Sunday, October 23, 2011

TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story Part One

Copyright © 2011
TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story
© 2011 David Craig

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This ebook contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express handwritten permission from the author.

This narrative is an instructional tale replete with details not normally included in a fast moving action adventure story. Please bear with me as I bore you with calibers and tactics galore. Hopefully the action will lure you through the strategy sections and, who knows, you might actually learn something.

The radio announcer read the report in the same anxious yet somehow reassuring tone of voice he used on all breaking news stories, but Beacon saw the significance; this was a game changer, this was TEOTWAWKI!

Luckily he'd been getting off work when the news hit the airways. His mind raced as he tried to think what to do first. The plan; implement the plan! First secure whatever additional goods and supplies he could before the public panic became full blown. Then Get the Hell out of Dodge!

Beacon slammed on the breaks and made a right turn into a gas station. Inside he found one plastic five gallon and three metal one gallon gas cans for sale at inflated prices. He took them all outside and filled them after topping off his truck paying for it all with his credit card.

He found a plastic two and a half and two one gallon cans at the next gas station. A line was starting to form at the pumps. The owner was watching a statement by the president on TV as he demanded twice the price on the stickers, in cash, for the cans while a kid was changing the gas price on the big sign out front. Beacon threw a bill on the counter and grabbed the cans without waiting for change. He filled the cans without looking at the pump price as he swiped his credit card. He was putting the cans in the back of the camper shell when the owner rushed out telling the kid to raise the price again. Beacon didn't wait around to see how high the price of gasoline was going.

While he was filling up another newly purchased five gallon can at the next station a big guy pulled into the pumps got out and ran inside. He immediately came back out heading for Beacon.

"Give me that gas can," he demanded.

Beacon finished tightening the can's cap and stood up. "That would be leaded gas," he said curling his pinky finger under the hem of his safari shirt. The big guy took a step forward and Beacon lifted the shirt placing his hand on the grip of his forty-five semi-auto pistol.

The guy stopped, "I've got a gun too," he shouted putting his hand behind his back like he was going to pull a pistol from his waistband, but his eyes had darted to his pickup where a 12 gauge shotgun hung on a rack in the rear window.

"Thank you for telling me that," Beacon said bending over just enough to grab the handle of the gas can, "now I've got justification for killing you if you attack me." He didn't want to let the guy see that he had other cans in the back of his truck so he put the gas can down by his pickup's passenger side door while he pretended to unlock and open it with a key. Putting the gas can in on the floorboard without taking his eyes off of the big guy Beacon closed and locked the passenger door manually.

More cars were pulling into the station now. Beacon backed around to the driver's side. The big guy looked like he was waiting for Beacon to click the remote to unlock the doors so he could open the passenger door and grab the can. But Beacon's truck doors had been unlocked. Only the manually locked passenger door was now locked.

Beacon smiled and said, "There are two things you ought to know. One, the price of gas is going higher every second you wait to fill up your tank and two, if you try to open that door I'll shoot you." The big guy didn't look like he was going to back down, but his eyes darted to the station as the manager came out with a long pole in his hand and some large plastic numbers under his arm as he yelled something about "Cash Only" from now on.

Just then someone began honking their horn from behind the big guy's pickup. As the big guy turned to snarl at the honking car Beacon hopped in and pushed the driver's master door lock control button locking the doors before the big guy could finish screaming and turn back to grab the door handle. Beacon had taken advantage of people's tendency to finish what they were saying before taking action. As the big guy raced towards his pickup and his shotgun Beacon peeled out of the lot without bothering to fasten his seat belt.

He turned right to get the gas station between them so he'd be out of the big guy's sight as quickly as possible. He made another right at the first corner then a left, then a right at the corner after that in a zigzag pattern so as to get and stay out of the sight of anyone trying to follow him because he knew that as long as a pursuer could see him it wasn't an escape, it was a race. Only by breaking visual contact could he turn pursuit into evasion.

When he was sure he wasn't being followed Beacon fastened his seatbelt then turned back onto the main drag and drove straight to Costco. All the gas stations now had lines of cars out into the street.

Costco's parking lot was filling up as he pulled in. Costco's gas pumps already had lines of cars across the parking lot. Eschewing the large shopping carts he normally used Beacon grabbed the last flatbed cart by the door and hurried inside. He didn't stop for free food samples instead loading the flatbed up with cases of canned foods until the cases were stacked as high as the cart's push bar. He then loaded a layer of large sacks of rice, beans and flour on top and headed for checkout grabbing a case of pint bottles of water along the way.

Already there were uncharacteristically long lines at the registers. One guy had a cart full of frozen food with two ice chests piled on top. Beacon noticed more of his fellow shoppers than usual were on their cell phones. With worried looks on their faces several people in line turned their carts around to go back for more food.

One lady with a cart full of food had several monster packs of various sized batteries with three jumbo 30 roll bales of toilet paper thrown on top. She gave him a knowing wink as her husband showed up with a portable gasoline powered generator and more canned goods on a flatbed cart.

The sound of the generator and lighted windows would draw desperate neighbors and less friendly people to their home, but Beacon didn't have time to remonstrate with them and figured his advice would be ignored anyway.

Their best chance, assuming they had a source of gasoline for the generator, would be as a neighborhood nucleus keeping other people's freezers frozen until either the refrigerated food or the gas ran out.

It looked like the lady in line in front of him had cleaned out the meat department. She was worrying aloud about having enough room in her freezers for all of it. Beacon bit his tongue and didn't tell her the electricity likely wouldn't last long enough for her to eat even half of it. She wouldn't have listened and their argument might contribute to the growing sense of panic he saw building on the faces of customers and employees. He paid by credit card because, as he'd expected, large corporations hadn't yet sent word down to their retail outlets to take cash only.

