .45 ACP is about the best compromise cartridge for use a combat autopistol. Keep in mind that NO semi-auto pistol cartridge is going to stop an opponent rapidly unless you get lucky and score a nervous system hit. (Namely, the ocular window or spinal column.) Unlike when using a high power rifle, it will take the effect of cumulative hits to put Mr. Badguy out of action. So use a large caliber handgun loaded with premium hollow point ammo (such as Golden Saber or HydraShok) to start, so that you pile up the damage more quickly with successive hits.)

My only suggestion for you in particular would be to upgrade your Beretta to the .40 S&W cartridge. Factory-made slide/barrel/magazine conversion kits are available from CDNN (see this link, for example) and a number of other Internet vendors. Since they don't include a frame, no FFL is required to purchase these kits. Buy this conversion kit soon, before you invest too much in 9mm ammo and magazines.

One key proviso: You should line up a supply of Beretta factory made Model 96G (.40 S&W) 10 or 11 round magazines before you order a conversion kit. Parenthetically, I would consider 5 spare magazines a bare minimum--but 10 or 12 spares should probably meet your comfort level. After you've made the switch, I recommend greasing up your old 9mm top half and all of your 9mm magazines with R.I.G. Then seal them up in double plastic bags with a little silica gel desiccant inside the inner bag for good measure. Tuck them away in an ammo can--right next to those cans full of 9mm ammo that you can now resign to the category of ballistic wampum. OBTW, I recommend that you consider having a set of Meprolight or Trijicon tritium sights installed on your new .40 top half. Lay in a supply of at least 1,200 &W if your Beretta will be your secondary handgun,

OBTW, if you you decide to leave you pistol "as is" (in 9mm) then get yourself at least one of the scarce Beretta factory 20 round spare magazines. These were originally made for the Model 93R, but they also fit and function in the Model 92 or M9. These extra-high capacity magazines are expensive ($90 to $100 each!) , but are ideal for "bedside table" use, and will hopefully compensate for the marginal ballistics of 9mm. Beretta 93R 20 round magazines can often be found on Buddy Hinton's boards. BTW, beware the aftermarket 20 rounders, that are often of dubious quality and prone to jamming. All of the originals will be stamped "PB".

For those of you that have a fast Internet connection, watch SAR expert Robert Nielsen's recent Google Tech Talk lecture video: Wilderness Survival: Building and Using a Wilderness Survival Kit. It will be one hour of your time, well-spent.

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Reader P.M. sent me flyer that mentioned the Earth-Box gardening system. P.M. says that he has used these for two years with great success. They can be put on wheeled platform or casters, allowing them to be moved indoors at night when frosts are expected.

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Rourke (moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group) mentioned that airing of new episodes of the vaguely survivalist television series Jericho will resume on Feb 21st

"People commit crimes because they are people—because they are innately selfish and do not care how their behavior affects other people, unless they have been raised to behave otherwise or unless they fear the criminal justice system." - Thomas Sowell, Barbarians Inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays, p. 21

Monday, February 5, 2007

I've been asked by several blog readers about quantity pricing on autographed copies of the latest (expanded) edition of my novel "Patriots". Here you go:
1: $22, Book Rate postage paid in the United States
2: $20 each, Book Rate postage paid in the United States
3 to 5: $19 each, Book Rate postage paid in the United States
6 to 10: $16 each, Book Rate postage paid in the United States
11 to 25: $14 each, Book Rate postage paid in the United States
Full cases of 26 copies $325 (just $12.50 each), Book Rate postage paid in the United States
Overseas orders: Add $9 for the first copy and $3 for each additional copy, for Global Priority Mail postage (where available.)

If sending payment via US Postal Service money order (sorry, no checks), please use this address:
Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

On-line payment options:
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net

Most orders will be mailed by our order fulfillment partner, that is in Montana. Regardless of the method of payment, please allow three weeks for delivery. Thanks!

A good friend put a lift kit on an electric golf cart. It will go anywhere a 4-wheeler [all terrain vehicle (ATV)] will go; it is drop dead silent; and will go about 24 mph without alterations. I got to thinking: Why not retrofit a PV charging cell on the golf cart's roof to trickle charge the batteries. An engineer buddy told me that it was very feasible to accomplish this with the additional thought that a redundant solar charger at 'base' would increase the time needed to maintain a full charge. I believe that such a unit would be quite popular when the pumps don't work and the teller machines are 'down for service'. - Matt, Somewhere South of KY

JWR Replies: Arrrrgh! You beat me to the punch on an article that I had planned to post in SurvivalBlog. Here is my input on the subject, in brief: Electric golf carts have limited range, but are indeed very quiet. You should consider that most gas powered golf carts are much quieter than a comparable-size ATV. If you don't plan to go more than a few miles, then get an electric cart. Lift kits are indeed available for retrofit for three popular brands of electric carts: Ez-Go, Club Car, and Yamaha. You can even get brush guards and other ATV-esque accessories for golf carts. Photovoltaic (PV) battery charging panels and charge controllers are available for retrofitting a golf cart, from Internet vendors like Ready Made Resources. (A charge controller is a must on any system with more than just one small trickle charging panel. Otherwise you will overcharge and badly "cook" your batteries.) OBTW, there are also PV panels that are factory original equipment on electric carts like the Cruise Car Sunray. (Here is another page on the same cart.)

To make your cart-cum-ATV at least quasi-tactical, I'd recommend that you paint your cart in a flat earth tone color. (You can add a "flattener" to the mix of a normally glossy or semi-gloss paint that you put though a paint spray gun.) You should also keep the materials handy to spray paint, or Bowflage paint, or camo tape over any chrome parts, if and when things get Schumeresque. (Bowflage paint seems to be best for reducing IR signature.) For both off-road flexibility --where you might encounter low overhanging tree branches-- and possible tactical use, you should make your canopy (with PV panels) quickly detachable, with lock washers and wing nuts or similar mounting hardware.

Mr. Rawles:
I feel guilty about asking you this in an e-mail, since I should probably pay for consulting time to have you answer the following: I have a vacation/retreat house that is in another state, almost 600 miles from my home on the coast. I agree with your advice (that you've repeated gosh how many times) that someone should live at retreat year round. I tried renting it to an acquaintance that needed some "space" for a time following a divorce, but he eventually moved on. Now my retreat is vacant. All of my friends and me--including the two families that are our "bug out buddies" that will help us man the retreat if times get wild and violent--all have corporate jobs on the coast. So we can't live there. And because of the way the retreat house is stocked, I can't rent it out to a stranger. And I can't have a modern burglar alarm system, since the house is off grid and there are no telephone lines for miles. What can I do to increase security so that nobody rips off all our survival supplies? There is too much for us to bury, and besides, the water table is quite high there, so underground caches are pretty much out of the question. (Our well depth is just 12 feet!) Thanx, - R.T.U.

