Odd ‘n Sods

The World Bank estimates that an Asian Avian Flu pandemic could cost up to $2 Trillion Dollars. That is assuming 70 million deaths worldwide. My personal estimation is that their figure is low, since the pandemic itself won’t be the biggest killer–rather, that will be the economic displacement (if not a full scale economic collapse) that will be induced by the pandemic.

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The U.S. personal savings rate goes negative.

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Asian Avian Flu most deadly in teens and young adults — an eerie echo of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic  

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The biggest North Face outdoor gear sale of the year just started at Moosejaw.com. (Moosejaw is one of our affiliate advertisers.) The sale runs through the end of July. Take a look.

Note From JWR:

I want to wish all of my U.S. readers a happy Fourth of July! Today is the last day to order my preparedness course at the special introductory price. If you wait until tomorrow, the price will jump to nearly $150!

Letter Re: Recommendations on Hardening a Garage Door?

Mr. Rawles:

Hello again from England. The blog is going from strength to strength, keep it up!

With regard to the door hardening, I’d suggest a thick layer of ballistic nylon contained in a quilt as defence against chainsaw or reciprocating saw attack. Ballistic nylon is a lot cheaper than Kevlar and works in a similar manner to the laths mentioned in the article, i.e it clogs up chain and reciprocating blades. It would quite possibly foul up a drill attack also, but I have yet to verify this… It would not, of course, stop a projectile attack.

Ballistic nylon is also very light in weight, but is extremely flammable and gives off toxic gas when burned. For this reason I would suggest making the cover out of a fire resistant material.

The material should be sewn into sections, preferably so they hang horizontally, to prevent settlement, and the finished article would need to be sandwiched to the door between the panel and a light (ply?) sheet, again to prevent fouling and to protect the quilt from fire and other damage.

The weight of up and over doors is critical to the mechanism, the springs etc can get overloaded very easily; I had one shear off the mount and go through a sunroof recently. An expensive experiment!

I cannot suggest any suppliers, being on the wrong side of the pond! but am sure other readers will be able to help out there if need be. Very best wishes to all. – Michael in Worcestershire.

Letter Re: Preparedness Lessons Learned from The K.T. Ordnance BATFE Raid

I thought I would give you an up-date on my raid. First, I’m not in jail, nor have I been charged with any crime. Everything that can be written has been written at this time.[JWR Adds: For example, see the discussions at the AR15.com Forums, at LibertyPost.org, 1911Forum.com, et cetera. ]

In retrospect, there are some things I should have done, but that I didn’t. (I pooh-poohed some of your preparedness ideas, shame on me. Learn from my mistakes.)

1) Did not stash my extra arms and ammo, and now I don’t have them.
2) Should not have been as cooperative as I was, and it was little.
3) Did not have code words ready with wife when I called her.
4) Did not have my files in order, PGP or other software.
5) Thought it would never happen to me.
6) Did not have a bug out bag. My wife thought I was crazy, but now she wants them.
7) Did not heed the five warning signs that I got. All [my friends] thought that I was paranoid. Had I took action on those warnings, they [the BATFE] would have got nothing.

– Richard Celata, Owner of KT Ordnance

JWR Replies: Despite a half dozen letters from readers, I refrained to posing or commenting about this case until now. I waited until I had the time to do some background research and until I got an e-mail directly from the owner of the company. KT Ordnance was formerly an advertiser on SurvivalBlog, and a member of his family is still a SurvivalBlog advertiser. I have not read anything thusfar that would indicate that Richard Celata violated any law, or any BATFE ruling, or any “ATF Letter” guidance. Nor do I have any evidence that Richard is lunatic, a radical, a racist, or an anti-Semite. (Far be it, he is in fact a member of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.) Nor have I heard that he has any criminal record. In short, the general consensus is that he was a law-abiding guy that played by the rules, but was nonetheless the recipient of the wrath of the ATF.