After moving the contested gas can to the back, he filled the passenger side from the floorboard, up over the seat, to the window sill with cases of Campbell soup topping it off with the bottled water. He left the gas cans in the rear near the tailgate putting the rest of the food up in the front of the pickup's bed by his Get Out Of Dodge bag.

Beacon was confident he could survive and work his way up to Old Bill's place with just his everyday carry knives; a genuine Swiss army knife and a real Leatherman multi-tool, but he'd have a better chance with that small OD Get Out of Dodge backpack he always carried in the back of the pickup. In the event of trouble the Colt forty-five caliber pistol on his hip was there to help him fight his way to his cased Mini-14 rifle behind the truck's seat.

Realizing he was wasting time he should have been using to get the heck out of town before all hell broke loose Beacon hurried. He should have headed for home immediately, but wanted to go into this thing with as much in trade goods as possible.

Beacon expected things that were cheap now like gasoline could be traded for more expensive things like ammunition at a very favorable rate in the immediate aftermath. Of course once things settled down and realization set in ammo value would go through the roof.

Once the riots, shooting and looting died down Beacon expected the local Army base commander to take over the town. The military's obsession with command and control would limit military domination to the area surrounding the base until food ran out. Then they'd have to go rogue or build a fiefdom of backyard farms and livestock. Beacon hoped the commander would choose to become king. The surrounding towns wouldn't stand a chance against a marauding military unit.

The real knock down drag out battles would be between the criminal gangs and the military since they would be the only armed groups with an intact command structure. A few police chiefs and National Guard armories might pull off similar feats, but for the most part their personnel would choose to stay home and protect their families or take them somewhere as happened to the police forces in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Once home Beacon put on his tactical vest with full magazines and equipment then grabbed his home bug out bag, actually a large camouflaged Army, rucksack he kept by the front door and tossed it into the truck in the middle between him and the Campbell soup.

He had everything he needed to survive and get to Old Bill's place in his head and on his belt; the Get-Out-of-Dodge bag in the back of the truck and the home Bug-Out-Bag were redundantly packed with food, first-aid kits, sleeping bags and other amenities to make the trip more comfortable.

If the balloon went up while he was at work and he couldn't get home for some reason the truck's small Get-Out-of-Dodge backpack would provide minimal supplies for the trip. But he'd planned to get to the large Bug-Out-Bag at home which had more equipment. Ideally he'd carry both bags in the truck which was the way things were working out now.

Beacon placed the home Bug-Out-Bag on the seat next to him so he could grab it and run if he was forced to abandon the truck. Locking the truck he ran back inside for more.

In three trips he'd loaded all his winter clothes, rendezvous reenactment and camping gear over the food in the back of the camper shell. His extra rifles, pistols and shotguns went on top of blankets with more clothes over them.

As he shoved the last of the two rows of ammo cans in the back between the gas cans and the tailgate he wondered what OSHA would say if they learned of his cargo?

A crash and a honking horn disturbed his musings about federal agencies that wouldn't exist when the sun rose again. Two of his neighbors on opposite sides of the street had backed their cars out of there respective driveways simultaneously smacking rear bumpers in the exact middle of the road just 60 feet from him.

Another neighbor, with a large suitcase tied on the roof of his car with a rope, was honking to get by as the first two started to argue about their fenders. Suitcase guy could easily have driven around if he'd been willing to drive up on the sidewalk and lawns.

The two arguing had a lot more to worry about than whose insurance company was going to be buying bumpers; but habits held and all three drivers conformed to the norm as civilization crumbled around them.

Beacon walked over to the arguing men and suggested they go back inside to clean out their kitchen pantries, freezers and refrigerators before hitting the road. Beacon could almost see the light bulbs flashing on above their heads as he pointed out that there'd be little food available on the road.

Both men jumped back into their cars and peeled back into their respective driveways as quickly as they'd backed out of them. "Don't forget water, coats and blankets!" Beacon yelled to them as the car with the suitcase on top sped off ignoring his advice.

"Ya reckon this is the big one Mountain Man?" Pete called out to Beacon. He was in front of his house closing window shutters like they used for hurricanes in Florida but heaver because they were made of steel with loopholes in them.

Beacon called him "Prepper Pete" and he called Beacon "Mountain Man" during their endless friendly debates over whether the world as they knew it would end with a sudden decisive bang or a series of gradually worsening whomps.

The two had frequently discussed what they would do in the event of a truly big disaster. "Ya gunn'a go live in the woods an' eat beaver tail?"

"It's gunn'a be true TEOTWAWKI Pete, The End Of The World As We Know It. The governments aren't going to recover from this one."

"Naw, this is only a Shit Hits The Fan event. It'll just take a little while longer for the government to reform, hopefully with new people this time – 'Then I'll get on my knees and pray we don't get fooled again!'" he sang the Who's lyric off key.

"But if it is TEOFWAWKI there'll be no government to reestablish control and your food will eventually run out. Then you'll be forced out of the house on to the mean streets."

"But by that time most of the die-off will be over and we'll have been eating freeze dried food and fresh vegetables from our backyard for a year while you've been subsisting on squirrel-sickles."

"You can Bug In if you want to, but I'm Buggin' Out while the Buggin' good!"

Pete and his wife expected a WTSHTF event. They planned to sit it out with their two sons. In other words they planed to Bug In; just sit out whatever happened in their fortified cinder block house with its ceramic tile roof while sitting atop their mountain of food and garage full of fifty-five gallon water barrels.

Pete was the only man Beacon knew who had a 500 gallon propane tank for his backyard barbeque. He told the neighbors he didn't like going to the store for those little tanks and didn't mention the special valve he had that allowed him to refill his propane lanterns from the big tank nor the underground line he'd secretly installed that would fuel his kitchen range once the utility supplied natural gas ceased to flow. His wife, Ann, was inside double checking to be sure they had all the parts to convert the stove from natural gas to propane when the time came.

Neither Pete nor Beacon wanted the neighbors to know of all the stores they'd built up over the years. Beacon handed Pete the key to his house, "Anything you want in there is yours."