JWR Replies: I recommend that you: 1.) Get an insurance policy for your retreat, to cover theft and fire. 2.) Install either a Smokecloak device (or something comparable, perhaps tripwire activated) in each room with an exterior door, and 3.) Install several infrared security cameras, such as those sold by Ready Made Resources. Having photographic evidence is essential to eventually apprehend burglars, and is also quite useful for substantiating insurance claims. Ideally, there should be a hidden camera facing down the length of your main approach road/driveway (so that you can catch images of vehicle, driver, and most importantly their license plate number), another camera with a view of the front door or other expected point of entry, and possibly yet another with a view of the bathroom. (Burglars tend to get nervous and use the bathroom.) OBTW, if you have a gun vault for you weapons, optics, and electronics, then be sure to bolt it securely to the floor, and if possible build it into a hidden compartment or hidden room.

Thank you for responding to my e-mail. As a healthcare professional, many of us are going to have to make some really hard decisions in more difficult times when drugs will no longer be available. If it came down to having someone die or administering an out of date tetracycline, I would be happy to try the tetracycline out of date or not. Tough choices either way.

The reason I continue this discussion is due partly to an article I read in The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 28, 2000, page A-16. 'Many Drugs Prove Potent Long Past Expiration Dates." {see: http://www.timestriponline.com/shelflife/drugexpiraton.htm] This article sites the findings of the Food and Drug Administration when they tested out of date (up to 15 years) military drug stockpile. The purpose was to see if the military could extend the life of its inventory. The testing included tetracycline and aspirin "and typically found batches effective for more than two years." The results on over 100 drugs "showed that about 90% of them were safe and effective far past their original expiration date." I am not in a position to obtain the full report but it must have been great [to read]. - Russ

A new organization, dedicated to protecting the right to keep and bear edged weapons: http://www.kniferights.org In my opinion knife ownership should have it constitutional protection recognized on an equal footing with gun ownership.

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USDA Announces An "Opt Out" Procedure For NAIS

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Montana and Maine move to reject the Federal Real ID requirements

"It is an uphill struggle, but I wish that we could distinguish more carefully between freedom and liberty. These conditions are not the same, though they are certainly related. Freedom is the absence of restraint - a physical circumstance. Liberty, on the other hand, is a political situation denoting the lawful capability of the citizen to defend himself and his near and dear without interference from the state. Note that the Declaration of Independence forcibly and particularly establishes the blessings of liberty upon ourselves and our posterity. I like to carry a pocket copy of the Declaration, plus the Constitution, in my travels. It is a good thing to have in hand when discussions arise." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper

Sunday, February 4, 2007

I recently spent an afternoon with The Memsahib at a COSTCO store. For our overseas readers: COSTCO is an American membership "warehouse" type grocery store chain that sells everything from canned hams to home computers. By the way, COSTCO is not to be confused with the Chinese shipping company, COSCO, although surely some COSCO goods end up in COSTCO stores. Just not to the same extent that they do at Wal-Mart. (Or, as my brother calls it: "Great Wal-of-China-Mart.") We were at COSTCO primarily to stock up the Rawles Ranch on paper products, soap and cleaning supplies, and some staple foods. The trip was reminiscent of the COSTCO tour that I took last summer with publisher Jake Stafford, when we were developing the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The premise of the course is that more that 80% of what a family needs to stock up for emergencies can be purchased in a single shopping trip to a "big box" store such as COSTCO. The preparedness course stresses the shelf lives of various products--so that you don't buy too much of anything and hence not be able to systematically use it before it reaches the end of its shelf life.

Needless to say, a massive purchase (or a series of purchases) is not something that I would recommend doing during a crisis. Do it now, in normal times. That way you will have a full selection of products, and you won't "hoarding", since the supply chain is still humming along nicely. Everything that you buy today will be efficiently re-stocked. So in effect, by buying your year's supply now, you'll be one less person that rushes to the store at the 11th hour. Hence, instead of being part of the problem, you'll be contributing to the solution. Also, be sure to buy plenty of extra food to have available for charity. Again, that will make you part of the solution.

Several SurvivalBlog readers mentioned an article that ran recently in the New York Times: U.S. Issues Guidelines in Case of Flu Pandemic. The article begins: "Cities should close schools for up to three months in the event of a severe flu outbreak, ball games and movies should be canceled and working hours staggered so subways and buses are less crowded, the federal government advised today in issuing new pandemic flu guidelines to states and cities.
Health officials acknowledged that such measures would hugely disrupt public life, but they argued that these measure would buy the time needed to produce vaccines and would save lives because flu viruses attack in waves lasting about two months.
“We have to be prepared for a Category 5 pandemic,” said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], in releasing the guidelines. “It’s not easy. The only thing that’s harder is facing the consequences. That will be intolerable.”
In an innovation, the new guidelines are modeled on the five levels of hurricanes, but ranked by lethality instead of wind speed. Category 1, which assumes 90,000 Americans would die, is equivalent to a bad year for seasonal flu, Glen Nowak, a CDC spokesman, said. (About 36,000 Americans die of flu in an average year.) Category 5, which assumes 1.8 million dead, is the equivalent of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. (That flu killed about 2 percent of those infected; the H5N1 flu now circulating in Asia has killed more than 50 percent but is not easily transmitted.)" [End quote.]

Given the lethality rate of H5N1, I think that the CDC officials are overly optimistic, almost to the point of being Pollyannas. They have understated the pandemic threat considerably. As I mentioned in my article Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic, the current strain of the H5N1 virus has a 58% lethality rate for humans. If a new easily transmissible strain emerges, and that strain has the same lethality, imagine this: It could infect 20% of the population, and then kill 58% of those that are infected. In a nation of 300 million that equates to 34.8 million deaths. In fact, the death rate could be even higher. Why? In the recent Asian outbreaks, we have witnessed aggressive hospitalized treatment for all of those that were infected--complete with 24-hour nursing, artificial ventilation, broad spectrum antibiotics (for bacterial co-infections), oxygen therapy, I.V. fluids, experimental anti-virals, the whole works. But in a major pandemic there would not be enough hospital beds for even small percentage of the flu patients. There are roughly 947,000 staffed hospital beds in the U.S. (including prison hospitals) and about 65% of standard beds and 85% in critical care unit beds are filled on any given day. (Some suggest that there is a bed shortage, even in the present day.) And what about hospital ventilators? Forget it! In the U.S. there are "about 105,000 ventilators, and even during a regular flu season, about 100,000 [of them] are in use."

