Notes for Saturday – February 28, 2015

February 28th is the birthday of famed Swiss investor and economic pundit Marc Faber (born 1946).

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Today, we present another entry for Round 57 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a 340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 57 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. 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.

Your Brain On Paper—How to Write Useful Operating Instructions, by M.R. – Part 2

Topic Areas for Operating Instructions

Topics will vary for different groups, depending upon the extent of their preparations and unique specifics. I live in the mountains of California. You will find earthquake instruction in my binder, but you will not find one concerning hurricanes. Choose one or two areas important to you, and start with them. This will allow you to learn and test the format and save a lot of re-do time.

On the bright side, you may find that the operating instructions and the binder provide a place to organize and include papers and information that you have already stashed away, as attachments. An instruction concerning caches can have inventories and maps as attachments, for example. Here are some possible areas to get you thinking:

  • Home Defense
  • Family Meeting and Training Plan
  • Bug-Out Vehicle Inventory and Maintenance
  • Bug-Out Bags and Contents: Inventory and Review of Use/Purpose
  • Alternate Routes to Safe Location
  • Plan of Action for Civil Disorder
  • Plan of Action for Disease Epidemic
  • Plan of Action for Natural Disaster(s)
  • Inventory of Supplies and Equipment
  • Survival Food Pantry Inventory and Rotation (for those not constantly using and rotating)
  • Wind Turbine Operation and Battery Bank Maintenance
  • Solar Electrical System Operation, Maintenance and Battery Care
  • Portable Generator Operation, Maintenance, and Use Log
  • Critical Contacts List and Means of Communication
  • Vehicle Care/Maintenance and Log
  • Well Pump Maintenance, Testing for Bacteria, and Treating Bacteria
  • Financial Documents Inventory and Related Instructions
  • Emergency Water Supply Storage and Purification
  • Tool Use Instructions and Maintenance
  • Firearms and Ammunition
  • Operation and Maintenance of Generator, and Fuel Storage
  • Fuel Storage and Use
  • Medical Supplies and Equipment
  • Caches and Hidden Items
  • Order of Tasks and Events for Evacuation from City to Safe Spot
  • Home Security System Operation and Battery Replacements

This is just a sample list. Remove or add those topics that are important to you and your situation or group’s needs. A great way of identifying the need for an instruction is to ask the person in your family or group who you think is, second to yourself, most knowledgeable about your preps:

If this is your spouse, say something like, “Honey, tell me everything you know about (such and such).” Brace yourself for the response! However, this is exactly what is so valuable about the process. You will find out who knows what and what areas are most important to document right away. Also, you will impress upon those you ask, the level of their own need to buff up their knowledge and take the operating instructions seriously.

Operating Instruction Mistakes

There are some things to avoid:

Too many instructions. You will either not get around to all of them, or you may skimp on the content. You might also make updating them a nightmare. Start small and stay focused. Only those areas you rank most important, in terms of content or in terms of the areas your family or group members are the least familiar with.

Too many copies at too many locations. On the surface it is tempting to include copies of instructions at more than one location, as a backup if a binder is misplaced or damaged. However, too many copies increase the likelihood of outdated information not being updated. Bad information can be worse than no information. Operating instructions are no fun. Why make the process more difficult for little to no gain in value?

Using electronic documents in place of or in addition to hard copies. Unless you are an UberGeek who has a solid plan for the use of electronics when SHTF and even after an EMP attack, electronic copies are sensitive to being lost to device failure. It makes it harder to ensure that sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and it complicates the updating process.

Skimping on the materials you use for the instructions. On the top end is a waterproof copier or waterproof writing paper. On the more affordable end are indelible ink and document protectors. Large ziploc bags are my preference; they’re just large enough at the tab to allow holes to be punched for my 3-ring binder. Flexible binders are generally more expensive but are more durable than rigid binders. Plastic construction trumps paper products. Placing the flexible binder and contents into what is called a “project” case or container is further protection and provides a hard writing surface and means to store writing instruments and “white-out” or to co-store bulky items, such as related roadmaps. At the end of the article I have listed some links to my favorite items for a minimal and durable system.

Failing to store important things that you have referenced in your instructions along with the instructions binder. This can be eliminated by including all of the information in the operating instruction, of course. However, that can turn the task of writing the instructions into real labor and the instruction into an overly complicated encyclopedia. Why reinvent the wheel? Attach that key owner’s manual or store it with the binder.

