April 2012 Archives

Monday, April 30, 2012

Over the past month or so, I've received quite a few requests from folks who want me to test and evaluate their products. I enjoy testing products for SurvivalBlog, and reporting back my findings to SurvivalBlog readers. Some of the companies that contact me, have a lot of questions, and I'm happy to answer them. Some companies ask me if I can guarantee that I'll write an article on their products - and the answer is "yes." Then, they ask me if I can guarantee them that the article will appear on SurvivalBlog - I refer them to Jim Rawles, as he's the editor, and gives the final yea or nay on if or when a piece runs. And, lastly, some folks ask me if I am going to give their products a "positive" review in my article. My answer to them is "no!" I will never guarantee anyone that I will give their products a positive review - I report my findings as fairly and honestly as I can. If those products aren't up to par, or as advertised, that's the way I will report my findings.
When I was publishing and editing a little newsletter called "Police Hot Sheet" many years ago, I was contacted by a fellow who made an impact device, and he told me if was more effective than a hit from a 12 gauge shotgun. Needless to say, I was more than a little skeptical of those claims. Still, I promised to have one of my writers, a well-known martial artist test and evaluate this product. Of course, his findings were that this impact device wasn't as effective at stopping an attacker as a hit from a 12 gauge would be, and the product took quite a bit of training and practice to use properly and effectively. The fellow who sent me that product threatened to sue me if I ran the review, but I ran it! And, in fact he didn't sue me. So, please, if you want me to give you a guarantee that I will give you products a positive review on SurvivalBlog, then don't bother contacting me or Jim Rawles - that's not the way we do business. SurvivalBlog readers deserve a fair and honest review of products.
The newest product under review today is called the "Original AR-Rest" and is being produced by Montie Gear. The folks at this company contacted me several weeks ago, and asked me to review some of their products, one was their new sling-shot, they were out of stock, but promised one would be coming in a few weeks. The other product is their AR-Rest, which arrived quickly, as promised. I've got to admit, I've never heard of Montie Gear before they contacted me, however, they have quite a few products on their web site, that should be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers - check them out.
Okay, the AR-Rest, gee, let's see, what's "new" about a rifle rest, that hasn't already been done? Well, the Montie Gear AR-Rest is portable. It comes apart and goes back together in a matter of seconds, and it can be carried in your shooting box or your AR rifle case. The AR-Rest only weighs about 19-oz, so it's very lightweight, you won't even know you have it in your shooting box or AR rifle case. The AR-Rest is made out of sturdy aluminum, that is industrial-grade black powder coated. There is a spring-loaded stainless-steel (wire attached)pin that holds this tri-pod together, too. The "rest" portion of the AR-Rest has soft rubber covers in the "V" of the rest, so your rifle won't be damaged or scratched. The legs on the rest have grooves machined into - so when shooting over a bench rest or going prone, the rest really digs in and remains stable. There are also additional rubber covers for the bottom of the legs - for using the rest over the hood of a car - so you don't scratch the paint on the car.
When shooting rifles for accuracy, I try to wring out as much accuracy as I can - without resorting to a "mechanical" rest of some sort. I usually shoot over the hood of my car, using a sleeping bag, rolled-up jacket, a soft, padded rest of some sort - or whatever I have on-hand. It gives me better results than just using an elbow to steady a rifle. The Montie Gear AR-Rest will give you a  more stable and secure rest, for those of you who want the most accuracy you can squeeze out of an AR-15 style rifle. And, this rest isn't just designed for use with an AR, I also tested it with an AK-47, and even with it's longer 30-rd mag, the rifle was still not touching the hood of the car. The idea behind the AR-Rest is that, you can use it with long magazines in your rifles, without the rifle "mono-podding" on the magazine - and the AR-Rest delivers in this respect. You can also use the rest for benching other rifles as well. Montie Gear makes several other models of rests, but I think the AR-Rest will meet most of your needs.
I did find that, my groups did tighten-up more with the AR-Rest, than with my AR over a rolled-up sleeping bag, so the rest delivered as promised, and the height of the AR with a 30-rd mag in it, didn't allow the magazine to touch the ground - and as already mentioned, the same goes for an AK-47 with a 30-rd mag installed.
My one minor complaint with the Montie Gear AR-Rest are the rubber covers that are included, for installing on the bottom of the legs of the tripod. The rubber caps are a bit too small and don't completely cover the bottom of the legs, nor do they stay in place when shooting. An instruction sheet is included, that states you can use Super-Glue to secure the rubber covers on the legs. You shouldn't have to do that! The rubber covers that came with the AR-Rest appear to be an after-thought, and maybe purchased from an outside source - as an a quick fix to a minor problem. After firing several rounds through my AR on the AR-Rest, the rubber covers would slip off the bottom of the legs. And, "yes" I did try to Super-Glue the rubber covers on - and it didn't work. I would suggest using rubber cement - that would hold the rubber covers on better. Of course, you only need to use the rubber covers if you're shooting over the hood of a car and don't want to scratch the paint job. When shooting over a bench, or going prone, you don't need the little rubber covers. I'm not alone in my one minor complaint about the AR-Rest. You can view similar complaints on the Montie Gear web site - and I do applaud Montie Gear, for posting those comments from customers - most companies wouldn't post negative comments. Thank you, Montie Gear, for your honesty!
I believe that Montie Gear should replace the little rubber covers, with something that is specifically made for their rest - it shouldn't cost them very much. Another alternative would be to use some of that "plastic" dip - that you can get from most hardware stores. You dip the end of your pliers, or other tools into it, and it gives you a firm gripping surface. You can do the same thing with the AR-Rest, just dip the bottom of the three legs of the tripod into this solution, and it will work beautifully.
A lot of people shoot their rifles, over a bench, when shooting for accuracy at a target, so the little rubber covers won't be needed, same goes for going prone on the ground. All-in-all, I was very pleased with the Montie Gear AR-Rest, it performed as advertised - it provided a solid rest for a rifle, so a person can wring the most accuracy out of their long guns when shooting long-range. I don't see the AR-Rest falling apart - it's very well-built, and it should last you through a lifetime of target practice. The rest retails for $59.95, and the price seems more than fair - especially for an American-made product. Pick one up, and watch your long-range shooting scores improve.

I had an epiphany a few years ago when I first viewed "Who Killed the Electric Car?" Since then, I've acquired several cars converted to electric and a Nissan Leaf. We bought our last tank of petroleum fuel in May of 2011.

Recently, I've been pondering how the electric cars might be used as a backup source of electric power. The battery packs of the conversions are readily accessible and can provide almost 100 kwh of energy. The Leaf's battery is not accessible at this time. Inverters that use the car's DC voltage (120-156v) as input are available but pretty rare. Ideally, I would like to find a source for a PV system where the car batteries could temporarily replace the PV panels in driving the inverter.

[JWR Adds: Nearly all home PV power systems have the inverter connected to a battery bank, rather than directly to PV panels. This eliminates the peaks and valleys of production caused by varying cloud cover.]

A higher cost solution would be to have two inverters, one for the PV panels and one for the car batteries. That would allow me to use electricity while the sun shines to charge cars as well as meet other demands and then supply energy from the car batteries when the sun isn't shining. Commonly available battery backed PV systems use 24-to-36 volt battery banks which are charged from PV panels [through a charge controller]. My car batteries need to be charged through charg[ing transform]ers that have 220 VAC input. That is, the charger's input must come through a transformer.

Our electric utility power is pretty reliable; I don't think I have seen it down more than two hours. ~1 hour outages only occur once every year or two. We might see outages of a few minutes several times a year.

The primary function of a PV system would be to pump power into the grid. That is how it would be used 99% (or 99.99%) of the time. At this time, PV is not cost effective in my region. With electric utility cost of 10 cents to 11 cents per kwh, it takes many decades to pay for a PV system. So, I would have to justify PV cost with emergency or grid-down functionality.

I've been speaking here of lithium iron phosphate batteries here. When treated well, they are far more cost effective, long-lived, and trouble-free than lead-acid batteries.

My most recent electric vehicle purchase was a Prodeco bicycle. A lithium battery "ebike", such as the Prodeco, is a great low maintenance people mover. Range is more than 10 miles without peddling. A great asset for when petroleum fuel is not available.

JWR Replies: Several of my consulting clients have Bad Boy Buggy electric ATVs. In addition to their quiet operation and utility as farm and ranch vehicles, they also provide a very portable battery bank. (They have eight large 6-volt deep cycle batteries.)

Ray R.'s Chicken Stew

We have a favorite soup recipe, made as follows:

Chicken Stew
16 c Water - for a soup instead of a thick stew make this 20 to 24 cups - we use water from our Berkey filter since it tastes better.
16 tsp Knorr tomato/chicken bouillon - adds a great flavor.
25 oz boneless skinless chicken - this can be fresh, frozen, or home canned - it is about a quart of my home canned chicken.
1 c Dry pearled barley - we buy these in 25 lbs sacks at Restaurant Depot which we first learned of from SurvivalBlog. We pack then into canning jars and vacuum seal then with a Food Saver using the wide mouth canning jar
2 c dry lentils - again purchased in 25 lbs sacks at Restaurant Depot.
2 tbs dried onions - substitute fresh if you have it
1 tbs minced garlic
Large dash Maggi seasoning to taste - adds a great meaty flavor - we use the USA produced stuff made by Nestle, but it is made in many countries, and most Asian supermarkets carry it and Asian made copies. Maggi is sort of a wheat-based soy-flavored sauce product, but with no soy.
2 cans white beans - we have been using beans from the LDS cannery. Since they are no longer doing wet pack canning we will have to find another source or go to dried beans soaked overnight.
2 cans Rotel - the smaller size cans not the large restaurant sized cans.
2 cans diced tomatoes
25 oz fresh carrots - or the equivalent in dried carrots

Bring all of the above to a boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer.
Simmer at least a couple of hours or as long as all day. We can fit a half recipe in our crock pot.

Wait 1/2 to 1 hour before serving add the Spinach.

7 oz fresh spinach or the equivalent in dried spinach.

Chef's Notes:

Yields about 29 cups of stew (about 120 calories per cup), or a few more servings if you started with more water.

My wife likes this as is. I spice it up in my bowl with a with a few dashes of Liquid Smoke, and some Chipotle Smoked Tabasco sauce.


Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

File under Emerging Threats: Inside The Ring--The Brotherhood Threat. They are now seriously talking about terrorist use of compact non-nuclear EMP weapons.

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James C. suggested this instructional video: How to Make Pinhole Glasses.

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Yet another biased study: What is the the Most Peaceful State in the Country? "The report assigned a 'peace index' to each state based on tabulated data that looked at the number of reported homicides, violent crimes, citizens serving time in prison and police staffing levels. It also measured the ability to access and purchase small guns." JWR's Comments: Statistics show that the prevalence of carrying guns keeps folks peaceable. (Street crime rates in the U.S. have dropped, while concealed carry has greatly expanded. And while correlation does not necessarily imply causation, in my opinion along with our aging population, widespread concealed carry has contributed to lower crime rates.) Any guesses on how the American Redoubt States would have ranked, if that last factor were excluded? (Special thanks to David S. for the link.)

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Safecastle's big sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods with the maximum allowed 25% off, free shipping, and buyers club member incentives and rebates ends May 6th. It is expected that Mountain House can prices will be going up very soon, so take advantage of this opportunity.

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Mary F. mentioned this: in The New York Times: Who Made That Mason Jar?

"Again, thank you for inviting me. You have prepared food, so I will not be rude, I will stay and eat. Let’s have one good meal here. Let’s make it a feast. Then I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you all, walk out of here with me, never to come back. It’s the moral and ethical thing to do. Nothing good goes on in this place. Let’s lock the doors and leave the building to the spiders, moths and four-legged rats." - Conclusion of Robert Wenzel's April, 2012 speech delivered at the New York Federal Reserve Bank

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have what I would consider three different Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs): a 4WD pickup, a 4WD SUV and a motorcycle.  The bike of coarse could be placed in the back of the pickup and unloaded somewhere down the road as needed thus greatly extending the range of either individually.  As far as BOVs are concerned there are many advantages to using a motorcycle.  One is good fuel mileage. Another is the ability to go around snarled traffic and other obstacles.  Disadvantages are lack of carrying capacity and the personal protection of being in a big heavy vehicle.

As far as what motorcycle you would use, I would recommend one of the types know as Dual Purpose.  These bike types have the ability to go both on and off road.  I’d start with at least a 650cc for a single rider and I use a 1200cc because I ride two with my wife.  The bigger bike isn’t as easy to ride in the hard stuff but it can carry a heavier load.  Just don’t get a bike so heavy that you can’t pick up when it falls over, because it will at some point.  If the bike doesn’t come with one buy and install one of the large capacity aftermarket fuel tanks.  The bike I have has a range of about 350 miles on one tank of fuel.  It would be very wise to get a bike with a quiet muffler.  No need in letting everyone know where you are.

I personally ride with all the protective gear, helmet, gloves, pants and boots.  Select these items with your intended purpose.  All of mine are waterproof which I consider a big plus if you get stranded.  Note that through experience not all items advertised as water proof actually meet those criteria.  I use military issue waterproof, steel toed boots instead of regular motorcycle type boots for when you have to abandon the bike and take to foot.  My jacket and pants have lots of waterproof pockets.  In those pockets I always carry a folding knife, multi-utility tool, survival butane lighter, paper matches, LED flash light, some toilet paper in a zip lock, cash and copies of all pertinent paperwork. In addition, a password protected jump drive with lots of personal information, phone numbers, policy numbers, bank info, some photos, passport and birth certificate copies and land titles. A Fisher Space Pen is another item that has proven invaluable to me.  It will write upside down, in freezing cold, in zero gravity and under water.  In the US where allowed I carry my pistol and a small quantity of ammo. (I intentionally try to avoid traveling in states that don’t allow concealed carry.  No use in giving them any of my business).  I carry two wallets.  My real one and one filled with a few dollars and some of those sample credit cards you get in the mail.  The fake one is a give away in case someone is demanding my wallet.

I always carry a good road atlas as well as some of the DeLorme Atlas of the areas I’m traveling in.  Another item I use regularly is a GPS.  In case of a G.O.O.D. situation it is recommended to have several escape routes planned.  This is where hopefully the GPS satellites are still functioning.  The GPS I have is made for motorcycles and is waterproof and vibration resistant.  In addition the model I have allows you to plot detailed routes in advance on your computer and then down load them into the unit.  Each route can be displayed in a different color.  In addition I have loaded a complete set of topographic maps in addition to the regular road maps.  Since having the Dual Purpose bike, this allows you to plot routes through some very remote areas on trails that won’t show up on normal road maps.  Of course you have these marked on your paper maps as well.  I’ve found these work well in the US but in Mexico, South America and Africa, maps both paper and GPS are sketchy at best unless you are on a main highway.

One of my main Bug Out Route concerns is bridges (river crossings).  These are easy choke points and a huge issue of safety.  Last year flooding of the Missouri River between Omaha and Kansas City forced the closing of a few bridges causing one to drive many miles out of the way to get across the Mighty Missouri.  Think what it will be like if the New Madrid fault knocks out bridges along the Mississippi or an earthquake takes out bridges on the west coast. In Patriots the characters ran into trouble at a check point on the road.  I see this as a real concern. Having the Dual Purpose bike with knobby tires can hopefully safely get you around these types of points. In many other countries I’ve traveled in, check points with armed guards are common place.  Only a couple of times did they try and shake us down for some cash.  This type of a situation is where having the fake wallet with just a couple of bucks in it comes in handy.

 When my wife and I travel on the bike we carry all our gear on the bike.  I consider this good training for a G.O.O.D scenario.  We trade off on camping and staying in hotels depending on where we are.  You quickly learn what is important and what is not as storage space is very limited.  We make use of saddle bags (panniers) and a dry bag.  In one pannier I carry tools and spare parts.  These need to be chosen based on your bike and your abilities.  One of my friends asked me what I thought was the most important tool to carry and I told him a pair of Vise Grips.  He asked why not a wine bottle opener and I replied that with the Vise Grips I could make a wine bottle opener. An LED headlamp with extra batteries is a very important item.  I like the ones that have high and low settings.  Some times you need just a little light and on high they seriously impair your night vision. On my first trip with my new LED head light, I pulled it out to begin setting up camp only to find it was completely dead.  I didn’t have spare batteries because I knew the new batteries would last for way more hours than I needed for several trips.  Well that was before the on/off push button accidentally got pressed in my pack.  Now I have spare batteries and remove one of them from the light before I pack it.  I also carry a small cheap (in case it gets confiscated) machete.  This is a common tool all over the world and I’ve not had it questioned at any checkpoints.

Other supplies I’ll say are very important are duct tape, silicone rescue tape, bailing wire, Quicksteel epoxy putty, Loctite 248 (this is like a chap stick and won’t leak), an assortment of bolts and nuts, rope, zip ties and tire repair items.  On a recent out of country trip the Quicksteel was used to repair a hole in a radiator, a broken turn signal and a broken lever mount.

Along with the basic tools including wrenches, screwdrivers, etc, I carry a small triangle file which can be used to repair damaged bolt threads as well as other uses.  Another handy item is a Stanley 15-333 8-Inch Folding Pocket Saw.  This saw is like a big folding knife that uses reciprocating saw blades.  It will store a couple of extra blades in the handle.  I carry a wood cutting blade, a metal cutting blade, and a carbide grit blade that can be used to cut hardened steel like a padlock.  We once used these to manufacture a needed part in a remote area in South America. One more item, although I’ve never needed to use it, is a few 3/32” E-6010 welding rods.  These can be used with three 12 volt car batteries and some jumper cables to make an emergency field repair.

I haven’t had hardly any issues with flat tires in car or bike in the US in years. After saying that, I was assigned to do some volunteer work in a Midwest City that was partially destroyed by a tornado.  One of the things that became readily apparent was there were lots of flat tires and more than one tire per car. In a TEOTWAWKI situation I would suspect flat tires to be a huge issue and highly likely.  Having a hand pump or compressor and tire repair tools and supplies will be most important.  On the bike I carry a small 12 VDC compressor, tire plugs, patches, spare tubes and tire irons just in case my tubeless tires can’t be repaired with a plug. 

Traveling in remote areas in foreign countries is a real eye opener and good practice for when things are not so good here.   One of my first remote bike trips was in Baja back in the 1980’s.  When we arrived in a small town there was a line at the gas station.  People had been there for 3 days waiting for the arrival of the next gas supply truck.  In South America one gas station was so remote they had to start a small generator to make electricity to operate the gas pumps while another station was just a rack with 2 liter pop bottles filled with gas. Traveling in these remote parts of the world you don’t pass up keeping your tank full because there may not be any fuel down the road, something that may happen here way too soon.  We had just left Santiago, Chile four days before the big quake in 2010.  Talk about being lucky and being glad I keep the survival items with me.  Here’s another tip, never fill up your vehicle if there is a fuel tanker at the station unloading fuel into the stations tanks.  This stirs up any crud that may be in the stations tank and you will pump it into your vehicles tank.

We have it too easy here in the US, or at least until TSHTF.  Here in the US we think getting patted down at the airport is a big infringement of our rights.  In a grocery store in Namibia all customers were patted down before leaving the store and there was a military guard with machine gun at the entrance. At several other locations, stores had little to sell and shelves were basically empty.  Leaving one town the next morning after a rain storm had all the ditches along the road filled with people bathing, washing clothes and filling their buckets from the puddles of rain water.  These are some of the things that are commonplace in many parts of the world but not yet here.  I know I’m preaching to the choir, but get and store the items you want while they are still available as they are luxury items in many places and in the future they may be scarce here also.  In Zambia I paid about 32,000 of their dollars ("Kwacha") for two beers.  The point being that cash, even the US dollar, may not be worth much in the future.

Traveling on normal roads in the US isn’t that hard on a vehicle, but in a TEOTWAWKI situation, off road or remote travel will introduce a lot of vibration.  This is hard on the vehicle, passengers and supplies.  Your vehicle whether a car, truck or motorcycle needs to be prepped.  It’s amazing how many things will shake loose.  I use Loctite on all the nuts a bolts.  I recommend Loctite 290, which is medium strength wicking formula that you can apply to already fastened bolts thus negating the need to undo every fastener.  Other things you don’t think of, are things like pills.  They will turn to dust if not properly packed and some medicines can be deadly if taken as a powder instead of a slowly absorbed pill. I’ve had holes rubbed through packed clothes that touched the inside walls of the panniers.  I’ve also learned to pour my water into recycled soda bottles.  The thinner walled water bottles don’t hold up well under vibration and even the heavier duty soda bottles need to be carefully packed.

I carry a pretty complete first aid kit that I packed into a foam lined camera case.  I won’t go into the contents as there are many good lists available. Because I’ve traveled in remote areas in several foreign countries I’ve had special shots and pills required for things like typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and yellow fever.  If one studies the aftermath of areas where disasters have occurred and the diseases that become issues I’d recommend getting those shots now.  My doctor is aware of the type of travel I do so he has prescribed other medicines for “just in case”.  I just plainly asked him what he would take with him if he was going where I was going.  A couple of different antibiotics and some pain medications supplement the other over the counter medicines I normally pack.  One really important medicine is an anti-diarrheal.

Because bulk and weight are precious commodities on a motorcycle during normal travel, just a jar of peanut butter and crackers are used to supplement daily food stops.  In a SHTF situation I have another dry bag packed with a pack stove, mess kit, food items and additional water as well as a Katadyn water filter.  I carry the typical backpacking camping equipment for setting up camp.  A Gerber pack axe for its size and weight it is pretty useful tool as well as an additional defensive weapon.  Some OD green heavy thread and some booby trap string poppers make a good perimeter guard and can be attached to items that might walk away.  They won’t hurt any one and the loud report will probably scare away all but the most determined.

While a motorcycle isn’t the ideal BOV for everyone, it has some advantages and I consider it another backup to the back up.  Ideally in a group evacuation a motorcycle could be very useful as a scout vehicle and in less than total collapse situations they allow quick fuel efficient travel. My final tip for when TSHTF is to remember to pack a roll of toilet paper.

JWR's Comments: It cannot be overemphasized that choosing a motorcycle as your bug out vehicle will necessitate storing nearly all of your gear and storage food at your retreat. While not for everyone, a dual sport motorcycle can add tremendous versatility to your mobility.

Dear Jim,
We have already seen how the largely bankrupt USA has dealt with the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans remains partially empty and its population is much lower. Those who had any money left when the hurricane was announced to hit. If they returned, it was to recover a few belongings and collect their insurance checks before ceding the property/ruin back to the FedGov/State. Surrounding areas where the Hurricane spent its fury have been abandoned. The wrecked 9th Ward of New Orleans was not rebuilt. Someday it will flood again, and this time with few people to complain, it will probably turn into a swamp and spin doctors will make it sound like this was a happy accident. The sad fact that the USA doesn't have the money to keep rebuilding poor people's homes when they get flattened by natural disasters is the NWO of our DMGS (Dreaded Multi-Generational Scenario).
Someday the New Madrid Fault will break again near Memphis, and the Midwest will be largely flattened like it would have been back in 1805, had it been built up like it is today. The aftershocks will rattle the Midwest for the following 80 years, since that's how long they had aftershocks Last time. There were earthquakes during the Civil War that were direct aftershocks following the New Madrid quakes. Stone/masonry tends to fall apart in quakes, depending on luck and positioning. There are places where the shaking is worse than others, and places where it is not as bad. This is complicated by lots of factors so luck determines who gets hit or missed. At least the Midwest has food to eat.
Someday the Big One will hit California. If it hits Los Angeles, the damage to the infrastructure and water supply will cost a Trillion Dollars to repair. California insurance companies cannot afford this. Neither can the State government, as the budget is not organized such things. [Some conjecture deleted, for brevity.]
If the Big One hits the San Francisco Bay region, the damages are likely to be worse and more expensive than in Los Angeles, since the San Francisco Bay Area is more expensive, more valuable, and more established in a smaller area. The bay itself has been landfilled in various places, and homes and buildings placed on that. These are expected to fail in a strong enough quake. Many did in the 1989 quake. Entire elevated freeways were destroyed by the shaking, and bridges damaged. And that was only a 7.0. The Big One is in the 8.6-9.0 range, much stronger. Imagine all the water, sewer, natural gas, and electrical power being torn up by the ground waves. That's trillions to repair, and years to repair it. The population can't wait that long. Many of the places hit would not have the money to pay for repairs, so most of the area would be abandoned, much of the old buildings bulldozed as unsafe, even if they go through the shaking somewhat intact, just because they have no public utilities. Nobody talks about costs in Hollywood disaster movies, or that those costs are so huge to rebuild that it stops making sense. The East is likely to announce that the disaster areas are mandatory evacuation zones, and all civilians are required to leave. This is about money.
Because we live in a time where money is largely concentrating in the 1%, and jobs are all going to China, massive unemployment means no tax revenue. Even if there's no lives lost in a disaster, there's no money to pay for rebuilding. With many mortgages underwater, walking away is the smart move, financially. The above scenarios are likely at some point in the future, inevitable really, just as Hurricanes keep pounding the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and tornados rip up midwestern towns. At some point, people will be choosing between insane tax rates or leaving, and most will pack up a U-Haul with their surviving material possessions and go somewhere not ruined yet. When the Big One hits California, taxes for the state should go so high that it will probably be a good time to flee. Leave Big Agriculture to keep growing the food we eat. Just go somewhere else.
Your job is to recognize when the place you live stops making sense and to leave while the leaving is good. - InyoKern

Another thought on going beyond training day in and day out on firearm proficiency. Besides joining a club, hunting is a great way to practice firearms proficiency. There is the obvious aspect of practical shooting, especially when chasing small game and birds but even large game hunting is illustrative. Most people (including myself with five years active duty experience and the associated firearms training) rarely ever shoot at a live moving target. Shooting at a walking elk at 200 yards is a whole lot different than punching holes in paper. I thought I was good and what can be easier than shooting an animal with a kill zone at least 10 inches in diameter? I hit it solidly on the first shot but in four subsequent shots (to ensure it died quickly and close) I only hit it two more times and only once more in the kill zone. This after printing 3-inch groups at the 100 yard range three weeks previous. The real world is a whole lot different than where we practice.
Beyond that, hunting requires the understanding and mastery of numerous skills including firearms safety, processing of wild game, understanding of the outdoors in general and land navigation in particular as well as good all around discipline and op sec (just try to sneak up on a deer). Additionally, it is a great way to bring the family together to practice skills that the whole family will need in any sort of social unrest or collapse. Add camping to the mix and the number of practical skills that can be learned or practiced on a weekend is outstanding. - Sean from COS.

M.E.S. wrote to mention that he likes the many do-it-yourself ideas at the Penny Wise - Homemade and Handy web page.

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Lynn G. sent this news article from England: Carpenter Builds Incredible Egg-shaped Treehouse Hidden From View on Crown Land

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R.W. sent something of interest to homeschoolers: University of Minnesota Launches Review Project For Open Textbooks

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Richard H. liked this at LifeHacker: DIY Gravity Water Filter.

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This has been mentioned once before in SurvivalBlog, but bears repeating: Making a 45-day emergency candle out of a can of Crisco. (Thanks to Jeff R. for the link.)

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." - 1 Corinthians 2:12 (KJV)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In Arizona a disgruntled city employee, upset with budget cuts made in 2011, manually shut down numerous valves to a large city plant. His goal was to build up enough methane gas to blow up a quarter city block.  Luckily, two hours after shutting off the valves he surrendered with no damage to the plant, and citizens were not affected by the protest.  What if there had been damage to the plant? It is time to think about these things.  After the poo hits the fan, it keeps coming! So now the question is, what are we going to with it?

Hygiene is one of the most important elements in a survival situation, but is usually overlooked.  Food, water, and self defense are the most common items stocked up on, while most forget to think about sanitation and personal hygiene.  Haiti suffered a cholera outbreak after an earthquake in 2010 as it does not take long after a major disaster, with government agencies at a standstill, for disease to become ramped. 
There are different ways to prepare for hygiene in an emergency, as there are many variables to any given emergency. I will be covering some basic possibilities that could arise and how to prepare. I will also discuss items to stock up on and store. Most of these will be good barter.

In an ideal emergency our homes would still be standing, allowing us to bug-in; even if plumbing is not in working order. Water and sewage shut down for a short time can disrupt our lives, but this situation can easily be prepared for. First item to plan for is the toilet. Sewage can back up into the house and come through all the drains. Yuck! This can be stopped with an inflatable test ball plug. You can purchase these at your local plumbing supply, and in case of an emergency, place it in the sewage line that runs directly to your personal home to block everyone else’s brand from running into your home.  When you need to use the toilet there are disposable bags made just for this job.  One brand I like is called Double Doodie, but there are many different options.  The bag is placed over the toilet, and then the seat is placed back down and ready to use.  After use of the toilet, a bio-gel pack that comes with the bags is placed inside the bag and it solidifies waste while also masking any orders. Do not forget to store extra toilet paper at the house. I like to vacuum seal or vacuum bag my toilet paper because it keeps it clean and dry while compressing it into a much smaller package.

If you have little ones in diapers it is a good idea to store some extras, along with disposable wipes and bags to wrap up used diapers.  If some city services are still in working order and trash is picking up, then used diapers will not be an issue. However, if this service is disrupted for a time then a metal trash can and a tight fighting lid would be a good back up plan to store some stinky pampers until services return to normal. Homemade baby wipe recipes can be found on the Internet, if you would prefer to store the items to make your own.

Feminine hygiene is important also. I love my grandmother, but I do not want to have to replicate her hygiene regime. Extra tampons, sanitary napkins, and disposable bags are good to store around the house for a short term emergency.  A long term emergency is different, and takes more planning, but I will discuss that in a moment.

A shower can be lived without for a while, though I am always a bit nicer when I don’t itch and stink. There are a lot of options for a solar shower made for use in the home. Depending on what part of the country you live, and the water resources that are made available to you, there are different types of large bladder systems, or rain catch systems, that will easily heat up during the day for a hot shower at night. Since I live in Arizona these are not an option for me.  A rain catch system would only catch dust here, where water is very scarce and cannot be wasted, so I have constructed a portable solar shower.  My shower is a 2.5 gallon bucket with a lid and a handle and is spray painted black. I drilled a small hole toward the bottom, and with some simple hardware I attached a hose, a shut off valve, and a sprinkler head for a little luxury!  It is nothing fancy but gets the job done. A few hours in the sun and it is ready for a shower. I can hang it in a tree or put it on top of a fence when showering. 

In a different emergency scenario, if I am forced to leave the house, then I will take my portable toilet that I made. It is easily constructed with a five gallon bucket. Some survival companies, like Emergency Essentials, sell a snap on toilet seat that easily attaches on the top of the bucket just for this purpose.  If money is tight, a pool noodle can be fashioned as a toilet seat, with one long cut along the length of the noodle that will slide on the top of a five gallon bucket.  It is pretty comfortable. I had to break out my emergency toilet after remodeling our home with tile, and the bathrooms were off limits for a full twenty four hours.  Cough.  I was glad I had the practice, and decided that I would much rather take my toilet camping than use a portal-john or the woods. The disposable Double Doodie bags can be used with these toilets, but they will not last long if you even have them at all. The best long term solution I have found is The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. The book explains how to store and break down human waste and use it as fertilizer for a garden by simply using two separate compost piles. The two piles are distinguished as an “active” pile and an “inactive” pile. In this scenario, more than one bucket will be needed, with lids for each bucket.  Humans waste is nitrogen, and needs to be covered after each use with a carbon, like greenery or sawdust. This will stop the odor and keep bugs away.  If you use sawdust, make sure it is from real wood, and not wood composite, as wood composite will be toxic on the garden. Once one bucket is full of waste the lid is placed on top, then the bucket is left to sit and the contents break down for at least 6 months.  Once it is initially broken down the contents are dumped into an “active” compost pile. After a year in the “active pile”, the compost can be used on the garden and becomes the “inactive pile.”

JWR Adds This Important Proviso: See the many warnings that have been posted in SurvivalBlog in the past six years about the perils of using human waste for vegetable gardens. My advice is to use it for your flower gardens but NOT your vegetable gardens. And even then, you will need to take some special precautions. These include using a dedicated shovel with its handle painted red and a bucket that is painted red. Those must be be banned from any other use!

Bugging out will change the rules for feminine hygiene a bit. For a more permanent solution, a reusable maxi pad can be used. There are many patterns on the Internet and some in my personal kit can be seen here. The pads are easily sewn together from fabric. [JWR Adds: If you don't sew, then check out our advertiser, Naturally Cozy.] One could also use a natural sponge that can be rinsed and reused. There is also a reusable tampon option. There are different brands out there, but two specific brands are The Diva Cup, and The Moon Cup. These are just reusable soft silicone cups that can be used until full, rinsed out, and re-inserted. 

In a bug out situation, toilet paper will not be applicable, and so I have constructed a soaking/dry bucket kit for washcloths that will be used as toilet paper. If the wash cloth was used and then left to dry until it was ready to be washed, then the cloth would be hard to clean and would smell.  It also would be bothersome to wash one cloth at a time. The kit works along the same idea as a diaper pail for cloth diapers.  After the cloth is used, it is placed inside a bucket with water and your choice of washing solution. Bleach, soap, or essential oils could be used to disinfect the wash cloths until the time comes to really wash all the cloths. (My favorite oil for disinfection is Purify, or Oregano oil by DoTerra.) A smaller bucket fits inside the larger bucket, and keeps all my dry cloths that are ready to be used. This way the cloths stay dry until they are needed, and everything is contained in one area.  Each member of my family has their own kit, and you can color code the cloths if you want. Maxi pads can also be kept inside the dry bucket until ready to be used, and then once fully soiled can soak in the wet bucket until fully washed.  I also store a peri-bottle in each bucket to help spray off. Any mom knows how well a peri-bottle works after having a baby. They are a wonderful part of the kit and easily found to order on the Internet. Shower curtain and rope can also be stored in the bucket to use for privacy, and can easily be strung up in a tree. Privacy curtains can be purchased online for a different option but can be expensive. Handkerchiefs should also be stored.

If young children are a part of your family dynamic, then cloth diapers will be needed for a long term solution. Cloth diapers are no longer pinned and covered with plastic loose fitting pants. There are many different options now a day. A larger pail will be needed for soaking the soiled diapers.  Bleach cannot be used to soak cloth diapers; it ruins the absorption capability of the diaper.
We cannot forget about oral hygiene either. I really like my teeth and want to be able to eat the food I have stored, and I am sure you feel the same way.  Floss, extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, and mouthwashes are important.  Couponing is a smart way to stock up on these items. I get these items for free all the time.  A cap full of hydrogen peroxide and a cap full of water make a great mouth wash; coconut oil does also. There are ways to make your own tooth paste, and recipes for that can be found on the Internet. One of my favorite ways to make my own paste is with a little bit of baking soda and essential oils.
Laundry is another aspect of hygiene. I personally believe that if I am pooping in a bucket I should not have to wash clothes, but I will. There are different portable washing machines for clothes. One brand is called the wonder wash and is hand powered. A large metal tub and a washboard is another idea and are not expensive. Your great-grandma will be proud!
Laundry detergent stores well or you can make your own. I make wonderful and inexpensive detergent by mixing:

  • 1 Cup grated Fels Naptha soap,
  • ½ Cup Washing Soda (not baking soda), and
  • ½ Cup Borax.

When human waste, trash, or Heaven forbid dead bodies are out of check; roaches, mice and all sorts of creepy crawlies will be ramped.  Diatomaceous earth is an amazing product with different uses- one being pest control.  It can be dusted all over your home or bug out location. It is safe to eat, and will get rid of any internal bugs that live in intestines. Mouse traps and bug spray will also help to keep critters at bay, and you should have some on hand in storage.

Other products to consider storing are diaper creams and an anti-itch powder like Gold Bond. I think my husband would rather have a year supply of Gold Bond than food.  Over the counter products like Monistat 7 for yeast infections is also a good idea. I am sure a box of Monistat 7 and some tampons would have some amazing bargaining power!  I am always amazed and horrified at stories of the Pioneers who gave birth while traveling. The female in the house could store a diaphragm or at least some condoms.  We also cannot forget hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. After storing food and ammo, who wants to die from an infection that started with a blister! Don’t forget medical tape, bleach, colloidal silver, gauze, bandages, deodorant, extra soap, bleach, essential oils, and disposable gloves.  A simple cut can be deadly in an emergency but it does not have to be if you plan.

These are very simple steps to ensure that bugging in or out can be as clean and sanitary as possible.


To follow up on M.B.'s article: I use the 12" Tramontina machete all the time.  Using a hacksaw to make it more pointed, I dropped the point 7/16" and put a 1 3/4" long false edge on top with a 1/8" wide bevel, and this shortened the blade to about 11 3/8." It was easy to get the top edge perfectly straight with a file. This drop point makes it an effective stabber without weakening the blade.  

The cutting edge was sharpened with a double cut bastard file, then a single cut smooth file to put a 1/8" bevel on both sides of the blade. The edge is finished with a Big John Super Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod  ($6.49) from SMKW.com. This ceramic sharpener is roughly the size of the machete, and it's great for sharpening tools and large blades. The Tennessee Big Stick Ceramic Sharpening Rod  ($1.99) is thinner but also a good size.  Great values and good stocking presents for Christmas.

I'm lucky to have a nice sheath from a Meyerco Combination Axe Machete ($26.99) that had its edge break.  I use the Tramontina knife all the time as a large box cutter to cut cardboard. It's plenty sharp and holds an edge well, and it sharpens easily.  They are available for about $5.

Sincerely, - Hardy Citrus

Bob G. suggested three great how-to articles, over at Homestead Revival: Homemade Liquid Handsoap, Homemade Dishwasher Soap, and Homemade Laundry Soap.

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson recommended a Woods Wise video showing a fire bow drill, using all natural materials.

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In case you missed this: A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington Event. (Thanks to J. McC. for the reminder.)

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Kana suggested Roy Underhill's television show The Woodwright. He has done 28 seasons of entertaining traditional woodworking, including tool making. These episodes will soon be released on DVD. Those with a self-reliant mindset will likely find them to be worthwhile.

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John U. recommended this instructional video: How Can Primitive Living Skills Help Me Survive?

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army-Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; that is all we can expect. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die." - General George Washington to his troops before the Battle of Long Island

Friday, April 27, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The purchase of good-quality knives for long-term use can be a huge challenge for preppers. Buying a knife is a lot like hiring a lawyer: when you ask how much a good one will cost, the answer you get is often, "How much would you like to spend?"

A good knife for general usage often starts at $80 to $100, and prices can quickly escalate into the hundreds of dollars. Knife aficionados on the online forums often speak of spending several hundred dollars for the "perfect" survival/tactical/combat knife from a famous custom maker. To collectors and to some users, this is a reasonable price, but many of us on a tight budget can see better uses for such a sum of money. For one thing, we want every adult in our family or survival group to have one or more good, dependable knives. Additionally, anyone who has used knives in the outdoors knows that no single knife can do everything -- we often need a few knives to properly address the large and small jobs that require a knife or other cutting tool. Most of the knives discussed in this article have a maximum price of $25. Many knives in this price range are simply junk, but there are exceptions, some of which are described here. I have personal experience with all of these knives, unless otherwise stated. I've owned them, used them and learned some of their strengths and weaknesses. They come from a variety of places, but none are made in China.

Let's start by looking at what many of us consider to be the essentials, in terms of knives. Rather than looking for a single, "perfect" knife, some of us try to select a knife "kit" for each adult, to better handle a variety of tasks.


My approach to the knife kit is to obtain one large, fixed blade knife for general use and big tasks, one medium-sized fixed blade or strong folder for general utility, and a multitool or multiple blade pocket knife for small jobs and for tasks requiring special tools, such as scissors, a screwdriver, a can opener, etc. My personal kit consists of three tools: (1) a 12-inch Tramontina machete, (2) either a custom knife I made from a Frosts of Sweden "Mora" knife or a Svord Peasant folder, and (3) either a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army "Recruit" pocket knife. I find that these knives allow me to tackle any of the tasks that are appropriate for a knife. My entire kit (with the Swiss Army knife and the Svord Peasant Knife) can be purchased for well under $75.


There is some truth in the old adage: "You get what you pay for." The companies selling high-quality knives for low prices have to make compromises to do so. Generally, this means that most of the money and effort goes into the blade. That's good, because the blade governs much of the knife's capabilities. It is possible for a budget-minded user to address shortcomings in handles and/or sheaths with a few basic tools and a little bit of time. Don't expect Kydex sheaths or exotic handle materials in the low price range. In some cases (most machetes), no sheath will be included, and you may need to make your own or to have one made. Other sheaths may be suitable for carry in a pack, but not on a belt, again requiring the user to make or buy their own sheath if that is not acceptable. Handles may require some sanding or other finish work for best comfort and performance.

Most knives in this price range have thin blades. This is not necessarily a huge disadvantage. Many of the knives carried by mountain men and those who followed to settle the western United States had thin blades. In general, thin blades take a fierce edge with less effort than a thicker blade, and they slice well. A thin-bladed knife is often a good choice for dressing wild game or for preparing food.

Thin does not always mean weak. Machetes are usually thin, yet they are tough and springy. Some small, thin knives can be tougher than you may expect. Some thin-bladed sheath knives can be "batonned" -- pounded on the spine with a heavy stick -- to cut down small trees or to cut larger pieces of wood in a pinch. This is abuse, but some knives -- especially many of the Mora fixed blade knives -- seem to tolerate it without damage. Thin-bladed knives are usually lighter and easier to carry than thicker knives. This is a big factor in a knife chosen to go in a G.O.O.D. bag. Conversely, some thick knives are poor slicers and are heavy enough to feel clumsy for almost any task other than chopping.

Sheaths for smaller knives can be made by the prepper, with either leather or Kydex plastic. Kydex has the advantage of being weatherproof. It is also possible to heat it and form it to make a sheath that holds the knife in place without any straps or keepers. For a very inexpensive sheath -- especially for larger blades, such as machetes -- the plastic in trash cans for home use is very good. It can be cut, drilled and riveted, much like leather, but it's very weather resistant and long-lasting. Trash can plastic is less expensive than either leather or Kydex, yet it can be made into an excellent sheath.


Low-cost "Mora" knives from Sweden are very popular with outdoor people, especially in recent years. These fixed blade knives come in a wide variety of styles, in both stainless and carbon steel. Handles can be wood or plastic, and sheaths are almost always made of plastic. The blades tend to be somewhat thin, and the blade grinds are different from what most knife users are accustomed to. Most knives have a primary bevel and a small secondary bevel that forms the sharpened edge. With Scandinavian knives, there is no secondary bevel. The primary bevel -- which may be about 1/4-inch (about 11mm) wide -- is laid directly on the sharpening stone. The resulting edge can be surprising sharp. Many people who are not fans of knives have trouble correctly sharpening a knife with a traditional secondary bevel. When they buy a Mora and learn the simple sharpening method, it may be the first time that they've owned a really sharp knife.

Mora knives are very low in price: often in the $10-20 range. The traditional Moras, with a simple hardwood handle and carbon steel blade, are among my favorites. Others may prefer a stainless blade and plastic handle for a low-maintenance knife. In any case, the area at the base of the blade should be looked at carefully. Some Moras have a small gap here, where bacteria and/or moisture can get in, under the handle. In these cases, I simply clean the area with alcohol and apply a small amount of a good grade of epoxy, such as JB Weld, to seal off the opening. If the opening extends down into the handle, I use enough epoxy to completely fill it, with the intention of strengthening the knife as well as sealing the handle/blade junction.

Some Moras come with simple but functional sheaths, while others may not be suitable for daily carry. I generally make a simple leather or Kydex sheath (usually Kydex) as a replacement. By the way, Kydex does not require a suite of expensive tools. My "presses" are made from scrap wood and mouse pads, and I assemble the sheaths with regular rivets made for leather, or with pieces of narrow-diameter, soft copper tubing (from the plumbing section of big hardware stores) flared to make eyelets. I've even used pliers to turn large paper clips into heavy-duty "staples" for sheaths.

A good source for Swedish Mora knives is Ragweed Forge. "Ragnar," the owner, offers the best selection of Mora knives I've seen so far, along with information about sharpening. His customer service is very good, and the prices are fair.

The Ahti "Finman" is a Finnish fixed blade knife, It is very similar in design, and in price, to the Mora knives. Ragweed Forge offers one version, with a stainless blade and a green handle and sheath. It needs to have a handle gap -- at the base of the blade -- filled with epoxy, but it is a very practical and useful medium-sized fixed blade knife. The stainless blade and rubberized handle make it a good all-weather tool. I frequently carry mine as a pocket knife -- in casual pants with generous front pockets.

Another Scandinavian brand to consider seriously is Marttiini, from Finland. Many of us are familiar with their "Rapala" line of fillet knives for fishing. My Rapala is very light in weight and the long, narrow, flexible stainless blade takes and holds a very good edge. It came with a traditional wood handle and a superbly practical plastic-lined "dangle" sheath of good leather. A sharp, thin blade is extremely useful for more than fish, and mine has been our only kitchen knife on some of our trips. It served very well in that role. All it needed to make it ready for use was a tiny amount of JB Weld epoxy around the base of the blade, to seal the handle. It cost me under $15: a bargain. I found it in a large sporting goods store.


Opinel folding knives are wonderfully useful. Consisting of little more than a hardwood handle, a blade, a pivot pin, and a rotating collar that locks the blade open, they lock open with authority and are one of the simplest, strongest designs available. The Opinel's blade has a nail nick and the knife requires two hands to open it, like a traditional pocket knife. Because the lock does not engage when the blade opens -- but must be engaged manually -- Opinels may be legal for carry in jurisdictions that ban some "tactical" folders. The blades are flat-ground and are very thin at the edge. As a result, Opinels can be made scary sharp in very little time and are wonderful slicers that hold their edges well. They can be found in a variety of sizes, with either carbon steel or with stainless blades. Although the blades are thin, they are stronger than you might expect and made an excellent choice for a daily-carry pocket knife. Opinels are very inexpensive, as well. Smoky Mountain Knife Works carries several Opinel folders, most of which are in our price range.

Cold Steel used to make their own version of the Opinel: the Twistmaster. With a Zytel handle and a "Carbon V" blade, the Cold Steel version was stronger than the French original, although it tended to be a bit thick at the edge and didn't slice quite as well as the Opinel. The Twistmaster corrected the one shortcoming of the Opinel: in wet conditions, the hardwood handle could swell, making the knife very difficult to open. The Zytel handle of the Cold Steel was unaffected by moisture. Both the Opinels and the Twistmasters (if you can find a used one) are recommended as pocket-sized cutting tools, just as long as you don't try to use them as a chopping tool or a pry bar.


Svord Knives in New Zealand makes the Peasant Knife: a folder that has become one of my all-time favorite knives. It's one of the simplest folders available. The knife consists of two post screws, a blade, two handle scales, and one pin. It can be completely dismantled in a few moments for a complete cleaning. The carbon steel blade has a flat grind, similar to that of the Opinel, and its cutting abilities are similar.

There are no springs in a Peasant Knife. It uses a long tang that sticks out of the closed knife and lays along the back of the handle when the knife is open. The user's hand holds the tang in place and keeps the knife from closing. The tang makes the closed knife somewhat longer than most knives in its size class, but I use it to draw the knife out of my pocket. The Svord Peasant Knife is available with wood, plastic or aluminum handle scales. I purchased mine with the plastic handles, and I believe that the plastic handles are the best choice for preppers. They are strong and light and are textured for a good grip. A wide variety of Svord Peasant Knives can be found at Knife Center. All are in our price range.


For a large knife, I chose a Tramontina machete with a hardwood handle and a 12-inch, carbon steel blade. The hardwood handle allowed me to customize the machete to fit my hand better, using a pocket knife and some sandpaper. I use the Tramontina machete more as a large knife than as a small machete. Although the blade is long, it is light and thin enough for the Tramontina to be used in the camp kitchen, and it will slice tomatoes or onions with ease. I sharpen machetes with a small file, and the slightly rough edge from the file seems to stay sharp longer than one would expect from a machete blade with a "spring" temper. Machete Specialists offers the 12-inch Tramontina, with the item number TR26620012.

The Tramontina is too light for a dedicated chopping tool. It could be used to cut poles for a shelter or for a stretcher, but if I expected to use it for chopping, I would choose a 12-inch Ontario machete. Avoid the "economy" version of the Ontario that is sold in some places. The original has a 1/8-inch thick blade and is a much better chopping tool. I was also unhappy with the "D" handle models and strongly prefer the original handle type. The exact Ontario machete that I recommend is sold under item number ONCT1 at Knife Center.

I prefer to use machetes as large knives that can be used to chop, rather than as dedicated choppers. Chopping makes noise that can disturb other campers today; after a crunch, it could attract two-legged predators. A small folding saw is my wood cutter of choice, although a sharp machete can be used to split damp kindling in wet conditions, or to make fuzz sticks. I tend to keep my fires small, and I generally do not need an axe or large chopping tool to prepare and maintain a fire.

A short machete is a fearsome weapon, if needed. The 12-inch Tramontina machete is not a heavy chopper, but it's very quick in the hands and could deliver a much more serious slash than most folding knives or small fixed blades. The edge bevel at the point of the blade needs some work with a file to sharpen it properly. Someone seeking an edged weapon should probably look at the 12-inch Ontario machete. It also needs some attention to the bevel at the point. The Ontario's blade is stiffer and heavier than the Tramontina's blade, and it could be a very effective self-defense weapon at close quarters. Longer machetes, on the other hand, handle more like a sword than a big knife and require more skill and hand/wrist strength to be efficient defensive weapons.


No discussion of bargain knives would be complete without mentioning Swiss Army Knives. Both Victorinox and Wenger offer some basic knives in our price range. One of my favorites is the Victorinox Recruit. It is a Swiss version of the classic Boy Scout pocket knife. It is inexpensive and tremendously useful as a light-duty, multipurpose tool. Another Victorinox knife has a big following: the Farmer. Although it's a little above our price range, it has metal scales instead of red plastic, and it features the wood saw: one of the most useful of Swiss Army tools. Victorinox and Wenger Swiss Army Knives are available from a wide variety of sources.


I find myself keeping one large "chopper" around and using it frequently: the Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel. Many who have served in the military know the value of a small shovel as a general-purpose digging/cutting/hacking tool. I sharpen the edges with a file to make it a more efficient digging tool, capable of chopping through roots or breaking up hard soil. It could also be used to cut wood, in a pinch. The blade would need regular attention to keep it sharp, however. Heavy chopping can also put terrific stress on a shovel handle. If I planned to do a lot of chopping, I would wrap the area where the blade attaches to the handle with some wire, or with epoxy-saturated cord or twine, to reinforce it. This is the weakest part of any shovel. The Special Forces Shovel can be purchased direct from Cold Steel.

My Special Forces Shovel is kept sharp and has a blade cover made from trash can plastic, with two pieces of nylon webbing and snaps to hold the shovel in place. A few holes drilled near the edges of the blade cover allow my Cold Steel shovel to be lashed to the side of my pack for carry.

The Cold Steel SF Shovel can also be a low-profile weapon. A sharpened shovel, spade, or entrenching tool has been used countless times in infantry close-quarters combat. It can slice like a knife or chop like an axe. If used for a while as a shovel, it will show the marks of a tool and will be less suspicious than a brand-new, razor sharp shovel. Mine travels under the radar and has never been questioned. Its scarred handle and well-used blade make it look like what it is: a small, useful shovel.


Choose your tools carefully, and they should serve you well. Don't forget to invest in files, ceramic sticks, sharpening stones, oil, and other accessories needed to keep your cutting tools sharp and in good condition. Carbon steel knives that are used frequently with food can be kept rust-free by drying after use and wiping with any type of cooking oil. Take care of them, and buy a few extras as spares, or as trade goods. Good knives may be hard to come by after a Crunch.

SurvivalBlog readers:
If you have a fairly recently manufactured computer, there is no reason to expose your computer to malware at all. Most computers are powerful enough to host a "virtual machine" (MM) - that is, a session that is completely isolated from the hosting computer and that does not make any permanent changes to your system without your express command. VMs can be modified, saved and discarded as you wish. If you are browsing the web using a VM and suspect that you have encountered a virus or malware, simply discard that session and start a new one. There are many tutorials on the 'net that give step-by-step instructions on how to set up and maintain VMs on your home computer. I use VMs on a decade-old hand-me-down office PC running Windows X. If that old clunker can handle it, yours probably can as well.

Respectfully, - Dr. John G.

Jim Sinclair: The Implications of China Paying in Gold. (Thanks to K.T. for the link.)

G.G. flagged this one: In apparent first, a public pension plan files for bankruptcy.

Bram S. spotted this: Doug Casey on Taxes and Freedom

Over at Dr. Housing Bubble: The crashing US housing metro areas – Atlanta home values crash by 17 percent in last year and Las Vegas continues to move lower. Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco continue to make post-bubble lows.

Items from The Economatrix:

Social Security Fund to Run Out in 2035, Trustees Say

In an Apparent First, a Public Pension Plan Files for Bankruptcy

Sales of U.S. Homes Exceeded Estimates in March

Consumer Confidence in U.S. Little Changed as Outlook Cools

Home Prices in US Cities Fell at Slower Pace in February

Lee M. sent an interesting article and video: Time Lapse Views of Earth from Space. Lee suggests: "Take a look at the night scenes of Earth. it will give you an idea of where the major population centers are located."

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One final reminder that this weekend I will be a guest speaker (via teleconference) at the Get Prepared Expo, that is being held in Springfield, Missouri on April 28 & 29, 2012. The expo is being organized by USAPrepares.com, at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds. My teleseminar will begin at noon, Central time.

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Tam, over at the always entertaining and provocative View From The Porch blog suggested this: How to weaponize office supplies. (I've mentioned his videos before.)

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G.G. sent this bit of good news: Labor Dept. withdraws farm child labor rule after Daily Caller report goes viral

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Ted S. suggested a web site with a lot of information about the Raven Rock underground continuity of government complex.

"You have to choose between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the government. And, with due respect to these gentlemen, I advise you to vote for gold." - George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I'm going to talk about an aspect of survival that may or may not have been covered already. I haven't seen it so far in SurvivalBlog, and it only gets a passing nod in many books.

An important aspect of just about everyone's preps involves guns of some sort. You can see a lot of that in shows like "Doomsday Preppers." I'd guess (because I haven't seen every episode and I'm too lazy to do an exact count) that about 90% of the preppers featured on the show have or talk about having guns. Handguns, rifles, shotguns of a wide variety of shapes, sizes and calibers. Some of the episodes give a passing nod to gaining some level of proficiency with them, some episodes showcase the number the prepper has (probably to emphasize the degree of obsession the featured guest has with TEOTWAWKI). JWR's novel "Patriots" talks about some of the characters taking classes at Front Sight. (Although I'd have picked a better school than that, like Gunsite or the Magpul guys).

Few people, blogs, books, or television shows talk about maintaining a level of proficiency. We all kind of talk around it, but it can be a grind, just training, training, training. It gets old quickly, it burns money for ammo (or components--if you're not reloading, shame on you; but that's another show) you'd probably spend on another prep, and it burns that most precious commodity, time.

So, what's a prepper to do? How do you get past the monotony of just training? How do you introduce variety and keep the training dynamic?

I'd recommend getting involved in one or two sports. Yes, sports. Think about getting into either US Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) or International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) matches at your local club.

I know what you're thinking, and you're right. Neither is a substitute for real training. You still need to learn and practice the truly tactical stuff--room clearing, setting sectors of fire, dismounted patrolling, etc. Those are all things neither USPSA or IDPA will teach you.

Both games may also teach you a few bad habits, if you let them. USPSA lets you dump partially loaded magazines wherever you want, stand in doorways, eschew the use of cover or concealment. IDPA mandates slide lock reloads (unless you want the time penalty of a retention reload), considers concealment to be the same thing as cover, and mandates "tactical priority (if you have three targets arrayed near, far, and mid-range from left to right, you have to shoot near, mid, then far, even if it's smarter to shoot left to right to because you can get effective hits faster)."

Both games also have some scoring methods which play to the game aspects (Virginia for USPSA and Limited Vickers for IDPA) and the courses of fire sometimes mandate stupidity (strong hand only shooting when you'd normally use two, etc.).

Finally, both games have ridiculous magazine restrictions to negate competitive advantage for people from states where they don't limit you to a 10-round magazine. I shoot Custom Defensive Pistol in IDPA, where a .45 caliber is mandated, but I do it with a Springfield XD45 (my carry gun). Because I shoot CDP, I'm limited to an 8-round magazine, to negate my advantage over 1911 shooters. I sometimes shoot Production in USPSA with a Springfield XD(m), and am limited to 10 rounds, even though the gun holds 19 rounds of 9mm.

The other thing you're probably thinking is that it's too expensive to get into. USPSA, in particular, has a bad reputation for needing multi-thousand dollar guns and a lot of specialized equipment. IDPA is marginally better, but there is a division where folks shoot guns on the upper end of the cost scale. I can assure you that's not the case. You can get into either game by buying a decent (Lorcins need not apply) gun and making sure you have at least five magazines, a holster, and magazine pouches/holders. You can use a decent concealed carry belt (web or leather, it's your option) and you're good to go.

The last criticism is that both sports are handgun-centric. While that's true, both sports have long gun rules. The constraint is most the fact that few clubs have ranges large enough to accommodate long gun matches. But they are out there. If you can find one, you can get the same benefits with a rifle and shotgun, too.

So, what's the true value?

There are four primary benefits.

First, you get trigger time in a dynamic environment to reduce the monotony of training. I burned about 300 rounds just this past weekend over the course of about six hours and was never bored. I shot two USPSA matches. In most areas of the country, there's a USPSA or IDPA club within driving distance. You can probably find at least two matches a month to shoot for a minimum of expense (most match fees for club matches are less than $20). I live outside of St Louis, and within a three hour drive, I could shoot eight matches in a month, expending right around 2000 rounds each month. That would be a lot of shooting. It would be a lot of quality time with your gun. Learning its strengths and limitations, what kinds of ammo it likes, whether your handloads are worth a damn or not. And you get to do it in a fairly dynamic, and dare I say, fun environment.

Second, you learn to manipulate your chosen gun at speed. Regardless of how seriously you take the competitive aspects of either game, when the timer beeps, Type A people are going to move quickly. I'd wager most preppers are Type A's. Why would you bother to prep and take all of the precautions to protect your preps if you weren't? The clock-induced stress helps you learn how to draw, to do reloads, shoot, and deal with malfunctions when you're not expecting them and when you're distracted by other things. That translates into being much more confident with your gun and having practiced multiple repetitions of doing fundamental things under stress. You learn to manipulate the gun around walls, through ports, off-balance. Do you expect to always have the opportunity to get set in a perfect stance with a perfect grip when things go badly? Neither do I. One of the benefits of IDPA for concealed-carry guys (which I assume most of us are) is you learn to use your self-defense gun from concealment in this environment.

Along with that is the third benefit--handling your gun safely. Above all things, the rules for both sports emphasize safety. In one of the episodes of "American Preppers," there's a prepper dad who took his kids out to the desert to shoot. At some point, this jackwagon blows off his thumb, because he wasn't handling his gun safely. While neither USPSA nor IDPA are, pardon the pun, silver bullets for keeping you from blowing off parts of your body, you learn to be very aware of what condition your gun is in and where the dangerous end is. At the very least, you forfeit the match if you're unsafe. It's also extremely embarrassing. Most important, it's a self-critiquing event--you become a much safer shooter as a result.

Finally, you learn what acceptable combat accuracy really is. Many folks practice shooting groups and shrinking that group size to be as small as possible. But they don't practice getting lead on a target as quickly as possible while still making effective hits. In USPSA, this translates into getting A-zone hits. In IDPA, this translates into being down nothing at the end of the stage. When you're under the clock, you don't have the luxury of absolutely perfect and clear sight alignment. You're getting the front sight post into the notch, knowing there's a cone of vulnerability at the end of your gun for the target, not a laser beam.

Like I said earlier, neither sport is a panacea for all of the training you need to fit with your guns. But neither are they totally useless. IDPA guys like to make fun of USPSA guys by saying IDPA is training for a gunfight. That's nonsense. You can train, train, train to learn how to employ your gun, but you can only learn how to gunfight by doing just that (and I am, in no way, advocating going to look for opportunities to use your guns in a real world situation).