So what is the bottom line? To be more realistic in assessing worst case situations, the CDC needs to add at least a couple more category numbers (i.e. Category 6 and Category 7.) In my estimation the CDC has publicly underestimated the pandemic threat, to avoid widespread panic.

The latest news is that H5N1 has been found in farm poultry in England. It is just a matter of time before it makes its way into U.S. poultry flocks. But H5N1 is not in itself a big public health threat. It is the potential mutated variety "HX" that is the real threat. But for now, H5N1 has circled the globe and may become endemic. Everywhere that it exists, there is the chance that a viable "H2H" strain could emerge. When that happens, watch out!

Are you ready to self-quarantine your entire family to avoid exposure? If not, then you'd better get on the phone to a food storage vendor (there are several very reputable ones that are SurvivalBlog advertisers) and order an honest six month supply of food for your family. Do it NOW, because if you wait until after a flu outbreak, then it will be too late. The supermarket shelves will swept bare in less than 24 hours, nationwide. Human nature dictates that this will happen. That is what people always do in emergencies. We just haven't yet seen it happen from coast to coast.

Dear Jim,
In response to this: "(See the movie The Day After Tomorrow regarding tipping points). Discoveries of animals flash frozen solid with fresh grass their stomachs points to the possibility of a very fast onset to global climate change." The Day After Tomorrow was roundly slammed by scientists and went beyond ludicrous, and the "flash frozen" animals are a myth that has never been documented. The recovered frozen mammoths have all been highly putrefied.
At present, the evidence of warming is mixed, with glaciers in Europe, South America and Antarctica all increasing [in size]. Even with the current Northern Hemisphere warming trend (Which leveled out a decade ago), we're still quite cooler than during the Viking Era, when summer temperatures in Greenland could reach 80 degrees F. Nor is a sea level rise likely--fill a glass with ice water, let it melt, and the level will drop, because ice is less dense than water (one of water's unique properties that makes it so useful as a basis for life). The Earth has sustained life from the Carboniferous, with double the current CO2 level and 35% oxygen [JWR Adds: Reader B.F. mentioned that the figure is acutally only about 21% oxygen], to deep ice ages with glaciers as far south as 30 degrees latitude.
That said, SF raises very good points about shifting weather patterns, all of which are cyclic. Tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, ice storms are all potential crop killers. Volcanic eruptions and meteorite impacts have affected the global environment (see The Year Without A Summer) and are definitely things to prepare for. The latter would be catastrophic, as the huge population of Earth depends upon steady movement of harvested crops to keep people fed. (I covered this as a military strategy in my novel "The Weapon.")
Even in "normal" climate, I've seen snow flurries in San Antonio in August, snow on Memorial Day in Chicago, and temperatures as low as 30 degrees F in rural Ohio and Pennsylvania over July 4th weekend in quite modest hills (Also T-shirt weather in January, but that's less of a threat). Breaking down in those hills on a back country road means you might need a fire or warm clothing at once.
I guesstimate that a local disaster (riot, tornado, earthquake) could last days, a regional one (hurricane, major earthquake, political collapse) weeks, and a global disaster (mega-volcano, large meteorite, infrastructure failure) a year or more. Once we get into that, deaths from starvation are utterly certain for those not prepared, until population reaches equilibrium with the available food supply.
This reiterates that one's survival preparations should not be public knowledge. Starving people have and will kill to feed themselves and their children. This could be the ugliest of scenarios. - Michael Z. Williamson

Dear Jim and Family,
This is in response to the post about climate change. I have a degree in geology, though when I graduated there were no jobs. (Thanks, Bill!). There were some good points raised, however I have to raise a flag over the "flash frozen animals" thing: it's more of a myth than a fact. Yes a few mammoths were found that way but the cause is only speculation. Far more likely they got drowned by a small tsunami raised by a calving ice sheet. That whole aspect of the movie showing superfreezing from the middle atmosphere is bunk. The Day After Tomorrow wasn't a great film (unless you enjoy humor), however one aspect of it was right: a flood of melted ice water (low salt content) would either change or stop the Gulf Stream (shifting it South is most likely), thus suddenly allowing Arctic storms into Europe. Temperatures would drop considerably, which would actually provide much more habitat for fish but ruin crops.

During the Little Ice Age (see Wikipedia) from 1300-1850 AD, climate got very erratic. Some years were too wet for crops. Some were too dry. Some years it snowed in July. Some years the glaciers advanced several hundred yards. Other years they retreated. We're between Ice Ages (and some geologists say that the Pleistocene isn't over, this is just a minor retreat). For the scientifically minded, the most recent warming began 20,000 years ago, and picked up a lot around 8000 years ago, when things really started to melt. A lot of grass grew and a lot of creatures died out, and the rest of them ran upon grassy plains where our ancestors hunted them and made cave drawings and early agriculture, Sumeria, Egypt, Greece. In the present its really dried out and all the grass is gone. Lebanon has few trees but used to be covered in giant Cedars, which grow well in wetter climates. Israel was also heavily treed and resembled Eastern Arizona of today. Yes, rains and wind will probably change and after two years of studying the Pleistocene (for the purposes of writing a novel about it) ... I don't know if it will get wet during the next ice age's arrival. I really don't. It may dry out more and promote growth of desert. It will almost certainly be bad for crops so agriculture is going to take a beating and food supply will almost certainly be less. That's a real problem for a population of 6.5 billion, and not so great for a population of 2 billion either (if 4.5 billion die from starvation).

One important piece of history to keep in mind: we survived the last ice age with little more than stone tools and fire. We'll get through the next one considerably better off. It's not like we'll forget iron working, and properly made CD-ROMs (pressed, not burned) last for centuries. Consider how much useful information will fit in a tiny space with a very basic computer to read them. That's nothing to sneeze at. Imagine Wikipedia complete with engineering designs and open source CAD software to help you develop it. Society won't fall very far down the ladder if that's the case. That engineering knowledge will let us continue to make firearms, steam engines, computers, electricity, food storage, farming, genetic engineering, navigation, etc, without having to resort to bows and arrows or wattle and daub houses. It's very unlikely to drop below 1950s technology, we'll just have to get by without cheap oil.