Thinking that operating instructions replace skill acquisition, essential knowledge, and practice or recurring training and review. They don’t! Survival skills are sometimes so important that they require motor memory—our nervous system and muscles knowing what to do quickly and without thought. This is head knowledge that must be known and applied on the spot. You won’t have time to run to a binder of operating instructions to find out how to use a tourniquet safely or to apply a clotting bandage while a loved one is bleeding out. While the less common tasks for disassembling and reassembling one of your least used firearms can be in an instruction, marksmanship skills and weapon operation must be so well known that they are automatic. Key skills are for knowing and mastering without having to look them up in time of need.

Not reviewing and changing instructions as needed. Outdated information can be more than simply unhelpful; it can be dangerous. It is inconvenient, if not worse, to dig up a cache container only to find out that the contents were moved or changed without telling anyone. Using that new air compressor that uses oil for lubrication or cooling is not going to benefit from the old instruction for the oil-less compressor that you replaced when it broke.

An Example of a Completed Operating Instruction

Okay, we’ve reviewed the why, what, where, when, and how to. Let’s look at how an instruction comes together:

___________________________________

Operating Instruction: Emergency Water Supplies

Purpose: This instruction covers the amount and location of water currently stored at our city home, in the 2006 GMC Sierra 2500 truck, and at our safe location at the ranch in the mountains. It also covers the refilling of stored supplied, and actual use during an emergency, as well as where replacement items can be purchased.

Explanation of Terms

Plastic Water Storage Containers: Refers to the blue, plastic, 5-gallon containers in the basement of the ranch cabin and in the garage of the city house. They are topped with white filler caps and have the date of filling with safe to drink water written the top in black magic marker. All containers are identical. Dates may vary.

Katadyn Water Filtration Kits: There are large Katadyn kits stored on the top row of water storage containers at the ranch, in the city, and a smaller kit stored under the right front passenger seat of the 2006 GMC truck for use during bug-out. Each is enclosed in its own zippered black storage bag labeled “Katadyn”. Explicit instructions are in the kits and this item is regularly reviewed and used during annual family training. (See Operating Instruction on Annual Family Training.)

Bung Wrench: This is the red, plastic, long-handled wrench stored on the top row of water storage container at each location. The wrench is used to open the white plastic caps on the blue containers to dispense the water.

Portable Water Container, 5-gallon: Refers to the two, folded, plastic bag-containers carried in our truck tool box. These are used to collect water for filtration and use, if needed, during the trip to the safe location.

2 and 1/2 Gallon Distilled Water in Retail Containers: Refers to the 10 retail bottles of “Spring Pure” brand distilled water carried in the tool boxes that are mounted to the bed of the truck. The water is steam distilled. The containers are marked on the top as to date of purchase.

Reliable Water Source: Refers to city water during normal times and well water used from our annually-tested ranch well. (After a SHTF scenario in the city, or if the well water has not been tested within 12 months for bacteria, the water sources are NOT considered reliable and will require processing through Katadyn filtration systems before consuming.)

Letter Re: My Personal Alexandria, Now Less Flammable!, by ASC

Good Morning Hugh

ASC’s article on the E-readers is spot on. I’ve been using e-readers in various forms for some time now, and I’ve incorporated them into my jourmey of getting ready for whatever may be on the horizon. If I may I’d like to add a few additional points that may be of help when using an E-reader as part of a preparedness plan.

  1. As JWR has said many times, “Two is one and one is none.” Words to live by. In regards to an E-reader, I encourage those who rely on these devices to accumulate more than one and if possible one that allows the owner to have a mirror image of all the documents on both. Just because one buys a book in one format, does not mean that the same book can be read on another E-reader without purchasing the same book again so it can be read on the second device. Having a second (or third) device offers the owner the security of knowing the information on a device is safely stored in a Faraday cage at all times. A rotation schedule allows for each E-reader to be updated and current.
  2. One of the best sites for free books and available in many different formats is the Gutenberg Project https://www.gutenberg.org/. It has over 46,000 books and publications at no charge (most are out of print and the copyrights have expired, but the site has all of the older classics and ffers books written about subjects that are no longer considered “current”; it’s valuable information for someone who’s prepping). It also offers audio books and DVDs.
  3. The one Achilles heel would be battery life and access to it. The earlier Nooks had a field replaceable battery, but finding one was originally problematic. (Eventually, Barnes & Noble began to offer replacements in their stores, although I’m uncertain if they still have any, it was not an off-the-shelf battery.) The other E-readers, to my knowledge, have internal and not user serviceable batteries. Any input on this would be appreciated.