Like martial artist Bruce Lee said, "Absorb what is useful." Shoot a few matches, find out what you're really capable of doing with your guns. I'm a middle-of-the-pack USPSA shooter, so I'm not awesome at anything. But, I can draw my Model 1911 and shoot two aimed, combat-effective shots in less than two seconds, reacting to an external stimulus. I can execute a reload and fire an aimed, combat-effective shot in less than one and a quarter seconds. I instinctively react to malfunctions and go into remedial actions now.

Can you?

I have my sport shooting to thank for that.

I was hoping you could chime in for some feedback, as I think many of your readers are in a similar boat that my family is: Trying to balance professions and existing commitments against hunkering down for the coming storm.  Given the population density of some of the Midwest states... If you had to take relocating to a larger 60,000 population town in the American Redoubt (Idaho Falls, and the like) or living in the rural cornfields of the Midwest, and I correct you would advise locating to a medium sized American Redoubt city?  - Greg H.

JWR Replies: That all depends... Parts of the Midwest can be viable for retreats depending on their distance from population centers, the water table, and whether or not they are monocrop regions. But a place that is close to a city, with deep well depths and/or just one crop (corn) would be a bad thing.

Selecting a retreat locale is always a tradeoff. The desire to have isolation from urban areas and self-sufficiency has to be tempered by the need to make a living and to keep peace in your family.

While I tout the Redoubt, I don't claim it has any magical exclusivity or that it is a panacea. You can make up for the higher population density of the Midwest and some of the eastern states by very carefully selecting bypassed areas that are well away from refugee lines of drift, and by stocking up on food and fuel in greater depth. (Since the period of lawlessness in a societal collapse will undoubtedly be longer, with higher population density, you may need to hunker down much longer.)

I would feel uncomfortable in a city with a population of 60,000, even in farming country. To my mind, the sweet spot is a population somewhere between 500 and 5,000. With less than 500 people, a town might not be defendable. And with any more than 5,000, the sense of community cohesion will likely be lost. (See my comments about this in my September, 2008 SurvivalBlog article: Finding a Mineshaft or a Gemeinschaft, and my earlier commentary on the We/They Paradigm.)

To look for some retreat locale possibilities outside of the 19 western states that I've analyzed, I highly recommend Joel and Andrew Skousen's book Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places. The updated Third Edition was just recently released.

Hello, Mr Rawles:
I saw the Odds 'n Sods piece where Michael Z. Williamson's forwarded an article on the warning about "thousands of PCs infected" to lose Internet access that refers people to www.dcwg.org. I read the article.

Sorry, but I don't trust going to such a site. It could easily be a government-based data collection site. It's amazing how much information is passed along with simply browsing a web site. dcwg.org is registered to someone in Cupertino, California.

I found that www.DNS-OK.us will give the same information about whether a system is infected or not. That site is registered to Paul Vixie, whom the article refers to as their consultant. Vixie's site will give you a green colored screen if you are clear and a red colored screen if you are infected. His site does warn that if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) redirects DNS, the Domain Name System, your computer might pass the test yet still have the infection. It seems that only Windows systems were affected, although ISPs could have been and they're used by other systems, such as Linux and Mac systems.

After checking Vixie's site, the easiest way to know if you may yet be infected is to check your DNS server addresses against the FBI's bad list: to --------> 85.255.112-127.0-255 to -----------> 67.210.0-15.0-255 to --------> 93.188.160-167.0-255 to ------------> to --------> 213.109.64-79.0-255 to ----------> 64.28.176-191.0-255

For those who do not know about Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, notice that they contain four numbered parts with periods separating each part, sometimes called a dotted list. Each part will be a number in the range 0 to 255 inclusive. On the right I have denoted them as dotted range lists. For instance, if the first two or three dot-separated numbers, e.g., 85.255 or 77.67.83, do not match your DNS numbers then you are clear. If any in the bad list do match, the rest of the entry shows the ranges of the bad numbers. For instance, if your DNS server number starts with 85.255, then the third number must be between 112 and 127 inclusive to be a match in the bad list. If that third number matches then the fourth number is a guaranteed match.

Windows users can find out their DNS server IP addresses by opening the Start menu and selecting the Run option in the list. Type "cmd" and press ENTER. A window running cmd.exe will open. At the command prompt type "ipconfig /all" and press ENTER. At the end of the output will be a list of DNS Servers. Check the DNS IP address numbers against the bad list. One address could be the router's address, typically beginning with 192.168. If that's in the list of server addresses, you may have to login to your router to see what it denotes as its server. The router connects to the ISP, which does the real Internet access.

To check the DNS server that your ISP gave your router, login to the router. Start a web browser, click your mouse pointer in the location box, erase whatever is already in there, and type the IP address that ipconfig showed as the "Default Gateway."

The router's web page may prompt for your router's login name and password. If you did not change the login info from the initial settings that came from the router manufacturer, shame on you! Those names and passwords are documented and well known to system crackers -- check your router's manual. That would be the way someone could have changed yours. Enter your name and password and check your DNS Server's IP address against the bad list.

If the router's DNS address is on the bad list call your ISP's technical support immediately. Should you get the red screen on Paul Vixie's site instead of the green, or one of your own system's DNS address is on the bad list, you may have to reformat your disk drive, reinstall your operating system, all your software, and your data files. You should have a backup of your important files stored somewhere so that reinstalling is merely an inconvenient, time-consuming pain, but you are not left out in the cold. Be careful of a simple restore of your entire operating system from your backup because you may have backed up the infected system and you would just reinfect it with the restore. Safest to start from scratch. Install from your operating system and various programs you use from manufacturer's disks.

If you're not familiar with these operations, consider consulting a friend, relative, or neighbor who is familiar or contracting with a computer professional to help. - Larry R.

James C. recommended a video by Mas Ayoob and Tom Gresham how to handle a police traffic stop when carrying a concealed weapon.

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Over at Philosophical Pilot: Connect the Dots

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Wonders Never Cease Department: “Cold Tracer” Glow Ammunition. (A hat tip to George S. for the link.)

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Mary F. suggested this: New Fashion Wrinkle: Stylishly Hiding the Gun

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Some reminders on our non-fiction writing contest rules:

1.) You can write on any topic related to preparedness or survival that you think would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers. Again, to be eligible, an article must be an original work of at least 1,500 words. (2,500 to 4,000 words is ideal. Very long articles are allowed, but may be serialized, as the editors see fit.)

2.) Be sure to thoroughly proofread your article, and and have at least one friend or relative proofread it, as well!

3.) All writings must be original works and the copyright will become the property of SurvivalBlog. Anyone sending a letter or article grants the right for posting, reproduction, or any other use. Non-fiction articles only. (No fiction, poetry, or prose pieces will be accepted.)

4.) Once your article has been posted at SurvivalBlog, you cannot submit it elsewhere. The copyright belongs to SurvivalBlog.

"I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave." - H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The following observations are geared toward expats or even locals living in the Third World, although most would apply as well to residents of the First World.
Here in México, there have been countless horror stories, albeit, most of them not life threatening and essentially not classifiable as DEFCON 1 situations. Both expats and locals have been the victims of countless assaults. An acquaintance on the street was recently told simply to hand over his money and music player.

Another fellow, a philosopher, became inspired at midnight on a city street and only had his laptop to record his divine whispers. Not soon after, a guy hit him with a stick, grabbed his laptop and ran off toward a taxi in waiting. As the philosopher chased him, the taxi ended up backing into the victim and he rolled over the car, as dozens of bystanders did nothing. He suffered no serious injury.
Yet another instance was when a man was getting out of his vehicle, he was approached by a robber while accomplices waited in a vehicle nearby. The robber wanted everything including the man's watch. It had been a gift from dead grandparents and he told him you can have everything but you're not taking the watch, respect the dead. He got lucky keeping his life as the thief drove away in the man's vehicle. It was later found stripped to the bone for the spare parts black market. He had been complaining to his landlord to install a security fence for the driveway for exactly this reason, to no avail.

A final example was when an expat had recently been arrested by a mini-brigade of armed federal police pointing automatic weapons at him and a companion, for driving his own car. He had apparently tried for years to clear his car's name, as it had been stolen and recovered. It still registered as stolen in police databases. The police most likely knew it was his, but detained him for eighteen hours in a jail cell smeared with excrement and swarming with mosquitoes. They were surprised when his lawyer showed up, essentially catching them red handed. It seems they were either looking for a bribe or to take the car. It is important to note that this particular individual generally is one who is generally a bit careless hence his frequent run in with trouble.

My home had been broken into while on vacation. The three things the thief got away with? One was an old ounce of silver on my coffee table. Next, he spotted a pack of Marlboro’s I kept as a prank for friends. Needles to say, I found one of my exploded cigarettes on the floor. Finally, he took my desktop replacement laptop only to discover once he got home, that it had gone completely defunct about a week prior. He also had missed an ounce of gold I had hidden away (which has since been relocated).
After this relatively harmless wake-up call, I have begun to take certain vigilant measures.


Although my laptop was defunct, it may have been possible to recover any personal data I may have had on the hard disks. I immediately changed all my passwords. What I am doing now is to encrypt my personal data via free software such as True Crypt. Because I also occasionally hear of daytime break-ins via friends of friends, I keep my computer secured via laptop locks. If I leave for extended periods, I move the laptop to a safe place outside of the home or take it with me. It is good to have a safe place such as work or the home of someone you can trust to care of any valuables. I have not owned a television for over half a decade. I also use an extension internet cable in the home and not wireless both to mitigate health issues from Electro Magnetic Pollution (EMP) and security risks associated with hackers. I do the same at work to lessen the effect of the Wi-Fi signal.

Precious Metals

One lesson I had learned was to find a better hiding place for any metals I may have around. I was lucky the thief had not found my ounce of gold, but this just goes to show that it was likely somebody who lacked experience this time around. The key is to think of smarter locations to place these valuables. An additional trick would be to leave easier to find bait so as to deter interest from the real stash. Also, one can diversify by holding both local and foreign allocated metals accounts. There are local banks where you can open silver accounts and you always have the option of safety deposit.

Personal Safety

The window bars which the thieves pried open on the front of the house were cheap. They were immediately replaced with thicker bars. I was also amazed that I had overlooked the simple placement of a wooden stick between the window and the window frame, so as to prevent someone from being able to push the window open in the case they are able to pry their way in (the same has been done to all windows).
I went out and bought motion detection lights for the front of the home. I also have purchased a few high voltage stun guns. One thing residents and citizens must do is investigate local laws. I have recently acquired my firearms license from my home state which, though not valid in a foreign country, may prove useful. I have spoken to military and it is legal for citizens or residents to purchase a firearm of a caliber lower than what is currently used by national forces. I plan to purchase a firearm for the home and a safe in which to store it. There is also an Israeli IDF soldier which runs a Krav Maga center with whom I have taken courses. I plan to make it a regular habit to attend his firearms seminars as well as self-defense courses. In most cases, you will not want to walk around with much money, so if you are confronted, you should most likely give up what cash is on you. Depending on your assessment of the situation, you may need to prepare for action if the thieves want more than just your cash and put you in a life or death situation.


Each trip to the store means buying a few extra of each item in order to stock up. Extras are stored in bins and rotated. Seeing as the water from the tap is not fit to drink (and in some instances come out discolored), filters have been placed on the shower and faucet to provide clean water for cooking, brushing teeth (with non-fluoride toothpaste) and showering. I believe fluoride is not added to the water here, but the water is otherwise of horrid quality, containing all types of pollutants, metals and chemicals. Drinking water here normally is purchased filtered in twenty liter containers. I keep four or more at a time, which would last me a good while were anything to happen.  It really only rains here during the rainy season which lasts for three to four months, but a small rain collection unit would be possible to install.
I also keep a good stock of liquor, beer and wine, this not generally for personal consumption, but for guests as well as possible barter use. I now am planning to start growing food on the roof to supplement purchases and serve as a reserve. There are increased reports of the spread in common food of genetically engineered organisms so I make it a point to purchase “organic” (or what our grandparents used to call just “food”). I also use a regimen of about a dozen of the top supplements one can take, many of which have been suggested by “Over the Counter Natural Cures” and include astaxanthin, curcumin, vitamin K2, krill oil, spirulina, chlorophyll, mushrooms, CoQ10, milk thistle, melatonin, colloidal silver and alpha-lipoic acid. It is also important to purchase brands which at least do not contain conventional magnesium stearate, which is used in the manufacturing process. I also keep items such as potassium iodide, water purification pills and filters on hand, such as the Swiss made Katadyn pocket filter. A survival backpack that would last a week is also stashed and ready to go.

I keep my car well-maintained and take it in regularly for a tune-up so as not to be surprised by malfunctions at times or in places where you really wouldn’t want to be stuck. Unfortunately, I have seen people here, who are generally short-sighted, suffer continuously for lack of foresight. They would wait instead until the problem gets really bad before they deal with it. One person had a leaking radiator and because they continued to drive it for a few days, ended up having to spend almost $1000 on repairing a number of parts destroyed as a result of the malfunctioning radiator.
I keep essential items such as jumper cables, quick tire inflation can, medical kit, blankets and such stored in the trunk. I also keep a spare ten-liter canister ready to go in the case of any fuel disruption. The spare tire which is on the outside of the vehicle has been secured via a combination lock, as thieves have also been known to take those (happened recently to a friend). One neighbor had her car stereo stolen right out from under her nose in the middle of the night, as her vehicle was parked right below her bedroom window. The car only has a cassette player and there are no objects visible inside the car, so as not to give incentive to thieves. The car itself is an old used vehicle that doesn’t attract attention. It is wise to recall the instances of armed robbery here, which target high-value vehicles. All papers are kept in the glove compartment as well as printouts of my visa and relevant Mexican laws in case I get stopped by an unethical officer.


It is good to take out as much identification as possible. I not only have an American state driver’s license but a state ID, passport as well as card which would allow land travel through North America. I am also in the process of obtaining a local driver’s license. A second passport is a must. If the USSA intends to revoke my passport for whichever reason, I’ll have another to go on. I have heard from other expats, such as the Dollar Vigilante, that it is best to have two passports and to live in a third country of which you are not a citizen, in which case the government would have less power over you. Others have argued the contrary, where as a citizen, you have more tools for righting a wrong at your disposal.

These may seem like common sense preparations, but the funny thing is, literally 99.9% of the people I know haven’t got a clue. However, I have befriended a few like-minded individuals. One of them is a family man and we have discussed the collapse scenario. He has a well-fortified home with solar power. His benefit to having me join him in a time of crisis is adding protection for his family. A collapse scenario essentially is a numbers game and having an extra individual who is self-sufficient would not drain the person's own resources.

I have accumulated this strategy gradually over time and though it hasn’t been cheap, it also hasn’t broken the bank. As a result, I sleep a bit sounder knowing that if there are disruptions, I’ll have less to worry about.

With some research, I've found a few mapping tools that are useful in selecting possible retreat locales:

I'd also like to mention an ongoing forum discussion.

Regards, - C.D.V.

Mr. Rawles,
Three thoughts on this topic:
1.  If you are relying on defending your home without outside help then the battle is already lost.  It is too easy to burn down your average residence.  Defense should be a community endeavor with "depth" provided by multiple engagements from multiple locations.
2.  I believe that your average, semi-motivated troublemakers in a TEOTWAWKI will lack training and will become victims of "target fixation".  In other words, they will be motivated to roam around and loot but will not have a modicum of good tactical skills.  They will fixate on their target and will be easily ventilated from a shooter outside of the home.  After the gun battle begins, they will be focused on the house or other structure and a trained shooter can take them under fire from the flank or rear.  This shooter must wait until the mob begins attacking the home/structure.  The crowd will think any casualties they take are coming from the target.  Keep the battlefield a 360 degree challenge.
3. If your city/town/community has collapsed to the point that mobs are roaming with impunity then sitting around and waiting to be the next target is a loser's game.  Take the fight to the enemy.  Always choose the time, place and conditions of a fight.  
- Mark S., PCSed to Germany 

Ian R. sent this:  Crises make automakers rethink lean parts supplies

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News from the Philippines: Rabies kills 67 people in three months.

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Camping Survival just received a truckload of Wise Foods buckets. Feeling overstocked, they created an unprecedented 10% off coupon code just for SurvivalBlog readers.  The coupon code is "wiseblog"

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson forwarded this: Your computer may be at risk, FBI warns--Thousands of PCs infected by hackers could lose Net access

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G.G. flagged this piece about solar flares: Feds and Utilities Face Off Over the Electromagnetic Pulse Threat Coming in 2014

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."  - G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This site is known for material geared towards protection and preparation for some ultimate tests of social interaction. While we may be working to prepare ourselves for a high end threat, keep in mind that there are levels between normal and end situations; we may not go from normal to end in one quick swoop.  We must be prepare for various levels and react accordingly when we or our families are threatened. Knowledge and our equipment are tools to better prepare us to deal with any serious social situation.

After writing a previous article on Weapon Use, Slings, Web Gear, and Associated Weapon Equipment, I thought I would elaborate a little on the covert aspects of weapons carry and related gear. Again, most of this is based upon my experience of “blending in” while wearing plain clothes as a detective and non-uniformed Sheriff’s Deputy as well as off-duty handgun carry.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating that anyone break the law. In your home or on your own property the described items are usually legal. Please confirm as location and the laws vary so you must check your state and local laws regarding how you would utilize firearms and under what circumstances. I offer this information for consideration but the ultimate decision would rest upon the person possessing and using any firearm and in some states, even the possession of types of semiautomatic weapons and the magazines used. And, remember, depending on the timing and end result of the situation, you will probably have a review and investigation of your actions by law enforcement as well as a review by a prosecutor. This is where training and topic study comes into close play.
What do you grab in the middle of the night or when you see you are about to be in a possible gun fight? Personally, I have always scribed to a quote from author Robert Heinlein, "Always keep your clothes and your weapons where you can find them in the dark." Hopefully, if authorized to carry a handgun, you at least have a good concealable pistol with an extra magazine, and a good flashlight. I advocate it is also nice to have at least your trousers and some shoes on in these situations (heaven forbid we shock someone who sees an armed but undressed person). At the very least, you can typically carry a weapon in your home or on your own property. A better idea in a serious social situation is to also have a long-gun along with some extra magazines/ammo backed up by the pistol. What we carry and how we carry it is a part of blending in and we would at least get hard looks if we are seen carrying a long gun (or any gun) in most neighborhoods, but we should have equipment available to handle most situations (just balance safe storage with reasonably fast access to your weapons).
I should also comment on law enforcement response time. The law enforcement officers I have dealt with have always tried to quickly get to people in need in cases of possible violence. But most of us do not have a cop living next door and in many parts of the country, with reduced local budgets requiring reduced numbers of first responders, we have fewer cops and response times to reports are getting longer or put off due to other calls-for-service. Even if you can call but are told that a response will be “extended,” you should have a practiced plan (with the proper equipment) to protect yourself and your family until they arrive (“Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute's warning.” - Standing orders of Rogers Rangers, circa 1758.
Take a look at yourself in a mirror. In any scenario you picture yourself in, do you dress like G.I. Joe or do you intentionally wear natural earth tone, low key clothing? Cargo pants are common but a camo pair may cause people to look closer at you. The whole idea is that your attire and equipment should not look like a soldier or cop. If you carry a long-gun in a bag, is it a baseball bat bag or a custom gun bag? Can you have someone modify a sports bag, case, or even a cloth briefcase to hold your carry gear, attachable to you, and allow access to your equipment and mags? For a canvas or nylon briefcase, try finding a stiff piece of material that fits in the case and sew MOLLE strips or loops of webbing on both sides to hold mags upright as well as other “nice to have” gear. Add some “D” rings and detachable straps so the bag can hang from your neck with another strap around your chest/waist.    
Long before we had “active shooter” protocols or plans, while working for a Sheriff’s Office, I carried my “warbag” in the trunk of my unit (a marked patrol unit or an unmarked unit). As an operator on SWAT, this included my camo uniform and all my equipment in a parachute bag along with a SMG or AR. For the AR, I carried three 30-round mags, and a 20-round mag on the stock and a military cloth bandoleer with seven loaded 20-round mags (in the carbine or rifle, these mags let you get closer to the ground when someone may be shooting at you). When I went into plainclothes, I usually reduced the gear to an issue Remington 12 gauge Model 870 shotgun and ammo carried in an over-the-shoulder strap bag at a minimum and a rifle when authorized or needed (bad guys may not recognize some rifles but they respect the big hole at the end of the shotgun barrel).
Later, I put an AR and the same ammo load in my unit – with the ammo and gear in a sports bag that could clip onto my body for carry. In that bag, the AR mags and two extra pistol mags were quickly accessible, the adjusted bandoleer easy to put over my shoulder, a radio in my back pocket, my old Cold Steel Tanto in place for quick access in the bag along with a full water bottle and some snacks. Oh, my protective vest was either under my shirt or in the bag as well.
After I retired, I used the same bag for a while but I have now transferred the mags and gear to a plain over-the-shoulder black nylon bag. It can carry up to 220+ rounds in AR mags (30 and 20-round mags) plus other gear. One bag is marked, “Nintendo” and a new one is marked, “Old Navy.” I got these and others at Goodwill for about $2 to $3 each. This bag goes with my red-dot equipped 5.56 carbine that is carried in a sports bag. Even if someone sees the bags, they do not think tactical.
For my “serious duty,” extended tube, Remington 870 shotgun, I have a similar black nylon bag that says, “AAA” (in red letters). I took a black felt-tip pen and shaded the “AAA” a lot darker. It still does not look like an ammo bag, and it carries a selection of Winchester PDX12 (“buck and ball”), 00, slug, and #4 12ga. Ammo in smaller pockets. You can equip other bags of this type for each weapon you have.
In any social context, long-guns should be primary and any support or added a level of protection comes from handguns (while some may say it should be the other way around, for now, this is reality). For the handgun, obtain good quality holsters, pistol (trouser) belts, and mag pouches. Next, ensure you have a good and tested sling on the long-gun. All your gear should work together for you and not against you.
I wish to make a point here that your gear does not have to look, “Tacticool.” Until we reach an end of normal social actions, if you need to carry and use your weapons, think covert – not overt on you own property. Wearing a military or tactical looking rig draws a lot of attention; some of it unwanted. At first glance, most cops see weapons as an immediate threat and treat it that way until they know better. Think, plan and train for this. Think out how you will react to reduce the chance of a melancholy end to a law enforcement encounter. If there are no cops involved, run through scenarios in your mind -- and with trusted advisors when you can. Obtain training or practice these scenarios. Remember, where a firearm is aimed is a big part of any situation. Can you record a confrontation on a cell phone or on a recorder so that you know about it but anyone being confronted does not know about the recording? This may help you protect yourself by knowing it is recorded but document the confronted person’s verbal responses and actions (you can do this by calling 911 and setting the phone down). As to what you should say, it should be clear, firm, but not profane or overly aggressive. I sometimes use the words of others to set the tone for these kinds of thoughts. Here are two: 1) "A kind word only goes so far, a kind word and a gun goes a lot further." --Al Capone (1924) and 2) "Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." – Theo. Roosevelt (San Francisco, CA, May 13, 1903). Between these two men, there is a lot of room for the reader to determine a fair course of meaning (both being fairly determined men but at different ends of the social spectrum). 
If you lawfully carry a handgun, practice with it until you know where it is on your person, how to gain access to it (pulling up a vest or coat, etc.), where the extra mag or speedloader is, where your flashlight is (set to the beam you want when you turn it on), where your folding knife is, how you will retrieve and show ID if confronted by a peace officer and become comfortable (as you can) with all this gear. It is too easy to telegraph carry by constantly pulling up a gun belt or otherwise broadcasting your gear to even bad people. The idea here is that people (even ex-cons) do not know you have your gear ready for use. Really, this comfort level is not as easy as it seems. Again, practice it until it is easy then add layers of other covert gear that go with a long gun.  
By the way, if it is not too warm or raining, a long light jacket or a blanket or Clint Eastwood western type serape will cover most long guns as well as what you may be wearing around your waist. In cold or wet weather, a rain coat or other long coats will cover a long-gun if slung with the sling over the shoulder and the weapon nestled under the strong side arm.
I have found that most people, when they do practice with their weapons and related gear, they do so in daylight. We need to think beyond daylight and practice during hours of darkness. With any weapon, target identification is a primary function in a confrontation; before pulling a trigger, know who will be shot due to that action. It would be better if the target was illuminated by a source not attached to the shooter but as a last resort, there may not be an alternative to holding or using an attached light to perform this identification.
If someone comes looking for you (in any serious social situation), access is always an important consideration with carry equipment and should be considered by anyone defending themselves or their family. Find the time to practice changing mags and other equipment from these bags. Practice weapon functions without looking at it in daylight and in the dark. Practice until it is automatic and done with little thought (trained “muscle memory”).
So, in addition to you short gun and extra mag, have quickly at hand:
1.  An accessible carbine or shotgun with a good sling (and, my preference, a good red dot sight);
2.  A useful amount of proper mags and ammo;
3.  A manner of carrying this gear that does not make you look like G.I. Joe; and
4.  A strong and sharp knife, extra pistol mags, a good flashlight, water and energy food.
To be covert, you need to think about how many mags and ammo you think you need to carry to support both the short and long guns. Think minimum with more available close by.
In any serious social situation, you do not want to run out of ammo until you have cleared the threat or you can back out of range. Figure out how you can carry your weapon in your version of a, “plain brown wrapper.” Find a para-rigger or knowledgeable show repair person to help you modify your gear to meet these carry needs.
So, in review, train and practice with all this gear. If you have knowledgeable friends available, talk through your scenarios and ask their advice. Discuss how to react now to these situations and you will be better prepared for any future eventuality; consider a non-tactical bag with a over-the-shoulder strap to hold your gear or a smaller size briefcase kind of bag that you can sew “D” rings on each corner and attach a strap to go around your neck and another around your chest to hold you gear. Until you can wear tactical gear in the open without gaining negative attention, a covert set may be better for your welfare and still meet your threat set needs.     

Keep your musket clean and your powder dry.

CPT Rawles,
I want to provide a counterpoint to AmEx's letter about the futility of permanent expatriation. 

I too have taken a job overseas, after much effort, and am establishing myself permanently in a particular country in Asia.  I agree with AmEx that renouncing one's US citizenship is probably a bit much, I think he severely underestimates the danger that the US government will (I believe) present to it's citizens.  While I am still a US citizen, my wife, who earns all our non-salary income privately, and our children are not.  This is something we worked out years ago to limit the reach of my government into our lives.

America was indeed founded on the principles enumerated in the Constitution and Declaration, but to our current government, many of those principles are dead letters to the very body entrusted with defending them - as surely as the Nazis rejected the principles of Frederick the Great and Bismarck and Tojo and his cabal rejected the liberal Taisho democracy that Japan enjoyed prior to WWII.  We are far down that slippery slope.  Were civilization to implode due to a catastrophic event and the government to cease to exist, perhaps the Redoubt option would be the best for everyone.  I subscribe to the slow-burn theory that the government, like cockroaches, will be the last entity standing in almost any event and will present more and more of a strangulation menace to the few remaining "others" (Christians, producers, landowners, etc) the worse the situation gets.  One only has to look at the numerous examples of super-state (multi-cultural, vast landmass, centrally controlled) emergence in the 20th century (China, Germany, USSR) to realize that, despite political rhetoric to the contrary, the America is not longer "exceptional."  

To believe otherwise is to ignore the repeated Biblical examples of a Godly nation (Israel) turning to wickedness, losing God's favor and being subsumed by tragedy, to the fatal detriment of even the most righteous citizens.  Two examples of emigration also stick out in my mind:  that of Joseph and many of his kin being called to Egypt after their land was blighted and of Jesus' parents after tyranny descended on their land.  Yes, I am aware that Joseph's descendants were eventually enslaved and Jesus' family eventually returned home but the message is clear that strategic withdrawal is not un-Biblical or unpatriotic (a concept which is not part of Biblical Christianity anyhow, as Jesus' answer to the Caesar tax question demonstrates).

Perhaps not unremarkably, my plan of action is similar to AmEx's in that I too am preparing a homestead in the Redoubt for my parents and other family members, because, like many, they cannot or will not leave the place of their birth (now I am also reminded of Lot's wife).  As an aside, the BIA and IHS are always looking for highly skilled people and you get to work with some very resilient people who have been on the edge of consumer society for a long time, earning good money, safely ensconced in the Redoubt area.

We are preparing in-place.  We have settled in a country that is very used to the deprivations of war and occupation (but now seem to be safely past that) and whose rural folk are much closer to their pre-Industrial roots that even those of the US.  We have sourced a military-engineered hardened structure and, proximately, lots of cheap, arable land with helpful neighbors in a culture which values solidarity and politeness as the highest virtues.  We feel safe, we are safe, as safe as one can be, but not all our family will join us, hence the Redoubt plan for our family.  I am a big fan of the Redoubt idea but I am more frightened of what the government is becoming and much less sanguine about the prospect of libertarian improvement than AmEx.

I will close by reminding readers that almost without exception, our relatives came to the US or colonies fleeing economic oppression or political tyranny.  Were they bad people or unpatriotic?  No.  They were survivors - the namesake of this blog.  Many of their relatives who stayed in place died in the ensuing wars, like all of my French great grandmother's male cousins in WWI, or starved to death, like all of our Irish relatives from County Cork (the non-emigrating branch died out completely as far as we can tell), or our Scottish relatives whose lands and claims to culture were stripped from them during the Highland Clearance - their only recourse to subsistence was to be conscripted into British wars of empire.  Our descendants all left - some chose the "right" country: the US; some chose the "wrong" country: South Africa, Mexico, or Cuba.  Survival is hard - you must learn a new language and adapt to a new culture.  Survival is sad - you must leave others behind.  Survival is the only way to carry on the torch of freedom, birthed by our Founding Fathers, after the flame has been extinguished in the country they founded, 200 years hence.  Freedom and devotion to God isn't a geographical space, it is the philosophical space in which you raise and care for those closest to you. - J.T.

Dave T. mentioned that both Facebook and Apple are locating data centers in Prineville, in eastern Oregon. Dave's comment: "This shows that even IT folk might be able to find jobs in The American Redoubt area, and makes me wonder if survivability factors into these companies' desire to locate there, along with considerations like inexpensive power, inexpensive land and tax incentives." JWR Adds: Both Oregon and Washington have implemented special tax incentives to lure new data centers. Both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Rackspace are building data centers in Morrow, Oregon, and Google set up one of theirs an hour's drive down river in The Dalles. Sabey Corporation's new data center is in Quincy, Washington. (Quincy is east of the Cascades, between Ellensburg and Moses Lake.) Dell Computer also built a data center in Quincy. All of these data centers utilize very inexpensive hydroelectric power from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Depending on volume, big commercial customers pay as little as 4 cents per kilowatt hour. There are many other advantages to setting up shop in The Redoubt: Low crime rates, low labor costs, unobtrusive governments, geological stability, geographic isolation from urban risks (such as rioting, copper wiring thefts, and vandalism), relatively mild weather, a strong work ethic, reduced workman's compensation claims, low cost of living for employees, et cetera.

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Drought forecast for Southwest, California 'not optimistic'. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this amazing aurora video: Celestial Lights

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I noticed that the layout of The Apartment Prepper's Blog has been revamped. You'll find some very useful info there.

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James C. pointed me to an interesting interview: Secrets of Survival with Joel Skousen. He describes in detail his excellent book Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places. His comments on the perils of relocating overseas begin at the 19:45 mark.

"Being prepared turns a crisis into an inconvenience." - Dave Ramsey, financial counselor and syndicated radio show host

Monday, April 23, 2012

To support the blog's bandwidth costs and other expenses, we have greatly expanded our SurvivalBlog Amazon Store. We did our best to select gear that is made in the United States and Canada. Here how it works: If you click on one of our Amazon links and then "click through" to order ANY product from Amazon.com (not just the ones listed in our catalog), then we will earn a modest sales commission. Please shop with our our paid advertisers first. (See the ads in the right hand bar of the main blog page.) But if they don't have what you are looking for, then you can shop via our Amazon store, and help support SurvivalBlog. Please keep our store links in mind for all of your Amazon.com purchases. Remember that you need to click on one of our SurvivalBlog Amazon Store links first, for SurvivalBlog to earn a commission. Thanks!


Today we present an article by Cynthia J. Koelker, MD, SurvivalBlog's Medical Editor. She is the author of the book Armageddon Medicine, and the host of the medical prepping site ArmageddonMedicine.net.   

First of all, don’t use those words.  Doctors don’t want to be “talked into” something that they may not want to do.  You’ll need a better approach.
Secondly, if you tack your request on to the end of an office visit, it will not be granted.  At this point your doctor is ready to move on to the next patient and will not appreciate the delay.  You don’t want your doctor irritated with you when you ask him a favor.
So how does one meet with success? 
Basically you need to enter the doctor’s “world” and see things from the physician’s perspective.  Every doctor I know faces time constraints.  As a group we feel pressured (and aggravated) when we’re asked to do the work of two or three problems in the time allotted for one. This results in one or all problems being insufficiently addressed.  A request for antibiotics for TEOTWAWKI requires discussion, not simply jotting an Rx for amoxicillin. Next, the doctor-patient relationship is one of trust.  If your doctor has reason to distrust you (missing appointments, being untruthful, misusing your meds) he probably won’t trust you with extra antibiotics either. 
If a patient were coming to me with such a request, I’d prefer the conversation go something like this:
Patient:  “Hi Doc, thanks for seeing me.  I’m here for my (back, sore throat, etc.) and have one other question for you.” (This sets the stage with an appreciative tone and also the expectation of exactly two problems – not more.  Doctors always like to know at the beginning what they’re facing.  Two is the limit most are happy with.)
Patient:  “I’ve had (the first problem) for (time period). It seems to be getting (better/worse).  It might be due to (heavy lifting/infection/etc.) I’ve tried (OTC meds/rest/exercise) which has (helped/not helped).  In the past (what has helped.)  I’d like (pain meds/X-rays/blood work/etc.) or whatever you think might help me.”  (Keep it short.  Be as exact as possible. Don’t drag in extraneous information or what your Aunt Matilda advised.)
Doctor:  (Doctor addresses problem and prescribes solution.)
Patient:  “Thanks, Doc, I’ll do that.  Now my other question is this:  I’m very concerned about where our country is headed.  It doesn’t look like we can trust the economy, and I’m worried that if things go really bad, we’ll all be on our own.  I want to be able to take care of my family and have stocked up on food and other essentials, including a medical kit.  One thing I’d really like to have on hand is a supply of antibiotics, just in case.  I certainly would not use them unless no doctor is available.  Do you think you could help me out?  I do promise not to use them as long as you’re here to help me.  Could you write me a 10-day supply of generic Keflex, Cipro, and a sulfa drug?  From what I read, that would be a good place to start.” (Again, be concise, direct, appreciative, respectful, reassuring, and specific in your request.  You may want to bring along this article to share with your doctor.)
Doctor:  (hesitates)
Patient:  “If you’re worried whether I’d know how to use them, I have (a PDR/Sanford Guide/other reference book) to guide me.”  Shows you’re serious and have looked into the matter.
Depending on the doctor’s reaction – watch his or her face and body language – you may want to downgrade your request at this point to a single antibiotic, or ask the doctor which one they’d recommend to have on hand.  This engages the doctor in the process.  If it’s a no-go, still thank the doctor and try again on a return visit.
You’re even more likely to meet with success if you schedule a visit for this specific purpose only.  Don’t try this with a surgeon, ER doc, or Urgent Care physician.  It needs to be someone who knows you, most likely your family doctor.  If it’s the only request you have, they’re more likely to grant it.  Insurance may or may not pay for such a visit.  You need to consider this ahead of time and explain that you’ll pay cash if needed. 
A 10-day supply of these three antibiotics costs only about $12 at the discount pharmacies, and in fact may serve to cover more than three illnesses.  Although doctors always advise to finish your antibiotics, patients often don’t and most of them are okay.  Five days of antibiotics is often sufficient for sore throats, skin infections, respiratory infections, and urinary tract infections.  (More specific recommendations may be found at my web site.)
I’ve chosen cephalexin (Keflex), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole to recommend because these cover most infections you’re likely to encounter.  Cephalexin is good for strep throat, ear aches, respiratory infections, some community-acquired pneumonia, some urinary infections, and most skin infections.  Ciprofloxacin is effective against urinary infections, some respiratory infections, infectious diarrhea, not to mention anthrax.  Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole usually covers outpatient methicillin-resistant staph infections of the skin and elsewhere, as well as urinary infections and many respiratory infections.  This list is by no means complete, but does include the most common infections. 
If your doctor agrees to your first request, on your next visit request a second set.  Three other antibiotics to consider include erythromycin (good for pneumonia, respiratory infections, pertussis, certain STDs, some skin infections), doxycycline (also good for respiratory infections, tick-borne illness, Chlamydia), and metronidazole (good for C diff, certain STDs, diverticulitis (in combination with ciprofloxacin or a sulfa drug), amoebic and certain helminthic infections).
A few more tips to find your doctor in a receptive mood:
1.      Schedule your appointment early in the day, preferably within the first hour.
2.      Try to avoid your doctor’s busiest day of the week – ask the receptionist for advice.
3.      Avoid holidays – though your doctor may feel more generous around Christmas.
4.      Try scheduling on your own birthday – and bring up this fact if it seems appropriate.
5.      Schedule when disaster is in the news – tsunami, earthquake, pandemic, etc.
Of all the above considerations, most important are 1) the relationship with your doctor and 2) designing your appointment to allow time for the discussion.  If you take your request seriously, so will your doctor.  If you act like it’s a joke, your doctor may merely laugh.   

- Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

I know a little something about being a first responder to an accident scene. In another life, I was a paramedic, and later in life, I was a police officer. So, I've been to more than my share of accidents, and one thing that was usually needed in many traffic accidents, was a good sharp knife, that could cut a person out of their seat belt, or cut some of their clothes off for urgent medical care. So, I appreciate a good sharp knife, more so than most folks do.
Buck Knives (www.buckknives.com) has been around since 1902. No matter how you look at it, that's a long, long time for any company to stay in business. I can't remember exactly when I saw my first Buck knife, but I remember it was one of their fixed blade hunting knives in the 1960s, and later on the famous Buck 110 folding knife, which is widely copied by many. It says a lot when other companies copy your products - it also cuts into the profits of the company that originated with a knife design, too. Imitated, but never duplicated!
Some months ago, I received the Buck Knives Responder CSAR-T folder. This is a collaboration between Buck Knives and TOPS Knives - two very well-known knife companies, to be sure. I was immediately impressed with how stout the CSAR-T folder was. It struck me as being US Marine-proof. A lot of folks say, if you want to see how well a product is made, give it to a US Marine - if there is a way to destroy it - they'll figure it out. If a US Marine can destroy the CSAR-T folder, in the course of their duties, I'd be surprised!
This rugged folder has a heavy duty blade that is 0.120" thick - it's a modified tanto shaped blade, too - one of my favorite designs for a number of reasons. The stainless steel blade is made out of Buck's time-tested 420HC, with a soft satin finish, that Buck calls a Zirblast finish. The knife is 5-1/4" closed and weighs in at 7.0 oz (9.3 oz carry weight in the  included heavy-duty Nylon MOLLE-compatible sheath). There is also a pocket/clothing clip on the handle for carrying in a pants pocket, too. There is also a reversible tip-up carry option for carrying in the right or left front pocket of your pants. The handle scales are textured black G10 - some of the toughest stuff around for a handle material - it's nearly indestructible! The lock on the folder is a liner-type lock, pretty strong, too!
In Buck's press release, it says the CSAR-T is "tough enough to use for prying..." Okay, almost every knife company that I'm aware of, says to not use a folding knife (or even a fixed blade knife) for prying purposes. On a folder, the blade can easily separate for the handle - and it could cause serious injury to the user - on fixed blade knives, the blade can break. So, I've always been of the opinion that knives should be used for cutting purposes, and not as pry bars. Stupid me! Well, I here to tell you, I did some prying with the CSAR-T sample, and it worked, too. No, I didn't attempt to lift my SUV with it, but I did do some pretty heavy prying and twisting into wood and while doing other chores, and the CSAR-T wasn't damaged. I showed the sample around to a lot of folks, including a police officer, and they all commented on how stout the knife was, and that it would probably never break - I concur!
Of course, like all Buck Knives, my sample was very sharp right out of the box - I would have been surprised if it wasn't. So, the knife is capable of cutting just about anything you run across. Now, that's a good thing - however, I'd hesitate to use a knife this sharp for cutting away clothing on an injured person or cutting a seat belt - I wouldn't want to lose control of the blade and cause more injury to the person. Well, Buck and TOPS thought about this. At the butt end of the handle there is an integrated glass breaker for tempered glass, and a very efficient seat belt/clothing cutter - that you don't have to worry about losing control of the knife and cutting yourself or the person you're trying to aid. You can't get your finger into the seat belt cutter, either - its practically fool-proof. What's nice about the glass breaker tip on the butt of the knife, and the seat belt cutter is that, you don't have to deploy the main blade to use either of their extra tools - kool!
Buck and TOPS wasn't content with all of the above, and wanted to add a little something more to the CSAR-T, so they added a bit-compatible handle cut-out, and you can use various hex tools - Buck offers this tool set as an option to match it all. So, you can do something other than just cut or break tempered glass with this folder.
I wasn't about to attempt to break the tempered glass on any of my vehicles, and I couldn't get anyone to volunteer their rig's glass either. So, I found an old broken window in my carport - don't know why I still had it there, but it was there. I took the CSAR-T sample by the handle and only lightly tapped on the glass, and it shattered into several pieces. So, I have zero doubts the glass breaker feature will break a tempered windshield on a vehicle. As to the seat belt cutter - I wasn't about to cut any seat belts, either. But I did have some Nylon material laying around, that is almost identical to seat belt material. I'm here to tell you, this seat belt cutter simply zoomed right through this material like a hot knife through butter. So, this would be a great tool to have at an accident scene, where a person is trapped by their seat belt - and I've seen this happen numerous times, too. For some reason, the seat belt release won't release - and you have no choice but to cut it to free the person.
I know, a folding knife isn't meant or designed to be a throwing knife, but I just had to try my hand at it. The CSAR-T failed as a throwing knife...well, I just had to do "something" to prove this folder couldn't do it all.  The knife is handle-heavy, and no matter how many times I threw the knife, I couldn't make it stick - the handle always hit first. Ok, ok, it wasn't a fair test as the knife wasn't designed for this chore - but I still had fun and there was no damage to the knife either - that's a good thing.
As a self-defense tool, the CSAR-T would really shine, too. There is enough blade length there to do some serious damage in slashing or stabbing techniques and the blade is super sharp. And, should you choose to not use the blade against someone, you can still use the knife as an impact weapon - striking first with the front of the handle - and if that doesn't discourage an attacker, then strike with the butt end of the handle, where the glass breaker is - that will make a person wish they had chosen another person to attack.
Like many Buck Knives, the CSAR-T folder is a bit hard to find. Buck sells them as fast as they make them. And, to top it all off, there are a couple other CSAR models you can choose from, too. They even have some fixed blade models. Full-retail on the CSAR-T (Model 091) is $147 and you get a lot of knife for that money, and it has the Buck/TOPS name on it, too. Check one out, you'll like it! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Last Easter weekend, a twitter message went out and in a few hours 20,000 people descended on Surfside Beach, Texas, population about 600. My LEO contacts tell me there were only six officers available. The crowd turned sour towards the locals who did not want them parking or defecating in their yards.

Several residents had to stand on their front porches with weapons displayed to keep groups of hundreds from passing through their property. Several rental beach houses were broken into and one contact said the volume of human feces and trash was unbelievable. The roads were impassable for hours, trapping the residents who may have wanted to evacuate.

Caravans of cars, ten or twenty in number, traveled at very high speed from Houston down Highway 288, virtually daring anyone to deter them. A lone Texas DPS officer pulled one of the caravans over. He was quickly surrounded by a large group of those headed to the beach party. One LEO had made two arrest at the beach, but threatening crowds intimidated the officer, who un-cuffed the suspect and released them back to the throngs.

The road from Surfside beach to Angleton, Texas, came to a standstill, a distance of about 12 miles. There were three reported shootings and one death within the mob. A very large convenience store, Buccee's, was flash mobbed, the clerks were able to lock the doors and vacate the building.

The Brazoria County Sheriffs Department and the Surfside Beach LEOs are not talking much about any of this. I think they got surprised and are embarrassed.

Bottom line: never underestimate the rate a mob situation may develop, maintain a vigil, keep informed and have a way out and especially have a trigger point when to evacuate or seek cover.

Thanks for all you do. Yours truly, - Mark H.

Hello Jim,
I enjoyed the article regarding off-grid power by Roger A. I'd like to add a few points  about the elimination of phantom loads and the use of inverters.
As defined by the author, "phantom loads are created by appliances that have been designed to still need electricity while nominally switched off."
The elimination of these phantom loads reduces electrical needs in two ways; by eliminating the power needed by the appliance and the potential of being able to turn off the inverter. As pointed out in the article, inverters draw an average of 25 watts just to operate. Running 24/7 this can be a huge load for an off-grid system.

Jim, you suggested using a switched power strip for appliances with phantom loads. Excellent advice. Unfortunately, esthetics and forgetting to turn the strip off after using the appliance can reduce its effectiveness.
I've lived off-grid twelve years now. Here's what I've learned to eliminate phantom loads.

Anything with a plug that includes a digital clock is a phantom load. Microwave ovens and clothes washing machines that use dial-timers are still available. Most of these appliances use no power when they are "off."  Speaking of digital clocks, use a battery powered travel type alarm instead of the plug in type. Cordless shavers, toothbrushes and cordless power tools are okay, but should only be plugged in when the inverter is operating, for example in the evening when lights are needed. The chargers on some cordless devices can be destroyed when used with modified sine wave inverters. This is not an issue with true sine wave inverters.
The "entertainment center" (television, DVD, satellite dish receiver, etc.) is best served with a power strip. That dratted television is mostly a waste of time anyway, but I digress. The computer and its accessories should be plugged into a power strip, which is switched off when not in use.

Battery powered outdoor lighting units with LEDs and a motion detector work well for specific areas.
Refrigeration is tricky. I use a Sun Frost refrigerator/freezer. It's a DC model, which means it runs directly off the batteries and no inverter is needed. These boxy units are available in 12 and 24 volts DC. They are very efficient and have a reputation for reliability. However, the non-standard size and high cost is off-putting to some.

Cordless phones and answering machines can be bought off-the-shelf, and then powered right off the battery system with an appropriate DC to DC converter. These are the devices you plug into your car's cigarette lighter (12 volt DC) to charge your cell phone. Lighting can be had from 12 volt compact fluorescents or 12 volt LEDs. Pumping surface water (from tanks, pools or lakes) to a pressure tank or garden can be done with a DC pump. I've had good luck with Shurflo pumps. Available in both 12 and 24 volts DC, they are noisy and don't tolerate any solids in the water, but are reliable and easy to maintain.
One important caveat when using low voltage DC is to fuse every single device. If you've ever dropped a tool across a car battery and watched it vaporize in an adrenalin-inducing instant, you'll understand the importance. This can be as simple as an appropriate sized in-line fuse from an auto parts store.

Using low voltage DC calls for short wire runs from the batteries to the device and appropriately sized wiring.
Besides helping to eliminate phantom loads, there is another advantage in powering some appliances by DC, especially refrigerators, pumps and lights. Should the inverter fail, you would still have refrigeration, running water and lighting. Best Regards, - Dave S.

Greetings from the suborned state of Colorado.
I’ve rewired a few houses, and while I’m not an electrician – I always used one to inspect my work – also swapped out a lot of panels on aluminum wired condo’s for fellow homeowners... 
Overloading a circuit has been a problem for all types of wiring since electricity was invented, circuit breakers are there to insure that the line draw never exceeds a certain level the level and draw are calculated based on expansion and heat loss for the types of wires used.  As the following chart shows, nearly all aluminum alloys have a rating of 13 (yes it’s a measurement, but for comparative purposes that’s not important) whereas most copper alloys run around 9.  The difference actually isn’t that great, platinum has a much better rating, but is also much more expensive.  The other factor that is overlooked is the ductility of various metals.
The fire problem was only peripherally caused by overloading, the more typical problem has to do with aluminum wiring and it’s expansion when heated and it’s ductility when expanded.  Simply put, when aluminum heats up it expands but when it cools down the metal loses it’s “memory” and does not shrink back to it’s original shape.  The ductility (or, essentially, the ability of a metal to return to it’s original form) of aluminum is fairly low, meaning that a given shear force (force exerted along a perpendicular axis) needed to cause aluminum to separate is lower – and it’s higher for things like iron – but even more importantly is the deformity curve,  for a given force a deformity is a permanent displacement of material for a given force, the curve for iron looks flat until you hit the absolute sheer strength (that needed to separate it), iron will resist deforming almost up to the actual point of sheer.  The curve for aluminum is fairly constant for deformity, at very low forces aluminum deforms permanently.

This permanent deformity problem only crops up over time, and only crops up at junctions where the wire is fastened, like the service box where the circuit breakers are and points in the loops where power is drawn out (outlets), it gets really bad if you join copper wire to aluminum as the copper expansion contributes to the aluminum deformation under heat/expansion stresses.   Joints where a steel screw join with aluminum don’t exhibit the same deformation problems as those where copper is joined to aluminum.   
so what is the real cause of fires in aluminum wired homes?  Well, it’s easy, over time the aluminum deforms and when it cools it fails to resume it’s former shape.  Screws like those used in outlets fasten the aluminum to the (usually) bronze or copper outlet or to the bronze/copper end of the circuit breaker.  The steel screw has a very high deformation curve so as the aluminum wire expands with heat in response to load and other environmental factors, the steel or bronze screws resist doing the same thing, and the aluminum deforms on a microscopic scale while the other materials generally don’t deform.  So expand/contract, over time and use causes a slight gap between the aluminum wire and the outlet box or connector, when there is a slight gap the electric current arcs across the gap (because it’s still close enough to do so) and eats away a little at the aluminum as the heat of the arc attempts to deposit the aluminum on the bronze/copper fixture – this weld fails as the metals are incompatible and the aluminum is lost – creating a bigger gap.  At some point the arcing will start to create flashing and the erosion rate increases – until one of two things happen.  The circuit fails due to the gap or the materials surrounding the junction catch fire.  If you’ve used steel junction boxes and your main panel isn’t directly in contact with your siding the failure isn’t catastrophic – but wait – a lot of junctions happen behind walls, such as when someone doesn’t have enough wire to make a full circuit (or are using up short lengths of wire) and these places are hidden and usually not protected by a steel junction box – the heat hits the building materials and you have a fire. 
But overloading isn’t the primary cause, it’s the nature of the materials and their application that is the primary cause – overloading just makes it happen faster! - Jim H. in Colorado

Jo N.'s Oatmeal Bread

I like this recipe because it makes three nice loaves with little effort.  You do not need to attend to the bread that closely so you can go off and do other chores while it is rising (2 times) and baking.
Today was bread making day for me, and this is an easy recipe that can be made with supplies we all should have on hand.
Oatmeal Bread (makes 3 loaves)
4 c boiling water
3 c oats (Quaker Oats, not instant)
7.5 to 8.5 c flour (regular is fine and is what I use)
2 packages yeast (4.5 t if you buy yeast in bulk, as I do)
2 T salt
4 T oil (I use olive but any vegetable oil will do)
1/2 c honey, maple syrup, molasses or combination thereof
Pour boiling water over oats in a large bowl and let cool.  Stir in 2 cups flour and the yeast. Place in warm, draft-free space, uncovered, and let rise until double in bulk (usually about 2 hours). Punch down and work in rest of ingredients, including enough flour to make a dough that you can knead.  Turn out onto flour-covered surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as you go so dough is firm but pliable and not sticky.  You cannot over-knead this bread.  Divide dough into 3 parts and shape into loaves.  Place each in a greased loaf pan.  Allow to rise until double, again about 2 hours.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, but can take as long as 60 depending on your pans.
Turn out and cool.  I like to make two loaves of regular bread and one loaf of cinnamon raisin.  I do this by kneading in about 1/2 to 1 c raisins before shaping the loaf.  I pat the dough out flat (could roll, but then I need to wash rolling pin) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  I roll up dough like a jelly roll and place seam-side down in greased pan and let rise and bake with other two loaves.
If you are skilled, you can bake the bread in a Dutch oven on a camp fire but I live in suburbia and a campfire is not allowed!  Bread is not like an oatmeal cookie with flakes of oatmeal.  It is a light colored, fine crumb bread that makes the most excellent toast.


Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

Reader Jay B. wrote to mention this: IMF doubles lending capacity. Jay's comment: "Didn't you hear the printing presses speed up? You didn't? Well, I will give you a hint, and it sounded like a sonic boom."

Coin Dealers Squeezed By New Ordinances. JWR's Comment: To expect a coin dealer to hold merchandise for 15 to 30 days in a volatile precious metals market is absurd. No doubt their bid prices will be decreased, to cover the additional risk.

Doug Casey: Expect Extreme Volatility a the Titanic Forces of Inflation and Deflation Fight Each Other

The big swindle and a fog of debt – hiding the unemployed in the higher education bubble and three years of economic recovery equates to 11.5 million more Americans on food stamps.

Items from The Economatrix:

The Birth Of Barter: How One Greek Town Dropped the Euro and Moved On

IMF Tells US to Sort Out Debt, Quickly

Baseball Attendance Provides a Good Economic Indicator

Is The Economic Recovery Sustainable?

A reminder that I will be a guest speaker (via teleconference) at the Get Prepared Expo, in Springfield, Missouri on April 28 & 29, 2012. The expo is being organized by USAPrepares.com. It will be held at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds.

   o o o

A reader from Florida wrote to ask me about the prospects for paying off the National Debt. The short answer: It is mathematically impossible, unless the purchasing power of the US dollar is destroyed through mass inflation. (It worked for the Weimar Republic...)

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My recent interview on the Alex Jones show is now available on YouTube: Living in The Age of Deception and Betrayal

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Dr. Mike in Missouri wrote to mention that the digital edition of A Community Guide to Environmental Health is now available.

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Cheryl N. sent this: The Fallacy of Bugging Out:  Are You Prepared to be a Refugee?

"When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes..." - Napoleon Bonaparte

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Please pray daily, fervently for the fledgling nation of South Sudan. I was alarmed to read yesterday that war has now been declared by Sudan. After seeing how the BHO administration has aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood in several recent civil conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East, I expect that South Sudan can't expect anything more than just disingenuous lip service from the U.S. government. Please pray and do anything you can to help the South Sudanese to survive. Please also pray for our President, that he would become convicted to substantively help South Sudan.


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I don’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t doing at least some planning for “worst case” situations.  That may have come from growing up in an earthquake prone part of the country, and during the cold war when we drilled for nuclear attacks during the school day.  My mother, who was a single parent through much of my life, also modeled planning for “hard times” by storing food, following world and local trends closely, and being careful with money.  I became serious and more intentional in prepping following Katrina, when it confirmed my suspicion that we had better be prepared to take care of ourselves in a disaster, and after reading James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency,  and watching his predictions come true.  My spouse and children have endured my lectures, emails, nagging and copies of relevant articles with patience, and are also on board with their own preparations.

By training and background I am a clinical psychologist, with specialty training in health psychology, helping people manage the emotional impact associated with illness, injury and death.  In addition, I am active in disaster preparedness and disaster mental health, serving locally and internationally as a disaster responder.   I have truly seen situations in which it is TEOTWAWKI for those involved, where home, family, job, government services have all been lost.  And through my years in practice, as well as my work in disaster planning, it is clear that the most important preparation is not “beans, band-aids, and bullets” (although those are important) but mental preparedness and psychological flexibility.   I want to share some of the factors which come into play in big abnormal events such as natural disasters or terrorist events, because I believe we can take lessons learned from these into situations where it all comes apart, and we are left to stand and survive if we can.  In this essay, I’d also like to help you develop some simple skills to manage your own emotional responses and to help your family and friends.

It may surprise some to know that research shows that the most common long-term response to the trauma of a major disaster is not Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but resiliency and growth.  People are pretty good at overcoming bad things without any help from professional counselors or other mental health types.  That’s not to say that people aren’t affected by losing their homes, family members and security.  They are.  Most people show a range of symptoms in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, but tend to recover in about three months.   Some of the responses we should be prepared for are discussed in the next section. Some people will have some significant longer terms psychological issues following a disaster, but hopefully, those people will be in the minority. 

Common Short Terms Responses to Disaster and Loss:

Big events have an impact on body, mind, and spirit.  Once the initial phase of a disaster has passed, doctors begin to see many more patients showing up with MUPS (medically unexplained physical symptoms).  When we human beings experience a traumatic event, it releases a cascade of stress hormones and other chemicals in our bodies.  Sometimes, the body reacts as though the threat is ongoing and the condition can become chronic.  When the body is out of balance, we often begin to experience stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, trouble sleeping, pain, and changes in appetite.  The distress experienced by someone who has those symptoms is real.  The pain is real.  It’s a real response to a real physiological change in the body.  But…it is not related to a disease, infection, or injury, but to the body’s chronic stress response.

We also commonly experience cognitive or thinking changes such as trouble making decisions, difficulty with remembering things, trouble concentrating, and re-occurring thoughts about what has happened and what we’ve witnessed.  And, our behaviors and emotions can change due to the stress we’ve undergone, making us more likely to be irritable or aggressive, cry more often, withdraw from our loved ones, feel terribly guilty or depressed, feel panic, engage in more risky behaviors, or “self medicate” with drugs or alcohol. 

We may experience a change in our relationship with God, becoming angry over what has happened, losing interest in prayer or avoiding worship settings and rituals, which formerly were very important to our spiritual lives.  The opposite may also happen, where there may be a renewal in faith life following a terrible loss.

Children and teens are vulnerable to all of the above as well.  In addition, children may regress in their development, acting much younger than their age.  They may begin to wet the bed or play like a younger child, and have trouble being able to separate from their parents or loved ones.  Nightmares are common.  In young children, you may see repetitive and obsessive play, which re-enacts the event(s) they have experienced.  This is the way a young child attempts to make sense of the event and regain some sense of control. 

Interestingly, the elderly can often do better under such duress than others, possibly due to their life experiences which have provided some “stress inoculation”.  Seniors can provide wisdom from their perspectives as well as information from their life experiences.  On the other hand, seniors who have some dementia may become very agitated and confused due to being away from familiar settings and routines.

Individuals with pre-existing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or psychosis may, in the short term, temporarily get better.  It was reported that, following September 11th, many patients in psychiatric wards temporarily “cleared” their psychosis and the rates of suicide declined.  However, without the access to appropriate medication, patients with significant psychological disorders will need care and support.   Individuals with mental disabilities such as developmental delays or head injuries may experience confusion, fear, and disorientation. 

Many people following a major disaster will have lost loved ones, but be unable to access the services and rituals which would typically help them through the grieving process.  For example, mortuary services and funerals may not be possible in the events of mass casualties, civil breakdown, or pandemic diseases.  Community support may be limited because so many have experienced deaths in their own families and are unable to reach out and help others.  This may lead to complicated bereavement and depression.

When TSHTF How Can You Help Yourself?:

We cannot avoid bad things happening, but we can prepare ourselves psychologically so that we can more effectively use the tools, food, skills and other resources we’ve gathered.  People who do best when their worlds fall apart tend to have some specific factors helpful to their ability to survive and thrive:

They have a support system of family and friends, who can share in the struggle

Human beings are innately social creatures.  We are designed to live in community with others.  The myth of the lone wolf, living off the land all by himself, is just that…a myth.  Following disastrous events, people who have community support are more likely to survive.   Groups are more effective than individuals in identifying resources, sharing work, and in defense against outside forces.

They have spiritual practices which help them to find meaning and comfort even in dark times.

The old saying goes that “there are no atheists in foxholes”.  It may be true that you can suddenly discover your Maker in tough times.  However, preparing for tough times is enhanced when your prayer, study, worship, and charitable practices are a core part of who you already are. 

They have an innate style, or learned a psychological style of thinking which helps them remain more calm, more optimistic about their future, and more realistic about the threats to themselves and their loved ones, neither living in fear nor in denial. They tend to have a mind-set of assuming they have control over their lives and decisions vs being at the mercy of others’ control.

We’ve all known people who were quick to panic, tended to see the worst possible outcomes, magnify the impact, fail to see the good portions of any event.  Those folks generally suck all the energy out of their companions, and are not useful when the SHTF.  I’m assuming all those on forums such as this want to be useful and helpful and not a drain on resources during emergencies.  This involves practicing mental exercises in much the same way you practice marksmanship, canning, or gardening.

