Note from JWR:

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Today we present the final entry for Round 44 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. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. 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, 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry for Round 45. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

What Made Me Begin Preparing for TEOTWAWKI, by Elizabeth in the Northeast

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I woke up a few months ago. Literally, I woke up one day and realized if TSHTF, I was toast. In a big way. It all started with Hurricane Sandy. I live in a coastal town in the Northeast. The beach is a comfortable twenty minute walk from my home. Three streets behind me is Water Street, so named because not only is home to various Marina’s and marine supply stores, it has a tendency to flood every high tide. I woke up the morning Sandy hit to an eerily lit sky. Even though a hurricane was heading our way my employer expected me to show up on time ready for work. I had been at work for all of two hours when my manager informed us we had permission to close the store and go home in three hours. Half an hour later, we lost power and it was a half an hour later that we were finally allowed to go home and brace for the storm.

Since I am a single parent who’s currently without a vehicle and bus service was suspended for the duration a co-worker gave me a life home. When we were two blocks away from my home both of us noticed an awful amount of water on the street, what frightened both of us the most was there was no rain. When she dropped me off in front of my home a utility truck was parked in the drive way notifying the residents in my neighborhood they were cutting power and shutting off the gas to reduce the possibility of fires. After all part of the Long Island Sound was now in my front yard.

I ran up the stairs to my apartment and rushed through the door, frightened beyond belief. As I went through the cabinets I realized I had absolutely nothing to feed my children that didn’t require adding water and cooking. I walked down the hall to my bedroom my heart racing a mile a minute. “What am I going to do?” I asked myself repeatedly. As I was changing, the local radio station mentioned that local schools were opening as emergency shelters. As quickly as I could I packed up the family, and we headed out. As we were walking my youngest whom is all of eleven years old kept saying. “This is not cool mom; we’re walking in a hurricane. We would have been safer staying at home.” I didn’t have the heart or the courage to explain to him, home was not good because his mom who is ninja at paying the bills, and making sure there is always food in the house was not ninja at making sure she was prepared for this. His mom, who will wash clothes in the tub to make sure he and his thirteen year old brother can go on a field trip, was not so cool on this.

It took a little under a half an hour for us to get to the school, the first thing I noticed as we were walking in was the fear that it inspired in me. Armed police officers stood guard at the door. People in bright orange vests herded the new comers into a line. Once you got to the table another orange vest asked for identification, and the names of all in your party. After we were checked in another orange vest escorted us into the school gym, and showed us our area. As we set up our cots and prepared to hunker down for the worst, another orange worker came over and informed us that dinner was being served and we needed to follow the rest of the crowd down to the cafeteria. As we walked to the cafeteria I noticed that there were armed police officers in the halls drinking coffee, and listening intently to the noise squawking from their radios. Suddenly, I didn’t feel like a refugee from Monster Storm Sandy, I felt deep within my soul and in my heart that my children and I were in a farce of being shipped off to a concentration camp similar to what I had seen in Schindler’s List. I didn’t like that feeling one iota.

As the night wore on and the storm finally hit, I was gripped by the terrible fear that if I survived the night with no bad happening, I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my boys were never placed in a similar situation ever again. When the next morning dawned it was business as usual. I called my job, we were open for business and I was expected in. I told them I’d be late and why. I packed up the boys, called their grandfather for a ride and we headed home. The lights and gas back on, the Long Island Sound back where it belonged. All day while I was working and my kids talking about their grand adventure I knew I had to begin to prepare for whatever would could and probably will happen next.

So I set myself up a mission, I needed to learn how to prepare for the worst. I did countless web searches. I read blog after blog, message board after message board. It seemed at first as if I just wouldn’t be able to the expense was just too great. Then I remembered ” Keep It Simple Stupid” (KISS). What do I know, so I made a list.

1) The human body cannot live for more than three days without WATER.
2) The human body cannot live more than five days without FOOD.
3) Depending on the weather conditions you have to be able to stay warm, cool, dry.

So I started with the basics. Water. The next time I went grocery shopping post Sandy bottled water was on sale. Buy 2 get 2 free. I bought 4, and I got 4 free. Four went into the kitchen for the house; four got hidden under my bed. I felt good doing that. I can’t describe how totally back in control I felt. So I began to expand. My kids love fruit snacks, what kid doesn’t? I noticed one day while grocery shopping that all the way down on the very bottom shelf was an off, off brand of fruit snacks 10 for $5.00. I bought 20. Ten went into the kitchen; ten got hidden under my bed. I felt even more empowered.