So, if you’re looking for an easy way to store a library of information in a form that weighs less than a pound, ASC’s given you the answer. Blessings – T.J.

Economics and Investing:

Check the cushions! Thieves loot $18,000 worth of nickels from Florida home. – P.M.

JWR Adds: Saving nickels makes sense. However, they are bulky and you will need to find a secure place for them. A hidden walk-in vault would be ideal, but just a very well-hidden compartment will suffice.

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Fourth-Quarter GDP in U.S. Rose Less Than Prior Estimate

Here Is What Americans Spent Their “Gas Savings” On

Why Does Maryland Have The Most Millionaires Per Capita? The Answer Might Make You Angry

Pending Home Sales Miss For 5th Month In A Row

Odds ‘n Sods:

I was doing some web wandering and discovered that my old friend Yasha at www.WhatACountry.com has some of the now quite scarce green tip SS109 5.56 ammo available. Theirs is Australian military M855, in 900 round cans. They also have some original “new old stock” MG-42 antiaircraft (AA) tripods available for just $269 each. These make great stand up range tripods for Class 3 shooters. Mount adapters are made for a wide variety of guns. It is hard to believe that there is still NEW WWII surplus equipment floating around! – JWR

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I would suggest everyone watch this series at least once and preferably two times or more. The World is heading at breakneck speed in the very same direction as we speak. We all know the saying about those who do not know their history and how they are condemned to repeat it… Well, this will truly open your eyes.

Apocalypse World War I. – JFJ

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Video: Nevada police treat mature WA couple driving their classic car like violent felons due to multiple POLICE paperwork errors. – T.P.

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Pop Quiz: How Many Constitutional Rights Have We Lost?. – P.L.

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Empowering Jihad: The Deadly Myth of a ‘Root Cause’

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“As for you, son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the plan. If they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the house, its structure, its exits, its entrances, all its designs, all its statutes, and all its laws. And write it in their sight, so that they may observe its whole design and all its statutes and do them. This is the law of the house: its entire area on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.” Ezekiel 43:10-12 (KJV)

Notes for Friday – February 27, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 57 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a 340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 57 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. 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.

Your Brain On Paper—How to Write Useful Operating Instructions, by M.R. – Part 1

Do you have any idea how much of your prepper knowledge is actually recorded in your head and nowhere else? I’m talking about details that you think are common knowledge but aren’t actually common among those in your survival party. If you are the key member of the group—the one who has done the lion’s share of planning and training, it’s likely that others don’t know as much as you think they know or that they will be able to remember as much as you think they will. If you drop off your twig unexpectedly or suffer a mentally-incapacitating illness or accident prior or during a SHTF event, that lack of knowledge among the rest of the group may be their unforeseen Achilles heel.

A recent change in my health, in addition to my advancing age, convinced me that I needed to view my survival preparations from the perspective of not being there to carry out the plan as the primary leader. Would my family be able to put to use all that I had planned for? Of what value are decades of planning and preparations on my part, if I have failed at passing on sufficient knowledge for them to survive without me?

A surprising number of survivalists have military or government employment backgrounds. This topic is nothing new to them. They are already aware of the central role of operating procedures or operating instructions in government organizations. The same is true of those who have worked in civilian organizations such as law enforcement, hospitals, and in industries that handle hazardous materials or carry out functions that, if done improperly, can get someone hurt or killed.

If you’ve been around operating instructions in those settings, they probably left a bad taste. You have memories of the excessive bureaucratic nonsense and overkill that is invariably the product of governments and large organizations. However, you are in charge now. You can compose operating instructions that are meaningful to you and your loved ones or survival group.

This blog post has been written to help you understand why you need operating instructions, what good instructions contain, and how to write and maintain your own set of instructions. A short trip to the office supply store and some head-scratching time can produce a good set of operating instructions. The result is that it will minimize the impact of your loss to the party, should something unforeseen occur, such as you being separated from the group. Reviewing them with your family or group and securing the collection in a common area will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the ship won’t go down if it loses the captain.