If climate change starts heading for return of the ice age, which is still possible, the way to tell is rapid growth of glaciers in formerly dry northeastern rockies. That's where the ice sheets began last time, according to best current data. We think they began due to melting of the polar ice, which winds swept up and deposited snow on these 19,000 foot elevation plateaus (currently dry). The ice built up and flowed down slope, increasing reflected sunlight and eventually cooling the globe. It's possible that while the ice caps remained wet (rather than icy), the ice age was already beginning.

Keep in mind there are at least 34 identified feedback loops responsible for Earth's climate, and that's without involving Divine Intervention. Eight of these loops are based on orbit, volcanics, and magnetic field (plus solar storms), all of which have a huge impact on climate. Based on the Milancovic cycle we're about due to begin the next Ice Age, a point made in 1970 is that Global Cooling would kill us all (sound familiar?). Warming is curious. Higher CO2 levels are unprecedented. But the climate has been much warmer than it is now and everything didn't die then, so I don't expect it will die now either. Plants and animals will end up migrating to suitable habitat or dying out. That's how it goes. And apparently there's quite a few new species trying to come into being but they keep dying out due to human interference to "preserve" something or other green nonsense. Best not to get worked up about it.

The tropics did not require cold weather gear, however ice was in tropical environments, around subtropical plants because the ice moved faster than it could melt during certain points of its advance stage. There's enough evidence to support this quirky image: 70'F Florida type weather and plants next to ice sheet a few dozen feet away. Yes, that's really weird, but there's evidence to support this. The nice thing about ice ages is there's generally time to get out of the way, same with volcanic eruptions. You get plenty of warning. If things change, you can always built it yourself, or adapt otherwise. Everything flows from the will to live and the fortitude to endure hardship to accomplish that. Best, - InyoKern


I'm tired of everyone playing the "fear" card in regards to global climate change. Man's ability to adapt to different situations and in fact thrive in them should not be underestimated. The fact that man has lived in harsh northern environments has led to the development of countless tools, technologies, and techniques that have benefited all of mankind. In reference to the comments made by SF in Hawaii, the frozen woolly mammoth couldn't put on a coat or jacket, we can. Also I don’t know that an autopsy was ever actually performed on that animal, I think everyone just assumed it froze to death but as far as I know it might have died of an aneurysm! If ocean levels ever rise fifteen feet I will personally go to SF's house and move his belongings to higher ground. I do not believe there is enough water on the planet to raise ocean levels anywhere close to fifteen feet. At any rate it is downright foolish to try and take anything from the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" other than entertainment, and even the that was marginal. The climate will change, is changing, and has always changed, the part mankind plays in all of this is miniscule at best, and very likely totally insignificant. Whatever changes lie ahead we will overcome them, that's why we are all here; to overcome whatever hardships we may face. We will face these challenges with strength, faith, truth, ingenuity, wisdom, justice, and communities such as this on SurvivalBlog. If people want to do something for the environment that's fine, but don’t be so foolish as to think you are going to prevent global climate change. Reduce, reuse, and recycle, these are good things no matter what your political stripe, and buying quality instead of junk is always wise for the survivor. - A. Friendly

Don't miss the recent economic analysis from ContraryInvestor.com (by way of our friends at Gold-Eagle.com): We're Swimming In Liquidity, Aren't We? The charts say it all! We are about to experience the inevitable outcome of the liquidity bubble. Major market corrections are rarely fun. When market imbalances get way out of proportion and then markets do correct, it can get ugly. (For example the deflationary Great Depression of the 1930s, which followed the credit bubble of the 1920s.) Rawles Mantra mode on: Be prepared. Diversify out of the dollar. Get out of debt. Invest in tangibles.

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There are just 12 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. This is a tremendous opportunity, so don't miss out. They are selling nitrogen packed canned storage foods at prices are less than half of retail.

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I heard that the folks at Medical Corps have scheduled just one hands-on Combat/Field Medicine Course thusfar for 2007. It will be at the OSU Extension Campus, in Belle Valley Ohio, April 20-21-22. Since there are no other courses scheduled, this one is likely to fill up rapidly, so get your reservation in early. They offer great training--including advanced life saving topics that the American Red Cross doesn't teach--at very reasonable cost.

"Politicians cannot be trusted with a monopoly of power over other people’s lives. Thousands of years of history have demonstrated this again and again and yet again." - Thomas Sowell, Barbarians Inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays, p. 12

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Today we present the first article submitted for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Coming from a Southern family and having hunted as a child and adult, and having backpacked the Smokies, I would not want to depend on a mountain man scenario for survival during TEOTWAWKI. I want to walk a bit further with this. Most particularly consideration of a sailing vessel and the ocean as a way of survival. I seriously question the concept of mobility, particularly mobility at sea. I remember Sun Tzu said something to the effect that "when the army of maneuver meets the army of the fortress, the army of the fortress generally looses." But I think that the mobility concept here may be an exception to what Sun Tzu said. Having sailed since I was 9, and my first offshore passage with a friend of my dad's and his son when I was 10, I ve been drawn to the ocean rather than the golf course. My first and incidentally most survivable offshore capable boat was an old converted ships lifeboat, wooden hull, wooden masts, plow wire for standing rigging and canvas and cotton for sails. Simple, basic, rough. The preceding sentence is read in a few seconds and many can visualize what's written there. But its a little more in depth than that. The “in depth” goes something like this. With a wooden hull and plow wire rigging and cotton sails a knowledgeable person can take a vessel like that and maintain and/or repair her anywhere in the world given a lot of [time and] luck. Taking an axe to cut down a tree then a foot adze to rough out a plank, the a box plane and a draw knife to fine the plank up (bear in mind all of these tools you carry deep sea in something that is less than 40 feet on the waterline) and spike it in to the hull to replace a defective plank. Then the aforementioned plank is in the hull the same material that the sails are from , raw cotton is used to caulk the plank periphery to make the repair watertight. Then its paid or sealed with a white lead and copper oxide and linseed oil mixture. Or use the same tools on another tree carefully chosen to be a mast or bowsprit or gaff or boom. Where of course all of this leads is to the discipline nay more like way of life of wooden boat building and seamanship,and being able to survive that way. Or survive any way--whether on the ocean or a ranch or farm its no different. It is the same way of life with each of their own peculiarities, for many different paths of survival but all of them take time and none are learned in a year or 18 months from a book.

