Letter Re: Everyday Savings Via SurvivalBlog

Just the other day, on the thread concerning watches, another SurvivalBlog reader posted a link to a Japanese firm [Higuchi.com] that sold watches. I took a look around their site, and found, to my surprise, that the watch I had been pining for was 1/3 the cost of the same watch purchased from a USA dealer, shipping included. Needless to say I whipped out my debit card and did the deed. But it occurred to me, over the short existence of SurvivalBlog I have run into bargains for items that I would normally purchase – unrelated to survival or preparedness, and I have discovered some products that I now regularly use. It has enhanced my family’s lifestyle and saved us money – Jim’s policy of posting little blurbs from folks who are trying to provide advice or the like has worked pretty well for me – LDM

JWR Replies: I hope that folks appreciate the value of what they read at SurvivalBlog–both the tangibles and the intangibles. If you find that what you read here is worth ten cents a day or more to you, then please become a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber to SurvivalBlog. Also, when you patronize any of our paid advertisers of affiliate advertisers, please mention that you heard their name on SurvivalBlog. Thanks!


Letter Re: “Jericho” TV Series Airing This Fall

I was surprised to see that CBS will be airing a drama this fall called Jericho. Here is what the show is about: “Things are quiet and peaceful in small-town Jericho, Kansas, but when a baffling explosion occurs in the distance, Jericho’s residents are plunged into social, psychological and physical chaos. No one knows what to think, and fear of the unknown takes over the town, especially because its isolation cuts it off from outside help. When nearly everything they know seems gone, will the residents of Jericho band together to face their unfamiliar and mysterious new world?”
Here is the link to the site at CBS and there is a preview of the show there as well. It will be interesting to see how a mainstream media outlet is going to portray a SHTF situation. – Desert T

Odds ‘n Sods:

The Zimbabwean government debt and currency hyperinflation have progressed to super nova stage: “Zimbabwe’s domestic debt has trebled, from Z$15-trillion to nearly Z$43-trillion, casting a pall over any prospect of economic recovery. Latest central bank statistics show the public debt was Z$42.9-trillion on June16, up from Z$21-trillion on June 2 and Z$27-trillion on June 9. The country’s debt has continued to skyrocket against a background of deteriorating macroeconomic fundamentals and the socioeconomic situation. The central bank’s overnight accommodation recently stood at 850%, the inter-bank rate at 693.3%, and treasury bill yields at 510%.” Wow! This sounds like something out of a novel I once read. I surmise that statistics like those quoted cannot continue for long. Look for some major political changes in Zimbabwe in the near future. A note to Comrade Mugabe: Air fares are lower if you book your flight two weeks in advance.

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14 murders in 13 days in “gun free” Washington, D.C.. The Nation’s Capitol is hardly a shining example for gun control advocates. It is abundantly clear that criminals don’t obey gun bans–only the law-abiding, thus leaving disarmed D.C. residents like lambs for the slaughter.

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A reminder that Ready Made Resources is brokering the sale of a very hard to find upgraded P-10 self-contained NBC shelter.They are selling it on behalf of an acquaintance. When sold new, these shelters sell for $100,000 with all of the options included in this one, such as the 1,000 gallon water tank and Level 4 protective entry door. (Cutting torch and .308 bullet proof!) These very rarely come up for sale in used condition, so don’t miss this chance to buy one for only one-fourth of what it would cost to buy one new. It is being sold “on site”, so you would have to pay for hauling. (About $4,000 to the Midwest, or $6,000 to the West Coast.) Please mention that you saw it on SurvivalBlog for a nifty bonus.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Most civilization is based on cowardice. Its so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame." – Frank Herbert, Dune

From David In Israel: On Sheltering from Katyusha Rocket Attacks

Our friends who live in Tzfat (also spelled Safed, Sfat, Sfas, etc.) recently came to stay with us to get away from the rockets which lit Mount Meron on fire and landed all around them shaking their house and breaking the window over my friend as he shopped. They are returning home still a bit shaken but feeling better after a two day break. They have been under 122mm Katyusha rocket fire. They have some Russian, Iranian, and Chinese stuff in Lebanon like the Fajjar-5 which has a range of 45 kilometers. The Israeli Saar-5 corvette Ahi-Hanita was struck by a Chinese made anti-ship C-802 Silkworm missile weighing 715 kilos, with a range of 120 kilometers.