Let’s sell you on the idea by choosing a common topic area of survival preps— emergency water supplies. You’ve done your homework. You read and studied and then purchased what you needed to process and store water for hard times. You now have a solid collection of storage containers filled with potable water, and you have the tools required to treat the water and access it when needed. Job well done! However, if the information in your head is not also stored so that others can access it, your diligent preps may suffer a potentially fatal and certainly inconvenient end result. If all the knowledge that remains in your head remains only in your head, your spouse and children as well as any others who may be depending upon that water are left on their own.

Are we making too much of this? Not at all. Having great storage containers filled with water is of questionable worth, if the group that needs the water does not know where they are stored. Are there items critical to purification or filtration? Where, what, when, and how? Sure, you told some of them or all of them. Or did you? Do they even remember? If you stored water, was it safe to drink to begin with? What date did you fill the containers? Where is that special tool needed to open the containers without damage to the container itself?

These are the sort of details that are just as important as the physical water itself. You spent many hours and many dollars putting your plan into place. It would be a shame to see the plan crippled by something as simple as a bit of paper that could serve as a reference and resource.

As much as I don’t miss the overarching bureaucratic mess of keeping up with all too many “OI’s” when I was in the military, I did learn some valuable things. An old sergeant once chewed me out for being such an idiot as to assume something. He said, “Do you know what ASSUME stands for, Dummy? ASSUME is making an A** out of U and ME.” Don’t assume anyone knows what you know or will remember what you have taught them.

Parts of a Good Instruction

A good operating instruction should be written to enable the reader to carry on the activity area covered in the instruction without you. There are some areas that are more important to cover than other areas. This list is not all-inclusive. Think of it as a minimum. You can add other information, of course, but here are some suggested minimums, drawn from instructions common to military organizations.

Title: In our example, this would be something like “Emergency Water Storage and Purification.”

Purpose Statement: Yes, you really need to cover this. Don’t assume everyone who needs to know the information is clear about the purpose of the instruction. In our example, it might be something like, “This instruction covers the amount and location of water currently stored at our home, in our vehicles, and at our safe location. It also covers the purification methods, chemicals, and equipment needed to purify water dispensed from the containers and to fill them. The sources we are planning to use to obtain water locally, while traveling, and at the safe location are listed, as are vendors and sources for replacement supplies.”

Explanation of Terms: You might readily understand what a bung wrench is. Don’t assume your spouse or teenager knows. When you use the term “chlorine powder” you need to explain if it is labeled by another chemical name, such as calcium hypochlorite. To identify the terms you need to explain, walk yourself mentally through the process as though you were explaining it all to a non-prepper. This list of terms and their explanations is where you can also make things absolutely clear. “Blue storage container” might seem obvious, but if you have used different sizes and that info is important, the explanation might be better as, “Water storage container. Blue plastic. Twenty-eight, 5 gallon cubes. In basement at safe spot location.”

Responsibilities: This is where you can use the operating instruction to serve as a diagram and flow chart as well as assign duties. In our example, this might designate your two older sons as those charged with checking the freshness of stored water and replenishing it at specific intervals of time. In a very real sense, think of it also as a letter of last instructions—using your position as leader to pass the torch to someone else. Who is to take over the primary role in both maintaining the instruction and supervising the knowledge area and task?

Policy: This is where you can discuss in detail the “how, when, and where” of the subject. It’s where you delineate specifics and address multiple locations, or variances in the policy. A good instruction will address all locations, tools, supplies, and procedures used or needed. How is the water to be disinfected? How often? With what? How much of the chemical? Where are the supplies and tools stored? This is the meat of the operating instruction. Imagine yourself instructing someone in how to carry out the task by making a YouTube sort of how-to video. “Policy” would be the transcript of that video.

References and Attachments: This is the place where you can list important information that the reader can go to or needs for further information than what is provided in the policy. In our example, references might include a cross reference to a household inventory list of all supplies. It might include a list of vendors of water supplies or a material safety data sheet concerning the chemicals that are used. Owner’s or technical manuals for equipment, for example, might also be included. You may find it handy to make those references that are not other operating instructions, themselves, attachments to the instruction.

Date of Instruction and Review: This is where you indicate the creation date of the operating instruction. This is more important than usually realized. It tells the reader the currency of the information. Imagine picking up a book that looks like current information and then noticing that it was written fifty years ago and has been updated. You might have doubts. You would have doubts.

