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.

Letter Re: Food Storage in the Southern United States

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Sir:
As a Central Texas Prepper, I have solved my food storage problem affordably, as follows: On my property there was an existing 20 foot by 24 foot sheetrock walled tool shed. I gutted this building and installed slabs of 8 inch styrofoam panels against interior walls.

These blocks of foam were salvaged from floating docks on a local lake as most people were installing plastic floats under their docks. The styrofoam blocks were free for the taking..As the floats were used and had been in the water in some cases for years, they looked gross and smelled bad also. I found if you cut as little as 4 inches off the side of the float, you now have new looking and smelling styrofoam blocks. The foam blocks come in [usually] 4 foot by 12 foot dimensions and need to be sized for re-use. This was accomplished with a 20 inch chain saw, with a tube sawing guide extending past the chain bar,and cut around the perimeter. The entire block will not be cut thru at this point but if you pop rivet two regular carpenters hand saws together to make a 5 foot blade, the remaining styrofoam cuts easily. You now have a 4 foot by 12 foot by 8 inch slab of pure insulation. Cut and tightly fit these slabs against your interior walls. Use foam sealer to seal the joints and you have an air tight interior. Inside the interior foam slabs, I built a 2×4 framed wall and insulated it with fiberglass insulation. These walls were then sheetrocked and taped. The ceiling received the same treatment with cutoff chunks of Styrofoam placed on top of the slabs in the attic. The thicker the better. A sheetrock ceiling was put up after all seams were sealed with foam. A solid core door with a foam rubber gasket was installed to keep things airtight.

Next, a high efficiency 10,000 BTU window air conditioner with a power saver feature was installed to cool the interior. The whole thing works better than expected, keeping the interior of the storage building at 60 degrees or below, no matter the outside temperature. The window unit is shut off in the winter with the interior temperature staying around 55 degrees. The electricity consumed by the window unit is negligible.The exterior of the building was left worn and weathered looking even our closest friends have no idea about the contents of the tool shed. Some work required but this resulted in a cheap and effective storage facility. – Don in Texas

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

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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.

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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.

Rules For Living and Rules For Staying Alive, by Arizona Slim

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Survival can certainly include situations that are a bit short of, and a bit more mundane than TEOTWAWKI. And as much as we wish it were otherwise, I know a lot of us are in a suburban or even urban environment. We find ourselves in a great many situations with the potential to become survival scenarios on a smaller, more personal scale. We are also subject daily to a million ridiculous rules and laws and prohibitions and warnings and  statutes and such that most of our rural brethren can go for long periods of time without even having to consider. We can find ourselves lulled into a sheep-like acquiescence, where it’s easier to go along to get along. But if you want to have every opportunity to survive a threat, you must be aware of this condition and be able to switch it off when the flag goes up.

The first job I had as a young adult was as an EMT, working for a local ambulance company. It is an amazing experience for an 18-year old to turn on flashing red lights and a siren and leave the Rules of the Road pamphlet buried and forgotten somewhere under the seat. Driving on the wrong side of the road, the wrong way down one-way streets, entering on exit ramps and exiting on entry ramps, ignoring red lights and posted speed limits. Not to mention parking next to No Parking signs and red curbs, on sidewalks, lawns, and many places one does not find vehicles on a regular basis. Not con permiso, that’s for sure.

Now, I should mention that all of these were not only acceptable hereabouts during that wild and wooly time, but they were all done with tremendous care and judgment, in circumstances necessitating such rule-bending. But I was also set for life with the appreciation that given the right circumstances and the right impetus, most rules can be bent, broken, or completely obliterated with just cause and due care. And at times to great benefit.

If you are facing a crisis scenario, or even when you are doing the invaluable mental preparation for such times, do not let mindless adherence to “The Rules” impede your ability to provide for your safety, that of your family, and anyone else you might be responsible for. Now, I’m not talking about ignoring that society has proscriptions against capital crimes. Let’s not get carried away. No matter what you are considering doing, keep in mind you may well find yourself defending your choices at some later point. And face whatever outcome is decided by those who may disagree with your judgment. We all know that circumstances can take the act of killing another human being from murder to manslaughter to negligent homicide to justifiable self-defense. But we’re going to dial this down to a whole other level.

I’m talking about the endless ocean of minor “rules” we face from a thousand sources every day. “Don’t Walk, Do Not Enter, One Way, Authorized Personnel Only, Danger, Keep Off, Keep Out, No Turns, Caution, Employees Only, No Public Access, Warning, No Parking, No Exit, ad nauseam, the list really is endless.