Here are some tools which may help you become more flexible and resilient in your approach if life takes a terrible turn:

Learn to recognize when you are making “thinking errors” such as magnifying, assuming, having a negative bias, or worrying unnecessarily.

    1. Magnifying turns a problem into a disaster.  For example, you may drop a case of canning jars and break them.  This is a problem.  It may create a resource limit.  Canning jars may be hard or impossible to get.  HOWEVER, it does not qualify as an End Of The World event.  Your family will not starve because of this one thing.  One way to counter Magnifying is to ask yourself “what is truly the worst case scenario with this event?” and then counter that thought with “and what can I do if that happens?”  In nearly every event, there will be some way to mitigate.

    2. Assuming creates catastrophes when there may not be one in the immediate future.  For example, I might assume that because Mrs. Smith doesn’t say “hello” to me she doesn’t like me.  I may further decide that if she doesn’t like me, she might wish me harm.  Because I assume she wishes me harm, I avoid her…and so on.  If I ask myself whether my assumption might be in error, and whether there might be another reason for Mrs. Smith’s behavior, I can flex my thinking to include the possibility that 1) Mrs. Smith didn’t hear me say “hello”, 2)that she might be distressed about something completely unrelated to me, 3) that she didn’t see me etc.  Those possibilities allow me to more realistically assess the whole situation and also provide me with a chance to practice more flexible thinking.

    3. A negative bias causes us to fail to see the possible positive outcome to a situation or decision, thereby narrowing options.  Listing pros and cons and forcing the numbers to be equal can be a good exercise in learning how to counter your bias.  The worst case of “negative bias” often happens in suicide.  It is tragic to see someone commit suicide because they truly thought there was no possible way they could manage something like losing a job, or breaking up with a girlfriend.  Suicides like that tend to happen because the person is in so much distress they are unable to imagine any outcome except the worst.  They cannot see anything but the negative and this leads to a deadly despair, due primarily to them not being able to identify any positive outcomes.

    4. There are plenty of reasons to worry in our world.  That’s why we try to prepare ourselves for some bad eventualities.  Preparing is different from worrying.  I tell my patients to watch out for “what if…” thoughts.  Sometimes “what if” thoughts can be helpful, such as when we try to plan for the “what if” the JIT delivery system doesn’t work.  But, if you find yourself feeling in a tizzy and uptight all the time, “what if” may be a marker for an anxious thought…e.g. “what if we can’t get food because the trucks are not running, and then what if the garden fails and then what if there’s a big EMP, and what if the nuclear material from Fukushima washes up the river from here and creates mutant zombies and we don’t have enough ammo….” and…well you get the picture.  Sometimes we need to set limits on those “what if” thoughts, so that we can be calm and emotionally more healthy when some of the “what if” stuff happens.  A great tool is “thought stopping”.  If you find you have the same negative or scary thought over and over, it helps to literally say “stop!”, find something to distract, or even snap a rubber band on your wrist.

Cultivate an “outside of the box” thinking style by asking “and what else could we do?” over and over, and using brainstorming techniques.  In brainstorming, nothing is off the table initially.  There are no stupid ideas.  This allows interesting and creative solutions to pop up.

Learn some ways to self-calm so that the thinking part of your brain is able to work. When we become too scared, the lower sections of our brains take over.  Those are the ones useful for “flight or fight”. However, when those parts of our brain are too activated, the thinking/planning/judgment part of our brain isn’t able to work.

    1. Learning simple breathing techniques allows us to be more centered so that we can figure things out better.  An example is “bubble breathing”.  In this technique, you pretend that you are blowing the biggest bubble you can with soapy water and a wand.  In order not to break the bubble, you breathe in softly through your nose, and breathe out very softly through your mouth.  This induces a relaxation response.
    2. Finding a calming thought and repeating it in our heads, or out loud, can help.
    3. Calming spiritual rituals such as reciting Bible verses or the Psalms uses our brains and our bodies and both distracts and calms.  For Catholics, meditating on the prayers of the rosary occupies mind, body and spirit in ways that allow for relaxation.
    4. Physical activity works for many, as does yoga

When TSHTF  How Can You Help Others?

What makes a good helper?

  1. Open communication, trust, empathy, honesty
  2. Recognizing that not all problems can be solved and not all people want to be helped
  3. Recognizing that the helper must set limits of time and energy, and values.  Helping does not mean that you destroy yourself trying to help another

In The First 24-72 Hours
In the first two to three days following a disaster or other large negative event, the focus needs to be on basic needs.  You can help by:

  1. Doing a self “check in” to make sure you have the ability to help someone else.
  2. Listening without trying to “fix “ the problem
  3. Making sure the person has access to food, water, shelter and some measure of safety.
  4. Helping the person locate other family members.
  5. Helping the person identify resources.
  6. Letting them know they are not alone in their reactions
  7. Answer questions honestly and simply

In An Ongoing Disaster, In addition to the foregoing

  1. Try to help them establish a return to some sort of routine, even if it is simply trying to eat at the same time each day
  2. Provide a quiet place, if possible, to reduce noise and other stimulation
  3. Help the person establish small and manageable goals
  4. Help the person to focus on “here and now”, and shorter term future vs long term future issues
  5. Request information about positive things in the person’s life: (“What do you do, on a day-to-day or weekly basis that you enjoy and which helps you feel less distressed?”)
  6. Teach them some ways to manage their bodies and their thoughts: A.) Deep breathing for relaxation and calming. B.) Thought stopping and thought replacement

If you feel that a person you are trying to help is dangerous to themselves e.g. suicidal, dangerous to others e.g. homicidal, or is suffering from a major mental illness e.g. bipolar disorder or schizophrenia DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE THIS ON YOUR OWN.  THIS NEEDS HELP FROM OTHERS.  IF THERE IS NOT A MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER AVAILABLE, GET HELP FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY TO ASSIST THIS PERSON SAFELY.

Bottom line…human beings are remarkably resilient survivors.  You can do some mental prepping so that your chances of remaining emotionally healthy, and being a helping resource are increased. 

Periodically I see posts or news articles about USA citizens renouncing their citizenship and moving abroad to greener pastures for tax and other reasons.

I have lived and traveled outside the USA for some time now due to my current job.  Every year I have to fill out all the forms stating the bank accounts (and now assets) that I have outside the USA and they are indeed a real pain to fill out and it is a rather onerous process to gather all the information that I need to provide.  Not only do I have to fill out all these forms but the USA also requires that I pay taxes on my worldwide income regardless of where I earn it.

The filing regulations, the tax on worldwide income, etc. it can all be very frustrating but let’s stop and look at the alternative; would I really want to give away my USA citizenship?  Where would I permanently relocate to, perhaps Europe?  They have higher taxes and even greater regulations than the USA (see current postings about gun regulations in the UK) and they are in a real economic mess.  How about the Middle East?  I have lived there already and would have no desire to relocate there permanently.  What about Asia - definitely not China nor other countries that I would consider are, or will be overshadowed by China. How about Africa or South America? There are advocates for living in South America but what guarantees do you really have as a foreigner that in a time of global adversity that your “rights” would be upheld and you would continue to be welcome? It’s hard enough moving from one state to another in the USA and assimilating into a community let alone moving into a different country with another language, cultural and norms where you are clearly an outsider.

That brings me back to the USA, a country founded on principles that I believe in and embrace.  Is it broken today? Perhaps.  Can it be fixed – make your own determination.  One thing is for sure, in the USA there are those who share the foundational beliefs of myself and my family, who believe in one nation under God, who embrace the concept that each man, woman and child are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence? It may appear to be so but having lived on the other side of the fence; I am here to tell you that what may appear to be an oasis in the desert often turns out to be a mirage.

So what am I personally planning on doing? While I plan on being overseas for the foreseeable future, I am actively looking for property in The American Redoubt. Once I find what I am looking for, the plan is to have my retired in-laws live there full time and establish/assimilate themselves into the community with my family and I joining them when required in the future. (Note that in the meantime, I am also making preparations at our foreign residence in the event that something would occur that would make it impossible to immediately return to the USA).

For those of you who still insist on moving outside the USA, good luck – perhaps we’ll pass at the airport as I head back into the country while you are headed out.  For the rest of you, I look forward to speaking to you from across the fence – at our adjoining properties in the American Reboubt.

God bless you and God bless America. Yours Faithfully, - AmEx (American Expat)

The $5 Trillion Man: Debt Has Increased Under Obama by $5,027,761,476,484

eBay Announces New Changes for Coins Listed in Auction. The two changes, in essence, that follow up on their earlier banning of "replica" coins: 1.) Starting May 30th, Sheldon Scale numbers (1 to MS70) can only be mentioned if the coins are PCGS or NGC graded and encapsulated ("slabbed."). 2.) Any coins valued at $2,500+ must be PCGS or NGC slabbed. (JWR's comment: Gee, do the coin grading firms make a slab big enough to hold a one kilo gold coin? And what about a 10 kilo silver coin? That weighs more than an M60 light machinegun.)

B.B. sent this: Food Stamp Rolls to Grow Through 2014, CBO Says

Items from The Economatrix:

Spain is Doomed; Why Austerity is Destroying Europe

Layoffs, Freezes, Retirements for US Public Sector

Gold/Platinum Ratio Suggests Much Higher Gold Prices are Coming Soon

There is Not Going to be a Solution to Our Economic Problems on the National Level

Prepper At Large suggested a free medical Expert System developed by the CD3WD Project, a free but high quality collection of practical How-To Technical Development Information. They bill their mission as: "Helping the Third World to help itself." The site hosts 4,000 document titles filling a whopping 13 gigabytes.  All are free downloads.

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Earth as you've never seen it before: The best pictures of our planet taken from the orbiting Space Station. A couple of these photos underscore my comments on the high population density of Europe. (Thanks to R.B.S. for the link.)

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C.D.V. mentioned that the book The Everything Grow Your Own Vegetables Book, is currently available free, via Kindle.

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W.W. sent another near case of Death by GPS: ‘I shouldn’t be alive’: New York City man survives three-day ordeal in wilderness. (JWR Notes: Please don't castigate him, since low blood sugar obviously clouded his judgment. And most Easterners have no concept of 7,000 foot elevation mountain passes in the West.)

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Lee M. sent this: Zoning the ocean.

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Massad Ayoob: A Thought for a Sunday

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." - 1 John 5:1 (KJV)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

"Line Loss" is often mentioned when discussing alternative energy systems, but that is just one of several significant losses. This article will describe five distinct types of losses.

In an alternative energy system that incorporates a battery or battery bank, the first electrical loss is within the batteries themselves as they discharge, this is called the Puekert exponent. This loss increases with the aging of the batteries. Look at it this way: If you had a 500 gallon tank of water and you used 200 gallon a day you would have to replace 200 gallons every day or 400 gallons every other day. If this tank had a half inch hole it could lose say 50 gallons a day. That means you would have to put 250 gallons back in every day to keep it full.  The erosion on that hole would increase the size of the hole and the loss as time goes on. Whether you used water or not you would have to replace this loss or the tank would be empty when you wanted to use the water. Like that tank of water, a battery has the same type of loss every day, whether it is used or not. 

Second is line loss, which increases with line distance, especially in direct current low voltage applications. This is why higher voltages are becoming popular. The lower voltage’s lose efficiency and can become dangerous if wire sizing isn’t given special attention. On the other hand the higher the voltage the less choices of direct current appliances (12 volt) you will have. The lower the voltage the larger the wire must be to maintain a safe system. It also needs to be multi stranded. Multi-strand cabling increases the surface area. This can’t be overstated. 


The following table shows the Voltage Drop Index (VDI) per foot of various sizes of copper and aluminum cabling.

VDI = Amps times Feet divided by (% volt drop times voltage)

Wire Size - Copper Wire               Wire size - Aluminum Wire

AGW  VDI      Ampacity     VDI      Ampacity

0000   99       260             62         205
000     78       225             49         175
00       62       195             39         150
0         49       170             31         135
2         31       130             20         100
4         20        95             12           75
6         12        75 
8          8         55
10        5         30
12        3         20
14        2         15
16        1

Determine the appropriate wire size from chart above.

A) Take the VDI number you just calculated and find the nearest number in the VDI column, then read to the left for AWG wire gauge size.    B) Be sure that your circuit amperage does not exceed the figure in the Ampacity column for that wire size. (This is not usually a problem in low-voltage circuits.)

Example: A photovoltaic (PV) array consisting of four Sharp 80-watt modules is 60 feet from your 12-volt battery. This is actual wiring distance, up pole mounts, around obstacles, etc. These modules are rated at 4.63 amps X 4 modules = 18.5 amps maximum. We'll shoot for a 3% voltage drop.   So our formula looks like: 

  VDI = (18.5 A a 60 ft.)divided by (3% x 12 V) = 30.8

Looking at our chart a VDI of 31 means we'd better use #2 gauge wire in copper, or #0 gauge aluminum wire. Hmmm. That is fat wire.

What if this system was instead 24 volt? The modules would be wired in series, so each pair of modules would produce 4.4 amps. Two pairs 4.63 amps = 9.3 amps, Max.   

VDI = ( 9.3 x 60 ft.) Divided by ( 3% x 24 V) = 7.8

What a difference! At 24 volts you could wire your array with # 8 gauge copper wire.

[JWR Adds: Up until the 1980s, residential aluminum AC wiring was allowed in new construction by the U.S. National Electrical Code (NEC), in branch circuits (inside walls.) But because of a higher incidence of house fires caused by overloaded circuits, beginning in the 1980s nearly all state building codes were updated to ban aluminum wiring in branch circuits, for new construction. Typically, these laws grandfathered aluminum wiring it in existing houses.]

Next, I'll discuss inverters. Losses within inverters are the third types of loss. Converting direct current (DC) to 110 or 220-volt alternating current (AC) creates another electrical loss. Inverters are an electrical appliance and use electricity (3 to 40 watts) to run. The better inverters have a "search mode" using from 3 to 5 watts when no loads are detected. When operating an appliance they may use from 25 to 40 watts plus the appliance load. This can be anywhere from minutes to 24 hours a day, depending how long the inverter needs to be on to operate the appliances needed. The cheaper inverters do not have a search mode and must run 24 hours a day unless turned off and on mechanically. This usage can use up to 1,000 watts a day. This amount of electrical usage is equivalent to having two 100-watt panels in direct sunlight for 5 hours just for ability to use electricity if you want to, or three 100-watt panels if there are clouds passing by from time to time. It is much wiser to have an inverter with a search (sleep) mode especially if you have a load that needs to have access to electricity on a non continues basis, like a refrigerator or furnace. If the electrical system has one 110 Volt inverter and 220 Volts are needed the transformer uses electricity (25 to 35 watt range) just like any other appliance.

Phantom loads are the fourth loss. Phantom loads are created by appliances that have been designed to still need electricity while nominally switched "off". The is often the greatest loss, especially in 110-volt AC systems. These are a serious problem in smaller systems. These can be voltage converters that convert a/c back to a variety of lower voltages both AC and DC (wall warts). Clocks, timers, remotes, smoke alarms, and even ground fault interrupt (GFI) outlets are all culprits. (It is noteworthy that GFI outlets are required by the electrical code for bathrooms and kitchens and can use as much as 5 watts per 24 hours.) Appliances with timers and clocks like microwaves and stoves also create phantom loads. Remote controlled appliances like televisions and stereos are the biggest users of electricity while off, some using as much as 80% as much electricity while off as when switched on. All so you can turn them on without going over and using physical force. If industry were to eliminate these phantom loads in their appliances we could close several power plants and save our environment and resources, as well as reducing heart attacks (exercise walking to the television and back to the chair) but people and industry would rather talk than do. These combined phantom loads often exceed the electrical consumption of the necessary household appliances like refrigerators and furnaces. Simple switching could save thousands of watts per household. These phantom loads would save enough electricity to eliminate the need for rolling blackouts in the cities, like happened in Texas.

[JWR Adds: The simple workaround to eliminate phantom loads is to put any identified culprit devices on power strips. When you've finished using the device, make sure that you turn off the entire power strip. The key here is to position the power strip in a convenient place on top of furniture, so that it doesn't get overlooked. Granted, this approach detracts from your home's decor.]

I was able to buy my second inverter and its accessories because of phantom loads. (These had soured their first owner on PV power.) Refrigerators are normally the largest users of electricity. Some have ice makers and need a “resistance heater” coil (in the freezer) to free the ice, automatically defrost, also using “resistance heating” and a “resistance heater” coil in the wall at the door to keep the magnets dry in humid climates because safe latches cost more to produce and diminish the manufacturer's profits. These types of refrigerators can use 3.5 to 5 kWh per day. Short-term gain is certainly more important than efficiency or clean air. Some have a switch to disable this door feature for arid climates thus gaining the good ‘OLE’ Energy Star rating (most don’t). Another load can be a thermostat like all 120 VAC electric refrigerators and some gas heaters. When these are plugged into grid there is no load as the electric is available 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) to the thermostat. Not so off grid. A cheap inverter has to run 24/7 to duplicate this feature, and can be using as high as 600 watts a day just to have your appliance off while allowing the capability for the appliance to come on. This usage can be eliminated by using an external thermostat with a plug system to plug into the wall and plug the refrigerator into the plug. 

[JWR Adds: If you want to track down all of the phantom loads in a modern house, buying a Kill-A-Watt Meter is strongly recommended.]
The better quality modified sine wave or pure sine wave inverters use a search mode and eliminate this problem, by allowing a mechanical device to be installed or the sensitivity to be lowered enough to sense the small voltage needed to make active the device.  The lack of a search mode is the fifth potential loss. All this is before whatever appliance you intend to run can have electricity to do its intended job. Some pellet and gas stoves used instead of central heat have electronics that are two sensitive to run on modified sine wave (as are many other appliances). In some this will cause their “magic blue smoke” to appear. Most of the quote “real deals” on inverters are for inverters that use modified sine wave technology. Even better deals are on older square wave inverters (which may cause motors to show their “magic” abilities also). Many of these are sold in places like eBay and the tool magazines ‘you pay your money you take your chances. When shopping for an inverter a person needs to be aware of this fact. Many solar stores try to sell what they have in stock rather than what you need. As larger chains become involved in the sale of solar equipment misinformation will increase. Many factories offer incentives to their retailers to buy these older types of inverters, thus clearing old stock. Many foreign companies only make the older type of inverters. It is truly buyer beware! “Good information is the key” search it out whenever possible and you will be rewarded.

Many of the systems that I have built, modified, or altered and tested were on a small solar system by today's standard. Thus teaching myself to conserve and question efficiencies. This was important to me. By this time I was completely off grid and had cut my electrical consumption to less than 6 kWh per day. This included using my shop welder (electric) that made many of the devices (photovoltaic trackers, etc) that I was using. Most all the systems herein were modified in this manner. I often had electrical components waiting for the remainder of the upgrades.  The object was to use the old system as well as adding the new ones when they can be afforded. Mixing old but usable batteries with new will age the new making their capacity the same as the old, defeating the purpose of buying new. This is something that anyone who plans to become independent needs to learn while still living on grid. That way one knows how to deal with the quirks that arise without feeling the real discomfort that comes from not having put in the time to learn and understand. All of these remedies that I detail in my working for independence may not be the same avenues you wish to explore, but often the idea or the switching can be modified to be used in a different appliance or on a totally different project. Often just the idea will be the seed or the key leading to success, rather than “do it this way”  I now live in an earth ship miles from utilities. I make my own or do without. I have almost every convince that I had before, like a dishwasher, trash compacter, microwave, bread maker and many other kitchen appliances that use electricity. Many I could do without ‘but’ I like them and have made room for them in my life.  (Don’t we all.) Most people think this can’t be done. Not true! I have to be aware of my battery’s state of charge before using many of these appliances, but often I have spare electricity at the day's end.

A Real World Perspective on Expense Paybacks
Many people ask me what is the payback time on all my solar power equipment? In reply, I ask them what is the payback on their electric bill, gas bill, water bill. Also, what is the pay back when the grid goes down and you lose everything in your freezer? I am helping the environment are you? I am not using alternative energy to make money; I am doing it for the independence that I gain!   Look around you. How many power outages have there been lately? I haven’t had any. How about you? One question I never hear in the solar power industry is what is my payback on the grid-tie system that someone else put in and [for which they] only paid a portion of and then claimed their payback was just so many years, and I as a taxpayer had to pay the balance? I paid for my own [system] out of my pocket, with no help from any agency or deduction whatsoever.

Good day, Mister Rawles.

Thank you, as always, for the good work you do.

Regarding J.G.'s article homestead defence, it occurred to me that stand-off situations would become a likely possibility.

Reasonably, a group of attackers will launch an assault on your homestead and either succeed or fail to kill/capture you.
If they succeed the point is moot, but if they fail, what then? Unless their force is clustered or small you're unlikely to kill them all. Odds are strong that after half their force (or maybe less) gets ventilated the rest will attempt to retreat.

What will they do afterwards? Look for a less defended homestead or simply wait for a better time to crack your defences? Perhaps they'll set the nearby foliage alight after determining the direction of the wind and attack under cover of smoke or simply find the best position to take pot-shots at your residence. Several sleepless days later you'll be exhausted and your nerves will be wracked.

Heaven forbid they have a distance shooter more skilled than your watchman. Suddenly the odds are not looking so great, are they?

It's for this reason I think it's important to be able to communicate with the goblins after they lay siege to your residence.
Not a chance!

Instead, a suitably powerful loudspeaker (or failing that, a note wrapped around the shaft of an arrow) can convey to the goblins that you will fight to the bitter end, and that the last man standing will detonate a well placed petrol bomb and reduce their prize to ashes.

This strategy could even prove effective against less violent but more populous mobs (such as any locally organised "food redistribution teams").
Cheapen the "reward" part of the enemy's risk/reward analysis and you will certainly fight less battles than you might otherwise have to. You'll also be able to give those less vicious trespassers their marching orders at a more suitable distance.

Kind regards, as always. - The Apple Islander

JWR Replies: In a world without advanced medical care or even antibiotics available, who in their right minds would risk repeated attacks on a resilient target? It is reasonable to expect that in most cases, looters will see the error of their ways and move on to easier pickings. (Unarmed victims.) Your part of this equation is to be truly resilient. In a situation where there is no extant law enforcement agency left to summon, it will be "You're on your own" (YOYO) time. Don't ever make the mistake of appeasing or negotiating with goblins. Looters only understand thick walls, stout doors, and force. So be prepared to provide plenty.

Sometimes a display of force will be enough to discourage looters, so that they will go find easier pickings. As I mentioned once before in SurvivalBlog, one of my consulting clients is a rancher in the intermountain west. He has a 24" diameter, 3/4"-thick round steel plate hung up on chains above his perimeter fence gate, which is 250 yards from his house. (He has a typical western ranch entry gate with a very high, stout crosspiece.) This plate is painted with his cattle brand logo, so to the casual observer it merely looks decorative. He's told me is that his intention is that if miscreants stop and show signs of forcing his gate, he will used a scoped FAL rifle to apply several rapid shots to that steel plate. He calls it his "Go away" bell. Hearing his "bell" ring will be a clear message to los hombres malos: "You have 250 yards of open ground to traverse to get to my house. Do you feel lucky, or bulletproof?"

Again, in genuinely Schumeresque times, during hours of darkness it is likely that a semi-auto burst of tracer rounds fired over the heads of a gang of looters might have a similar effect. One of my readers also suggested placing 20 pound Tannerite targets in positions around a retreat's perimeter. Ideally, these target would be positioned so that they can be seen and targeted by the retreat defenders but not by the attackers. (Tannerite can be really impressive.) Depending on the circumstances, demonstrating one or two of those going "boom" in plain view somewhere between the looters and your retreat residence might be a good way to encourage the ruffians to leave.

One strong proviso: The use of "warning shots" or other displays of force could be misconstrued. State laws on warning shots vary widely. (Be sure to check your local and state laws!) In some states, this might be considered justifiable, but it in others it is a potential felony. I would only recommend doing this in the midst of a true "worst case" societal collapse, only from a long distance (firing from cover), and only if no law enforcement were available to call. Do not attempt this in present day circumstances or you will risk getting sued or prosecuted! Also note that tracer ammunition and Tannerite are banned in a few jurisdictions. Again: Do your homework!

Please don't mistake any of the foregoing as sure solutions. Merely scaring off looters might not be sufficient. Certainly don't use displays of force more than once, per customer. The first time should be their only warning. Be prepared, if need be, to follow it up with a heavy dose of lead if they persist and thereby demonstrate that they plan to kill you.

And you are right: You need to be able to demonstrate that you are willing to fight to finish. Anything less will be a sign of weakness that can be exploited.

Recently Fox News published an article about a Hew Hampshire man being arrested on reckless endangerment for discharging a firearm into the ground as a warning shot to stop a burglar. Reading that article got me thinking about what rules of engagement and escalation of force would look like for civilians. As a former infantry officer and combat veteran of the U.S. Army, I am familiar with the Army's rules of engagement (ROE) and the use of escalation of force (EOF).

Soldiers have a clearly defined set of rules of engagement and escalation of force for different scenarios from peace-time guard duty to combat operations. I believe responsible armed citizens should have them as well. What I would recommend for each firearm owner is to determine what your top 2 to 3 most likely scenarios for dealing with a possibly armed and dangerous individual would be, researching the state and local laws regarding self defense and the defense of others, then developing your
own rules of engagement (ROE) and escalation of force (EOF) for each of those scenarios. One set of ROE and EOF may be all you need or a couple of them may be necessary. Personally, I prefer to keep it simple so I only have one set of ROE and EOF.

A useful model of rules of engagement to base your own off of is the U.S. Army's ROE for guard duty. The acronym RAMP may help you develop your own ROE:
• R - Return Fire with Aimed Fire. Return force with force. You always have the right to repel hostile acts with necessary force.
• A - Anticipate Attack. Use force if, but only if, you see clear indicators of hostile intent.
• M - Measure the amount of force that you use, if time and circumstances permit. Use only the amount of force necessary to protect lives and accomplish the mission.
• P - Protect with deadly force only human life and property designated by your commander. Stop short of deadly force when protecting other property.

Remember, this is a base model and should be modified for your specific scenarios. I would argue that there is little property that you may have that a jury would deem worthy of protection by the use of deadly force. Therefore, my personal ROE excludes the use of deadly force to protect my personal property and property of others as I do not wish to face an arrest and/or conviction over stuff that can be replaced. Develop your own ROE with what you are comfortable with that is in accordance with state and local laws. State and local laws vary greatly on the use of deadly force to protect personal property so make sure you check the applicable laws in your area before adding that to your ROE and actually using deadly force to protect your property or the property of others. The use of a firearm against another individual, whether they survive or not, may be considered using deadly force.

Next is your escalation of force or EOF for short. The U.S. Army model for EOF is below:
• SHOUT - verbal warning to halt.
• SHOVE - nonlethal physical force.
• SHOW - intent to use weapon.
• SHOOT - deliberately aimed shots until threat no longer exists.
Warning shots are not permitted.

It should be noted that military installations are generally around a populated area and the most likely scenario they will face is a protest and/or riot so the guard duty ROE and EOF do not allow for warning shots in order to prevent collateral damage and unintended civilian casualties.

For my own personal EOF guide I have removed the Shove step as a bad guy within range of physical contact is too close and would leave precious little time to anticipate an attack. Therefore my personal EOF guide is Shout, Show, Shoot. In the case of the New Hampshire man who fired a warning shot, checking state and local laws regarding warning shots could possibly have saved him from the ensuing legal battle he was faced with. Again, be absolutely certain to check your state and local laws before adding warning shots to your EOF and/or actually firing a warning shot. Ignorance is not a valid defense and you should not turn yourself into a criminal by firing a warning shot if they are not permitted in your locale.

Another great place to learn about state and local laws for the use of a firearm for self defense is a state approved concealed carry course. Some states, such as Florida, do not require a course if you can prove you are proficient in the use of firearms (such as a DD-214 discharge document from the military). If your state does not require a course, attending an NRA or other licensed instructor course for concealed carry will educate you on where you can and can not carry as well as provide you with different scenarios on when to use force. Each year the NRA also publishes the Traveler's Guide to Firearms Laws of the Fifty States which will inform you as to what states recognize other state's permits. Remember, that publication is only a resource and should not be substituted for checking with state and local laws on where you intend to carry.

By having a thought out and planned set of Rules of Engagement and Escalation of Force guide you will be better prepared to react to adverse situations and will have a better defense against criminal prosecution if you use that level of force only which is necessary to neutralize the threat and/or diffuse the situation. Sincerely, - B.K.

After a long interval, Ol' Remus of The Woodpile Report again addresses the fine art of stacking woodpiles.

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Scientists Say Spread of Schmallenberg Virus Is 'Warning To Europe'. (Thanks to Gregg P. for the link.)

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Chris M. sent this amazing tale of long-term caching: Twenty Spitfire aircraft buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK.

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I just heard that Levon Helm passed away. He was a man who will be missed. By coincidence, just a couple of days ago I heard a cover of the song "Up on Cripple Creek", and commented to myself that it wasn't nearly as good as Levon Helm and The Band's rendition.

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Jessica Hooley, the author of the Salt n’ Prepper blog, just posted this how-to piece: Super Saver: DIY ’100 Hour Candles

"O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou [it] for thy name's sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.
O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man [that] turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man [that] cannot save? yet thou, O LORD, [art] in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not." - Jeremiah 14:7-9 (KJV)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

You’re a prepper.  You have stores of food and water, supplies, commo gear, and everything you could conceivably need in order to survive the Apocalypse.  Unfortunately, that also means that you’re a target.  Eventually everyone in the neighborhood will figure out that you and yours are maintaining your weight while everyone else in society is starving, and your neighbors will cease to behave in a neighborly way.  To say “Oh well, I guess I should have prepared” is not the human way.  They will attempt to take your provisions by force. 

This is one of the primary reasons that I advocate for bugging out to a location where your entire extended family, and maybe some carefully chosen friends, can cohabitate and provide from common security.  It’s great to have massive stores of supplies and food to keep you alive, but it means nothing if those supplies are violently removed from your possession because of a lack of security.  Better to be in a community of like-minded people who are all endeavoring towards survival than to attempt to stick it out alone.  There is a reason why communities formed at the dawn of humanity, and provision for the common defense is one of them.
That being said, simply having warm bodies around your property will do little to prevent pilferage and outright violence against your provisions should worse come to worst.  You need to have some knowledge of the most basic principles of defense in order to being preparing for this sort of situation now.  That being said, I’ll make a brief discussion of the basics and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel for preparing your property for the fall of civilization.

Borrowing from military doctrine, here are the principles of defense in a nutshell:

All around defense. 
  It should go without saying that all around defense should be a top priority, but I guarantee that there are people making this mistake as we speak in their defense preparations.  It does absolutely no good to have the most high-speed, kick-resistant, steel-reinforced front door in the world if you don’t lock your back door.  Likewise, all of the provisions in the world will not help you if they are beyond the scope of your ability to effectively protect them. 

Take a thorough look at your security situation.  Think about how many people you have to secure your location, and the amount of space that can be reasonably secured by that number of people.  As you think through these items, remember that the average sentry is good for about 4 hours, semi-awake for 8 hours, and utterly worthless at the 12 hour mark.  It doesn’t matter how well they are trained or how motivated they are.  Nobody can stand watch forever. 

After a gut check, decide how much real estate you can reasonably secure.  If you don’t have enough people to secure your entire five acre estate, then consider securing only the main house.  If you don’t have enough people for that, consider securing only the basement.  If it’s one bedroom, then so be it.  Fit as much useful stuff as you can into one bedroom and be willing to part with the rest of your provisions in the event of an armed incursion.  Knowing what you can and can’t secure will keep you alive.

I recommend organizing your supplies in accordance with the priority of the supply.  If you know you can secure one room, but think you may be able to hold three rooms, you would place your highest priority items in the room that you know without a doubt can be secured indefinitely.  Such items might include guns and ammo, drinking water, and food.  Other less important items can be placed in other rooms that you are less likely to be able to hold.

Defense in depth. 
On the battlefield, we use this concept to ensure that we have redundancy in our security apparatus.  In other words, we have a mine field, then a fence, then a row of obstacles, then a bunch of defensive positions.  If one security apparatus fails, there are more layers of the onion remaining.  Such considerations are important for defending large expanses of property.  They are also vitally important for defending a single family dwelling, and can be micro-applied to that job as well. 

For instance, you probably have a dead bolt on your front door.  You should also have a door bar in place.  Beyond the door bar, you should have a wedge bar.  If an intruder gets beyond those defenses, you should have solid doors with dead bolt locks on each interior room of your home.  You get the idea. The more layers of security you have in place, the more time you will have to consolidate your family in the safe room, arm yourselves, and/or bug out when trouble comes knocking. 

The first two principles are no-brainers that absolutely everyone should be implementing.  The next three are more useful for folks who have enough people to mount a proper defense of their property and provisions.

Key Terrain. 
Know the layout of your property.  Be able to physically occupy, or occupy by fire all of the key terrain in your area.  For instance, if there is a giant hill overlooking your property, you should have a plan to place someone on that hill.  It will be an effective vantage point to detect advancing trouble makers, and will allow the alarm to be sounded more quickly, thus providing precious minutes of preparation for the incursion.
To occupy by fire means that, in the event that you can’t physically place a person on the hill, you can at least cover it by sniper fire, etc.  The basic idea is that if you can’t use the hill to your advantage, your enemy shouldn’t be able to use the hill either.  Denying the enemy this advantage means that he must essentially fight blind, which tilts the battle in our favor.

Avenues of Approach.  Avenues of approach allow the bad guys rapid, high-speed infiltration into our secure zone, and must therefore be dealt with.  Examples might be roads, dry creek beds, large game trails, or any other terrain through which men and vehicles can move rapidly.  Avenues of approach are a major concern because a heavy truck traveling at forty miles per hour will more than likely have no trouble defeating your gates, fences, etc. 

The idea when dealing with avenues of approach is twofold.  First, we want to limit high speed ingress to our property.  If we have a long, straight road, we might want to employ massive speed bumps, deep ditches across portions of the road, and serpentine obstacles to ensure that any vehicles are speed breaking prior to approaching our property.  This gives us time to properly assess the approaching people and determine whether or not they are a threat, and react accordingly. 

Some examples of ways to mitigate avenues of approach for foot troops are to utilize tangle foot, punji trenches, and barbed wire (although I don’t recommend digging punji trenches until the actual fall of civilization seems imminent). 

A second concern in regards to avenues of approach is sometimes called combat engineering.  If we can control the route that our enemies take onto our property, then we have an opportunity to ensure that bad news awaits them at every turn.  For instance, we might deny access to a creek bed only to turn our enemy onto a driveway, knowing that we have the driveway covered by interlocking fields of fire (more on this in a minute).  The result would be a turkey shoot.  Game over.  We win. 

It is noteworthy that there is one exception to the avenues of approach rule.  Stand-off distance.  Dense vegetation acts as a natural speed break to advancing enemies in most situations.  Nobody in their right mind would advance through a jungle when a road is available if the tactical objective is speed, surprise, and violence of action.  Of course, having dense vegetation up to your perimeter, while it may slow enemy advances, will also serve to obscure your vision and make defensive adjustments harder.  For that reason, we need to clear a stand-off ring around our perimeter.

Clearing a stand-off ring is done by taking down trees, removing dense vegetation, and to the extent possible eliminating cover and concealment.  This will necessitate the enemy advancing over open ground in order to attack your secure zone, and should enable you a huge benefit in defending it.  In a perfect world, we would want to have a stand-off distance equal to the maximum effective range of our rifle, but I realize that this may not always be possible.  To any extent, some buffer is better than none when it comes to discouraging armed incursion.  People looking at that vast open field will think twice before bum rushing your perimeter. 

Interlocking fields of fire.  If you are fortunate enough to have defensive positions and people to man them, you should test your defensive positions to ensure that you have achieved interlocking fields of fire.  This means that the area of responsibility for one fox hole crosses over with that of the fox hole next to them, and that there are no gaps in your defenses.
Planning out your fields of fire serves several purposes.  First, it conserves ammunition by limiting a defender to a certain area of responsibility.  He doesn’t shoot at targets that are not right in front of him, and thus has a lower chance of wasting ammunition.  Second, the overall confidence of the defense force will be bolstered by the existence of a coherent plan.  Believe it or not, this is an important aspect of keeping morale high.  Finally, planning out your fields of fire ensures that you have checked all of the defensive boxes and that no bad guys are going to slip through the cracks.  I suggest using limiting stakes to mark off the areas of responsibility for each defensive position, and creating range cards with known distances to landmarks in their field of fire for quick, accurate engagement of targets. 

If you can follow those five conventions you will be in pretty good shape in terms of physical security of your provisions and housing.  It’s a little easier said than done, and it can be daunting if you are preparing your first defense plan.  You can feel free to contact me with questions, and I’ll do my best to get back with an answer.  I’ve done this sort of planning in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations throughout the world, so I’m pretty sure that you can also get it done in your neighborhood. 

Mr. Rawles:
A few years ago, my wife and I left our Texas ranch for a three month long hunting safari that took us from Africa to Scotland. We traveled with three rifles, a double in a large African caliber, a .458 Lott bolt, and .300 Winchester Magnum bolt light rifle. As we would transit Schiphol in the Netherlands both ways, I had to apply for two transit permits for the firearms and ammunition as well as for firearm permits in both Tanzania (a former British colony) and in Scotland. Even though I was a setting judge at the time, I had to obtain obligatory character references from the ‘high sheriff’ of the county where I resided. Of these, the transit permit was probably the most difficult as it was literally ‘Dutch’ and for some arcane bureaucratic reason, the office in Holland only turned on the facsimile machine during their operating hours. Stories are legend about expensive firearms being confiscated during transit of Holland and safaris ruined, so given the time delay between application and license, several communications were needed to ensure receipt of the application.

Upon arrival in Houston, we learned the outbound flight to Holland was delayed by one day.  With three month’s baggage and three rifles, we were stranded in Houston Hobby Airport.  Tiredly, we loaded everything on the tram and set off for the airport hotel. At the hotel, the manager advised we wouldn’t be allowed to keep the rifles in the room with us. I made quite a scene and demanded detailed receipts for the rifles that I valued in total at more than $80,000. The manager decided he didn’t want to be responsible for anything of that value so the rules were relaxed and we kept the rifles with us.  So much for the "hotel rules." Due to the delay, our transit permit through Schiphol was out of date and there was no way to determine if the Dutch would seize the rifles.

We arrived in Africa exhausted following a 24 hour flight but happy to see our firearms. Tanzanian officials examined each rifle, checked barrel lengths and serial numbers against permits, and after a small gratuity, issued the firearm licenses. We had a great time in Africa successful shooting many species including several cape buffalo and a wonderful roan antelope on the last day. Of course that last shot delayed our departure from camp and everything was a mad rush again. We boarded KLM in our safari clothes, transited Schiphol to Edinburgh arriving in a snowstorm. Scottish authorities at the airport showed no interest whatsoever in the rifles or ammunition. Baggage and rifles were loaded into a Range Rover rental and off we went in search for our hotel where we would stay for a few days before driving up into the highlands for a stag hunt.

Dressed for equatorial Africa, we received more than a few curious stares in the hotel lobby. The proprietor wanted to see our rifle permits and again lock up the weapons. As he had what the British call a ‘proper’ storage facility and was willing to issue appropriate receipts, I readily released the rifles into his custody.  I overheard comments about 'those crazy Texans' as we walked away.

We enjoyed Edinburgh for a few days before departing to the highlands. Upon arrival at the hunting manor, a wonderful eighteenth century edifice, the rifles were unpacked and serial numbers again carefully checked against permits. I re-cleaned the rifles (always a good practice because of the possibility of temperature differential induced condensation during travel and need to check for travel related damage).

The barrels were separated from the receiver of the double rifle and each stored separately in two safes as were bolts from the other rifles and ammunition. The next day, a constable arrived to verify proper storage of the rifles. He counted the ammunition for the two heavy African rifles and commented those rifles were ‘too big to shoot here’ and further that the associated ammunition would be recounted upon leaving Scotland.

The next day we set out early in pursuit of highland stag. The professional hunter would not allow me to carry the .300 Win Mag (it would not be ‘proper’). Only when the game was sighted and animal selected, did he hand me the rifle. Quite a difference from Africa where we never went anywhere without our rifles or for that manner, anywhere else I have hunted.

Our Second Amendment freedom should be cherished. It is unique among the world’s nations. Sincerely, - Panhandle Rancher

Shamus H. sent this: The Power Pot. I wonder if they've been able to overcome the problem of TEG junctions burning out. (That has always been their weakness.)

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Ann Barnhardt's speech at Liberty First. Warning: Her speech includes a bit of foul language.

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George S. sent a link to a fascinating video of the world's ocean currents.

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F.J. sent this: Alexandria Chicken Coop and Run

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For those who like the British DPM camouflage pattern (which is great for most North American woodlands), SurvivalBlog reader A.P. spotted this bargain: British Military DPM 85 Jackets for $9.97 each. But be forewarned that these don't come with the green fleece liners, and that the company has the matching trousers available only in size Medium.

"Depression is Anger without the enthusiasm." - The late Derry Brownfield

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I read a lot of material in SurvivalBlog and several other similar sites about methods and means of bugging out if you live in a city or other area where it would be undesirable to live during some kind of calamity.  After seeing so much about this idea of waiting until the SHTF, or some other event that would necessitate leaving the area in which you live, I feel the need to weigh in and give the position of the person who’s already living in the area to which many of the city dwellers are being encouraged to bug out to.  I hope to offer a very swift kick in the seat to all those pondering the “bug out” issue.  This business of advising people about waiting until there's a great calamity to leave the city has got to stop.
I cringe every time I see an article giving advice on how to make preparations to leave your city for a better place to ride out an economic calamity or other kind of disaster, man-made or otherwise.  My questions to all those pondering this issue are these: 1.) How convinced are you that you may need to “bug out” at some point in the future, and 2.) If you are at least mostly persuaded of the future need to bug out, then why haven’t you done it already? 
I realize that there can be myriad reasons why someone may feel unable to relocate even though they may want to.  You don’t want to move away from your family, your job, your kid’s school, your friends…You don’t want a longer commute, you’re underwater on your house, you like your house. The list goes on and on.  My guess, however, is that when the SHTF like so many of us are fully persuaded that it will, many of these things that now keep you from pulling up stakes and moving will drop distantly behind the desire to simply stay alive. 
If you believe in the crash what this web site and so many others are forecasting, get out now.  If you have to short sell your house and rent in the area that you plan to bug out to, then do so.  Don’t let a ding to your credit score or the “demotion” of going from homeowner to renter keep you from doing what you believe needs to be done.  Don’t let the tenure you have on the job keep you from making a wise and prudent decision.  If you don’t get out now, then plan on staying put.  If you refuse to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to relocate now while it is safe to do so, then harden your current domicile and settle in and ride it out. 
Post-SHTF, if you do succeed in escaping the city and reach the nearest rural like the one I live in, then what?  If you come to my town, what exactly am I supposed to do with you?   Are you coming empty-handed?  Do you have any skills that might make you a welcome addition to my community?  If the answer to those two questions is no, tell me exactly why I should welcome you.  “It’s the charitable thing to do”.  It certainly would be.  However, if being charitable to the empty-handed refugee means possibly starving my own family, for whom I have been diligently laying in store, then my being charitable to you may violate my own mandate to “provide for my own, specially those of my own house”.  If I do that, I’m worse than an infidel and have denied the faith (I Tim 5:8). 
No, it’s not at all that we in the rural areas are unkind, uncaring, uncharitable or unfriendly.  On the contrary, me and my neighbors are the kind of people you want to live near.  But if the cities are burning down, we will be overwhelmed by the influx of thousands refugees trying to escape to a safer place, which will inherently make the place they are escaping to less safer.  If you think you may have a mind to ever “bug out” then do it now, integrate yourself into the community and become a functioning part of it.  Learn the area and the climate and get started taking care of yourself and your family.  You’ll be miles ahead of those who waited. 
If your survival plan is to flee the city and live off the charity of others in the countryside, let me put this plainly; you’re going to die.  It’s not that there will be a lack of charity-on the contrary, in hard times, people can rise up and surprise you with how giving they can be.  But there just will not be enough to give.  Immediately post-SHTF, the amounts of most every vital commodity (gasoline, sugar, rice, beans, toilet paper, etc.) will be finite.  There won’t be any more coming, maybe not for a long, long time.  What I have may be all I will have for months or years.  And with my six kids, 2 kids in law, 2 parents and 2 siblings to try to care for, how charitable can I afford to be?
In Matthew 25, Jesus gives a parable of ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish.  The five wise foresaw the need and made preparations (just like Proverbs 27:12 advises).  The five foolish, being in close proximity to the five wise, must have undoubtedly also foreseen the need, but chose not to make preparations.  In the end, the five foolish tried to borrow from the five wise, but the wise were wise enough to know that if they shared, there would have not been enough for everyone.  Read it folks.  Think about it.  And remember this key point; They were all virgins (good, godly people). They were just not all wise.  True wisdom is knowing your limitations.
Until last year, I lived in a rural area with a few acres, fruit trees, a garden, chickens, and lots of trees for firewood.  A defensible place too.  But believing like I do in the eminent crash, I felt it was not good enough.  We have since moved even further out into the hills to a larger plot of land that is much better suited to a self-sustaining life.  The new house is larger so we can take in more of my family members who live in places that will be undesirable WTSHTF.  Every decision I have made for the last several years has been with the goal in mind of taking care of as many of my family as possible for as long a period of time post-crash. 
Make the move now.  Don’t wait another month to decide.  If you read this site or any others like it, and you live in an urban area, get out now.  Make the preparations.  Do the research, retrain yourself in another field of work if you have to, and relocate.  If you read this site and others like it, your excuses for why you can’t…will not cut it post-crash.  I know many will think I’m unreasonable or unkind, or just plain ignorant of how difficult for some what I am suggesting may be.  I’m not an ignorant or unkind man.  I’m an associate pastor, a marriage and family counselor, and I give multiple thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours a year to help others.  And this is why I’m writing this piece now.  To help someone get off the fence and make a choice.  Decide to do it, or decide not to.  
There are three kinds of people when speaking of Emergency Preparedness; 1-those like JWR, myself and many others who are already prepared, 2-those who watch American Idol and play video games all day and are completely oblivious to what’s happening in the world around them, and 3-those who are right in the middle of the first two.  It’s those middle folks I’m worried about and talking to right now.  The ones who say “I’d like to prepare but…” or “I’d like to move to a rural area but…”  Because they are semi-aware and watching, these are the ones who will be the first out of the city and heading to the hills with little or nothing to sustain themselves but the hope that the folks “in them thar hills” will be ready for them.  We won’t be.  Even the most prepared among us will have our hands full when the gas pumps stop working, the electricity shuts off and the trucks stop rolling.
Either you make the move now and get settled on a little homestead in the country-whatever it costs you, or settle in where you are.  Store up some food, get some guns-even a used .22-and figure out how you can hide out where you are and ride out the storm.  It won’t be easy.  It will be very rough for a long time.  Even if you can move to a different home in the city you live in that has a more defensible scenario-one with a basement you can seal off and conceal-do it.  Leaving the city during a calamity will be at least as dangerous as staying put.  Know your neighbors.  If your neighbors are creeps, move and get some better ones.  If you live in apartment, get out.  Rent a house with like-minded friends and split the costs of preparing if you can't do it alone. 
I will no doubt be accused of being cold hearted in telling people not to flee to my area.  If you show up on my doorstep, I’ll give you what I can-probably a Rubbermaid container of rice and a gallon of water.  I’ve already stockpiled lots of containers for this very thing.  But then what will you do?  Not everybody here can or will do that.  And even if they could, how long can you live like that?  The idea of going to national forest and living off the land is ludicrous.  I won’t even begin to list the hundreds of reasons why that won’t work. 
In looking at the current condition the world is in, we may still have 6 to 12 months before TSHTF, but it WILL HTF.  Use the time you have wisely.  Do something to become more prepared every single day.  Pray for wisdom.  James 1:5 says we can do that and God will give it to us liberally.

Hello Mr. Rawles,
First of all, thank you for all that you do.  Your books and your site are invaluable information to me.  They have helped me to get pretty-well prepared. 
I have a question about debt.  Every survival type that I have listened to or read says "get out of debt".  I am out of debt, but I am considering obtaining a small mortgage in order to be able to purchase a place that will be a better refuge location for me and my family.  (Unfortunately, it will have to be on the east side of the Mississippi River.)
What I don't understand is what will happen to mortgages when the economy collapses.  Surely they (if there is a 'they' then) can't foreclose on everyone.  Won't people who are heavily in debt just have their debt evaporate with the collapse of the dollar?  Can you explain or link me to a good explanation of what will happen financially in our country when the dollar collapses?
Thank you so very much, - M. in North Carolina

JWR Replies: I concur that installment debt from any banking institution is a bad thing. Granted, there may be mass inflation ahead, and you'd be paying off your mortgage with cheaper dollars. But you can't count on that. Inflation is just one potential outcome. Another possibility is the prospect of continuing house price declines and a further deteriorating job market, as we slide into a 1930s-style deflationary depression. That will mean even more layoffs and more foreclosures. A third possible outcome is a total collapse of the economy and a temporary dissolution of governmental authority. But the chance of that is quite small. (It might appeal to some in the "There's No Government Like No Government" crowd, but the chances of that happening are slim.) The two most tenacious life forms on Earth are cockroaches and bureaucrats.

In the next few years, some of the risks of mortgage debt will be: 1.) Continued deflation in residential real estate. 2.) Higher property taxes. 3.) Higher interest rates, and 3.) A "muddle through" situation, where government is still functioning at the county, state and Federal levels. (Their services may drop off to marginal levels, but they will keep on taxing and overseeing foreclosures. How charming.)

The situation that economist John Mauldin refers to as a "Muddle Through Economy" would be traumatic for any mortgage holder who loses his job. Therefore, I recommend that if you must borrow money to buy a retreat-worthy home that you borrow the money from a family member rather than from a bank.

Reader B.B. spotted this: Hacking Expert David Chalk Joins Urgent Call to Halt Smart Grid: "100% certainty of catastrophic failure of energy grid within three years"

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New Mexico man takes unique approach to protect home from fires. (Thanks to Scott B. for the link.)

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One of those "Small World Department" moments, from videoblogger "SGT" Planecast with a PATRIOT - Part One. He notes: "Recently I had the good fortune of meeting and interviewing a newly awakened patriot on a plane trip out east. The passenger sitting next to me just happened to be reading James Wesley Rawles’ book Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse which directly led to us starting up a conversation about the inevitable calamities we are facing...'' (Thanks to Darren H. for the link.)

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I heard from reader D.R. that CampingWorld.com has an internet sale on their 32 oz. bottles of Pri-D (diesel) and Pri-G (gasoline) fuel stabilizers. They are presently $4 off, with a sale price of $35.99. You can also use coupon code 2717 for $5 off any order of $50 or more, to help cover your shipping cost. The sale and coupon code expire April 30th.

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Directive 21 is sponsoring a product giveaway, in cooperation with The Survival Mom. Prizes include a free Big Berkey water filter system and the new book: Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios. Also, 10 other winners will each get a copy of the Survival Mom book. The contest ends Friday night. (April 20, 2012.)

"Vigorous measures at present would soon put an end to this rebellion. The deluded people are made to believe that they are invincible…. When this army is ordered to act against them, they will soon be convinced that they are very insignificant when opposed to regular troops." - Major Thomas Pitcairn, Royal Marines, in a letter from Boston to John Montagu, Lord Sandwich, the Secretary of State, 1775.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

In 2010, our family became aware of the need to become more prepared in the event of disaster or financial collapse.  Having not lived this lifestyle, learning about what it takes to do this was quite overwhelming.  I began to scour the internet for food storage ideas.  I even took a small food storage introductory class held by a local Mormon woman who has a passion to teach on this subject.  I started learning skills like bread baking, dehydrating, Dutch oven cooking, etc.

I learned that a Foodsaver machine could vacuum mason jar lids and effectively preserve foods.  Although pricey, I bought the Foodsaver and the special lid adapters.  I frequently pick up used canning jars at garage sales and thrift stores and I have also found that many stores mark down their canning supplies after canning season is over. However, two thoughts about vacuum sealing  jars bothered me.  Some people thought the Foodsaver was too expensive.  They would rather spend their prepping dollars on actual food.  The second thought was what if we didn’t have power to operate it?  I was hoping for other solutions.

On You Tube, there is a video that describes using the Pump-N-Seal.  I had not previously heard of this device.  The same day that I found out about it, I walked into a thrift store and found one for $2.  One benefit that it offers is that you can also use glass jars such as jelly, spaghetti, pickle, etc.  I discovered you could just punch a small hole with a push pin in a mason jar lid or used jar lid, cover with electrical tape, pump, and it would seal.  It would also work with the Foodsaver jar adapters to seal mason jars.  It works either way and it doesn’t require electricity.  However, it’s $40.  Could it be done less expensively?

There is a blog called Salad in a Jar.  She has a video that describes using the $20 pump that is electric/rechargeable that I recommend watching to see how you use the jar adapters.   The price was getting better.  I’ve also seen the brake bleeder pump, but you really have a hand workout for it to seal.  But after experimentation, I found a $4.25 solution that I am very excited about.

Ziploc has a manual pump that is supposed to seal freezer bags.  For $4.25 the kit comes with a pump and three bags.  I found the bags to leak and were not effective like the Foodsaver machine and bags are.  However, the manual pump works great to seal both mason jars (with either the small or wide mouth adapters) or the pin prick/electrical tape method.  Either method will vacuum seal jars.  You can reuse pickle, olive, spaghetti jars, etc. or canning jars with the pin hole/electrical tape - and Ziploc pump.  Or with the jar adapter, you can seal regular or wide mouth canning jars with Ball or Kerr jar lids without punching a hole. 

I have been vacuum sealing and demonstrating and have really given this little pump a real workout, and it keeps on going.  I have shown family and friends, Mennonite ladies, and even demonstrated it for the Amish women who worked at an Amish bulk store.  Everyone is impressed that has seen and tried it.

What benefit would there be for us preppers?  You can start saving your grocery dollars by not throwing stale, expired food away and you would have a convenient way to re-pack food after you open those #10 cans.  You can use this the day you bring it home (not wait for some “disaster” to put it to use).  If you get a great deal on cake mixes like 10 for $10, you can pack them in mason jars and they will last for several years – well past the “expiration” date. 

What about nuts?  You get a killer deal on a bulk buy – but they go rancid fairly quickly.  Not if they’re vacuumed sealed.  What about brown sugar?  It will stay moist and flowing if vacuumed sealed in a jar.  How about chocolate chips, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, tea, coffee, herbs, and spices?  Yes, yes, yes!  This is not a substitution for heat canning.  It is for keeping things fresh such as wheat berries, beans, flour, chocolate chips, etc. in longer term storage, which is several years.

A sample of dry storage goods is:  Wheat berries, oatmeal, rice, beans, flour, sugar, salt, coffee, pasta, tea, dried herbs, spices, dehydrated foods, jerky, potato flakes, chocolate chips, candy, etc.  You can even leave things in their original package such as granola bars or chocolate chips, put a pin prick in the package, put the desired item in the jar, and vacuum away. 
Ace Hardware sells half gallon mason jars.  They are very handy to store bulk items such as beans, oatmeal, rice, etc. in.
My next experiment will be with olive oil.  I buy it in small containers because I hear it goes bad quickly.  I will vacuum seal some oil in a mason jar and check it every six months to see how long it stores.  I am thinking that this will increase the shelf life significantly.

Will this work in the fridge and freezer?  Absolutely!   Let me give an example:  strawberries go bad quickly.  I’ve had them keep for over a week in a mason jar in the fridge quite nicely. I first wash them in 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water, rinse, drain, dry, and then seal them in a jar.  This would work for other berries, too.
I used half an avocado and put the other half sealed in a jar in the fridge and it didn’t turn brown.  It kept for several days.  (I then ate it, but it could have gone longer).   It would keep months in the freezer.  It would be great to buy avocados for a dollar or less and freeze them to have on hand for guacamole.   Lettuce keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator when sealed in a jar.  In other words, it prolongs the quality of food.  Some items liked cooked food can be preserved only a few days longer than you normally would.  Fruits and veggies keep even longer.  Frozen items may keep for several years.
Here is a sample of items to refrigerate in sealed jars:  Lettuce, cut onions, green onions, berries, green pepper, celery, avocado, yeast, etc.  You can also extend the life of cooked food and deli meat by a few days longer than normal.  (Not longer because it does allow dangerous bacteria to grow if kept longer).  However, you may freeze these items if you desire extended life for your food storage.  This alone will save the average family money because you’ll have more time to eat the items before they go bad.

Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to keep in mind:

Common sense needs to be used when applying this method.  For instance, if you’re not willing to check your jars after sealing and then monthly thereafter for any loss of vacuum, I wouldn’t use this for long term storage.   Although I have been doing this for over a year, occasionally a lid does come loose.
If you let refrigerated cooked foods go too long before consuming them, you would be setting yourself up for a dangerous situation.  I would suggest looking around the internet for other tips and ideas associated with vacuum sealing.

Use only quality (Ball or Kerr brand) canning jar lids – not the cheap ones.  It may be necessary to soak them in very hot water for a few minutes to condition them. You can also recondition the lids of used pickle, olive, or spaghetti jars the same way.

If using the pin prick/electrical tape method to store leftovers, make sure that the lid is clean.  For instance, if you use half a jar of spaghetti sauce and want to put the rest sealed in the fridge, make sure the underside of the lid is clean and free of sauce.  Poke a hole in the lid and cover with a piece of electrical tape.  Use the Ziploc pump to seal.  To release the seal, simply pull up the electrical tape and the seal will be broken.  Press the tape back down firmly and reseal if desired.  (Watch the You Tube demo on the Pump-N-Seal unit for this to make sense).

To release the seal on the canning lids, the dull end of a church key opener can be used to gently pry up the lid or simply use your fingers if they are strong enough..  (Do not bend the lid or it can’t be reused).  You can use one canning lid over and over again.

If desired, sterilize the glass jars (like you would for canning) or rinse in vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.  Otherwise, soak them in hot soapy water and then dry thoroughly.  When filling the jar you have chosen to seal, a wider funnel (used in canning) helps to get the food in the jar and also keep the rim of the jar clean.  If you don’t have a funnel, (and I recommend one for the regular and wide mouth size),  just wipe off the rim of the jar really well after filling the jar up to one inch below the rim.

To re-use pickle or spaghetti jars, vegetable oil comes in very handy to remove the adhesive bits of those pesky labels. 

If vacuuming foods that are more powdery such as spices or coffee, simply place a small piece of paper towel, coffee filter, or muffin liner on top of the food you are sealing and leave about an inch between the food and the top of the jar.  The powder will not get sucked up and prevent a good seal.  You can also keep food like cake mixes in their original bags.  Just put a pin prick through the bag, put in jar and then seal.
If storing jars in the freezer, use the freezer safe mason jars which have completely straight sides.

Don’t forget to label and date your jars.  You may think that you will remember what and when you stored things, but the reality is that you won’t.  I don’t write on the lids directly because I re-use them.  I buy white labels that I write on and then adhere to each jar.

Check the seal on the jars for slow leaks after a day or so. If there is a crack, scratch, or nick on rim of jar (or tiny piece of foreign matter), it can prevent the jar from sealing or cause a slow leak. Discard the jars with imperfections or reuse them for something else if they won’t hold a seal.  When using your mason jars to vacuum seal, it is a good idea to put canning rings loosely tightened on the jars so that if someone knocks the jar, the lid will not be knocked off.  If using this method for long term storage, it would be wise to check your jars on a monthly basis to make sure that the seal is still good.  I have had good success with even the electrical tape method holding a seal, but it’s a good idea to do a monthly inspection in case of any seal failure.  If you find a jar that isn’t sealed, simply reseal and check it again later.

I have found with the regular size adapter it is helpful to add an extra lid upside down inside the adapter during the process to aid in sealing.  For some reason, I have had no trouble with the wide mouth size, just the regular size adapter.  But it is no big deal to put an extra lid upside down in the jar adapter to make the lid seal.

