Lessons Learned from Kosovo

The following are lessons that can be learned from the recent civil wars in the former Yugoslavia:
Pray, repent, and obey God’s commandments. I fervently believe that God will put his covenant people in the right place with the right friends at the right time. Read the 37th and 91st Psalms! If you are a Christian but a backslider, repent and renew your Christian walk!

If at all possible, don’t become a refugee. Refugees have a short life expectancy. If you have done any reading about the many wars of the last century you will note that many of them caused massive dislocations of civilian population. The last category I want to be in is “refugee.” In war, life is cheap and refugees are vulnerable to untold horrors.

No matter what happens, blend in. Remember the old Japanese proverb: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

In the event of a civil war, decide early on if you and yours will be combatants or if it is the time to bug out. Make that decision early, and then don’t hesitate. Those who left Macedonia early on were able to take some possessions with them. But those who waited too long had little more than the clothes on their backs.

Stock up on key logistics for your family, in quantity. Consider what you will need for a situation that will last for months or even years.

Most importantly, always have a plan B, and a plan C. (Because Plan A is not always a sure thing.)

Offshoring–The Handwriting is On the Wall

A recent article about job offshoring at Yahoo Business was some serious FFTAGFFR. The global economy is undergoing nothing short of a full scale paradigm shift. Ten years ago I was anxiously looking forward to the day when I could telecommute from out in the boonies in Idaho, and yet still make a good salary. However, the advances in telecommunications have allowed bottom line-driven corporations to leapfrog beyond setting up their American information workers as telecommuters. Instead, they contract out to teleworkers in Third World countries. Increasingly, most new customer service call centers are being set up not in low cost Arkansas, but instead in in ultra low cost India. Likewise new software development centers are being set up not in low cost Oregon, but instead in in ultra low cost Pakistan or Communist China. I expect this trend to continue. And with university systems expanding in the Third World there will be no shortage of high tech teleworkers in the Third World. The University of Bangalore cranks out tens of thousands of programmers every year that are gleeful at the prospect of earning a whopping $10,000 a year and willing to crank out beau coup lines of code, working 60 hours a week, sitting elbow-to-elbow with their co-workers. At $10,000 a year, they can afford to live in a nice house and have a lower caste servant to do the washing. (Someone who is willing to work for $300 a year.) If you work in high tech, my advice is to maneuver yourself into an offshoring-proof job. There aren’t many of those. Note, however, that offshoring is impracticable in any job that his highly dependent on face to face contact. It is also unlikely for offshoring to occur in some highly regulated sectors or such as banking, gaming, and defense. (At least the defense jobs that require a security clearance.)

Beretta 9mm Model 92/Centurion Owners — .40 S&W Kits Now on the Market

I have always considered 9mm Parabellum (also known as 9mm Luger) marginal at best at stopping two-legged predators. For those of you that own a 9mm Beretta Model 92 or Beretta Centurion, be advised that Beretta USA now produces a .40 S&W conversion kit for your pistol. These are complete “top halves” and come with one 11 round .40 S&W magazine. The folks at CDNN currently have these factory-made conversion kits on sale for $149.99. Since these kits don’t include a frame, no FFL is required. If you are one of those folks that has a Beretta 9mm that you don’t shoot much, or if you have both a Beretta 9mm and any other pistols in your battery that are chambered in .40 S&W, I recommend getting one of these kits. The .40 S&W is a fairly reliable stopper. (Not quite up to the benchmark of .45 ACP, but sufficient.) Make sure that you specify M92 or Centurion length when you order.

One key proviso: You should line up a supply of Beretta factory made Model 96G (.40 S&W) 10 or 11 round magazines before you order a conversion kit. Parenthetically, I would consider 5 spare magazines a bare minimum–but 10 or 12 spares should probably meet your comfort level. After you’ve made the switch, I recommend greasing up your old 9mm top half and all of your 9mm magazines with R.I.G. Then seal them up in double plastic bags with a little silica gel desiccant inside the inner bag for good measure. Tuck them away in an ammo can–right next to those cans full of 9mm ammo that you can now resign to the category of ballistic wampum. OBTW, I recommend that you consider having a set of Meprolight or Trijicon tritium sights installed on your new .40 top half. Lay in a supply of at least 1,200 rounds of .40 S&W if your Beretta will be your secondary handgun, or at least 2,500 rounds (or more) if it will be your primary handgun.