One week when my paycheck wasn’t quite what it should have been, and the non-child support paying ex gave his usual, “I’ll see what I can do,” speech. I had no choice but to go to the dollar store for groceries. It was while there that I realized I really could have been prepared. I purchased thirty cans of beef stew for $15.00. Half went into the kitchen, half, you guessed it, went under my bed. Hey, cold beef stew may not be an ideal dinner, but it’s better than no dinner at all. It was a start small and insignificant as it seems, it was a start. I kept it simple, when I got a bonus at work because my department exceeded our monthly sales goals I invested in an item that I had read about over and over again.

I bought a vacuum sealer, three rolls of bags, 100 Mylar bags and 100 300cc deoxygenators. Then I went back to the dollar and bought 14 boxes of just add water pancake mix. Three made it into the kitchen; the rest got measured out vacuum sealed with a deoxygenator and tossed into the freezer for two hours. After they came out they got sealed into a Mylar bag and stacked into a really useful box, and put under the bed.

Soon it was joined by more water, some alcohol, first aid kits, coffee, and a camp stove. This month I again got a bonus and instead of paying down debt decided to invest in water treatment and a really good gas grill from amazon. One that I can fire up under my dining room window and cook a nice hot meal for my boys, where the neighbors can’t see it, and I don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning. Soon enough my income tax refund will be here, and as my neighbors are discussing which model of big screen television they are going to be purchasing. I’ve already spent mine. First on my list is a car. A nice used SUV or Wagon. Next up camping gear for me and the boys, a pistol firing course for me and archery lessons for the boys. I also plan on purchasing a six month supply of MREs, a 21 quart pressure canner, and canning supplies.

The big one though is I’m a city girl. I signed up for a plot at the community garden; I’ve got a list of seeds of things I’d like to grow. A book on gardening for dummies, some potting soil and plenty of empty egg cartons for seedlings; I can’t wait to get started.

So how do you prepare for TEOTWAWKI? Well it’s like they say, you can’t run until you’ve learned to walk. You can’t prepare unless you know how. One thing at a time, start with what you know. In the two months since Sandy hit, I went from being a scared sheep with no idea what to do. To a soaring Eagle with a nice supply of necessaries for me and my boys, if we have to hunker down for a day we’re good. If we have to hunker down for a week we’re good. Even if we have to hunker for a month or longer we’re good.

I no longer shop in the dollar store for groceries with my head down as if it’s something to be ashamed of. I shop there on a regular basis with twenty to thirty dollars a week stocking up on things I know I’ll need if TSHF. From soap, shampoos and grocery items to basic first aid items and possible barter items. I have learned how to prepare. As I think back on the night I evacuated my home for a monster storm and I peek under my bed and in my closet and in my kitchen at how far I’ve gotten, I realized that my income didn’t matter. What mattered was I was able to prepare all along and just didn’t know it. That I just had to start at square one.

In six months the oldest of my boys leaves for the Marine Corps, and told me that for the first time since he enlisted he’s no longer afraid of what will happen with me and his younger brothers. He’s actually okay with really leaving now, because in two short months I’ve managed to squirrel away enough supplies to take care of all of us, and instead of believing that the powers that be will take care of me and mine in an emergency, I’m being proactive in taking care of me and mine. If it happens, when it happens, this Mama is more than ready.

Economics and Investing:

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Reader Michael W. sent this: Zimbabwe Is Down to Its Last $217. Comrade Mugabe and his cronies have absolutely destroyed and looted their nation which once had a vibrant economy. They must be overthrown!

The destruction of the US Dollar continues: Bernanke Seen Buying $1.14 Trillion in Assets in 2014

Items from The Economatrix:

Economists Growing More Upbeat About Year Ahead [JWR's Comment: Well, golly gee, with the Federal Reserve and Treasury conspiring to soon double the money supply AGAIN, so stocks must go up, and we'll all be "millionaires" soon, right? Given their monetary policies in recent years, I propose that the Federal Reserve shorten their name to Feral Reserve. That would be more accurate, since they are a private banking cartel has truly gone wild, and after all they never were a Federal agency. They are no more "Federal" than Federal Express.]