Letter Re: A Practical PV-Powered Well Pump and Cistern System

I appreciate your web site, lots of good thoughtful info and no armchair commando nonsense. I rarely post on this or related blogs, but I’ve just installed two complete solar water systems and can perhaps add a bit to the backup-powered water discussion. A solar system is tailor-made for supplying water, IMHO, because instead of storing electricity in batteries for nighttime use, it stores water in a tank for use on demand, no inverters, no batteries, no fuel. Simple and effective. Both systems use Grundfos submersible pumps and two solar panels of about 170 watts each. One system pumps from a lake to a 1-1/2 acre orchard/garden about 500 feet away with no head (lift), and supplies about 4000 gallons per day. The other is for use here at the house and pumps from a well about 100′ vertically to a 3000 gallon storage tank, then gravity flows to the house, and supplies from 800-1500 gallons per day depending on time of year (sun angle) cloudiness, et cetera.
The pump and solar panels must be sized according to lift, distance pumped, desired output, and geographic location. I’m located in Central Texas with plenty of sunshine year-round, so solar is a natural. Depending upon pump size and number and power output of the panels, the basic components including a stand for the panels costs around $3000-4000. Add to that about $500 or so for standard pressure tanks, pressure switches, wiring and plumbing and the cost is still less than a windmill and pumps a lot more water. Another beauty of these pumps is that they run on both 12 volt (PV solar) and 220 VAC, which means they can also be powered by a generator or from the electric grid. Just make absolutely certain, I repeat certain, that the 220 breaker is off before engaging the solar panels, as 220 VAC does some fairly spectacular things to a 12 volt DC solar panel.
I don’t claim to be an electrician, or plumber either, yet I installed both of these systems practically by myself, so that means it can’t be all that difficult. – J.H.

Letter Re: Brass Recycling

Just a note regarding Bill K.’s fired cartridge brass recycling idea to raise extra cash – it is a good money making idea with the continuing rise in the price of copper and other metals – our gun club here in North Carolina paid all its property taxes last year on the recycling of fired brass left after shooting events. The club insists that if the shooters don’t wish to take their fired brass home, they spend a few minutes between relays when the line is clear to police up brass and put them into specially marked/painted ‘brass buckets’.
My voluntary role for my club is to take the full five gallon buckets home periodically to check for dud or damaged live rounds and separate them out along with any fired brass that interests me so I can assure the scrap dealer there are no live rounds, rocks, steel cases, etc. in the buckets. This eliminates hazards to the scrap dealer as well as the liability issue for the club.
My concern is that I imagine most ranges are privately owned and unless it is a remote county, state or federal public range such as Bill K. describes where cleaning up the brass off the ground (why not also pick up the rusty steel cases as well, and trash them, too – good PR and environmental stewardship) is not frowned upon, one should check with the range operators to see if they have a policy of any brass left on the ground after the original shooter leaves the range becomes club property. Some clubs may consider this theft otherwise.
Be forewarned – when you go to a recycling center/scrap metal company to turn in the brass, several five gallon buckets of gleaming brass will get you noticed – you will get some interested looks and comments/questions from the curious about where the brass came from while standing in line with all the other folks who are bringing in scrap from who knows where just to make ends meet or are down on their luck. Also, for what it is worth, due to the increasing theft of metals such as copper from job sites, most scrap dealers also insist on recording your drivers license information so the materials can be traced back to you in case of a police investigation.
One other small side note for reloaders: The scrap dealer also mentioned to me that even fired centerfire rifle and pistol primers in quantity separated from the brass are of value in scrap recycling, as there is some kind of demand in the watch making and/or related industry for the minute metal parts for some reason. However, fired shotgun primers are not as much in demand, from what I recall. Lead from reloading also is desirable for recycling, but you might consider keeping theirs for cast bullet work. Regards, – Redclay

