Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” – Arthur Ashe , “Points to Ponder”, Reader’s Digest,1994)

Note From JWR:

Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Just one line added to your e-mail “.sig” could enlighten lots of potential SurvivalBlog readers. (Pretty please?)

Today, I’m leading off with two pieces of shameless web aggregation. (I pride myself on presenting mostly original content for this blog, but at times there are items that I find on the web that are worth mentioning…)

U.S. Government Issues Guide to Pandemic Preparedness

As reported at NewsMax.com, the Bush Administration had just issued a Guide to Pandemic Preparedness. See:  http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/1/5/215956.shtml
It is interesting that they mentioned both self-quarantine and home schooling. What radicals!  They musta been reading SurvivalBlog or sumthen’…

OBTW, why do I get the feeling that if John Kerry had been elected that the message on this topic wouldn’t be quite the same?

Moves by China and Iran May Trigger a Dollar Crisis

Two recent developments overseas may not bode well for the dollar. This first is that Iran has announced that in March (of ’06) it will open a new international oil bourse that will have all transactions denominated in Euros. (See: http://www.energybulletin.net/7707.html  )  The second is that China has announced that it intends to shift its currency reserves away from the U.S. dollar for “a more balanced portfolio.” (Read: Anything but dollars!)  See: http://news.ft.com/cms/s/f39fa8e4-7e25-11da-8ef9-0000779e2340.htm

Letter Re: Islamic Demographics and Long Term Trends

Hello Sir,
I found the following article discussing the changing demographics of the western world fascinating. I’m sure you will too. Not to give anything away, but the author points to the declining birth rates of western civilizations and contrasts them with the burgeoning growth of Islam, both in Islamic and western countries. See:  http://www.newcriterion.com/archives/24/01/its-the-demography/
– Bings in Iraq

JWR Replies:  Bings found a genuine “must read” article. Some real food fro thought and grounds for further research (FFTAGFFR) there!

Letter Re: Truck, Auto, ATV, Motorcycle, and Bicycle Tire Repair

Hi Jim,
At the ranch last Saturday, our cousin who is a mechanic got under the hood and fixed the old ranch truck. He took it for a spin and came back and said that he would have to park it because it got a flat tire. He would have to take the tire to town and get it fixed but wouldn’t be able to do it until Tuesday because of the holiday on Monday. I asked my husband “Why can’t he fix it himself? People didn’t have to take tires to a shop to get them fixed in the ‘olden days’.” My husband answered that with the modern day tires, you have to have a tire machine and they are quite dangerous to work on even then.

This will definitely be a problem in a TEOTWAWKI situation! Here we are with our EMP proof vehicle, stabilized and stored fuel, and we get a flat and our vehicle is out of commission!!! I don’t know anything about tires–I get a flat and take it to the tire place. What about if the tire place isn’t open after TSHTF? Any ideas on working around this?
Thanks. – Mary

JWR Replies:  Repairing modern tires is quite labor-intensive to do at home or out in the hinterboonies, but not impossibleDIY tire dismounting and repair is getting to be a lost art–still practiced primarily by those of us that spend a lot of time in 4WD mode out in “the-middle-of-BLM-nothing” or the Australian Outback. (An aside; my family likes to go rock hounding in northern Nevada and southern Idaho. Our tires seem to magically attract very pointy chunks of slate and basalt. We are talking about true off-roading here, where getting stranded is more than just an inconvenience. It could mean a 25 mile walk to the nearest paved road! At the very minimum we always carry at least one spare tire already on a rim (sometimes two), a small compressor, and and inverter. (OBTW, I’ll cover pioneer tools, Hi-Lift (“Sheepherder”) jacks, tow chains, and come-alongs in a forthcoming SurvivalBlog post on off-roading.)