Durable-Goods Demand Points to US Factory Pick Up

Roubini, Keiser & Turk:  Preparing For A Perfect Storm, “Next Stage” Of The Global Financial Implosion Will Occur By April

May 2013-End Of The Road-John Williams

Odds ‘n Sods:

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F Troop strikes again! ATF’s Milwaukee sting operation marred by mistakes, failures. The BATFE should have been disbanded many years ago.

   o o o

What Postponement Of The US’s Largest Gun Show Says About America

   o o o

Erich was the first of several readers to send this: For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II. If you’ve ever read Robinson Crusoe, then this may sound familiar: “The rest of the family were saved by what they regarded as a miracle: a single grain of rye sprouted in their pea patch. The Lykovs put up a fence around the shoot and guarded it zealously night and day to keep off mice and squirrels. At harvest time, the solitary spike yielded 18 grains, and from this they painstakingly rebuilt their rye crop.” There is also a strong Christian aspect to their story.

   o o o

Readers in the “arm the masses” camp of preparedness will find this of interest: Mosin Nagant rifles by the crate.

   o o o

B.B. recommended this powerful essay, over at TL in Exile: Do Not Comply

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“All we need is for the Fed to live up to its promise that it has an exit strategy. I’m here to say that they don’t have an exit strategy. There isn’t an exit. A return to a normalization of interest rates, a withdrawal by the Fed and other central banks in their efforts to monetize debt and artificially suppress interest rates, as soon as that ceases, the system itself will freeze up just as it did a few years ago.

The reason it will freeze up is the system can’t handle anything close to what would be considered historically normal interest rates. The stock of debt globally at that stage cannot be serviced. So the system, inevitably, will break down. The problem this time is likely to be much worse than it’s ever been in the past because the debt bubble has never been this big at any point in the past.” – Hedge Fund Manager William Kaye of Pacific Group in Hong Kong, January, 2013

Notes from JWR:

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Today is the birthday of historian Barbara Tuchman (born 1912, died February 6, 1989.) She wrote some of the most engaging history books that I’ve ever read.

Today we present another entry for Round 44 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. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. 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, 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry for Round 45. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Letter Re: Sugar and Spice Will Always Be Nice

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Dear Editor:
My father worked for many years at a sugar factory, and I can tell you there is no such thing as a natural “brown sugar”.  Brown sugar is simply post-production white sugar with molasses added.   As you make your recipe, use slightly more than the called for amount of brown sugar–maybe an extra teaspoon or two, and then add molasses.  If the recipe calls for light brown sugar, add a little molasses.  Dark brown sugar? Just add more molasses. 
 
Also, because you’re storing the components separately, your “brown sugar” never gets hard as a rock, because you mix it at the time of use.  Why people will spend twice as much to buy brown sugar, when they probably have both white sugar and molasses already on hand, escapes me.  Homemade brown sugar is less expensive, softer and so easy to to make. – Shirley A.

Letter Re: California as a Precursor: Thoughts on Feinstein’s Ban Bill

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JWR;
First, I must mention that the Feinstein bill is remarkably similar to what we live with already in California, other than some additional models being added and some language changes. With all of Feinstein and colleague’s rhetoric about the California bullet button loophole, I notice that in her Federally proposed bill, if you have a fixed magazine (al la the California bullet button feature, which makes the magazine fixed) your (military) features are not limited. You are, however, limited to a 10 round fixed magazine capacity. Once you have a removable magazine, the “Military” (scary looking) features come into play. I would have thought the great Feinstein would have modified her legislation to include the removal of the bullet button exemption as she is threatening to do in California. It kinda makes the case that her goal is total disarmament through incremental legislation.

Second, regarding the article about the Iowa cops purchasing their own AR to protect the public, we have been doing this in California for some time now. Officers are permitted to purchase a AR type firearm with the authorization of their department head (Sheriff or Chief) and for law enforcement purposes. These firearms are required to be registered with the California DOJ. Initially officers were told that since the firearms were lawfully obtained and registered, they would be treated like pre ban firearms and individual officers would be allowed to keep upon their honorable retirement. California Governor Moonbeam (Brown) was the California Attorney General when a San Diego Sheriff asked for an opinion as to whether officers were allowed to keep their personally purchased firearms upon their retirement. It was the then Attorney General Moonbeam’s opinion that officers may not keep their personally owned “assault weapons’ since they no longer served a law enforcement purpose. Attorney General Moonbeam cited several examples of case law in support of his opinion; Silveira v. Lockyer2002, The District of Columbia v. Heller 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago 2010, all of which, as I understand it, have been overturned.
 