Letter from T.T. On Axe and Maul Handles

“There’s nothing like a nice piece of Hickory.” – Clint Eastwood, in Pale Rider

I grew up with burning wood for heat. My grandfather had a big old “octopus” looking wood burner in the basement. The heat was nice and even. After growing up and moving away with my family, I have always had a wood stove of some type and I do not feel prepared for winter unless I have a good wood supply.

My issue is with the axes. We will be using to trim and split the wood we are putting up. Now is the time to buy plenty of handles for your axes, splitting mauls, and gardening tools. You will find many axe heads after the crash but handles will be scarce. I extend the life of my axes and mauls by wrapping fiberglass tape just behind the head for about 6 inches. This is the area of the ax handle that gets the most abuse and will save you from replacing the handle prematurely. I have tried 18 gauge copper wire soldered, and duct tape. The copper held up the best but was difficult to put on. The duct tape was not strong enough and still let the handle break with a bad strike. The best compromise I have found is the fiberglass tape at least 4 layers deep. The tape is cheap. I do not like the feel of the fiberglass handles available and it is tedious to remove the epoxy and fiberglass from the head. You can break a fiberglass handle! Have extra wooden wedges and rasps to set a new handle. The metal wedges can be reused. After an extended period of storage, the wood dries out and the head is loose. Just soak the head in a bucket of water for at least several hours to overnight. The wood will swell and grip the axe head. I do not recommend applying any epoxy between the handle and head. This will make it difficult to replace the handle..- T.T. in Northern Idaho

Letter from The Army Aviator Re: EMP Countermeasures

Thank you for writing “Patriots”. I re-read my copy at least yearly and it is very dog-eared and highlighted. I currently have 2 – 3 years worth of wood under cover and today I was adding a little. This fits in with the latest posts to your blog. I’ve been ignoring reality for awhile now on one subject. Here is a point regarding EMP protection. I carry my portable printer, laptop solar charger, manual squeeze charger, floppy drive adaptor, CD/DVD RW, et cetera in a shiny aircraft aluminum foam lined case which I keep in the truck because yuppies and socialites look at you funny otherwise.

My laptop has a great yuppie accepted case…….. except it’s fabric. So for my laptop I ordered in a foam lined, aircraft aluminum case in yuppie acceptable black. If I’m going to carry it around like I always do, I might as well protect it.

Most stuff will live in a foam lined, well sealed metal case whether it’s grounded or not. The rest of it will become boat anchors. I can’t believe that I put off this easy-to-do thing.

This is a good source for a solid laptop case–not a riveted style which tend to be RF porous.

Seems to me you said “Hindsight is 20/20”. Guess a little foresight wouldn’t hurt. 🙂 – The Army Aviator

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"It is by no means an irrational fancy that in future existence we shall look upon what we think our present existence as a dream." – Edgar Allan Poe

Retreat Selection–Seek a Diverse Economy

A diverse local economy is of great importance when evaluating potential retreat locales. Unless you are retired or about to retire, the opportunity to find steady work pre-TEOTWAWKI is also very important. Depending on the scenario you envision, you should probably look for a town with:

A robust, growing economy
A good mix of jobs in dry land farming, ranching, mining, industry, high technology, and service sector jobs
City and county governments that are pro-business
A “Farmer’s Market” on summer evenings and/or weekends (evidence of sufficient small scale truck farming)
A good mix of established local businesses such as a grocery store, sewing shop, car parts store, hardware store, and so forth.
A high rate of church attendance. Even if you aren’t religious personally, a high ratio of church attendance equates to a high ratio of law-abiding citizens.

And a town without:

A single industry economy
Predominantly government payroll jobs
A predominantly retired population
A large seasonal tourist population
A large seasonal student population
Lots of bars
Tattoo/piercing parlors
Welfare dependency
Nearby prisons
Nearby military bases

Do your homework in detail before you buy!