You should have an area that will allow you to indicate that you have reviewed it and the date you most recently reviewed it. You should also indicate if you made changes. If you are listing changes, it is likewise critical that you cross out the information changed in the instruction. You want to insure that it is clear what is no longer current or to be followed. You can write in the new information, legibly, rather than edit and reprint the instruction, although the neat-freaks among us might choose to revise a saved electronic copy that was used to print out the hard copy.

Frequency of review depends on how critical the information is or how often it is subject to change or updating. Once per year is usually sufficient. It is not so often to become burdensome or skipped, and not too infrequent so as to miss changes that need to be changed or updated. An exception is when you make changes to preps that need to be updated right away. For example, if you just changed your method of water purification; that is something important enough to justify making the changes right away. It would be hard to purify water with supplies or equipment you no longer possess or intuitively to know how to use new supplies or equipment.

Location(s) of Instructions: The purpose of this area is to handle the situation of multiple copies of the instruction. Perhaps you have a second copy of the operating instruction binder at your safe location or a copy in your bug-out vehicle. Listing them here is critical, so that you don’t overlook a copy when you are changing any information in the instruction. Keep in mind that multiple copies are not always better that one. The more is not the merrier; they all have to be kept current, with none overlooked. The fewer copies, the more likely you will not overlook updating all copies and that the info the reader has at the time of need is current and correct.

Log: This is my own preferred last item in the instruction, not a normal inclusion in military operating instructions. It is simply an area that I can annotate my thoughts and date them. “Reviewed but no time to update yet. I think the information on chlorine use might be out of date, or even incorrect. I need to get this information ASAP.” This is then followed by a date and initials. It lets the reader know that you were in doubt and had plans but had not gotten around to carrying them out. It allows for adding important information short of a formal review. It gives an opportunity to add or modify to some extent without formal review and editing.

Letter Re: To Camo or Not To Camo?, by J.M.

Good morning, Hugh,

J.M.’s letter on camouflage is a good one. As for group members procuring the more expensive camo patterns, digital camo is nearly impossible to duplicate, but “generic casual camo” can be home made. Begin with clothing of an appropriate base color. Desert requires tan shirts and pants, woodland a medium brown, urban a medium gray, and so forth. (Don’t get shirts and pants in exactly the same base shade; it’ll look like a suit.) A few dollars of clothing dye, rubber gloves, and some rags or inexpensive paintbrushes will allow adding random shapes of complimentary colors. When fully dry – give it a day or longer – washing inside a cloth bag will help soften the colors. Other than fall leaves, there are very few naturally occurring bright colors in nature. Use warm water and no common household detergents to avoid restoring the UV brighteners. No detergent “kills” UV dyes, but most household detergents restore UV brighteners with every wash, and check the labels on the dyes you plan to use. Atsko makes soaps and a spray that reduce UV reflectivity, but by how much seems to depend on the fabric material and if brighteners were incorporated during manufacture.

Pro tip: If you’re serious about homemade camo, carry a UV flashlight to test the “base” clothing before you buy it. Amazon sells several, from about $7 to $20. Not a bad idea to test manufactured camo as well. It may have been manufactured with UV brighteners or washed in them.

2nd Pro tip: Since few people outside of the military, LE and serious hunters use UV lights, it’s possible to use dark materials as “guide material” if they will fluoresce dimly under UV light. They won’t show up well under a white light flashlight, but glow under black light. They will stand out somewhat under direct sunlight because it has a lot of UV in it.

Don’t forget “urban camouflage” – generic, nondescript clothing. Medium gray, light-medium gray, faded medium brown, or faded dark blue pants, faded medium brown or green T-shirt, faded loose fitting overshirt with a nondescript pattern, faded medium blue, worn gray, dark blue or charcoal baseball cap, scuffed leather shoes or boots, or dirty and worn generic running shoes that didn’t start out as white. FYI, many running shoes have reflective strips built in; it’s hard to find ones that don’t, but they can be located. Don’t forget laces; white ones will have had UV brighteners added during manufacture. The look you’re striving for is “unremarkable and forgettable.” Avoid anything with logos, they’re usually contrasting colors and too easily noticed and remembered. If what you need to carry won’t fit in pockets or on belts, smaller backpacks are less noticeable than large ones, scuffed and dirty is better than new and clean. Avoid jewelry, including wrist watches, or anything unique. Fit should be large enough to conceal, but not so large it’s baggy and raises suspicions about what you may be hiding. Avoid sharp creases and matching garments among couples or groups. Nothing says “pay attention to me” like several people wearing the same thing, even if that thing is only one article of clothing.