Pete and Ann, together with their sons, would be hard targets. Unlike most people who were going to remain in their homes because they had no idea what else to do. Those people would be easy prey for looters, but any uninvited guests attempting to loot the Prepper house would get a load of buckshot for his trouble.

Bumpers forgotten, the husbands and wives finished their frantic runs to and from their houses and peeled out again narrowly missing another rear end collision. In both cars frightened women and children peered around fishing rods and camping gear as they roared around the corner.

Gunshots sounded a few blocks away. Beacon realized he'd been greedy and waited to long to head for the hills. He jumped in his pickup and peeled out without bothering to close the front door to his home. TV, stereo, computer, microwave, washing machine and dryer; as far as Beacon was concerned none of them was worth locking up now. He almost stopped when he remembered the books. Damn! He wished he could have made one last trip inside for an armload of books.

As he'd anticipated, off in the distance he could see the freeways and paralleling access roads turning into giant parking lots. Desperate drivers were driving down the embankments into residential neighborhoods trying to find a way around the city wide traffic jams. Now they'd be trapped in the city but away from the resources they'd abandoned in their homes.

Beacon had mapped out routes to the mountains that bypassed main roads in favor of utility rights of way, fire trails and logging roads. The radio announcers were repeating the same news stories about world wide calamity, interspersed with statements by world leaders claiming everything was under control as Beacon drove the 4X4 pickup slowly up over a curb at the end of a cul-de-sac, crossed a field and pulled onto a farm road.

He couldn't count on his GPS functioning much longer, of course, but he'd downloaded and printed out Google maps and satellite pictures of his planned route and alternate routes. He had to pull the handmade book of maps in plastic page protectors from the glove compartment several times when he was forced to plan B and later to plan C as even the small side roads near towns filled up with refugees and stalled cars.

Using only his parking lights, partially covered with duct tape, Beacon drove all night and through the next day without sleep. The hundred gallon auxiliary gas tank installed behind the cab in the pickup's bed enabled him to avoid gas stations which had been swamped with desperate refugees as soon as the exodus from the cities had begun and were soon out of gas in any case.

Driving nonstop kept him ahead of the spreading tsunami of refugees pouring from the cities despite the slow going forced on him by the poor conditions of the dirt roads. He'd left the paved roads for good after a man offered him one hundred dollars for a gallon of gas. Beacon had opted for trade goods instead; a high end self-winding diamond encrusted gold watch powered by the natural motions of the wearer's body.

Late in the afternoon of the second day Beacon was hurrying to a spot off the dirt road he'd long ago decided would be a safe place to sleep.

Then he noticed the tire tracks of many vehicles turning onto the dirt road he was on. From the large tread marks he guessed they were 4X4 off-road vehicles which meant the occupants were probably better prepared (and possibly better armed) than most of the sheeple about to discover the joys of third world living.

Wanting nothing to do with them Beacon followed carefully hoping they weren't planning on using the same roads and trails he intended to travel but knowing neither he nor they had much choice in this rough country.

Turning a corner around a hill just before sunset he saw they'd turned off the dirt road onto the dirt track leading to his first planed hunker down spot.

Two of the vehicles blocked the entrance to the primitive campground. Obviously Beacon hadn't been the only one scouting bug out routes and camping locations.

Beacon stopped. He could see figures with long guns standing atop large plastic boxes the size of steamer trunks in the back of a 4X4 pickup. The other had a camo painted camper shell. Being on the higher than normal beds of the pickups with oversized tires the boxes gave the figures an unobstructed view of the surroundings and they were looking at him through binoculars. Detouring around them would involve significant backtracking and add days to his journey, but he was unsure whether they'd let him pass or try to rob him.

One of the men on the pickups was talking into what appeared to be a walkie-talkie. Beacon didn't like the odds and put his pickup into reverse. Just as he'd backed to a turnaround point a figure on a dirt bike inched around the roadblock and approached him its rider holding one empty hand high to show peaceful intent. Beacon unsnapped the retaining strap on the holster of the forty-five on his hip and waited.

It was a girl about seventeen dressed from head to toe in MultiCam camouflage and armed to the teeth with double shoulder holsters containing a Glock 9mm semi-auto on each side and a 12 gauge Remington 870 with Choate folding stock shotgun with extended magazine in a scabbard attached to the dirt bike. She had a Cold Steel Tanto knife sticking out of the boot that he could see and he wouldn't have been surprised if she'd had a tomahawk sticking out of the other boot.

- - - - - - - - -
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TEOTWAWKI: Beacon's Story

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Police and Desert Dave Search for Armed Robbers in Northeast

Police (and Desert Dave) Searching for Armed Robbers in Northeast

I'm retired Dammit! Why is that darn helicopter circuiting around my rooftop while I'm trying to take a nap? Going outside I didn't need my binoculars to read what it said on the bottom of the Texas DPS (Department of Public Safety) helicopter flying directly over my home for the umpteenth time and disturbing my beauty sleep.

Gearing up (camera, binoculars, Kimber and all that junk I carry on my belt) I walked up the street to see why there was a cop car with overheads flashing at the end of the street.

Seems the cop had just arrested one guy and was standing by (with the crook handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol car) while a tow truck operator winched the getaway car onto the towing platform.

Took some digging, but I finally wormed some information out of the cop. Seems the gendarmeries were still looking for two more; hence the helicopter.

By that time the circling copter had shifted its attention about 200 yards to the north.

Putting on my interested/concerned neighbor/citizen hat I strolled over to where I could see a swarm of constabulary near the drainage pond below the park. I was prepared to identify myself as an armed Concealed Handgun Licensee (CHL) if anyone should ask, but no one did.

"Don't get on the playing field, Dave", I told myself, "but be sure you get a front row seat." I resolved to stay out of the way and let this thing play out without any interference from me.