Third, it was not long ago that law enforcement officials were clamoring (and rightly so) for weaponry at least equal to that of many criminals. Their cry was for semi automatic pistols with “normal capacity” magazines and semiautomatic rifles with “normal capacity” magazines. The public overwhelmingly supported this upgrade. It is no surprise that law enforcement settled on some of the most reliable, proven and popular firearms in the industry and whose magazine capacities ranged from 12 to 30 rounds. These firearms consisted of SIGs, Glocks and S&Ws to name a few as well as the most popular rifle in the United States, the venerable AR-15 style rifle, the civilian version of the military “Assault Rifle.” My question is; has the criminal element become any less armed or dangerous to the highly trained and coordinated law enforcement response? Criminals, particularly organized street and outlaw gangs are often better armed and more coordinated than ever. Since a highly trained and coordinated police response requires these tools to effectively protect themselves and their communities, would it not stand to reason that a lesser trained (but safe and responsible) civilian who is likely on his own (remember, when seconds count , the police are but minutes away, not a slam, just a fact) would not require the option of similar tools when confronting the violent actions of others? During my tenure as a metropolitan LEO (30+ years, most of it on the street) I have learned that when committing serious crimes, criminals often, even typically, operate in teams. I have also seen subjects sustain multiple gunshot wounds and walk, on their own power, to an ambulance. The idea that one is able to consistently and effectively protect himself or herself with 5, 7 or even 10 rounds is simply not supportable by facts. If a victim has a 30 round capability, their obligation is to engage a suspect(S) until the suspects stop their assault. Having that 30 round capacity gives the victim “Options” in dealing with the threat. A victim is not required to use the entire magazine capacity, just that portion that proves to be effective. In my experience, lawful owners of firearms who have accepted the responsibility and obligations of firearm ownership are an asset and are typically reserved in the responsible deployment of their firearms as circumstances dictate.
 
Fourth, keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are irresponsible or incapable of good judgment should be our common goal. So how might this be accomplished? I see no reason why a national database of those who are not qualified to own or possess any firearm and should include relevant information from the mental health field, could not be effectively established and available to Law Enforcement and for background checks. The FFL dealer calls in the background check to the National Registry and receives a YES/NO response. The registry does not need to know or retain specific firearm information (with the exception of various restricted items), simply that an individual qualifies or not for the purchase. Of course there would be the ability to challenge the database information if one was disqualified unjustly. This system would generally accomplish the goals of keeping firearms from those who should not have them while safeguarding the legal and privacy rights of the millions of lawful firearms owners.
 
So where am I going with this? In California the controversy of honorably retired LEOs keeping their AR-15s has raised its head. Many firearms owners feel it unfair that LEOs are able to retain their “Assault Weapon” when they cannot. As I understand it, this is based on a right of equal protection. I get that and can support the concept. As lawful firearms owners generally and Californian firearms owners specifically, we should learn about incrementalism from those who would strip us of our rights. We should steadfastly support the second amendment rights of our responsible fellow citizens in all states. We should then support the idea that an honorable retired California LEO is “entitled” to keep his or her personal property. Once established we should use that same argument of a right of equal protection to increment California back to a free state where the second amendment is not infringed for any law abiding citizen. This is an inclusive strategy not an exclusive strategy. Many of you would be surprised that, once out of the major metro areas of California, the majority of the remainder of the state is very conservative. In the last election the liberal vote trumped the conservative vote by just a few percentage points. Yes, there is hope, even in California.
 
Last, as a thought, when we see police officials standing in the midst of those who would infringe our second amendment rights, you will rarely see a member of the rank and file. Under the auspices of community policing, crime is a community problem. The police are a tool of the community in addressing those problems. By the same token, the common tools and options available to community members who are in good standing should be at least as broad as those available to the trained and coordinated police response. – Scott M.

Economics and Investing:

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SBSS has launched a new “Liberty Girl” one-ounce .999 silver coin.

‘Wall St.’ flees NY for tax-free Florida

The Disappearing Gold

Dr. Gary North: Fed Will Buy $1.1 Trillion in Bonds. Then It Will Buy More.