Attitude Adjustment–Yours! (SA: Survival Mindset)

Just as important as finding a town that fits your needs is re-making you to fit your new town. For someone accustomed to the Big City pace of life, this can be a major adjustment.
Get to know the local way of doing things in your new town. Get accustomed to the pace of life. Don’t expect to get a lot done during deer season. (Nearly every building contractor, plumber, and electrician will be out in the woods, with tags to fill!) Dress like the natives. Don’t be ostentatious. Don’t whine about the lack of “good shopping” or culture. Learn how to pronounce the local names quickly. Don’t stand out. Join the local church.

Don’t just talk about preparedness. If you have concerns about the future –do something about it: Plant a vegetable garden, get weapons training at Front Sight, learn how to can your own vegetables, change your own motor oil, learn how to knit and darn, take up hiking, help a friend (or a local church) with a building or remodeling project, et cetera.

The difference between a genuine survivalist and an armchair commando (a.k.a. “Tommy Tactical”) is that a genuine survivalist collects useful skills whereas an Armchair Commando collects gadgets that he doesn’t know how to use.

Rethink your budget and your priorities in life. Here are some examples:

Cut out unnecessary travel.
Sell your jet ski and buy a canoe. Sell your television(s) and buy a general coverage short wave receiver.
Sell your fancy engraved guns, and commemorative guns, and customized “race” guns. Replace them with practical guns in non-reflective durable finishes.
Make sure to buy guns from a private party with no paper trail. Sell off your guns that are chambered in oddball calibers such as 16 gauge, 28 gauge, .280 Remington, .240 Weatherby Magnum, .35 Whelen, .25-20, and .41 Magnum. Replace them with guns in the most common standard calibers like: .30-06. .308, .223, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 12 gauge, and .22 Long Rifle. (In Canada and Oz, that list should also include the venerable .303 British rifle cartridge. )
Sell your Beanie Baby (or whatever) collection on eBay and use that money to buy storage food.
Sell your Rolex and buy a half dozen inexpensive used self-winding watches. (These will come in handy for coordinating tactical rendezvous and guard shift changes.)
Sell your fancy late models cars and replace them with 5 to 10 year old low mileage American-made 4WDs with good ground clearance. When you move to the country you don’t want to stick out or be the focus of envy, so it is better to have older and dinged up vehicles than to have ones that look nearly new.
Get out of debt.
Live frugally.
Dress down.

Prepare for the worst case Schumeresque situation. Thus, you will always be ready for less severe circumstances and you can take them in stride. Such preparations will take a lot of money, but ask yourself:: What is your life and the lives of your loved ones worth to you? If being truly prepared requires moving to a small town in a lightly populated region, then so be it!

Letter From Swampthing

I’m not a wordy kind of guy but I just want to say thank you for getting me back in the survivalist mentality. Without knowing it, I grew up a “prepper” thanks to my grandparents who raised my brother and me. After I got married and moved to Memphis we got mesmerized with all the glitter of affluence. Started having kids and buying toys (kids and grown up) and blah, blah, blah. Then I read Patriots in 1999 and it got me back into the swing of things, full bore!!!

Thanks Again,

Johnny (a.k.a. swampthing)

JWR’s Comment: Swampthing really knows his stuff! Don’t miss his posts about the current spike in fuel prices over on Mutterings.

Letter From T.H. Re: J.M.’s Letter on G.O.O.D. Vehicle Alternatives (Posted 16 August)

I would like to share a little info on box trucks and fuel storage. I have been self employed in the delivery business for 8 years and 5 years as an inspector on crude oil ships.

First you only need a Class D Drivers license for any truck under 26,000 GVW. These trucks generally weigh 10,000-to-11,000 lbs. So if needed 15,000 lbs of supplies could be stored in one of these trucks.

