Letter Re: Cell Phone Masking and Denial of Geolocation Data

Hello James, I was stunned when out of the blue Google Maps sent me an e-mail detailing several hundred locations I have been to over the past several months. I immediately attempted to change settings to prevent this, but I feel Internet/cell phone data is an insidious invasion of privacy with the next logical step for government to bypass the usual requirements to access locations, phone numbers, data, et cetera, the 4th Amendment be damned. There are various RFID-blocking cell phone wallets/sleeves for sale online with varying degree of price and effectiveness as per reviews. Can you recommend a product to shield cell phones from transmitting data? – D.W. JWR’s Comment: Yes. Simply buy an older-style cell phone from which you can quickly and easily remove the battery. (Most of the newer smart phones have integral batteries that require complicated disassembly of the case.) A TracFone flip phone is what I carry but only when I travel. (The Rawles Ranch is in a remote area far from cell phone coverage.)

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Enjoying (and Surviving) Solar Eclipse 2017

On August 21, 2017, residents of a narrow swath through the United States will have a rare treat: The chance to observe a total eclipse of the sun. The path of totality will transit several major cities, including Greenville, South Carolina and parts of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville. In the west, most of the viewing will be in smaller towns, since major cities, like Denver and Portland, are well outside of the path of totality. Because this eclipse is occurring in mid-summer (with a lower chance of cloud cover), there should be good opportunities for viewing, if you are positioned inland of coastal fog. I have heard that many hotels and motels that are in or near the path of totality have been fully booked for the eclipse travel period since late 2016. And I heard that the hotels and motels in or near Jackson Hole, Wyoming were booked two years in advance. A State Parks official in Oregon told me that their reservation system was overwhelmed in the first 10 minutes after midnight on January 1st, 2017, with folks seeking campground site anywhere near the path of totality. At this late stage, your best bet would probably … Continue reading

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Keep Your Bicycle Running in Tough Times, by S.H.

A lot of times you’ll hear folks say that doing some activity is like riding a bicycle; once you know how to do it, you’ll always remember. Well, it’s true that no matter how long it’s been since you’ve ridden, you can get back on your bicycle, but only if you remember you have one! One thing I’ve noticed in a lot of posts regarding times post-after the Big Schumer hits the fan is the gap that bicycles could fill for transport needs. Notably, bicycles were employed by a few characters in the book Patriots, so kudos to Mr. Rawles. They’re conspicuously absent from much of the other fiction out there. Horses are of course great if you have the means and knowledge, but they need to feed and have some care. I’ve personally always enjoyed my time on a bicycle. From the day I got off training wheels, it’s been a pass-time for me personally. I raced a few times, and whether for fitness or with the children, I love being on a bike. Hopefully, I can impart some useful bicycle knowledge that you can use. The fastest known human, Mr. Usain Bolt, has been clocked during part of … Continue reading

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Survive the Drive – Vehicle Survival Preparedness, by Prepper Ray

Where will you be when the SHTF? You need to consider that you may not be at home when the world around you begins to fall apart. You are very likely going to have to travel to get home or a bug out location. You may be at work out shopping or even on vacation. No matter where you are the problem is going to be just being able to get from point A to point B. The type of vehicle you have and the equipment you have in that vehicle may in fact determine your ability to get to where you need to go in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I discovered many years ago while trying to reach relatives in the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Hugo that driving even a short distance, can be difficult if not impossible without the right vehicle and equipment. I learned in a real SHTF situation how important the type of vehicle you choose can make a huge difference in getting there or not. While trying to bring emergency supplies into what was at the time Ground Zero, I ran into police road blocks due to evacuation routes, detours, impassible roads and utter destruction … Continue reading

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Geocaching for Preppers, by R.H.

As preppers we are under some pressure. We are naturally concerned about water purification, food storage, defensive weapons, bug out locations, and the list of challenges is seemingly endless. We worry about a total collapse of the financial world, a global pandemic, solar flares, or other crisis. There is certainly no shortage of concerns. Have we done enough? Do we have enough? Are we knowledgeable enough? Once in a while, I think we should all take a deep breath, relax, and have some fun! What follows is a brief explanation of Geocaching– a fun activity that can be easily adapted to actually benefit your prepping. For those that are not familiar with the term, Geocaching is an outdoor game akin to treasure hunting that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS). Geocachers use a GPS unit to navigate to a set of coordinates that are published on a website (Geocaching.com) and then attempt to find the geocache hidden at that location. What is a geocache? It is usually a container that can be as small as the head of a bolt (a very small cache is called a “nano”) or as large as a vehicle. (I have found caches as large … Continue reading

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Two Letters Re: Route Security

Route Security by Chuck S. was a good article, but I would add a few things:   –          Newer cars will have daylight running lights and some basic tools may be needed to disable them for real covert night travel. –          If you can afford them, and practice using them, NVGs are great for covert night travel. –          Relying on Fuel en route is a gamble. Ideally, carry the fuel you need to get to your destination. For that, you should have a fuel supply stored and rotated. Use proper storage containers and procedures for safety. Use fuel stabilizer to ensure freshness of fuel and protect your engine. –          Have tools and experience siphoning gas from abandoned cars. –          Plan to use up to double your normal fuel consumption in a car evacuation due to: o   Detours to avoid road blocks and traffic o   Engine running in idle in a traffic jam situation o   Higher than normal vehicle weight due to supplies carried o   Charity fuel donation to stranded strangers (exercising proper operational security) –          Carry tools and equipment to clear obstacles from roads: o   Good bolt cutters o   Chain saw and tow chains o   Broom for glass or nails … Continue reading