This works for me and my family.  I hope it can be of help to you as well.  Both the Foodsaver machine and the Pump-N-Seal are good ways to go.  I have and use both.  But I just had to share this non-electric and inexpensive option for those who would benefit from knowing about this handy device.

To recap, your expenses would be $4.25 for the Ziploc vacuum device and about $10 for each Foodsaver jar adapter purchased.  Ideally, you would buy both sizes of the adapters, which brings your total to $25.  But you could just buy the pump and do the pin hole/electrical tape method.  The Ziploc pump is sold at Wal-Mart and many grocery stores.  The jar adapters can be purchased in the camping section at Bass Pro, the Foodsaver web site, or Amazon.com.  Instead of buying pricey bags over and over, you would have used spaghetti and pickle jars and mason jars which you can use over and over again.

Many “prepping” ideas would come in use only in the event of disaster or the electricity failing.  But this little pump can be used the day you bring it home whether there is a disaster or not.  This in turn can save you money on your weekly food bill, thus allowing you to stretch your prepping dollars even more.  That, in my book, is priceless.

"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be." Molly Wizenberg, from A Home Made Life

As a woman, I had heretofore never envisioned myself in the scenarios I am about to describe.  The decay of our society and culture has made it necessary for me to know how to defend myself.  It hasn’t been an easy decision to make, but professional training in proper handgun handling has empowered me.  

Through hours of practice, I am learning to be a responsible and proficient handgun owner.  I take my privilege of carrying a gun seriously, and recent national events should serve to inform all of us to avoid violent encounters whenever possible.  I carry a gun for defensive purposes, and I have sought training that will teach me how to react to a threat in a safe and consistent manner.  I want to be safe in the knowledge that I will react to an attack without undue risk to myself or others.  So I want to share a couple of defense tactics I have been taught, and I think you will agree that they are easy skills to acquire and should become a part of your defense strategy.

Observe, Orient, Decide, Act (OODA):  This is a decision-making loop model developed for the military by US Air Force Colonel John Boyd, also known as “the Father of the F-15.”  But it has equal application to self-defense, and is the easiest and, I believe, the optimal response to any threat.  You can do this simple defensive tactic, regardless of where you are or what kind (if any) weapon you are carrying.   

Here’s a quote I like from Robert Greene, who wrote an article titled OODA and You:  “The proper mindset is to let go a little, to allow some of the chaos to become part of your mental system, and to use to your advantage by simply creating more chaos and confusion for your opponent.  You, the defender, funnels the inevitable chaos of the battlefield in the direction of the enemy.”  Let’s face it; any defensive situation that involves a firearm is a battlefield.

I was first introduced to OODA through a defensive handgun course I took with John Farnam, of Defense Training International, Inc.   Farnam is a Vietnam veteran who was awarded three Purple Hearts; is a retired Major in the U.S. Marine Corps; and is a fully commissioned deputy sheriff .  He is regarded as one of the top handgun instructors in the world.  After training with him, I had a whole new perspective of what it means to exercise my Concealed Carry handgun permit.

We were taught that the Bad Guy usually has a plan, and he performs each one of these steps during the execution of his attack.  It is imperative that each one of us abides by the same rules:  Observe your surroundings (be aware of what’s going on around you; Orient yourself to your situation (Is there a wall or a car I can get behind?); Decide if you feel your life is threatened and if the situation requires the drawing of your weapon; or if a better and more appropriate response might be to move away from the shooter; and Act (if threatened, do what you need to do to defend yourself, or if possible, remove yourself from the situation).

One of the things that was also pounded into my consciousness was “Get Off The X!”, a key component of the OODA Loop.  Let me explain:  Gun and/or knife attacks must come at you on a direct line.  In order to make the attack, the bad guy must close from his position to yours.  That will involve either the path of the bullet from the attacker’s gun, or in the case of a knife attack, the bad guy, himself, will be coming straight at you. 

In either case, your first line of defense is to move off the attack line…Get Off The X!  The mere act of moving a step or two will cause the attacker to re-evaluate his attack.  In effect, you have changed his OODA Loop, gained a second or two, and have taken the advantage in the fight. 

This is such an effective tool in changing the dynamics of the fight that your movement to get off the X can reduce your chance of being hit by 70%, according to Farnam.  This statistic was based on “Force on Force” drills at the National Tactical Invitational.  It’s as simple as this:  That one side step buys you 1 ½ seconds to engage the perpetrator, who has had to change his thought process.  When you changed his OODA Loop, you took away his advantage.

To increase your chances of success, you must side-step on your draw, and make it a motor skill.  Farnam drilled this in our heads for 2 ½ days.  “If you’re not shooting….you should be moving!”  To begin with, practice side-stepping while drawing your gun, and do that until it becomes second nature.  This act must become a reactive motor skill….if you’re drawing your gun, you’re automatically moving off the X.  As you progress, your combat reloads, tactical reloads and scanning for additional bad guys are all done while moving. 

John Farnam is not the only professional trainer who ascribes to the merits of the OODA Loop.  According to Massad Ayoob, an internationally known firearms and self-defense instructor (as well as a law enforcement officer training instructor), there is no better strategy for surviving an action/reaction crisis. 

For the Concealed Carry citizen, the handgun is a defensive weapon.  This means you will most probably be a reactive shooter.  The very nature of defensive handgun training means you prepare for an event that has already started and you are brought in under a “reactive” banner.  This means the perpetrator initially has the advantage, since he’s starting the fight on what he feels are his terms.

But when you exercise OODA Loop and Getting Off The X, you have taken that advantage away from him and transferred it to your side of the ledger.  You now have the upper hand by causing momentary chaos in his world; don’t lose that advantage!
Not Just For Handgun Defense!
Interestingly enough, Travis Haley, another highly respected firearms trainer, stresses Getting Off The X in his new “Adaptive Carbine” DVD.   Haley is a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine with 15 years combat experience in the Middle East, and as a special operations and security contractor.  Mr. Haley also partnered with Magpul as founder and CEO of their training division, before forming his own company, Haley Strategic Partners.  His reputation and experience is considerable and well-regarded. 

In this outstanding DVD, he demonstrates drills with the AR-15 by exploding, either left or right, for one long aggressive step; then engaging the target as quickly as possible.  He also demonstrates dropping to a knee or to a prone position rapidly, which in effect changes the attacker’s OODA Loop, and again gives you the advantage.

 One Final Tactic  
And in case you’re obsessed with acronyms, I have another one for you:  MDCR.   Move:  the perpetrator may continue the fight.  Create Distance from the attacker.  After the initial attack SOP9 data proves the attacker will score hits at 3-10 feet, 70% of the time.  By creating distance of 10-12 yards (by just quickly backing up), the perpetrator’s hit percentage dropped to 7%!  By merely creating distance in your fight radius, you increase your survivability by 63%!!  Obtain Cover as quickly as possible.  The gunfight may not be over.  But seeking cover to assess the situation increases your survivability, as well.  Look for barriers that will stop bullets….cars, trees, walls, building corners, etc.  Reload:  a tactical reload behind cover should be your first order of business.  Assess where the gunfight is going, but while doing so, get your gun topped off.

In summary, there’s no doubt that gunfights are systems of chaos.  Next to your weapon and subsequent training, OODA Loop, Getting Off The X, and MDCR all provide you with the best advantages.  And when the chaos starts, all you will have to fall back on is the motor skills you have developed.  If nothing else, please consider adding the one simple element of stepping to the side as you draw your gun.  According to John Farnam, this single, seemingly innocuous act could, and probably will, save your life.

I want to leave you with a visual image --- Remember the scene in The Last of the Mohicans (one of my very favorite movies!) when Magua, who is the perp in the movie, has his rifle trained on Cora Munro?  Hawkeye, reacting defensively, starts to engage Magua to prevent the attack.  Magua, sensing Hawkeye’s response, swings his rifle towards Hawkeye and fires.  Hawkeye immediately drops to one knee (moves off the X!) and seeks to re-engage.  Magua escapes through a cloud of black powder smoke... but I think you get my illustration.  That simple move to one knee took the advantage away from the approaching attacker and caused him to re-evaluate.  And now the advantage is yours, and that’s what it’s all about!

Mr Rawles,
Regarding the recent letter from D.S. on security in the UK: while he is certainly correct on the current problems with politics, employment, and prepping in a high-rise, he is mistaken on firearms. I hope the
following details on UK law, gained over twenty years of shooting, will be of some use.

The licenses:

  • FAC - firearms certificate, the UK's more permissive "gun licence".
  • SGC - shotgun certificate, the UK's less permissive "gun licence".

A FAC will be granted if you can show "good reason" for wanting one. Pest control, deer hunting, target shooting, etc. all constitute "good reason" but you must be able to back up your reason with evidence. If
you're hunting the cops will want to contact the owner of the land on which you hunt. If you're target shooting the cops will want to see you've been a member of a club for a year or two.

You can ask the cops for a SGC without having to prove "good reason", but they're still going to ask some questions. Presumably demonstrating some knowledge of clay shooting would be enough to keep them happy.

These licenses are not common, and certainly not like a shall-issue US CCW permit, but if you have no criminal record or mental illness you should get one. Over 150,000 of us have FACs, and many more have SGCs.

Armed cops don't show up at your door at 0300 unless someone has given them a very good reason to. If they want to check your stocks they'll phone you to set a time, they'll send a single unarmed cop, and he'll
only be interested in whether you are within your limit on ammo and if you have guns lying around on the floor.

What you can have:

Air weapons - Pistols up to 6ftlb with no FAC, pistols over 6 ft.lb. prohibited. Rifles up to 12 ft.lb. with no FAC, over 12 ft.lb. with FAC.

Handguns - Essentially banned in the aftermath of the Dunblane shootings in 1996. You can have a "handgun" that is constructed to legally be a rifle in terms of overall length, etc. but a FAC is required since it's legally a rifle. A few ("certain models") starting pistols, air pistols, etc. may require a FAC or be prohibited outright - the cops try to restrict those that are easily converted to live ammo.

Shotguns - A single- or double-barrel, or mag-fed lever- or pump- or semi-auto-action with a fixed mag no larger than two shells can be owned on a SGC. Detachable magazines and magazines over two shell capacity require a FAC. You can keep as many guns and as much ammo as you wish on a SGC. I'm not a shotgunner so I don't know much about the details of shotgun law.

Rifles - All require a FAC. Semi-auto- and pump-action in .22 rimfire only (aftermath of the Hungerford shootings in 1987), all others must be manual (and not pump-) action, though magazine fed is okay and there are no limits on magazine capacity. Calibre is officially unrestricted, though the biggest I've ever seen is .50, and the cops will examine an application for that calibre or larger very carefully. Each rifle must be individually
approved and added to your FAC. A limited amount of ammo may be stored, based on how much you shoot.

Suppressors - Legally the same as the firearm they're suppressing i.e. a .308 suppressor requires a FAC just like a .308 rifle. Amusingly, these are less heavily regulated than in the US.

Access - Guns and ammo can be bought at gun shops, clubs, and ranges; of which there are plenty. Google them. I have a choice of at least six within an hour's drive. Not every gun shop covers every type of
shooting: shotguns are common, biathlon rifles are rare, etc.

What you can't have:

Roughly speaking any ammo nastier than plain old ball. Specifically: expanding ammo, unless you're hunting animals for which it is legally required.
Disguised firearms, e.g. a gun in the form of a walking cane.
Full-auto, mortars, rockets, flamethrowers and other things more at home on the battlefield.
Also worth mentioning is that firearms law is where a lot of other banned weapons go; so cans of CS, electric stun guns, and other potential self defence tools are legally "prohibited firearms".

What you can really have:

Anything you can convince the local firearms licensing officer to approve.

How to do it:

Let's assume you want a .308 Winchester rifle. Find a local target shooting club that has a full-bore section, or a local(ish) range of 300+yards which will probably have at least one club on site. Join the club. Learn to
shoot with the club's rifle, or rent one at the range. Seriously, learn to shoot. You'll probably have an opportunity to shoot once a month, so take advantage of every one. After a year or two you should know your
way around a rifle and have a few ideas on who might be selling one.

Apply for a FAC. During the three month wait buy a gun cabinet and (carefully!) bolt it to your flat's structure where it can't be seen from outside. Your local firearms licensing officer will visit (unarmed!) to check out you and your security. If he's happy with both you'll get a FAC and can start buying guns and ammo.

That's more or less how I did it, though I am not a survivalist and consider shooting to be a fun sport that might be useful in a dire emergency rather than the other way around.

How not to do it:

The obvious -
Don't tell the club you're a survivalist five minutes after you first walk in the door. Many of the members will agree with you, but every club in the UK knows it is one bad decision away from losing the sport
entirely and will be naturally cautious of new members.

Don't broadcast the fact you have a FAC or own guns. Word gets around. Don't mention "self defence". To anyone. Even in jest. Ever. Club members will think you're a crazy gun nut, despite many holding a
similar opinion. The cops will revoke your FAC and keep their eyes on you for the rest of your life.

Don't carry. Your guns should be in your cabinet, at the range, or on their way between the two.

The less obvious -
If you break a law (including laws you don't know about) while in possession of a firearm the crime becomes much more serious. For example, if you accidentally wander on to private property you're committing "trespass" and you can get told to leave. If you do it with as much as a unloaded air pistol you are committing "armed trespass" and then you can get a £2,500 GBP fine or three months behind bars.

If you don't use your guns enough the cops may revoke your FAC, though they should give you a warning first.

A FAC must be renewed every five years, and the cops might not remind you. You'll still be guilty of possession an unlicensed firearm if it expires.

Final thoughts:

You must realise, and accept, that in the UK gun ownership by citizens is not popular with either the public or the powers that be. Behave accordingly. It's not as easy or pleasant as it is in the US, but it can be done. - Ross


I'm in the UK and whilst I agree with Steve about our stupid laws and his living accommodation I would like to make a couple of points about his experience with Plod.

I have a Shot Gun Certificate (SGC) and a Fire Arms Certificate (FAC). As of this moment you do not need to give any reason to own a SGC in the UK. If asked and to save hassle you could say clay pigeon but you should not be asked. The onerous part is getting a referee from our class based approved groups.

For a FAC you need to have permission from a land owner to shoot on his land or be a member of a club. If you go the club route beware because they may stipulate you keep the weapons there. Best trek around the countryside asking farmers. Took me a while but it worked out. I bribed them with whisky. After all they get nothing really from the deal and potentially a lot of hassle. Compared to that search getting two referees from the approved groups is a doddle.

It really is designed as a tax gathering system as there are so many rules around and to add anything is a variation which costs £26.

I have had my certificates for ten years and Plod have not done any surprise visits never mind at 0300, nor have they visited anyone I know. You get checked at license renewal, every five years, but in my experience that is it.

I don't now why he gets 0300 visits but suspect it is the area rather than the process. I also have no problem getting ammo but it is a lot more expensive in Rip Off Britain and we can't even buy in bulk as ammo sold and held are defined numbers for firearms. You can buy X and hold Y of each type.

IMO it is worth getting the certificates you need, the more who do the more the point is made to our useless government. It is also my understanding that [the number of] gun owners is nearly two million. Mainly shotguns and with some duplication, I have a FAC and a SGC, but the trend is apparently up.

For info on ownership from 2010/2011 see this article. (I hate to use The Guardian for anything bar toilet paper but that is where the data is.) Regards, - Skean Dhude

I just noticed that the silver to gold price ratio has bounced back up to 52-to-1. (It is wise to study these charts.) In my estimation, we have reached another good opportunity to ratio trade out of gold coins and into silver coins, especially for anyone that is over-invested in gold. Be sure to sell gold on a peak day, and buy silver on a dip day. Before this decade is out, I predict the Ag/Au ratio will be under 30-to-1. And by the time we pass our coins on to our great-grandchildren, the ratio may be as low as 15-to-1.) Trust me, they won't sneer at silver.

Pierre M. highlighted this sobering article: America's Debt Is Greater than Entire Eurozone's (and U.K.'s) Combined Debt

Frequent content contributor Diana V. sent this: Millions of Americans Are 'Squatting' in Own Homes

R.C. mentioned: Five Alternative Investments To Protect Your Wealth From Inflation

G.G. sent this sign of the times: Tax refunds being used to pay for bankruptcy filings

Timothy R. sent this: Dividing the Food Dollar. The bottom line: Avoid processed foods. Not only will you save money, but you will also be eating more healthy foods. Whenever possible, buy at your local farmer's market.

G.P. sent this: China Gives Currency More Freedom With New Reform

DuPont's armored car kit a hit in Brazil. (Thanks to Paul B. for the link.)

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: Archivist seeks one of every book written

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Tom Sciacca (of Camping Survival) asks: How much water is enough?

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KAF flagged this article: New York Mills Woodworker Offering 'Build Your Own Casket' Classes, Coffin Furniture

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I will be a guest speaker (via teleconference) at the Get Prepared Expo, in Springfield, Missouri . The expo will be held on April 28 & 29, 2012 and is being organized by USAPrepares.com. It will be at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds.

"Don't go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things." - Frank Sharpe Jr., firearms trainer and founder of Fortress Defense Consultants LLC

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Thanks for what SurvivalBlog done for the prepper community. I just had a feeling weighing on my heart to share this information. So here it is.

In any survival situation, water is in the top two things that must be had in order to survive if not at the top of the list. What I'm going to describe is how to set up a rainwater catchment system. The first thing to do is decide how much water you want to harvest. Then you need to decide how to hold that amount. Whether it is a couple food grade 55 gallon drums linked together or an underground AquaBox system that can hold thousands of gallons. Next you need to set up your structure, be it your home, shop building, barn, or animal housing, you will need to have guttering with a down spout. A steel roof is preferred by most for this, but any roof will work. At this point you need to know how you are going to use the water that is collected. If you are just going to use it to water your garden or your livestock, it doesn't need to be filtered. If you are planning on using it for drinking water, then it will need to be filtered or purified in some fashion. This essay will go through the steps for drinking water.

For every square foot of roof that you can harvest, you will get a half gallon of rainwater for every inch of rain. [JWR Adds: To be precise, multiply .623 gallons by the number of square feet of your roof.]

Read more at eHow: How to Calculate Rainfall for Harvesting

So you can figure how big of tank you need by multiplying the square feet by the average rainfall for your location and that will give you an rough figure of how much water you can expect from that roof.

Let's start at the top of the water system. You have your roof with its guttering attached. Does it have a leaf guard mounted on it to filter out the leaf litter? If not you can install a Invisaflow Flex Gate Downspout Filter on the downspout and install a stainless steel mosquito screen on the bottom where it connects to a First Flush Diverter to keep the little suckers out of the tank. They will find their way into your tank otherwise. In some locations, these are required by code.

After the water passes through the Downspout Filter, you will want to install what a First Flush Diverter. There are several styles of these, but the basic design is this. The water comes into the Diverter and fills it up, doing so causes a rubber ball to float up to a tee connection. The first water off the roof is in the bottom of the Diverter with all the bird droppings, dirt and small bits that the Basket Filter missed. Once the ball goes up to the tee connection, the rain water is diverted to a second pipe and sent on its way to the tank of your choice.

Now for the tank. Is it light or dark in color? If sunlight can penetrate, it will grow beautiful green algae. Now, unless you like the taste of algae in your ice water, you will want to paint your tank a dark, opaque color. The actual color does not matter as long as light cannot get to the water. After the tank is painted, you will need to attach the pipe from the Diverter. Use a hole saw the same size as your pipe, you want as tight a fit as possible. After inserting the pipe, seal all around it with a silicone caulking. Next you will want to put in an overflow pipe of the same size as your inlet pipe. Place it as high on the side of the tank as possible for the maximum amount of water harvest. This pipe will also need a mosquito screen as well. Attach as above. Lastly on the tank you will need to attach your water line. Depending on location and use will determine the size of line or lines that you want.

Running your water line from tank to destination, you have a choice of running it above ground or trenching it in. In some locations you may have to run it under the frost line to prevent freezing and to meet code requirements.

The following is one scenario that could be used for hilly terrain in an off grid situation:

Up-slope from your cabin you have a small barn/wood shed/chicken coop and you decide that you want a gravity fed water system that could also be used for fighting fires if the need arises. First thing you do is attach the correct length of guttering to the lower eave of the building. You lucked out in the fact that it already has a steel roof. After installing the leaf guard and down spout, you attach a Basket Filter that you picked up at a local home improvement superstore. You then install a First Flush Diverter you built from plans you found on YouTube. You run the diverter line to the 275 gallon poly tank that you picked up at the farm and ranch store. (You painted it the same color as the barn/wood shed/ chicken coop.) You then dug a trench from the tank to the cabin and ran a 2 inch water line to within 75 feet of the cabin. Here you plan on installing a freeze proof faucet for fire fighting. You then ran a 3/4 inch line that you attached to the 2 inch line the rest of the way to the cabin. Once at the cabin, you run the line inside to a small holding tank with a spigot or to an in line filter then to the holding tank. After back filling the trench, you run the overflow pipe in another direction. You just happen to have some 4 inch flex landscaping pipe and run the overflow pipe into it and run it towards your pond. After trenching and back filling the overflow, you stack up firewood around your tank to better hide it from those you wish not to know about it and to protect it somewhat from possible gun fire from same. Not to mention it will keep more sunlight off of it and partially insulate it from winter temps. Another option is to bury the whole tank which will protect it from freezing, gunfire and sunlight.

Ideally, you would have some form of rain water harvest on every structure at your retreat. It can be used to water gardens and orchards, water all livestock, top off your fish pond with the overflow from the tanks, keep your hydroponic set up with fresh water, run a line to that outdoor shower house with the solar heated water system on the roof. You could run it to the automatic water system in the rabbit house or chicken coop.
Another type of rainwater catchment would to use a pond. You could use an existing pond but it would require draining in order to install the pipe line. The best bet would be to install the piping during construction. Before the dam is complete, take a 4 inch PVC pipe and run the non-flared end through a hole in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket that you cut with a hole saw. You did drill countless 1/4 inch holes all over the bucket first didn't you? I thought so. Now replace the bucket's lid that also is quite holey. If you haven't removed the metal handle to the bucket, now would be a good time. This will be your filter to keep your fish stock from being sucked down the pipe. Now install the 4 inch PVC pipe, several feet up from the the bottom of the pond, through the dam. You want it up, off the bottom for two reasons. First, you want it up out of the muck that is on the bottom of all ponds. And second and most importantly, you don't want to drain the pond if someone accidentally or purposefully leaves the line open.

After the pipe is installed and the dam finished, you will want to install a down sizer. Either a 4 inch to 3 inch or a 4 inch to 2 inch. Right behind the sizer, you need to install a valve so the line can be turned off at the source. Now is when you run the water line to you choice of location. End the line with a freeze-proof faucet. A pond with fish in it makes a great source of water for a garden or orchard. The fish fertilizer is loved by all vegetation. This set up will also give you the head needed for some firefighting applications also, depending on location of pond to fire. You could even plumb this into a drip irrigation system or soaker hose network. Just downsize the line from 2 inch to 1 inch or smaller so that you don't flood the area too quickly.

Now these are not the only rainwater catchment methods out there, they are only two methods. I'm sure that there are several SurvivalBlog readers that know other ways and hope that they share them. Also any critiques or advice is welcomed.

Imagining guys running around in black pajamas and swords, disappearing in a puff of smoke? Well let’s start with a proper… non Hollywood idea of what the Ninja were… or are… and then see what we can learn from them.

Today we have this image of the Ninja as evil assassins sneaking around Japanese castles and killing under cover of night. What most people don’t know is that the Ninja were simple farmers, priests and shopkeepers who were forced out of Japanese society and hunted by their own government. They were the ultimate survivors. In fact the word Ninja in old fashioned Japanese translates to “the person who overcomes”.

Early in Japanese history a Samurai General named Daisuke Togakure lost a battle; and as was tradition in Japan his master ordered him to kill himself and ordered that his family be stripped of all title and land. Instead this Samurai General chose to survive. He fled his home with his family and went to live in the wilderness. Now an outcast being hunted by his own government he was forced to re-invent his understanding of combat. Togakure met up with some Chinese immigrants who had fled the massive wars going on in China. Their knowledge of battle tactics, medicine and technology from all over the Asian main continent helped Togakure form what would become one of the earliest and oldest traditions of the Ninja. (This is just a rough and quick version of the oral history of the founding if this tradition) There are many other traditions of Ninjutsu but they all are similar in that they contain a philosophy of life which values surviving and overcoming or “persevering” and which leads to a simple life style with a very alternative method of self defense. The philosophy of the Ninja stood in opposition of the Bushido code of the Samurai which contained a strong class structure, and espoused suicide as a noble and honorable ideal. To the Samurai the Ninja were dishonorable, evil creatures who had no right to live… the Ninja just wanted to be left alone to live their lives as they saw fit. Enough for my quick history lesson, for more information on the Ninja I recommend the book Ninjutsu: History and Tradition by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi.

As a person who has studied and practiced this tradition for several years now I have found some great principles which are a guide I use in life and in my preparations to continue life. In all of my training and all of my study of the Ninja culture as it existed hundreds of years ago and as it exists today I have found five principles that seem to apply to the Ninjas secret to not only survive but to thrive. Here I plan to lay out a quick example of these five principles and how we may learn from them to protect us from things to come.

Principle #1: Strong and clean spirit
The Ninja were mostly followers of Shinto or Buddhism, however their traditions have strongly embraced members of many faiths and as a devout Christian I have found this to mean a strong relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Ninja speak of attaining an unfettered mind; that you should know who you are at your deepest core. Life should be spent learning, knowing and practicing what you are. This done in everyday life gives an unfettered mind and leads to good decision making under even the worst situations. With a strong foundation in Christ and a daily relationship with him, I find that when hard decisions come I have no trouble knowing how to proceed or at least knowing where to get my answers. This leaves me with a mind and heart which knows what is right and able to act upon it, not getting bogged down in the heat of the moment. When TSHTF it helps to already know in your body, mind, and soul what to do.

Principle #2: Utility.
While the Samurai prided themselves on beautiful swords passed down through their family for generations and body armor decorated with family crests and religious icons the Ninja often used little more than modified farming implements as weapons. This was in part because of the ban on civilians owning or carrying swords… (we can learn a lesson here) but also because of the principle of utility. To the Ninja they were not mere weapons, but rather everything was a tool. A Ninja didn’t pride himself on a fancy sword; instead he would make a sword which like all of his tools served more than one purpose. His other commonly used weapons were converted farming implements. One great example of a converted farm implement turned multi tool was the Kasuragama. It was essentially a small hand held sickle about 3 feet long used for harvesting grain. Sharpened with a rope or chain attached at the end, at the end of the rope was a heavy iron weight. This was used to tie up or entangle an enemy, and then the sickle blade would be used to finish them off. Most of the Ninjas weapons served many uses… sort of like an ancient Leatherman tool. Another example would be the Kunai. This tool started as a small shovel or trowel and was adapted to be used as a dagger, throwing blade and was even used to saw holes in walls for clandestine missions. Also for consideration were the Tekagi-Shuko which were iron bands with spikes on them worn on the hands and feet used for climbing trees and walls, but they were also used extensively as a hidden weapon which was both lethal and able to deflect or catch a sword. Sure the Ninja would have never turned down a fancy ray skin and ivory Katana, but he would usually be found with a much cruder instrument. Much as I am sure a Ninja would have loved to own a fancy piston driven AR-15 but would have likely found more use and value in an FN/FAL or AK.

Principle #3: Simplicity.
As I said earlier the Ninja were mostly farmers and merchants, but they could be found in all levels and aspects of life. There were even some Ninja amongst the ruling class of Japan at one time. What was common amongst them was that they strove to live a simple life. Both historic and modern Ninja rarely had lavish homes or castles. Rarely were known to frequent parties and social events. Instead they lived simple lives enjoying the things in life which were of true value. Simplicity permeated all aspect of their life. Often a diet of simple, healthy home grown food was eaten. With this simplicity in lifestyle one also becomes more in tuned to your own environment, able to notice small changes in weather and even understand nature on a closer level. Rarely did the Ninja draw attention to themselves. Instead of going off to become famous warriors and have grand adventures most Ninja lived quiet lives in their villages and trained diligently in their fighting arts; not for glory, but simply as a means to protect them and their families from the outside world. OPSEC was a large part of this simple life. When the majority of the country you live in wants you dead why would you want to announce your presence and tell the whole world that there is a village full of trained warriors living here? This shows that an entire community of people can live their lives every day just like everyone else, yet still prepare and train. The rest of the world didn’t know then and they don’t need to know now.

Principle #4: Community and Self-Reliance.
Contrary to what some may argue community and self reliance are not mutually exclusive ideas. The Ninja were experts at having a community OF self reliance. The Ninja often lived in very close nit villages and towns where they worked and trained together so as to provide everything they needed and thus insulate themselves from the rest of Japan. Today we have been trained to think that community means reliance upon others, but who decides where our community ends and who we are to be reliant on? If we were to think in terms of a community of self reliance, perhaps in our churches and neighborhoods we could go along way to change our nation in a better direction. Instead of thinking its all about me and my preparations we should look to find a group of like-minded people with similar moral values and help each other work and train to provide for our every need locally. (Mr. Rawles has expounded this idea for many years, and I say it’s a sound principle wherever it comes from and can be applied to far more than just a retreat group.) This could go along ways even in our own neighborhoods and churches to insulate us from the insanity which is happening to the rest of the world. Imagine you belonged to a church or lived in a town which took no federal subsidies, grew its own local food and had a strong tradition of tradesman and craftsman industry… how bad would a collapse of the dollar and international economy be for you then? Not good for sure but a lot better than what your looking at now.

Principle #5: Fluidity.
Absolutely essential to the fighting style and even day to day life of the Ninja is the principle of fluidity. The Ninja fighting style involves five principle ways or feelings of combat. Each one represents an element of existence and grants almost a personality to your movement and technique. Examples are fire, a strong hot burst of energy cutting through an opponent or earth, the stable and immovable feeling of power. The five elements (earth, wind, fire, water, and the void) are not in themselves all powerful; it is the Ninjas ability to transition from one to the other and combine them in response to any situation which is essential. This fluidity was not just expressed in the elemental forms of combat, but instead is the fundamental difference between the Samurai and the Ninja. The Samurai followed set in stone techniques and movements. Memorize enough movements and you will have one for every situation. The Ninja started when they had to adapt and abandon old ways; this flexibility allowed them to meet all situations and adapt their techniques to any situation. A fundamental idea in the Ninja philosophy is not to have expectations of what will happen, but instead to be ready for and deal with whatever comes. Work towards your goals but adapt to the outcomes as they happen, don’t get caught in a frustrating loop of things not going your way and reacting with the same effort every time. We prepare for a myriad of predicted situations, financial collapse, martial law, foreign invasion, civil unrest, tyrannical dictatorships or natural disasters. We should not have categories of tools and utensils for each scenario all stored in labeled lockers and sealed for that day. We should have basic tools which will work in any situation. Tools which serve multiple purposes and can be adapted to anything we need.

There are many things we need to be prepared and I pose we can learn from the Ninja just what we need. We can use the five elements to know what we need to have in order to flow from one situation to the next.

WATER: Just as water feeds life and contains a power in both its ability to draw away from and crash back onto anything, to slowly erode a mountain, feed the tallest tree; we need the essentials of life. Food and water, staples which will allow us to pull away from society in crazy times or from a disaster; then crash back into the world to effect proper change because we did not have to corrupt ourselves or compromise our morals to obtain the basic necessities of life. Having extras of the basic staples of life also can allow us to slowly erode the negative influences in the world around us by being able to help those in need. When a friend or neighbor loses a job or goes through a personal tragedy having extras allows us to help, possibly preventing them from becoming dependent on a corrupt system of entitlements and government dependency.

EARTH: Strong foundations in faith and community allow us to stand like a rock against the corruption and destruction around us. Drawing strength from our foundations in the lord and our ability to stand on our own can enable us to be the rock upon which the golden hordes can wash upon with no effect. Earth also is the principle in which our retreats and our property can give us strength. It is the foundation in this world from which we draw strength. Having our own land, untouched and uncontrolled by the outside world allows us to have a foundation which can not be corrupted; to remain in our communities and to hold our morals untouched by the rest of this corruption we see around us today.

FIRE: Fire is our arms, our brute force through firepower.
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States" -Noah Webster
The Ninja as with all people of Japan were disarmed by the ruling elites, however the Ninja refused to comply, instead they fought back. There is a time in life when life can only continue to exist through the direct application of violence. Fire comes in a burst of violence, heat and action. It is emotional, but not un-controlled. Fire also represents our passion, the passion which makes us act. It is the burning sense of right and wrong which protects our very soul from the corruption of the world. When the world around us descends into chaos it is this passion for justice which will separate us from the looters, not just our stockpile of food.

WIND: Wind leaves us aloof, it represents the lighthearted sense of security preparedness gives us. Knowing that you can not be harmed by a grid down situation, or a food shortage; knowing that you are ready to take on armed bands of looters, or able to provide medical aid to a family member. This is the goal of every prepper, and with it comes a feeling that you can flit through life untouched like a leaf blowing in the wind. This feeling does not come from having stockpiles of dry beans, nor does it come from an arsenal of guns and bullets. This feeling comes from the training we seek. Having beans and bullets does you no good without the ability to use them and the confidence which comes from training. The feeling of being un-touchable effects your very movement and every aspect of life. Being self reliant, with your own business and self sustaining property gives you this confidence and allows you to take stands politically and economically without fear of losing your job or being evicted from your home if you oppose the powers at be.

THE VOID: This is often a difficult concept. In a sense the void is entirely what preparing is. The void is the sense that anything can and will happen. On one hand it is the knowledge of all potential dangers and the ability to handle them. On the other hand it is the ability to react with anything, having every tool in your toolbox so that you can react and adapt in any way necessary. Basically preppers have a stereotype, a reputation for being the crazy guy sitting in his basement full of food and guns with a frying pan for a helmet declaring the end is near. Where the void can help is in the idea of not being an idea. Not being anything in particular, be void of form. Don’t fit a stereotype; don’t buy tools or equipment because you are told it’s the cool prepper thing to do. Void means that your entire life is intertwined with the principles of survival preparation and you live the way you believe. Prepping isn’t just something you do, it is a part of who you are and in everything you do. You do not have the form of a prepper, you’re just prepared.

I have done my best in this article to both educate you about the medieval survivalists of Japan and to point out lessons we can learn from their approach to life. I am by no means an expert in the subject, but I have brought to you my understandings. I hope that this has been a great help for you. If you are interested in this subject and would like to pursue it further I strongly encourage you to do so. There is so much that the Ninja of our modern world can teach and can give you for your survival preparations. To learn more I suggest you seek a group called the Bujinkan.

Mr. Rawles,
I feel compelled to comment on Pat's latest review for the Cold Steel "Bushman" line of knives. I have been a Cold Steel fan for years and like Pat, am completely sold on their products, and I have owned/own a lot of their line. I have owned approximately 15 Bushman knives over the years, some I gave away to friends and family and some I still own...and some I've broke. Yes, it broke.

Towards the end of Pat's review, he talks about attaching the hollow handle of the Bushman to a good wood shaft.  I wanted to try this, and already knowing I needed more than a broomhandle to make myself a spear, I went ahead and ordered three spare shafts that usually are made for Cold Steels' assegai spears. I know that the spear shafts are excellent shafts since I've owned several over the years and have used and abused them and only ever managed to break one...but that was more my fault than the product failure. Anyway, I attached two of my Bushman knives to these new spear shafts and began to throw. On the second throw of the first spear I made, it stuck into the target just fine, but the weight of the shaft pulling downward was to much for the Bushman and broke the blade completely in half. I was more than a little upset. The second spear I had made broke on the first throw! Once again, the weight of the shaft pulling down was too much, and broke about 3/4" off the tip.

Now, is this product failure? I don't think so. I highly doubt I would have broken them if I had used a shorter spear shaft. BTW, I had ordered the longer shafts that are about 6' long. I was simply using these knives in the way they are not meant to be used. The Bushman knives do have a hollow handle to make a spear, but it doesn't mean you should do it. In my opinion, if you make a long shaft Bushman spear, it should be made for thrusting only (not throwing), or to keep distance between yourself and a predator.

All this being said, I love my Bushman knives. They are solid products that are worth way more than you will pay for them. Just thought I'd share. - Joseph J.

Micah wrote to suggest a useful mapping resource for choosing retreat locales. With it, you can pinpoint upwind nuclear reactors, (planned, operating, and closed), coal-fired plants, and more. JWR Notes: I did note an error in the location of the decommissioned Trojan nuclear plant. (It is not east of Bend, Oregon, as shown on their map. It is actually near Ranier, Oregon, in the northwest corner of the state. Apparently, their maps default to plotting somewhere near the center of a state if no detailed location is provided.) I must also mention the politics of web site's creators are quite apparent. They list hydroelectric plants as deleterious to the environment, citing the number of fish that they kill by blocking spawning routes. This is a mostly fair assessment. Yet they soft-pedal the conservatively estimated 440,000 birds that are killed annually by wind farms. They state (with no reference given) that: "Wind turbines kill an average of about two birds per turbine per year." What optimists! (More realistic statistics on bird and bat kills are substantially higher.) And while they ever-so-briefly admit the toxic chemicals that are used in making photovoltaic panels, they don't mention the chemicals released at the end of life of each panel, even if there is an attempt to recycle it, nor do they mention the amount of CO2 that is released in making them. Because of their politics, the Energy Justice folks seem to suffer from selective blindness. I gather that if they had it their way and if they applied their criteria uniformly, then anyone living above 45 degrees of latitude would freeze in the dark.

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The makers of Homestead Drying Racks are offering a free e-magazine called Homestead Community Post.  Their magazine has a nice layout and plenty of useful information. They plan to produce it quarterly. 

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New Mexico, with a French Accent: New Mexico firm applies for first horse meat slaughterhouse. (A hat tip to Lee M. for the link.)

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Timothy R. suggested this: Gardening Companion Planting Chart

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Safecastle (one of our loyal advertisers) has announced a big series of storage food sales: April 4 to June 30: Red Feather, Bega, Future Essentials, MREs, Honey, Ghee: 5% off (in addition to normal member discounts)
 April 8 to June 30: Grandma's Country, Keystone, Yoders: 10% off (in addition to normal member discounts)
 April 15 to June 30: American Family Supply: 15% off (in addition to normal member discounts)
 April 22 to May 6: Mountain House cans: 25% off (in addition to normal member discounts)
 May 7 to June 30: Lindon Farms: 35% off (in addition to normal member discounts)

Rebates are also awarded. Safecastle Royal Buyers Club members earn the following on storage food purchases:
3% rebate gift certificate if their total member food purchases from April 1 - June 30, 2012 have not exceeded $2,499.
5% rebate gift certificate  if their total member food purchases from April 1 - June 30, 2012 have totaled between $2,500 - $7,000.
7 % rebate gift certificate if their total member food purchases from April 1 - June 30 exceed $7,000.

"Those who create and issue money and credit direct the policies of government and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people." - Reginald McKenna, former Chancellor of Exchequer (in England)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Today we are posting another review by SurvivalBlog's volunteer Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio. Pat's main expertise is with knives and firearms, but he is open to reviewing all sorts of products that have applicability to self-sufficient families. If you are a manufacturer or importer with a product that you'd like to submit for Pat's test and evaluation, please contact him via e-mail.

I have received many requests to test and evaluate the Cold Steel "Bushman" line of knives that Cold Steel is producing. I've been a big fan of Cold Steel products since the very beginning - I'm sold on their products. However, for some strange reason, I never requested anything from the Bushman series of knives.
My friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns and operates Cold Steel, isn't afraid to back up his products, and does so, in a series of videos on his company web site. On the web site, you will see all manner of Cold Steel products being put through a variety of torture tests, that would make other knife makers shudder. Thompson isn't afraid to show you how his knives are tested - sharpness is only one of the tests - and to be sure, Cold Steel set the standard in my humble opinion for super-sharp knives many years ago. Lynn puts all his cutlery through things that you and I wouldn't even think of - to prove to his customers just how strong and well-built his cutlery is. You really need to watch the various videos on the web site to appreciate the torture Cold Steel knives go through - no one else in the cutlery field are doing this. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the computer watching all the videos - its worth it.
First up for test and evaluation is the Pocket Bushman - and right up front, I'll tell you, this is a spartan-looking folder - it's not going to win any beauty contests. Nor was it designed to. The 4116 German stainless steel blade, is razor-sharp out of the box, so be aware of that. Also, be sure to read the warning that comes with this knife before opening it. The blade length is 4-1/2", so there's plenty of blade to get most jobs done from survival to self-defense. Now, the handle is manufactured out of one piece of 420 stainless steel and it's bead blasted to cut down on reflectivity. You have to closely examine the one piece handle to sincerely appreciate how it's made - it's one flat piece of stainless steel, that is cut to the right dimensions and then folded over onto itself, to form the handle. We are talking super strong. I tried bending it with my bare hands - didn't happen.
The weight of the Pocket Bushman is 6.1 ounces, so it's not exactly light - nor is it too heavy, either. overall length of the knife, in the open position is 10-1/4" - it's a handful, no doubt about it. The blade is of the clip point design, and hollow ground from top to bottom, with just enough belly to be useful for all sorts of tasks, too. A dual thumb stud is there for opening the knife one-handed - more on this in a moment. There is also a pocket/clothing clip, which can be moved from one side to the other for ambi pocket carry for right or left handed carry, too. There is a 550 Paracord lanyard in the butt of the handle as well.
The overall appearance of the Pocket Bushman is very sleek and smooth as well. Now, for the thumb studs for one-handed opening. Yeah, you can open the Pocket Bushman with one hand, but you can't really open it "fast" - there is a lot of resistance from the locking mechanism. So, don't think you are gonna whip the Pocket Bushman out of your pocket and flick it open fast with one hand. Now, that's not a bad thing, either. The patented internal Ram-Safe locking mechanism is the strongest I've ever run across - this knife is a virtual fixed blade when fully opened and locked. On the Cold Steel video of the testing of this knife, they place 250 pounds of dead weight on the lock and it doesn't fail - and I believe the lock can take even more weight before failing. That is very impressive.
Now comes the "trick" to closing the blade, once you open it. I showed the Pocket Bushman to several people, and they couldn't figure it out - until I showed them. You must pull on the lanyard cord, which then releases the lock and you can close the blade. It takes quite a bit of effort to pull on the lanyard to get the lock to release, too. If you're a petite woman, this folder probably isn't for you - and I'm not a sexist, either - just being realistic about the strength and effort required to unlock the blade.
As a rule, I don't recommend any folding knife for chopping chores. However, with the 4-1/2" blade and long handle, you can actually do some light chopping chores with the Pocket Bushman. I chopped some fairly large branches off a dead apple tree in my front yard without a lot of effort. I was impressed, to say the least. The blade never loosened, nor did the lock show signs of giving way, either.
The Pocket Bushman isn't gonna win any beauty contests, but it wasn't designed to. This knife is designed to save your butt when the chips are down - using it for survival, or self-defense - this hummer won't let you down. You would think that a folding knife that is this strong, and super-sharp, that can take anything you can throw at it, would cost a lot - it doesn't! I was more than a little surprised to see that full-retail is only $42.99, and you can find it for less than that on the 'net if you shop around. To be sure, if this knife were a hundred bucks, it would be worth the asking price. This may just be the last folding knife you'll ever need - this baby isn't gonna fail you, under the harshest of conditions. With that said, "beauty" is in the eye of the beholder, and I find the Pocket Bushman a real "beauty" in my book. There's no reason this knife shouldn't be high on your list of cutlery for survival purposes.
Next up are the Bushman and Bowie Bushman, fixed blade knives. The original Bushman has been around for a decade now - and that says a lot about the design and strengths of the knife. To underscore this: I was once told by the owner of a major knifemaking company that a really good knife design typically has about a three year market life. After that, the design doesn't sell well any longer. Think about it...
Okay, we once again come to a knife that won't win any beauty contests, and once again, it wasn't designed to. It was mean to be a very affordable and nearly indestructible fixed blade do-it-all knife. There are a few differences between the two fixed blade Bushman knives, and needless to say, one has a Bowie-style blade and the other is more conventional. The original Bushman weighs in at 9.8-oz, and the Bowie 10.1-oz. both have a 7" blade made out of SK-5 High Carbon steel, that has a protective black coating the help retard rust - and Carbon Steel knives will rust if you don't take care of them. The overall length of both knives is 12 1/4" from tip to butt.
Unlike conventional hollow handle knives - which the Bushman is - the hollow handle isn't a separate part of the knife - the hollow handle and blade are all once piece. The blade and handle are expertly forged out of one piece of SK-5 Carbon Steel - as you will readily see once you handle a Bushman. There isn't any screw-in cap on the hollow handle of the Bushman, instead you can pack whatever survival supplies you want in the handle and then close it off with some duct tape, or whatever you have on-hand - even stuffing it with clothing or mud would work.
Both fixed blade Bushman knives come complete with a Cor-Ex sheath as well, and there's a pocket on the front of the sheath for carrying other things, like a multi-tool, sharpening stone or whatever you might feel you need - even fishing line and tackle. I was honestly surprised, that the Bushman came with a sheath, especially considering the full-retail price of only $37.99 for your choice of blade styles.
The Bushman have been torture-tested by Cold Steel. Be sure to watch their video. You'll be amazed, by what these knives can do. One test included putting over two tons of weight at the handle/blade junction and it didn't fail. Wow!
While not designed as a throwing knife, the fixed blade Bushman can be used for throwing. I don't recommend you use the knife as a throwing knife in a self-defense situation, but you can have a lot of fun in your backyard just throwing the Bushman and watching 'em stick in the target. It doesn't take a lot of practice to get the blades to stick in a target, either. And, like all Cold Steel cutlery, the Bushman were shaving sharp right out of the box, and held an edge a good long time - even after doing some serious chopping on some dead trees on my small homestead.
You can also attach a pole/shaft to the hollow handle, and use the knives for self-defense that way, or even use 'em for hunting small game by taking careful aim and launching the Bushman at your game. To be honest, it didn't take a lot of practice to consistently hit a makeshift target I set up in my yard - but the old broomhandle I was using broke - it was already broke from the broom head - but it broke again after several throwing sessions. You can find a good wood shaft to attach to the Bushman, making it into a virtual spear - and it's lots of fun, too.
So, once again, we have a couple Bushman knives that won't win any beauty contests, and they weren't designed for that. Lynn Thompson, designs his knives for hard use. That's not to say Cold Steel doesn't have some beautiful knives in their catalog - about 95% of their knives are a thing of beauty in my eye. But the Bushman series of fixed blade and the folder, weren't designed as beauty queens, they were designed for the worst conditions you can submit any blade to, and they will hold-up to all you throw at 'em. What's not to like here?
As already mentioned, either of the fixed blade Bushman knives retail for $37.99 each - and there is no reason you can't get one or two of these babies and toss 'em in your e-box in your car, or your bug out bag. I can't think of any other knives, in this price range, that can stand-up to the same torture - it's just that simple in my book.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, I've received more requests for me to test and evaluate the Cold Steel Bushman series of knives, than any other products. I've got to admit, I'm sorry I didn't request a Bushman many years ago. I kind of put it off, since the Bushman series are  inexpensive knives, assuming that they were more of a gimmick than anything. I hate admitting I'm wrong - but I was. The Bushman series are knives that won't let you down, and you can certainly afford them on just about any budget. Get one or two, or all three - and you'll thank me. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles:
First of all, I would just like to say a huge thank you for all the advice, expertise, and survival techniques that you have bought to my attention through your books and your blog. I never realised just how much of a risk our current climate is, and how likely we are to get to a state of "every man for himself" survival.

My name is Steve. I am a 21 year old living in the West Midlands county in the heart of Great Britain. I have always had survivalism in my blood, and have always liked to think that I am prepared for whatever the world can throw at me, but recently, the last four years or so, I have become increasingly worried with the state of my country and economical clime. My fears were confirmed last August when mass rioting and looting took control of many of my country's cities, including our capital, London. The authorities and law enforcement were powerless to do a thing, and we were nearly in a state of "Northern Ireland law enforcement", in that the armed forces were to patrol the streets, and we were to have riot shielded police with water cannons on every street corner. Thankfully, that situation has calmed down now, but I know it is only a matter of time before chaos breaks out again.

My main concern is that I, like many million other British residents, live in multi-story, "high rise" flat (apartment) which I see as near enough impossible to defend in the event of WTSHTF. Some "high rise" flats can have as many as 60-70 homes, with 200+ people living in them. It's one thing to secure my front door from burglary and looters, but what's the point when our housing options are so small that we barely have enough room to sleep a family, let alone store equipment and supplies for the inevitable. It's impossible for me to keep a back up generator along with substantial food, water, and fuel supplies in a home that has the total floor space of around 30'x30', including bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, living room and dining space. My home is just not a practical safe house for me, my fiancée, and our daughter. Let alone the fact that we are on the 5th floor, and would have almost zero chance of escape in the event of a fire or terror attack.

I know that the obvious thing to do would be to move house, somewhere out of the city with the space and freedom to properly prepare, but we simply can not afford to. I am currently out of work. I lost my job over a year ago and have been unable to find work since. The same goes for my fiancée, who lost her job nearly two years ago and has also been unable to find a new work placement. We both have to survive on[a combined unemployment insurance benefit of] just over £53 per week (about $84.50 USD), pay all our bills, rent, buy our food, and also bring up our young daughter. It's outrageous. In the past two years alone I have witnessed more businesses and company's both regionally, and nationally, collapse due to the economic state that my government has put the country in. I have recently applied to join the British Armed Forces Reserves (Territorial Army, or TA) in an attempt to earn more money to support my family, and also acquire any necessary tactical, survival, and combat, training and techniques that will undoubtedly prove vital WTSHTF.

Another concern I have, the laws and regulations in this country regarding owning and using firearms. Shotguns and shotgun licenses are fairly easy to obtain, if you own a farm or are a registered target/clay-pigeon/small-game shooter. But other than that, pistols, rifles, and semi-auto weapons are nearly impossible to obtain and get a licence for. A licence can be applied for, but are rarely granted. If you are lucky enough to obtain your licence and firearm, you can expect regular "knocks on your door" at 3 a.m. by the local armed police to check your ammo count and security cabinets for both weapon and ammunition. Then there is the fact of actually getting hold of ammunition for your gun(s). The only real stockist of rifle and pistol ammunition is local "gun clubs" where enthusiasts can go and fire a limited number of rounds from their weapon. But even then, only specific weapons are allowed to be fired. Mostly, some pistols and shotguns. We have no real facilities to accurately zero and test fire weapons that we will no doubt need for our own protection and survival in the case of TEOTWAWKI.

I know I may be thinking small in terms of what will happen, but these are real concerns that I deem as extremely important to the survival and order of my family and fellow country man in the near, inevitable, future.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback or advice that you could give me.

Thank you again, and keep yourself safe. - D.S.

JWR Replies: Joining the TA is a great way to get yourself training in marksmanship, land navigation, first aid, small unit tactics, and even NBC defense. The rigorous physical training will also get you in great shape. BTW, I recommend that you start running every-other day and doing dozens of sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups a day, months in advance of your enlistment.

The free SurvivalBlog archives are fully searchable for the many articles that we've posted on selecting and training with weapons for locales with draconian laws. The article topics include:

S.A.'s Hearty Bean Soups

First, if your family doesn’t feel that a hearty bowl of beans is a meal, you need to start down this path as soon as possible. In my childhood, even though coming from a comfortable, educated home, every single Saturday, while the house was being cleaned and weekly grocery shopping done, a big pot of pinto beans was on the stove simmering away. My parents, both raised during the Great Depression, descendants from Civil War families, had also lived through rationing during WWII. The pinto beans were served with cornbread slathered with butter. My father would crumble his cornbread into a tall glass and top it off with buttermilk. He had barely survived starvation as a teenager yet lived to be 88.

This is a survival recipe. It uses ham fat, which is critical, vital, and imperative for metabolism. Read James Michener’s novel Poland to see how hungry and deprived people feel about eating fat. If your diet is balanced, the fat in this recipe is just one more menu item that will not hurt you, but rather help keep your body well-functioning.

Onto the recipe: This works for any kind of bean, but my most favorite is black-eyed peas. You can use canned or dried. If dried, sort out the pebbles, rinse dirt off several times, soak overnight if you wish to hurry the cooking, cook until done. I always use a crock pot. Some people add a small amount of baking soda for gas. I don’t find it necessary.

·         1-3 cans of beans (use the beans, liquid, and rinse/swish with a little water to get everything from the can)
·         1 can Rotel Tomatoes and Chilis
·         Fat trimmed from a cooked ham

Buy a real ham, cook it, trim off the fat and save every fat scrap as you eat the ham. (Of course, leave on a little when you fry ham for breakfast as fat is tasty when caramelized.)
When you are ready for a pot of beans, dice the ham fat into a skillet. I use non-stick spray and a little olive oil to cut down on sticking to the pan. Brown the fat pieces and the ham bone and render the fat. When done, first allow it to cool and then gently pour the grease and fat pieces into the crock pot. Now put a can of Rotel into the skillet to de-glaze. Stir around until you get everything loosened.
Now pour the contents of the skillet (Rotel tomatoes, little brown bits scraped from the bottom of the skillet) and all the beans or peas or lentils or whatever with the liquid into a crock pot. No additional water is needed. Everything is well-cooked, but I let it go on low for a couple of hours to marry all the flavors. As the ham bone is in the crock pot, the last of the remaining meat and fat will loosen. Take out the bone and remove every last scrap bit and return to the pot. Some people think adding a tablespoon of vinegar releases some additional nutrients from the ham bone. I do this, but it doesn’t affect the flavor at all.

When done, serve with a dash of salt to taste, some chopped cilantro for green. Other optional toppings are fresh onion if you like, some sliced jalapeño or serrano pepper growing from your garden (right?) if you need more heat, or a trickle of Pepper Sauce, if desired. Commercial Pepper Sauce is simply small hot peppers bottled in vinegar, or you can make your own. As the vinegar gets used up, just continue to add more vinegar to refresh. A bottle lasts almost forever. You can choose to add nothing and this bowl of beans is still amazing and wonderful.    

Chef's Notes:

If you must have some starch, artisan bread, cornbread, tortillas, flatbread all go along nicely. Remember, while beans are a protein substitute, they are still carbohydrates. So you are covered there.   
Some cases of your favorite beans and Rotel tomatoes are a cheap, nutritious, and delicious way to increase your stores.
I eat this almost everyday for lunch and eagerly look forward to it. Fat has more calories than meat, so you will not get hungry in the afternoon. It’s rib-sticking, as they used to say. 

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

19th Century Recipes

Selected Recipes from Colonial Williamsburg

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

U.S. Mint production of Nickels (five cent pieces) is up 78%. (Also see this related article: US Mint Circulating Coin Production Shifts to Lower Denominations.) JWR's Comment: That large an increase can't be attributable just to collector demand. Obviously, a small but forward-thinking portion of the citizenry is anticipating a debasement, and these wise folks are stockpiling nickels. Methinks the next 18 months could turn out to be a bit of 1963 and 1964 deja vu. Mark my words: Congress will act. Debasement is coming. Get your nickels before the composition change. (That is, before you have to hand sort coins.)

27 Statistics About The European Economic Crisis That Are Almost Too Crazy to Believe. [JWR Asks: What will life be like in the U.S. when we go into a similar austerity mode?]

Joe M. mentioned this video rant: Foreclosure Dam Ready To Break

Jeff P. spotted this by John Grgurich of The Motley Fool: Is Another Banking Crisis Staring America in the Face?

Items from The Economatrix:

10 Signs That The Job Market Is Improving

Lenders Again Dealing Credit to Risky Clients.

Fed Prepared to Act, But Only if Economy Weakens [JWR Notes: Are we supposed to be impressed with their restraint at creating money out of thin air? Any bets about how long they stay on the "no debt monetization" sobriety wagon?]

Jobless Claims Cast Cloud On Labor Market

Patrice Lewis, the editor of the excellent Rural Revolution blog has authored a series succinct and concise e-books on practical topics: The Self-Sufficiency Series. These sell for just $1.50 each. They don't sell hard copy editions, but since most of them are less than 20 pages each you can print out your own reference binder copies at home. (I recommend that you keep backup copies on the memory thumb drive in your Bugout Bag.)

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Washington state launches new disaster preparedness web site, campaign. (Our thanks to M.E.S. for the link.)

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Reader C.D.V. spotted this: Measuring Sin, Statistically

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K.S. suggested this resource: 37 Survival Downloads and Handbooks – Pioneering, SHTF, Engineering, Urban Gardening, Defense, and More

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Greg S. sent this: US Defense Department donating 'hundreds' of surplus military robots to police

"Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice." - President George Washington

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

While the majority of single parents are women, men too can be found in this situation. Generally speaking, single women with children are usually on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Let’s face it, poorer young mothers (or fathers) with very young children need to learn survival skills as much as anyone else, and do not have the financial resources to buy all they need.  So what do you do if you are a single woman with a babe-in-arms and two toddlers and have no money?

I can tell you what you can’t do, you can’t sit around and wait for help or someone else to do it for you. You must seriously realize the life and death of your children can rest upon you and you alone.  Don’t look to the government, or your family/community, or anyone else. Look in the mirror, you brought them into the world, you are responsible for them. When you have children who are solely dependent upon what you do, what you pack and your decisions, it puts a weighty burden on the non-prepared.   

Little to nothing is written on the special resources for a single parent survival needs especially for lower income women with babies and toddlers.  As a single parent myself, I faced life-threatening events, and my survival skills helped keep my family well and strong. But much of what I learned was learned the hard way. I was lucky enough to have had grandparents who survived the Great Depression and they taught me lessons growing up that are deeply ingrained in me. These lessons include gardening, canning, food storage and self-defense along with hard work and strong faith. My mom’s first husband was military and being paid once each month she said her food never lasted the whole month and she learned how to scrimp and stretch. She taught me how to estimate food usage and how to make it last. My own fathers abusive temper and his drinking and drug problem, led mom to have to take the us as children several times to safe environments. We found women’s shelters, safe houses and remote camping sites until the law finally had the problem under control. So, I am not joking when I say I have seen my own mother face life-threatening emergency situations with children multiple times on a shoestring budget.  As you have read many disasters do not come from Mother Nature or governmental influences, some you can only prepare for with faith, knowledge and guidance.  

Some of the first hints I will give may make the hard-core well equipped preppers laugh and think this is a comedy show. But I guarantee you that young mothers need to be creative to meet their needs with a “$0” budget. Here are some hints for developing your Bug-out-bag (BOB). Of course, having some kind of a BOB with small children is better than no BOB. Always, always pack a BOB in something with wheels, a wheeled suitcase, a wheeled cooler, a wheeled cart or anything else on wheels that will hold your stuff. A single parent with small children needs a wheeled BOB, I cannot emphasize that enough. Remember the lessons we learned during Katrina, the agony on the parents face as they begged for help. Many did not have BOBs or did not have the time to grab them. Prepare yourself and your children now, don’t wait.

Some say they don’t know where to start. Start with what you have. Look at the needs of your children, and start there.  Pack clothing, blankets, copies of insurance cards, birth records and other important records. Get free info from the Red Cross on first aid and emergency medical info, go to health expos at churches or county fairs who often have free first aid kits. FEMA, the Internet and other organizations have info on what to include in your BOB. Get free road maps from state or local highway departments or tourist info stations. Use dryer lint [from drying cotton clothes] in a sandwich bag for fire starter; just remember to put your matches in a separate baggie. Use left-over utensils from past parties, like animal shaped plastic spoons, paper plates with animal faces or napkins with balloons. These things you would normally throw out can brighten little faces in emergency situations. Smaller plates or saucers come in handy if the food is scarce; small portions always looks like more if the plate is smaller.  Pack new (can be cheap from the dollar store) toys or unused new party favors, this will hold their attention longer. Pack both cloth and disposable diapers, cloth diapers can double for other necessities. Don’t forget to pack formula (preferably powdered), bottles, pacifiers or other major needs your child has. You know your child, their needs, their wants and behavior; you also know the items your family likes to cook and the tools to defend your family. Here I must say if you are a person of faith, then you need to prepare your family spiritually as well. If you are a spiritual person place a small set of your Scriptures or other spiritual items such as prayers or item in your BOB.  Do not forget to pack water. Water can be bottled in almost any empty, clean used plastic bottle or 2 liter, just remember to sterilize it with bleach or some other method. You can find instructions for sanitizing water with bleach on many sites on the internet, be sure to use regular bleach. Knowledge is key, look at your community you might be surprised what is available to you.