Just like the good old days when I freelanced crime scene photos to the "Police Blotter" page of a local newspaper. (Ah, the good times!;-)

From a high point beside and slightly in front of a blocking force of officers on XXXX Street I could see a line of constabulary, gendarmeries, cops, park rangers and state troopers walking toward us in a skirmish line. These guys were serious; with M4's slung across their chests.

About a dozen jackrabbits ran past me just before the line of officers came abreast of my position, but no suspects.

Seems the dirty bad guys got away... this time.

Going home I knocked on the front doors of two of our neighbors informing them of the situation and giving them a description of the suspects. Then I went inside and called two other neighbors with the same info. One of them said she'd heard a report about the situation on the radio and was afraid to step outside to get her mail. I stood by while she went out to her mail box and now I'll wait to see what come on the six o'clock news.

Desert (mail box hero, busybody, concerned citizen, nosey neighbor) Dave

(Redacted online news report from the web site of a local TV station.)

Police are search for two of three men who robbed a Northeast Radio Shack at approximately 11:30 this morning.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the three men were armed with guns during the robbery. One man was caught and police are searching for two other men who are considered armed with a handgun. The men were last seen heading towards XXXX Community College Campus.

The DPS Chopper is in the air searching for the men. DPS is being assisted by [the] PD.

Currently, XXXXX schools and nearby community colleges are on lockdown.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Anyone who's ever been present at an occurrence covered by the news media knows that the published report almost always gets something wrong. Misspelled names, wrong addresses, incorrect sequence of events you name it; something you know for a fact is generally reported incorrectly.

My Police (and Desert Dave) Search for Armed Robbers in Northeast adventure is one such event. We've got the usual four network affiliates (two of which are owned by one media company) and I watched coverage of the great heist that night.

One TV station showed a graphic depicting the robbery as occurring miles away on another street. Very convincing, they even showed/announced an incorrect street number. I'd have believed them if I hadn't known better.

Flipping back and forth between channels I "learned" that the robbery was carried out by two or three men carrying none, one, two or three guns who may or may not have run into a nearby junior collage parking lot. In this case it's comical, but what if these channels had been reporting on forest fire, flood or earthquake damage/escape routes or refugee centers?

(Now before I go galloping off on my high horse I want to point out that the police are often forced to rely on incomplete (and inaccurate) information when dealing with developing situations. This is why you in your blue car might be stopped because a witness reports the bank robber drove off in a blue or silver car. But this information is kept within law enforcement channels and not broadcast to the general public.)

But the TV news reports were broadcast hours after the search was over. These TV journalists had hours to get the story straight, and failed to do so.

So, is the escape route over the mountain open? Has DOT (Department Of Transportation) placed limits (no campers? no trailers?) on which vehicles can use it?

Are people west of such and such street supposed to report to this refugee center or that one? Are pets allowed or will you be forced (at the shelter door) to set Fluffy free to fend for herself?

With most of the information put out by the nightly news crews "close enough is good enough" but when your (or Fluffy's) life is on the line?

In one episode of one of my favorite TV shows* Blue Bloods actor Tom Selleck, as fictional Police Commissioner Francis "Frank" Reagan, tells a troublesome journalist planning to publish information detrimental to an ongoing undercover investigation that although the Police Commissioner can't refuse to release information to the journalist the Police Commissioner can influence the timeliness of those info releases to the journalist. The message in this fictional case is clear. It's a fictional example of the way real world powers can influence the news we see and hear.

Here's a real world example: our mayor (an unscrupulous politician if ever I saw one) suddenly refused to grant interviews (on or off camera) to one (and only one) of the local TV stations. After a week of reporting the mayor refusing to speak to them on this or that issue the TV station had a private meeting with the mayor and all of the sudden the interviews were back on. What compromises were made behind closed doors?

Thus my insistence on having multiple radio band radios, TV and Internet to gather information in normal times and especially in an emergency. Heck even a phone call to a friend/family member out of town or out of state can change your whole outlook (and hence your reaction to) what's going on.

(* see also Castle, The Mentalist, MythBusters NCIS & NCIS Los Angeles of course 7 of 9 is still hot in Body of Proof)

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

You Can Run and You Can Hide But Not For Long

Camper One:
Talking into his Satellite phone as he watched the rearview camera the camper carefully backed his class A mobile home between the RV park's utility hookups. In a few minutes electricity, water & sewage lines were connected and he joined his wife inside as she adjusted the angle on the satellite TV dish.

They'd emptied the cupboard and both freezers before fleeing the city, but he'd still felt it necessary to clean out what was left of the overpriced food for sale in the little store next door to the campground's headquarters. The proprietor had demanded cash claiming the credit card system was down. Selection had been sparse, seems he wasn't the only one thinking this thing might last awhile. The expensive campground's beef jerky, chips and Twinkies would have to wait; tonight they had to eat the thawing food they'd been unable to stuff into their ice chests and the RV's little freezer.

One of the national TV networks was still off the air, but he was able to get in the Internet. The bloggers were going wild with competing conspiracy theories and some of those theories were close to what the remaining networks were saying. He was glad he'd brought along his long barreled 12 gauge goose gun and a box of shells.

Camper Two:
Putting her cell phone away she backed the 4X4 pickup next to the fire ring at the far end of the National Park Service's "Remote" camping site. The wide camper shell made it difficult to see behind her as she edged the long bed pickup under a tree. She'd expected it to be deserted this time of year, but the camp site was almost full.

They'd emptied the cupboard and refrigerator/freezer as they headed out the door. They had fuel for the camp stove, gas for the generator and cast iron pots and pans if they had to "rough it" with a camp fire. She wasn't looking forward to that and hoped the whole thing would be over before the Coleman fuel ran out.

Hubby's hobby was HAM radio so he'd been exchanging real news with other HAM's around the country and the world via HF, VHF and UHF as they drove up here. They didn't have to depend on that crap the Emergency Alert System kept spewing out on all the broadcast stations and satellite radio.