Two Letters Re: Do It Yourself Bulk Food Storage

Excellent information on storing dry goods for long-term. I have just a bit of advice to all out there: use foods from you stores in your every-day life. I’m not advocating depleting your stores; rather consuming and replacing them as part of your daily life, thus rotating your stock as well. (This is recommended, however, ONLY after you have acquired your long-term goal (i.e.one year supply, two, etc.). You will benefit in at least four distinct ways from this:1.) your stores will always have a maximum useful shelf-life, as they will constantly be rotated; 2.) you will probably experience better health as you will be eating better quality, more healthful food (look at labels: there’s no food in most food!); 3.) you will almost certainly save money on your weekly food budget (fresh-baked baguettes from home ground flour costs me about $.35 /loaf, and it’s as good or better than anything available at ten times the cost!); 4.) lastly, but certainly not least, preparing and eating food from you stores will become part of your lifestyle. It will not require a transition to eating “that stuff” and you will have dealt with the learning curve now, while you can afford to, instead of wasting you (future) limited food supplies. Also, not to be overlooked, this food will be your “comfort-food”, that which will be familiar and welcome to you and your family, something not to be taken lightly in a high-stress situation. When I was eighteen, the fall after high school, I worked nights at a lumber mill and ran a trap-line during the day. Well, I got laid-off, so I asked a family friend if I could stay in an old cabin on their ranch, which was about two miles from the nearest road, and right off the Clearwater River [in Northwestern Montana]

Two Letters Re: Railroads Tracks and Right of Ways as Bug-Out Routes

Please pass on to Larry in Kansas and anyone else interested that they need to look well ahead of time at any railroad beds as a bug out route. Here in Michigan the railroads have closed off all the service roads beside the tracks. Some are simply chained and easily defeated with bolt cutters, but other are blocked with ties and high mounds of gravel.
My primary escape route has an emergency “go around” for a choke point that is active railroad bed. It will be hairy, but my Ford Ranger pickup will be able to make the trip. The wife’s current auto will not.
One other thing to check. In our area there are a lot of small streams and drainage ditches that the tracks cross. The service road usually does not bridge the gap and you would have to drive over the rails to cross. Not all vehicles can handle that type of use.
The old American Survival Guide magazine had a how to article on making a G.O.O.D. vehicle out of a bicycle that would ride the rails and haul a fair amount of gear. If your area has lots of active rail lines it might be a good idea to check out something similar for your use. – Wolverine


Dear Jim:
Also to be considered for bug out routes are utility/power line right of ways/easements, fire lanes, biking trails, running trails, ATV trails, and snow mobile trails. Local groups for such recreational trails often give away free maps paid for by advertising. As for high voltage power lines, look up and around as you drive around. Note that most of these trails have lock-offs for regular vehicles, usually using standard padlocks. Note for most, there must be access for emergency vehicles so there is a way in. One might remember the scene in the movie Terminator 2 as Arnold was driving along the access trail along the top of the drainage system. You might consider waterways as well, but remember they tend to flow toward the Ocean and toward population, eventually. There is no substitute for a good map. – Rourke

JWR Replies: Use extreme caution if you ever have to use a railroad right-of-way in the event of an emergency. Many lives have been lost because someone thought that they were on “inactive” tracks. Readers might consider joining a legitimate “speeder” (powered railcar) club affiliated with the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA), to gain both practical skills and as an entree for learning railroad company schedules and information on seasonal closures. (In many Plains states and in the Intermountain West, it is not unusual for smaller railroads that mainly carry grain to only operate part of each year.) OBTW, I featured a sequence with a Fairmont speeder in my screenplay, “Pulling Through.”

My father always referred to his bolt cutters as “The universal key.” While I do not condone trespassing, vandalism, or theft, I think that it is important that every family own a pair of good quality bolt cutters, preferably 36″ length, such as those made by Woodings-Verona Tool Works. They are an essential tool for mobility–and inevitably for survival in the event of a worst case disaster–even if the lock you need to cut is your own when you’ve lost the key. If you are on a tight budget, Northern Tool & Equipment sells imported bolt cutters. The imports are of lower quality, so don’t expect the same service life. Also keep in mind that many tools from China (such as the “Westward” brand marketed by W.W. Grainger) are usually the product of the laogai (“reform through labor”) prison factory system. (Which confines political prisoners.) So if at all possible, buy American, or at least from another free country. (Such as the Japanese HIT brand.)

Odds ‘n Sods:

A professor hired by the Federal Reserve says that by some measures the U.S. is technically bankrupt.

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Wars and Rumors of Wars: Hezbollah guerrillas fire more Katyusha rockets at two northern Israeli towns, 220,000 Israelis are now staying in bomb shelters. Meanwhile, Israeli Warplanes Strike in Beirut, and Israel Blockades Lebanon. 