My first and second boats were both wood, the second one was a 42 foot John G. Alden design, cutter rigged and built in 1936, that I sailed and lived aboard for 15 years. She was still going deep water and crossing oceans over 50 years after she was constructed, and still is today. I remember the first major re-fit I did taking the working sails off and storing them in my parents basement, (I was a youngster then and they were still alive and tolerant of an eccentric non-golfing kid) and the second night of that, going to get the bare minimum (mainsail, working jib, staysail, a genoa and storm trysail) at 10 PM because I didn't like the feeling of insecurity--of not being able to sail out of my slip, sail out of the marina, sail out of the harbor, and the bay if necessary. My parents did not understand then .I'm not sure I did completely either. I do much more clearly now.
An offshore vessel departure is something that does not involve just slipping the lines and leaving the marina. It starts years before that point in the preparation and continuing maintenance necessary to prep a small (under 60 feet long) sailing vessel to cross oceans and more importantly those who sail in her. I think its the same with a survival retreat. With a boat, each hull material is a complete discipline in itself. Each way of life (ocean, farm, ranch) is a discipline unto itself with many interlocking parts. Wood hull with galvanized plow wire or for that matter the same wire (1 x 7) that the utility companies use to guy poles, and cotton, flax or canvas sails and manila line for running rigging is a survivable vessel. More modern more easily maintainable materials at least now: aluminum(my favorite hull material hands down) , steel (my second choice)or fiberglass (my least favorite) accompanied by stainless steel running rigging, dacron or carbon fiber sails and sometimes masts are only maintainable with the society and level of industrialization that we have now. I was a navigator in modern fiberglass boats years ago in Latin America. I tried to replace a piece of 1 x 19 stainless standing rigging and its fittings on a sailing vessel. If you want 1 x 7 or 7 x 7 [mild] steel or galvanized rigging, no problem. However, stainless, dacron sails, synthetic line running rigging, argon gas for aluminum welding and or the equipment to do it with, then forget it. That pretty fiberglass (barrels of oil for resin and glass fibre cloth) production boat is repairable these days on the shores of the industrialized countries, but in the third or fourth world it won't happen. Post-TEOTWAWKI it won't happen, either. Post-TEOTWAWKI, what the h**l are you gonna do with a refrigerator with a TV in the door? Post-TEOTWAWKI you will find families who build boats out of wood and galvanized steel and so forth and have been doing so for generations. Primitive but effective .That pretty GPS chart plotter you carry and its backup--and for that matter all of your onboard electronics and electrical may be a victim of EMP. The navigational gear may be a victim of the vulnerability of the GPS satellite constellation going down due either to EMP (unlikely to get them all in high orbit with one shot) or lack of ground correction of satellite position due to orbital perturbations. Interesting concept. How many carry paper charts. How many can do the old lunar distance sights and calculations to determine with reasonable accuracy, the correct time to determine one's longitude a.k.a. Joshua Slocum (remember the EMP? WWV and WWVH probably along with CHU and a host of other time stations are off the air either temporarily or maybe for good along with,--depending on your luck quotient--most or all of your onboard electronics, particularly in a wood or fiberglass hull. And for that matter how many carry a sextant and the tables (HO 214, 219, 229 or 249) to reduce the sun, moon and star sights you take or even better yet found a 1920s-era copy of Nathaniel Bowditch's “The American Practical Navigator” to learn the spherical trigonometry to reduce the sights without tables?

This brings up another point: Carrying firearms is a sensitive business because many , if not most foreign governments are mildly nervous about this practice unless you are a commercially documented vessel, have a bonded stores area in the vessel where you can lock up tobacco, spirits and firearms when in port. (The most likely time the firearms are going to be needed is in harbor) and the customs agent can come aboard and seal that locker. And in TEOTWAWKI there is no guarantee that pratique procedures in a foreign country are going to be followed. There is also always the possibility that at sea, you well may be outgunned and at sailing vessel speeds (maybe 7 knots, which is about 9 mph ) you can't run away. And there you cannot bug out to a pre-cached position either.

When I was younger and had my Alden I lived alongshore in the Gulf of Mexico. A group of us all live-aboards (in those days we were rare and a close knit community) used to sand table what it would be like if the balloon went up. The most likely scenario we envisioned was a limited nuclear strike on the CONUS. Consider if one will being alongshore in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and what it would take to get “away” provided one survived the first strike. And we lived the life (many of us did with a minimum of 60 days dry stores aboard) and walked the walk, always prepped for sea (not an easy thing to do.) Figure say from Mobile, Alabama to get out of the Gulf of Mexico basin where one would be deep sea, the closest being the Southern littoral of the North Atlantic Ocean would take a minimum of 7-to-8 days on a vessel with a 40 foot waterline length. (Considering that will provide on a very good 24 hour noon-to-noon run, 150-170 miles driven hard with cooperating weather. We then figured if we could get past Cuba and the tip of Florida. From Mobile, depending on the time of year and the weather that can be a daunting task. We might have a chance. There was another cadre of people in the marina, who rarely left their slips. They took a minimum of 24 hours to get gear below decks stowed in lockers to be able to get underway. Those in our group could be stowed for sea and underway in 30 minutes. We practiced it routinely.
Also consider the very long distance most of it along shores of various countries (you are much safer when deep ocean both from wars, storms, and people.) Then one begins to appreciate if one will, the risky scenario for a person or family. But eventually one must put in to a harbor. Somewhere. Today ( when I was young we didn't have them) with water makers a vessel with deep bunkers (my last vessel, 48 feet LOA carried 600 gallons of diesel and 1,000 gallons of water in deep tankage)--the diesel fuel needed to make the electricity to charge the batteries to run the water maker to fill the tanks and fishing equipment and solar and wind adjuncts and rain catchment and so on and so forth. Eventually one must put in. That of course is when you are the most vulnerable. Even in a large vessel where you can carry the depth of stores--line and sails and wire and welding equipment and blocks and parts--material needed to repair the ravages of days and days and days at sea, finally the larder runs out. Depending on how far down things fall then you may well have no idea of the conditions where you are putting in. And if you are putting in under duress for example, dismasted and under jury rig while trying to double Cape Horn--and it has happened to many vessels in the high latitudes of the great Southern Ocean--then the options considerably narrow. Have you ever thought about in a small boat what even considering a passage through he Canal might be like during TEOTWAWKI? The only other alternatives are either Cape Horn or Cape of Good Hope. Look at a chart.