An oversize lightweight overshirt, in either generic “urban camo” or homemade field camo, can be tightly rolled up (folding produces creases, creases produce shadow lines, and straight lines shout “man made”) and used as temporary camo, even covering a small backpack if necessary. Urban camo can be easily covered with, or switched for, a woodland pattern as one leaves the asphalt jungle, and vice-versa.

N.K.

Economics and Investing:

Take Your Money And Run!! Global Central Bank Conspiracy Exposed – Next Step: Confiscating Your Bank Deposits. – B.B.

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Paranoia And Purges For Venezuela As Oil Misery Continues

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

This Is What Happens To Gold In A Hyperinflationary Currency Crisis: Ukraine Edition

Consumer Comfort Falls to 2015 Low as View of U.S. Economy Dims

David Stockman- The Pathetic ‘Talk Therapy’ Of Janet Yellen

100 Reasons Why Janet Yellen Is Freaking Out About ‘Audit The Fed’

Odds ‘n Sods:

The Mandatory Dash Cam Is Coming. – G.G.

HJL adds: While I think dash cams are a great idea and truly believe that every car should have them, it’s the “mandatory” part that gets me.

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Update: Charges Dropped Against 72-Year-Old NJ Man With Flintlock Pistol. – JBG

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Language warning: U.S. Military Using Giant Blimp To Surveil Movements Of Maryland Residents. G.P.

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The most mismanaged federal organization now has permanent seizure powers. What could possibly go wrong here: Quiet Change Expands ATF Power to Seize Property. – B.B.

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Cell phone video saves innocent man from lying police set-up.. – T.P.

Notes for Thursday – February 26, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 57 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a 340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. *Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 57 ends on March 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. 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.

Range Brass to Finished Cartridge, Tips For The Ubiquitous .223 Cartridge, by R.W. – Part 3

On full charge cartridges, you need to watch for defects, so:

  • Look for any swelling, cracks, splits, or thinning of the brass.
  • Check for fouling, debris, or dirt jammed into the cavity of the shell case. It may be generally noted that discoloring around the top of the case at the neck radius is common with most military surplus brass and will often be polished off in the cleaning of the shell cases.
  • Watch for any heavy corrosion or pitting, as this should be a warning that the bullet has lost some ductility and integrity due to the oxidization process, and it should not be reloaded for fear of failure during the detonation of the round.
  • Always inspect every used shell case for damage or non-conformity, prior to reloading or use.

Primer pockets should also be checked for obstructions in the pinhole leading into the body of cavity, and some like to scrape out the primer residue between reloadings. Again this article is for entertainment purposes and is not a comprehensive text.

If you are not aware, there are two major sources of reloadable military caliber, or “so called” NATO ammo (.556 x 45, .762 x 51, and so forth). The two sources of such brass are the spent cartridges from civilian ammo manufacturers and the surplus military cartridge market. The surplus military cartridges have several avenues of reaching the reloaders’ hands, but for anyone who is picking up range brass or purchasing non-refurbished, used range brass, repurposing either of these two sources of reloadable brass have their pros and cons when it comes to their use in building a new round from components purchased for reloading. The military stuff is going to take some modifications and trickery to make function at the amateur level of reloading that we are dealing with in this article. The two biggest advantages of the military surplus brass are cost and availability. The two biggest drawbacks to the surplus brass shell cases are often an elongated, case neck, length and the military specified, primer pocket crimp. The majority of the cases I seem to acquire from the range or used market, fall into the military, surplus, brass category. Military surplus ammo is usually cheaper or easier to come by, but it requires additional processing for use in reloading. There are a few manufacturers out there who are commercially reprocessing and selling used, surplus brass, but the cost starts to approach that of new brass, and often these cases are not available for purchase.