They'd emptied the house of food, blankets and clothes on the way out the door. The cooler was full of the freezer's contents and beer. Her husband was complaining there were so many cans of food in the back he didn't have room to move around. He'd maxed out his credit card at the last gas station on the way up here buying overpriced gas, beef jerky and beer. They'd keep up with the news on the truck's radio and a portable radio until the batteries ran out. Hubby'd put his 30-30, scoped .22 rifle and the riot shotgun under the blankets on the camper's bed with several boxes of bullets & shells for each gun. They were keeping his Colt single action "cowboy" revolver and her .38 caliber stub-nosed double action revolver under their shirts.

Camper Three:
He slipped the cell phone into an outer pocket of his backpack after pulling the jeep under a tree at the trailhead. He'd been unable to get any bars for the last three hours but figured its weight would be worth lugging to the mountaintop on the off chance that they'd be able to get bars from up there. The solar charger would keep their cell phones charged and he'd heard that text messages had gotten through when voice had not during some earlier disasters. Maybe text would work from the mountaintop. They didn't want to be completely dependent upon the government for information about the crisis that was being put out on the regular broadcast frequencies.

Realistically if there were any changes to the situation they'd have a better chance of hearing them on the many shortwave and other bands of their solar/hand crank KAITO ka009 portable radio than the Jeep's in dash AM FM radio.

They had hundreds of rounds each for his big bore iron sighted rifle and her scoped Ruger 10-22 plus more ammo for their pistols, but they'd depend on cach├ęs, traps and snares for their food for as long as they had to stay up in the mountains to avoid the spreading chaos in the cities. Hopefully they wouldn't need the heirloom seeds.


HCF replies:
(and I respond)

So what happened? What are they running from? I can't say that any one of them has the right or wrong idea there. Riding the storm out in Class-A luxury is kind of appealing.

Yes it is. To be able to sit around the Jacuzzi later, martini in hand, talking about how you sat out "the big scare" in comfort is appealing.

But what if "the big scare" turned out to be "the big crunch"? Would a Class-A mobile home in an RV park be the place to be? How far would one of those gas guzzlers get when the power to run gas station pumps went out? Wouldn't the RV parks be rapidly overrun with refugees?

Would Campers two or three be in a better position to sit out the storm?

You Can Run and You Can Hide But Not For Long is a think piece designed to get you to think about the consequences of the choices you make early on. Evidently I failed to communicate that.

HAM radio is great for hearing what HAM radio operators want to tell you. It's kind of like the Internet in that regard. The gear used to be heavy and power-hungry; has that changed in recent years? I know some HAMs that have "mobile" rigs in their trucks. It's a hobby I never had time or money for.

Yes, HAM radio is very much like the Internet in that you have various voices bringing you disparate reports of what's happening in the world. However, I hope I made clear that HAMs represent a valid source for reports from the source which may not always be in sync with official pronouncements.

Like you, I've neither the time nor inclination to pursue the HAM hobby, but there are many radios on the market which enable you to listen in on what HAM's are saying. In fact HAM's are oft times part of Civil Defense communication networks. By being able to listen in on both official and unofficial reports survivors should be able to build a more balanced picture of what's happening.

BTW your spellchecker failed you. It's "hybrid" not "highbred" seeds. Having seeds is not enough; most commercially available seeds are hybrid, which means the seeds produced by the plant are sterile. This ensures you come back again next year to buy more seeds. It also makes hybrid seeds a poor choice in TEOTWAWKI scenarios. Look for "heirloom" seeds if it matters.

I've made the correction. Thanks for taking the time to correct me. If it's OK with you I'll put a copy of this exchange as and addendum to the piece.


- - - - - Then a reply to the reply - - - - -

You Can Run and You Can Hide But Not For Long is a think piece designed to get you to think about the consequences of the choices you make early on. Evidently I failed to communicate that.

OK. Thoughts:

Camper #1 did a good job equipping himself with what he had. Unfortunately what he had screams "rich guy with stuff to steal".


Camper #2 is closer to what I would do for myself. I would not have stocked up on beer.

LOL! Me neither! Aside from losing situational awareness by imbibing there's the problem of beer, as trade goods, going stale or flat over time.

Camper #3 obviously believes it's TEOTWAWKI and is acting accordingly.

Exactly! In the absence of creditable evidence to the contrary he's taking a 'sick day' so as to be sure of being outside of ground zero if the Big Scare turns out to be the Big Crunch.

So, like I said earlier, it's hard to know which is the right response without knowing the scenario better.

Ah yes! And that is the $64,000 question. Will the media to pass on the "real news" or regurgitate official handouts from politicians who obviously have a stake in how the situation is interpreted by the populace?

More to the point, will "official sources" give you the information you need to make a intelligent decisions in time for the info be meaningful in terms of giving you time to take action?

Obviously having access to alternative sources of information will help us make that determination. Which brings us to:

During our recent SHTF scare ( I found Twitter to be the most reliable source of near-real-time information. After that was the local paper's ( "Blotter" blog of news events. TV news and other "mainstream" outlets were MIA. So I am aware that alternate forms of news have substantial value.

An interesting observation for several reasons. First that people would turn to Twitter in time of crisis. (I guess "Instant Messaging" is pretty much the AOL of the Internet nowadays.;-)

Second that the newspaper has read the writting on the wall and is making the transition from dead tree to online newspaper.

I interpret your words to mean TV news and other mainstream (radio?) outlets were 'responsibly' passing on pronouncements from officials which, by the time they filtered down to the microphone were out of date.

In re: HAM's
I did not know this. I will look into it.

Years ago I read of a HAM operator participating in a Civil Defense drill being held in the basement of a local hospital on the seedier side of town who was asked to leave his pickup/camper full of radio equipment in the parking lot and run a base station inside where he'd be more readily available to pass messages to and from field units.