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A 50 mile long fire line: crews are battling two California Mojave Desert wild fires–60,000+ acres charred.


Note from JWR:

I’ve updated my “Writings” Page to include descriptions and sample covers for my three upcoming book releases. Please be patient about the release dates. At this juncture I am at the mercy of my publisher’s production schedule. I will let you know as soon as the books are orderable.

Today we present another article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000) Second prize is a copy of my “big box” preparedness course, (worth $149) generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

Suburban Survival, by “Jim in Texas”

We all know that to be fully prepared we need a great survival retreat we can bug-out to. We all dream of the perfect retreat, were we will go post-SHTF. If you are like me however, this is simply not reality. I have no remote, armored, fully stocked retreat to go to in a disaster. Like millions of Americans I live not in the country, nor the city, but the area in between, commonly called the suburbs. Though all suburbs are different most of them share similar qualities, small, less than acre lots, single family houses with well maintained front lawns, a community club house and pool, cul-de-sacs, and middle to upper income residents. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance to the person who will be remaining in his/her suburban home during and after a SHTF scenario. I know that this is not ideal, but it is reality. Effective suburban survival depends on many factors including, individual preparations, community advocacy, and post-event leadership/disaster psychology. If one can make all of these three things work than they can effectively raise their own, their family’s, and neighbor’s chance of “making it through the storm”.
The number one most important thing is getting your family squared away. Now I’m not going to go into much detail in this part because the information is out there, but at minimum this should include adequate food, water [filtration], water storage, defense, medical supplies, tools, et cetera. One other import factor is getting your family educated. By that I mean getting first aid/CPR certified, taking firearms instruction, and numerous other relevant courses some which will be mentioned later.
The second most important thing in suburban survival is community advocacy. The fact is that if you are like me you have no “retreat” to fall back to. Your own neighborhood is going to have to be your retreat. All your neighbors are going to become part of your survival community. Think about that for a second, step outside your front door, look down the street, and realize that those other families are all going to be a part of your extended neighborhood survival community. Community advocacy has two parts; your relationship with your neighbors and educating your neighbors. This first party is easy, get to know your neighbors/community members. Steps to do this include
1. Meet and greet those neighbors you haven’t met. Just stop by and introduce yourself
2. Have neighborhood block parties – Christmas/Halloween/Fourth of July, or whatever
3. Go to community events-homeowners meetings, pool parties, etc.
4. Take an active role in community
If you develop good relationships with your neighbors now it will make things post-SHTF a little easier.
The second part is community education. According to a study by the DHS only 30 % of suburban households were adequately prepared for a major event/disaster. If the rest of the members of your survival community (the neighbors) aren’t prepared your community is doomed to fail. How can you improve this number? While I am sure there are numerous ways, the way that has worked for our neighborhood and thousands of others around the country is the CERT Program. If you haven’t heard of the CERT program is the Community Emergency Response Team. CERT training is designed to get communities to be self reliant during a catastrophic event /disaster when government services are not available (which we all know they won’t be). CERT is government funded and every participant gets free training, training materials and a small disaster kit. But the best thing about CERT is it gets people thinking and excited about survival. In my neighborhood 60 families went through the CERT training, and for most of these people it was the first time they had seriously thought of self sufficiency. From there the program spread, more neighbors became interested. If you can get people thinking, then you have most likely succeeded. People are more likely to do something if others are doing it. In fact on the same DHS study 75% of all respondents said they would be more likely to prepare if there was organization at the neighborhood level. Here are some steps that are proven effective at educating your neighbors:
1. Start some sort of community advocacy program be it CERT or others like it
2. Post disaster prep information in neighborhood newsletters/bulletins
3. Have neighborhood round table meetings on disasters
4. Go door to door handing out disaster prep cards and info
5. Work disaster prep into other organizations- PTAs, churches, women’s clubs, et cetera.
6. Get kids involved – they have great enthusiasm.
But for the preceding it is vitally important to do all of this in a positive way, no doom and gloom, but just the be prepared attitude. If others are well prepared you will be too. Remember the old adage: “a chain is only as strong as the weakest link.” Getting the members of your community squared away drastically improves your chances.