I grew up sailing and surfing and diving. I would not consider the ocean as a refuge if the balloon goes up. In my humble opinion one is too vulnerable. Vulnerable to whom? To a Caribbean Island fisherman whose family is starving because the inter-island freighter has stopped running and he needs antibiotics/pure water/salt/diesel fuel/gasoline/toilet paper. Or vulnerable to a rogue element of a Third World military --or for that matter a First World military--who have the materiel to be the top guy on the heap of post industrialization in your part of the ocean. Or,... Well you get the idea. Post 9-11-01, I sold what will probably be my last offshore vessel, a 48 foot aluminum pilothouse ketch with five watertight compartments. I finally woke up and realized that although I could (and did) single hand her offshore without problems, being survivable and secure did not seem to be a practical scenario. That plus my age led me to other considerations. - CMC

JWR Adds: I agree with CMC's basic assertion. I consider blue water sailing a viable retreat alternative only for someone that is: A.) An experienced yachtsmen that lives close to his boat harbor, and B.) has the means to afford the right boat and can afford to fully equip it, and C.) that has an established overseas retreat destination that is well-stocked in its own right. So in effect, a well-stocked sailboat is not in itself a retreat, but rather could be your G.O.O.D. vehicle to get you to an established offshore retreat. In all, the preceding list eliminates most of the people reading this! It may sound brutal and terse, but for anyone else "sea-mobile" retreating is just another fantasy--unaffordable and unrealistic. I briefly discuss some issues regarding seA-mobile retreating in my non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. The following is a quote from the book:

Unless you are an experienced blue water yachtsman with many years of experience, then I cannot recommend “sea mobile” retreating. I only know a few yachtsmen with this level of experience--most notably Mark Laughlin and Matthew Bracken. (BTW, Some of the characters and descriptions in Matt Bracken’s recent novel “Enemies Foreign and Domestic” shed some light on sea-mobile retreating.) IMHO, for a long term Crunch with anticipated fuel shortages, only a sailboat with an auxiliary engine makes sense. If you do choose this approach, then by all means select the largest sailboat you can afford (and that can be manned by a small crew) with the following features:
A minimal radar cross-section.
A retractable keel so that you can navigate shallows.
A very quiet auxiliary engine.
The largest fuel and fresh water tanks possible.
A full suite of communications gear (marine band, 2 Meter, CB, and HF.)
At least two Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, plus a sextant and a couple of accurate hairspring or quartz watches. (In case your GPS receivers fail, or if the GPS satellites ever fail. (Such as if the GPS constellation is ever destroyed or significantly degraded by anti-satellite weapons.)
A hull and rigging design that will “blend in” with the crowd of seasonal yachtsmen.
Plenty of spare parts.

Be forewarned that your inevitable desire to add a large photovoltaic array will be in direct opposition to blending in. If you buy photovoltaic (PV) panels, buy canvas covers to make them less obvious when sailing near shore.

A sailboat moored at night is vulnerable to sea-going looters. Even today, piracy is a problem, particularly in the Caribbean and the waters around Southeast Asia. This threat will surely expand by an order of magnitude WTSHTF. So plan your landfalls carefully!

Mr. Rawles:
I thought I would pass on a valuable tip I learned thank goodness not the hard way. I have found that taking the bedding from the horse stalls, (manure and urine-soaked sawdust), composting it, and mixing into the garden has converted my hard pan top soil into a nice “loam” which tills and works so much easier (after working it with a tiller).
We are going on year number 4 for our garden and have noticed a substantial decline in productivity and did not follow through with soil testing when I first noticed the “problem”. I attributed it to everything but the culprit.
I have found that sawdust in quantity into soil renders it much less productive, and I am not sure of the longevity of the problem. I understand that the sawdust absorbs the nitrogen in the surrounding soil and does not release it back. I do not have hard facts, but was told by an experienced farmer that he lost the top 14” of topsoil due to sawdust/ bedding introduction on an entire farm!
I am happy to say that I have not had to live off of my yield so far, so this lesson could have saved my family's life. Two other thoughts come to mind:
1). If composting bedding, straw, clippings, etc., you can introduce a bunch of unwanted weed seed into your garden if you did not in fact let the mixture sit long enough to "burn out" the weed seed. Rotate often.
2). If situation necessitates, cutting wood for the stove may become a more thought thorough venture. Knowing what I know now about sawdust, I personally am making quite sure that where I do most of my cutting is not a potential “expansion” area of the garden, post-SHTF. Grateful for Experience Now, - The Wanderer

Another derivatives debacle! At least I can say that I warned you. From Bloomberg com comes this story: Sallie Mae 4th-Quarter Net Falls on Derivatives Losses. The article begins: “SLM Corp., the nation's largest provider of college-student loans, said fourth-quarter profit tumbled 96% because of a decline in the value of financial contracts it uses to protect against swings in interest rates."

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Reader J.M. sent us a news story link and asks: "When will the 'nanny state' mentality ever end?": California may ban conventional light bulbs by 2012 OBTW, I also read that in California the Nanny-Staters want to make spanking any child under three years old a misdemeanor offense. There comes a time when people have to just vote with their feet.

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The folks at Freeze Dry Guy (one of our most loyal advertisers) mentioned that they are having a special sale for February on their Dehydrated Variety Case. This case is designed to expand your variety and increase calories and protein in your storage food supply. The Dehydrated Variety Case includes six #2 1/2 size cans, all nitrogen packed for long term storage: 1 Mountain Stew (13 cups), 1 Potato Granules (40 cups), 1 Stroganoff Casserole (11 cups), 1 Applesauce Mix (28 cups), 1 Butter Powder (29 Tbsp) , 1 Fruit Cocktail (11 cups), plus 6 plastic lids for #2 1/2 cans. Pricing: $62 for 1 case, or $166 for 3 cases, shipping included within the Continental US. Oh yes, be sure to ask for their excellent free report, “Thoughts on Disaster Survival.”

"Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked." - Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

Friday, February 2, 2007

The February "support our troops:" sale on copies of my novel "Patriots" has started off with a bang, with e-mailed reservations and PayPaled orders for more than a dozen copies on the very first day of the sale. I should mention that I've also received e-mails from two veterans who recently returned from The Big Sandbox. Both asked if they'd also be eligible for the special pricing. My reply: Yes, indeed! Just send a photocopy of your DD-214 showing that you served in OIF or OEF, or in Bosnia--along with the payment for your book ($12 + $3 postage) to:
Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

Otherwise, to qualify for the special pricing , the book orders must be mailed to an APO or FPO address, (Roughly half of the orders that I'm getting are for "gift" copies that will be mailed to relatives that are serving in Iraq, Iran, or Bosnia.) Again, the price is just $12 per copy, plus $3 postage. (That is $10.99 off of the cover price--right near my cost.) OBTW, speaking of supporting our troops, be sure to visit the AnySoldier.com web site, and "do your bit." As previously mentioned, some young enlisted troops that are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan get no mail from home, so anything that you can send them--even just a postcard--is appreciated. I now offer a couple of additional payment options for book orders: both AlertPay and GearPay. (I prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.) In my experience, AlertPay has a frustratingly labyrinthine account set-up procedure, but GearPay seems much quicker and easier to set up.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you call a talk radio show. I would also greatly appreciate it if you'd consider adding a SurvivalBlog link to your web page and/or to the bottom of your mail "sig" block. Thanks!