Hints for babies and toddlers: Being alone with a baby or toddler or both can put you in a very venerable situation when it comes to emergencies. It is critical to have a plan and have a well prepared BOB. I strongly suggest you find a support system, but not just anyone or any friend. Find someone who would love and treat your child like their own if you were not available. Look carefully and chose even more carefully.  Don’t let out of your arms the thing that is the most important to you, your baby, it is going to be hard to carry children in your arms and on your hips and also carry a bag. Keep your child close to your heart to keep them safe, use a sling or a baby carrier that fits like a back pack. Never let go of your children, keep them close at all times in an emergency situation. How many times in the news recently have we seen strollers roll into subway tracks or train tracks? If the baby had been in a snuggly or a sling, in the mother’s arms, that would not have happened. It would take an Amazon woman to carry both her children and a backpack; most women cannot do that, but just remember, unless you have direct contact with your child, you do not have control. Carry your child, wheel your supplies. Keep your most precious close to your heart. Always, always take a long blanket or sheet so that you can swaddle your child. Swaddle babies and insecure children any age to help them feel more comfortable and under control with the situation, the extra sheet you pack to do this can also come in handy in other ways, for shelter or a tent.

Hints for preschoolers and elementary ages: For toddlers and older children, have key words for specific things, words age appropriate. This can be a fun game, if my Daughter would start to sing the Star Spangled Banner; I knew to find a bathroom fast. Do not just use keywords for SHTF make key words for fun items such as the bathroom or for bedtime.  I learned that by adding some “fun words” this helps them learn the key words faster and not forget. For toddlers and preschooler, always pack a wrist-to-wrist strap. If you don’t have one, make one from elastic or an old belt or a purse strap. I made my children wear wrist straps that secured their wrist at one end to my wrist at the other end, especially when we were in danger. That way I always knew where they were and had some control over my toddlers.  They did not like it, but they were safe and that is more important.

Hints for middle school to teenagers: incorporating older children into family participation should be a natural outcome of a loving family relationship.  You can enroll them in programs to teach self-defense or other items, some at school.  Many Police and Fire departments and organization such as Boy and Girl Scouts and The American Red Cross have programs that are free to children or to the public. For middle and high school children who are old enough to understand, explain the gravity of the situation and be honest with them. They understand and can help, and will probably become more fearful if you do not talk to them. The older the child, the more stress they can help take off of you, by sharing the burden. Middle school aged children understand more than you know and are usually quieter about their feelings. When you can get to a safe spot, encourage your children to talk out their feelings.

Lastly, to find what you really need in a disaster situation with your children, throw only your BOB in the car with your kids one weekend, and leave for a State Park or camping site. You will learn real quickly what you need and what you don’t need. Practicing in a normal situation makes an emergency bug-out feel less dangerous. Always, yes always keep your car full of gas; you never want to be in a situation where you don’t have the gas to get your kids to safety. Sacrifice a Girl Scout meeting, or a lunch trip out, or whatever it takes during the week, to keep your car full of gas.

Sheltering-in-place; A single parent has different needs than that a two parent family for food storage. You need to buy more ‘child’ food and less ‘adult’ food. You can always eat baby food, but a baby cannot always eat adult food, unless you process your own baby food. My mother always kept her food storage on the bedroom closet floor, underneath her dresses. We kids were in charge of stacking the boxes and marking the dates with a permanent marker on top, now I understand that it wasn’t much food storage, but it served our family well as we never ran out of food.  Instead of trying to buy food storage all at one time, buy some with each trip to the store. Buying a bag of beans a month adds up quickly and can fill a five-gallon bucket within a year. Always check your dates on cans goods and buy foods that your family will and can eat.  My family will not eat beets so even if I love it, I would not buy it.  Rotate your foods; if you are able to buy a few extra cans eat the oldest first along with dieted cans.  Do not eat foods from bulging cans--these can kill you!  Bloated canned goods or bad water can kill younger children quickly; know a way to sterilize water.  Know about food safety, temperatures for cooking and handling foods, free on the Internet or at a County Health Department, this will keep your family alive. 

Don’t forget the water. Save your 2 liter pop bottles or sports drink bottles. Store water sanitized with regular bleach in these containers. Or if you can afford it, purchase water and keep on the shelves out of the reach of children. It doesn’t cost anything to store water, so no excuse here. Basic cooking skills with shelf stable ingredients is something to be known ahead of time and not first practiced over a make-do fire in a unfamiliar place with crying, hungry children. Know how to cook basic items, such as pancakes, gravy, or pie crust.  I am surprised how many parents don’t cook these days.
If you are limited in funds, buy flour (wheat if you have a means to grind it into flour) and store it in gallon zip lock bags. My grandmother always said her family survived the Great Depression because of flour, because she could make three things; pancakes, white gravy and pie crusts. All are flour or wheat based items. Grandma said you could put anything in a pie crust and make it taste good (she meant squirrel and rabbits too). Pies can be big, little or pocket size and can hold fruits, veggies and meats. She could also make anything with her ‘white sauce’ or white gravy. It is the base for many, many dishes and casseroles and can be put over, under or as part of almost any food. Then her pancakes, (hoe-cakes, Johnny-cakes, etc) you can put anything in pancakes, or make them thinner and roll anything in them. This one staple, a storage of wheat (long shelf life), or flour (shorter shelf life) can create all these three foods plus any type of bread, pasta or noodles. Grinding wheat when you have small children can make you go nuts, it’s hard to keep their little fingers out of everything and mills are expensive. I always kept flour, and it has served my family well. Thanks Grandma. 

You must seriously realize the life and death of your children can rest upon you and you alone.  Don’t look to the government, or your family/community, or anyone else. Again I say, Look in the mirror, you brought them into the world, you are responsible for them. Remember your emergency may never be the emergency you planned for, so be prepared for anything. Not just with cool hi-tech gizmos, but know primitive skills. My Grandpa used to say “prepare for the worse and hope for the best”. In a critical situation and usually is directly related to how you are handling the situation. If you are nervous and upset, you can bet your children will be too.  Survival is a lifestyle that needs to be incorporated into daily living.  Prepare now so you and your children will not fall prey to some other predator tomorrow.

Just a note about current firearms inventories at the major distributors from a 25 year industry veteran.  A majority of the medium to large size firearms wholesalers are experiencing significant stock shortages and inventories are at a “historic low”.   AR and AK inventories (regardless of manufacture or builder) are drying up very fast.  Most wholesalers are not taking back-orders from dealers on these items until the smoke clears.  Even handgun inventories are starting to get very thin, especially center-fire semi-autos.  The situation on ammo is better, but many industry retail purchasing agents coming out of this year’s SHOT Show where warned by several major ammunition manufactures about this year’s third and fourth quarter demand will likely outstrip availability and most manufactures are at, or near full capacity. 

But I have some good news for reloaders:   Most major brands of powder, primers, and bullets are back in stock to pre-2008 levels and primer prices have come down considerably in the last 12 months (at least at the wholesale level).  Group buys from major inter-net component providers can give you the lowest delivered cost, especially with rising shipping and hazmat fees.  Take the time to talk to your dealer about your local situation and act accordingly. - Rick S.

JWR Replies: I have noticed that guns shows have become noticeably more crowded in recent months. Even a tiny little 25 table show at a nearby Elks Lodge was so packed that I could scarcely walk from table to table. There is definitely some well-justified angst in the country about the upcoming presidential election. The general consensus seems to be that President Bolt Hold Open (BHO) will take the gloves off, if he gets re-elected. We can expect a flurry of executive orders that as a minimum would ban the importation of most semi-auto firearms, 11+ round magazines, and all military gun parts sets. Stock up, folks!

G.G. mentioned this "must read" piece: How The Country Dies

Reader Debbie M. suggested the new PBS television series called America Revealed. Debbie notes that this series unintentionally underscores the complexity and fragility of our long chains of supply and our dependence on grid power. The first episode, "Food Nation", is now available for free streaming viewing.

Kevin S. suggested this: The Unemployment Farce

Swiss Bank Accounts: Why Mitt Romney (or an Average Joe) Might Want One

Items from The Economatrix:

Unemployment Falls Fast In U.S. If Men Get College Degree

Mid-Incomers Suffer In Polarized U.S. Job Market Economy

Minimum Wage Lower In Real Terms Than 1968

Fed Warns: Too Soon to Say US Economy Out of Danger

Unemployment Claims in US Rises to Two-Month High

Harry L. sent this: FDA wants farmers to get prescriptions for antibiotics used in animals. The FDA/AMA cabal will no doubt start calling the lack of prescription oversight by "loophole" (since we aren't "trained and licensed professionals"), and hence try to institute "commonsense controls." Does this sound familiar? I also suspect that large scale producers will be exempted from the prescription requirement, leaving the regulatory burden on the shoulders of small family farmers. (Which might also sound familiar.) If this goes into effect, just wait a few years and it will grow, with bureaucratic inevitability. They'll be telling vets: "You can't prescribe that! That farm is not in your state and that breed is not in the scope of your practice." (And does this sound familiar?)

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Here is a tangent to the same topic: Guide to Veterinary Drugs for Human Consumption, Post-SHTF.

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Larry in Utah sent an interesting piece on human psychology and body language: Walk Through Crowds.

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Rick E. sent this: Massachusetts High Court Throws Out Weapons Convictions Due to ‘Antique’ Gun. [JWR Adds: State laws differ widely, but see my FAQ on pre-1899 antique guns for more information about the Federal laws.]

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"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." - Herman Wouk. (He will be turning 97 on May 27, 2012.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Most people wouldn’t keep .22 shells on hand for their .30-06 rifle.  They likely wouldn’t waste space in their pantry, storage, garden or go-bag for foodstuffs that were not calorically or nutritionally dense compared with the space they occupied

Each serious or well-intentioned survivalist knows how precious resources, energy, space and time can be, and would likely strive for a high level of efficiency.  Being well prepared and resourceful is a cornerstone of success when it comes to survival. And yet, there is a fundamental tool that is oft overlooked- effective communication strategies.

The tools in a survivalist’s arsenal should reflect necessity.  The select items and materials one keeps on hand can ultimately mean the difference between success and failure, between abundance and poverty, and ultimately, between life and death. One of the most functional assets the strategic survivalist can have on hand is effective, constructive communication skills.

Effective communication is an important skill for all humans, and should not be undervalued. Ones ability to communicate well can positively impact and change the trajectory of many a conflict or social dilemma. Its development is useful in all types of interpersonal relationships and settings.  Crisis, conflict, courtship- it matters not where one imagines he or she might want to use these skills- we need only understand that we most certainly will.

Good communication skills are a fundamental component of human success.  When anthropologists study immediate-return foraging cultures, untouched by civilization, they often note a social dynamic which most often comes with unyielding emphasis placed on cooperation and problem solving. It has been termed “fierce egalitarianism”,  it makes sense- living in small bands, at the mercy of nature and highly dependent on one-another, humans likely developed solution-oriented communication tendencies in order to be successful in the face of the danger and uncertainty of their world.

The devolution of our disposition for solution-oriented, cooperation-directed communication skills is likely to be a relatively recent phenomenon- one associated with the development of systems of food production and storage that over time required or lead to greater divisions in labor, status, population growth and land ownership.  Agriculture cropped up years ago and the division of labor and society in ever-growing social groups has undermined the egalitarian mindset of our ancestral, tribal forebears- the emphasis of common ground- amongst the population ever since.

There is clear evidence, both currently and historically, that without the skills necessary to find resolution to conflicts which are nurturing to the group’s moral and promote cooperation and positive outcomes, the resentment, distrust and hardships which arise give way to deterioration rapidly. 

Daniel Balliet, of Singapore University, conducted a meta-analysis of much of the available research on how social dilemmas are enhanced by cooperative communication. In the paper, which appeared in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Balliet looks to a number of studies to find out what strategies enhanced conflict-resolution.  He writes that while “there is no magic bullet…  the single solution that has harnessed the most support and reduced the most conflict… is [effective] communication.” (JCR, 40)

Conflict is everywhere.  As social, highly emotional creatures with many variable forays, inevitably, toes are stepped on, walls are put up, hearts are broken.  Even a decision like “what to make for dinner”, or an off-handed remark can lead to conflict.  The interlocking web of opportunity for conflict-resolution is endless.  Cultivating effective communication strategies will be as useful to you as stocking up on toilet paper or finding out which plants won’t give you a gnarly rash when you have to go without.

So, how does one begin in their quest to advance their communication skills?  The first objective in this process would be realizing that cultivating better communication skills takes time and patience- with oneself and others. Patience is a virtue, and this adage could become a mantra for to assist you in advancing your communication.

As for the how-to, fortunately, there has been much research into the field of what makes communication with others strong, and what makes it go sour.  Various researchers have come up with more or less the same basic tenets.  If understood and practiced frequently, the skills a person develops can change the course of their relationships with others fundamentally.  So, if you feel up to the task, read on for a primer on what will likely be a rewarding investment of your energy and time.

A few books stand out which shed light on the subject of bettering our communication skills.  The three that I am most familiar with, and that are very easy to digest, are “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Fisher, Ury and Patton, “Communicating Effectively for Dummies” by Martin Brounstein, and “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.

These authors’ work is based on many years of research observing human communication, across cultures and in different scenarios, from spousal discourse to business deals.

When we think of communication, we think of speaking, generally.  Funny enough, one of the most critical facets of being an effective communicator is listening well.  We are not raised in western culture to listen well… many of us come from family dynamics where people heard what they wanted to hear, and based their responses on that.

 We have also been conditioned by the culture at large to be impatient and hasty with our responses and assumptions. These ways of relating are unlikely to produce positive outcomes… when an “agreement” is struck, and the aforementioned ways of listening were a large factor influencing it, then it is likely that one party simply acquiesced or gave up- which creates resentment and does not deepen understanding, nor does it further positive feelings amongst the participants.

So, how does one become a good listener, and ultimately a good communicator?  There’s not a special formula.  There is, however, a need to be objective, empathic, and to cultivate a sense of joint effort to find a common ground.

The authors of the book “Getting to Yes” advocate some fundamentals that are easy to understand.  It may seem trite, but they really are simple ideas. It is getting past your enculturation and habits that is the difficult part.

First, don’t bargain over positions- it is inefficient, it endangers a relationship, and it gets worse the more parties that are involved.   Positional bargaining is the most common pitfall in social dilemmas… each party in a conflict adheres rigidly to their own desires, thereby invalidating the ideas of those around them.  All elements of communication, like salt roads to Rome, lead back to the position of the party espousing their views in contrast to another’s.

It’s a no-win situation.  If listening is a key ingredient to good communication, then it follows that objectivity and flexibility would work well, too.  After all, what are we listening for if not to gain insight into the ideas of the other party?

The next concept outlined in Getting to Yes is to “Separate the People from the Problem”.   Remember that negotiators are people first, and that every negotiator has two kinds of interests: The substance and the relationship.  The relationship, however, tends to become entangled with the problem.  Since positional bargaining (where one is fixated on a particular idea or outcome, and orients all attempts at resolution toward that end) tends to put a relationship in conflict with the substance, its best to keep them separate. Deal directly with people.

How do you deal with people directly?  Seems like an easy task- many people are probably scratching their heads, because this seems like the only thing that you are doing when engaged in a discourse or argument with another person.  But without some alterations to the approach, many of us may find ourselves squabbling, yelling, and ending up sans solution, and mired in frustration and resentment. 

The authors suggest we start this by changing our perceptions.  We must change the way we are viewing them, the other, and take the opportunity to influence how they are viewing us. 

We start by putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes.  That’s where we try to understand their position, or why they might feel a certain way.  If you were in a survival situation, and came upon others that were looking for food, ill, or frightened, you could attempt to see things from their vantage point.  Doing so might keep you from making a rash decision. 

There are many people in the survivalist community who take a “me and my own” stance when it comes to dealing with outsiders, especially in a SHTF scenario.  And, while this concept certainly has its place, this type of mentality makes it likely that if there is a person with valuable skills who comes along, information or ideas, say a doctor or engineer or perhaps just an individual with an able body and sound mind, they will be obscured to the group that cannot adequately address confrontations by utilizing empathy.  In other words, sharing a meal with an outsider who comes looking for food, as opposed to chasing them off with sticks from the get- go (and yes, this is a metaphor as well) can be a tool in and of itself.

When dealing with social dilemmas, its also important to try not to deduce their intentions from your fears.  This is a strange phenomenon, yet we all do it from time to time.  It is an aspect of communication that takes on an almost magical or paranormal quality, where we assume their intentions based on how we feel.  It’s a slippery slope, however, and best to be avoided.  Why? Because we are not (most of us, anyway) equipped with psychic, infallible capacities of deduction for the intentions of others.

Its best to get past the blame hurdle as well.  This has got to be one of the most difficult pitfalls that many of us learned- blaming others.  It feels “right”… they did or said something.  The problem is, if that is the angle we come from, the human tendency is to recoil or become defensive.  Neither produces the results we want- which is a solution, right?

There is a show on television right now that centers around a survivalist/ SHTF scenario, and it couldn’t be more perfect in its depiction of how not to communicate effectively during social dilemmas.  Secrecy, positional bargaining, even murder… its all there.  Now, while I haven’t had a television in my home for the last 10 years, I was recently at a friend’s house.  They are apparently avid fans of this show, and asked me to take in a few episodes that were being played back to back.

Its called The Walking Dead, and it airs on AMC.  The characters, catapulted from normalcy into an apocalyptic, zombie plagues nightmare, travel the countryside, trying to evade harm and zombies.  Far more then a gore-show, the greatest conflict is the drama which unfolds socially, aided by the characters’ utter lack of efficient, cooperative communication.  The characters undermine, with each new episode, the quality of their groups cohesion, by approaching interpersonal and group dilemmas with dysfunctional communication skills.

The overwhelming tendency toward blame and self-centered perspectives on conflicts that arise likely causes more zombie-related skirmishes, bites and battles then just trying to navigate a world of zombies in an of itself would portend.   The characters are utterly inept at effective communication- they bicker, yell, attempt to kill, and constantly quarrel with one-another, to no avail.  The show is entertaining- but the way that the characters communicate is baffling.
As a survivalist, it seems outrageous that petty arguments could take the attention of the characters away from… well… zombies around every turn.  Yet many a character has had a flesh-eating, roaming, gimpy corpse creep up behind them, nearly chomping a bit of shoulder, even in broad daylight.  Why?  How?  Its really simple- they’re always arguing, and their debates are littered with the worst communication patterns imaginable. 

Sadly, admittedly, the communication patterns used by the characters in this show are often used by real-life people not being pursued by hoards of walking dead.  All of us fall prey from time to time, to the ineffective, messy, hindering patterns of communication that we were conditioned to believe was normal. Part of that narrative of normalcy includes not really caring to find out another’s perspective. 

By discussing each other’s perceptions, we open new doors.  We shatter our old habits.  We can use it as an opportunity to act inconsistently with their perceptions.  (And example would be listening when they have stated they feel like you don’t.)    And, by making sure that they participate in the process, you give them a stake in the outcome. Now you’re working as a team.

But with all this objectivity, we don’t want to lose sight of what’s really driving much of our misunderstanding, anger and conflict.  Emotions.

Take the time to recognize and understand their emotions and your own.  Talk about them.  Acknowledge them as legitimate.  Allowing the other side to “let off steam” is a great way to diffuse tension and hear what they’ve been feeling without taking it personally.  If they have emotional outbursts, do not react to them.  This keeps the tension low, and it’s a strength in character to work towards this end. 

Once you are identifying with your co-communicator, despite your differences of opinion, you can make good headway towards a solution.  If you listen actively and acknowledge what is being said, if you speak well so that you are understood, and clarify when you are not, then you will go far.  Speak for a purpose.  And all-importantly, speak about yourself, not them. 

Some people may be thinking “Well, this sounds nice, but how does it look in practice?”  These strategies are used by businessman and women world-wide.  They are used amongst union members who attend mediation groups to work out settlements.  They are used by teachers, by colleagues, by spiritual communities, and by families.  In short, we know the principles, when utilized with earnest, tend to work well, because they are used so universally in settings where there is group cohesion, community health and finances at stake.

To each their own- remember that adage? A critical step when approaching conflict is to recognize that each side has multiple interests.  Their interests define the problem at hand.  Despite the presence of opposed positions, there are many shared and compatible interests mingling with the conflicting ones.

The most powerful interests are basic human needs, and for some communication scenarios, a list can be made.  By putting both parties interests and needs down on paper, it helps you to look forward, not backwards.  It acknowledges their interests and your own.  Yet, it can make it easier to mutually  identify which interests you or the other party have that may actually be part of the problem. 

When you’re working towards a solution, try to avoid premature judgment, searching for the single answer, or thinking that solving their problem is “their problem”.

When we look at a situation through another’s eyes, when we detach ourselves from what we assume might be another’s thoughts, and when we focus on meeting the person where they are, as opposed to “having our way” (positional bargaining), we tend to have great success when resolving conflict.

Engaging in conflict resolution with an open mind, and a conscientious while assertive approach, makes our argument or ideas more appealing to others, and opens the door to concepts or issues we may have overlooked or had yet to grasp.  When people feel respected, they often feel more flexible- more generous with their interests.

For most of us, its not difficult to imagine a scenario in which the communication takes a turn for the worst- where things break down.  Much of our arguments and discussions go in that direction.  Even if we “come out on top” or as “right”, much of the time, a poorly communicated discourse or debate leaves parties feeling unsettled, angry, anxious or hurt.

We can engage with others in a way that validates our own feelings and interests, while simultaneously supporting a solution-oriented interaction with someone we might be at odds with. This is the substance of a healthy community, relationship and general philosophy of life.

There are many more things that can advance your communication skills, and they are best practiced regularly, in all types of scenarios or conflicts, in order to really develop them solidly.  I recommend the aforementioned books; many of us were not taught adequate ways to communicate with others, and reading up on the subject can be rewarding.

Remember- effective communication should be a fundamental tool in your arsenal for survival.  It is not enough to have the best bug-out bag, the most complete fall-out shelter, or the most serious stash of weaponry.  Even if you had not an item to your name, not a tool on your person, just knowing how to communicate well can be a valuable asset to get you out of a hairy situation.

We need to acknowledge that we are human, and that there are skillful ways in which we can influence our relationships and social encounters that can transform outcomes in a positive way, can serve as the binding glue for our community, and ultimately mean the difference between life and death for ourselves and others.


Balliet, Daniel.  Communication and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas: A Metanalytic Review,  Journal of Conflict Resolution 2010, 54:39

Ury, William. Fisher, Roger. Patton, Bruce.  Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.  Penguin Books, 1983.

This was predictable but nevertheless it makes me shudder.  As a result of the shooting death Trayvon Martin in Florida, the facts of which will not be known in their entirety for sometime to come if ever, the left is now running a national campaign pegging "stand your ground" laws as "shoot first," completely mischaracterizing their intent and effect. 

If these people had their way (and there's a chance they will), the homeowner in this article, who exercised extreme self control before finally pulling the trigger, would likely have been led away in handcuffs facing charges.

Best Regards, - D.B. in Seattle

While I understand consuming insects may keep you from starving to death, there is a real concern if eating without adequate cooking.

Many insects carry round and tape worms, nematodes and other parasites.  I once softly stepped on a cricket and watched several worms exit the body.  Every time I see people advocating eating insects, I think of that cricket and the nasty worms. 

While the insects my stave off starvation, the worms, parasites, and so forth might well be worse in the long run. - Alan T.

Dan in Kentucky recommended this BBC news video segment: Greek town develops bartering system without euro. [JWR Adds a word of warning: To avoid charges of fraud or counterfeiting, never use the term "Dollar" or use a Dollar Sign ($) when setting up an alternative currency, or make any implication that the currency units in any way reflects or is tied to the Dollar as a currency unit. (The creators of the Liberty Dollar learned this the hard way.) Instead, the barter currency unit should be denominated in hours of labor, or 1/10th Troy ounces of silver, with no mention of Dollars, whatsoever.]

Gary Shilling: Recession Is Coming, And It's All Due To The Consumer

Reader Bram in Holland wrote to comment about Tax Freedom Day falling on April 17th this year in the United States. He noted: "Well, I live in Holland (184 days) and elsewhere in socialist Europe it is much worse! For example France 207 days and Hungary 218 days. In the old times this was called slavery."

Fed Chatter Sends Gold Prices $20 Higher, Silver Outperforms Everything. (Thanks to R.C. for the link.)

Your Tax Dollars at Work: Shovel Ready in San Fran: $205,075 to ‘Translocate’ One Shrub from Path of Stimulus Project

Wall Street Ends Worst Two Weeks Since November


Items from The Economatrix:

Confiscation of Gold and Silver Coins Will Not Happen

The Shocking Truth About Unemployment in America in One Chart

Fed Says Economy Grew at "Modest to Moderate" Pace

Greece in Receivership--Planned Financial Crash Date From Bank Insider

Another gent beats feet for the American Redoubt: Why I’m Moving West

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Paul Venezia: Your privacy is a sci-fi fantasy. (Thanks Mark P. for the link.)

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Pierre M. sent this: DHS Purchases Bullet Resistant Checkpoint Booths Amid Large Scale Ammo Buildup

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This upcoming film seems to be more about romance than survivalism: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

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Real wrath of God stuff: Raging downpour leaves Texas town covered in giant piles of hail stones.

"At the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments." - Ibn Khaldun, Maghreb historian (1332-1406)

Friday, April 13, 2012

We recently set up our own affiliate store with the U.S. Cavalry Store, to offer a wide range of top quality survival and military gear. (The profits will help cover SurvivalBlog's bandwidth, web hosting, and VPN expenses.) Please check it out.


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Those of us who have considered the terrible option of having to leave our homes, our main domicile and primary place of normalcy and safety due to civil unrest or worse have had to ask the question of, "What do I take with me?". Eventually this question comes down taking that hike to .... wherever we feel is best, a better chance for survival environment. Why hike? Because any rational consideration of events that could occur all lead to fuel being no longer able to be obtained, roads blocked, normal travel impossible. Furthermore, the roads themselves may not be the best option for travel for reasons we can all imagine as to why. So we mentally move on to the 'Bug Out Bag', that pack, frame and its contents that we hope will see us through to a place of peace and security.

The novice, the out-of-shape, the inexperienced all begin by assuming that they can fill their pack with everything that they've read is necessary and still perform a prolonged panic hike of some 20+ miles per day. Day after day; perhaps, week after week. Possibly even night after night as well. Packed is food, water, first aid, sleeping and/or tent gear, campsite needs such as utensils, axe, knife, machete, saw, rope and all the rest of those things deemed absolutely necessary. And should violence and the need to protect oneself be an issue, firearm(s) and ammunition.

Water alone weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon. And the average needed daily amount for an adult is 8 - 8 ounce glasses of water per day. In other words, your daily water weight load is right at 4.2 pounds (a gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds). Having at least two days worth of water is not an unreasonable amount to expect to be carrying. The rest of the weight math is subject to what is in the pack, in your pockets, pouches, bags.....; in other words, the traveler who's trekked knows that weight carried is the one crucial factor in what is to be carried. The value of each item is scrutinized as to that factor and its worth, utility, need and multi-purpose potential.

Consider the weight of an AK-47, a set of web gear, and 120 rounds of ammunition loaded in magazines. Having actually weighed them, I've found that they come in at just over 20 pounds. I assume that most rifles of a similar purpose, with the same number of rounds, would be of a like measure. So, just water for two days and your rifle and a minimal amount of ammunition alone add up to almost 30 pounds. How's the old back feeling now? And let's not neglect the weight of clothing, shoes/boots, pocket and belt gear. Easily another five pounds if you're carrying a good knife, binoculars, compass, mini-first aid kit, some ready-to-eat packets of food, then...

Anyway it goes, anyway you go - if on foot, the load quickly adds up. Many an Old West wagon train movie illustrated a trail dotted with belongings discarded when times got hard, animal power to haul having sickened, weakened or died or other trail hazards and dilemmas arose. That 'sleeps 4 dome tent', or extra foam rubber ground pad sure seemed to be 'the thing' when you bought it; until that is, you had to haul it for 5 days on the run. That axe or spare shotgun, handgun or two and their respective ammunition needs also seemed perfect for a last-stand home defense; but prove just too much to carry too far.

As I prepared by both reading and studying, and then actually packing a Bug-Out bag (or two, or three....) I came to the conclusion that it would sure be nice to be three people with 21 year old strong backs. I began to consider just how to beat the weight and transportation problem. Seeing an old street woman pushing a shopping cart reminded me of the movie The Road and the hero/father's shopping cart. Supplies and the means to move them for him and his son were trudged along like that poor old lady that can be found downtown in any city. Like the old woman, there is plenty of room for all the necessities and even some 'luxuries' (everything is relative don't forget.) in a stolen grocery store cart. But, a shopping cart makes a poor vehicle for overland use. Whereas those carts are fine on pavement and sidewalks, the tires are too small and easily fouled, not easily maneuvered on broken ground. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I looked around for an off-the-shelf vehicle people already use for valuable cargo that is highly maneuverable, light-weight and adaptable to many terrain types.

What I found was the everyday 3 tube-tired baby stroller. The more 'upscale' model with two 12" diameter tires and a pivoting smaller tire. A load capacity between them of over 50 pounds for usage as a human baby conveyance. The stroller features I would recommend would be similar to the Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System, Millennium with two 16" rear tires and a 12" front tire.

And this stroller, or such of a like type, can be found at virtually any thrift store for less than $20. I was fortunate and literally found one broken (the tray cracked, some of the upper pipes bent, and all the canvas shredded) being discarded by a neighbor. As in the picture above, there is a small triangular shelf above the front pivoting wheel (which you may discover can be locked in a straight 'run' position). As the stroller was damaged, I was able to salvage and saw off the rear axles, brake and wheels; as well as the front fork with the pivoting wheel and 'table' above it. This buggy originally sold for around $180.

As I looked at my parts with the eye to it becoming a 'Bug Out Buggy' and taking some quick measurements, I found that the pipe/tubing used was almost exactly the same outside diameter as high-pressure 1" PVC water pipe internal diameter. Literally a perfect fit. To the sketch board!!!

What I did was design around what I had on-hand, the former baby stroller gleaned from my neighbor's discards at the curb. The first consideration was to reverse the original wheel layout due to this vehicle being drawn rather than pushed. The second consideration being the main cargo area which consists of a large denim bag 18"W x 16"L x 12"D (which corresponded to the approximate size of 2 average day-backpacks. A table or platform area over and extending rearward from the axle of 18"W x 12" L and the pair of forks to extend the length and stride of the puller - in my project this was 40". The necessary 45 degree sloping run to the rearmost point consisting of the original front triangular table/foot platform added another 20". This sloped area was in part determined by my decision to 'fit' a previously-purchased OSHA First Aid kit in that location - the slope toward the pivot wheel platform - where it would be quickly accessible. The overall length depending on which pair of forks is being used is roughly 5'. What needs to be pictured is a vehicle with the main load structure being pulled by a pair of poles and terminating in a small triangular platform at the rear with an average height from the ground of a foot and a half. From the rear to the front the shape from a side view would be of a triangle over the pivoting wheel, an open-bottomed square with vertical supports connecting to the axle, another square that is the cargo area and finally the poles extending forward from the main cart body.

A couple of bags of PVC fittings - 'Tee's', Elbows, 45 degree elbows, caps, and some threaded adapters for the fork handles, some 15' of PVC pipe, PVC cleaner and cement, some eyebolts, heavy cable ties to affix the upright sections to the remaining buggy axle, a couple of linchpins, a piece of fiberglass reinforced plastic and for aesthetics - some spray paint - all told no more than $60 worth of hardware; and, I had my frame built and fitted in about four hours. A technical note - PVC is easily molded and bent by gentle and careful heating of the material with a heat gun. This allows for curves of any radius or direction you may wish for your project.

I own a sewing machine and had many a pair of cast-off and no longer wearable jeans that were easy to convert into denim cloth to make a hanging bag with button-on straps to sling it off the pipe rails. I can see others may use zippers, velcro, snap fasteners or the like for the same purpose. I prefer buttons over those as replacement can be done with many available materials; whereas, the latter-mentioned all take specialized tools or are not obtainable in the field. A button only takes a pierced disk or toggle and a needle and thread to replace.  It all depends on the desired configuration of the cart, the builder's preference and what and how much is to be carried. I do recommend planning on being able to remove any bag for cleaning purposes as assuredly will become necessary. In addition, having a large canvas bag for future uses independent of the cart cannot hurt. Just think of opportunistic harvest needs. A large bushel-sized bag would come in handy.

The power I intend to use is my own motive power and strength to pull this cart like a rickshaw style (with pipe insulation handgrips). But.... a major alternative 'power source' that I've made are two additional forks/tongues that can be interchanged for the angled handles in order that my dog can pull it when I desire him to. As the owner of a large German Shepherd weighing some 130 pounds, it was a case of "why not use all my resources?" Initial experimentation with him in the traces/harness I rigged and on leash went well; though, I do counsel anyone considering this option to engage in a multiple exposure and training sessions with your mutt. Some dogs may not readily take to becoming harnessed 'sled' dogs.  And thus, that is why there is a second/spare set of forks with threaded adapters/couplers on the ends of the forks to mate to the forward ends of the cart bag frame. I took the liberty of color coding the left side with red tape to insure that the threaded adapter fittings for the two fork pulling options were always installed on the correct sides and aligned with the linchpin holes drilled through the threaded adapters to prevent any accidental fork rotation while in use. The linchpins are secured to prevent loss by two nylon lines from the pull-ring to conveniently placed eyebolts just behind the threaded adapter fittings. Additional eye-bolts are installed on the dog-forks and in the center of the upper 'U' pipe forward of the bag compartment for dog harness attachment (or to be used as ready-to-hand lash down points).

Remember, if you will, that I reversed the original buggy design direction of travel, with the smaller pivoting wheel being to the rear. This allows for far greater maneuverability and affords the larger tires to surmount obstructions easier than would a forward-most small tire. In addition, the formerly front triangular shelf is perfect to sit on with feet on the axle while the dog pulls; or, for a 5 gallon water carboy, ammunition separation and availability - whatever purpose you deem this platform is to be used for. If you consider this cart is designed to be pulled not pushed, it will make better sense.

I load tested and found that the cart as built easily handles over 140 pounds of weight - with an estimated maximum of 180 pounds - while pulling easily and smoothly. As a precaution, I emptied the air out of the tubes and replaced same in all three tires with 'Fix-A-Flat' for some puncture hazard resilience.

The load I used on the initial build, pre-painting or threaded adapters for the alternate forks, was, as stated above, of two average-sized backpacks, one medium duffel and an ammo pouch containing over 400 rounds of 7.62 x 39 caliber rifle ammunition on the rear 'deck'. It is easy to picture how at least 2 long-guns and more cargo could be placed on top of the hanging bag and following fiberglass-reinforced plastic table behind it. The packs and pouch were loaded with over 90 pounds of gear and supplies and the cart pulled easily and 'lightly'. I tested the now-rear shelf with a filled 5 gallon carboy of water - some 42 pounds - lashed to 3 eye-bolts installed for that purpose and hardly noticed the extra effort needed to pull the cart.

It is an enjoyable project, a quick week-end affair to accomplish, inexpensive and as designed above; or however you may wish to configure it for your own needs, a thing that it easy to do. The big plus is a man on the move can still carry a pack, a rifle and pockets goods on his person while pulling this; effectively quadrupling the normal load if need be. Many things too bulky or weighty to be conveyed by one's own upright strength - such as 5 gallons of water on the rear shelf - can now be moved with ease. I consider it to be sort of an automatic cache if the need to be free of longer-term needs must be abandoned due to hazardous circumstances arising. All that would be needed is to find cover for the cart and move off already packed out with a short term needs regular pack arrangement and/or defensive weapon.

I've not completely explained many of the design considerations. Some important ones are why no bag compartment is behind the axle - in order to lessen the accumulation of mud, dirt and debris on the canvas. Another thought is to make the cart as well-balanced see-saw-fashion fore and aft of the axle. The height of the fork handles to pull - either human or canine - is crucial for comfort and ease of use. Good heavy-duty cement rather than the weaker strength compounds is a must. The entire cart should be able to be picked up with little strain when unloaded/empty with one hand. The ability to remove the forks allows for ease of transport in a pickup truck, van or on a car roof, giving the owner the ability to take it in a 'bug-out' situation on and then off a fueled (or just ran out of gas) vehicle and move away from a hazard or traffic situation readily by paring down its overall length initially. The poles/forks too can be used for temporary tent poles and other campsite uses. The overall length of the cart cargo platform including the bag area should be approximately that of an adult body - around 3-4' - with the knees bent at the aft over-axle platform so that in an emergency you have a wheeled gurney at hand.

There are many other design parameters that could be included ranging from sewn-on pouches on the sides of the bag, rain cover fabrication, mud-flaps and more. It is all a matter of what the builder wishes to include. But as I began this essay with - weight, weight, weight and the consideration of that is what is crucial.

I am not sure on when it happened, or how it happened, all I know is that it happened. I woke up one morning and realized that I didn’t have a plan and I didn’t know what I needed a plan for. Something inside of me was tearing at my chest, not in the form of fear, but in the form of urgency. I started to react instantly and in an almost frantic way because I knew that there was something very important I needed to do. After a couple of weeks I stopped myself and took two steps back to figure out what I was doing and the reason I was doing it.

As a Warrant Officer in the United States Army with four tours overseas in support of the Global War on Terror, I understand the importance of being prepared. Like many others out there, I have read numerous articles on how to be prepared and articles on what to prepare for. I have noticed that everyone has a theory, plan or a way of doing things for short or long term, but I have never come across an article on how to sell this to others that don’t believe.  I hope this helps.

We have all heard the saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. The same goes here. No matter what you may believe will eventually happen, it is getting others to believe the same thing that will hopefully save them one day. In combat, the easiest way to get a young soldier to understand the importance of being prepared is to just sit and wait. Once that first round or mortar comes any where close to him, he’ll get it. Now don’t confuse this tactic on the inherent responsibility of a leader to force preparation on a solider, this isn’t the point, the point is the icebreaker that causes someone to want to believe in something. So, how do we make the horse drink the water?

In any writing, speech or sale, it is the primary goal of the author, speaker or sales man to believe in what they have to say and to get others to believe in what they are saying.  There are many way of doing this within the article or the speech, but to be successful at this, you need to be coherent in both writing and speaking and have the most substantial facts on your topic.  In reality, not many of us are in that boat, to include myself, so here are some steps and methods that I have chosen to enlist to help sell the truth.

Step One: Zombie Apocalypse Humor

I always break the ice to non-believers, people who live with rose color glasses thinking nothing will ever happen, with the most outlandishly humorous thing out there, the Zombie Apocalypse. First, I go into greatly exaggerated details on all substantial proof that zombies will take over the earth, like the Center for Disease and Control (CDC) posting preparedness steps for the Zombie Apocalypse. The $25 billion in revenue that Zombie movies, video games and artwork based off of the 444 movies made since the early 1900s or the 60 million people that practice a religion that believes in Zombies. Now on that note, I don’t believe in Zombies. Second, I start talking about the arsenal I am building along with the 1 year supply of food, water and first aid that is buried in a bunker that I built out of recycled 18 wheeler trailers. At this point, I have broken the Ice. I can now make light of the whole situation and I am usually joking and crying right along with the person who makes light of any bad situation that could happen.

Step Two: Walk Away Power

I have coined this phrase from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Class on how to walk away from something that you really want. Walk away power is the ability to remove yourself from a desire so you do not make an impulse decision that could not be in your best interest. In this case, we really want someone else to believe in the importance to be prepared. After you break the ice, end it there, just for now. You had a good time; you planted the seed and now just wait. This is especially hard because you so desperately wish to continue your goal. While you give it some time, it is ok to prod the fire, and I highly encourage it, by occasionally making joke of the whole conversation. You can do this in passing, before a meeting or even during lunch. A smart move is to do it around others. Imagine that if you over hear someone talking about an investment, do you think that you might be intrigued to find out more? Most would not interrupt a conversation between two people, but rather they might be more likely to pull one of the two to the side and make the inquiry of the over heard conversation, just think, it could be you. If you are the chosen one questioned, guess what step we are back to?

Step Three: Real Life

This opportunity could come at any moment or it could take days to weeks to present itself, but it will, I guarantee it. We live in a sad and destructive world and I do not make light of any horrible situation in which human life is loss or is put into a state of suffering. We have all heard of the saying “History has a way of repeating its self” and it does. These are times where it is key that we use these situations to learn from and to prepare for it possibly happing to us. Lets use Tornados for this example. Tornados happen time and time again and each time life is lost and everything is destroyed. When we turn on the television and see reports of people being interviewed, it seems that same old thing is said by the victim, “Every thing is gone, we have nothing left, and we don’t know what we are going to do”. When a situation like this arises, use it! Open up a dialog on how sad this is, how bad you feel and then ask the non-believer “What would you do?” Let it sit for a few moments, but do not let him or her answer. Interrupt their thought process with what you have done, but it is curtail that you only pick one thing. I cannot stress this enough, one thing and one thing only. Their senses are currently in a overwhelming state and their body is stuck between flight or fright, so you do not want to overwhelm them into remission of doubt with what you have to say. For example, “I have put together an Emergency BUG out Bag that has a week of supplies in it, you know something I can grab on the way to the closet ”.  Here is the second most important part of this step: Refer to Step Two, Walk Away.

Step Four: The Follow Up

You can do this step in one or two ways, go to them or let them come to you. I will mention both, but I will talk mostly about you having to go back to them. When a person comes back to you for more information that you might have, you know that the hook is set and it is time to start reeling them in, but sometimes you need to cast back out to try to get another bite. These methods are once again a waiting game, you don’t want to go to soon and you don’t want to sit around for to long waiting on them. This can cause you to be too pushy, or they could loose interest. If you feel that it might be best to pursue them, bring up the same disaster, use a different angle but most importantly, use the same plan that you are using. For example, “Hey man did you hear? FEMA can’t get food out to those people that were in the tornado. That is why I have a week of food in my Bug Out bag”. I hope that you have noticed that I have referenced a not so common term, “Bug Out Bag”. I do this to deepen the curiosity of your non-believer. Best-case scenario is when they come to you. More than likely they will come bearing more questions, “Hey man, what’s a Bug Out Bag?” or they will come to you with answers, “Hey man, I checked out those Bug out Bags you where talking about, pretty cool, I might get one.” Once you know that step four has been made, move on to the final step.

Step Five: The Believer

I opened this article on my own personal account of what happened to me when I realized that something needed to be done to prepare my family and myself. I want you to notice the date, 2011. I have just gotten on this train of thinking against the grain of society’s mindset of the government is here to take care of me, so I have a lot to learn. I guess that I got lucky and figured it out on my own, but there are many others out there that you know and love that won’t have that privilege. Step five is still a very delicate phase in your new believer (trust me, I have heard some crazy stuff out there and I have been turned off on a few things) so it is important to use moderation on your particular beliefs. The purpose of the Web Site Survivalblog.com and many others like it, is to create survivors. For people like us, strength in numbers is what is going to make all of us successful, no matter if our theories come into play or not. Your new believer will find out a lot of information on the web, don’t be afraid to steer him or her away from the garbage and let him or her learn from your mistakes. The most important thing I could say about this step is that you need to be there in their time of doubt, encourage and reinforce the reasons on why they choose to make this very important move in life.

You can use this technique for just about any thing that you want to and please feel free to modify it to fit your personality. I cannot guarantee that this is 100% effective for anyone, not even myself. I have been using this format for years, but never noticed it. To date, I have only created just a few new believers, but in my efforts, I have met just as many, if not more believers and new believers. With that said, the word is out, lets take the time and focus on the bottom line up front, new believers, a stronger community, and most important a country that is prepared.

There seems to be a lot of debate on 'should I head for the hills, post-SHTF'. In my opinion, what most people miss is: Yes, it is a bad idea to head for the hills with no firmly established destination. Either move now or establish a place you are welcome to before the SHTF.

I doubt a small town will be welcoming strangers in that situation. As for the fantasy of 'living off the land', you and 85 million other people? Ever try to bag a deer during hunting season with the limits in place today? - Ross

JWR Replies: I agree wholeheartedly. The whole "Batman in the Boondocks" all-I-need-is-a-backpack-and-a-rifle-and-a-big-knife shtick seems to be promulgated by dreamers who have never actually tried it. For all but a few Herculean backpackers, it is indeed an unrealistic fantasy. If you leave your home with only what you can carry on your back or what can push in a cart, then you've shortchanged yourself and have positioned yourself just one notch above a penniless refugee. So consider this a last ditch contingency plan, not Plan A, or Plan B, or even Plan C.

By far, the best solution is to relocate well in advance of any disaster to a small town, with your larder fully intact. You need to become fully part of a community, to overcome the We/They Paradigm. The small town relocation concept was first advanced by Mel Tappan in the late 1970s, and it was crystallized in the 1980s by Joel Skousen. He dubbed it Strategic Relocation, and wrote an excellent series of books on the subject. I too, advocate living at your retreat year-round, and my family lives that life here at the Rawles Ranch. We only make occasional trips into cities, primarily for stocking up, or to broaden the horizons of my homeschooled children. (We visit museums, zoos, arboretums, libraries, and major book stores--like Powell's-- to enrich our at-home teaching curricula.)

There are some who advocate establishing a well-stocked retreat, with the hopes of getting there at the 11th Hour in the midst of a crisis. I do not recommend this, as there are lots of things that can go wrong. Not only is there a high risk of not making it safely to your retreat, but there is also a substantial risk that burglars will clean out your carefully stored tools and provisions. This approach is also suboptimal in terms of "working the kinks out" of your self-sufficiency plans. Unless you practice independent living day-to-day, it can be daunting--whether it is the peculiarities of growing a productive garden in your micro-climate, establishing fruit and nut trees, building up flocks and herds of livestock, or just learning the quirks of cooking on a wood stove. That all takes time and practice. Granted, you could have just one member of your family live at your retreat year round to "hold down the fort", but that is inferior to having everyone in the family living there and working the land. In closing, I must state that I recognize that for many SurvivalBlog readers that have work or family obligations in the cities and suburbs, that this may be your only practical solution. It is not the best, but make the best you can of it.

K.A.F. sent this news headline from inside the American Redoubt: Where should the buffalo roam? Tribes, ranchers battle over bison relocation

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SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent this: The ugly battle between rural residents and alternative energy mandates in California

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A fog of drugs and war

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Government Surveillance Crackdown on Internet Goes into Overdrive

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Jonathan B. sent this tale of a bad day in Nashville: Man allegedly commits 10 felonies in 9 hours. Is this a little glimpse of what will happen in a grid-down Crunch, when hardened criminals recognize a vacuum in law enforcement?

"...a national revenue must be obtained; but the system must be such a one, that, while it secures the object of revenue it shall not be oppressive to our constituents." - President James Madison

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Apocalypse: en route or ongoing? I won’t argue whether something terrible will happen. It’s a flawed premise. Something terrible is already happening, just not where your computer is plugged in. It is not necessary for the entire planet to be threatened for a single region to be thrown into chaos. It wasn’t necessary for the whole state of Louisiana to be in peril before New Orleans turned medieval after Katrina. The mistake in logic occurs with the base assumption that a survival scenario is the end game. If that’s your assumption, there’s no need for extensive preparations. All you can hope to do is postpone the inevitable. For the rest of us, disaster will bring about a dire, though temporary state of more primitive living conditions. It’s temporary because we are working to make sure it doesn’t last. Everyone’s survival objective should be to rebuild and sustain. Adapt does not mean devolve.

Civilization is usually restored in a matter of months after the most catastrophic disaster. Push that period of primitive lawlessness out to several years and you’ll get no argument from me. What I’m talking about is realigning your survival paradigm with the realm of the probable. You will never be prepared for everything possible, and you will probably never hunt feral cats with a bow in a radioactive ash storm. Even if you do, I submit there is no conceivable way to prepare yourself for that eventuality while maintaining a tolerable existence in the pre-apocalyptic world. It makes more sense to concentrate on the remaining 99-point-something-percent likely scenarios which, combined, will take 4,000% less preparation and worry. This paradigm shift takes about as much time as reading this article.

Still not sold? Well, I still won’t argue. Please see Robert Heinlein’s quote about teaching pigs to sing. But let’s assume you recognize the benefit in an approach based on overwhelming probability. I’m going to reward you with the single biggest life saving strategy you will acquire this year, and it costs nothing. In fact, it’s going to save you money. Ready? Stay home.

You heard me. Don’t go anywhere. Metaphoric pause inserted here to allow for knee jerk reactions. Someone exclaims, “I’m not staying in this city!” Another asks, “Why should we listen to this guy, anyway?” And that’s a reasonable question.

As a rescue technician, I’m qualified in high angle (dangling from a rope), trench, excavation, and underwater environments, as well as vehicle extrication, wilderness search and rescue, confined space safety and response, unexploded ordnance (bombs), mine fields, and HazMat operations. There are very few rescue scenarios I have not trained on, drilled on, commanded, or otherwise participated in. The rescuer’s creed is simple. I am the most important person on the scene, my partner is second, and the victim is third. This means I am primarily trained to keep myself and my team safe while we do all we can for someone else. Or, survival, for short.

What I am not: I may be the only survival expert who was never associated with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. Quite frankly, if you are getting all your survival tips from a SEAL Team member or any other individual whose primary qualification is combat experience, then you fall into the threat category for the rest of us. I dig special ops as much as the next guy, but they are trained to kill people. At night. With suppressed automatic weapons, helicopters and Zodiac boats. Is killing really that big a part of your overall plan? Or, do you envision saving yourself and your loved ones from the perils of a disaster-stricken city or suburb when additional resources may be hours or even days away? Because that’s what I do on a regular basis.

What I don’t often get a chance to do is speak to people before trouble finds them and explain how to best avoid becoming a victim in the first place. This information is hard won, paid for in some cases with life itself, and not the product of idle web surfing. I hope it strikes a chord with someone. I hope never to see you in need of rescue. That’s a result that benefits us both.

Here, I’ve enumerated the reasons for staying in or near your home (what we call “sheltering in place”) as opposed to immediately fleeing to an alternate location when disaster strikes. Do not lament any bug out preparations you have made or might be in the process of making. Survival is first and foremost a matter of options – having them, realizing them, and implementing them. If you can afford a subterranean bunker and it makes you sleep better at night, knock yourself out. Can’t hurt, right? I’m simply saying, in the most probable survival scenarios, the greatest number of us stand the greatest chance of helping ourselves by shifting the bug out option down the list a bit. For the vast majority of people who do not have bunkers, piling into the truck and heading for the hills is a very bad first option. And here’s why:

1.) The more familiar you are with your surroundings, the better your chances of long-term survival. All else equal, meaning your immediate surroundings aren’t grossly contaminated, you will live longer in the neighborhood where you’ve spent the last ten years than you will in the forest. Yes, this takes into account roaming bands of armed thugs. Yes, it’s true even if you’ve found the last virgin wilderness where the ground is fertile and game abounds. There is no substitute for, nor any advantage that trumps a thorough knowledge of your surroundings. You can “feel” when something is not right in your neighborhood. That’s because it is your habitat. In the best of conditions, animals struggle outside their habitat

2.) You will need support. Because you can’t anticipate every eventuality, you will not know from whom, or from where, aid might come. When you flee the worst of human nature, you also hide from the best. Okay, you may discount completely the kindness of your neighbor, but are you going to ignore the benefit of trading with him when supply caches are lopsided? And what about when your interests align with his? When, for example, those armed thugs show up, they won’t be coming just for what’s in your house. They’ll be going door to door. You will suddenly discover allies all around you and it will have nothing to do with philanthropy or humanitarian principles.

3.) Have you ever heard, “Train how we fight, and fight how we train”? It’s an accepted strategy by now, from athletics to the armed forces. You will perform in the same manner you practiced. This holds true for your environs. Football isn’t practiced on a soccer field just as jungle warfare techniques aren’t honed in alpine forests. The better you know your surroundings, the better able you are to use them to your advantage. Near your house, you already know which streets are dead-ends, which drainage and choke points to avoid, where the nasty dogs are, and you know all routes from there to everywhere else in a 20 mile radius. Unless you are at least that familiar with your bug out location and spend at least half your time there, you are safer at home. Note: companies like onPoint Tactical offer urban survival courses customized to most metropolitan areas. Check for one where you live and improve upon your turf advantage instead of trying to learn new terrain.

4.) After shelter and food, your psychological well being is the most important factor in your survival. I cannot overstate the importance of your surroundings on your psyche. All of those familiar, comforting belongings that you cannot pack in a go bag will make the difference in morale when things get really tough. These morale stabilizers will translate to poise in the face of extraordinary circumstances, when every decision matters. But let’s say you’ve adopted the Spartan lifestyle and everything you own already fits into that go bag. My question to you is, why defend any ground at all? Find yourself a mule and go nomad. Most of us social animals, however, need our territory. And the psychological benefit we derive from home territory – the home field advantage, in other words – is no myth. It reminds us what we’re struggling to preserve.

5.) If you have put any thought into a remote shelter, you have grappled with the problem of supply. Everything from food to first aid and farm implements must be transported there and stored there. You probably already have all this stuff at home. Consider how much easier it would be to simply increase your stores in that one location. You can maintain equipment in your garage. Rotate fuel and food into consumption before it expires and replace it with fresh goods. Keep your medicine and vitamins in the refrigerator that’s already running and extend their shelf lives. Yard not good for growing things? Let the dog poop somewhere else and rehabilitate your soil. Take the money you would have spent driving to your remote shelter on a monthly basis and construct some raised vegetable beds. Start a compost heap. Raise fruit trees and perennial crops now instead of depending on your ability to learn this skill under life and death pressure.

6.) There will be an “after”. There may be several. Hollywood is largely responsible for our warped vision of a post-apocalypse world. They share the blame with unscrupulous fear merchants and a several religious sects. Disaster and ruin are not end states. Ever. Populations regenerate and societies rebuild. That means that there were more than a few people left after every catastrophic occurrence in history, and there have been some big ones. What has happened before will happen again, including the healing process. What kind of shape would you expect your property to be in after you abandoned it to looters and the elements for a few months? What if, instead of a single big bang Hollywood style disaster, a much more likely succession of smaller disasters strike? You have the option to weather them one at a time and rehabilitate in between, or isolate yourself at the onset and forsake your home. The latter could well prove to be an irreversible decision.

There are more reasons than I’ve given here – some technical, some the lesser of two evils – but I’m hoping this is sufficient to compel many readers to pause and consider the basis for their assumptions. If something about your plan of action is troubling you and you can’t quite get a handle on it; if every problem you attempt to solve creates two new ones; if the amount of money, worry, and time you’re spending on this somehow doesn’t make sense, it’s because your premise is flawed. It’s likely you inherited someone else’s premise and didn’t ask the right questions of it. There’s time to do that now. Take another look at what you already have before buying anything new. Then get some qualified advice on how to maximize it.

The latest economic recession was, for thousands of people across our nation and millions worldwide, apocalyptic. Vast numbers of those people are still in survival mode. One of the benefits to being less severely impacted by this disaster is the unbelievably cheep expertise available to us on the open market. Security consultants, architects, builders, fire fighters, self defense specialists, farmers and firearm instructors (to mention a very few) are scouring the want ads for any kind of employment. Offer them a day’s wage to help educate you and your family. It’s money wisely spent because it helps you and it helps a skilled individual without a job. We will need those skilled people nearby when the worst comes to pass. This is symbiotic, community recovery without going all Kumbaya around a campfire. It is practical, sustainable, and it will serve you much better than an individualist approach. I promise.

So, my advice reiterated is this: ignore the microscopic possibilities and concentrate on some solvable problems. Learn to separate practical survival from movies and video games. Go back to the beginning and question everything. It’s not hard. It will make you feel better. It will save you money. It will save your life and possibly many others. Be safe out there.

The most common reason given for not having preparations in place is lack of financial resources.  Considering the recent economic downturn combined with the large amount on consumer debt held by the average American household prior to the economic downturn that is not a surprising response.  For the past several decades Americans have burdened themselves with more and more debt.  We have fallen prey to the “buy now, pay later” mentality.  Each and every day we are inundated with marketing messages designed to make us feel like less of a person if we aren’t living in the right neighborhood, driving the right car or wearing the right watch, shoes, clothes or cologne.  Carrying yesterday’s cell phone?  How embarrassing.  Technology is literally moving faster than we can pay for it.  Buy the latest computer, cell phone or flat screen television and it is virtually obsolete in less than six months.  If you financed that must have purchase, six months later you haven’t even paid off the interest, let alone making a dent in the principal balance itself!
Planned obsolescence or the replacement buy cycle is being designed into the products we buy today like never before in history.  How long do you expect your flat screen television to last?  Compare that to how long your grandfather expected his television to last.  And there we are, buying it hook, line and sinker.  We never quite get the old item paid off before we take the plunge and buy (finance) the new toy.  We continue to dig ourselves deeper and deeper into debt until we reach a point where we are spending the bulk of our income merely servicing the debt on yesterday’s, now obsolete, purchases.  Sound familiar?
And then one day it happens.  While watching the news or chatting with our friends or co-workers the big picture just doesn’t make sense anymore and we realize how blind we have been and how easy it would be for the world as we know it to get turned upside down.  You experience your survival epiphany.  You are suddenly awake, aware, concerned and ready to start preparing.  But you don’t have the money to buy the essentials we need to survive.  So what can you do?
Well, if you are absolutely convinced that a world changing disaster or economic collapse is imminent then it’s hard to argue with a plan to whip out the credit card and immediately buy everything you need to survive.  Don’t worry about the payments, after all, who will be around to collect on that debt?  But on the off chance that everything is business as usual next week and you will have to pay up, then your first step towards preparing needs to be to get your finances under control.
Step 1.  Discovery.  Make two lists, one for income and one for expenses.  Look at your bank statements and credit card statements for the past several months and determine, really determine where your money is going.  As simple as it sounds, this step is the hardest step for most people.  Very few people want to do the work and face the results of such a detailed discovery.  This step can be especially hard when it includes a spouse or partner.  Be prepared to face avoidance, denial, fear, frustration, anger or even depression.  But you cannot skip this all important step.  This step is the very foundation that your entire plan will be built on.  There are only two ways to significantly improve your finances, make more or spend less.  Finding out exactly where you are on the income verses expense scale is essential to creating an Action Plan.
Step 2.  Create An Action Plan.  Once you know where your money is going, create a realistic plan for making financial progress.  Are you going to earn more or spend less?  How about both?  Can you skip the Mocha Frothy Latte on your way to work?  Can you make your lunch at home and bring it with you instead of eating out?  Could you do that just two days out of five?  Do you really need 350 High Definition television channels or can you get by with 150?  Can you work an extra shift, fill in for someone else or take those holiday hours no one else wants to work?  How about a part-time job?  Think small, start small.  Try to earn a few extra dollars here and cut a few dollars there.  It all adds up and before you know it you have an extra $50, $100 or more to work with each month.  Properly apply these found dollars and you will be amazed at how much progress you can make.
So what is the best way to apply these found dollars?  Are you going to use these dollars to immediately fund your prepping or are you going to take a longer view and eliminate all consumer debt and free up even more cash flow so an even larger sum can be redirected towards putting preparations in place?  If you decide to pursue a debt reduction plan, Suze Orman prefers you pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.  Dave Ramsey teaches the “snowball” method where you pay off the debt with the smallest balance first then roll that monthly payment over to the debt with the next lowest balance “snowballing” your way into making large monthly payment towards the targeted debt.  Both of them agree that you cannot borrow your way out of debt.  You must either make more or spend less.  An essential step in creating a plan will involve researching different strategies and philosophies to determine which method fits you best. 
Step 3.  Put Your Plan Into Action.  Creating a plan is great, actually putting that plan into action is the only way to see results.  Old habits are hard to break.  Be diligent but patient.  You are going to stumble but stick with it.  Accessing tools like direct deposit and auto draft might be a way to force yourself to remain disciplined.  Set aside specific days during the month when you are going to sit down and make payments, shift funds or whatever your plan calls for.  Make this a routine, a planned event and it will become a new habit.
Step 4.  Pay Attention.  Because old habits are hard to break, you have to regularly revisit Step 1 to make sure your Action Plan stays on track.  Many banks, credit unions and credit card companies offer free tracking tools to help you organize your expenditures into categories and generate reports that help you quickly see where you are spending your money.  Some people accomplish the same goal with a small notepad they keep in their pocket and write down everything they buy and how much that item costs.  Here again, find a method that works best for you.
Step 5.  Treat Yourself.  Once your Action Plan is in place and you have diligently followed the plan for several months, give yourself a small treat.  Skip the debt reduction plan for one month and make only the minimum payment due for that month.  Take the extra money you have been channeling towards debt reduction and buy that survival knife or high tech flashlight you’ve been drooling over, then get back to the plan.
Step 6.  Be Wary of Windfalls.  Are you expecting an Income Tax Refund or other periodic windfall?  Plan carefully in advance on how you are going to handle this windfall.  Having a large amount of non-recurring cash can make you feel rich.  A few unplanned purchases and it can disappear quickly.  In some cases, it can even lull you into buying an item on credit in advance of receiving the windfall with the intention of paying off this debt with the windfall then spending all of the windfall on something else and having the debt leftover.  Remember, you can only spend money once, even windfall money.
Step 7.  Review and Tweak.  Once you have an Action Plan in place and follow it for a period of time you will have to regularly review and change that plan to accommodate the progress you are making and life changes that come up along the way.  The process never stops.  Businesses review their Year End Financial Statements and create new Budget Projections each year, you should too.
Insider Tip:  The Internet can be a valuable resource.  There are numerous blogs pertaining to personal finances and debt reduction.  Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, AOL and other popular sites regularly publish articles pertaining to personal finance.  Your public library has dozens of books on the topic as well.  Personal Financial Coaches are becoming more popular and easier to find, some are even faith based and connected with your local church and offer their services for free.
Whether you want to buy more non-perishable food or buy that rural land up in the mountains, you need cash flow to turn that dream into a reality.  Make taking care of your personal finances your first step towards your survival readiness.