Your most logical next question might be: how do I reprocess my own range finds that are military surplus so that I am able to use them to load my own rounds? Before I answer this question, allow me to caution anyone who wants to pursue this endeavor. Always follow safe limits set by the powder manufacturer and specifications published in the manufacturer’s reloading publications for the caliber of bullet you are thinking about reloading. Using safe practices and known standards are safest ways to repurpose surplus military brass as well as their civilian cousins. A person can spend a lot of time and effort in producing ammo at home, but I will try and let you know a few ways to safely go about gaining similar, safe results. Remember at the beginning of the article I told you some might call me down right cheap, but I still follow the safest standards available, and I recommend this to anyone considering reloading their own ammo, after all we all want to remain safe and enjoy this hobby for as long as we can. Additionally, we hope we will be able to pass the skills and knowledge on to others.

I will now share some of the low cost, low tech ways that have proven safe for me during the reconditioning of spent brass so that you can have your budget left more intact to buy the components rather than the high tech tools available to rework military, surplus brass. Again, always, this information is used for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as gospel. Consult your loading manuals, copyrighted materials, and publications for data pertaining to making your own ammo.

The main tools I find necessary for the compliance to standards or re-sizing of the overall length on any used brass, whether military surplus or from a civilian cartridge used for reloading purposes, are: a case length gauge (Wilson tools) or caliper (Franklin Arsenal) for measuring the case length of the shell case. These overall case length specs are generally found in the manuals printed by the companies selling reloading presses and dies (see list above).

The second tool I find necessary for the process of re-sizing the neck length (actually the overall case length is measured, but the neck length is the part of the case shortened for reloading) is the case neck cutting tool or chuck. This cutting tool, when combined with the appropriate caliber, length gauge will allow for the safe removal of materials from the overall shell case length. Once you have chosen a method to measure case length, you then need to decide if you want to purchase a motor-driven turning tool or hand powered lathe-type cutting tool or just use a file to correct the case length. I decided to go the inexpensive (cost effective) route, and I purchased a hand drill-mounted, cutting tool to take down the neck length using a pin-mounted depth gauge (Lee or Hornady). These can be had for less than $25 for each caliber (for the chuck/cutter head, depth gauge pin, and hand adapter). I recommend asking a person you know who reloads rifle ammo, or go search on YouTube to learn more about this technique, as it is not talked about much in reloading circles. This manual method is very low tech, and it is almost as easy as filing the case neck down, but it’s a lot less time consuming and less messy.

In order to attain the proper amount of brass to be removed from the case, begin the trimming process as outlined by the tool manufacturer. (It is the law, you know, to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.) The case should then be trimmed on the outer rim and inner rim, prior to reloading, using a small trimming tool designed for this purpose (Lee, RCBS). I really like the tool made by Lee that is intended for this purpose, but anyone making a case trimmer will have their own version of the same.

The second process in repurposing the surplus brass case is to reshape the primer pocket, in order to remove the roll crimp and bevel the outer lip of the primer pocket of the shell case. There are a couple of different ways to do this. The primary method available is to use a primer pocket reamer de-burring tool (Lyman) made by several of the bullet manufacturers. These tools come in two basic sizes– one for large primer pockets and one for small primer pockets. The .223 case calls for a small rifle primer, so that is the one we need. These should be available at most shops that sell reloading supplies. This tool can be used manually or can be removed from the handle and placed in a cordless drill and used at a bit higher output. These tools should cost around $10.00 for a single primer size or purchased in kits with other bits used in the reloading process.

There are other options for re-sizing the primer pocket, but these will cost between $70 to $100 or more to purchase. I am sure there is a “break-even point”; the more ammo you shoot and reload, the easier it will be to decide the cost effectiveness of the added expense of buying this tool. One manufacturer calls this a primer swaging tool (RCBS) while others may have another name, but basically they have a die that is pressed into the primer pocket at the bottom of the case that presses the existing hole to the proper shape without the necessity of reaming or boring out the old pocket to make room for the primer by removing the roll crimp in this area.

The only other step I perform prior to starting the process of turning salvaged brass into a live round of ammo is that I use a (Lee) case lube, which often comes as a paste in a tube that looks a lot like hand cream, to lubricate the case before starting the bullet building process. I put a tiny dab of the lube on the case and work it on by hand as I place the brass in the first (de-priming /sizing) die. I do recommend that once the bullet is ready to take to the range, load in a magazine, or store in a box for later use, you wipe any residue from the bullet lube off of the shell case since it is mildly corrosive. I will often case tumble my used cases in a vibrating tumbler (Frankford Arsenal) using the corn cob media and a polishing compound, prior to starting the reconditioning of the used case. While this step is not necessary, it does give the bullet a lot more finished look and if left in the vibrator for two hours or more will remove carbon/powder residue from inside the case, making for a better purchase between slug and case neck as well as a truer case neck diameter. I leave the spent primer in the case while tumbling to keep the primer pocket from filling with debris.