Every 4WD and ranch utility truck should have a set of tire tools–including an Aussie “Tireplyers” bead breaker (see: http://www.4by4connection.com/tyrepliers.html  and http://www.tyrepliers.com.au/), as well as patching materials and goop, a small compressor that can run off of an inverter, a 200 watt inverter with cigarette lighter plug adapter, and a good quality hand pump with an accurate gauge. See: http://www.casporttouring.com/thestore/stopngo.html  and http://www.kentool.com/Bead_Bead-BreakingTools2.htm. For traditional tires with an inner tube (mostly bicycles and garden carts, these days), see: http://mountainbike.about.com/od/flattirerepair/ss/Fix_Flat_5.htm  (FWIW, I prefer the hot patch method.) And for those of you with motorcycles, see: http://www.xs11.com/faq/tirefaq.shtml. OBTW, special precautions are required when working on tires that are mounted on “split” style rims. Beware!

Letter from Rourke Re: Dome Homes as Survival Retreats

The follow-up letter from Mosby and the addition from JWR both list some of the reasons I specifically excluded geodesic domes (twice) in my Dome Homes as Survival Retreats article. They are usually of conventional materials (wood, plywood) in non-conventional (non-square) angles and shapes; thus things like using regular shingles on the roof (more of the structure) which is full of angles is going to be difficult and likely cause problems (leaks). Also, a geodesic dome, which is made up of many flat geometric shapes coming together to approximate a dome, does not really offer the strength of a pure dome, and creates a tremendous number of seams to seal and leak (water and air). JWR’s citation of Bernoulli’s principle was a good addition. Many laymen when considering the effects of high winds upon a conventional structure believe the windward side (side facing into the oncoming wind) is going to collapse inward (like in the 1950s nuclear blast film clips). With hurricanes though, it is in fact usually the leeward side (the far side) which instead gets sucked out by the low pressure created by a vortex of winds coming over the structure where the structure ends. Everyone realizes that round shapes are aerodynamic, thus resistance to wind and creation of low pressure are both minimized with a dome. People also like to mention how concrete homes can withstand high winds. Last year in Stoughton, Wisconsin, around the time of Katrina, a tornado went through and wrecked over 60 homes. There was a concrete poured wall home there, and as I recall, several people enjoyed mentioning to me how it was still standing. The problem was that it’s conventional roof was torn off. The inside of the house was water damaged, so what is the point of having impregnable walls when you roof is going to fail? I don’t think they saved much on the insurance there considering internal water damage requires a lot of replacement with all the mold worries now, but more importantly, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, there isn’t going to be insurance money nor contractors nor supplies to fix it. IMHO you have four above-ground choices as I see it with a concrete house. 1. Get an industrial heavy gauge galvanized steel roof (and listen to the rain). 2. Put span-crete on your roof (and make your walls thick enough to handle the weight). 3. Spend a tremendous amount of money for extra conventional materials and labor to wrap, brace, and tie twice as many trusses as normal deeply into the reinforcing rods of the concrete walls with steel cables (lots of hand work), such as the codes in Dade County (Miami), Florida require 4. Consider a Dome Home.- Rourke http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat

Letter Re: Dome Homes as Survival Retreats

Mr. Rawles
For the do it yourselfers, I have built several safe shelters (used until needed as storage) based on the sandbag construction to make small domes. A great link to the concept is http://www.calearth.org/EcoDome.htm. The construction is quite simple (easy would be the wrong word because the dirt work is just that WORK, but we all need to drop a few fat pounds. I used as a cover outside the method called papercrete and a little heaver crete mixture (for fire proofing) on the inside with concrete support wire (the larger net like wire used to replace “re-bar” in cement slabs) and mixed it all in a small cement mixer using shredded paper I recycled from office shreddings (many many bags of shreddings and newspapers) and hand trough it all on. Paper crete web locations are: www.livinginpaper.com and www.papercrete.com. Rourke is correct the spouse/significant other is often an issue with building any shelter not just a dome, in my case the spouse noted that the domes look like “large breasts sticking out of the ground” any hope of a dome house ended there! With “standard” house secured and “off grid” solar (dual system with up/down safe control) up, the “storage buildings / tornado shelters” were constructed, waterproofed and then covered with earth (with a rented earth mover) and grass seed, now they are small “hills” and do not resemble breasts and are even home to a few spouse controlled rose bushes. And just to revisit a theme, the construction is inexpensive. Have a great new year. – Wotan