Rules made up by anyone, everyone, and no one (that anyone can determine) with and often without the authority to make them, much less enforce them. Rules that under any normal circumstances might be so minor we seldom give them any thought, but blind adherence to which in an emergency might make all the difference in the outcome. This is a mindset, a “civilized” way of living under normal circumstances. But it’s an insidious one. You can find yourself “obeying” mindlessly, without considering the cost. In a worst case scenario you could find yourself in a bad way because as a morally upright, law-abiding sort you reflexively followed herd-think and didn’t allow yourself to consider an out-of the-box alternative that might bend the rules temporarily into a pretzel.

The fictional Sarah Connor said "There’s no fate but what we make." I decided a very long time ago that when my safety and that of my family is at stake, there are no rules except the ones I make. Period. I will face the music, if any, after my family and I are safe.

These precepts can and should be adapted to every conceivable location and circumstance, but we’ll use a familiar place for our mental exercise, and explore one small example of what I’m talking about. You are at a large shopping mall with your family. As is your nature, as you contemplated this outing, you gave some thought to where you parked, the layout of the mall, and where you intended to go in the mall. You ran through some what-ifs in your head, and possibly verbally reinforced your family’s safety and security procedures before going in. This undoubtedly includes maintaining awareness of exits and potential evacuation routes, when and where to meet, cell phones all around, etc.

You realize that a major incident would surely result in chaos. You picture the crowd trying to get out the exits in a fire, or in response to something in the air, like the inadvertent dump of someone’s OC pepper spray, or worse some kind of flash-mob event or … the sound of gunfire. Whether there is an immediate threat or just the perception of one, these are herd animals we’re talking about. It’s going to be ugly.

When faced with large-scale moving forces, whether mall stampede or tornado or rip-tide the very best path to safety isn’t with or against, away from or toward, but at right-angles. You could survive any of the above from fairly close range if you were only off to the side; if you had a way to move that is perpendicular to the lines of force. Like that very plain double door over there that no one seems to notice. Have you ever considered or discussed the use of the mall service corridors? There’s a good chance the answer is no, you’ve never given them any thought. Why? Because the signs say “Authorized Personnel Only.” The “rules” say you aren’t supposed to go there. So you might not even know what’s back there, much less have that at the top of your escape route list.

In most large malls the building is riddled with these secondary access-ways. Despite their non-public nature, a lot of times they even appear on maps of the mall. They are typically long, bare concrete or concrete-block corridors which run behind all of the inside stores and there are usually exits from each store into these passageways. The shops often use them to receive merchandise deliveries. In many there are also fire exits to the exterior of the building. In an emergency, if using a service corridor was the expeditious route to safety for me and my family, I would “authorize” myself in a heartbeat. I would disregard the signs, and I would do so forcefully and immediately. Let some retail mall rat holler at me. Let someone shake their head with a disapproving stare. Let some rent-a-cop mumble into his walkie-talkie. I’ll deal with that later, if at all. Chances are no one would even notice.

In fact, take a field trip. Go walk-about at the mall. Dress respectably if not professionally and carry a folder or clipboard. Most often these corridors open into the mall at both ends. Go to one end, open the door like you own it and walk directly and purposefully to the other end. No one knows everyone and each will assume you are “authorized.” Chances are no will even be there. If you meet someone, make eye contact and offer a pleasant greeting. No one will wonder or care. And now you know what to expect on the other side of those plain doors. While you’re at it see if the mall has some give-away maps and see what might be on them.

I am famous for my “create-a-space” parking. I know what the law says, I know what the signs say, I know what is enforceable and what is a “suggestion.” It’s amazing what some places and management types will try to get away with simply because it works with 98% of the sheeple. But that’s not the same as the rule and force of law, or even private property rights. Now, I’m not a sociopath. In fact I go out of my way to not take advantage of or be a hindrance to others, or disregard or disrespect the rights of others. But I make my own decisions based on the situation at hand. And that is under normal circumstances.

In a crisis my willingness to play these reindeer games all but evaporates. Need to immediately retrieve a family member in an emergency? Let someone holler, “Hey, you can’t park there!” First of all, says who? Yes, actually I can. Second, even if I can’t “legally,” if circumstances are serious enough a parking ticket is the least of my concerns. And I’ll likely be long gone before any official response materializes anyway. And if not I’ll explain. And if Barney’s having a bad day I’ll accept it and tell it to the judge. What I’m not going to do is stand there and debate the issue. Whatever I say in response, if anything, I am not going to stop moving. Better to pretend you can’t hear, as you smile, wave and keep moving.