I have owned or been exposed to just about every make of box-bodied truck available. The most reliable trucks IMO are the imports: UD/Nissan Fuso/Mits and Isuzu. I have over 900,000 miles of experience with these brands, combined. The only issue I have had with these trucks seem to be fragile interiors. With 4-to-5 different drivers in a trucks life, they can get rough. The Internationals can be had with several different drive train combos: Cat, Cummings, Allison transmissions, etc. In my experience the problems with these trucks are almost always electrical and can/have rendered trucks useless.

In regard to loading these trucks always load the heaviest items to the nose/front of the truck. Loading heavy to the rear can cause higher fuel consumption due to the front raising and the back squatting = high wind resistance and instability. If you leave these trucks sitting for a long period of time in highly humid or salty air conditions YOU WILL have issues with your clutch, alternator and starter. All of these items will corrode the vehicle will become useless.

Water cut paste [also called Water Finding Paste] is used to detect or measure amounts of sediments and water at the bottom of your fuel tanks. To use: smear paste on a BRASS sounding rod lower into your tank when it hits bottom let it sit for 20 seconds and pull up and read. Two types of paste are needed–one for diesel and one for gas. I STRONGLY URGE YOU to use caution when water cut measuring your gasoline. ALWAYS ground yourself and use a non-sparking (brass) sounding rod. Use only cotton string for your sounding rod 1/8 inch diameter is fine. Also, use a MHSA approved flash light when doing inspections at night. Liquid gasoline is not 1/10th as explosive as its vapors. Static electricity is a killer!

Sincerely, – T.H.

Note from Jim:

If you have a particular area of expertise in any SA related to survival, please share it. Your fellow SurvivalBloggers would greatly appreciate reading short pieces on everything from Apiaries to Zener Diodes. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, and you don’t have to be an expert writer. (I’ll clean up any typos.) Many Thanks! – JWR.

Natural Gas in Your Backyard

As a survivalist, you should plan for every contingency. Part of this planning is identifying alternate fuels for after TEOTWAWKI. If possible, it is best to pick a retreat location with multiple fuel sources. In a recent blog post I mentioned coal seams . Natural gas wells are another possibility. Noted economist and newsletter writer Dr. Gary North advocates finding a retreat property with an existing natural gas well. Gary is one of the few folks in the country that doesn’t have to worry about running out of fuel for his generators. He has several, all natural gas powered.

Important Note: Generators built to run on propane need to have different jets installed to run on natural gas. Propane and natural gas have differing chemistry. Natural gas runs at lower pressures and uses a larger orifice in burners. If you run propane in a device configured for natural gas without modification, you might experience a most unpleasant fireball!

Most people don’t realize that even their piped (utility) natural gas service is dependent on the power grid. To push gas through the many miles of pipeline, gas companies depend on electrically-powered compressor stations to pressurize the distribution pipelines. It is important to distinguish between local (natural) compression versus long distance grid-powered compression. People living right near gas fields will benefit from the natural wellhead compression and thus will probably have continuing gas service in a long term grid-down situation, whereas those living farther away will not.

OBTW, the U.S. Department of Energy has some useful maps of natural gas producing regions.

Running Engines on Drip

Natural gas comes from two different types of wells. “Wet” natural gas is generally a by-product of oil fields. (Oil wells often alternately produce natural gas and oil.) This is often called “casinghead gas” or “associated gas.” In contrast to wet natural gas, “Dry” natural gas generally comes from dedicated gas wells. Both wet and dry natural gas wells produce a light oil or hydrocarbon condensate that is commonly called “drip oil” or in slang simply “drip.” (Technically, the term drip refers only to the tank (or other vessel) that is used to collect condensed drip oil and other contaminants from low points (the “drip legs”) in natural gas piping, while drip oil is what is collected at the drip. But in common usage, drip oil is often just called “drip”.)

The oil and natural gas companies look at drip oil as a big nuisance. At natural gas fields, the companies typically send tank trucks around on a regular basis to collect the drip oil from umpteen drip tanks. It costs them a lot of money to haul it away. They would much prefer to not have to collect the drip oil quite as often, or at all. Most cars and trucks with standard gas engines can run on drip oil almost as well as they do on gasoline. A mixture of drip oil and gasoline works best. (Since drip oil has a lower octane number and slightly higher volatility than standard gasoline.) It is common knowledge that many natural gas companies intentionally leave their drip tanks unsecured, in the hope that the locals will come and collect the drip oil for them—and they do! In fact, some drip tanks have dispenser hoses and hand lever valves just like you would see at a gas station pump. How convenient.