Letter from Re: National Animal Identification System (NAIS)

The following tongue-in-cheek letter was posted on The Claire Files, in response to The Memsahib’s recent letter on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)

Dear Sir/Ma’am,
I wish to report the demise of 43 (forty three) animals at position xxp2l. The conditions are as follows:

13 eggs (scrambled)
4 turkeys (1 stuffed and baked, 2 jerky, 1 frozen)
6 ducks (2 pressed with orange sauce, 4 processed for canning)
20 chickens (2 squashed by car, 18 processed for fried chicken/canning)

The requisite forms are being forwarded in triplicate as required and 41 [bio]chips will follow. The last chip is presumed embedded in the tire of the Coal truck that caused the death of animal xxp2l:0059856. Respectfully, – X

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"And yes, the Homesteaders, including my grandparents who left behind almost nothing, and arrived in Montana with nothing but the clothes on their back, high hopes, faith in God and dreaming of the future." – Brian Schweitzer

Precious Metals: This Time The Trend Truly is Your Friend

I often get e-mails from readers stating that are leery about investing in precious metals.  They complain that the markets are “too volatile.”  In the short term the metals markets– particularly for silver and platinum–are indeed quite volatile. (Witness yesterday’s 28 cent dip.) But it is important to step back and look at the big picture. Forget the daily fluctuations. Instead, look at the 120 day moving averages (DMAs). Next, study the 5 year and 10 year charts at Kitco.com

Back in the late 1990s, investors were piling into the NASDAQ, gobbling up high technology stocks in a speculative frenzy that rivaled Holland’s Tulipomania of the 1630s. The dot.com investor’s mantra was “The trend is your friend.” But of course history proved them wrong when the bubble burst. The dot.commers were looking from within a short term trend–not the long term. It turned out to be just a three year buying binge with a notoriously ugly aftermath. In contrast, looking at the precious metals market, one can safely say that this time the trend  truly is your friend. In this case, it is true because the bull market in metals is based upon the long term debasement of the U.S. Dollar. The Federal government’s profligate spending and both government and consumer debt point to a long term bear market in the dollar, and a corresponding long term bull market in precious metals. I don’t expect Uncle Sam to change his spendthrift ways anytime soon, so take advantage of the long term trend.

Letter From Matt Bracken Re: A Home-Based Business–Your Ticket to The Boonies

Here is another terrific home business idea which “sells itself,” requires only a minimal investment, has a high profit margin, and can be done in one’s spare time. Install front door peep-holes. A number of years back I was visiting in a large townhouse complex where my wife used to live, and a gentleman rang the doorbell. Upon opening the door, I met the man holding a peephole in his hand. He almost didn’t need to say a word. It literally needed no sales pitch, it “sold itself.” He had the tools etc to do it on the spot. Buy high quality peep-holes in bulk for a few bucks each. You just need a good portable rechargeable drill and a few other simple attachments and tools to deal with different types of doors. Ring doorbells on the weekends, in developments where you can see that peep-holes are not standard issue. Offer to install a quality peep-hole right on the spot, at the customer’s exact preferred height, for $20 FRN. One thing: I’d recommend installing a few for free on the doors of family and friends for practice. Different door materials obviously need different drilling methods. Basically, you use a standard hole saw which fits around a 1/4″ drill bit. After making a pilot hole all the way through, you need to drill half way in from both sides with the hole saw, to avoid chipping or splitting.

You are doing people a service, and they will be happy to hand over $20 FRN for an installed peep-hole. You also gain the satisfaction of helping people to better secure their “castle” from possible attack or subterfuge. Going door to door, a personable peep-hole installer can sell ten or more units on a Saturday afternoon and make about $15 FRN per 15 minute transaction. And that ain’t bad money. – Matt Bracken

JWR Adds: Regular SurvivalBlog readers will recognize Matt Bracken’s name. He is the author of an excellent novel of the near future titled Enemies Foreign and Domestic as well as the forthcoming sequel, Domestic Enemies. (See: http://www.enemiesforeignanddomestic.com/)

These days, most people don’t have basic carpentry skills or even know how to operate a drill motor without botching the job. The essence of making money with a trade or skill is leveraging your expertise. Take the time to get very good at doing a few things and you will never starve.