While I am a staunch advocate for private property rights for individuals, when it comes to commercial private property much is actually considered a public space and is legally and operationally different. I know that many, many “rules” carry only the force that comes from hoping the sheeple don’t know any better and decide to play along. Very few carry any consequences beyond being asked to leave or “don’t do that.” Hardly anything that rises to the level of changing what I would do in the best interests of safety and security for me and my family.

The point is, you decide, don’t let something or someone else decide for you. Make a choice for your immediate survival and let the chips fall. Never let silly rules or someone’s delusions of  authority trip you up at a critical moment. Be civil, but forceful. Apologize later. If later comes. Even when talking about “rules” survival can be a matter of “improvise, adapt and overcome.” Especially the overcome part. Rules that may make some kind of sense or serve some purpose in civil society under normal circumstances may hinder survival in a crisis. They can cause you to hesitate, reconsider, change direction. They can slow you down, rob you of what turned out to be your only chance.

You may think this is all a bit elementary. You may be thinking, well of course in a case like that I’m going to ignore the rules. Perhaps. A great many otherwise intelligent people have inexplicably done otherwise in difficult situations and paid dearly. You may be a big tough guy who is pushy and independent to a fault on his best day. But what about your spouse? Your older children? Chances are they were raised to respect and follow the rules. I know of family members that, though fortunately having not seen them in a critical situation, on a daily basis they are not the pushy sort. I could just hear them saying they and their children were trapped in some place for some long period of time because there was this guy saying no one could leave. Let’s face it, most people want to play by the rules in normal situations, and our bias is to want to believe the situation is in fact normal. I of course would be apoplectic! Guy? What guy? You listened to some guy? You stayed there because some guy said stay? Hopefully they’re telling me this in person because eventually all was well. But I’m guessing you have a family member that you can hear saying the same thing.

Many occupants of the World Trade Center towers were told by 911 operators to stay where they were and wait for rescue. Some were on their way out and were told, “Go back upstairs to your office.” Hard to believe, knowing what we know now. And very painful to contemplate. Those who obeyed, died. Those who listened to their inner voice and said the heck with that, left, and lived. These were New Yorkers! “Whadda ya gonna do, give me a ticket? Up yours, I’m outta here.” But of course those who stayed…were New Yorkers too.

You decide, and make your own fate. And make sure your spouse and your family are up to the task as well. Sometimes people just need to consider the situation and give themselves “permission” to do what is necessary. The point is to do that now, while there’s time.

Back to the mall. Many of those who relish flexing imaginary authority over petty and absurd rules are themselves sheep when push comes to shove and can frequently be directed, re-directed and misdirected by superior force of will. Let’s play, “my pretend authority is bigger than your pretend authority.” A brawl breaks out close-by in the mall. It seems to be spreading or moving in your direction. Teens that you aren’t going to out-run with your family. There’s no clear avenue of escape. You move swiftly into the nearest store and head for the back. At the very least you are out of the immediate path of the mayhem and it may pass you by. If it enters the store you have a better defensive position with your back to a wall. But what you are hoping for is that like most of the stores there’s an exit into the service corridor in back.

As you move through the store, headed for the back “authorized personnel only” exit a store employee steps into your path. Before they can get a word out, use your command voice and tell them to do something. Anything. “There’s a man with a gun. Keep all of your employees in the store.” Don’t debate, don’t discuss, don’t answer questions and  don’t stop moving. Point and issue commands. Officials don’t answer questions, officials tell people what to do. It doesn’t even have to make sense. “There’s been a release, don’t run any water.” Give them something to do. “Call mall security and tell them there’s a Code 18 at the food court.” What they intended to come out as, “You’re not allowed back here” or “Where are you going?” suddenly and reflexively turns into, “Uh, okay, yessir.”

Pretty funny actually. Think of it as the shock-and-awe version of social engineering. Think of some lines in advance. Practice.

If the way out isn’t obvious, ask! Ask in a firm command voice that leaves them with no thought but to provide the answer. Very controlled, professional, firm. As you do so pull out your wallet and flash your ID. It doesn’t matter if it’s your library card, they aren’t going to get a look. You watch television, you know how. Keep issuing commands and keep moving. They’ll be overwhelmed and it will work 95% of the time. For the other 5%, you’ll have to make the call. If the situation is grave enough, go around, over or through them. Or even have them consider that they should be leaving also, for their own safety.