Items from The Economatrix:

IMF’s Lagarde Says US Leading Economic Role At Stake

The Endgame Is Being Played Out:  World Plunges Into Currency War, Economy Underperforming Again, US Banks Shaken By Biggest Deposit Withdrawals Since 9/11…The Collapse Will Begin

New Homes Sales Slip:  Jobs Are The Key To Housing Recovery

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Scott G. mentioned this in The New York Times: The Preppers Next Door

   o o o

Here is a SHOT Show report: Gun Tote’n Mamas Concealed Carry Purses for Women

   o o o

Alan S. sent us the latest news from Oz: Floods cause Brisbane drinking water shortage. (Any family that does not own a high quality, high volume ceramic water filter is foolish!)

   o o o

H.L. forwarded this: Drought Seen Worsening in U.S. Plains and West Midwest

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“Gun registration does nothing… can do nothing… to curb gun violence. All it can do is tell you who the gun belonged to at some point in in the past, should you happen to find it dropped at the murder scene, next to the cooling body. At best it’s a placebo to the perpetually fearful, while at worst (and historically it’s nearly always been worst) it’s a prelude to confiscation.” – Tamara K. in her View From The Porch blog

Notes from JWR:

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I’m pleased to report that the expanded SurvivalBlog 2005-2012 archive has been selling at a fast pace, both via digital download and on DVD.

This new archive collection has expanded bonus material (a digital copy of my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation–normally $28 in hard copy–12 Firearms Manuals, and 14 U.S. Military Manuals), an improved user interface (with the same look and feel of the SurvivalBlog web site), and of course one more year of the blog content. The digital download and DVD both include the archives in HTML (10,131 pages) and PDF (7,923 pages). The blog archive is fully keyword searchable. It runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The archive provides you with all of the SurvivalBlog content since 2005, even when you are out in the hinterboonies without an Internet connection.

Today we present another two entries for Round 44 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. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. 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, 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 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, and the queue is full, but you can e-mail us your entry for Round 45. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Sugar and Spice Will Always Be Nice, by Vic in Iowa

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Many of the things we love today, and take for granted, will probably be very hard to come by, if things fall apart. This long list certainly includes condiments.

You may be ready to grow your own food, and purify your own water. I hope you are. And you hopefully have tons of wheat and rye and rice and beans packed away, to fall back on while you learn to produce all the food you need. (I figure it may take me 3 years to get self-sufficient, and have stocked up accordingly.)

But even if your pantry is stocked deep, with all the important staples to fulfill your caloric needs, you still need to consider whether you have enough of the little things necessary to make your meals better than just tolerable. Have you got plenty of Sugar and Spice and everything nice?  I do.

I started by buying a dozen 50 pound bags of sugar and salt from Restaurant Depot. The bags cost about $30 for sugar and $5 for salt. A bargain, really.  I’m sure there are other restaurant suppliers in your area, if you don’t have a Restaurant Depot.  Check the yellow pages.

Then I packed it all in 6 gallon pails, to protect it. Sugar and salt won’t spoil, of course, and bugs aren’t interested it them, but I want to keep it all nice and dry. The paper bags are just too vulnerable to moisture and tearing.  And they take up too much room in bag form.

And the food grade buckets I use stack 5 high in my cool basement, as long as I place a 10” X 10” piece of 1/2” plywood on top of each bucket. That way all the weight from above rests on the strong bucket sides, rather than on the weaker lid.

Before I did that, I had the lid on a bottom bucket crack and break in. Of course, the buckets were so full you could hardly tell it had happened.

I have also packed away lots of brown sugar, since I have hundreds of pounds of Oats, and I hate oatmeal without brown sugar.

And remember to pack away many gallons of Soy sauce, if you want to eat all that rice you’ve packed away.  Rice can be pretty sad without it. Sam’s Club has it by the quart, very cheap.  They have the same brand that I see on the table of our favorite Chinese restaurant:  Kikkoman.

And I accumulated jars and jars of jellies and jams, to brighten bread meals. Strawberry and Raspberry and Grape preserves are a must.  Again, you don’t have to worry about their shelf life for a good while.

And I put away pounds of honey, since it lasts forever, though it can be quite expensive. I try to find it at $2 a pound, in 5 pound containers, but that’s getting harder to do.  Again, Restaurant Depot has been the best place for me to buy honey.  5 pound containers used to cost $9, but now they are up over $11.  From time to time, I’ve found it at half price at Walgreen’s, which then makes it $2 a pound.