I have left out a lot of the details and steps to loading a shell and turning it into a bullet, but I will possibly publish a second part to this saga. Most of the subsequent steps are considered universal, but I do recommend case sizing to the smaller diameter using the deliberately undersized die that is called a T/C die and trying to run the bulges left from detonation out of the lower case section as close to the rim end of the case as possible, taking the re-sizing die down as far as you can. In order to insure a properly-sized case for any tight tolerance chamber, I will re-size the case prior to the de-capping step and after the bullet is seated on the shell casing as extra insurance for a proper fit. I also recommend that all case necks are resized prior to the bullet being seated for optimal purchase between case and slug. There are a myriad of locations on YouTube that can tell you more about the entire process, and the video instructions with close-ups of the process can be of great help to shorten the learning curve.

As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and also, “seeing is believing”.

Basically, make sure you know what gun powder to use, how much to use, and that the slug is properly seated to the correct depth for the overall cartridge length. Also, know prior to loading that the shell case is defect free and in spec. Follow all the published guidelines given in the sizing die kit, the loading manuals furnished by the powder manufacturer, quantities of powder to use, and the bullet size and weight, as the powder charge will be dependent on these parameters. You can also refer to one of the many how-to publications available as well as going to a powder company’s web site.

I left out many of the details in the steps described decamping (de-priming the case), sizing the case to tolerance, loading the case with powder (know how much to use by referring to powder manufacturer’s loading data), seating the bullet to depth, and making sure the bullet length, size, and length is compatible to the chamber of your gun. However, one thing I will recommend is that when dealing with a semi-auto load, you should try to get the bullet to a slightly smaller size than with bolt action or lever action guns by purchasing dies that are designed for semi-auto loading or you may run into chambering issues, which may lead to failure to feed or other dangerous or problematic issues at the very least, which leads to much frustration.

With the proper caution, quality control, tools training, and patience reloading the .223 can be rather satisfying as well as creating an opportunity to save a few bucks on ammo. You will also have the ability to load a custom-made round that will function in the unique niche you desire. Often we find reloading allows us to shoot a few more rounds down range with the shooting budget remaining in one piece. In addition, you will have the ability and satisfaction to produce bullets of superior accuracy and more diverse capabilities at a greatly reduced price. I would also like to add that it is a good practice to keep track of your favorite load data so you know what you are shooting at the range. Your gun may fall in love with a certain load, and you will know what that load is, if you label or journal this information.

Have fun, be safe, and perhaps I will see you on the range. You will probably know it is me. I will be the strange fellow that comes up to you and asks if you are going to need those used shell cases to reload or if it is alright if I pick them up for you. By the way, are you finished with the empty cartridge box? I can get rid of that for you, too!

I hope I have help and not hindered you from pursuing this new hobby. I can tell you this, I never missed a beat in getting to the gun range due to a shortage of ammo, even during the last few years after some of our politicians tried to make it next to impossible. I was able to purchase components in most all cases when the factory stuff was no where to be found or way too expensive to even consider buying.

Letter Re: I-594

Hugh,

The dots to connect include the fact that almost all of this was financed by Microsoft fortunes. There’s the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s donations to the legislation. They’re also known activists for universal population control and vaccination. The past chairman of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, and his wife gave a million or so to the anti-gun campaign. He bought the LA Clippers basketball team for a couple of billion dollars. Another heavy donor was Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and good friend of Bill Gates. Paul Allen is also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team, which, as a letter said, is the only NFL team that donates 100% of its (political donation) money to Democrat candidates, and as we’ve seen, certainly to Democrat party causes. The anti-gun propaganda was bought and paid for by these powerful billionaires. Billionaires buy and control our politics. Only the super rich can afford to do this; small individual donors are shut out. We are coming to a stage in our history where we are reverting to the Feudal system. There are those who own it all, and we peasants are to be controlled and turned into lackeys and servants. Some of us know who our enemies are. They are the new rich who despise us and mean to conquer us, and they’re doing it. Hunker down, bunker down, and be prepared for the horrors to come. They’ve already been bought and paid for. – SHO