For the BATFE to set the “80% Complete” standard for receivers to remain outside of Federal jurisdiction and then to later seize the inventory of a businessman that abided by the letter of their own reiterated standard in my estimation smacks of arbitrary and capricious enforcement, with possibly political motivation. I try to keep the content of SurvivalBlog apolitical and nonpartisan, in part because we have an international readership. (Our readers in France have no more interest in political affairs in the U.S. any more than our U.S. readers have an interest in politics in France.) However, in this instance where Mr. Celata’s letter specifically addresses the preparedness aspects of his situation, I think that it is appropriate for posting. OBTW, I don’t plan to post any follow-ups to this letter, since the facts and conjecture regarding the case itself are already well trodden ground. Mr. Celata will get his day in court. If justice is still available to him there, then I trust that he will prevail.

BTW I don’t intend this post to foster any paranoia. However, I do think that it is prudent for anyone that stocks up logistically to leave a minimal paper/electronic trail. If you are not yet accessing the Internet with Anonymizer or StealthSurfer, you should be!

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." – Patrick Henry, 1778, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention Reference: The Debates of the Several States, Elliot, vol. 3 (45)

Note From JWR:

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. Second prize is a copy of my “big box” preparedness course, 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.
Tomorrow will be the last day to order my preparedness course at the special introductory price. If you wait until the 5th, the price will jump to nearly $150. Order soon!

Survival Dollars, by Wolverine

Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out various ways to earn extra money to purchase the needed survival items I wanted without causing a fight with my spouse. I feel fortunate to have found several that work well for me, and may work for you as well.
Ground rules for myself were that working a part time job was out. I hated working my normal 40 hour week and being committed to having to be at a certain spot at a certain time five or six days a week. Over the years I have worked part time jobs to pay off bills that got away and it always take longer to save that money than planned and family life suffers. Any extra income I earn is done on my own terms with me setting the limits. I like to control my own life.
Before I begin I must add one thought: If you need to own a vehicle, then that vehicle needs to be a pickup truck. It will allow you to earn extra dollars several ways and make life easier. It should be the number one choice vehicle of survivalist.
As I write this I have just completed two days of doing one of the easiest ways to make extra money I know. A friend and I cleaned out a closing business of scrap metal and in four trips so far we have grossed just under $300. By the time we finish the place my guess is that we will net over $400.
Most medium and large towns have a scrap dealer that will pay for old metal items. I will not take a lot of time to explain to you the need to sort metal from ferrous and non-ferrous and all the fine points that being a scraper entails. If you are not familiar with scraping metal talk to someone that is and they can help you. The thing that I want you to know is this; metal sold equals cash. In all the years I have sold scrap I have never been handed a check, only [greenback] dollars. That extra few hundred dollars that you can get for scrap can mean the difference between buying an old Turkish Mauser or a nicer semi-auto.
I am not a hard-core survivalist waiting for TEOTWAWKI. In my life I have needed to survive snowstorms and power outages a lot of times. I find those little two to five day ordeals a good test of my preparedness. I am willing to think a little more optimistic about the future than more survivalist. I am willing to invest money to make money.
One investment I made was to buy some vending machines. I sell gum and candy out of several locations and can net an extra $30-50 every few months. My investment in machines was around $300 and costs run around a hundred a year. The machines have already paid for themselves and I do end up with net profit every year. Again, the machines pay me in cash not checks. Purchasing silver and gold coins is nice when some of the money to buy them comes from a coin shop.
At one time my partner and I sold trading cards out of vending machines and made a couple hundred dollars a month. It tied up two Saturday mornings a month and was not like work. We made good friends while we ran that business and were able to make some contacts that helped us buy other preparedness items at cost. Vending machines might not work for you, but start to think of other things that might work for you. We tried setting up at flea markets, but didn’t feel it was worth it for the time involved. I do however know other survivalist that set up and make a good extra income.
One fellow I know shared several ideas with me. One that I found interesting and might try is the following. During the winter trapping season he and his wife pick up every road kill raccoon and fox they find. (They buy a trappers license to make sure they don’t get in trouble with the DNR.) Last year their fur check was over $700. There is a company that will pay you for squirrel tails too. It is possible to make money off of road kill animals. Again, it is not for everyone, but it does help some folks get extra income.
Survival is many things to many people. I am lucky that I have my place in the woods and a few other things that will make my life easier if trouble happens. I can go for a week without power or I can convert some quick cash by selling some copper scrap I have saved for the right time. None of these things came easily, they came because I took chances and I worked at securing a few extra survival dollars.
Maybe you have other ideas for extra income that you didn’t read here or something here is a modified version of what you do. Let Jim know and maybe he will share those ideas with the rest of us and we can all increase our survival dollars. – RSG