Then I bought jumbo size containers of other spices, like black pepper and oregano and cinnamon.  And the big buckets of Seasoning Salts, like Lawry’s, may come in handy if you have to eat a lot of rabbit and squirrel!

Stock up heavily on whatever flavors you enjoy in your favorite foods now. Otherwise, you’ll really miss them later.  One big concern we will face during a depression will be food fatigue.  People will literally stop eating, if their diet is just too bland and unvaried.  Kids especially may resist the same dull food day after day.

You can rotate the spices, of course, if you worry about them losing some of their potency. Salt and sugar won’t change, but some things may well.

But after I packed all those goodies away, something occurred to me – every day I walk away from all sorts of perfectly packaged flavor treats, without giving them a thought. I’m talking about all those nice little packets of sugar and salt and pepper sitting on the tables of most restaurants.

So now, instead of pouring that sugar pack in my coffee, I tuck a packet of it in my pocket.  A salt and pepper packet too. If I hit Starbucks, I grab a couple fancy Gold’N Natural sugar packets. Sweet.

I also noticed that there are packets of lots of other fun things I could use, if TSHTF.  Honey packets. Ketchup packets. Jelly. Mustard. Lemon juice. Maple syrup. You can even find big packets of various salad dressings, which would perk up your garden greens come TEOTWAWKI.   All these various condiment packages have the shelf life of a Twinkie, and I know they would really brighten a post-apocalypse meal.

After a while, I had accumulated quite a large collection of packets, which I stored away in ziploc bags, separated by type.  But I decided I really wanted to stock up in a more serious way. 

I realized that a small 1/8 oz of sugar, in a sealed pack, might well function as a great currency, in a broken world. Small, tasty currency. And I wanted to have plenty of them, to last a long hard decline of civilization.  And I knew I probably don’t have years to save them up, one meal out at a time.

So I headed back to Restaurant Depot, and bought a box of 2000 sugar packs, for $12. That got me more than 15 pounds of sugar, in handy little packs.

That was just 80 cents a pound, compared to about 60 cents a pound in 50 pound bags. Hardly any premium at all, considering the added convenience.  I had expected it to be much more.

I also bought a big box of salt packets, and another of pepper packets. Very inexpensive.

In fact, everything you could ever want in a packet, can be purchased by the boxful.  I think it’s well worth the small premium over the bulk cost, to have something you can trade, or give away for good will.

Plus, if you are ever living on your pantry goods, and you just need a little of something to spice up a meal, you won’t need to open a big jar, or a 6 gallon pail. You’ll just tear open a little packet.

I don’t believe in the artificial sweeteners, which I think are quite bad for you.  But since others do seem to like them, you may want to stock some of those for trading as well. Diabetics may need them, after all.

For some people, soup or chili just aren’t complete without those little crackers that come in packets.  You can always put a few of those away, each time you have a bowl out at a restaurant.

And if you like those little mints and candy treats by the cash register, ask them if you can have a couple, as you pay your bill.  I guarantee you they will be happy to have you take a few.   Some day, when the kids are bored and need a treat, you can pull out your bag of restaurant mints, and be the hero.

And don’t just think about edibles. I always grab a “wet wipe” packet when I’m done eating at Quaker Steak and Lube, or KFC. Many other places have them too, if you ask.

The End of The World is likely to be a very messy place, and the single packet wet wipes are going to be great to have. Every one you tuck away now will be worth it’s weight in silver, when water is like gold.

Some of you may be uncomfortable pocketing a couple sugars at McDonalds, but I don’t lose any sleep over it. The packets I bought from Restaurant Depot cost 1/2 a cent each, and I suspect McDonalds pays less. The salt and pepper were even less per packet.

I’m sure if I asked any restaurant manager, if they were willing to have me pocket 2 cents worth of extra packets, in return for my buying a meal for both my wife and me, they would all say “be my guest.”  It’s much better for them to have our $20, and have me take a couple salt packets, than have me go somewhere else!

If you feel bad about it, you can always stick to a place like Restaurant Depot. But either way, I urge you to stock up on all the little taste treats that come in packets, while you can. Once you start noticing them, you will be shocked at all the different things people have packaged for you in handy, durable little packs.

You will be glad you have them for your own use, if times get hard.  And they will probably trade like money when you’re dealing with all the people who failed to see trouble coming, and didn’t prepare. Which seems to be most people.