What to Do When the SHTF in a Suburban Setting

This first key is understanding disaster psychology and how people react to disasters. There are four phases the people will most likely go through:
Impact Phase – During the event and right after – people do not panic, the may act numb, unemotional, and dazed
Inventory Phase – After the event – people begin to asses the situation, the realize that life is no longer normal, many panic, go into shock, act unrationally, be uncooperative, unable to focus, and feel hopeless.
Rescue Phase – After they have calmed down – The natural survival instincts kick in, they begin to act rationally, become cooperative, responsive, willing to take direction, eager to lean how to improve their situation.
Recovery Phase – The person thinks they have a plan for their survival, feels in charge of himself. Depending on the person and how prepared they are, they may not experience all of these phases but they generally do. Now the first thing to do after the SHTF is to take care of emergencies be they medical, fire, or structural. Afterwards, start organizing on the community level. This is where leadership plays an important part. When people realize that there will not be any assistance from the government or a deus ex machina, they will look for guidance. It is critical to develop a leadership structure early on. Having a structure helps people feel normal; it helps to eliminate the feeling of chaos. Place the most qualified/best leaders into leadership positions. You will be surprised who lives in your community. There will be doctors, EMTs, police officers, military veterans, ham radio operators, people who grew up on farms, artists, and countless others whose pre-SHTF job will help your community. Remember you need your community, just as your community needs you. If you need more information on leadership, just search the Web. While the needs of your community will be different from the next, basic things that need to be taken care of include
1. Communication (internal and external)
2. Security
3. Logistics
4. Medical
5. Administration
6. Community (entertainment, community bonding, day care)
7. Operations
While I will not go into detailed descriptions of each of these tasks (I have another article on that) the goal is to set up effective leadership. There are however numerous problem which must be solved by the leadership if this community is to be effective and [answer] hundreds of other questions.
1. What to do about people with no supplies
2. What to do about Bad Apples – selfish, bitter, dangerous people
3. The flow of refugees from the city
4. How to get new supplies
5. When to abandon ship
While this is not the ideal “retreat” post-SHTF it is the reality that many of us will be in. By taking steps before hand you can increase your odds of your family making it through. Now some may say this community thing will not work, but it has in post-Katrina New Orleans and in Bosnia during the 1992 civil war, and I am sure in many other places. I hope this at least gets you thinking, which is the first step.

David in Israel Re: On Gun Laws in Israel and War Worries Update

In answer to your queries about gun laws in Israel: The gun control laws in Israel are draconian. You must have a “valid reason” to keep a gun at home. Sadly in the West Bank our cousins (the Arabs) give that reason. All of Israel law is a combination of Ottoman Empire, British occupation, and Israeli passed laws, also the radical leftist Supreme Court which has empowered itself to strike down laws it does not agree with and to generate law by judicial declaration. We do not have a constitution for the state of Israel.
These rules may change as the firearms regulation is moving to the police ministry from the ministry of interior. By law they are already empowered but interior still has the funding so police will not take over.
Competitive shooters must now lock up weapons at the club vault.
You used to be able to own two long guns for hunting but insurance is unavailable so no new long gun permits. However, current holders can still keep these guns.
Here are basics on handguns: Three years of citizenship, doctor’s letter, one day of class, and shooting exam required, you must have what is deemed a “valid reason” to get this permit. Valid reasons for handgun permit include: three years with police reserve unit, military officer over captain, or residence in “higher risk” area like the West Bank.
The police will ask publicly that licensed owners carry when there is increased levels of terrorism. I am guessing 40%-to-60% of men in the West Bank carry a handgun as do many women. In settlements you may be able to join the anti-terrorist squad and be issued an army M16. Combat soldiers must carry a firearm and magazine while on leave.

Looks like tings are getting hot again the last two days, missile strikes all along the north and near Gaza hits in the major city of Haifa, Two dead in Tsfat from missile strikes. Our friends from Tsfat are coming to visit with us for Shabbat. We are stocking up a little as if this goes hot it will disrupt regular commerce.
Iran is clearly being both the Gaza and the Lebanon/Syria troublemaker–likely a ploy to take the heat off of their nuke program. Iranian representatives were in Damascus to confirm the treaty which considers a strike on Syria an act of war against Iran. Syria has occupied Lebanon for over 20 years and while they pulled out military units last winter, they still manipulate the government of Lebanon.