Odds ‘n Sods:

Some worrisome commentary about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the debt bubble at one of the Yahoo message boards.

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New York Mayor Bloomberg unveils a city hurricane preparedness plan.

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SurvivalBlog reader SF in Hawaii mentioned that a self-winding watch is a nice idea, but “they are not viable long term due to the complexity of the internal workings (read: easy to break) and daily winding requirements. A solar powered watch (see Eco-drive) solves both of these problems.” My only point of disagreement is fragility. My 1978 Caravelle (Bulova) hairspring watch is still going strong after just two cleanings. But perhaps SF has a point: If I can buy a nice analog Eco-drive or perhaps even four or five semi-waterproof solar digital watches for the price of my self-winding watch, then perhaps it would be a better use of my money. BTW, both hairspring watches and solar-powered watches can be found at the most competitive prices on eBay

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Congress has no power to appropriate money as an act of charity. As individuals, Americans have the right to give away as much money as they please, but Congress has no right to take our money from us and give it away, however worthy the recipient.” – Tennessee Congressman David "Davy" Crockett, from The Life of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward Sylvester Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)

Note From JWR:

Congratulations to T.H. of Louisiana, the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully stocked M-17 Advanced Medical Bag/Rucksack. Many thanks for your generous $275 bid. And our special thanks to the fine folks at Ready Made Resources who kindly donated the kit.

Meanwhile, we have launched another benefit auction, courtesy of the fine folks at the RWVA and Fred’s M14 Stocks.This one is for a “Super Shooter’s Package” including two shooting jackets and two admissions to a RWVA match. Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July.

The Danger of the Armchair Commando Mindset

I’ve stated much of the following before, but it bears repeating: Don’t make the mistake of slipping into the “Armchair Commando” mindset. It is what my friend Keith in North Idaho calls the”Tommy Tactical” mindset. You know the type: your overweight friend with the big gun collection, but hardly any stored food. He is the same guy that will spend hours debating the finer points of exterior ballistics or starlight scopes, but that hasn’t even taken the time to zero all of his guns. He is too busy collecting guns, talking Schumer, and reading Soldier of Fantasy magazine. Armchair Commandos become obsessed with guns, ammo, and accoutrements at the expense of other equally important preparations. Granted, the gun battery is the preparation that insures the security of all of your other preps. But unless you have a well-balanced and properly executed logistics plan then you could end up over-armed and under-fed. In my estimation that is prescription for post-TEOTWAWKI predatory behavior.

You owe it to yourself and your family to be be properly prepared. Think: balance. When the Schumer hits the fan, you’ll need to be well prepared across the board so that you can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. That means having lots of storage food on hand, so that you can both feed your own family and dispense copious Christian charity. It also means doing the boring or mundane things: Taking the Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes. Visiting your grandma to learn how to do water bath canning. Putting in a big garden every summer. Joining the local ham radio club and learning Morse code. Learning how to shear a sheep. Learning how to butcher a deer. Getting in good physical condition. Learning how to cook with you storage food. And on and on…

Become a real prepper isn’t about talking. It is about learning, sharing and doing.