He flat out refused saying he wasn't going to leave $50,000 worth of radio equipment outside unguarded as a free gift to drug addicts. He stayed in his camper and they brought messages out to him.

In other words not all HAM operators are "independent contractors" (if you will) and won't slavishly parrot official handouts. A potpourri of HAM conversations will likely give a slightly (or maybe much) different take on a situation.

To be fair to seed vendors, hybrid plants have a number of positive characteristics like pest resistance that make them valuable to mainstream gardeners. Just be aware of the sterile seeds if planning for TEOTWAWKI.


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Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Real long term survival requires farming.
Got seeds?

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dealing with Authority after Disaster

Addendum: Shortly after posting this blog entry online I received a sharp rebuke from a friend in law enforcement. He is correct.

I overstated/misstated my point. I want to emprise that in the following diatribe when I refer to "the authorities" I'm not talking about LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers), fire or EMS, but rather the upper echelons who make the decisions as to whether or not you'll be allowed to evacuate along this road or that; whether or not you'll be allowed to bring your pets into or out of a public shelter; whether or not you'll be able to keep your possessions and where you'll be allowed to go.

LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) don't make those decisions. They just follow orders to block of this route or that, to allow this or that into the public shelter or even whether or not you'll be allowed to leave the public shelter. So don't mistake the following tirade as an indictment of First Responders, they're doing their jobs.

The purpose of this oration is to inspire you to stock up on food and water so you can sit out the disaster at home and not end up like "those people".

How much food and water do you have on hand? The minimum federally recommended three days? But is that enough?

After a disaster authorities are more concerned with maintaining control than your personal comfort and wellbeing. Keeping you fed in a shelter has more to do with reducing/controlling your desire to get out than concern for your comfort and wellbeing.

Your personal safety is secondary to maintaining control to prevent (or at least control) chaos.

Until the disaster is declared officially over, I expect you'll find it a whole lot harder to get out of a public shelter than it was to get into it. Also, you will be disarmed going into a public shelter. Don't expect to get those guns back.

Therefore, if at all possible, staying out of a public shelter should be one of your top priorities. Having sufficient food and water on hand to ride out the storm will be paramount in that case.

Three days worth of food and water? Why not three weeks?

(Note, the events below are not a race problem; half of the police officers involved were black.)

NEW ORLEANS, (CBS/AP) It's one of the more horrific stories to come out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster - two unarmed men gunned down, four others wounded, allegedly at the hands of police officers.

Now four New Orleans police officers stand charged with multiple criminal counts including the murder of 17-year-old James Brisette.

The Danziger Bridge shootings happened Sept. 4, 2005; just six days after Hurricane Katrina tore across the south, overwhelming New Orleans' famous levies and drowning the city in water.


Seven heavily armed New Orleans police officers stormed Danziger Bridge.
Prosecutors said they shot at the first people they saw, people prosecutors say were crossing the bridge to find food.


The indictment claims Faulcon shot mentally disabled Ronald Madison, 40, in the back as he ran away on the west side of the bridge. Bowen is charged with stomping and kicking Madison while he was lying on the ground, wounded but still alive.

Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso also are accused of shooting at an unarmed family on the east side of the bridge, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others.



Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Carter says police had no justification for shooting unarmed, defenseless people on the Danziger Bridge, then plotting to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports.

But a defense attorney urged jurors to consider the "disorder, chaos and lawlessness" that gripped the flooded city after Katrina when they decide whether the officers acted reasonably in using deadly force.

Second update
(Various sources)

Lance Madison was on the bridge the day of the shooting. He was thrown behind bars for false accusations that he shot at police. His mentally disabled brother, Ronald Madison, was shot and killed.

"Without the support and hard work of my family, I might still be in prison for false charges and the truth about what happened on the Danziger Bridge might have never been known," said Lance Madison.

"These defendants will be facing very, very long sentences," said legal analyst Dane Ciolino. It was a far cry from three years ago when the officers involved in the shooting were given a hero's sendoff when they surrendered on state charges in the same case.

Note that it took federal intervention to bring these guys to justice and that no matter what sentences are handed down it won't bring the dead back.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

100 year old canned food can be eaten safely. "Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier. The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium values 'were comparable to today's products.'"

Hormel Foods also has some information on the storage of their products.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Working the Border

I'm reading a book I bought at Costco which outlines the life's work of Texas Ranger Doyle Holdridge who worked Texas's unsecured southern border, in various law enforcement capacities, for nearly four decades.

The book is a series of short stories (reports actually) each encompassing a criminal case Doyle worked. They are fascinating, easy to read and informative! In many of the cases I see lessons for preppers and survivalists that could arm them with knowledge that could help them survive in a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) situation. Here are a few:

Lessons learned from a Backpacking Poacher
In the tale of the "Backpacking Poacher" Doyle recounts how a locally famous deer poacher would have an accomplice drop him off at night near a ranch known to have bucks with big racks (antlers) and hunt for several days. This tactic insured no one would find his vehicle *** and know the poacher was operating in the area.

Carrying only food, water, sleeping bag and a rifle the poacher would "cold camp" (no campfire) returning to a predetermined spot to be picked up with his ill gotten gains at a prearranged time. Never caught, he was a ghost coming and going without a trace.

Doyle doesn't say if the poacher wore camouflage clothing, but it would have helped him elude detection not withstanding that stillness is great camouflage too.

If you need to move across contested ground to or from your Bug Out Location the poacher's lesson has something to teach you.
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Tommy's (El Cheapo) Burglar Alarm for Light Sleepers

A guy named Tommy who lived along one of Doyle's beats had a simple, but very effective homemade burglar alarm consisting of a microphone in his rural gas station with a wire running to a speaker in his nearby home. Dishonest travelers thinking to make an easy late night score on a closed gas station soon found themselves staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun.

Probably only good for inside buildings, the microphone/speaker setup can guard several nearby locations at once if each mike is attached to a different speaker.