Mr. Rawles,
I'd like to throw in a different angle on SHTF-oriented fitness and martial arts.  A little over two years ago I felt the need to get back in shape, I remembered what I could do as a Marine in my early 20s (I'm in my mid 30s) and wanted to at least get within shouting distance of that.  Going to the gym solo just never worked for me.  So I started doing some research and came across Japanese Kendo --- the modernized Samurai sword fighting sport.  The pros are many.  You don't have to start in great shape or be flexible.  After the initial cost of equipment, it's cheaper than any gym.  It's a very long road to competency, even after two years I'm considered a beginner; in some strip-mall karate dojos I'd have a brown or black belt by now, this dynamic keeps the "yahoos" away and is really only attractive to serious people (I prefer serious people to yahoos any day).  You will get in great shape, especially after you start practicing in armor, I never got a workout like Kendo in the couple "hands and feet" martial arts I have done in the past.  The armor and uniform are heavy, and you're swinging a bamboo sword (shinai) constantly.  My dress shirt sleeves stop a full inch short of where they did when I started Kendo, that's attributable to gaining that much shoulder and back muscle.  Your abdomen and legs will get stronger too, all good core muscles.  I had poor wrist/grip strength from a previous sprained left wrist and a sprained right thumb and now I can shake hands with the best of them.  You'll certainly need this muscle tone and endurance when the SHTF.

There are some cons of course.  Your body won't be conditioned to run long distances from Kendo, you won't add five inches to your biceps either.  You won't learn five simple techniques to take someone out with your bare hands.  You're not fighting in street clothes.  You will lose weight if you're overweight, but it's not the primary focus of Kendo.  It's very traditional and the pace of learning will seem slow to most Americans.  Buying all of your equipment can easily be a $500-$700 one time cost.  You probably won't find a Kendo dojo outside of a city.  Everything is with a sword which is probably not above rifles, shotguns, and handguns on your SHTF weapons list.  With that said I'd rather have a knife, sword, fireplace poker, etc than my bare hands and feet in a fight, plan accordingly!

One more plug:  If you live in the Seattle, Washington or Prescott, Arizona areas, then check out American Combato / Jen-Do-Tao.  This is one of those "5 simple techniques to take someone out with your bare hands" martial arts I mentioned above, it's oriented specifically to real world situations.  I have not checked out the DVDs but did attend classes for over two years, it's a fantastic self-defense oriented martial art. - J.S.

As a long time martial arts student and instructor (28 years) I would like to welcome Dimitri G. back into the ranks.
Dealing with students both old and young always poses challenges but the real challenge comes in dealing with students that studied when they were young and then return with older bodies.
The main challenge is attitude. I do not challenge Dimitri’s attitude and sincerely respect him for his decisions and driving commitment. What I want to point out is how attitude changes with older students that may have had a bad experience while being the younger student
As I have learned and observed from witnessing myself and other students we all get old, our bodies break down, and we want to recapture the bravado of our youth.
The biggest lesson I have to keep learning as I age and keep teaching are the basics.
For me my basics fall in to three categories’ physical, mental, and skill.
These represent a foundation for me to age gracefully, grow old, and not be a grumpy old tough guy.
To help define how I look at each section:

Physical – “I also call these the three hardest things you will learn in the martial arts”
         How to walk
         How to fall down
         How to breathe

         How to realize I don’t have all the answers
         How to learn that education is a two way experience between teacher and student – we both learn and we both teach
         How to stay in touch with my peaceful side but still let my need to kick butt side lead when necessary
         Learning how to kick, block, punch, fall… are basic skills and need to be reinforced on a continues basis
         My physical fitness level will change with age and health so I must be willing to change my perspective, ways of training, and styles of striking to one of mastering the situation via mental and other skills.
         Education comes best from having someone play the leadership role; e.g. one man does not an island make – you can trade leadership roles within a group but the student teacher relationship is very important
Unfortunately Dimitri post alludes to the "colored belt factory" industry that is so prevalent in our U.S. culture. While good schools do exist they are fewer by number and are getting harder to locate. His recommendation to find private instruction is a good one to help someone who is coming back into the arts.
Another method is to locate a local martial arts store in your area and have a chat with the owner. They can be a wealth of knowledge in locating good teachers. And remember, you don’t necessarily want the teacher with all the stripes on their belt. Rather, you want the one that doesn’t care about all the stripes. - Old Man Karate

Those derivatives again: JPMorgan's massive CDS index position

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Gold crash on Fed tightening and euro salvation looks premature. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link)

Penny Wise, or 2.4 Cents Foolish? (Thanks to Michael W. for the link.)

Northwest Territorial Mint (one of our advertisers) has announced very unusual special pricing on their own minted silver rounds and bars: Just 65 cents per ounce over spot. (That is about 1/2 of their normal markup.) This includes their Northwest Territorial Mint brand, the Pan American Silver Corp. (silver hammer), or the Stagecoach pre-scored divisible silve rounds and bars. This sale end on April 20th, so don't delay.

Items from The Economatrix:

Gold Bugs - Keep an Eye on the Canadian Dollar to Keep Confidence

US Economic Crisis: "Subtle as a Train Wreck"

Dow, S&P Fall for Fifth Day

February Job Openings Rise to 3.5 Million

Oil Falls For Second Day in NY Trading; Brent Declines

The latest Range Rover Defender 4WD features a snorkel and fording sonar. (Thanks to James K. for the link.)

   o o o

The Swiss Jet Man gives a TED Talk. (I know, I know, it isn't survival-related, but the am erstaunlichsten factor is off the scale.)

   o o o

Over at gCaptain: Big City Emergency – How to Bug Out at Sea

   o o o

A new preparedness discussion forum that looks useful: AlwaysPrepared.info. (Of course, all the usual privacy provisos for using forums apply.)

   o o o

F.G. mentioned a fascinating collection of Civil War photos.

"[M]y religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. [T]hat is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."  - General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

"Entomophagy is the consumption of insects as food. Insects are eaten by many animals, but the term is generally used to refer to human consumption of insects; animals that eat insects are known as insectivores." -Wikipedia

This subject is fairly arcane, so I'll be relying on several authoritative sources, in fair use. I have attributed all quotes and have provided links to their sources. Please take the time to explore these web sites, for further detail on this subject.

Like it or not, you've probably eaten some in your life.  From Wikipedia:
"According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's The Food Defect Action Levels booklet. Contamination on the average of 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams of wheat flour, or below poses no health hazard. Other example of the maximum permissible levels of insect contamination in food products for humans, contamination below which level, poses no health hazard, are:
- Canned sweet corn- 2 or more 3 mm or longer larvae, cast skins, larval or cast skin fragments, the aggregate length of insects or insect parts exceeds 12 mm in 24 pounds
- Canned citrus fruit juices - 5 or more Drosophila and other fly eggs per 250 ml or 1 or more maggots per 250 ml
- Wheat flour- Average of 150 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
- Frozen broccoli- Average of 60 or more aphids and/or thrips and/or mites per 100 grams
- Hops- Average of more than 2,500 aphids per 10 grams
- Ground thyme- Average of 925 or more insect fragments per 10 grams
- Ground nutmeg- Average of 100 or more insect fragments per 10 grams"
As gross as it may initially seem, it is actually estimated that about 80% of the global population consume insects on a regular basis. "In Algeria, many people consume desert locusts. To add extra flavour to the bugs they are soaked in salt water and roasted in the sun. Australian Aborigines eat Bogong moths they find in caves and in crevices of rocks. In order to remove the wings, legs, and heads of the moths, the Aborigines cook them in hot ashes and sand and sift them through a net. In Africa, some cultures eat fried termites and caterpillars for nutrition. In Mexico, insects are served in restaurants for a high price. Also Thailand and Columbia feature insects on the menu." - From Ask The Exterminator
Although the U.N. advocates eating bugs as a way to feed the hungry and end "costly" farming, many of us would use this information as a last resort to starving to death. You've probably seen Les Stroud, or Bear Grylls eating bugs on their respective survival shows. I can tell you that it will be a long time before I can scrub from my mind the image of grub guts being splattered through clenched teeth. It really doesn't have to be that graphic or repulsive. Insects can be prepared in ways much like our normal everyday foods which can help cut down on the 'revolting' factor.
First, a list of edible insects, courtesy of Girl Meets Bug:
"Agave worm, Carpenter ants, Lemon ants, Leafcutter ants, Honeypot ants, Bamboo worms, Bees, Cicada, Cockroach (not house ones), Cricket, Dragonfly, Dung beetle, Earthworms, Fly pupa, Flying ant, Grasshopper, Hornworm, Jumiles, June bugs, Locust, Louse, Mopane worm, Meal worm, Midge fly, Nsenene, Pill bug, Rhino beetle and grubs, Sago bug, Silk worm, Scorpion, Tarantula, Termites, Wasp, Walking stick, Water bug, Waxworm, Wichetty Grubs." 
Bugs to Avoid -Courtesy of Chris Needham of Infolific.com
"Unfortunately, many of the bugs you come across shouldn't be eaten even in a survival situation. Here are some guidelines for what to avoid.
       * Bugs that are generally associated with carrying diseases should not be eaten. This includes flies, mosquitoes, and ticks.
       * Some bugs use poison for capturing prey and for defense making them inedible so avoid centipedes, scorpions, and spiders.
       * As a general rule, bugs with fine hairs, bright colors, or eight or more legs are off limits.

You can actually sustain yourself quite well with bugs so give them serious consideration when you're otherwise without food and trying to survive in the wilderness. They have the additional benefits over animals and fish of being plentiful, not requiring traps, and needing little preparation before they can be consumed."
*"Warning: Although many insects are edible, entomophagy poses some risks. If you are allergic to shrimp, shellfish, dust, or chocolate, never eat an insect. Even the non-allergic, unless in a survival situation, should never eat a raw insect. Certain insects store compounds that make some people sick; some are poisonous; others may be carcinogenic. Be as cautious with insects as you would be if you were gathering mushrooms. Know your insects!" From NOVA.
Nutritional Value:
"Insects often contain more protein, fat, and carbohydrates than equal amounts of beef or fish, and a higher energy value than soybeans, maize, beef, fish, lentils, or other beans. According to a 2004 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, caterpillars of many species are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, as well as B-vitamins. In some African regions, children fight malnutrition by eating flour made out of dried caterpillars. Pregnant and nursing women as well as anemic people also eat caterpillar species high in protein, calcium, and iron." Alison Fromme.
The following chart is reproduced from Iowa State University's web site. It shows how some insects as food compare to lean ground beef and broiled cod.


Insect Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs Calcium (mg) Iron (mg)
Giant Water Beetle
Red Ant 13.9 3.5 3.9 47.8 5.7
Silk Worm Pupae 9.6 5.6 2.3 41.7 1.8
Dung Beetle 17.2 4.3 .2 30.9 7.7
Cricket 12.9 5.5 5.1 75.8 9.5
Grasshopper 20.6 6.1 3.9 35.2 5.0
Grasshopper 14.3 3.3 2.2 27.5 3.0
June Beetle 13.4 1.4 2.9 22.6 6.0
Caterpillar 28.2 N/A N/A N/A 35.5
Caterpillar 9.7 N/A N/A N/A 1.9
Termite 14.2 N/A N/A N/A 3.5
Weevil 6.7 N/A N/A N/A 13.1
Beef (Lean) 27.4 N/A N/A N/A 3.5
Fish (Cod) 28.5 N/A N/A N/A 1.0

Now if you are still with me, I'm going to share some recipes I found using insects. From Girl Meets Bug:
Cabbage, Peas 'n' Crickets
-Handful of crickets
-1 cup chopped snap peas
-1 cup chopped red cabbage
-1 tbs olive oil
-1 crushed clove of garlic
-Pinch of salt
Chop snap peas and cabbage. Heat olive oil in pan or wok. Begin stir-frying veggies and crickets. After 1 minute or so, add crushed garlic. Once cooked to desired level (I prefer mine firm and crunchy) add salt. Bug appetit!
Bee-LT Sandwich
-Bee larvae
-1 egg white
-1 tsp butter
-1/4 tsp honey
-1 tomato
-1 leaf lettuce
-2 slices of bread
-1 tbsp mayonnaise
-1 pinch salt
Sautee the bee larvae in the butter, with a tiny bit of salt and a few drops of honey. Once larvae become golden brown and crispy-looking, remove, and mix into enough egg white to cover and bind them into a mass. Then return them to the sautee butter, pressing them together into a patty.
Toast bread, and slice tomato. Spread mayonnaise on toasted bread when ready. When bee patty becomes firm, place it atop the lettuce and tomato on the sandwich. Enjoy!
Waxworm Tacos
-1 cup waxworms
-1 cup chopped onions
-1 cup chopped tomato
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
-1/2 avocado
-2 tbsp olive oil
-pinch salt
-hot sauce
Freeze live  Waxworms overnight.
Saute onions in olive oil until golden, then turn heat to medium-high. Add waxworms, stirring quickly to keep them moving, while adding a pinch of salt (to taste). Waxworms will start to straighten out as they hit the heat; this means they are partially done and are becoming firm, just like shrimp or fish. When you start to see a little bit of transparency around their edges, they are ready.
Simply use sauteed waxworms as you would any other taco meat, adding whichever complementary ingredients you fancy.
From Iowa State University's Entomological Department:
Mealworm Fried Rice
1  egg, beaten
1 tsp. oil
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. chopped onions
4 tsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. minute rice
1 c. cooked mealworms
Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces.
Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover; remove from heat and let stand five minutes
Banana Worm Bread
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs
1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms
Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour.


I will conclude with a quote that provides some more important provisos:

"If you have the desire to eat insects to become closer to nature, make sure you wash and cook them first. This will reduce the chance that you may chomp into a poisonous substance the bug may have consumed. However, if you live near agriculture that uses pesticide on a regular basis, do not eat bugs that live nearby. The pesticide cannot be washed off the insects, and it can be toxic to humans. Your safest bet is to order creepy crawlies from areas that do not use pesticides. Finally, do not eat insects that are dead when you find them. It is better to find live insects and cook them." - Ask The Exterminator

Sources and Further Reading:

JWR Adds: Bon appetit, and Hakuna matata! (Scroll forward to 2:08.)

First off: English is not my native language. I apologize if this article is not easy to read. I hope that its usefulness will outweigh the inconvenience.

I am 40 years old, overweight by about 50 pounds, and I regretfully admit that in the past 15 or so years I became a “couch potato”. In other words, my physical fitness is not up to the challenges of any survival situation.

When I was a lot younger, I practiced karate, boxing, and weight lifting. I was pretty tough, and even back in high school there was no bully who would risk messing with me.
Apart from being a martial arts practitioner, I had (and still have) a huge library of very good books on various martial arts, with an emphasis on “street fighting” applications.
I dare think my opinions are based on a thorough analysis of various available options combined with my own experience and learning from mistakes, rather than mindless following someone else’s rigid views or advertisement.

As I got a family and a job about 18 years ago, hard work with lots of overtime did not help my plans of “getting back to the gym”, but quite frankly - I just got lazy.
I trained less hard and less frequently, until one day last year I realized that I had completely lost whatever skills and physical fitness level I used to have, and I can hardly run half a mile, let alone being able to defend my family in a SHTF situation.
I walk my dog, with an occasional sprint-run up the hill to the house where we live in Western Washington, and I try to keep my flexibility at a semi-decent level... but, other than that, I am completely “out of shape”, - both figuratively and literally.
My results in push-ups and pull-ups exercises are ridiculously low, and my punches are too far from being nearly as powerful as I want them to be.

I’ve been pondering an idea to start regular training, but without a well thought out system, I have more chances of hurting myself in the process than getting any results back. [Been there, done that...]

This article is my first attempt in many years to create an actionable fitness and hand-to-hand combat plan, and I hope that it will be useful not only to myself, but also to someone who can honestly identify himself (or herself) as a “couch potato” and wants to start preparing physically for the SHTF situation.

I will spare you my efforts to provide mental preparedness and/or motivation.
If you have a family, you have all the motivation you need. Just imagine what might happen to your loved ones if a gang of armed, ruthless, blood-thirsty looters attacks your neighborhood... and you’ve got all the motivation you need.
The only trick is to learn how to turn your fear and anger into a burning desire to train harder than before. But please remember that the older you are, the more careful you need to be when performing physical exercises.

Let’s start with the goals: what are we trying to achieve?
Your goals will define your list of exercises, training sessions frequency, etc.
In time, your goals will mostly stay the same, but the list of exercises will have to change.
Here’s my list, which might be very different from yours:
Minimal physical fitness to help me and my family survive the coming collapse. I must be able to:
- walk long distances with at least 50 pounds of weight (basic bug-out bag, weapons, ammo);
- run fast;
- run long distances;
- carry bigger weights for a short period of time (e.g., if an injured family member or neighbor must be evacuated from a burning building);
- climb and jump;
- fight (unarmed) against one or two enemies who are not armed and do not have special training.
Long-term goals:
- continue getting stronger and faster;
- more physical endurance;
- fight using a stick, a knife, and anything that can be used as a weapon, against armed and well-trained enemies.

This last one most likely made you laugh...
I know all too well that real-life fights are nothing like movie tricks.
It is almost impossible to win a fight if you are unarmed, and you fight against a group of special forces soldiers armed with guns.
But seriously: who do you think will be your real enemy?.. Most likely, one or two (worst case scenario, - three) gang members, armed with sticks or knives. Maybe, one of them will have a gun which he will be pointing at you at a short distance.
It is realistically possible to win this fight.
Of course, you need to be really well-prepared, and you need a good portion of sheer dumb luck... but there is a chance. And I say, it’s better that just giving up and letting my family be raped and killed. I’d rather die fighting, but I want to take as many bastards with as possible. Perhaps, as luck would have it, even win…
I can’t rely on always having a gun available, because we all know what happened after Katrina.
How such a situation would develop depends on a lot of factors, such as their original intentions (grab-and-go vs. rob-rape-and-kill), how many members their gang consists of, what the surrounding circumstances are (are you on the second floor of your house with a gun in your hand, with your family behind you, or are you unarmed in a street, with a bandit holding a knife at your teenage daughter’s throat?..), what weapons their have and - more importantly - how ready they are to murder someone. Needless to say, a hungry unarmed neighbor who came to steal your can of beans is not exactly as dangerous as a gang of prison escapees armed with guns.

Sorry, I digress... That was more of a motivation than a plan...

Anyway, let’s get back to the goals.

If you’re like me, and you need to start your physical fitness almost “from scratch”, you need to start slow.
I can run up my hill twice, but then I’ll probably have a heart attack. At the very least, my knees will hurt for several days.
Punching a heavy bag too hard is another good example of my stupidity.
I learned from my own mistakes that I need to know my current limitations, or I won’t be able to exercise for quite some time just because of traumas. If you are half as pissed off as I am, and about as willing to defend your family as I am, it is far too easy to overestimate yourself and have one training session after which you will be able to barely move for a couple of weeks, if not worse. Be realistic. Do not expect great results in a day.

What I am going to do (and you probably need to do that, too) is make a list of some basic exercises that I am going to perform in the nearest future (that is, within the next couple of months, until I feel I am ready for a more serious training) and write down the results I can currently get without negative consequences.
For example, how long can I run at a relatively slow speed before I feel I’ve had enough for today? How many push-ups, and in how many sets, can I do, without having debilitating pain for the next few days? And so on, and so forth.
If you don’t know what exercises to perform, don’t worry, I’ll get to them shortly.

The idea is to figure out how much you are capable of under normal circumstances, and start – slowly but steadily – building up the foundation for future exercises that will help you prepare for a survival situation.
When analyzing your abilities, try to figure out what you already have and what you need to focus on.
For example, if you are strong, but you can’t run a mile, it is obvious what you need to do: more walking and running.

An important thing to keep in mind is that there are different kinds of pain, and it is extremely important to be able to distinguish between them.
If you practiced any kind of sports ages ago, you know what I am talking about.
There’s good pain which you feel (normally, for a day or two) after a good workout. It shows that, once your body has had enough rest and food, your physical results will grow a little bit, thus adding up to an overall progress of your training program.
And then there are all kinds of bad pain, which indicates that something is wrong.
This might be from some illnesses, but it can also be caused by over-exercising or traumas.
I can’t describe in a short article how to be sure that the pain you are feeling is good. If you are sure, fine. Otherwise, talk to a doctor.
Bottom line is: “no pain, no gain”, but not all pain is good.
And you need to be certain that you get exactly the right amount of exercise for your current level of fitness and for your current condition. Too little, and you won’t get any results. Too much, and you’ll be sick. The same goes for frequency and intensity of your training sessions.
Besides, you might feel great today and be able to exercise a lot, but tomorrow you’ll get tired at work and be unable to exercise at all.
There are far too many variables which make it absolutely impossible to make an optimal training plan for everyone. Experiment with your training routine, and change it often to continue “surprising” your body to give it a stimulus to develop.
Worse yet, for each “couch potato”, it is often very difficult to distinguish between tiredness and laziness. Deal with it. Motivate yourself. Just imagine what would happen if your family is attacked, or starving, or needs to be evacuated from a burning building, or something like that...

Now, a few words about self-defense.
I could write a book about all kinds of Bravo Sierra surrounding martial arts, but this is just an article.
The more you research this topic, and the more you practice some kind of fighting skills, the more “deep understanding” of it you get. Sometimes, it’s just a feeling that something is right or wrong, and it is difficult to put it into words.
So, I’ll be very brief.

  1. Practice often.
  2. To start with, use only a few primitive techniques (punches, kicks, blocks, movements) and combinations of them. A simple well-practiced technique is far better than several of those which you won’t be able to do in the critical situation. A simple and reliable technique is far more valuable than a complex one.
  3. Each technique must be practiced in all kinds of scenarios hundreds of thousands of times before you can be sure it will work for you when you are scared to death, in an disadvantageous position, tired and injured, and so on, and so forth.
  4. Practice while wearing the same type of clothes you wear every day. If you train for a survival situation, a uniform with a colored belt is not for you.
  5. If you never practiced martial arts before, too bad. Learn. Read books. Do not learn from movies. Nearly all martial arts schools suck: it is rarely their goal to teach you how to fight for your life. If you can, find a private instructor who has experience teaching in the military or law enforcement: most of the time, they know how to fight for real. The best possible option is a Krav Maga instructor with military background.
  6. There is no substitute for a very heavy and very hard (as opposed to “soft”) punching bag. Period. Buy it, use it, learn to love it. Remember to start slow, even if you were very good at it years ago.
  7. If you can’t do at least 50 push-ups in a single set, your punch will never be any good.
  8. Practice kicks from a sitting position on the floor with your hands tied behind your back. If you know what I mean, good. If not... just do it. Thank me later.
  9. Practice as if one of your arms is injured. If you are any good with kicks, practice with tied hands (there are a lot of blocks which use feet or shins). Practice hand techniques while hopping on one leg.
  10. Learn to sweep an enemy’s weapon away from you (and away other people around you) in one swift move. Practice those moves with a heavy club or a dumbbell, then repeat without a weight, but with a maximum speed. If you see techniques which show a couple of steps combined with a complex wrestling-style throw or arm lock, know that this is BS. Remember that your enemy is neither super-dumb nor super-slow, and there will probably be at least two of them. You can only hope to distract his/their attention and then use at most half a second before he pulls the trigger. As a general rule, learn to tell movie tricks from real practical techniques.
  11. Practice at home, in the backyard, on the staircase, in a car, in a room full of furniture... in other words, practice your skills everywhere where you expect to fight in real life. A gym is hardly the right place. Fight on the ice, under rain, under blindingly bright sun, in complete darkness, when it’s cold and when it’s hot. Wear shoes or be barefooted.
  12. When you get better at fighting skills, add exercises with weapons, especially a knife and a club. Do not use nunchaku or sai or kama or any other samurai/ninja/peasant garbage: it’s just stupid; we are not in a medieval Japan. Learn to use almost anything as a weapon that you can find in the street (a stone, a piece of wood) or in your living room. But again: be realistic; you can’t use a match box as a weapon, regardless of what some idiots claim. A weapon must enhance a human’s ability to self-defense. A table lamp, a pen, or almost any potentially dangerous object probably can be used as a weapon, but a coin with a sharp edge cannot. Just imagine defending yourself with a sharp coin or a match box against an attacker armed with an AR-15, laugh, and move on to practicing serious stuff.
  13. Learn how to fall down. While you’re at it, learn how to fight when you are on the ground. No, I am not talking about wrestling; I mean blocks and kicks and jumping back up to your feet. If you have any doubts about efficiency of wrestling techniques for a real survival fight and if you enjoy watching MMA fights, imagine that the referee is another one of your enemies, and he is armed with a knife while you are wrestling with another guy.
  14. Practice blocks. It takes time and lots of practice to set up your defense, but you won’t survive without it.
  15. There are hundreds of martial arts styles, dozens (if not hundreds) of thousands of individual techniques. Let this sink in: YOU DO NOT NEED THEM. All you need is (at most!..) a dozen punches and kicks, plus a dozen of blocks, all of them combined into 2-, 3-, or (at most) 4-elements combination techniques, which you have practiced countless thousands of times each, and which you can deliver under any conditions with lightning-fast speed and steel-crushing power. Leave jumping-spinning-back-hook-kicks to movie actors, professional sportsmen, and chronic idiots.

Of all the styles, I recommend Krav Maga and Shorinji Kempo.

I can spend days discussing pro’s and con’s of various techniques for self-defense.
But the point is, you either start practicing now, or you spend years talking about it while scratching your belly.
What works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa.
To start with, for a complete newbie, I recommend:

  1. Forward elbow strike.
  2. Palm-heel straight punch.
  3. Forward knee kick.
  4. Forward kick to the groin.

Once you’ve got some experience (assuming you don’t have any yet), you will add more techniques (but not too many!..).
These 4 will get you started. Imagine a very fast and very powerful kick to the groin, followed by an elbow strike, and you’ll feel much better about your ability to defend you loved ones and yourself. Another good thing is, - these simple techniques let you not worry too much about your enemy wearing a bulletproof vest: it is very unlikely that his groin will be protected.

One of the most difficult things to do for someone like me is holding myself back when performing some formerly-familiar exercises.
When I was 17, my friends and I used to break bricks just to show off. My mind still remembers all the stuff, but my body doesn’t. If you practiced, for example, boxing 20 years ago, but have not hit a punching bag in years, be extra careful on the punching bag: you can think you can punch a hole in it, but your fist is not nearly as strong as it used to be, and your wrist will hurt terribly if it can’t hold the punch and bends. Hence, my advice to strike with a palm heel.
The older you are, and the less fit you are, the more careful you must be when you try to become fit.

And I want to emphasize it one more time: talk to a doctor before you start any kind of serious training.

In my opinion, the most important fitness-related abilities for SHTF situation are endurance, some basic strength, and self-defense.

If you’ve been running/jogging for some time now, you are in a better shape than most of us.
But if running is the only exercise you’ve been doing, then you are still not prepared physically for survival.

For a complete couch potato, I recommend the following exercises:

  1. Walk as much as you can every day. If you have a dog, just walk him around your neighborhood or in the park, until you feel really tired. (again: do not confuse it with just being lazy).
  2. Run as much as you can at least 3 times a week. It may be for just a few seconds to start with, but do it. You’ll get better very soon. Watch your pulse and breathing. Talk to your doctor first, especially if you have any medical problems.
  3. Do squats without any weight. Just stand up (try it now! I’ll wait...), then bend your knees completely, so that your butt almost touches the floor, then stand up again. Do it slowly, as many times as you can. If you can do it close to 100 times, you are not a couch potato. Sorry for wasting your time. Keep doing whatever it is you do to be in good shape. Otherwise, do one set of this exercise twice a week (say, for example, right now, and then in 3 days, and then in 4 days, and then again in 3 days, and so on). When you feel it is easy, start doing 2 sets, with 2 minutes rest after the first set. Perform this exercise right after you’ve come back from a jog. Then do the stretching exercises, and then practice kicks: this “pre-tiredness” will help a lot if you have the same problem with my knees as I do (they hurt from kicks unless my muscles are already not only warmed up, but really tired when I start kicking practice).
  4. Pushups. A must-do for everyone. One of the best exercises for your upper body, and you can do it anywhere, anytime. If you can’t do it properly, put your hands on the side of your bed (instead of the floor), and you’ll feel how much easier it is. If you are able to do at least a couple dozen pushups in a set, start varying the technique: put your hands shoulder-width, or wider, or narrower. Keep your feet on the ground or put them on the chair. Push up on open hands or on fists or (if you can) on fingers. Do slow pushups or very slow or normal speed or very fast or “explosive” style. There’s a big difference - and you’ll feel it - between hands-together-feet-on-the-floor-very-slow-pushup and fists-very-far-apart-with-feet-2-feet-above-floor-fast-pushups.
  5. This one is very hard for a real couch potato... but also extremely important. Pull-ups. Basically, the idea is to grab something above your head and pull yourself up by bending your arms. Before I got my own training equipment (and while having no money for a gym...), I used to do pull-ups in a children’s playground. There’s always something close to your home where you can do pull-ups. Worse-case scenario, just hang a rope between two trees. Or, buy a pull-up bar from a sports store: it goes in a doorway, it is easy to set up and to remove (it takes seconds, without any tools), and it costs around $30. Look up “pull up bar” in Amazon.com to see what I mean. The problem with pull ups is that not every middle-aged man or woman can do them. Don’t trick yourself by thinking that you can replace this exercise with dumbbells or barbells “curls”: no, you can’t. If you can’t do a proper pull-up now, not even once, do not despair: you can put something under your feet to step on, so that you can grab a pull-up bar while your arms are already half-bent, and then perform partial pull ups. When your arms get stronger, eventually you’ll be able to get rid of that chair or whatever, and perform regular pull-ups. There might also be another problem: if you are overweight, and/or your grip is weak, you might have difficulty just hanging in there... literally. There’s no better solution for this than regularly hang on the pull-up bar as long as you can, and for as many sets as you can before it really hurts, as many days a week as possible.
  6. Abs workout. There are so many exercises... If you are overweight like me, I am sure you know them all. Do whatever works for you. My favorite: lie down on the floor, then simultaneously raise your hands and legs while exhaling, so that only your butt touches the floor; slowly lie down again; repeat until it hurts.
  7. Punching bag. If you’ve ever worked out on a punching bag for more than a minute, you must know that it’s also a great workout, - both for your muscles and for your cardio-vascular system. The only problem is to be careful with every single move; otherwise, the traumas take very long to heal. The most common injures happen when you punch too hard and/or almost miss the right spot (in which case your wrist can bend and hurt terribly for several weeks), and when you punch the bag without any protective gloves, and your hand slips (this is where you lose a good chunk of your knuckles’ skin, and you can’t punch a bag for about a week). Just be careful, use gloves or hand wraps, and land you punches with precision.
  8. Jumping rope. If this exercise sounds silly and childish to you, try to do it 200+ times without stopping, and you’ll feel how useful it is. You don’t need an expensive jumping rope from The Sports Authority. A piece of regular rope which is long enough and heavy enough will be just as good.
  9. Developing a strong grip. Useful for all kinds of survival situation: from lifting and carrying heavy objects to evacuating from a tall building using a rope, to climbing, to self-defense, and so on, and so forth. There are good grip strengtheners; be sure to get those which are hard to squeeze. Pull-ups, hanging on a rope or a pull-up bar also helps. Besides, performs pushups on your fingers at least once in a while.
  10. Last, but not least: practice blocks and punches with weapons. I don’t mean guns, but heavy objects. I perform several sets of blocks with police-style clubs which have a short handle sticking out (these clubs are also known as “tonfa”), and this helps not only techniques, but also muscles and tendons, while developing speed.

I’d like to say a few words about diet, but I do not think I have a moral right to talk about it until I lose a few more pounds.
Anyway, the only thing really worth mentioning is fasting: regular fasting is good for your health if you do it right, and it is certainly useful to be able to function a day or two while being hungry in case you just don’t have any food at all in a survival situation or you have to give it all to your kids if there’s too little available.

It turned out to be nearly impossible to cram a lot of information in a short article.
I hope it will be useful for someone who wants to get started on TEOTWAWKI/survival self-defense and fitness training, but does not know how.

Yes, I am a grumpy, middle-aged, fat man. But I am determined to maximize my family’s chances of survival in the coming imminent collapse of life as we know it. I’ll do whatever it takes to defend them, and hopefully help my neighbors and friends in the process.
I am preparing, and I suggest you do the same.

James Wesley:
For use as an unobtrusive and inexpensive alternative to purpose-built weapons safes, I recommend finding an old, non-functional soda vending machine. Remove the guts (we call it the 'stack') and refrigeration system, but leave the lights in the door. (Be careful, the light ballast wiring will bite: 5,000 volts).
Tap into the 110 Volt AC wiring on the vending machine to power your Goldenrod Dehumidifier.
Store your valuables inside where the guts used to be.  Lock the door and keep the key.  [If it will be at your private business but in a location that might ever be in view of the public,] you can leave the machine plugged in, with the lights on, and an 'Out Of Order' sign taped on the front. Consider this instant stealth storage. - Tom K.

J. McC. mentioned some commentary from Tom Chatham, over at SHTFPlan: If Technology Fails, Just How Long Are Your Long Range Plans?

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Islamic power grab in Mali. JWR's Comments: This does not bode well for the region (including neighboring Darfur region and the fledgling nation of South Sudan.) It appears that that the new Islamic government in Tripoli (courtesy of your tax dollars) will be providing arms to not just the Tuaregs but also the Janajweed. Mali and Chad provide just slim pickings for these bandits and slavers. I suspect that South Sudan will soon see a lot of Janajaweed guerillas, freshly armed by the Libyan government coming in for campaigns of robbery, rape, murder and wholesale arson. What is to stop this? The villagers of South Sudan must be trained and equipped with rifles, for their own defense. Please pary for God's providence and protection for the people of South Sudan. Mobile training teams from the United States are now forming. May God grant that doors will be opened to them.

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Over at Survival Mom: Real-life Survival: Train Wreck Topples Town

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For those who may have recently purchased a pair of German field telephones from Cheaper Than Dirt or Sportsman's Guide, this technical PDF may be useful. (Thanks to WJ  for the link.

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Eric Peters opines: Freedom is a Smoky Burnout… But Not For Long

"If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude.  Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation.  It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute." - Thomas Paine

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Nature is amazing, I love plants. Not only does just looking at them produce a calming effect, they are beneficial to us in every way. From food, to medicine, glue and rope, plants give us everything we need. These are my top five favorite plants because they are amazing, easy to grow or find and have many uses which are especially valid in TEOTWAWKI. Here are my favorite plants found in the wild, and in the garden, and the reasons why.

1. Garlic
 Garlic is great for two reasons, it is a food and a medicine. All parts are edible except for the skin and woody stalk among the cloves. It is the easiest thing to grow and cheap to do so as one clove produces one head. In the garden, it also is said to repel rabbits and moles.
The health benefits are numerous to using garlic as it is reputed to have antibacterial, antimicrobial, diuretic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Not only is it flavorful, but beneficial in the prevention and treatment of many common ailments.

There are many miracles in the world to be celebrated and, for me, garlic is the most deserving.”  - Leo Buscaglia

Here are some uses for garlic:
 -insect repellent when ingested in larger amounts or when rubbed on topically, treatment for bee and wasp stings
-high blood pressure treatment/ management
-remedy sore throats, cold hands and feet, earache, tight headaches
-treat fungal skin infections like thrush
-treat and prevent bacterial and viral infections, urinary tract infections, bronchial and lung infections
-treatment for pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, warts
-reduce nasal congestion, coughs, respiratory problems
-boost resistance to candida infections
-flu, cold, stye, prevention
-effective against a wide range of pathogenic bacteria, influenza, meningitis
-boost immunity, circulation
-poultice for aches, pains, sprains
-help with poor digestion, help regulate blood sugar
-prevent scurvy, prevent gangrene
-boost testosterone with a high protein diet (suggested in a study with rats)
-enhance thiamine absorption
-garlic juice used as an adhesive when mending glass, porcelain
-natural antibiotic, 1 milligram of allicin is the estimated equivalent of 15 standard units of penicillin
-inhibit clotting

2. Cayenne Pepper
We love our food spicy. Cayenne is the easiest 'go to' to spice it up a little, or a lot. Again I'm a fan of multi purpose and cayenne is not only a staple in the kitchen but a great thing to have in a medical kit, and as personal protection. Cayenne contains capsaicin, vitamin A, B6, C, E, riboflavin, potassium, and manganese.
"If you master only one herb in your life, master cayenne pepper. It is more powerful than any other." - Dr. Schulze
"In 35 years of practice, and working with the people and teaching, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is, whenever I go in--if they are still breathing--I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water, and within minutes they are up and around)." - Dr. Christopher
-aphrodisiac in males
-ant repellent
-topical anti-inflammatory for joint pain, back pain, arthritis, and nerve pain (Do not use on broken skin)
-remedy cold hands and feet
-soothe chilblains with ointment containing cayenne
-prevent gas when used in meals
-stop a heart attack with cayenne tea, 1 tsp cayenne dissolved in 1 cup hot water
-ease dyspepsia symptoms
-rebuild tissue in the stomach and peristalic action in the intestines
-aids elimination and assimilation
-aids the body in creating hydrochloric acid
-boost circulation, increase heart action, arrest shock symptoms
-lower blood pressure
-overcome fatigue, restore stamina, vigor
-stop hemmoraging
-improve itching of psoriasis
-fight pancreatic cancer
-headache relief
-pepper spray main ingredient...cayenne

3. Dandelion
I used to hate seeing all those yellow flowers infiltrating my green lawn, now it almost pains me to mow them down. Dandelions are higher in beta carotene than carrots and higher in iron and calcium than spinach. They contain the vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, bitter glycosides, inositol, terpenoids, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
"Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?"-Peter Gail
-plentiful emergency food
-used to make dandelion wine
-coffee substitute, gotta love that
-strengthen the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder
-promote the flow of bile, reduces inflammation in the bile duct, helps eliminate gallstones
-reduces liver swelling, and jaundice
-help indigestion caused by insufficient bile
-gentle diuretic
-good for pancreas, bladder, spleen, stomach and intestines
-helps with mature onset diabetes, hypoglycemia
-encourages production of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes
-milky sap removes warts, pimples, moles, callouses, sores
-sap soothes bee stings
-help with hypertension
-aids in night vision
-detoxification agent
-therapeutic benefits in the treatment of persistent constipation, acne, eczema, psoriasis
-aids in the treatment of gout, arthritic conditions and osteoarthritis
-recommended for weight loss
-prevent or cure anemia
-appetite stimulant
-use the white juice in the flower stems as glue.

4. Cattail
 Cattails are beautiful, and one of the most useful plants I have have ever encountered. It contains beta carotene, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin C, protein, unsaturated fats and calories. From food, to rafts to insect repellent, this plant seems to do it all.
" Although now relatively unused in the United States, where four species thrive, cattails are deliciously edible both raw and cooked from their starchy roots to their cornlike spikes, making them prime emergency foods." from 'Survival Wisdom and Know-How Everything You Need to Know to Subsist in the Wilderness'.
-soothes wounds, sores, boils, inflammations, burns and carbuncles
-excellent food source
-weaving material for mats, backs of chairs,
-great stuffing for pillows, great insulation
-used internally to quell diarrhea, kill and expel worms, also used for gonorrhea
-fluff used as tinder
-stalks are great for use as an emergency raft  
-pounded, soaked leaves make good improvised cordage
-used in construction of thatch roofing
-burn as insect repellent
-use brown head of stalk dipped in animal fat as a torch
-pollen is hemostatic and astringent, used to control bleeding
-sticky substance at the base of the green leaf is antiseptic

5. Nettles
Nettles have a bad name due to their special stinging defenses, I find that handy in terms of defense. No one in their right mind would tramp through a nettle patch just to see what's on the other side. Nettles contain very high levels of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulphur. They also contain chlorophyll, tannen, vitamin C, beta carotene, B complex vitamins, and are high in protein. Yes, they can sting, but the sting is easily remedied with jewelweed, plantain, or dock.
"Sitting here writing this book, I frequently sip on warm nettle tea. It's one of my favorites. It does not taste like a normal tea- not bitter, spicy, minty, or lemony. It's more like a strong stock of a rich, deep, green plant essence, and it's one of the most nourishing drinks of all."- Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean in 'Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places'.
-food and tea (always cook nettles)
-ward off iron deficiency anemia
-effective in treating allergies and hay fever
-expectorant, recommended for asthma, mucus of the lungs, and chronic coughs
-tincture used for flu, colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia
-infusion is a safe diuretic
-recommended for weight loss
-tea compress good for wounds, cuts, stings, and burns
-used internally to stop excessive menstruation, bleeding from hemmorages, bloody coughs, nosebleeds, and bloody urine
-helps blood clot
-helps treat gout, glandular diseases, poor circulation, diarrhea, dysentery, worms and hemorrhoids
-makes your hair brighter, thicker, shinier
-makes your skin clearer and healthier
-good for eczema and other skin conditions
-cleansing and antiseptic properties
-stems used for weaving, cordage, cloth and paper making

NOTICE: Please be cautious when attempting to prevent, treat or cure any health issues. Be sure to talk to your Doctor before considering any type of health related changes. Also it is important to note that although these suggested uses are easily found in books and on the internet, some may not work for you. Each body is different and some react in adverse ways. Always be sure you know what you are doing before trying any of these ideas. Some of these plants may have 'look a likes' that at best, won't do what you expect, at worst, will kill you.

The Doctors Book Of Home Remedies II
Reader's Digest Curing Everyday Ailments the Natural Way
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places
Survival Wisdom and Know-How

Protection from mosquitoes can be difficult but mosquitoes in hot weather are a particularly difficult problem. Years ago I used to know an old leather-skinned Florida Cattleman that never noticed several mosquitoes biting his bare arms; they didn’t even raise a bump. Most of us aren’t that lucky. I was a little allergic back then, a mosquito bite would often make a sore; this is more often true for children. These sores can easily get infected due to the inching and scratching over a long time period. Mosquitoes can also carry serious diseases like Malaria and Encephalitis which might not be easily cured in the future. Another concern, if you are trying to be still while hunting or being hunted it is difficult to remain undetected while swatting at bugs. Besides it is just plain miserable to be out with mosquitoes if you don’t have proper protection. Of course Insect Repellent should be in every Bug Out Bag but it takes more than that in extreme Mosquito territory! Even if you don’t expect to be out in the heat with the bugs, who knows where you will be or how well you will be equipped when the flag goes up.
As an avid outdoorsman for many years in Florida I have always been amazed, at how little time and attention is devoted to protection from mosquitoes on various survival shows and discussions. I once saw an entire show dedicated to unprepared wilderness survival in the Okefenokee Swamp (in southern Georgia ) in which the only mention of this most important outdoor problem was the suggestion to smear mud on your face and stay in the smoke! Sorry but that is not very useful advice. Much of my outdoor time has been bare bow archery hunting with a stick bow in southern swamps. This put me in the woods during a very hot time of year and required that I get very close to the game.  The need to be close kept me from covering myself with insect repellent; deer will detect and usually avoid the odor of repellent. My experience could be useful, especially if repellent is not available. Here is what I have learned through years of fighting our southern mosquitoes; they are smaller than northern ones but much quicker and much more aggressive so it is hard to defend against them.
If it is cold there is not much of a problem, thick warm clothes can protect all but the face. It is very different when it’s hot. Heat stroke is a serious and real danger, and besides, thick sweat soaked clothes are not comfortable, healthy, or practical. Even so, the right clothes can give good low tech protection. What is needed are clothes made of the thinnest cotton cloth that has an extremely tight weave. The type of material needed is the kind that a very thin dress shirt is made of.  DO NOT use T-shirts or any stretchy knit material. You need to wear two layers of long sleeve shirts and long pants made of this thin tight weave material. A very loose fit or even oversized is best. The reason for not wearing stretchy material and wearing two layers is the same. Mosquitoes don’t bite through the cloth fiber; they stick their snouts between the threads of the material as you might stick your finger through the strings that comprise a Volleyball net.  So a tight weave cloth means the gaps between the cloth threads are smaller and expand less at stress points like elbows, knees, and crotch. The gaps expand a lot on T-shirt material when stretched; that is why it doesn’t work. The reason for two layers is that with the right material, the gaps between the threads do not line up so almost all of the time when the mosquito sticks her snout through a gap in the outer layer she will hit a fiber thread on the under layer and be unable to penetrate to the skin. The reason for using thin cotton is to help stay cool. Less body heat is held under the cloth and more sweat evaporates through it. Synthetic/Cotton blends are more durable and will work but they just don’t cool as well. I’ve found that the best thing to use is loose fitting long sleeve thin cotton dress shirts and loose fitting long leg cotton pajama or lounging pants. About the Pajamas, and the shirts also, if you look around you can find some colors or patterns that blend in well and don’t look so goofy; I’ve even seen both in camouflage!
Okay, you don’t want to be seen running around the woods in your pajamas? I understand. There are alternatives.  You can use one set of the above as the under layer and use some other pants made of tight weave cotton as the outer layer, but the thicker it is the hotter you’ll be! Also you could use something like a “Bug Tamer” as the outer layer. Bug Tamer is a brand name for shirt and pants made of a fine camouflage mesh lined with a string net material. The idea is that the thicker string net will hold the light mesh material off the skin and keep the mosquitoes snout from reaching the skin. Alone it works reasonably well but gives little protection at the elbows and knees when sitting. When sitting the tightly stretched material can lay against the skin. That is why I suggest the additional under layer. While the Bug Tamer outer layer looks sportier I think it is inferior for three reasons.  First it is hotter; it traps more body heat. Second, it is much more likely to snag and tear. Third it is much more expensive than a couple pairs of K-Mart or Wall Mart draw string pajama pants.
Next you need the right head gear. The right hat is one that has a short brim all the way around and it should be covered by a head net. I prefer a military style Boonie hat made of cotton.  Cotton is cooler and is absorbent; sometimes the top of your hat is the only thing dry enough and handy to wipe sweat from your eyes.  The mosquito head net drapes loosely over the hat and brim keeping the net, and therefore the mosquitoes off the face, ears and back of the neck.  A billed baseball type cap will allow the net to lay on the ears and neck and not protect. The best head net has a black mesh area over the eyes; it is much easier to see clearly through black than green or camouflage. I think a head net should be in every Bug Out Bag! By the way, if you are without a net and have repellent it is a real bad idea to put it on your forehead or above the eyes. Sweat will cause it to run into the eyes and incapacitate you! Instead of putting it on your forehead put repellent on the under side of your hat brim. If you haven’t got a hat then a strip of bath towel folded double and tied around the head Indian style is helpful. It can protect the forehead with or without repellant, is a good sweat band, and can be used as a bandage if you need one. It is another good item for a Bug Out Bag.
Next it helps to have a pair of cotton gloves. The type sold for gardening and light yard work. Most Sporting Goods departments sell them in Camouflage. If you find some made of a synthetic material with a fuzzy exterior this will help protect from mosquitoes. The fuzz slows them down. If you are using repellent the gloves will help hold it on your hands so that it is not wiped, rubbed, or sweated off.
There is a more hi tech protection that works very well if you are stationary as when sitting or sleeping. It is a Thermo Cell. There might be other brands of this device but I have not seen them. A Thermo Cell is a device that looks a little like a large hand radio (Walkie Talkie). It contains a tiny heating coil fueled by a small butane cartridge. A repellent impregnated cloth pad fits over a metal plate heated by the coil. The heat releases repellent fumes. Each pad last about four hours and the cartridge about six or eight hours. It requires no batteries. These things protect very well and game does not seem to detect or are not bothered by the repellant. I think one of these should also be in every Bug Out Bag.
There are some plants that are said to be natural mosquito repellents but they are not helpful if they are not around when you need them. I have tried one, a Myrtle bush that is common in wetlands of the Southeastern Gulf States .  Crushing the fresh leaves and rubbing them on the skin worked surprisingly well. I only needed to reapply about once an hour; it did turn my skin green for a while though. Oh, mud doesn’t work because when it dries it cracks and/or falls off. Mosquitoes will bite through the cracks. Smoke only works while you are sitting or standing in it. It burns your eyes and makes you stink! If you are going to hunt the smell of smoke on you can alert game and keep them from coming close.
Wearing two loose layers of thin tightly woven cotton shirts and pants, a Boonie hat with a head net, and a pair of cotton gloves I have been able to spend hours of hunting and photographing wildlife in hot mosquito invested swamps using no insect repellant. Add a Thermo Cell and it’s a Cake Walk!

Mr. JWR:
I am 57, been collecting prepping supplies for the last 5+ years, but was involved in an accident in 2008 where I was disabled. I'm ambulatory, but limited in lifting and such (three inoperable herniated discs in lower back) - I am planning moving to the Redoubt, but fear that my limited abilities will make me less than attractive or welcome to any community or preppers I may encounter. I do have manual skills in building both small items up to buildings, but cannot actually do the work. Is it worth it for me to move there? I don't want to be perceived as a burden. I am a Christian, and have been praying on this, and the idea of trying to write you a note directly came to me, so here it is.

Thanks for reading, if you were able to. God bless you, and America. - Peter in Michigan

JWR Replies: Since you are a Christian with a strong work ethic, I can assure you that you would be much more welcomed than someone that is capable of doing heavy work, but unwilling to do any work, which sadly these days seems to me the norm. 

Also rest assured that there are a lots of jobs within retreat groups that can be handled by someone with physical limitations. These include retreat security (eyes and ears at an LP/OP), communications/SIGINT gathering, et cetera.

Go ahead and make the move, and trust in God.  But just be very prayerful and discerning about who you associate with, and the climate/topsoil quality/water availability of where you move.  There are lots of details on those factors at my free Retreat Areas page.

And even greater detail can be found in my "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation" book. That book is now included as a bonus e-book to my blog's complete five-year archive CD-ROM. (Available for less than $10, via digital download.) May God Bless You and Yours!

My husband came up with a great idea to store more items out of sight. He is slowly placing our buckets of storage food in the ceiling of our basement in between the floor joists. He cuts a couple 1x6 planks the proper length, and bolts them down securely [with lag bolts] them a few inches apart on the lower "lip" of the joist which is about 1/2", and places the bucket on top of the planks. Once he completes the drop ceiling, all food storage will be safely tucked away out of sight. Should we need the food, we simply need to remove the drop ceiling. Just make sure you create a cheat sheet of where everything is located! - T. from Pennsylvania

JWR Replies: That is a good idea, but I must mention one proviso: What goes up can come down, unexpectedly. To provide earthquake protection it is important to add a threaded eye bolt on each side of every bucket. Then select heavy rubber bungee straps of just the right length to provide a snug fit around the middle of each bucket.

Painkiller sales soar around US, fuel addiction. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

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Homeland Security Mission Creep: Keeping An Eye On Everyone

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James C. mentioned this insanity, across the pond in Nanny State Britannia: Tobacco display ban comes into force in England

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Kevin S. mentioned this infographic: Your Chance of Dying.

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." - President James Madison

Monday, April 9, 2012

La fin du monde tel que nous le connaissons! I just heard that Penguin Books has signed two more foreign rights contracts for my best selling book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: French language rights (to be published by Editions Altipresse) and Lithuanian language rights (to be published by Media Incognito.) There are now 12 foreign publishing contracts in place to produce the book in 11 different languages. I'm also pleased to report that the book is still in Amazon's top 250 titles (overall), even though it has been out since September of 2009.


Today we present another product review from our Field Gear Editor, Pat Cascio, as a well as a guest post Jessica Hooley, the author of the Salt n’ Prepper blog.

I hear from SurvivalBlog readers daily. I enjoy hearing from you all, and many of you want me to do test and evaluation on "Whatever" firearms, knives or other survival gear. I wish I could test everything you all want me to test, but it is impossible for a number of reasons. First of all is the expense involved, and secondly, the time involved in doing a round of test and evaluation - there's not enough hours in the day. I constantly get SurvivalBlog readers asking me to test various AR-15 style rifles on the market. Honestly, there are so many different manufacturers and makes of guns, it's impossible. If I have first-hand experience with a certain gun, I'll certainly let the readers know if they have some questions. However, I can't test all the various ARs on the market.
Now, if you're like me, you probably never heard about a "new" company called Windham Weaponry. I wasn't aware of them until the manager at my local gun shop told me about them. I use the term "new" only because the name of the company as an entity is new, but the folks who run it aren't new. Several years ago, Bushmaster Firearms was bought out, and the previous owner had to sign a non-competition agreement for five years. This meant that he couldn't make any AR-15 style rifles.
I don't know about some of you, but in my humble opinion, and based on some of the recent Bushmaster ARs I've run across, I'm not very happy with the way the guns are turning out. I had a polymer Bushmaster AR, and it wouldn't group - it "patterned" like a shotgun at 25 yards. And, once again, in my humble opinion, the overall quality of Bushmaster ARs have gone down, and it's not just me - the manager at my local gun shop, and some of the employees feel the same way that I do.
Enter Windham Weaponry. This is the old Bushmaster AR maker, except they are making the guns even better than they were originally mad. These guns are a lot better than the old Bushmaster ARs were. A large number of those involved in Windham Weaponry are prior Bushmaster staff-- including the owner -- who used to own Bushmaster. I'm here to tell you, these folks are putting a lot of pride in their new ARs. Their new web site says their goal is to build finest AR type rifle in the country - a lofty goal, to be sure.
I traded into a Windham Weaponry Model R16M4A4T "MPC" - don't even ask what all the numbers mean, I don't have a clue. Basically what I have is an M4-type AR, with a removable carry handle, and standard front sight/gas block. Okay, so I'm a bit ol' fashioned, I have a soft spot for a plain ol' M4 style of AR. I can remove the carry handle, should I desire to put a scope or red dot sight on the upper receiver - it's there if I want to do it. We also have the M4 style oval handguards, with excellent double heat shields.
The "MPC" is in 5.56mm NATO and, of course, it will also handle standard .223 Remington rounds up to 62 grain bullet weight.  The barrel is 16" long, with a 1 turn in 9" right hand twist, pretty standard on this type of civilian AR. The barrel is also 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium steel, and the barrel is chrome-line for easy care and extra long life, too. The bolt is Carpenter 158 Steel - MP/HP tested - another nice touch. There is also a 6-position telescoping butt stock. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation - once you set the front sight post during zeroing - and the adjustments on the rear sight go from 300 to 600 meters. There is the standard flash suppressor on the end of the M4-style barrel, too.
The "MPC" has a very rich, dark black anodized coating on the upper and lower receivers - much nicer than is seen on most ARs, and much nicer than the old Bushmaster ARs had, too. The barrel coating almost perfectly matches the coating on the upper and lower receivers, too - again, a nice touch. The upper and lower receivers are anodized - the barrel is parkerized. The rifle weighs in at only 6.9-lbs - just about perfect for an M4 style AR. The gun comes in a hard plastic carrying case, with one magazine, instruction manual and sling. There is also a lifetime warranty on all Windham Weaponry firearms - the the warranty can be transferred to a new owner, should you sell or trade the gun.
Any more, I'm not impressed with many of the new ARs that come on the market. Sure, some are better built than others, some shoot a tad more accurate than others, some have more accessories and features than other similar guns have. Some ARs cost an arm and a leg, some are dirt cheap - and paying a lot more doesn't always mean you are getting a lot more, either. The Windham Weaponry AR I have, is one of the best built ARs I've ever run across - bar none! And, I will tell you that this is probably the most accurate AR I've ever shot, and it is also the most consistently accurate AR I've shot with all the various ammo I tested in it - and I tested a lot of rounds in a month through this baby. I know, many firearms will be more accurate with certain brands of ammo than others - that's usually the way it is with most firearms. However, the sample Windham Weaponry AR I have, had very consistent accuracy with all the loads I tested - there simply wasn't a stand out - and that, my friends, is very rare. If I did my part, I was getting 100 yard groups in the 1.25" range - with open sights. I'm sure I can do better with a scope mounted on this gun.
Okay, speaking of ammo, I tested the Buffalo Bore Ammunition 69 grain Sniper load - which has proven very accurate in my testing over the past year or so. Buffalo Bore also produces three other bullet weights in their Sniper load, too. I highly recommend you test their Sniper loads, and find one that shoots to your liking. Tim Sundles, who owns and operates Buffalo Bore takes a lot of pride in developing his various loads, and it shows. I also tested Winchester's USA brand .223 55 grain FMJ load - which is always a good shooting round for me - and I use this load a lot for function testing. Winchester also sent me their new PDX1 Defender 60 grain HP load - which was designed for personal defense, as well as law enforcement use. I only had two boxes of this new ammo, so I couldn't do a lot of testing with it - but I was impressed with the accuracy as well as the destructive power when fired into water-filled milk jugs. Long-time buddy, Jeff Hoffman, who runs Black Hills Ammunition sent me a variety of .223 Remington loads for testing. Jeff always manages to bury me in ammo when I ask for it for testing in various firearms - he's kept my ammo locker full for 20+ years now.  From Black Hills I had their 55 grain FMJ load - in both new, first quality and factory seconds. I also had their 55 grain soft point, as well as their 60 grain soft point loads. The really new 62 grain Barnes TSX bullet - all copper hollow point, was a real eye opener in the "destroying" department and penetration testing. I also had Black Hills 60 grain Hornady V-MAX load - great varmint round - and I'm gonna nail that coyote across the road from my place one of these days. I also had the 68 grain Heavy Match HP and 69 grain Sierra Match King loads from Black Hills. Like I said, Jeff Hoffman keeps me well-supplied...and this isn't all the loads that Black Hills produces for the .223 Remington caliber - check out their web site.
I wish I could report that one load shot worse, or better, than another. However, as I mentioned, this Windham Weaponry "MPC" is the most consistently accurate AR I've ever fired. There were no bad loads - they were all outstanding loads, with most printing groups in the 1.25" neighborhood. Of course, some loads shot higher than others, and other loads shot lower - but they all grouped in a nice little three-shot cluster if I did my part. I fired more than 1,000 rounds in my testing - very little of the testing was in the functioning area - the gun always went "bang" when I pulled the trigger - no hiccups of any type. Most of my shooting was in the accuracy area - I just kept going out and doing more and more shooting because I didn't believe this AR could shoot groups like it was shooting. Maybe I'm just getting to be a better shot in my old age, or maybe it's the gun making me a better shot.
Right now, Windham Weaponry firearms are a bit hard to come by. (But for that matter, most AR and AK style rifles are hard to come by). My local gun shop sells ARs and AKs as fast as they come in the door - ditto for their respective ammo. Folks see the handwriting on the wall, and know that the President is gonna lower the hammer on guns and ammo in very short order - gun and ammo sales are soaring these days. However, Windham Weaponry ARs are even a bit harder to find - they are just getting up and running. They are now producing nine different models - when I got my sample a little over a month ago, they only listed four different models. So, they are already expanding and growing.
I like the "forever" warranty - that says a lot in my book, when a gun company is so sure of their products, that they are willing to back them up forever against defects in materials and workmanship. I also like that they have taken the old Bushmaster AR, and made it even better than it was before. Full retail on the sample I have is $1,086, and it would be a bargain at that price if you ask me - considering the high-quality of the parts and care in fitting - not to mention  the accuracy. My local gun shop had my sample marked at $829 - and I didn't complain one bit about their asking price. They have since received several more Windham Weaponry rifles, and sold 'em right away. I was standing in the gun shop one morning, when a fellow was looking at a Windham Weaponry AR - and the manager was pointing out all the nice features - the manager asked me to tell this customer my findings and opinion. I flat out told him that my sample is the most consistently accurate AR I've ever owned. He soon bought the sample he was holding. And, no I don't get a commission when I help sell a gun.
I certainly hope that Windham Weaponry keeps up the high-quality build, and continue using the best materials possible to build their ARs - if they do, they are gonna have a hard time keeping up with supply and demand. I like to see a company rise from the ashes, and the old Bushmaster Firearms is back, and better than ever in my humble opinion. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

You’re a prepper and you’ve got tons of “stuff”. Food storage, fuel, first aid kits, bug out bags, the list seems to go on and on. And regardless of a prepper’s dream of unlimited storage space, there never seems to be enough room. At least not for me.