In any situation, move with purpose, as someone on official business would move. Sound official, as someone on official business would sound. Look like you know where you are going and are supposed to be going there. Demeanor is everything. You can accomplish an amazing amount without ever actually being official or even saying anything or misrepresenting yourself as official, but just by being officious. “I never said I was anyone at all, I guess she just assumed," you might say.

In a disaster I intend to get home. I have a hard hat, metal clipboard, reflective safety vest, ID on a lanyard, and two-way radio in the back of my truck. I don’t intend to claim to be anyone. But I intend to appear to be someone. Look official, sound official, be treated as official. (Who was that masked man?)

Beyond the “posted” rules, the same goes for folks acting under some delusion of quasi-authority, or even real honest-to-goodness authority for that matter. I make the rules for my safety, period. There’s no question I am pre-disposed to listen to the directions of qualified, commissioned public safety figures: police officers, paramedics and firefighters. I actually work in public safety with these folks. But I will still determine for myself if those directions made good sense, and act accordingly. Even the best in blue can cast good sense aside, sticking to an official line solely because they are under orders, and that can ultimately get people hurt or worse. The chief standing up in front of the local news camera two weeks hence and apologizing for mistakes that were made isn’t going to bring anyone back. And if we are talking about anyone else – a rent-a-cop, a store manager, any civilian in any civilian role – sorry Charlie, all bets are automatically off.

And of course it all comes down to the urgency of the situation. Under any normal circumstances if the nice officer says,  “Sorry, road’s closed, not supposed to let anyone through,” I will say thanks, turn around and make other plans. In a major event, a true personal emergency, I will decide for myself. Note from the pros: the nice officer manning the roadblock typically cannot abandon the roadblock to chase after the person who ignored the roadblock. (And you can’t read a plate that isn’t there. I’m just sayin’.)

Brand it on your consciousness: Following the herd is almost always a really bad idea, unless you are convinced by your own direct observation that what the herd is doing makes sense and has an obvious, immediate, demonstrable chance of success. Certainly never follow the herd just because some low-level functionary who found the on-switch on a bull horn is telling you it’s the thing to do. And never ignore your gut because some sign says, “Don’t Go There.” You will almost always have a better outcome by doing the opposite of what the herd is doing, or at the very least, if there is no immediate threat, waiting until the herd thins. Petty “rules” be damned. No matter the circumstance of my passing, the one place I will never, ever be found is at the bottom of a pile. No Coconut Grove for me. It’s anathema to everything I know.

I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples. The point of this is to get you thinking, and like everything else we do, use the luxury of time available now to contemplate the what-ifs, saving critical time in an emergency. Raise your awareness. Consider the massive onslaught of rules you are subjected to as you go about your daily business. Take note of every prohibitive sign or posted notice. That includes traffic signs. Think about how they might restrict your chances for survival were you to follow them blindly in an emergency. Perhaps more important, is to consider how they will drive the herd in such a situation, and how you might benefit from choosing a different path.

Get other family members thinking along these lines. Although I know a few very formidable women who could stop a charging grizzly with a look, it is undoubtedly easier for most men to take such a forceful authoritative approach. And probably, let’s be honest, for us guys to flaunt or ignore the rules and would-be rule-enforcers. Convince your better half that she absolutely can do the same, with a bit of determination to prevail, and maybe a little practice with her “command voice.” Role play. Let her pretend to be a prison guard. I’ll leave the uh, details to you.

If all of this talk of wanton lawlessness doesn’t sit well with you, keep in mind we are not talking about normal every-day circumstances. We are not talking about getting the last flat screen television on Black Friday. We are not talking about avoiding the longest line for Splash Mountain. We are not even talking about getting to the church on time. We’re talking about planning ahead to let ourselves color outside the lines a bit if that’s what’s necessary for the safety and survival of ourselves or others we are responsible for. The good news is that in a large-scale emergency no one is likely to notice, care, or have time to address the infraction, much less try to intervene or even follow up later. Like an ambulance driving on a sidewalk en route to an emergency. In the big picture it will be a non-event.

Remember, studies of those who survive catastrophes have shown that the survivors tend to be those that thought about the possibility of trouble in advance and had a mental what-if plan. Because when the bell rings, there is no time for thought. You move instantly, or you lose. So consider now, and make friends with the idea that you intend to put your hand firmly in the very middle of the “NO EXIT” sign when you shove the door open and take your family out of harm’s way into the sunshine. You can stop for ice cream on the way home. And see what you missed later, on the evening news.

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.