One of the advantages of this setup is that the intruder doesn't know he's alerted the owner(s) and may more easily be taken by surprise.

One disadvantage (aside from heavy sleepers) is that the system is constantly "on" and transmitting thus using power which could be a problem if the electricity is out.
- - - - - - - - - - -

While working the Texas Governor's security detail Ranger Holdridge learned, via several personal experiences, that anti-gun governor Ann Richards was a Bitch. I could have told him that.
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(If At First You Don't Secede this next tale takes a bit of enplaning to get all the groups involved (or not) identified. The original "Republic of Texas" (1836 to 1846) had nothing to do with these modern day whackos other than that the idiots appropriated the name. Three groups all claim or claimed to be the "The Republic of Texas" but couldn't get along even with each other hence the three splinter groups of stooges. There is also a "The Republic of Texas" ROT biker rally held every year which may/may not have anything to do with any of the aforementioned groups. To from your own "Republic of Texas" please form a line on the right.)

Lessons learned from a Bunch of Idiots
In 1997 one of these groups of idiots who'd organized themselves into outfits they called "The Republic of Texas" (not to be confused with the original Republic of Texas) kidnapped two people attracting the attention of law enforcement:
Another incident occurred in Fort Davis, Texas a year later in March 1997 when a faction of the self-styled "Republic of Texas" militia group seized hostages. The Republic of Texas group believed that the annexation of Texas as a state in 1845 was illegal, that Texas should remain an independent nation, and that the legitimate government of Texas was the group's leadership.[12] Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe were taken at gunpoint in retaliation for the arrest of member Robert J. Scheidt, who had been arrested on weapons charges. Leader Richard McLaren then declared that the group was in a state of war with the federal government.[13] The property was then surrounded by the entire Jeff Davis County sheriff's department, state troopers, Texas Rangers, and agents of the FBI.[12] McLaren's wife, Evelyn, convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week-long standoff. The McLarens and four other Republic of Texas members were sent to prison.[13]

Ranger Holdridge was one of the Texas Rangers sent to quell the "rebellion" by the half dozen or so rebels. Using standard police procedures the assembled Law Enforcement Officers (LEO's) negotiated with the splinter group until the hostages were released and all but two of the kidnappers surrendered. The remaining two took to the hills and the chase was on.

One rebel took a stand on a mountainside shooting it out with a police helicopter and dozens of LEO's in a deadly firefight which he lost.

The second runner escaped temporarily; hiding out with other militia groups who found him too crazy even for them and was captured as he was being kicked (literally) out of a car that was supposed to be taking him to a new safe house. He's got about 90 years left to serve on his sentence.

The first lesson to be learned from all of this is that when local law enforcement outnumbers your group by hundreds to one committing major felonies and then publicly proclaiming your position (both ideologically and geographically) is not a good group survival tactic.

Secondly, it would have been helpful (to the two runners) if they'd done their bugging out in the middle of the night so as to reduce the chances of being seen and chased.

Thirdly, once again stillness helped a person elude dozens of pursuers on the ground and in the air.

Fourth, when many of the people chasing you think you're dead and have given up searching for you; don't call a newspaper reporter to remove all doubt about your breathing rate and promise revenge.

And the last lesson to be learned from these idiots: as far as I could ascertain all of the members of the "Republic of Texas" group that were involved in the hostage stunt went to prison. So the third thing we can learn from this is don't hang out with people who advocate breaking the law, and especially don't hang out with people who are committing felonies!

Also, a midnight break-in at the supermarket because Herald Camping has convinced you that tomorrow is "TEOTWAWKI Tuesday" will likely land you in jail which is definitely not where you want to be if it turns out you were a week early.

Reading this report, JRG wrote to say:

"One of my acquaintances occasionally trespasses on large ranches to go arrowhead hunting. What he does is park adjacent to a construction road crew, then cross the road and fence on the other side. The road crew figures it’s the rancher, the rancher thinks the vehicle belongs to someone on road crew, no one suspects a thing."

Thanks JRG!

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Lessons learned from a Sporting Goods Store Burglary
Responding with a friend to an alarm at the friend's store they and the cops quickly determined the perpetrator had fled the scene. Too quickly as it turned out because as Doyle looked behind a hot water cooler in the back of the store he found himself nose to nose with the burglar.

I'll quote Ranger Holdridge for the lesson on this one: "A man needs to stay on his toes all the time." In a situation like that you "Never let your guard down. You just never know what's going to happen."

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Saturday, September 10, 2011


Your home is your castle right? This precept of English Common Law came over on the Mayflower and is firmly ensconced in American Jurisprudence. But would it have any relevance in the aftermath of TEOTWAWKI?

Let's face it, the lack of law and order is an integral part of the definition of The End Of The World As We Know It).

In modern America we depend upon the police to defend our homes. You don't see high walls topped with broken glass and barbed wire surrounding inner courtyards in your neighborhood. There are no heavy wood or metal gates barring access to your front door.

Esthetics and cost, not strength and armor plating, likely played a major part in the selection of your front door. So how would your castle fare in the absence of law and order?

Got moat?

Castles in the Middle Ages had loopholes and cleared fields of fire.

Thanks to the greed and avarice of the developer that built your home (or maybe your unwillingness to pay a king's ransom for a five acre spread) there's probably a gap of just a few feet between your castle and the castle next door. Local zoning laws likely determined the limits of your castle's field of fire long before you bought the place.

More to the point, because your castle lacks projecting towers at the corners, once an attacker gets up against the wall of your house it's next to impossible to dislodge him without sticking your own neck (or arm) out a window to get a clear shot at him. If the attacker's accomplice is covering the windows of your wall dislodging the wall hanger becomes dangerous indeed.

Then there's the minor little problem of simultaneous attacks from several sides. How's the modern castle dweller to cope when there are barbarians at the gate in a post TEOTWAWKI world?