Most living accommodations make storage the final priority; putting style above all else. Regardless of your living situation, I’m here to tell you there is more space! We’ve just got to get a little sneaky and creative.

Just as a disclaimer: Some of this stuff might sound crazy. But aren’t you used to that by now… doing stuff people think is crazy. J Another note to add, when storing food it is best to keep it in the coolest place possible. If any of these rooms are in a place that gets a considerable amount of heat, use these sneaky storage places for your non-foods items.

The Bedroom

Under the Bed – This one’s the obvious one here but still commonly forgotten. Raise up that bed and get a pretty bed skirt to hide your bounty of emergency preparedness goods. With WaterBrick’s you can store upwards of an additional 50 gallons of water under your bed.

Top of the Closet – Almost every closet has that top level that never gets used. Reach up there and get stacking.

In Your Pillows – Let the craziness begin. While I don’t expect you to store food in the pillow you actually sleep on, how many of us have a hand full of useless throw pillows accompanying our bed spreads? Stuff them with freeze dried food, boxes of matches, garbage bags, medicine, etc.

In Your Box-Springs – Most box-springs use a lightweight cloth as a cover so you’ll have to store lighter emergency supplies in your box-spring. Box-springs are usually so open that you’ll only need a few cuts in the cloth to access the entire area for storage.

The Living Room

Coffee Table – If you are short on storage space, please don’t waste your money on a coffee table that offers no storage. As beautiful as some of those glass topped, claw-footed tables are, they are equally useless. Instead, buy an ottoman coffee table with deep storage containers. These are available in many attractive styles while still giving you the storage space you need.

In Your Couch – It’s not such a weird idea when you think about hide-a-bed couches. If they can conceal a mattress, you can make a couch conceal some emergency supplies. While this one might take a little craftiness, there’s some great tutorials out there for making your own storage couch.

The Entertainment Center – Your DVD Player will look fine on top next to the television. Save the unseen space for supplies. I’ve seen some entertainment centers big enough to store a month’s worth of food. Make the space count.

The Kitchen/Dining Room

Above the Cabinets – In most newer homes, the cabinets are kept several inches from the ceiling. Simply store your supplies in boxes that are aesthetically pleasing and put them on top of your cabinets. You’d be surprised at the amount of space available in these little nooks and crannies.

Seating – If you have the option, replace your dining room chairs with benches for seating. These benches can be built similarly to the storage couches I referred to above and have plenty of room for additional supplies.

The Rest of the House

In The Walls – As long as there’s no wires or vents going through any given space in your wall, you can use that area to store stuff. You can add cupboard doors for easy access, or leave the walls open with shelving. Either way, your walls can be the jackpot of overlooked storage space.

The Backyard – Don’t be afraid to dig a few holes if it means making space for your necessities. In your backyard you can make a root cellar. Or how about burying water tanks or other containers that store food?

I’m sure there are plenty of other sneaky places many of you have utilized for your storage purposes. - Jessica Hooley is the author of Salt n’ Prepper and contributor to the Army Navy Store Blog, PX Supply.

I am now writing the first draft my follow-on novel in the "Patriots-Survivors-Founders" series, under the working title "Expatriates." Tentatively, this novel will be set primarily in three locales:

A.) Darwin, Australia,

B.) Tavares, Florida, and

C.) Borongan, Samar Island, Philippines.

There will also be some mention of Bella Coola, British Columbia. If any SurvivalBlog readers have lived in or near any of those locales , I'd appreciate your input, via e-mail. I'd also appreciate hearing from anyone with experience and seismic oilfield exploration.

OBTW, my novel "Founders" should be released in October 2012, in hardback, as an audiobook, and as a Kindle e-book.

James Wesley:
Did you see this article: Study ranks Wyoming's corruption risk as high, and this map? How is it that states like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming could be so corrupt? That doesn't seem possible, and it contradicts all my prior research about The American Redoubt. What is you take on this? Thanks, - Kevin L.

JWR Replies: The study that they cited was on a perceived potential for corruption (a hypothetically calculated "risk of corruption"). The ratings were skewed, because they were in part based upon the willingness of state governments to report to the Federal government.  Some states rightly see that as kowtowing and a violation of their state sovereignty.

In essence, searching for corruption by searching for states with lax anti-corruption laws is illogical. Did it ever occur to the researchers that anti-corruption "sunshine" laws could be lax in some states simply because there has never been a problem with systematic corruption in those states? For Wyoming to rank higher than New Jersey, Michigan, and Illinois for risk of corruption is absolutely absurd.

If you do a web search on "Wyoming corruption", you will see that the top 10 hits are nearly all to that same same hypothetical study.  That is because there are hardly any real incidents of systematic corruption in the state. 

Look at the states that got the lowest ratings: Georgia, Michigan, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming. Now I find it credible that there is systemic corruption in Michigan and perhaps in Virginia. But as for the rest on the list with "F" grades ,widespread corruption not very likely. If you look at the states where there have actually been corruption problems, New Jersey seems to dominate the news. But according to this ostensibly neutral study, New Jersey is far less "at risk" than Maine and Wyoming. In fact, based on their skewed metrics, New Jersey gets a "B" grade, while Idaho gets a "D-", and Wyoming gets an "F." That is absurd, on its very face. And how does Illinois get a "C" grade? The bottom line is this: Unless you ask the right questions, you are going to get the wrong answers. This is classic case of a study made with skewed metrics. Because of its flawed premise, the study was a waste of $1.5 million, part of which indirectly came from U.S. taxpayers. (Since NPR financially supports Public Radio International.)

We should also question who conducted the study: The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. They all have considerable bias. The Center for Public Integrity has a clear statist "big government" bias. One of their biggest supporters is George Soros. That alone spells volumes. Global Integrity is also statist and has a globalist "supranational" agenda. And Public Radio International has a bias that is clearly both statist and leftist/collectivist. When you come down to it, what result could you expect from these three organizations? I suspect that they covertly despise the so-called "Red States" and small government conservatism. Take a few minutes to read this: Fuhgeddaboutit! NJ top state for fighting corruption. And that, mind you, comes from left-of-center MSNBC.

The only recent claims of corruption in Wyoming that popped up came from an anonymous ex-convict oilfield worker with an apparent axe to grind, so his credibility is suspect.

This is not to say that there aren't some corruption problems at the county level, inside The American Redoubt. For example, there was recently a case that was well-publicized, in Lake County, Montana. But there, five brave sheriff's deputies blew the whistle on the corrupt practices, in righteous indignation. And that, by the way wasn't a case of a politician taking fat envelopes of cash as a bribe for awarding some garbage hauling contract or sewage treatment plant contract. Rather, the key charge in this case was about a County Sheriff who thought he had some special right to jacklight deer and elk, and who had the temerity to brag about it.

Now I don't claim that politics in the Redoubt States are as pure as the driven snow. But please recognize that these states were unfairly slammed by this biased study.

Dear James:
The body armor ban in Alberta, Canada comes into effect June 15th, 2012.    To summarize, unless you are using Body Armor in your exempted profession, e.g., police, security, etc., etc., you have to get approval to buy, or own Body Armor.  FAQs see:  Body Armour Control

Fortunately, there is an exemption for "an individual who has been issued a valid licence under the Firearms Act (Canada)", and - contrary to the FAQ page above - my reading of the actual law indicates that this exemption for Firearms License holders is not restricted to the scope of your profession.   See:  Exemptions, Section 4 (f) of the BODY ARMOUR CONTROL ACT

Nova Scotia's upcoming ban does not have an exemption for Firearms License holders (like Manitoba.) 

These are very odious laws.  Innocent folks will die, or be injured because it did not seem worth the extra expense or hassle to proactively get Body Armor.  And do you think the gang members will be overly concerned about a getting a permit for their illegal Body Armor, to go along with their illegal guns, or illegal drugs? 

Free persons (who respect the rights of others) should not have to beg a bureaucrat to get permission to protect themselves.  If you have to get permission to protect your life, well... exactly what rights do you have? Yours Truly, - Nick  at BulletProofME.com Body Armor

Lin H. wrote: "Don't buy spaghetti sauce in jars or cans since it is easy, thrifty and adaptable to make your own. You know what's going into it, you can do many different meals with the one basic homemade recipe, and the ingredients are easily kept in your home (and preparedness ) pantry."
Lin H.'s Easy Red Spaghetti Sauce
1-2 tbs. olive oil (optional, depending on your meat choice)
1/2 lb. meat (ground beef or pork or venison, bulk sausage, diced smoked sausage, cut bacon, Vienna sausage dices, cut pepperoni slices, diced canned ham; the possibilities are wonderfully various)
1/2 c. diced onions (or 2 tbs. dried onion flakes)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp. dried garlic, rehydrated; or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
1 can (14-16 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 heaping tbs. Italian seasoning (or 2 tsp. each basil and oregano)
1/2 tsp. ea. salt and pepper, or to taste
1 tbs. butter or margarine (optional)
In a large skillet or saucepan crumble and brown meat with onion and garlic till done (if using pre-cooked meats, heat oil then stir-fry meat, onion and garlic till onion is translucent, 5 minutes or so). Drain grease. Add rest of ingredients. Bring to just-boiling at high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings if desired. Makes roughly 4 servings.
Now you're ready for (plan on 12-16 oz. pasta for most of the meals below, to serve 4):
- Spaghetti, of course. Serve over cooked spaghetti or other pasta.
- Lasagne. Layer sauce with lasagne noodles and a cheese mixture and bake.
- Have you tried Cabbage Lasagne? Substitute steamed cabbage shreds for the pasta layer in lasagne. It's delicious.
- Baked ziti/penne. Toss sauce with cooked ziti or penne tubes in a casserole, top with cheese, and bake.
- Stuff manicotti or giant shells with a cheese mixture, pour sauce over and bake.
- You can add vegetable nutrition to any of these dishes. Zucchini rounds, chopped spinach, and peppers (sweet red, green bell, or hot varieties to taste) all adapt well.
- Italian soup. When sauce is done add 2 cans (14-16 oz. ea.) beef broth, 2 c. water, a can of drained beans and diced veggies of choice (zucchini or any squash, peppers, celery, carrots, peas, spinach and cabbage are all good). Simmer till veggies are almost tender and add 1/2 c. uncooked pasta the last 10 minutes.
- Add a cup of half-&-half to your sauce, simmer 10 minutes, and stir in cooked pasta for a creamy "Hamburger Helper type" stovetop dish.
- Spread sauce on unbaked pizza crusts (will make 2-to-3 pizzas), top with diced veggies, sprinkle cheese over and bake.

Chef's Notes:

I hope this can be helpful. Sharing good food with family or friends is a blessing, in good times and bad.

Reader Matt R. Adds: "The only thing I can possibly add to Lin H.'s delicious sounding spaghetti sauce contribution is something I learned from my half-Italian cousin:  Canned tomatoes and sauce are acidified for safety and can be pretty 'twangy'...  To cut the acid, add very finely chopped carrots to the sauce - about a half cup to Lin's basic recipe should be about right.  You can chop them so finely nobody will ever know they are there.  Added early and simmered for 15-20 minutes, they add no carrot-y taste but their mild sweetness goes a long way to eliminating the acid and canned taste of the tomatoes.  The beta carotene can't hurt either...  Once you do this you'll never consider making spaghetti sauce without them."

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Mrs. G. suggested Cooks.com

Cousin Al mentioned that Faith and Survival has a useful collection of dehydrated food recipes.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you have tested extensively? Then please e-mail it to us for posting. Thanks!

Tom. H. sent this bit of CNBC punditry: Silver: Poor Man's Gold Turning to Fool's Gold? [JWR's Comment: It is actually U.S. Dollar-denominated investments that are for fools. The Dollar is doomed. Silver and gold are merely a couple of the best hedges on that inevitability.]

Don't Call Them 'Extreme Couponers': Meet the Coupon Enthusiasts

Over at Seeking Alpha: A Run On Guns Is Making Investors Happy

G.G. sent this: Obama's Budget: 'Interest Payments Will Exceed Defense Budget' in 2019. [JWR's Comment: Or much sooner, if interest rates jump.]

B.B. sent this: World food prices rise further, raising fears of unrest

Items from The Economatrix:

Americans Brace For Next Foreclosure Wave

Stocks: Worries About Europe Resurface

Payroll Gain in US "Probably" Exceeded 200,000 for Fourth Month

Jobs Recovery Suffers Setback In March

Count your blessings, all you pampered middle class First Worlders, after you watch this five-minute slice of life: The Dentist of Jaipur. By the way, don't miss how they seem to be re-using a syringe (that made me shudder) and the same pink "anesthetic" liquid is later used as an antiseptic. <Sarcasm On:> Well, hey, "anesthetic" and "antiseptic" sort of sound the same, so they should work the same, right? <Sarcasm Off.> (Thanks to K.T. for sending us the link.)

   o o o

I heard that M.D. Creekmore's new book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparednessis now available from Amazon.com. (You probably recognize the name M.D. Creekmore. He is the editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net.)

   o o o

Carolina Readiness Supply is having their 2nd Annual Preparedness Seminar May 4th and 5th in Black Mountain, North Carolina.  This is the town where the novel One Second After was set. The Ridgecrest Conference Center in Black Mountain seats 2,000+.  Dr. William Forstchen (the author of One Second After) will be a guest speaker.

   o o o

The ultimate slingshot?

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For those that have asked about a portable PV power system that they can easily move back and forth between their homes and retreats: Goal Zero Yeti 1250. Ready Made Resources offers these with free shipping. (Which is substantial, given the weight of the battery box.)

"I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution - taking from the federal government their power of borrowing." - Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, April 8, 2012

May God Bless You and Yours, as we honor the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus.


Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Contrary to the title of this article, I am not a hardcore Glock enthusiast, but I have carried them and used them extensively.  While you may not agree with my thoughts on the Glock, I provide them to you based upon my personal experience with the Glock.  I may be wrong, but I am sure of what I know.

So, you are prepping for a WTSHTF scenario and are contemplating what handgun to choose.  You’ve already settled on your rifle, but now you want something else.  You want something that can be: conveniently carried, is concealable, is of a respectable caliber, is reliable under harsh conditions, and requires very little maintenance to keep it running.

Your choices are limited to either a revolver or a autopistol.  Now, I started out shooting revolvers and have a fondness in my heart for them.  However, while a revolver fits the above criteria just fine, I would not consider anyone who chooses a revolver as being under armed. For me, I would lean towards the autopistol. Unless of course your main threat comes from a rather large and furry four legged animal, then I would lean towards favoring a large caliber revolver starting with the number 4.

My reasons for this choice are simple, thought out, and borne from experience.  Autopistols generally have a higher capacity than revolvers and can be reloaded rather rapidly with some practice.  Revolvers, for most of us, are slower to re-load and do not have the firepower of an autopistol.  A malfunction in a autopistol is relatively easy to clear and can be done quickly.  Although a malfunction in a revolver is rare, it does happen and may require tools to get it back into action.  Not a challenge one wants to take on in the middle of a self defense situation.  Keep in mind though, that there is a reason that virtually all police departments have made the switch from revolvers to autopistols.  While revolvers are extremely reliable, modern autopistols produced from major manufactures have also achieved enviable reliability.  Yes, I know that autopistols can be prone to a malfunction if you do not have a solid grip and “limp wrist”.  And for the novice shooter, revolvers are safer to use.  I’ve used autopistols that were so extremely reliable that the presentation of a malfunction left one in a state of almost utter disbelief.  Just remember, that the heart of a autopistol is the magazine.  Purchase only top quality spare magazines for your autopistol.  Don’t skimp on this.

Become well acquainted with your pistol and practice with it as often as possible.  Dry firing is a good and cheap way to practice.  Concentrate on the front sight and trigger press.  The trigger press is one of the hardest things to master on a autopistol, but absolutely essential to shooting a handgun well.  Remember however, that while dry firing is a good way to practice, you still need to hit the range and go live.  After all, you can’t learn to swim if you don’t go in the water.       

Caliber selection is always a topic of debate.  Some people are more comfortable with the ubiquitous 9mm round, while others lean towards the uniquely American .45 ACP.  You can’t argue with history, and personally I’m a .45 ACP fan.  Yes, I know that with modern hollow point ammunition the best 9mm round can be almost as effective as the best hollow point 45 ACP round.  However, if there is ever a WTSHTF scenario, ammunition may be difficult to come by and you may not be able to obtain hollow point ammunition, only the hardball ammunition.  So ask yourself, would you rather have a FMJ 9mm round or a FMJ .45 ACP round?  Bigger bullets equal bigger holes.  Yes, we can talk about shot placement, recoil and all that stuff, but there is a reason that the .45 ACP is preferred by some elite military and law enforcement units as their caliber of choice in a crisis situation.  Enough said on this topic.  This is a personal choice.  Just learn how to shoot correctly and to hit what you are shooting at!  9mm, 45 ACP, 40 S&W, 10mm, 357 Magnum, etc, will all get the job done if you do yours.  That brings us back to practice, practice, practice!   

As for me, I chose the Glock 23.  This is Glock’s compact size 40 caliber version.  My choices for choosing this caliber are personal, but thought out.  While the 40 caliber is a snappy round, it is controllable with the proper technique and can be shot rapidly and accurately.  It is a uniquely American round, and the best of the breed nips at the heels or equals that of the best 45 ACP bullet.  Moreover, it is the round that is carried by a large percentage of the law enforcement agencies in this country which may make the round more accessible in a WTSHTF scenario.  While it does not have the cross sectional density of the 45 ACP it is still much larger than the 9mm (.355) as opposed to .400 for the 40 caliber.

The Glock 23 has a 13 round capacity and will accept the magazine of its larger sibling, the Glock 22 with a 15 round magazine.  As an additional bonus, you can purchase a 9mm barrel for the Glock 23 along with some 9mm Glock magazines and you now have two calibers on one frame.  You can also purchase a 357 SIG barrel and have three calibers on one frame.  This gives the user versatility when the ammunition supply begins to dwindle.  There are also 22 caliber conversion kits that you can order to convert your Glock 23 into a 22 LR shooter.  So, with a little expense, you can have four calibers in one autopistol.

The Glock, right out of the box, comes with an extremely tough finish that resists rust like nobody’s business, and it requires very little lubrication or maintenance to keep it functioning.  Thus, one of the reasons it is favored by law enforcement.

Simplicity of use?  It’s a point and shoot gun.  While it does have three safeties (a trigger safety, firing pin safety and drop safety), there are no external safeties to click off.  Pull the trigger and it will go bang, just like a revolver.  It’s just that simple.  The trigger pull is the same for each round so there is no need to acclimate to two different trigger pulls as one would find with a traditional DA/SA autopistol.

While I would admit that the Glock is a very easy pistol to learn to shoot, it is not as easy to learn to shoot it well, as the trigger takes a bit of getting used to.  But with proper training and familiarization, you can shoot this pistol competently, quickly, and accurately under combat conditions.  Remember, the Glock was not developed as a target pistol but rather as a military autopistol for the Austrian army.

If you read the various published gun magazine articles and internet blogs, they claim that the reliability/durability of the Glock almost reaches legendary proportions.  However, my experience has been to the contrary.  It does go bang when you pull the trigger, but it can break.   Now, I primarily use the .40 caliber round which is a high pressure round.  Folks using the 9mm round may have a different take on the durability of the Glock.  From my personal experience, the Glock 23 will break on you with lots of use.  I have had a number of broken parts on a Glock 23.  All the breakages occurred somewhere within approximately 17,000 rounds down range.  The good news however, is that the Glock is a "plug and play" gun.  It does not require you to be an armorer (but I would advise that you invest in a complete Glock guide) to get the pistol back into action within minutes.  Just pop out the broken part and plug in the replacement part and you’re ready to go.  All you need is a pin punch tool, maybe a pair of needle nose pliers and small flathead screwdriver for all of your repair needs.  Remember, the Glock has a high level of parts interchangeability with other Glocks, so if you don’t have the spare part, there is a fair chance that you can cannibalize it from another Glock, even if it is not the same caliber or model as yours.  The Glock only has 34 parts.  That is fewer than any other autopistol that I know of.

The Glock 23 weighs only 21.16 ounces (unloaded) and has a height of 5 inches, so it is relatively easy to conceal and light enough to carry all day, but packs a wallop when you need it.  The pistol’s low bore axis makes recoil relatively easy to control despite its light weight.

The Glock does not require a break-in period.  It will come out shooting right from the box.  However, I would definitely change out those cheap plastic sights and replace them with night sights that have a cocking shelf to allow for one hand racking of the slide.  For me, I would also replace the factory slide stop lever with an extended one from Glock.  This type of lever just fits my style of shooting better. 

While the Glock is not my favorite autopistol it has a lot going for it in a Mad Max scenario or a Get Out of Dodge event.  It has a tough as nails finish, it is dependable under harsh environmental conditions, low maintenance, low weight, easy to shoot, easy to fix, and ubiquitous.  What more can you ask for in a WTSHTF autopistol?        

Just my opinion folks, nothing more, nothing less.

JWR Adds: I cringe whenever I see cannibalization mentioned vis-a-vis home gunsmithing . It takes just a few minutes of Internet research to determine which are the high breakage and high loss parts for any particular gun. By high loss, I mean small parts that are under spring tension such as various detents, extractors, and ejectors that tend to go flying across a room and getting lost in the Great Dacron Forest of deep pile carpeting, never to be seen again. Do the research, and stock up on the requisite spare parts. After all, a complete spare gun is a mighty expensive source of a few spare parts, and once you start cannibalizing, you of course lose the use of a functional weapon.

Reader B.B. sent this news from Canada: Gun owners alarmed by ammunition rule- Confusion over storage requirements. But meanwhile, some good news: Senate kills long-gun registry. (Thanks to N.L. for the latter link.)

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Our friend Commander Zero recently commented on: Gender issues in preparedness

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G.G. mentioned that Lisa Bedford ("Survival Mom") was just interviewed by Lew Rockwell

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Mac Slavo of the SHTFPlan blog recently posted a link to this trucking industry warning from 2006: When Trucks Stop, America Stops

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An American Redoubt Job Opening: The ultimate high tech backcountry job? Radio Repeater Maintenance Support (Idaho & Wyoming)

How to Navigate by the Sun. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

"And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." - Acts 4:33 (KJV)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Captain Rawles,
In addition to the points you made in reference to stealth and scarce ammunition supplies post collapse, in your commentary on the named article, I would make a second point:

While the squad level tactics described have proven to be rather effective for active duty military in offense;  the average Joe and his family unit will most likely not have those kinds of numbers.  The average familial size seems to be right around four, these days.  So unless one is lucky enough to have found/joined/founded a group for this purpose, when it gets to be Schumer time the average Joe will find themselves with a fire team at best, in most cases.  Do not mistake me, here, if you got a thirteen man squad, or more, great.  But most won't, so other tactics are perhaps more appropriate.

I would frankly be more inclined, speaking as a veteran myself, to highly recommend the average family/small group employ an adaptation of ST:A (Scout Team: Advanced), fire team recon, or LRRP doctrines.  Which is to say concentrate on detection over engagement, stealth over owning ground, and strict employment of the sound/light/motion/trace "disciplines".  For those who aren't familiar, trace discipline can also be called trash discipline or "policing your line of advance".  It simply means don't leave any trace that you were there; burn, bury, or carry with you any trash or spent brass.  In short, get in-do your business-get out, preferably without having to engage, especially if the other side is physically entrenched.  If you must engage at assault ranges, then somebody goofed and goofed badly, in my experience. Of course, if one must engage, do so authoritatively, and with prejudice; in other words don't just hit your target, drop them, so they don't get back up. Then break off the engagement as quickly as is possible.  Obviously, further adaptation will be needed for such things as movement connected with resource gathering, and so forth.  Cutting firewood in quantity leaves a lot of trace and will have a huge sound signature, for example.

I would also very highly advise these small groups to train all their members as designated marksmen, on top of whatever other skills are possessed, in order to foster the habit of observation at distance.  This allows for long range engagement from behind cover, followed by a break contact movement while starting from that same cover. (Assuming there's cover to be had.)   This is in keeping with what I've written previously concerning keeping a low profile.  Simply put, the average family unit will just not possess, most likely, the numerical assets to engage at squad level or higher, with much degree of success.  Huge families and so forth are more an exception these days than they were when I was a child.

When it comes to family, there's no such animal as "acceptable losses."

Just my two cents, here.  And Easter blessings to all. - J.H.

I received an e-mail on Friday morning from Brian Camden of Hardened Structures, alerting me that an F-18 fighter jet had just crashed, quite near their headquarters, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Thankfully, no one was killed. Here is one minute of raw post facto video.


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Long before the days of supermarkets and organized agriculture, people lived.  We are the evidence.  They lived in small groups and even alone as hunter gatherers.  And remember, this was in the days before language!  How did we do it?  Trial and error?  Instinct?  If so, the instinct has been lost, but with some simple rules, it may be regained.

The good news is we don't have to watch Uncle Ogg keel over in agony after grazing on a patch of poison hemlock to know that it's something to stay away from. Solutions to common problems such as what to eat from your immediate environment can now be had through books, pictures, video and the spoken word.

I am here to tell you that your body can be sustained for long periods of time by taking advantage of the wild edible food that grows from the ground everywhere.  I know because I did it, and I practiced what I preach exclusively for many years.

I lived in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York in a homesteading situation for many years without electricity and indoor plumbing and the modern conveniences that come with those things.  Town was miles away and visits to civilization were few.  The hardships were many, but so were the lessons learned.  By degrees, I came to know that abundance is given by design.  Believe it or not, we already live in the Garden of Eden, but being "civilized" keeps us from knowing it, and the high pitched whine of man-gone-crazy keeps us from knowing its peace and its gifts.

Some of these foods are known to us already, perhaps instinctively. What child hasn't blown the little parachute seeds from a dandelion's puff-ball while laying in the clover?  Girls pull the petals from a daisy saying "Loves me, loves me not..." and collect tiny bouquets of violets while boys brave sharp barbs to collect raspberries and blackberries.  The helicopters from Maple trees, the burrs from burdock, the fluff from a dried milkweed pod on the wind or the bark of the birch tree have all been child's playthings at one time or another.  Perhaps these warm associations come from a lost knowledge that these are all sources of food?

The average lawn contains many, many food sources. I once published a book called The Lawn Food Cookbook, Groceries in the Backyard due to the sheer amount of material there.  This is without taking a walk around the block or going to local fields and waste areas.  Needless to say, if you're trekking from hither to yon, you'll be passing through many of nature's supermarkets. Will you know how to use their assets?

All it takes to get started is the will to do so. Take a trip to the library or the Internet for tons of free information.  I have found, however, that while many resources are strong on the identification and uses, they can be short on practicalities such as harvesting tips, preparation and especially storage for the long winter months. I have sought out the methods of the early Native Americans to cope with many of these issues, and I've used them to great benefit.  While many of these foods freeze beautifully, I found that much can be done with drying foods and making flour from the dried material for a concentrated nutritional benefit.  This has immediate appeal to people who are on foot.

What if you could make yourself "starvation proof"?  What if you knew you could be dropped off anywhere, even on a desert, and not only survive but have all the nourishment a body could need?  Well, I'm here to tell you that not only is it possible, but it's relatively easy for a person of average intelligence to attain.  It certainly might be hard on your system to begin to eat wild food after steady diet of sugar filled fast foods and processed grains, but those problems largely come from the sheer amount of nutrition you would be confronted with.

It's no secret that modern agriculture techniques have depleted nutrients from the soil when they've been grown in the same place for a long time ago, but this is not true for wild food and the places where it grows.  The very weeds that are giving Big Agriculture problems by becoming resistant to the herbicides that are used to "cultivate" today's GMO crops tend to be the very same foods that we could utterly live on for centuries to come.  Ironic, isn't it?  The "troublesome" amaranth, horseweed, waterhemp and lambsquarters all have edible uses.  It's almost as if Mother Nature is trying to tell us something!

While I am not a “prepper", I have found over the years that these folks are my best audience.  The similarities between my chosen situation in the Adirondacks and the scenario where there is some sort of disaster disrupting the food supply as we know it are too striking to dismiss.  The intent might be different, but the techniques remain the same.  The truly prudent know that this knowledge is not won overnight.  Foraging is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced in one's everyday life before one could depend on it in an emergency.  If you feel that disaster is imminent, my advice to you is "start now."  There is a learning curve, but that curve could begin in troubled times if it had to, assuming you had the information in hand.  You could be up to speed in time to stretch your food supplies and be expert by the time they run out.

One note here-- if you have a family during troubling times, foraging together has the excellent benefit of reducing fear.  As you learn and look around and see that a high percentage of the vegetation around you is edible, you will find that this automatically lessens the worry you may be experiencing while ensuring your family's survival.

To start with wild food, concentrate on finding one plant that grows in your area.  The one's I teach grow almost everywhere.  Identify it and test it using the rules of foraging to be sure that it will not produce a reaction for you or anyone that will be eating it.  This means that they, too, should learn and apply the rules of foraging, as stated below.  This is important, especially if you are reaching outside the bounds of the plants that are known to you.

Then, having passed the tests, harvest some, process it and try some.

To recap, select one plant and bring it from the field to the kitchen.  Learn that one thoroughly.  Work it into your menu, but take a gradient approach to learning and using wild food.  You would first use a pinch to bolster the nutrition of a stew, for instance.  What you'll be doing is adapting your body to the pure nutrition that is wild food.  Realize that it's 5-7 times the nutrition of any vegetable we have, so going too fast could have a strong effect, such as the runs.

First a few pinches mixed in, later, perhaps, a whole meal of nothing but wild food.

As you forage around, you'll become aware of other plants that you can work into your diet in a similar fashion.  You'll will become adept and marvel at the ease of harvesting large amounts quickly, taking it and drying it for storage and future use.  Remember not to pick an area clean of something, because you could wipe it out for the next time.  Leaving some will actually give the plant a chance to resurge and grow like a weed — which of course, they are.

Go slow and have fun while you learn the skill that kept all of humanity alive in the eons before recorded history.

The Rules of Foraging

These rules are for your own protection when investigating plants that are new to you. If followed closely, they will protect you in the field.

1. DO NOT collect plants closer than 200 feet from a car path or contaminated area.
2. NEVER collect from areas sprayed with herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals.
3. DO NOT collect plants with RED STEMS, or red striations or stripes.
4. ALWAYS BE FAMILIAR with all dangerous plants in YOUR area of collection.
5. POSITIVELY IDENTIFY all plants you intend to use for food.
6. Take a piece off the plant and roll between your fingers.  SNIFF CAREFULLY.  Does it smell like something you would eat?  If it doesn’t, DISCARD IMMEDIATELY.  If it does, go to rule 7.
7. Take another piece off the plant and roll until juicy.  RUB the tiny piece on your gum above your teeth.
8. WAIT 20 minutes.
9. DOES YOUR GUM ITCH, BURN, TINGLE, SWELL OR STING?  If no reaction occurs, go on to rule 10.
10. Take another piece of the plant and put in a teacup.  Add boiling water and steep for 5 minutes.  SIP SLOWLY for 20 more minutes.  WATCH FOR NAUSEA, BURNING, DISCOMFORT.  If no reaction occurs, you may ingest a small amount.
11. WAIT ANOTHER 20 MINUTES and watch for any reaction.
12. Keep all samples AWAY from children or pets.
13. Store all seeds and bulbs AWAY from children and pets.
14. Teach children to keep all plants AWAY from their mouths and DO NOT ALLOW children chew or suck nectar from any unknown plants.
15. AVOID smoke from burning plants. Smoke may irritate the eyes or cause allergic reactions QUICKLY.
16. BE AWARE of your neighbor’s habits with chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.
17. BEWARE: heating or boiling doesn’t always destroy toxicity.


After emerging from the woods, I dedicated myself to teaching the lessons that I had learned.  In the early 1980s I set up a wild food walk, sort of a museum of plants so people could learn them without having to seek them out first.  My first Xeroxed flyer for the walk was eventually to become my first book, A Survival Acre.  My materials have evolved over the years to what you can see on my webs ite, OfTheField.com.  Nothing makes me madder than hearing about people starving to death when they're sitting in Nature's Supermarket!  People are always blown away with the knowledge and awareness that comes from discovering the abundance right under their feet.  It is my sincerest hope that you will learn these skills.

This is information about wild food.  The editors of SurvivalBlog nor the author make no claims as to the correctness, safety or usability of the data.

The information contained herein is intended to be an educational tool for gathering and cooking wild plants.  The information presented is for use as a supplement to a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle.  The nutritional requirements of individuals may vary greatly, therefore the author and publisher take no responsibility for an individual using and ingesting wild plants.

All data is to be used at your own risk.  Using the Rules of Foraging, above, greatly helps to reduce that risk, but they are not fool-proof.

JWR Adds: SurvivalBlog readers will likely recognize the author's name. She is the author of the excellent Linda Runyon's Master Class On Wild Food Survival.Her books, DVDs, and flash cards all have a well-deserved positive reputation.

Many preppers and other radio communications enthusiasts want to be well equipped for receiving and transmitting under adverse conditions, but most modern hams, shortwave listeners (SWLs), preppers and observers are not familiar with the evolution of receiver and transmitter designs and how that progression can give us a useful advantage in gearing up for different scenarios. Old tech is, after all, appropriate tech when the going gets rough-the rougher, the older in many instances.

I want to start with receivers because a transmitter without a receiver is useful only for broadcasting, and in our endeavors broadcasting is generally our last goal. One concept I want to make clear is that in the design of radio communications technology, 'Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny'. The most simple and easiest to implement systems are usually those that in fact evolved early on, and they are often the most resistant to failure. But they also tend to have limitations which were why they were superseded: however, in extreme circumstances knowing how to implement them and having a few key items on hand could mean the difference between success and failure.

The primary steps or changes in the design of radio receiver construction are, the "crystal set" or Passive Tuned-Radio-Frequency (TRF) receiver, the Active TRF, or 'straight', receiver, the Regenerative ('regen' or 'howler')  receiver and the superheterodyne (superhet, or mixing) receiver.  There are other designs such as the 'superregenerative', 'direct conversion', and 'homodyne', but they are not significant for our purposes and are used today, if at all, for specific niche purposes.  The four main categories each may have a use but only one, the last, will generally prove practical for a modern, all purpose radio and constitutes 99% of all commercially manufactured sets. All are worth knowing about and may have some specific application depending on the resources you have and what you are trying to accomplish.

The Crystal Set 

The first radio receiver to be available in any quantity, and the first radio construction project for three generations of schoolboys and hobbyists, was the "crystal radio". It had no vacuum tubes or other active devices, and consisted of an antenna, an earth ground, a tuned circuit to select a particular 'wavelength' or frequency to pick up, a 'crystal' detector to turn the modulated signal into an audio voltage, and some type of transducer to enable the listener to hear that small voltage.  There were no batteries or any power source, other than that provided by the signal itself. There were no active devices to power either. The 'crystal' was not, as in modern electronics of all types, a small piece of resonant cut quartz used to provide a frequency reference but rather a semiconductor junction made up of a chunk of certain kinds of rock or mineral and a small needle or 'whisker' of dissimilar metal. Galena was the preferred detector, usually mounted in a holder with a convenient gizmo to make putting the whisker on a certain part of the little rock where it would work best, but many materials would work and a rusty razor blade and a stick pin or wire often saw service as well. Modern crystal radio builders usually just use a regular diode, preferably salvaged from a junk television, computer or what have you: Most any diode or transistor will work but germanium or Schottky diodes are preferred for best sensitivity.

Almost any old boy's electrical or science book will have diagrams of crystal radios and some instructions on building various types. There are many different circuits but the keys are always the same: a good antenna, a good ground, a sensitive transducer, and patience.

The transducer, or speaker, bears some comment. A modern loudspeaker will not reproduce anything, usually, with a crystal set. Even modern headphones are useless. The little crystal ear-bud they used to include with the old transistor radios will provide some results, but best is the old, high impedance, "watch case" headphones. They are very sensitive and have many uses for electronic servicing and antique radio use besides crystal sets. They were made up until the 1960s or early 1970s for the military, and can be found at hamfests or online. I have found that piano and organ stores often have a set or two lying around because for some peculiar reason Wurlitzer used them, with a matching transformer, with their home organs, most of which have little value today and will be parted out by organ servicemen.

The upside of the crystal set is that it is eminently suited to do-it-yourself construction, needs no batteries, and will enable users to hear local AM stations during the day and a number of clear channel stations at night. In rural areas, with enough antenna and a really good ground, many AM broadcast band stations and, with the right tuning coils, even an occasional shortwave broadcast station can be heard at night.

There was a good reason it fell into disuse except as a novelty or boys' project after the mid-1920s: it couldn't be used to listen to CW (Morse code) or SSB signals, it only got strong stations in the day (and when it did, often more than one at the same time), and you had to listen carefully with headphones. In other words, poor sensitivity, poor selectivity, and low audio output. Also, it was infeasible to build a crystal set useful above roughly 40 meters, unless you were monitoring the transmitter next door.

Under ideal conditions, though, it could provide superb fidelity and that's why crystal sets were manufactured commercially again in the 1950s, as a tuner for high fidelity buffs who wanted good AM reception. When FM became popular, this ended. Another later use for crystal sets was on ships as an emergency receiver, if for some reason all else failed. Since they were light, small, inexpensive and consumed no power, they were usually built into the ship's radio equipment.

 My recommendation for more information on crystal sets is to obtain, if possible, the first three volumes of Alfred P. Morgan's Boys Books of Radio and Electronics. These are somewhat scarce, in contrast to his "The Boy Electrician" whose early editions are now public domain and therefore reprinted widely. Modern publications include those sold by Lindsay Publications, such as "The Impoverished Radio Experimenter" and the books put out by The Xtal Set Society . Ed Romney's 'How To Fix Up Nice Old Radios' has useful material on these and later sets as well.

The TRF Receiver

People wanted better selectivity and sensitivity and above all they wanted to be able to listen to the radio at a normal volume, without headphones. Amplifying the signal, tuning it carefully, and feeding it to a loudspeaker solved those problems and an invention called by the British a "Thermionic Valve" made that possible. We on this side of the Atlantic know it more commonly as a vacuum tube.

 The valve, or tube, started out as a light bulb that had been fitted with a metal plate across from the filament. If the light bulb was running and a second voltage was applied from the filament, which became a cathode, the plate became an anode and current would flow in one direction but not the other. Thus it could rectify alternating current and act as a detector for modulation put on a transmitted carrier. It could not amplify a weak signal, though, until it was found that if a "fence" or grid was put between the filament and plate, a third voltage would in effect open or close the gate and cause current to flow, or not to flow. Moreover, it could make the current flow a lot or a little, like the throttle on an engine's carburetor. (Remember those?) A small change in voltage could cause a large change in current, so in effect it could amplify weak signals. And it could do it at DC or as high as many megacycles, meaning it could amplify both audio and radio signals.

There you have the TRF receiver. It consisted of one or more stages of radio frequency amplifiers, each with a tube, and with separate tuned circuits in between so the desired radio frequency would be received at the exclusion of others: then, a detector that just as with the crystal set changed the modulated RF signal into an audio signal: and then one or more untuned audio amplifier stages that made the signal, louder than before but still no match for a loudspeaker's needs, big enough to drive a speaker that everyone in a room could hear. Of course you could still use a headset, but only hams and "night hawks" or "DXers" did that. The TRF set meant that radio was now a family affair, and Dad tuned the set so everyone could listen. The TRF set was expensive and delicate enough that in most families, the kids (and even Mom) were not allowed to fool with it. Radio had changed a lot.

Although most houses had electricity, except on farms, most TRF radios ran on batteries, because no simple and cheap method existed to turn AC into smooth and quiet enough DC to run a radio set. Two, and sometimes three different kinds of batteries were needed: a low voltage high current supply, usually 6 volts for the filaments (called the A battery) and a high voltage low current supply made up of a lot of small dry cells in most cases. The A battery was usually borrowed from the family car if they had one. (More did than not, except in New York.) The B battery was bought new and discarded and this made for a considerable expense. So did the tubes, which at first only lasted a few dozen hours if that.

The TRF became obsolete within a few years, around the same time AC powered tubes and usable capacitors made batteries obsolete and tubes began to last longer and cost less. A few were built later on, again occasionally for "hi-fi nuts", and in Britain especially, they were used for surveillance by MI5 and MI6 and so forth because they had no local oscillator to give their presence and location away. Spies, real or imagined, would listen to what were then "regular" radios and the counterintelligence service would monitor their local oscillator emissions to catch them. American military and intelligence services had a different solution, which didn't occur to the Brits. Then again, they put the plumbing on the outside of the building so they can get to it easier when it freezes up.

I can't think of any circumstance where you'd want one today, but the TRF does exist and did work.

The Regenerative Receiver

The regenerative receiver, often called a 'regen' or a 'howler', is based on another property of the vacuum tube, and amplifiers generally. If you feed some of the output of an amplifier back into the input, in phase, it will start swinging back and forth electrically, or "oscillating". A radio transmitter, in its most basic form, is an oscillator. Its frequency is controlled by a tuned circuit or by some other kind of filter.

If you set up a vacuum tube as an oscillator, and fed in a radio frequency signal, and adjusted it so it was just barely ready to oscillate, it would make a really sensitive detector. The regen was cheap to build, it had a single tuned circuit, and it was sensitive and it became a really popular homebrew project. Never popular as a broadcast receiver, the regen made listening to short waves possible for anyone who could scrape up a tube, a headset, and enough wire to wind a coil or two plus some batteries. Since there was a Depression on, and since people were (even so) throwing out stuff with wire and tubes you could salvage, building a regen was the stuff of schoolboys and impecunious hobbyists.

The one tube regen wasn't a great radio. It would pick up a lot of stations, often more than one at once. The sound quality was poor, because the detector distorted. The antenna was part of the tuned circuit so any wind or movement near it made the frequency wander. And since it was still an oscillator, it would transmit as easily as it received, causing interference and neighborhood fights. (Today it still might, and with guns rather than fists in a real disaster.) And, it would sometimes oscillate at audio frequencies as well as radio ones, causing the listener to be blasted with a sine wave so loud he'd rip the headset off and throw it.That's why they were called howlers.

Later regens, commercial or homebrew, improved somewhat on these problems. An RF amplifier and tuned stage, as on the TRF set, was added, both for more sensitivity and to keep the regenerative detector's RF inside the set where they belonged. A stage of audio amplification was also added after the detector, to reduce the load on it, help stop howling, and give more volume. And the set was shielded and a precise tuning and regeneration controls added. Probably the best regen ever built was the National SW-3, which would still be a nice thing to have today, even with its limitations, for a serious prepper. But compared to a modern superhet communications receiver, it has poor selectivity, poor audio quality and good sensitivity only up to about 10 megacycles. (They call them megaHertz, MHz, now.)

But building a regen is good experience and could be a lifesaver in a situation where no other radio is around. You can use transistors instead of tubes, as well, should you have any that still work. (And if you correctly stash away a few dollars' worth of them at surplus prices now you will have hundreds of them that work). They quit building regens commercially just as soon as the superhet became understood and the patents didn't stop them, except for hobbyists and a few kits in the late 1950s for kids. The exception: Marine suppliers made and sold regens as late as the 1960s for 500 kHz marine service on ships. Even though the Germans sank ships with them by listening for their characteristic emissions, homing in on them and torpedoing them in WWII.

The Superheterodyne

Major Edwin H. Armstrong invented a new kind of receiver and patented it  in 1918. (He had also invented the regenerative and the superregenerative receiver and would go on to invent frequency modulation later. ) It solved the problems of making a good radio that could be tuned to different frequencies by having a variable local oscillator-in other words, a small generator or transmitter built into the radio itself-that could be tuned easily and that would convert the received signal into a second, intermediate frequency, that could be filtered, amplified and detected.  This meant that with a single knob, a mass produced, inexpensive set could be as sensitive and selective as the most complicated and fussy precision TRF set, and it could detect the signal cleanly, with great fidelity.

Superhet receivers became utterly dominant by 1930 and still are. They could be built with as few as two or as many as 40+ tubes and when transistors came out they could be built cheaper with those. Modern superhet receivers may consist of just one integrated circuit or 'chip' with a few, tiny, inexpensive capacitors and coils around them.

One of the most popular early types of superhet radio you should be aware of is the famous "All American 5". It can run on AC or DC, has no power transformer, and was called that (it's sometimes referred to as an AA5 in print) because it had five tubes, in a particular layout.  There was a converter tube that acted as an RF amplifier and a local oscillator in one, an IF amplifier, a detector and first audio amplifier tube, a power output tube and a rectifier tube. They were often offered as a kit for hobbyists or for training in vo-tech schools from about 1940 to as late as 1975 or even 1980. (Yes, tubes were obsolete, but government funds weren't.) They were also sold by the tens-maybe hundreds- of millions in every country with 100-130 volt power.  Most of them were just for the AM broadcast band, and they gave good local station performance, but a few AM and shortwave versions and even a few VHF aeronautical band versions exist.  These radios have one dangerous characteristic: One side of the chassis is hooked to the AC power line, and if it's the hot side the radio will work just fine, but if you come in contact with any metal parts connected to the chassis you will get a severe shock. The radio must be repaired or junked if the case or knobs break or the chassis is exposed. If it is a metal case radio then it should only be used with an isolation transformer no matter its condition.

All of the communications receivers and transceivers you will use are superhets and with that exception, most have a power transformer and are isolated from the AC line, or in the case of solid state radios they may run from 12 volt DC. Building superhet radios from scratch requires intermediate frequency transformers and other specialized parts, as well as test equipment to align them, and will not be something you'll do on a field expedient basis. Even experienced hams quit building their own superhets because they could buy them commercially made cheaper than the parts cost and because most were too cheap to buy good test equipment: by 1960, kids had other interests and ham radio was mostly middle aged guys whose ham shacks were a diversion from nagging XYLs and an excuse to buy expensive stuff to impress their ham friends, just as it is now.

What you will want to do is to buy the good radios now while you can, learn to use and maintain them, and to be able to select the good ones from the not so good. You will definitely want to buy some tools and test equipment while they are cheap now, because few want them. You will want to stash away those parts you can get cheaply, and acquire at least the skills to know what you don't know and where to go to change that. (More to follow in Part 2.)

I just read the SurvivalBlog post "Letter Re: Military Surplus G.O.O.D. Vehicles."

Here's a web site for any of your readers in or near West Virginia looking for a Humvee, Deuce and a half or 5 ton trucks: Clark Trucks.

With My Regards, - Aaron K.


Reference military surplus vehicles, I would like to recommend that for those seriously interested in something other than a "deuce" that there are several places here in the US where former Swiss or Austrian "Pinzguaers" are available.  These are very versatile, high ground clearance, 4x4 or 6x6 trucks.  They have 4-cylinder, air cooled, carbureted, 89 hp, motors and will travel almost anywhere.  Maintenance is easy and common items such as 24 volt light bulbs, spark plugs, and oil filters are readily available at most auto parts stores.
Now, the bad news, there are only a handful of sources in the US for major parts and some of them are fairly expensive.  They are also fairly distinctive and draw quite a bit of attention for a truck that is only slightly larger than a Chevrolet Astro van.  Their range is only about 200 to 250 miles on a 20 gallon fill up, so jerry cans would be in order for a long bug out trip.
The 4x4, 710M model, will carry a full ton, or is capable of moving 10 persons and gear at speeds up to about 60 mph on paved roads.  The 6x6, 712M, will carry 14 persons and gear or a full ton and a half of cargo.  Both styles have 45 degree approach and departure angles and are rated for a 45 degree side slope.  I will take their word for that simply because I run out of nerve at about 10 to 15 degrees of side slope.
Finding a Steyr, Daimler, Puch (the consortium that designed and built these trucks) Pinzgauer is fairly easy by just searching with the term "Pinzgauer."  There are a few diesel powered Pinzgauers finding their way into the country.  Caution would be advised on these as registration of them for use on streets and highways could be tricky due to EPA regulations.  The truck, in most cases, has to be 30 years old to meet the standards.  In my case the two I have beat the daylights out of the Polaris Ranger as a utility vehicle.  They were both cheaper than the new Ranger models and can be titled, license, insured and driven on the highways, whereas a UTV in most cases has to be trailered.
Another potential source for former military vehicles, mostly of American manufacturer, is Idaho Motor Pool.  I know nothing about them other than their internet reputation is pretty good.
I love SurvivalBlog and I am very grateful for your books and the information you provide.
Regards, - Signcutter

Hi Jim, 
I agree 100% with your addenda to Gunfighter's article, Small Unit Tactics in a Post Collapse Environment. As a consultant myself, I have had to stress (particularly to the younger crowd of OIF and OEF veterans) that Survivalists have to operate differently than Soldiers, due to the military's reliance on body armor, advanced medical resources, et cetera.

If anything, I seek out Vietnam Vets as consulting associates, for their experience in individual techniques (usually all from the prone position), from the pre-Kevlar, pre-IBA, pre-MOLLE days. I met many of them when I attended Jungle Warfare school back in 1983.
Also, I've discovered that in the Pacific Northwest, the older USGI woodland pattern poncho makes a great second to a ghillie suit, particularly in a populated suburban area, where it may not draw as much attention, when emerging from the woods. Cheers, - SGT Snuffy

30 Canned Foods You Never Knew Existed. (Thanks to Joseph R. for the link.)

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More charming news: Gearing Up: DHS Purchases Bullet Resistant Checkpoint Booths Amid Large Scale Ammo Buildup. (Thanks to S.K. for the link.)

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Be careful out on the roads, folks. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

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David S. flagged this article: Handheld Plasma Flashlight Rids Skin of Notorious Pathogens

"If you are using the generator for 'convenience' then a failure is only an inconvenience. But if using a generator for 'emergency use', then a failure is an emergency." - Clare Snyder

Friday, April 6, 2012

Our SurvivalRealty.com spin-off site now has more than 90 listings. In fact, there have been a lot of new listings added in just the past three weeks that are captivating and unique retreat properties. Please take the time to check them out. Also note that my #1 Son has created an advertising sidebar, with 200 pixel width ads. This quite inexpensive ad space is available immediately. (Meanwhile, the advertising space waiting list at our main SurvivalBlog page is now stretching out well beyond two years.)


Today we present two more entries for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The time may come when all order and civility have broken down into chaos and unrestrained evil. You were a wise prepper and worked through your list of lists, acquiring all of the necessary knowledge and tools for survival. All of your bases are covered. Your survival retreat is intact and manned by your entire survival group. Each individual is most likely capable of firing a weapon and you probably have a survival retreat defense plan in the event a band of raiders, or some other group of people who wish you harm, decides they want to take what isn’t theirs. One skill may have been overlooked however… What is your plan, if a group of individuals must leave the defensive perimeter of your survival retreat? How do they mitigate risk before departing? How do they act and move? How do they posture themselves for a high rate survivability? What actions do they take in the event of being engaged in a firefight? These are all valid and relevant questions that need solutions in a post collapse environment. Tactical movement skills necessary when moving off of a retreat, on foot and overland, include: bounding, bounding over watch, movement to contact and react to contact. These terms may be foreign but I assure you, you will feel more confident and better equipped with some small unit tactics knowledge after reading this article.

The small unit tactics that I will discuss here in this article can be tailored to any situation or terrain. These tactics are meant to be used within a loose system or framework. It does not have to be “By the book.” There is plenty of room to adjust the tactics to fit the situation. The number of personnel can vary and does not need to be fixed. The best way to master these tactics is to train to the point where you are comfortable adjusting them to fit the need. Everything I discuss here in this article can be found in multiple military manuals (I will reference as I go) all of which are available to the public. Nothing I discuss will be sensitive or secret in nature. These are simply some small unit tactics that have been used for a long time.

First I will discuss the administrative organization of the group of people leaving the immediate area of your survival retreat. For the sake of continuity when I am referencing this group of people, their number will be nine, and they will be called a squad. This squad of nine personnel will want to posture themselves in such a way that improves all of their chances of coming back to the retreat alive. It is also important the squad be broken down into two smaller elements with element leaders and a leader over the entire squad. The smaller element leaders will now be referred to as team leaders. The overall leader of the squad will be referred to as the squad leader. The two teams within the squad are Alpha and Bravo teams. In this article each team will consist of one team leader and three additional riflemen. The squad leader manages the team leaders and the team leaders manage their individual teams. So in review; there is a squad of 9 personnel, that is broken down into two teams, Alpha and Bravo teams, each team consists of four personnel, one team leader who manages three additional rifleman, the squad is managed overall by the squad leader. It is imperative that survival retreat members elect tactically competent people as leaders for extra-retreat excursions before actually going on, what I will now reference as a patrol.

After SHTF “Old World” leaders may not have what it takes. The positions or offices that once protected individuals as leaders, though they were not capable or proficient as leaders, will no longer exist. The law of the jungle will now be in effect. Those individuals who are capable and competent will be easily recognizable, and out of necessity placed into positions of leadership. I realize that is a lot of information so if you need to, go back and read from the top of this section.

Now that the administrative portion is out of the way we can discuss the tactical organization of the teams and squad. Each team, as we discussed before, will be comprised of four personnel. In this article, during movement, each team will be in its own wedge formation with the team leader in front of his team. I would like you to visualize four personnel in an echelon or inverted V formation with the team leader at the front of the direction of movement. One rifleman will be off to one side and staggered behind the team leader with the other two riflemen off to the other side staggered off of one another.  I made a simple illustration below:

                 ^    TL                                                       TL= Team Leader

   ^    RFLM            ^      RFLM                                RFLM= Rifleman

                                           ^     RFLM                       ^ = Person

There is a visual in the Ranger Handbook SH-21-76 under Formations. I highly recommend using a search engine to find images of a fire team wedge before continuing on. Now that the team formation is solidified in your mind, think of Alpha team in a wedge formation followed behind by Bravo team also in a wedge formation. Both fire teams are moving together in the same direction of travel. In between the two teams is where the squad leader is positioned during patrol. This position gives him moderate to high control over the squad. The two fire team wedges combined together with the squad leader is called a squad column fire team wedge. I made a simple illustration below to demonstrate a Squad Column Fire Team Wedge.


                   ^    ATL                                                     ATL= Alpha Team Lea

    ^    RFLM              ^      RFLM                              BTL= Bravo Team Leader

                                             ^     RFLM                      SL= Squad Leader

                    ^    SL                                                       RFLM =Rifleman


                       ^   BTL

            ^   RFLM            ^   RFLM

^   RFLM                            
Once again use a search engine to look at a picture of a squad column fire team wedge before continuing on (supplement rifleman in the grenadier and squad automatic weapon positions, unless your squad is fortunate enough to be equipped with such weapon systems). The distance between each man and each team can vary terrain dependent and movement technique desired. For example on open ground with few obstructions you can space out 35 or even 50 meters between personnel and the same distance between teams. The opposite terrain would be woods or a forest where visibility is restricted, and distances between personnel and teams can be as close as 10 to 15 meters. The distance and staggering of the personnel in the squad column fire team wedge is meant to increase survivability so a single burst of fire cannot take out more than one individual. As I explained before, the concepts of these tactics are loose and can be adjusted as necessary. Now that the squad column concept is understood we have the basis for the rest of the article. From now on when I say squad, refer to the squad column fire team wedge visual. Remember you can always go back and review the previous concepts before continuing on.

You should have a warm and fuzzy at this point in regard to the squad column fire team wedge. It is important for each member of the squad to know and understand the 5 Principles of Patrolling before heading out from your retreat. The 5 principles can be found in the Ranger Handbook SH-21-76 Chapter 5 Patrols. Even though no one in your survival group may have military experience, these principles still apply and are relevant to any group of people moving through a possibly hostile area after a total collapse scenario. The 5 principles as they appear in the Ranger Handbook are:

  • Planning. Quickly make a simple plan and effectively communicate it to the lowest level. A great plan that takes forever to complete and is poorly disseminated isn’t a great plan. Plan and prepare to a realistic standard and rehearse everything.
  • Reconnaissance. Your responsibility as a Ranger Leader is to confirm what you think you know, and to learn that which you do not already know.
  • Security. Preserve your force as a whole. Every Ranger and every rifle counts; anyone could be the difference between victory and defeat.
  • Control. Clear understanding of the concept of the operation and commander’s intent, coupled with disciplined communications, to bring every man and weapon available to overwhelm the enemy at the decisive point.
  • Common Sense. Use all available information and good judgment to make sound timely decisions.

Your squad is assembled and spaced out, ready to initiate movement into whatever area that you intend to go outside of your survival retreat.  You begin movement at “Patrol speed.” Essentially it can be as slow or as fast as you want, situation dependent and movement technique desired. You want to move at a speed that is conducive for each individual to scan with their eyes the area the squad is moving into, as well scanning the flanks and rear. You also have to decide the current threat level to your squad and how likely it is there are people who wish you harm where you are going.  I will skip the Traveling technique because contact with potentially hostile groups must always be assumed in a post collapse scenario but please research this technique on your own if you wish. The squad leader should direct the squad to assume Traveling Overwatch, in which contact with hostiles is likely. In this movement technique, terrain dependent, there are 20 meters of dispersion between personnel and 50 meters of dispersion between fire teams. The lead team should be far enough in front of the trail team to detect and engage any threat to the squad, as to allow for the trail team to not become decisively engaged with an enemy. This allows the trail team to be in reserve and maneuvered by the squad leader to support the team in contact and destroy the hostile force. \

The second movement technique that I will discuss is Bounding Overwatch. This movement technique is used when contact with hostiles is imminent. The distances between personnel and teams remains the same as Traveling Overwatch, but as always can be adjusted situation dependent. During Bounding Overwatch, the forward team will occupy an overwatch position while the trail team bounds to a position alongside or forward of the overwatch team. The overwatch team is static and occupies any cover (object or position that can stop bullets) and or concealment (object or position that hides personnel) it can find, to cover the bounding team’s route, with fire if necessary. The bounds can be successive (the bounding team moves up alongside or online with the overwatch team) or alternating (the bounding team moves up and passes the overwatch team). Once the bounding team completes it’s bound and sets in, it then becomes the overwatch team and the previous overwatch team becomes the bounding team and initiates its bound. These movement techniques can be found in the Ranger Handbook SH-21-76 in Chapter 4 Movement. Search Traveling Overwatch and Bounding Overwatch on an internet search engine to find more information of these movement techniques.

So far, no offensive tactical operations have been discussed. A tactical operation called Movement to Contact is used as an offensive operation to gain or regain contact with an enemy unit. This would be used in the event that you have a general idea where hostiles may be. I do not advise the use of this tactical offensive operation using an element as small as a squad, especially in a post collapse scenario when you have no reserve force. In fact, Movement to Contact is reserved for a platoon size element in support of a larger force. With that disclaimer aside Movement to Contact if modified, can be an effective tool for your squad in a post collapse scenario, if the right conditions are met. An example of the circumstance when I would use Movement to Contact would be; if it became apparent that a small number of hostile individuals were in vicinity of my survival retreat and could be approaching. To avoid a firefight at the survival retreat and mitigate the risk of other survival retreat members becoming casualties I would muster the squad and conduct a movement to contact in the direction of the last know location of the hostile individuals. This is still not a perfect solution. Other considerations must be taken into account such as leaving a defendable position and who will remain behind for retreat security. It is just an example of when this offensive operation could be used.