While the pundits assure us that global warming, if real at all, won't affect us in our lifetime, other scientific models suggest explosive climate shifts as 'tipping points' are reached. (See the movie The Day after Tomorrow regarding tipping points). Discoveries of animals flash frozen solid with fresh grass their stomachs points to the possibility of a very fast onset to global climate change. While suddenly finding yourself in an Arctic climate is likely not survivable, we must consider if we have the flexibility to survive in a radically different or highly volatile climate. Global warming can make warm places colder and cold places warmer. Dry places wetter and wet places drier. Rather than thinking of global warming as a 'warming' per-say (as in the end it may even trigger an ice age), think of it as having the potential of radically changing in any direction your historical weather pattern and making weather very unpredictable. Questions to ponder are:

If it got much wetter/drier where I live what would happen? What if the rain stops, or it rains 50 times more than it used to? If you rely on catchment and the rain stops, then what? If you rely on a well in an otherwise dry climate, are you prepared for flash floods? Do you have proper drainage ditches?

If it got much warmer or much colder, do you have heirloom seeds for temperate and tropical climates? Are you prepared to build a greenhouse if temperature fluctuates from 70F to 6F in a matter of weeks (as it did in New York City recently). Do your crops require a frost and what if you don't get one? Will your crops be killed by a frost and what if you do get one? If you live in the tropics, do you have any cold weather gear?
Warm weather can bring insect and vermin to an area that would otherwise not survive. Could your crops deal with insects from another climate? Witness the rising of malaria in locations that had until now been at a high enough altitude to prevent mosquitoes from thriving in central American cities. Alternatively, if you hope to add to your larder by hunting game and migratory bird, what if the birds shifted their flight path to accommodate a weather change? What if the local deer decided en masse to move south (or whatever direction was warmer)? If you hope to fish to augment your protein stores, what if the fish (which are as we speak disappearing) left your shores or your waters became another notorious 'dead zone'?

If it got much windier or less windy, then what? If you rely on wind power and the wind patterns shift direction, can you move your system to accommodate it? What if the winds stop entirely (unlikely as climate changes tend to make for more wind not less), then what? If it got much windier, can your wind generating equipment handle it? Can you house survive a hurricane in a location where houses are not built with hurricanes in mind? (Remember the recent Pacific Northwest windstorms?) Would your crops suffer if your windbreak were suddenly on the wrong side of your farm?

If you rely on solar [power or water heating] and you go from a sunny location to clouds all the time, then what? Do you have crops that can handle both high levels and low levels of sunlight?

Do you have snow tires or chains for your car? What would you do if your roads were covered in snow and ice? Do you have anti-freeze?

Where would a 15 foot rise in sea level put you? - SF in Hawaii

All this discussion of antibiotic nephrotoxicity on a "non-medical" forum reminds me of just why modern medical education is so onerous, including (in the U.S.) four hard years of school -- two mostly classroom, two mostly clinical -- followed by many more years of clinical residency training. During such training, one encounters lots of side effects of the various highly potent chemical agents known as pharmaceuticals. Watching out for the kidneys is one reason hospitalized patients have so much blood drawn over and over again (to monitor BUN [blood urea nitrogen] and creatinine, markers for renal function).

I guess the best TEOTWAWKI preparation would be to stockpile antibiotics and an experienced practitioner to administer them, preferably a board-certified infectious disease specialist. Unfortunately the latter are not available via mail order! Lacking such experienced members in your family or mutual assistance group, one is advised to be rather cautious in dosing -- i.e. respect those meds -- they can cure but they can also kill. In short, please "don't try this at home" unless you absolutely have to.

On the specific subject of tetracyclines, the relevant paragraph in "the" standard textbook, Mandell's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases (4th ed.) begins "The tetracyclines aggravate pre-existing renal failure by inhibiting protein synthesis, which increases the azotemia from amino acid metabolism..." The paragraph concludes with rather brief mention of toxicity in expired tetracyclines due to the outdated manufacturing issues [i.e. binders that are no longer used], but says "It is unlikely this complication will recur."

The best reference to this issue I can readily find on-line (as opposed to textbooks) is as follows -- pay attention to the years cited:


The nephrotoxicity of tetracycline incited considerable interest in the early 1960s, shortly after its introduction. People, particularly children, developed a reversible proximal tubular dysfunction after receiving outdated drugs. The nephrotoxicity was found to be due to a degradation product, anhydro-4-epitetracycline. The problem has disappeared with the substitution of citric acid for lactose as a vehicle (Curtis, 1979).

Other rare effects of tetracycline that have been reported are impairment of renal-concentrating ability by demethyl-chlorotetracycline and occurrences of acute interstitial nephritis after minocycline treatment. More important to current usage is the awareness that the serum half-life of the two most commonly used drugs, tetracycline and oxytetracycline, is greatly prolonged in renal failure, and that the anti-anabolic effect of the tetracyclines, which inhibit the incorporation of amino acids into protein, may further contribute to negative nitrogen balance and uraemia by raising blood urea nitrogen (Curtis, 1979).
Reference cited : CURTIS, J.R. (1979) Drug-induced renal disease. Drugs, 18: 377-391.


One last comment: A useful aphorism that I was taught in medical school is that "any drug can cause any side effect in any patient at any time (...but some are more likely than others)."
- A Public Health Physician

The price action in the precious metals markets has been uneven for the past couple of months. It seems to be a market looking for a sense of direction. Just as with the base metals, there is of course a habitual tendency for the precious metals to follow the price of crude oil. But as previously mentioned, that linkage is weakening. Even though oil is off more than 25% from its highs of a few months ago (presently it is down in the low $50 range, per barrel), the metal prices have not followed. They've weakened a bit, but stayed in a fairly consistent range. With all of the international tensions--particularly regarding Iran--why hasn't the the precious metals bull resumed his charge? I'm surprised that this hasn't happened. Perhaps the sagging oil prices have made the metals traders cautious. All of this aside, I remain confident about gold and even more confident about silver as investments in the long term, since the inevitable long term direction of the dollar is downward. Whether in inflationary or deflationary times, the precious metals are a decent hedge. But it is in times of mass inflation that they really shine.With the Democrats now in control of congress, unbridled spending seems likely, and both higher taxes and and inflation will follow. I recommend that you continue to grow your physical silver holdings each time that there is a sharp price dip in the spot silver market. (For example the recent dip to down near $12 per ounce was a good time to buy. I hope that you took heed when I mentioned that dip )

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There are just 14 days left in the big "Container load sale" at Survival Enterprises. Several items have sold out. These are going fast! All of the storage food items are "first come - first served." The prices are less than half of retail.