First off, keep in mind that the attack will likely develop from a foraging foray by a lone looter or small gang of looters rather than a planned raid by a SWAT team or combat infantry squad.

A looter looking for food, medicine and other valuables will likely stumble upon your stay at home Bug-In-Location by chance. Greed being what it is he probably won't call to his comrades until he's checked things out (and stuffed his pockets) for himself.

He'll consider a locked door a signal that treasure awaits inside. Yet leaving your front door open merely invites surprise attack. You want it plain that the front door is unlocked but not gotten through without a bit of (noisy) effort.

I say "front door" because looters going through a neighborhood will most likely take the route of least resistance. Scaling back alley walls or climbing fences between yards takes a lot more effort than walking up the street checking/kicking in front doors.

Let's do a little channeling. No, I don't mean attempting to contact your long dead great-great-grandmother. In the days when castles were more than tourist attractions castle builders went to great lengths to channel attackers into what we today would call kill zones via exterior constructions called barbicans.

"The Barbican passage contained Murder Holes in the ceiling and arrow slits on either side of the barbican passage. The barbican is also referred to as the Death Trap."

You can build your own interior barbican with little or no effort. In fact you probably already have one. It's called the foyer or vestibule.

If you already have burglar bars on all the windows (you should) and security gates on the side & back door(s) you've likely done a lot more channeling than most of your neighbors.

Now for the barbican.

Remember we're talking about the end of the world as we know it when your life and your family's lives are on the line, not some WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) interlude after a tornado, hurricane or earthquake when law and order will soon be restored because in some jurisdictions under some conditions this could be considered luring the looter.

If your front door is partially open held loosely in place only by one of those stupid chain door guards you've got your noise maker in place. Simply throw a box of books, an easy chair or some other heavy object directly behind the door on the hinge side so that whoever shoulders past the chain guard will find himself further delayed by the door not opening fully.

Filling the foyer or hallway with fluffy stuff (large and medium empty corrugated cardboard boxes, metal buckets, five gallon paint pails, floor and table lamps with shades anything that forces the intruder to pick and choose his steps will further delay him while whoever is on guard takes aim from the other end of the hallway.

Challenge or shoot!
At this point whether you challenge or shoot the intruder will depend on you and your situation. Obviously in a WTSHTF situation you'd want to avoid bloodshed if at all possible. After Armageddon you might have no choice.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Many people who've only recently begun thinking about how they will get along if the support system we call infrastructure (electricity, water, natural gas, gasoline and communications) ceases to function for a little while (tornado, hurricane, earthquake, etc.) often think in terms of flashlights, spare batteries and cooking on the BBQ for a day or two.

For longer term solutions (and not having to worry about dead batteries & empty bags of briquettes) I suggest solar powered yard lights and solar ovens either (hand made or purchased.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

For those who don't know

For those who don't know, TEOTWAWKI is an acronym for "(The End Of The World As We Know It)".

It refers to a total long term breakdown of government, financial systems and society. Think the Mad Max movies or, more realistically, the book/movie No Blade of Grass to get an idea of what the term means.

If you Google TEOTWAWKI and do a bit of research you'll find TEOTWAWKI adherents generally break down into two groups: Gun Nuts and Sustainable food storage/growing Nuts.

The food nuts point out, correctly, that you can't eat guns.

The gun nuts point out, correctly, that a guy with a gun can get pretty much anything he wants from a guy without one.

(This is not an idle argument. I'd once just met a man who, when the subject of Y2K came up, opined that he wasn't storing any food because he had a gun. This man was a sergeant on the local police force.)

The term TEOTWAWKI became popular during the run up to the Y2K (Year 2000) nonevent in 2000 but its roots go back before that.

Gary North, among others, foretold the End Of The World As We Know It because computers hadn't been programmed and/or hardwired to acknowledge the year 2000 and all subsequent years. The theory was that computers would either read '00 as 1900 or wouldn't be able to cope with 2000 at all.

If you feel yourself becoming enmeshed in a desire to prepare for TEOTWAWKI keep in mind that beyond a certain reasonable point preparation for TEOTWAWKI hinders or even prevents preparation for other, more likely, events.

Yes, in the year 2011, a recession or depression seems likely in our future, but which action makes you more prepared for the MOST LIKELY scenario of 2012 or 2015 or whatever:

Paying down Credit Cards, car loans and other high interest debt as you buy cases of canned foods you normally eat and rotating them (eat oldest first and replace with case of similar), building up a reserve of cash and MAYBE a gun.


Buying an "assault rifle" with hundreds of rounds of ammo and 500 pounds of rice & beans for storage in air tight containers in your garage?

Perhaps some adherents to TEOTWAWKI are attracted to the idea of avoiding car, mortgage and Credit Card payments in the smoking ruins of civilization, but the more rational approach to the MOST LIKELY scenario is to pay down debt, build up an emergency supply (one month's worth of expenses) of cash and buy foods you'll actually eat by the case.

Of course if TEOTWAWKI really comes (you turn on the TV and see smoke coming from the White House, riots on Wall Street and some guy proclaiming himself interim emperor) you can run down to Costco and buy cases of everything with your credit card and pick up a pistol on your way home. If it turns out that Orson Welles' grandson was having a bit of fun at your expense, well, Costco has a wonderful return policy.

All fun aside, most states have waiting periods for handguns so if you want one (non shooters should buy a .38 special caliber double action revolver with a two inch barrel and a box, fifty rounds, of bullets.) buy it and a trigger lock now. If you want to wait and buy a rifle or shotgun, remember there'll probable be a bigger rush at the gun store than Costco so you might stop by Pistol Pete's Pistol Trading Post first; right after you gas up the car.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Time is what keeps everything from happening at once which is why you'll have a hard time filling the pantry, buying bottled water, filling the gas tank(s) on your vehicle(s) and buying that gun all at once.

Desert Dave's helpful hint: if you get as many of those items checked off your list BEFORE the $#!t hits the fan you'll be ahead of the game.

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