The major sticking point with drip is that technically, it is illegal for the gas companies to let people come and take it. When people collect drip oil and burn it in their cars or trucks, they are circumventing the federal tax on “road” fuels. So once every few years, the tax “Revenuers” come poking around the major natural gas fields, trying to find out if anyone is running their pickups on drip and cheating on the road tax. Magically—almost overnight–all of the drip tanks get locked up, and the word quickly goes out around the county to stop collecting drip until the federal tax agents leave town. A week or two later, everything reverts back to normal. You just gotta love free enterprise and the American way of doing things.

If you live in an area where drip is available, I’ve heard it suggested storing a couple of hundred gallons of extra high octane aviation gas to mix with drip, to raise its octane level. (A 80% drip/20% aviation gas mixture reportedly will run well in high compression engines.) Another approach is to store a can of tetra-ethyl lead or a similar octane booster. Be warned, however, that these chemicals are highly toxic and special safety precautions must be used for storing and handling them. Just breathing the vapors can be very dangerous! I’ve also heard recommendations to buy a pre-World War II vintage pickup truck with a low compression engine that can run on straight low-octane drip.

A Diesel Alternative: Cooking Oil

Behind virtually every restaurant in America, you will find three dumpsters: One for trash, one for flattened cardboard boxes, and one for used cooking oil. (The latter is actually more of rectangular tank on wheels than it is a dumpster.) It is not widely known, but virtually all diesel cars and trucks can run on cooking oil–new or used. This is commonly called “biodiesel” or “greasel.” In essence, all that you need to do is filter the liquid cooking oil through some cloth (typically a couple of thicknesses of cheese cloth) to get rid of the particulate crud, and voila! Free fuel.

When diesel engines were first designed, they were envisioned to run on peanut oil or other vegetable-based oils. In fact, it was only because the gas companies set up a large refinery/fractioning infrastructure that crude-oil based diesel came to dominate the marketplace. I have read that running diesel engines on cooking oil results in longer engine life due to better lubrication and reportedly fewer harmful emissions.

Greasel Conversions, Inc., a small company headquartered in Missouri, makes a greasel conversion kit for diesel engines. My advice: If you own a diesel vehicle, get a Greasel kit. If you have not yet bought a 4WD for your retreat, make it a diesel (unless the exhaust smell gives you headaches), and get a Greasel kit.

Here is the company’s contact information:

Greasel Conversions, Inc.
HC 73 Box 157D
Drury, MO 65638 USA

E-mail: charlie@greasel.com or pillard@greasel.com
Phone: 1 (866)473-2735

For some information on commercial biodiesel, see the Freedom Solutions website, as well as the Grand-daddy of biodiesel web sites.

I should also mention that you don’t have to burn used cooking oil. Newly-pressed oil works fine too. (Newly-pressed corn, sunflower, rapeseed, or canola oil also work fine.)For example, biodiesel fuel can be purchased at the pump in Europe, where the plant source is usually rapeseed oil.

When the corn oil that your store in your pantry goes rancid and you replace it, SAVE that old stuff. (Mark the label with a big red X with a magic marker so that you don’t use it for cooking by mistake.) Save it to burn in your diesels!

A Better Known Alternative–Home Heating Oil

It is common knowledge that all diesel cars, trucks, and tractors can run on home No. 2 heating oil, just as well as they do on diesel fuel. The only differences between the two is that there is a different federal standard on the amount of ash is allowable in home heating oil, and that a dye is added to prevent folks from circumventing the Federal road tax. In actuality, however, the only difference in most batches is the dye, since heating oil and diesel fuel both come from the very same cracking plants, running the same process. This is yet another reason why you should buy at least one diesel 4WD for your retreat. With multiple fuel options, after TEOTWAWKI it is safe to assume that diesel fuel vehicles will be on the road long after gas engine rigs have been deadlined.