There are several types of commercially-made peepholes available. One brand that is made in Russia is slightly larger than most and has a very wide viewing angle. That would make a great selling point.

Letter Re: Backup Generator Purchase Recommendations

I agree that diesel is the way to go for durability, and as most American manufacturing is being quickly offshored that must be a consideration. I decided that the electric start Northstar 6500 diesel (6,500 watts peak) was best for me because the larger sizes such as 10,000 watts and up use considerably more fuel, which can and will become very expensive and
scarce. There would also be considerable waste most of the time with a larger size unless I was running the dryer, central air or oven. I do not consider those survival items and there are such things as portable electric stoves, fans and washing machines. Those high voltage items require a 50 amp connection anyway, which my generator doesn’t include. The
other important aspect of fuel is that smaller generators use less, so less storage space is needed. Diesel is ideal because it is safer to store in quantity than other fuels, and biodiesel which I use is safer still. Biodiesel gels at 7 degrees or so depending on mixtures, but that can be improved somewhat and isn’t a real issue here in Delaware. Transfer boxes are necessary if you want to “plug in” the house, and will add significantly to the cost. I run mine once a month and keep a solar trickle charger on the battery. I set it on a rubber pad in the (ventilated) shed and routed the exhaust through the floor and away. (But I still refuse to inhale inside the shed if it is running). The shed has solar lighting so I can see if utility power goes out at night. – B.F.

Letter Re: Publication Recommendations?

Dear Sir,
I caught your blog via www.savvysurvivor.com and saw some interesting comments. I am a metro-area person with family, and have interest in personal protection issues. We have a moderate supply of food, numerous firearms (I’m focusing on .22 [Long Rifle], .30-06, .30-30, and .45 [ACP]. I am a concealed carry permit holder in Minnesota. I think I am moderately capable in firearms (a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources instructor) and have two sites that I could move to. Can you refer me to any publications which might enhance my knowledge? (Yes, I can skin deer, etc.) I’ve interest in radio, but it seems kinda rough… Thank you, – DJH

JWR Replies:  To start, keep reading this blog. It covers a wide range of topics, and the letters sent by readers impart a wealth of experience that goes far beyond my own. Obtain copies of the books listed on our Bookshelf page, as your basic “come-up-to-speed” reading, and to keep handy for training others. (Used copies can often be found via Amazon.com at bargain prices.) If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss the SurvivalBlog static page on specific retreat locale recommendations.

It sounds as if you are well trained in firearms safety, but tactical training at Front Sight, Gunsite, or Thunder Ranch is well worth the investment. If you plan to stay in a northern area, don’t overlook winter/outdoor survival training, as well as an education on traps and snares. The DVDs produced by The World Survival Institute in Tok, Alaska are excellent.  (Their winter survival videos are great, and their Tracking and Ambush video is worth its weight in gold.) I also highly recommend the trapping and snaring videos produced by Buckshot’s Camp. Take full advantage of American Red Cross First Aid and CPR training in your community. Your local ARRL affiliate club can get you started in amateur radio. Those old “Elmers” really know their stuff, and they are willing to share their knowledge, gratis. Furthermore, look at each piece of training as the chance to network with like-minded people in your region.

Letter Re: Recommended Firearms Training Videos/DVDs?

Hey Jim,
First, I’ve been reading your blog since late August (almost from the beginning) and have read “Patriots” (stayed up all night to do so). Consequently, I’ve begun collecting beans and bullets. Thank you for your influence and information.

Second, ideally I know I should attend training for combat/tactical shooting. Realistically, however, that’s not going to happen for me. In lieu of on site training, do you recommend video training? If so, what do you recommend and what do you not recommend?  Thanks again for the information and influence you provide. Best Regards, – Doug

JWR Replies: They are no proper substitute for attending in person, but DVDs do provide some valuable adjunct training. My home video library is small. Perhaps some of the SurvivalBlog readers have some specific recommendations on firearms training tapes or DVDs that are particularly good. (Or bad ones to avoid.)