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Personal Savings in U.S. Drop to Lowest Rate Since 1933--the Depth of the Great Depression. Gee, decades of chronic inflation wouldn't have anything to do with that, would it?

"It is not the function of the government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Congratulations to JLM, the winner of Round 8 of the SurvivalBlog writing contest. He has won a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. JLM wrote the article "Gardens of the Future", which was posted on January 26th. Additionally, honorable mention awards go to S.N. for his article "Horse Power, the Real McCoy" (posted January 12th) and to John in Central New York State for his article "Which Vehicle Will Work? Choices For Post -TEOTWAWKI Transport" (posted December 25th.) These two gents will each receive a complimentary autographed copy of the new expanded edition of my novel "Patriots": Surviving The Coming Collapse. To the prize winners: Please e-mail me your snail mail addresses.

Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. begins today. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dear Jim:
Regarding retreats for big city dwellers, the more you read and think, the clearer it becomes:
1. Your retreat from the big city needs to be more than a distance than is convenient to travel on a weekly basis.
2. You really need someone there full time for security and maintenance. [JWR Adds: And to establish/develop gardens, fruit trees, nut trees, and livestock for self-sufficiency.]
3. One family (unless a humongous family by modern standards) is not enough folks to have a diversity of skills, keep good perimeter security, or defend in a TSHTF situation.
4. [Affording both] a rural retreat and a city home is an expensive proposition.
The obvious solution is for like-minded families to band together to share costs and work. But an even better solution would be to come to an arrangement with a rancher or farmer who is survival savvy, but land rich and cash poor. (Or that needs more folks on board in a crisis).
The hard parts are:
1. How to make the connection between urban and rural dwellers in the first place, and
2. Then of course how to have a "let's date before we sign contracts to get married" period to build trust and teamwork, and to make sure that there is enough compatibility and common ground.
Any ideas / advice ?
Have looked at the site you recommended where survivalists could connect, but it seemed most postings were old. Perhaps there is an opportunity here for SurvivalBlog to be of service doing classified ads or "match-making" for a fee? Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: For liability reasons, I refrain from posting any matchmaking "classifieds" --or anything similar. (You've probably read about the $4.3 million dollar settlement paid by Robert K. Brown, very nearly bankrupting Soldier of Fortune magazine.) Sorry, but I can't afford to roll those dice. I still recommend The Survivalist Contacts Page, which is kindly sponsored and hosted by SurvivalistBooks.com. So far as I know, they are still accepting new contacts posts. If you utilize this free service, be sure to patronize their on-line book store. (They have a wide assortment of preparedness and self-sufficiency books, at competitive prices.)

Your recent posts on seed varieties sparked some thoughts on my recent reading. We're going to find fellowship and learning opportunities within the "Authentic Agriculture" movement. Since living at the retreat is ideal, perhaps "Authentic Agriculture" is how to make it happen.
About halfway down the page in this link the farmer describes breeding a plot of open pollinated corn in order to maximum the desirable expressed phenotypes for his soils and micro-climate. By hand selecting seed over generations he is increasing his protein content for his animals. A 3,000 acre Farmerus maximus miserabli just can't compete with a homesteader clipping open his seed corn samples to check on starch-to-endosperm ratios.
Somewhere else I read recently (cannot find the link) that by saving seed and selecting characteristics, a homesteader was able to increase corn yield 10% over ten generations. It's not just the right thing to do; there's profit in using heirloom and open pollinated varietals. In His Service, - BH

As Bob B. from the Seattle area stated, the gridlock of freeways is a huge issue, especially in Seattle. I had the unfortunate experience of being on the 50th floor of a large building in Seattle during the earthquake of 2000, and again on Sept. 11th, 2001. I was more prepared for the latter. in the aftermath of the earthquake, I became acutely aware of the fact that Seattle is an island: bridges to get in and out of the city that cross both Lake Washington, and Lake Union. And while there, the entire freeway system is elevated. Not a place to be stuck! Especially considering it's such a liberal city, full of sheeple.
After that [first] experience, I put to together an emergency bag, and kept it with me at all times when traveling to, from, or in the city (now everywhere.) It consists of my black Gortex shell coat. 60 folded one dollar bills, a Grundig self-powered (hand crank) radio, energy bars, first aid kit (with extra prescription drugs, and pain killers) LED head lamp, water bottle, a hard plastic folded street map of the city and surrounding area, my cell phone (always charged to full) and my favorite caliber Glock in a comfy suede in-the-pants holster, two extra [Glock] magazines in my bag, (each having a situation specific load). Given, it's not a lot, but if I were to become trapped on "The Island" (Seattle) for most reasons--minus NBC situations--I am confident that I will survive, or escape, with little to no trouble. If nothing else, I have a piece of mind: the Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) that my basketball coach instilled in me all those years ago. And with that, and God, I can do anything legal or necessary. - John Denver's Last Fan

SurvivalBlog reader Norman in England mentioned this piece in The Times of London; Thousands to Test Flu Emergency Response. Norman's comments: "If this thing does mutate and get world wide then it will be very difficult if not impossible for society to hold together as it is now. What will come from this exercise will be bulls**t. I’ll try to keep you posted but I expect most of it to be kept under wraps. The systems that hold our society together have very little fault tolerance and it will not take much to bring society down. Once we are on the conveyor belt of collapse there will be nothing to stop total collapse. We must think seriously of how any who survive this will live without our current systems which includes electric power. As I have stated before how are we going to replace those broken or worn out part of generators, motors, pumps etc. How are we going to be able to forge the metal for those parts? What about such things resistors, transistors, etc. We who call ourselves ‘survivalists’ must use what little time we have left to plan for this eventuality. Not just with stocks of food and equipment but by planning to revert to a standard of living where if we can not make an item ourselves, or at least within a small community, we will have to do without."

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Fred the Valmet-meister wrote to tell us about this web site in England on collecting anti-tank rifles. Fred calls it "a really cool web site for reading on a winter's day:"

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A web search yielded this interesting product web page: LINE-X – Blast-Proof, Anti-Terror Paint Saves Building in New Mexico Explosion Tests.

"There is nothing more terrifying than ignorance in action.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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