Now let’s look at how to conduct Movement to Contact with your squad. There are two types of Movement to Contact: Search and Attack and Approach March.  Search and Attack is used on an enemy that is most likely dispersed and is not expecting attack or is expected to withdraw. The overall intent is to deny the enemy movement by saturating the area with platoon, squad, and team sized elements that find, fix, and destroy the enemy. This could prove difficult for a squad to do but against a small number of hostile individuals it is possible. The second type of Movement to Contact is the Approach March. The concept for this technique is to make contact with the enemy using the smallest possible friendly element. Once contact is made using the smallest element and the enemy has committed to the fight, all of the remaining friendly units maneuver on the enemy and overwhelm him. Once again this technique is intended for multiple platoons, squads, and fire teams in support of a larger force. This offensive tactical operation can be altered for use by one squad, given the right conditions.

For a the practical application of Movement to Contact for use by one squad it will be necessary to combine the two techniques, as you will recall are Search and Attack and Approach March.  It will take some creative thinking to maneuver a squad in order to saturate an area, make contact with only a fire team, and finally maneuvering the remaining team to crush the hostiles. The best solution would be to give clear and concise guidance to your team leaders to get both teams online, Alpha on the left and Bravo on the right. The teams should be in a shallow wedge. The distance between personnel and teams will need to be exaggerated, covering a larger area than normal. This is so that if one team makes contact with the hostiles, the other team will not be decisively engaged. This tactic may entice the hostiles to fully commit before they are aware of the other team. Once the hostiles are committed in a firefight with the first team the remaining team can move into position to bring the full force of the squad’s firepower on and overwhelm the hostiles. Remember that nothing is ever certain and this plan is not fool proof. There are many other ways to address the issue of possible attackers moving in on your survival retreat, Movement to Contact is just one tool in your bag. Consider your options, and then act. For more information on Movement to Contact reference FM 3-90 Tactics, Chapter 4 Movement to Contact or SH 21-76 Ranger Handbook Chapter 5 Patrols. You can also do a search of Movement to Contact in an Internet search engine.

Up until now we have discussed how to assemble your squad, move your squad, and find the enemy. Finally we come to how to destroy any would be attackers. The scenario is you’re squad has left the survival retreat, as it has before. Every member has their head on a swivel looking for signs of danger, rifles at the ready. You’re not looking for a fight, but are ready if one comes your way. You’re focused on the task at hand, whether it is gathering supplies or going to a town meeting your squad is ready to do what it needs to.  Multiple individuals a few hundred feet in the direction your squad is traveling expose themselves from behind cover and begin to fire their weapons at your squad. You’re squad’s training kicks in, you begin React to Contact.

React to Contact is a battle drill. A battle drill is defined as an action rapidly executed without applying a deliberate decision making process. Basically it means it is an instinctual reaction that has been engrained into your mind and body. You know what you need to do and you act immediately. Like the scenario I described above, your squad, specifically Alpha team, has been engaged by several hostile individuals to your front or 12 O’clock position. Multiple things occur all in the same instant, upon receiving hostile fire. They are: return fire, seek cover (preferably in the prone) and alert the rest of the squad to the hostile’s location by use of the 3 D’s (shout out: clock direction, distance, and description of the hostiles. This sounds like: “Twelve O’clock, 100 meters, 3 enemies behind a berm). Since Alpha team is in front of Bravo team and the hostiles are to the 12 O’clock position, only Alpha team returns fire. Bravo team will hold their fire so they do not shoot their fellow squad members in the back. Bravo team’s job is to seek cover, echo the 3 D’s, pull security to the flanks and rear, then await further instructions. Alpha team upon contact, will rapidly fire at known, likely, and suspected locations of hostiles simultaneously seeking cover and giving up the 3 D’s. When Alpha team is behind cover, generally online with one another, and engaging hostile targets, the squad leader will move up to their position. The squad leader will get eyes on the hostiles and receive a report from the Alpha team leader.  At this time Alpha team will be attempting to gain fire superiority over the hostiles.

Observing three hostiles the Alpha team leader informs the squad leader he can’t take them without Bravo team. The squad leader acknowledges and instructs the Alpha team leader to continue to suppress the enemy. The squad leader will also tell the Alpha team leader where he intends to maneuver Bravo team.  This scenario, in a moderately wooded area, has three hostile individuals about one hundred meters to the 12 O’clock position. They are lying prone and firing from behind a low berm, obscured by brush. To the squads left flank the woods become less dense and the ground slopes downward. To the squad’s right flank the ground slopes slightly upward with several large rock formations on the high ground. The squad leader likes the high ground and the possibility of using the rock formations as cover so he will be flanking to the right with Bravo team. The squad leader moves back to the rear where Bravo team is pulling security and informs them of his plan (the elapsed time from contact to now should be very short, approximately 30-40 seconds. The longer Alpha team spends slugging it out with the hostiles, the higher chances of a friendly casualty and more ammunition being expended than necessary). Bravo team gets up and follows the squad leader. He rapidly retrogrades with Bravo team back the way they came, preferably out of sight of the hostiles but remaining within hearing distance. Once he believes he has gone far enough he and Bravo team move up to the high ground far enough to turn back toward the contact and moves above the rock formations perpendicular to the hostile’s position. Alpha and Bravo teams will essentially be forming an L shape and be able to overwhelm the hostiles with fire from two directions. I have included a simple illustration for an example:


Hostiles                  # # #               <             Bravo Team



Alpha Team   ^        ^        ^        ^

Once Bravo team is online perpendicular to the hostiles and are not compromised, they will begin to creep forward undetected to the last covered and concealed position in between them and the hostiles. In this case it will be the rock formations. Under the guidance of the squad leader Bravo team will open fire on the hostiles with a rapid rate of fire. After a few good seconds of a hammering the enemy position, Bravo team with begin bounding to the hostile’s fighting position. Bounding with a total of 5 personnel will consist of individual bounds. One at a time, while the other team members cover their movement with fire, each individual will bound up to the next cover. They will each stay in an imaginary “Lane” as to not stray into other team members' covering fire. Each bound should be 3-5 seconds.  At the end of each bound the individual drops down into the prone behind cover then begins to fire on the hostiles while covering the next individual’s bound. This should be done very rapidly in succession and in specific order. Back at Alpha teams position the Alpha team leader will be watching for a shift fire signal from the squad leader who is bounding with Bravo team. The shift fire signal is a predetermined audio and or visual signal given by the bounding team, to the support by fire element, to shift their fires away from the advancing team. So in this case Bravo team is bounding from right to left as seen by Alpha team, Alpha team will be shifting their fires to the left approximately 15 degrees ( 30 degrees if using a belt fed weapon on bipod) in front of Bravo teams advance, but continue to fire. The Alpha team leader has complete control over his element and can shift the team’s fire on his own if he feels Bravo team is at 15 degrees and no shift fire signal has been given.

Once Bravo team has one bound remaining before assaulting through the objective, the squad leader will give the lift fire signal.  Alpha team will pour on an increased amount of fire onto the hostile’s position for a battlefield handover to Bravo team. After a few seconds of cyclic rate of fire Alpha team will stop firing completely. Bravo team will pick up their rate of fire once Alpha team has lifted fire in order to compensate for the reduced volume of fire on the hostile’s position. Bravo team will make the last bound and then collectively get up approximately 35 meters before the hostiles and assault through the objective. Remaining generally online and staying in their individual lanes, Bravo team will quickly move through the hostiles fighting position shooting any armed individuals and clearing any rifles that are found. Once Bravo team has cleared through and has taken up defensive positions 35 meters past the hostile’s fighting position, Alpha team will also pick up and assault through the hostiles fight position. They too will take up defensive positions.

At that point, while maintaining security, execute a 100% check on men, weapons and equipment. This is to ensure everyone, their weapons, and gears are accounted for. Any friendly or hostile casualties can be treated at this time. It would be best to check the bodies for identification to use in notifying any local authorities that may still exist. React to Contact seems difficult and confusing but when actually put to practice it is rather simple. This is only one way it can be done and there are many alterations that can be made. Once the concept is concrete in your mind you can take that base of knowledge and adjust this battle drill to fit the situation. More information can be found in FM 7-8 Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad Chapter 4 Battle Drills and in the SH-21-76 the Ranger Handbook Chapter 6 Battle Drills.

In no way is this article comprehensive or exhaustive on small unit tactics. This barely scratches the surface on the specific tactics I described alone. This article was meant for individuals who may not have considered these things as an important subcategory of their overall survival education. Like I have said several times in my article there are many ways to do the same thing when it comes to small unit tactics. If you master the basics you know all there is to know. In reality there are no advanced small unit tactics. The idea again, is to master the basics so you can operate within a framework of knowledge and modify these tactics to suit your needs and the situation. I urge you to take this seriously because there will be no cavalry that swoops in and saves you at the last second. There will be no “That was a close one!” Either they will die, or you will. It will come down to who is better trained. Survival is most likely when risk is mitigated to the highest degree. I say most likely because it is impossible to avoid risk entirely. Risk mitigation in order to survive can come in many forms. Preparing for all possible situations or difficulties that may arise is the preferred method for survival. I say all of this to emphasize that all facets of preparation are necessary in the full spectrum of survival. Learning to fight as a unit is just one more skilled needed for TEOTWAWKI.

JWR Adds: Learning military tactics could indeed prove crucial, depending on the severity of WTSHTF. However, keep in mind that standard military doctrine is far more aggressive and risky than would be appropriate for most foreseeable situations faced by survivalists. Keep in mind that military tactics are geared toward offensively, boldly, and rapidly taking and then holding ground, while at the same time incurring "acceptable losses." It also assumes that advanced medical care is available rapidly via helicopter Medevac. Modern military organizations also have the advantage of helmets and Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) being available for every soldier. Your mileage may vary substantially. (As a survivalist, your tactical concerns will more likely be primarily defensive, less hurried, and with a premium placed on minimizing casualties.)

Also, keep in mind that unless you are sitting on a stockpile of a lifetime supply of ammunition, then the typical military "suppressive fire" doctrine will probably be either out of the question, or curtailed substantially.

I recommend modifying military tactics to suit your particular circumstances. Typically, this would mean operating with less speed, greater stealth, and an emphasis on camouflage. Also, depending on circumstances, it would also mean conservation of precious ammunition and pyrotechnics.

Under current U.S. Army doctrine, there is just one Squad Designated Marksman (SDM) per squad. But for TEOTWAWKI, I would advocate having as many as three per squad, especially in open terrain. That will increase your standoff distance and hence minimize friendly casualties. I would also recommend having every member of your patrol wear full ghillie suits in all but the hottest weather.

The bottom line: When you are out patrolling with members of your own family, then the concept of "acceptable losses" takes on a whole new meaning.

After being raised on my grandfather’s farm, spending time in the military and being a first responder for the last 15 years, it is strange to find myself being a Newbie in the daunting task of creating an emergency preparedness cache for my family.  I now find myself living in a suburban/rural area of a major metropolitan city and a long way from where I grew up and started learning about some of the skills needed to survive.  I've always considered myself to be a prepared, self-sufficient individual.  I've hunted small and large game, I've backpacked in the backcountry for weeks at a time and I'm trained in emergency medical skills.  But when I started to delve into the world prepping, it became immediately clear how unprepared I am.

For the last five years I have been consumed by the post-apocalyptic genre.  I've read The Road, the Dies the Fire series, One Second After, and Patriots.  Recently I've read The Jakarta Pandemic and Lights Out and Survivors.   I've watched movies like The Road Warrior series, I Am Legend, The Book of Eli and Contagion.  All of these allow you to insert yourself into survival situations both in the science fiction sense and in the all too real possibilities.  I've also attended briefings and taught classes on surge capacity events and pandemic flu scenarios.  But for some reason, I awoke one day to realize that I do not have the resources to provide for my family during a natural disaster or when the grid goes down much less the three days that the federal government recommends.

So where to start?  That is the million dollar question.  Actually for my family of four it is probably the $10,000 dollar question.  But for someone who is going through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program, that expense really isn't in the budget.  So again I ask the question, where do I start to prepare my family to be self-sufficient on a budget yet obtain all the necessary items?

Well, I have turned to books like, How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, "Patriots and The Jakarta Pandemic.  Although some of these books are works of fiction they are filled with great examples of what a prepared family looks like.  I have scoured the Internet and quickly become sucked into great web sites, messaging boards and YouTube channels like; sootch00, SurvivalBlog, and The Survivalist Blog.  The information shared by these experts and those contributing with their first hand experiences provide invaluable experience.  I also get sidetracked by clicking on the advertisements on the sides of the pages and quickly get sticker shock on some the items that I decide I "must have."

The first area that I have been making slow progress at over the last year is my selection of firearms.  I had some of the basics from growing up hunting like, a 12 gauge shotgun and a .30-30 Winchester.  I also acquired some more from my father’s estate which added a nice little .22 LR Marlin.  There were some others that I have used to trade and start to finalize my collection.  I have added a bolt action .308 and a 1911 .45ACP.  The final rifle I will add to my collection will be a semi-automatic rifle.  I will be able to buy this rifle by selling two remaining pistols and then using the money to purchase the parts to build a reliable AR-15.  This weapon system has come a long way with all of its customization and accessories from when I used to hump around with a M16A2 in the early 1990s.  By purchasing the different parts and assembling it on my own, I keep the costs down and take pride and ownership in my rifle.

The food preparation has been my biggest hurdle so far.  I have become bottlenecked at this point.  There are a lot of great companies and products out there that allow you to customize for each individual member of your family right down to their age and caloric intake.  Do you want regular canned goods, dehydrated or freeze dried products?  If you buy bulk do you want to bag it yourself in mylar bags, with oxygen absorbers and five gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids?  Do you buy new food grade buckets or do you stop at all the grocery store bakeries and ask for theirs. Or do you just buy a whole package from one of the discount membership stores and have it all delivered to you in neat boxes and #10 cans?  Did I mention cost?  This is where I have friends say that since the end of the world is coming anyway, just put it on a credit card and forget it.  These are also the same people who would tell me that tithing at church is ridiculous when we are living on a tight budget to pay off the expenses we already have.  Is there a balance?  I believe I have found one for our family.  It involves using the "extra" money that comes in occasionally with overtime and starting a food cache with regular canned foods and other staples with a long shelf life that we typically use throughout the week.  This method will allow us take advantage of the 10 for $10 sales and other specials at the local grocery store.  I believe this will allow us to get into the habit of rotating foods and at the same time begin to get a sense of security in knowing my family would not have to go to the local food distribution center during a time of shortage.

There are many other areas that I feel that I have a decent start on.  I've had a water storage supply for the last few years.  I have both the 6 gallon containers and the smaller 2 liter bottles.  I also know where the closest supply of fresh water is, outside of the water main supplying my house.  These containers get rotated out at day light savings time, along with my smoke detector batteries.  Since my family enjoys camping we have those supplies such as tents, sleeping bags, large and small stoves and warm rugged clothing and shoes.  One of my weaknesses is flashlights, meaning I can't pass the latest and greatest version at the checkout counter at the hardware store.  We also have candles with matches and lighters.  We have recently begun to grow a garden in a raised box.  Granted, this does not provide enough food for long term storage like canning but it has given me the confidence that I can recall those skills shown to me by my grandfather and the 4-H club.  I have multiple first aid kits around the house and in the vehicles.  They are smaller versions of what I use at work.  Although I am not trained in advanced life support, my basic life support skills will help stabilize most injuries.  The other training that I have received in the hazardous materials spectrum gives me the ability to isolate and deny entry into my home from others on the outside to protect my family from whatever bug maybe going around.

I also need to create a plan for long term sustainability.  As mentioned, we are gardening on a small scale.  There needs to be forethought to where a large, diverse and sustainable garden would be planted.  We are fortunate enough to have large lots in our suburban neighborhood that would provide ample growing space.  This leads me into my next thought of neighborhood cooperation.  Since those open spaces don't belong to me, and my family alone cannot begin to plant, grow and harvest it all by ourselves, especially if it needs to be done by hand, we need to gather support from our neighbors.  This support would not only be for growing but for equipment, supplies, transportation and security.  Now this is a big list of ideas to suddenly spring on your neighbors but it can be done overtime.  If you don't even know them, the best place to start is to invite them over for dinner.  You can get a good impression on most people by sitting down and breaking bread with them.  You may be surprised to find out that they have their own emergency cache set up!  If not, then there is no time like the present to start.  It could really create a sense of community within your neighborhood by getting to know them and call them friends, instead of someone who you sometimes wave at from cross the street.

So is this a complete plan?  Far from it!  It feels like I've just opened the box of a 1,000 piece puzzle.  I can see what the finished product should look like on the front of the box and I've found most of the border pieces and I've even put a few of the easy parts of the picture together but it's far from done.  I'm still finding the best web sites to gather information from, the best products to provide food, water and security for my family and I've just begun to find others in my circle of friends, neighborhood and community who share the desire to be prepared.

There has been lot of buzz in the press in recent weeks about the NSA's new "data center" being constructed near Bluffdale, Utah. The selection of Bluffdale, Utah for the site is curious. I suspect that this is more than a data center. Because LDS church doctrine has a strong emphasis on overseas missions, a lot of their young men come home with foreign language skills. And since many LDS church members have squeaky-clean backgrounds, they can usually get through the hurdles of a TS/SSBI clearance without much trouble. Consequently, a lot of Mormons end up with Top Secret clearances and SCI access. So it might be safe to assume that there will be some translation and analysis of SIGINT and HUMINT gathered from overseas planned for the new NSA facility.

My conjecture is based on this precedent: The 300th MI Brigade (Linguist). This Army National Guard MI organization started out as company, but grew into a battalion, and then eventually a brigade. Note that Bluffdale is not far from Orem and Draper, where the 300th MI Bde. has its HHC and two of its component ARNG MI battalions. I wouldn't be surprised if the new facility is situated on the flats at the north end of the 24,000 acre Camp Williams Military Reservation. I guess we won't know whether the new NSA facility is just a data center, or if it is a data center plus linguist/analyst/data fusion center until we see how big its parking lot is, and how many cars regularly park there. Furthermore, given the long-established nature of the NSA and the maturation of modern secure telecommunications domains such as NSANet and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), it is safe to assume that the new organization's intel taskings could span several continents and include a variety of both civilian and military intelligence organizations (Active, Reserve, and National Guard.)

Hopefully, my conclusions will set some minds at ease. Presently, there are a lot of folks that have rushed to judgment that this new "spy center" is somehow conspiratorially directed at the American citizenry. Well, If I'm right, Utah was chosen simply because that is where the linguists with clearances are. And if they need a bunch of linguists, then their taskings are probably directed at foreign nationals, not at Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack.

Who knows what goes on behind the Green Door? We'll probably never know for certain. The preceding is just my opinion, based on open source data. I haven't been in the loop for many years. ASA Lives!

Several readers sent this: Next Great Depression? MIT researchers predict ‘global economic collapse’ by 2030. Of course, many SurvivalBloggers would consider the timeframe of their prediction overly optimistic.

SurvivalBlog reader G.T. Mace, a gold dealer, sent me some details on a new gram units gold bullion product from KB Edelmetall Gmbh of Switzerland and Germany that is packaged in tamper-proof plastic, in the form factor a credit card: Karatbars. Be advised that I haven't researched their mark-up percentage (and you definitely should, before buying), but the concept is captivating. BTW, with 31.1035 grams per Troy Ounce you can simply divide the spot price per ounce by 31.1035 to determine the cost per gram.

So much for global economic recovery. See this: Too Many Container and Dry Bulk Vessels But What of Oil Tanker Futures? And this: COSCO reports yearly losses of $1.66 billion. (Thanks J. McC for the link.)

CIO, Board Struggle to Fix CalPERS

Ben Bernanke to Engineer a ‘Shock & Awe’ to Save the Fed

Items from The Economatrix:

Is Now a "Golden" Opportunity?

Gold Falls to 3-Month Low, Fed Easing Hopes Wane

Budget War Threatens America's Survival

OSOM mentioned that he saw a recommendation from Richard Maybury for a PowerPoint presentation on Fire Extinguishers.

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Owners of ARES Shrike belt-fed AR-15s will likely want some of these 200 round belt pouches. By the way, my #1 Son (who runs SurvivalRealty.com) helped to design the subdued Shrike patch and also designed the Kit Carson Enterprises web page. The company is run by a widow who lives in Vermont. The Shrike pouches are just her first product--others will follow.

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Cameron sent this evidence of creeping Nannystatism: Yes, the New York City Department of Education "Banned Words" List is as Bad as Reported

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T.X. sent a link to some useful information: Which VPN Providers Really Take Anonymity Seriously?

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I read that FreezeDryGuy is running a special on their Adult "Danger Close" 3-Day Backpacks. This makes a good "core" G.O.O.D. backpack that you can add to, and tailor to your needs.

"In the United States neither paper currency nor deposits have value as commodities.  Intrinsically, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper, deposits merely book entries.  Coins do have some intrinsic value as metal, but generally far less than their face value.  What, then, makes these instruments - checks, paper money, and coins - acceptable at face value in payment of all debts and for other monetary uses?  Mainly, it is the confidence people have that they will be able to exchange such money for other financial assets and for real goods and services whenever they choose to do so." - From a paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 1961

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I still need the current e-mail addresses for nine of the 24 Honorable Mention prize winners in the most-recently-ended round of the SurvivalBlog nonfiction writing contest. Please let me know via e-mail ASAP, so that I can have all of the $30 Amazon.com gift certificates sent out, electronically, in one batch. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Although I had a front-row financial services seat for the market collapse in 2008, it wasn’t until fall 2010 that I was stuck by an awakening that “something wicked this way comes.” With a master’s degree in Medieval Literature (it’s not as useless as it sounds, really) two things I have studied are the ravages of war and famine over the centuries, both of which desperately scare me as the mother of two young children.

I have paid particular attention to the many SurvivalBlog entries on gardening, one of my few practical skills. Most are either submitted by seasoned vegetable gardeners who have had a large garden for years, or about lessons learned by beginners.

Gardening is in my blood, passed down from generations of German farmers and English gardeners. My grandparents all moved off the farm, but they continued to garden extensively, as did my parents back in the 1970s. I watched my mother and grandmothers can their harvest. In turn, I have a couple decades’ experience with English perennial gardens, but little experience with vegetables.

I have put off submitting an article for a year in order to try and provide a unique slant on the topic of survival gardening: what happens when an experienced perennial gardener actually makes a serious attempt to grow real food, for the first time ever? And thereby hangs a tale.

We live in a small, conservative Midwestern city, in a solid brick farmhouse that is well over 100 years old, and that was encompassed by the suburbs in the 1930s. If the worst comes, we plan to bug in, as our foot-thick brick walls seem defensible. An old brick carriage house, 1,000-gallon koi pond, sealed-off well, and a rainwater-filled cistern are also on our quarter-acre lot. The perimeter of our property is in perennial beds, with an oval of lawn maintained in the center for our two young children to play upon. We also have a livestock watering trough and 250 square foot strip of vegetable garden in the undeveloped alley, portions of which receive less than 6 hours of sunlight a day. After clearing out some perennials toward the back of the yard, my total space dedicated to vegetables is 500 square feet. We even have an old dirt-floor root cellar. And of course we have a large (72 cu. ft.) compost bin. We garden as organically as possible, although I (very infrequently) cheat with a systemic on some of my more disease-prone roses. We have duplicates of all the gardening hand tools that we need.

My husband and I are both hard workers, still fairly young and strong, with good backs and a love for working with our hands. But we both work full time, so I garden in the few spare hours I can find.

Over the past year I have taken careful notes on my food project. So, as appropriate for a gardener’s tale, I have divided my experience into the four seasons, beginning late last fall.

Winter: Root Cellaring

“More than an hundred thousand persons, of all ages, perished of famine in this district. ‘It was a frightful spectacle,’ says an old annalist, ‘to behold, in the roads and streets, at the doors of houses, human bodies devoured by the worms, for none remained to scatter a little earth over them, all being destroyed by famine or the sword’….often, for the remains of the repast of a groom in the Norman army, the Saxon, once illustrious among his countrymen, in order to sustain his miserable life, came to sell himself and his whole family to perpetual slavery.” (Augustine Thierry, on the Norman Harrowing of Yorkshire)

Root vegetables were the hidden treasure of the medieval peasant—marauding armies might raze your village, burn your barn and steal your cow, but it was hard for them to root out all the turnips and parsnips.

In the fall of 2010 it was too late to put in any new vegetables for this project, but I had some vegetables I had planted for “fun,” including beets, carrots, and some heirloom potatoes that were misplaced in our cellar and rediscovered, sprouting, in time to plant for the spring. I harvested a good 10+ lbs. of potatoes from 6 potatoes planted, for somewhere around a 9:1 yield. I stored these in the root cellar for the full winter; they stayed firm and didn’t begin sprouting till the early spring.

I also stored a sampling of apples, which lasted a long time in the root cellar, but started reaching different stages of mushiness by late winter. I picked out the most perfect apples to keep and wrapped them individually in newspaper. Most were Empire apples, which I had used for making applesauce, and they have a very delicate white flesh; however, not the best choice for a “keeper” apple. In the spring, I planted two late-producing, disease-resistant Goldrush apple trees for my keepers down the road. This past fall we harvested many pounds of paw paws, which make a delightful cream pie, and have kept very well in the root cellar, and I have been experimenting with making sauerkraut and pickles the old-timey way, fermenting them in crocks.

I also had a row of carrots and beets that I “root cellared” in the ground. I just heaped dirt and mulch around them, and they lasted well in the protected, sunken alley. When I dug them out the following spring, they were still beautiful and tasty. This is kind of a lazy man’s clamp, which is an ancient form of root cellar. You dig a pit a couple feet deep, line it with straw, put in your potatoes, apples, carrots, cabbages, and other “keepers,” pile on more straw, and then cover it with a pile of dirt with some “chimneys” of bundled burlap or straw to provide some ventilation.

Finally, my Christmas present to my husband last year was a beer-making set. Although he currently has to brew from kits (we don’t have the room for barley, but perhaps we could put by some seeds, and I read with great interest the recent article on making cider) it has been an entertaining and very rewarding hobby.


Spring: Starving with Wild Edibles

“…three children huddled together, lying there because they were too weak to rise, pale and ghastly, their little limbs ... perfectly emaciated, eyes sunk, voice gone, and evidently in the last stages of actual starvation.” (English Quaker William Bennet, on the English-inflicted starvation of the Irish)

The February full moon is called the Hunger Moon. This always sends a chill down my spine, since it’s a reminder that even when spring is around the corner, your winter stores are giving out and won’t be replaced any time soon.

As I started my vegetable seeds in our basement and set the tiny plants out in cold frames built by my husband, I realized it would still be a long time before they would become productive (our last frost date is May 15th). The problem is, even if your stores last till the spring, and you are a skillful forager, there is still very little for you to live off of, as wild edibles offer scant calories.

We took a wild edibles course at a local nature preserve, and learned quite a bit about the fungi, fruits and greens available in our local woodlands. I started throwing a handful of violet, sorrel, plantain and dandelion leaves into our salads, dressed with herbs and a simple balsamic vinaigrette, which provides a lovely counterpoint to storage foods—but it can’t replace them. We also found at least 5 lbs. of morel mushrooms—truly the feast of a feral king, but unfortunately offering just 340 calories for the whole lot. On the bright side, wild edibles can provide incredible amounts of vitamins A and C, as shown below. On the not-so-bright side, a vitamin powerhouse like Poke Sallet can kill you if you don’t prepare it properly or you eat the wrong part of the plant at the wrong time of year.

Here is a sampling of the food values of some common edibles (per 100 grams):

Chicory greens: 7 calories, 33% vitamin A, 12% vitamin C
Chicory roots: 66 calories, 6% vitamin C
Dandelion greens: 25 calories, 112% vitamin A, 32% vitamin C, 19% calcium, 17% iron
Lamb’s quarters: 32 calories, 156% vitamin A, 62% vitamin C
Poke shoots: 23 calories, 174% vitamin A, 227% vitamin C
Purslane: 16 calories, 26% vitamin A, 35% vitamin C

With such a low calorie count, you obviously would have to forage a huge bag of these items every day for them to make a significant contribution to keeping you alive.

Summer: Praying for Growth

“To eat your own children is a barbarian act.” Soviet propaganda posters during the Soviet-inflicted Holodomor in Ukraine

I started several trays of heirloom seeds indoors on a sunny windowsill, before moving them to a cold frame, and direct-sowed many more seeds. Here are my results for some vegetables that can be harvested over the summer. Cucumbers, mesclun, green beans, snap peas, and tomatillos were also grown, but the results were a thousand calories or less.

Carrots: the heirloom and Danvers-type carrots were a semi-fail, the salsify was a complete fail, and the parsnips didn’t even bother showing up. I am estimating 7 lbs total usable carrots; more went to the guinea pig. Part of the problem may be that they were in partial shade, but a major problem appears to be root nematodes, as they were freakishly misshapen. This was in an area that had never had a crop before. Total calories: 930

Corn: 25 seeds of a miniature heirloom yielded 1 pint of shelled dry corn grown in a 4 x 4 ft. space. Not much, but corn is such an energy powerhouse (365 calories per 100g) that it is worthwhile to keep seed on hand. This year I will be experimenting with several heirloom Indian corn varieties. Total calories: 1,656

Eggplant: 4 heirloom plants produced 16 lbs in 4 sq. ft. of space. Although prolific producers, they offer few calories. Total calories: 1,742

Melons: 4 Asian melon plants produced 15 lbs. The melons were the size of softballs, so I could grow them on a trellis, which is a very efficient use of space in such a small garden. Total calories: 2,449

Peppers: Including sweet peppers, banana peppers, ancho peppers, and an assortment of smaller hot peppers, they produced prolifically in the intense heat and dryness we had over the summer. They are also vitamin C powerhouses (green and red bells offer 134% and 213% daily vitamin C, respectively), and the hot peppers can easily be dried and stored through the winter. I noticed a huge difference between the peppers in the ground and the peppers I grew in pots, which were not terribly happy. Total calories: 1,995

Tomatoes: We harvested 130 lbs of tomatoes off of 20 plants (some of which bore heavily, others which never successfully ripened due to our weird weather). This tally includes 33 lbs. of green tomatoes and 20 lbs of ruined tomatoes, which we included as they would not have gone to waste in a survival situation. Not included are the many tomatoes that went straight into our compost bin over the course of the summer—again, closer monitoring would prevent the ruined tomatoes, and if we had livestock they could always be given to the chickens or pigs. Total calories: 11,700.

One big mistake that we made was, rather than planting roma-type tomatoes, we focused on delicious old heirlooms like Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, etc. that are great for eating out of hand, but they make a watery and flavorless sauce for canning, and are not as prolific as a roma plant.

Fall: When the Harvest Fails

“I saw the helpless Cherokees arrested and dragged from their homes, and driven at the bayonet point into the stockades. And in the chill of a drizzling rain on an October morning I saw them loaded like cattle or sheep into six hundred and forty-five wagons and started toward the west.” (Private John G. Burnett, on the Cherokee Trail of Tears)

The crops planted for the fall harvest would be the heavy hitters we would depend on to get us through the winter, so a heavy production of calorie-rich food would be crucial to survival.

Beans: I planted 3 different types of heirloom beans in the partially shady portion of the garden and got about a pint of shelled dry beans for 30 seeds planted. This is not a good yield. Possible problems are the shadiness, letting the bean beetles get out of control before tackling them with diatomaceous earth, and planting the beans too closely together. In addition to spacing, another trade-off that one needs to consider is the length of time it takes to grow them to the dry-bean stage (all season) rather than harvesting them as snap beans. Total calories: 6,115

Cabbages: This provided a good comparison lesson for sun vs. shade. I planted several cabbages in late spring in a very fertile, yet partially shaded area of the garden (6 hours of sun)….and later in the summer, I found some leftover cabbage seedlings on the sale rack, completely pot-bound and leggy, and I planted them in an area of scruffy grass in some waste space along a very sunny fence. The sunny cabbages were 3-5 lbs a head, while the shady cabbages were 1- 2 lbs a head. Total calories: 1,742

Kale: With five plants of Red Russian kale, not only is this a lovely, ornamental-looking plant, but I have been able to harvest leaves all winter long in order to have fresh greens and Portuguese Kale Soup. Kale provides 50 calories per 100 g, as opposed to 16 for your average lettuce, and this amount provides 308% of your vitamin A and 200% of your vitamin C. The Irish would cook kale with potatoes for colcannon. Total calories: 3,402

Leeks: We grew 50 or so leeks, half of which are still in the garden, having survived the winter in fine style. I am estimating 10 lbs. Total calories: 2,766

Potatoes: Our potatoes were one of our scandalous failures this year. I planted 5 lbs of (very expensive) seed potatoes and harvested 13 lbs, when a good average should have been maybe 20 lbs for the type I planted. I made a number of mistakes: planting fancy types rather than prolific bearers; not combating flea beetles quickly enough; not hilling them up; not giving them enough space. All this combined with a bad, wet spring and a relentlessly hot, dry summer. In my defense, one of our local farmer’s market vendors, a seasoned farmer, had an even worse crop…but the potatoes should have been the backbone of our garden. As I dug up clump after measly clump, I thought about how devastating it would have been if we were actually counting on the crop. It likely would have been a death sentence. And I was shocked because I thought I was doing a very good job with them. Total calories: 4,541

Squash: With so little room, I planted two Victoria Blue squash in my perennial bed and let them fight it out. One vine died, and off the other vine, which was planted way too late from a seedling that sat in its little pot for way too long, I got two smallish squash—surprising, considering the neglect and mistreatment the poor little vine suffered. To do them right, squash require a generous amount of room (spacing of 6 to 10 feet), but since they keep so well, they are one of the fundamental cops for winter. Next year I will give them more room, very fertile soil, and cover the soil with black plastic, and they really prefer some heat. Since I wanted to test the keeping abilities of squash, I bought 15 assorted pumpkins and squash for Halloween decorations, protected them from frost, and then moved them to our dry basement. They have continued to last well over the winter, and, with some onions, carrots and cream, make a fabulous, savory soup. Total calories (grown): 1,234 calories

Some Hard Lessons Learned

If, like me, you have ever had the thought, “Hey, I’m a good gardener—if things collapse I can just live off the land”…well, think again. Growing vegetables to keep yourself alive is a lot more difficult than growing some fresh tomatoes and pretty roses, even if you already have the compost bin, all the hand tools, the basic knowledge, the fertile soil, the strong back, and a love for growing things.

I have to be able to feed, at a minimum, my husband and my two babies. That’s 4,500 calories a day at a starvation level. Although I did not list all the details here, when I add everything up, including the odds and ends, and calculate it against the number of calories we need, at this level, we would only have 9 days worth of food. (!!!) Our 130 lbs of tomatoes, for example, account for 2.6 days. If we picked our crabapple tree clean, that might provide us for another week or so.

So, this project was definitely a reality check, but I am grateful that I could learn my hard lessons in easy times. Here are a few general things I am planning to do in the coming planting season:

  • Approach gardening with humility. Nature is fully capable of kicking your butt, and it can be a struggle even for seasoned gardeners and farmers. Never stop practicing and learn from your failures as well as your successes.
  • I will continue to rotate crops and build the soil with compost and manure, and will be trying the organic fertilizer Steve Solomon describes in his Gardening in Hard Times, but I am also going to stock a good amount of time-release conventional fertilizer for if we ever have to live off our garden.
  • The bugs will find your crops, immediately, even though you live in the middle of town and have never before grown beans or cabbages. I need to research some gentle, preferably organic, pesticides beyond diatomaceous earth and stock up. 
  • I need to better plan out adequate spacing and thoughtful use of land, rather than cramming too many things together. For example, lettuce and leeks can be grown in the partially shady areas, while the rows of corn can be intercropped with rows of early radishes and carrots.
  • Ultimately, you can’t get the calories you need to live off of vegetables grown on 500 sq. ft. of land—even if we tripled the garden area and tripled the harvest, it would still provide just 22% of our annual need. We need more land and a way to convert “lost” calories (grass trimmings, vegetables we can’t eat, etc.) into animal calories. We need to consider some contraband city chickens or rabbits. And like Proverbs’ Wife of Noble Character, who “considers a field and buys it,” I am already actively searching for a few acres in the nearby Amish community where we can get started with some fruit trees and a laissez-faire garden.
  • I have arranged with some family members to grow some of my corn, squash and other space-hogging veggies on their very large property. This will allow me to practice my skills, give the “three sisters” concept a whirl, test the seeds and potatoes I saved from this year, just to see what comes up from open-pollinated seeds that may have crossed, and better fill my larder and canning jars next fall.
  • Grow plants from open-pollinated heirloom seeds. There’s nothing wrong with hybrids, but Monsanto (a creepy company if there ever was one) controls 20% of the world’s vegetable seeds (40% in the US), including the patents on Early Girl tomatoes. Do you trust them?
  • Finally, as my selection of quotations shows, all governments are fully capable of starving and “liquidating” their inconvenient citizenry in pursuit of political, monetary or ideological ends. The US has its share of blood on its hands, from the death marches of Indian tribes to the Indian Territory and reservations that were little more than big concentration camps, or the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, and once again there is a rumbling of a distant thunder. Like the Scots, my first inclination is to run for the hills. But for me, joining the American Redoubt is not an option. My roots run deep in this Midwestern city and state, and I will stand my ground and be the “salt of the earth” here.

I loved your book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. I was surprised when I read the G.O.O.D. vehicles section that you didn't really mention old military vehicles as G.O.O.D vehicles. I was curious of your stand on this as I'm sure other readers are too. I recently purchased a 1-1/4 ton 1968 Kaiser Jeep M715 that had been converted to run on both gas and propane. It really isn't a very complicated vehicle to work on the wiring is very basic. I believe this is a good retreat rig as the maintenance is very basic the only con is that it has a low gear ratio so top speed is maybe 55 mph. No special tools are required on it just a good socket and ratchet set, timing strobe light, a good Digital Volt Ohm Meter and a set of screwdrivers and some brake line wrenches. Those are a all you need to work on al but the most advanced repairs.

I live in Arkansas so seeing people drive old Army rigs is commonplace. So would you recommend old military rigs and why or why not? Also would you recommend a specific kind? - J.R.O.

JWR Replies: Yes, so long as you live in area where they won't stick out like a proverbial sore thumb, military surplus vehicles can be quite practical for retreats. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, here in the U.S., two of the most practical models are M35A2 2-/12 ton trucks with multifuel engines for hauling fairly large loads, and diesel CUCV pickup trucks for hauling light loads. One good source for CUCVs is Classic Mustangs in Denver, Colorado. More obscure and hard-to-find military vehicles can often be found at Dave Uhrig's site.

Remember when I compared Quantitative Easing debt monetization to crack cocaine addiction? It appears that Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke have moved up to the level of co-dependency and are only one step away from collapsing on an uncovered mattress on the floor of a squalid roach-infested apartment. Read this: Wall Street Journal: Fed Buying 61 Percent of US Debt. The next thing you know, Tim and Ben will be passing the glass pipe and singing a duet: "Its easy come, easy go, little high, little low..."

This should make you feel cheery when you write your check payable to "U.S. Treasury" in a couple of weeks: Federal Heads Roll Over $822,000 Las Vegas Party

Fed may fine firms not part of foreclosure deal: Evidence mounting that robosigning is still going on

Items from The Economatrix:

Your Tax Bill:  We Work 107 Days To Pay Taxes

Spanish Unemployment Total Rises to 4.75 Million

Visible On The Horizon: Inflation

Wall Street's Ease-addicts Give Fed Minutes A Thumbs Down

Moody's Downgrades GE, Citing Risks From From Financial Unit

One man's view on safe places for TEOTWAWKI: 10 Places to Ride Out the Apocalypse

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Reader H.D.C. wrote complain that he's had two Tilia Foodsaver vacuum packers "die" in the past four years, after fairly frequent use. He mentioned that they both now produce hardly any suction. Apparently, this is a fairly common complaint. He asked for a recommendation of something similar, but more sturdy. This should do the job. BTW, the VacUpack can use the same rolls of plastic bag material made for the Foodsaver.

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File under: OPSEC Failures: The ultimate man cave: Stunning aircraft hangar in the middle of Utah desert where plane designer lives with his plane...and guns. It's those stinking badgers, again.

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Reader Michael A. wrote to mention that a former whistlestop town in The American Redoubt is for sale: Pray, Montana. See the television news segment about it.

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RBS flagged this: At world's end: Artists reveal stunning post-apocalyptic images of cities around the globe

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Cheryl flagged this: A Primer For Those Considering Expatriation

"The speed with which end-time related events are breaking is staggering. You were born for such a time as this and you are an intricate part of God's plan for this generation.  See these trying times as a gift from God to you: He trusts you to serve Him at this time." - Jan Markell

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Looking at today’s troubling times I cannot help but wonder about how to best prepare for them. I am new to this arena and in the last ten years. Yes its taken me that long, I have come to realize that being prepared is not being some Nut Case, but the very real, important, job of every family to ensure survival. Its too bad most of us are not even aware, or willing to acknowledge what is happening. Only in the last two years have I started to react to this and start preparing my family. I regret my “Head in the Sand” outlook. Besides the Beans, Bullets and Band-Aid preparation approach, which we should all know about and practice, there are many other areas that also need to be examined and implemented. It is very interesting reading to see all of the ideas put forth in your blog. The ideas are great and I have learned a phenomenal amount of information from it. Since I have started prepping, its amazing to find out just how many did it, many on tight budgets.

When I moved to my current location, I was naive with regards to relocating and after reading Mr. Rawles' books I would probably have made a different choice. But I am here, fully employed and likely to stay for at least four to six years. I chose a smallish city, or at least that’s what I thought. I moved to the high plains in 2006 from Phoenix to get away from all the issues Phoenix has, from gangs, crime and population congestion. Realizing how bad Phoenix is, and wanting to still stay in a city offering all the amenities, I chose a small High Plains city of about fifty-five thousand. It has a low crime rate, good affordable housing, employment and is generally a pretty nice place. This, of course is what, I am sure, most would say about their cities, that is until The Schumer Hits the Fan. At that point all will change and many, many will seek shelter elsewhere. Leaving me, and many others with choices: Leave, take your chances and go with the multitudes, or stay and hunker down. I keep both options open. flight with truck, flight with truck and trailer and hunker down at home.

Whatever locale you choose, lighting should be considered. We all need some form of it. 

There is so much to do and so little time to do it. However, I must approach this with a budget in mind. I don’t want to be in debt, any more than I have too. Any approach to preparedness must be calculating. I wanted to bring up lighting. I am sure that a lot has been said about it and being new to the forum I hope that I am not being redundant. We all should know that when it (The Schumer) hits, and I believe it will, your home becoming the target of looters, or worse, is a very real possibility. While power is still available, and after even  when it is not, lighting discipline will be critical. I don’t think that I can stress that enough. This could very well mean your life and that of your families.  No light must be allowed to emit from you home/dwelling/retreat/cave….whatever. None! If they can see the light, well can you say “target”?  

HIDE THAT LIGHT: I suggest that you make a real effort to black out your home, or whatever. Not just putting up some extra curtains.  And don’t think tart cut up black trash can liners will do the trick. I suppose that several layers, duct taped to the inside of your windows could work. But do you really want to risk your life and that of your families to trash can liners? Better to spend the extra money and get good quality 4 mil or thicker opaque black plastic sheeting. This can be purchased at home improvement stores, or on the internet for about fifty dollars for a nine foot by one hundred foot roll. And of course the almighty, ever useful Duct Tape. I personally do not believe that you can ever have too much Duct Tape. For that matter doors could be an issue as well, so check them, sheet them and tape them. By the way this all should be practiced before TSHTF. Think of it as a good Saturday dry run and follow it up with a good barbeque meal for the family.

OPTIONS: There are a lot lighting of options out there. If power is still available, then lighting is not a real problem, just hiding that light could be problematic. If power is out, you don’t want to advertise your presence with a noisy generator. But even if you do, once again, hiding the light would be an issue. Please put into practice a strong effort to hide that light. Good light discipline is going to be an essential element to survival. This is especially true on Refugee Line of Drift, such as homes near interstates, or other highways. They will seek out visible light as possible places of shelters or as a means of sustenance. 

Some lighting alternatives are:

  • Flashlights are good. But they are very battery-needy. Hopefully you have thought about NiMH re-chargeable batteries and solar chargers. Flashlights are really good for directed light when needed for a specific task/target. They can also have filters attached for even more light discipline. Flashlights with LEDs are very efficient, offering extended battery life. My suggestion is to have plenty of them. I have several different varieties even tough I also have too different batteries as well. I am a functionality nut, every tool has a job and every job has a tool. I prefer rechargeables….always.
  • Lanterns also offer good lighting options, again, hopefully you’ve have thought about both types of re-chargeable batteries. Lanterns with LED capabilities are very efficient, offering extended battery life. The old battery lanterns were of very limited use. They quickly ran down batteries and offered limited lighting. Today’s models are a different story. Their uses are multi facetted and offer good battery life while providing fairly decent light. They are easily transported and charged. They are effective for a stationary element. Their downfall is that while mobile, they are not space efficient for a bug out situation. . 
  • Solar walkway lighting is another good alternative. Think about it. They charge all day long and then provide light for hours at night. Yes, its true it won’t be white, blinding, dazzling brilliant light, but it will suffice. It will provide adequate to find things and move discreetly about the house. The light will be dim enough not to brightly illuminate the world, but adequate for needs of the household. And the are a renewable resource. The sun will re-charge them daily for you. Wal-Mart sells a cost effective variety at $20 for eight lights. I use them as driveway lighting and garden outline lighting. This gives me about 20 solar power lights for use inside. And yes I have tried them and though they are not especially bright, they do give off satisfactory lighting. Which is all I require of them. Best of all…You guessed it, they are sun-charged.

  • Candles are a good choice, [is used with sufficient safety precautions] but a disappearing one. By that I mean that they will slowly be consumed. They also will require an ignition source such as matches or a lighter, of themselves not bad items to have around. Depending on variety they produce by products such as smoke, order etc. Not especially desirable, so choose them wisely. I am not saying you should not use them, just select the best ones. Though when TSHTF, any will be better than none, and I have many of them. The devotional candles that come in glass jars are cheap and effective. [JWR Adds: These have on rare instances been known to shatter, so they should be used with he same fire safety precaution of any other candle:They are best burned in the center of a discarded cookie sheet with a rolled-up lip, placed on a surface that cannot tip over.. Used cookie sheets are available for a pittance from almost any thrift store.]

I try and have several alternative options on hand at all times. I keep spare batteries (rechargeable) in storage. I have a solar charger on hand and I keep about 30 solar garden type lights on hand, including two spot lights.

Whatever you choose to do with regard to lighting don’t forget all the other things that need done. I personally have a decent armory with ten thousand available rounds. I am working on one year food supply for a family of ten. I keep all of my vehicles in good running order. I am also working on fuel storage, both gasoline for my vehicles and propane for heating and cooking. I keep my options open and read, read, read. SurvivalBlog has provided hundreds, if not thousands of very good ideas.

Hopefully this gives someone, maybe a newcomer like myself, some ideas and maybe, just a little thought provoking. I hope so, as I am getting tons of ideas from the blog and it would be great to give back to this community. I do bring some experience to the table. I a former US Marine and have been in law enforcement for 27 years.

First of all thank you for running SurvivalBlog as it is has been a valuable source of information. Years ago, you mentioned Zanotti Armor as a high quality gun safe company, I'm glad you did, as I am now a very happy customer! I ordered the ZA-3 6-foot--the largest safe available from the company--and it fits my needs perfectly. It only took two of us to move all the [modular] pieces to the basement and assemble the walls. It required two extra pair of hands to assemble the top and door. I ordered the safe in June and received it in March. The customer service was excellent throughout the whole process and even after the safe arrived. At the beginning when I asked for a quote they steered me in the right direction and even when asked for certain features, such as lighting, they let me know that I could get what I wanted locally and for less money.

After installing the safe I contacted the company to ask what paint I should use on a couple of scratches in the front due to our hurried assembly they sent me a small bottle of touch up paint at no charge. Great safe and a great company. I only have one issue with the safe - it makes my gun collection look small! I guess I'll just have to start filling it up soon! Thanks, - John in Wisconsin

Ttabs has posted another one of his great ultralight flying videos. This one was filmed in Eastern Washington. (You may recall his video dedicated to flying over some of the locales in my novel "Patriots".)

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David N. recommended this at Shepherd School: Aggressive Shooting Stance

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Gregg sent this charming news: U.S. trial program would spy on Internet users to prevent animal abuse. Just wait until home livestock slaughtering and butchering is outlawed. Then that will be redefined as "abuse."

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JWR Observes: It now appears that The Dear Leader, Jr., Jr. is a shoe-in: North Korea to hold special party conference ahead of satellite launch. The absurdity of Plantagenet-style Profoundly Pompous Primogeniture becoming the norm in the Pyongyang People's Perpetual Paradise of Proletarian Parity would be the source of belly laughs if it weren't taken so oh-so seriously and unquestioningly, north of the DMZ. )

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Grant M. and J.K.B. both highlighted this from Smithsonian: Richard Clarke on Who Was Behind the Stuxnet Attack

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Over at Alt-Market: Understanding The Slave Mentality

"If all the bank loans were paid, no one could have a bank deposit, and there would not be a dollar of coin or currency in circulation. This is a staggering thought. We are completely dependent on the commercial banks. Someone has to borrow every dollar we have in circulation, cash, or credit. If the banks create ample synthetic money we are prosperous; if not, we starve. We are absolutely without a permanent money system. When one gets a complete grasp of the picture, the tragic absurdity of our hopeless situation is almost incredible — but there it is." - Robert H.  Hemphill, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Do you have any favorite quotes that relate to preparedness, traditional skills, self-sufficiency, economics, self-defense, or individual liberty? If so, then please e-mail your properly-attributed quotes to us and they will likely be featured as SurvivalBlog Quotes of the Day. (We've now archived more than 2,300 quotes.) Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 40 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $275 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A FloJak F-50 hand well pump (a $349 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and E.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 40 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Open your kitchen cupboard and what do you see?  Salt, pepper, ginger, dill, alum, meat tenderizer, honey, molasses, baking soda; and the list can go on.  Viewed as flavor enhancers and condiments these are tasty additions to any meal.  But there is a hidden world of medicinal benefit in many of those little tins and shaker-topped jars.

When you reach for the alum to eliminate a canker sore, or swallow a teaspoonful of honey to soothe a sore throat, or make a moist plaster of meat tenderizer to take the sting out of a bee-bite, you are practicing “Kitchen Cupboard Medicine”. Kitchen Cupboard Medicine has been practiced for hundreds of years. In his ancient, surviving text, De Medicina, Aulus Cornelius Celsus’s (ca 25 BC—ca 50) references a pain relieving pill containing pepper; but only recently, with the assistance of studies and evidence-based medicine, have the benefits been proven and better understood.
As sensible and simple as treating your self or others with the every-day supplies from your kitchen cupboard may seem, it is important to know when to go to your health care provider.  High fevers, sudden and/or severe pain, broken bones and profuse bleeding may need the attention of a professional.  In these cases your kitchen cupboard may have what you need for that stop-gap-measure to ease the problem while you get to the doctor or hospital – but remember – reaching into your cupboard to treat an ailment or accident should be to obtain help, not practice heroics.
You do not need to feel intimidated by the number of herbs or spices that are listed here.  The cost of a small jar of herbs or spices can seem intimidating, but you are not bound strictly to the baking aisle to acquire these little gems of culinary interest and healing.  I have become very fond of the bulk aisle at our local WinCo grocery store.  There I found small shaker-topped bottles for $1.25 and nearly every spice or herb listed in this article for well under the per-ounce price of the pre-packaged ones in the fancier containers displayed in another part of the store.  Thrift stores are another fun place to scrounge around in to enhance your stash of containers.

Many of the remedies call for the herb or spice to be made into a tea for consumption, as a poultice or to be used as a wash.  Again, you can buy the spice or herbs in bulk for this or buy the ready-made tea bags.  These are especially handy to have on hand and can make the remedy- making process a whole lot easier.  Watch for sales and coupons.  There are several medicinal herbal tea companies worth mentioning:  Celestial Seasonings, Yogi, and Traditional Medicines.  I have used many of their teas with outstanding success and confidently store many of their varieties.
As extensive as this list may seem; it is not a complete inventory of all the possible remedies you might find in your home.  I chose these remedies by one of four criteria.  Either, I have used it, I know someone who has, it was recommended by one of my trusted teachers, or I was able to document it’s effectiveness by researching evidence-based studies.  Some of these will work very well for you; while others maybe not so much.  Whether you choose an herb or spice from your cupboard, a veggie from your refrigerator or a piece of fruit from the bowl on your counter top, if you use your common sense and trust your intuition you will be guided to the remedies that are best for you and your family. 


  • Garlic: The juice has antibacterial properties. Place 2-3 drops into the affected ear and pack with cotton ball. DO NOT put ANYTHING into the ear if there is concern about a ruptured ear drum.


  • Cabbage or Lettuce Leaves Wrap: Soak the outer leaves of the cabbage or lettuce leaves in warm water, then crush lightly.  Wrap and gently tie 3-4 layers of the leaves over the sprain in contact with the skin. Leave overnight.
  • Vinegar: Make a compress and soak it in vinegar to reduce the swelling and discomfort.


  • CAUTION!  All burns are a potentially serious injury.  Know the types: first, second, third and, fourth degree; thermal, chemical or electrical. Treat only uninfected first degree burns at home.  Even large area first degree burn may need medical attention. Pay close attention to even small second degree burns (with blistering).  All third and fourth degree burns need medical attention. Watch for infection.
  • COOL the burn first.
  • Honey: Has antibacterial properties and will promote healing. Cool then apply the honey and cover the area with dry dressing.


  • Alum: The preservative, alum, can be put on the canker. It will sting and cause you to pucker-up! – Rinse with water after a few minutes. You should notice significant pain relief and it does help clear the sore up more quickly than if left untreated. Repeat once or twice a day, as needed. Alum is found on the baking aisle with spices.
  • Baking soda: It can either be used as a powder directly on the sore or made into a paste and applied several times a day.
  • Tea: Press it on the sore and hold it there for up to 10 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea is an astringent that relieves pain and encourages healing.
  • Water & Salt: Mix 2 tablespoons of salt into a 6 ounce glass of warm water and use as a mouth rinse 3-4 times a day.


  • Ginger: Drink ginger tea to help break up a cold.
  • Lemon:  Lemon helps by alkalinizing the body. Squeeze a lemon in a glass of water or tea, and drink every couple of hours.
  • Put your toothbrush in a glass of hydrogen peroxide. This will keep you from re-infecting yourself.

COLD SORES (Herpes):

  • Gelatin free yogurt: One of the best strategies for limiting the length of stay for your cold sore is to reduce the amount of arginine (an amino acid) in your body.  Lysine can do this for you; and yogurt is high in lysine.  But be aware that the gelatin in most yogurts is arginine-rich so make sure you read the label carefully. Try a natural food store if your grocery store doesn’t have it.
  • Sage & Ginger Tea: Make a tea by adding two or three fresh sage or thyme leaves or ½ to 1 teaspoon of the dried leaves to a cup of boiling water; steep; add one teaspoon of powdered ginger. Drink two to three cups a day until the sores clear up.
  • Common Tea: Steep an ordinary tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes; cool; then apply to lesions. The tannin in the tea has proven anti-viral properties.


  • CAUTION!  Conjunctivitis is very contagious. 
    • Beware of cross contamination to the unaffected eye or contamination of the eyewash
    • Never double-dip your cloth or cotton ball back into your eyewash container. 
    • Wash your hand often.
    • If the conjunctivitis comes at the same time as a cold sore, check with your doctor to make sure the herpes virus has not infected your eye. This is very important.
    • Discard your makeup, it is probably contaminated.
  • Chamomile Tea:  Makes soothing eyewash.
  • Fennel Tea: Boil fennel seeds in water for 10 minutes, strain, cool and use as an eyewash.
  • Honey: Dissolve three tablespoons in 2 cups of boiling water, let it cool, then use as an eyewash several times a day. The honey has antibacterial properties and unpasteurized honey has antibiotic properties.
  • Common Tea (Camellia sinensis): Tea contains bioflavonoids that fight viral and bacterial infections and tannic acid to help soothe the itching and help reduce inflammation. Repeat several times a day. Use cool water to moisten the tea bag if there is swelling.
    • Black tea: Has more tannin; and that may help reduce the inflammation.
    • A weak solution of tea may be used as an eyewash.

CONSTIPATION (occasional):

  • Apples: Apples have a laxative effect because they contain pectin which adds bulk to the stools and their cleansing action encourages bowel movements.
  • Bananas: Bananas are high in fiber and may help restore normal bowel function.
  • Honey: Honey has mildly laxative properties. Start by taking a tablespoon three times a day or add to foods or drinks.
  • Molasses: (Black Strap is most nutritional): Add 1 to 2 tablespoons a day to hot cereal or mix with warm water or milk.

COUGH (with Congestion):

  • Avoid: Mucus producing foods – these include dairy products, orange juice and fried foods.
  • Cayenne pepper: Mix ¼  to  ½ teaspoon of pepper in a glass of water and use as a gargle.
  • Honey: Mix honey with juice of a fresh lemon and take as needed. Honey soothes the tickle and it also has antibacterial properties.
    • A study funded by the US National Honey Board reports that:   “…..direct comparison between honey and dextromethorphan did not yield statistically significant differences.”
  • Garlic: Mince several cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl; cover with honey; let set overnight. Take one tablespoonful upon awakening, then throughout the day, as needed.
  • Onion juice Syrup: Make syrup by placing a sliced, raw onion on a plate then covering it with honey. Let stand for 3-4 hours. Take the syrup in divided doses.
  • Thyme: Thyme contains a volatile oil, thymol, which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, relaxes the lungs and promotes expectoration of mucus.  Make a tea using 2 tablespoons of fresh or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme in a cup of boiling water; steep, covered, for 3-5 minutes; strain and drink hot.

COUGH (Dry):

  • Honey & ACV: Combine 1/2 cup honey with 3-4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV). Take one tablespoon before going to bed or during a coughing fit, and throughout the day, as needed. Stir well before use.
  • Garlic: Mince several cloves of garlic and place in a small bowl; cover with honey; let set overnight. Take one tablespoonful upon awakening, then throughout the day, as needed.


  • Cayenne pepper (an important first aid remedy to know):
    • For internal bleeding: Take one tablespoon of cayenne in a cup of water to stop the bleeding.  Taken in capsule form works also. (Recommended)
    • For external bleeding:Cayenne can also be placed directly on an external cut to stop bleeding. You may completely pack the wound if you have enough pepper.
      • Black pepper: May be used instead if cayenne is not available.
  • Black or Green Tea: Apply a moistened tea bag to help stop bleeding.
  • Honey:  see Burns


  • CAUTION!  University of Maryland Medical Center warns: “Do not use herbs to treat diarrhea without talking to your health care provider first, and always talk to your doctor before treating diarrhea in an infant. If your diarrhea is caused by certain types of infections, herbal treatments could make it worse.”
  • Allspice: A West Indies remedy calls for a pinch of allspice in a cup of warm water or milk.
  • Cardamom: To make an infusion: take about ¼ teaspoon of crushed cardamom seeds and boil them in one cup of water for about 10 minutes. Strain and add honey or a pinch of sugar to taste.
  • Carob flour/powder: Carob flour is rich in pectin, a binding substance, and tannins with anti-viral properties. It is beneficial for treating babies' diarrhea (see caution note) and may be taken at the rate of 1.5 g (approximately 1/3rd teaspoon) per 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Dissolve powder into a hydrating solution such as Pedialyte (or see recipe pg. 8 of this article).
  • Ginger: Add one teaspoonful of powdered ginger root to one cup of boiling water. Drink up to three cups a day. This works wonders for cramps or abdominal pain.
  • Rice or barley water, fresh vegetable juices (especially carrot and celery), miso broth, or other clear broths help restore fluid and electrolyte balance.
    • Make rice and barley water using 1 cup of raw grain to 1 quart of boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day.


  • Burned Toast & Black Tea: Georgianna Donadio, PhD, director of the National Institute of Whole Health recommends a cup black tea and a few pieces of burned toast:  "The tannic acid in tea and the charcoal in the toast will neutralize the toxins and help you get much better very quickly."