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Portable Satellite Phones: Communicating Off the Grid, by Jon Aldrich

If you’re reading this blog you are no doubt already well along on preparedness spectrum, finding yourself someplace between never in America and not if but when, more likely you’re nearer the latter.  You’re probably well versed in all aspects of food procurement, preparation and storage, water purification, providing shelter and security for yourselves and your families as well many of the other nuances related to preparing for future contingencies.  There is a world of good information available on all these subjects and more and, for most of it you need look no further than right here on the SurvivalBlog. One key question is how we will communicate when land lines and cell phones are no longer dependable.  There is precious little available on the traditional information sources relating to communications, especially communications specific to person-to-person private communications.  This article is one person’s attempt to mitigate that void. Walkie-Talkies and Ham Radios Whenever interests do seem to drift to communications, walkie-talkies and ham-radios seem to be consensus topics of discussion.  Don’t get me wrong.  Some 2 Meter handie-talkies should be a part of everyone’s inventory, as should a good general coverage short wave radio receiver.  Transmitting via HF shortwave comes … Continue reading

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Pat’s Product Review – Rescue Me Personal Locator Beacon 1

I’ve been out of the military for a long, long time now. However, I still remember many of the things that were taught to me back then. Those Drill Sergeants, bless their hearts, really knew how to drive home the lessons they were teaching us. Looking back over the years, I can see they were teaching us lessons that would save our lives in combat. I can still remember our map reading and compass orientation course, and the drill sergeant told us “a good soldier never gets lost, they just get disoriented.” At the time, I wasn’t sure what that actually meant, I mean, “lost” is “lost” isn’t it – no matter what you might call it? And, map reading was a very important skill to learn, not just for a means of finding you way back to the base camp, but for calling in artillery on an enemy position, if needed.   I love the outdoors, and don’t get out there as much as I’d like to these days. However, I’m happy to say, I’ve never been lost – not in the wilderness, nor in the big city. I have an uncanny sense of direction – always have. However, … Continue reading

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Getting Out After a Trigger Event, by Paul H.

Despite years of reading valid arguments for moving to the American Redoubt or other remote area, of the hundreds of preppers I’ve met I can count on one hand those who made the move and most of those were retired.  I meet relatively few preppers living at a secluded retreat, a few with secondary retreats, many planning to bug out to property they do not own (hopefully by agreement), and the majority still living in and around cities with no alternative plan to shelter in place.  Only one of those four types I just described is unlikely to be on the road at some time after a trigger event. According to NOAA, 39% of Americans live in counties directly on the shoreline.  It is for those who are not already where they intend to weather the long emergency that is to come that I share my experience.     I am blessed to live in what has been described by many publications as one of the best small cities in the U.S.  Not only are we hours from cities with populations over 30,000, but our infrastructure is designed to withstand the occasional two-week power outage which happens every few years.  When our … Continue reading

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Teaching Opportunities, by J.L. in Pennsylvania

My story begins as another closet prepper.  As many of you, I did not have the support of my spouse for my new found drive to prepare for the unknown. Often I would attempt to sneak items that I planned to lay up long-term into the grocery bill without her noticing. I would even have online purchases delivered to a neighbor claiming to him that it was for her birthday or our anniversary. Needless to say, I usually (always) got caught, which would lead to long discussions about me “wasting money.”  As fate and the good lord would have it, I finally got my window of opportunity to prove what I was doing had merit.  As I recall, it was late February. Pennsylvania had another one of its wonderful snow storms topped with ice. We awoke without power to a somewhat chilly house and a few feet of snow.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  The morning, afternoon, and early evening went as they usually would without power.  However we were starting to become concerned because power is usually restored in no more than 16 hours. My son was only about a year old at this time so his needs were … Continue reading

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Letter Re: Rapid Progression of the Geomagnetic North Pole?

Jim: Is it true, what the rumors have been saying about the [magnetic] north pole shifting 161 miles in just the past six months? can that be true? Is it possible that there will be a pole reversal in the next few years? Should I be worried? – Elaine T. JWR Replies: This topic has been discussed before in SurvivalBlog, but mostly vis-a-vis the need to keep maps updated with current magnetic declination data. (The difference between magnetic north and true north.) The geomagnetic north pole moves laterally because of shifts deep in the Earth’s core. It is presently in far northern Canada, but it is gradually shifting to the northwest and it is presumed that it will probably be in Siberia in a decade or two. (Although it is notable that the auroral toroid is pushing more toward the southeast.) Many credible sources, like Polar Endeavour, show the “walking” or “wandering” (or more properly “progressing”) of the pole position at about 35 miles per year. Wikipedia states: “Over the past 150 years the poles have moved westward at a rate of 0.05° to 0.1° per year, with little net north or south motion.” National Geographic confirms that the movement … Continue reading

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Letter Re: GPS Jamming is Illegal in Most Jurisdictions

James, Please let your readers know that GPS jammers are illegal to own, operate, and market in the United States. Here is a link to the FCC consumer alert on GPS jammers. While I can understand that someone could make the personal decision that their personal privacy justifies blocking GPS tracking, please be aware that these GPS jammers are very effective and can jam an area up to a mile in diameter. There was well-publicized incident of a personal GPS jammer that shut down the aircraft landing aid at the Newark, New Jersey airport. And there are documented cases of organized crime using GPS jammers in Europe to hide their theft of high-value cargo trucks. Due to these incidents, and other reasons, the government is actively pursuing effective GPS-jammer locator systems. I would propose to you and your readers to consider the risks before considering such a device. While it may make a great plot device for a novel, I would not personally own one. Respectfully, – S.G. in Virginia

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