Letter Re: Advice on Selecting a Battle Rifle

I have been stocking up on surplus 308 as it seems it is drying up. After all with nearly every nation switching to 5.56mm, it makes sense that it would dry up sooner or later. AIM Surplus has South African 308 in battle packs, but the price continues to climb every time I check their web site. I too, have looked and continue to debate over choice of MBR. Boston’s Gun Bible has been insightful but as FALs evolve it makes this choice harder. We had initially settled on M1As, but I too have been looking at the FAL and HK91s. KaiserWorks is now making a alum FAL lower that uses AR rear sight set-up with really looks good, and there are coming out with a AR trigger compatible lower. I have mixed thoughts on this, as the FAL trigger spring is nice and heavy, esp for hard primers, but the AR set up has much nicer ergonomics.
The HK91 is rugged, and has the benefit of being very easy to convert to full auto by merely altering the trigger box, once you obtain ATF approval of course. Now full auto is most cases is a waste of ammo, but there are certain times that it may useful. Covering fire, mass targets in the open, and the illusion of superior firepower in breaking contact (SEALs use this to great effect,) Its always nice to have it (if properly trained) and not use it that need it and not have it.
Beta Company is working on [.308 variants of their] 100 round C-MAG for the M14, FAL, and HK. This would be ideal for a fixed position, without having a belt fed, for mass attack or armored vehicles.
Our main objective is trying to get the weight down on these MBRs. Going to 18″ barrels and light-weight options seems to be the trick here in Missouri as we rarely have open 1000 meter areas. My M1A is a “Bush” style with 18″ barrel, Vortex flash hider, and a new Vltor Modstock. I personally like the shorter stock length, and this package is barely longer than a Mini-14.
I also saw a nice AWC bullpup M14, nice but on the heavy side.
Having several short stature persons and younger ones, we also have AR-15s. Have you given any thought to upgrading to the piston driven uppers that are now out there for these?
I have been debating here on these type of upgrades, versus going to bullpups, with Steyr hinting at building US-made AUGs. The Steyr qualities seems to beat out the FN P2000 bullpup. The bullpups ability to use a 20″ barrel but still have a small profile that is easily shouldered without messing with a folding stock etc is very appealing. I even experimented with the KVAR bullpup conversion on a 223 AK. It makes a handy truck, tractor, and four wheeler gun slung across your back, when out on the back 40. Your words of wisdom would be appreciated. I know that guns are just a small part of the over all survival picture, but compared to rotating foods, its a lot more fun to “rotate” ammo in training. Thank you, – MD in MO

JWR Replies: My advice to all Survival Blog readers is to always have an effective means of self- defense close at hand. For someone on a tight budget, at least buy yourself a reliable military surplus bolt action and plenty of ammunition. Mausers, Enfields, and Mosin Nagants are all good “budget” rifle choices. Then, with time, as your budget increases, upgrade your battery to include a reliable semi-auto 7.62 mm NATO rifle for each adult in your family. The low end choice in this category would be a CETME clone. The medium price choices would be FN/FAL or L1A1 “parts kit” clones built on Imbel receivers, HK91 clones (such as a PTR-91), or low-end M1As from makers like Norinco. Eventually, with disciplined savings you should be able to afford more expensive MBRs from “name” makers such as original Belgian FALs, original H&K-made HK91s, or M1As from Springfield Armory or Fulton Armory. If at all possible, retain your earlier rifle purchases. These are great guns to keep on hand as guns for barter and charity. Also, depending on your state and local concealed carry restrictions, an inexpensive bolt action rifle is perfect for use as a “trunk gun”–a gun that you keep handy in the trunk of your car at all times. If your car gets broken into, or the car itself gets stolen, you will surely regret losing your old beater $150 Mauser, but it would be a severe financial blow and the cause of more substantial mental anguish to lose a $2,500 top-of-the-line ACOG-scoped MBR.

Most importantly: upgrading to creme-de-la-creme rifles is something that should only be done after you have your key logistics squared away. (By this I mean after your family has a water filtration system, an honest one year food supply, communications gear, non-hybrid seeds and gardening supplies, traps and snares, and plenty of first aid gear.) Far too many survivalists slip into the “Armchair Commando” mindset. (Not that I’m implying anything like that about MD in MO, but please see my recent article on this topic.)