Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Is There A List?

How Does One Start Preparing for TEOTWAWKI or WTSHTF?

Once you start reading up on the subject of survival it seems there is so much to do, so much to learn. Where to start?

Well, first off you've made a good start, you're here. ;-) Read the past posts bookmark and keep coming back for more as the blog is updated.

You've probably noticed that Preppers and Survivalist sites run the gamut from sites promoting food storage to sites promoting ammo storage.

One of the best boards I've found for survival and preparation information is the TEOTWAWKI board on The Motley Fool.

If you're female and want to skip the how to snare, skin and stir-fry squirrel sites you might want to get started with a site like The Survival Mom which has a list of lists of things you'll want to do or save to get started.

Both men and women will probably feel comfortable visiting the sites listed along the left hand side of the Prepper dot org home page

(Note that some of the sites listed take a more er… stringent view of things than others, but that's part of the beauty of the World Wide Web; if you don't like the site in your state you can check out another state's survival site with just a click of the mouse.)

If you want to get an idea of what life in America's cities might be like if our politicians don't stop spending more money than we have you'll want to read: Surviving in Argentina FerFAL's blog.

And for those who really really want to know how to skin a deer there's always sites like Survivalist Boards Where you'll find helpful hints on everything from planting, caring for and harvesting crops and raising chickens to trapping and skinning beavers.

Just keep reading the blogs, boards and web sites and pretty soon you'll be slinging acronyms like: BOB (Bug Out Bag), BOV (Bug Out Vehicle), AO (Area of Operations), BOL (Bug Out Location), BO (Bug Out) and BI (Bug In) with the best of them.

It all may seem rather daunting at first, but remember you don't have to do everything at once. Just stocking up on the canned food that you normally eat when it's on sale is a good first step. Planning out how you would "Bug Out" if you had to evacuate (and where you'd go) is another good step. Got a "Bug Out Bag" (BOB)? Your BOB can be as simple as a backpack by the back door or as elaborate as my three stage BOB system.

The important thing is to get started even if it's just saving that miniature roll of dental floss your dentist gives you.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Vehicle Bug Out Bag Update

As those who have read my earlier blog articles know I've arranged my Bug Out Bag's (BOB) in three stages:
1. EDC (Every Day Carry) minimal items very small easy and convenient to carry about.
2. Vehicle BOB larger and aimed as much at keeping my vehicle on the road as getting me home with or without the vehicle.
3. Home G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) BOB for getting the heck out of town long term.

In this article I'm going to cover my vehicle BOB as I've recently updated it.

Spurred on by reading some other survival blog somewhere I finally got around to updating my vehicle BOB (Bug Out Bag). Good thing too. I'd been raiding it over the years for "a few ounces of windshield washer fluid" here and a tool or two for a moment or two. It was in pretty sorry shape so I decided to redo the whole thing.

Road Trip
Not too far: to Walmart, Sears and AutoZone. Grabbed gallon jugs of windshield washer fluid and Prestone anti-freeze along with two quarts of oil and one quart of automatic transmission fluid. Also bought smaller size bottles of Prestone power steering fluid, break fluid and radiator stop leak. I added a small multi-purpose funnel too because my old one had somehow disappeared.

While I was at it I added a bottle of "Slime Tire Sealant" (which I've seen demonstrated to work on a local TV news show) and a can of "Ultra Instant Tire Sealer" which I've used (which is why it was no longer in my vehicle BOB).

I kept the roll of duct tape, as it is still in pretty good shape, but bought a new can of WD-40 just to be on the safe side. I also kept the unopened package of J-B Weld. Also splurged on a five piece "Slime Tire Plug Kit" 'cause it was under six bucks.

While I was splurging I plunked down $12.88 for a "Energizer Trailfinder series 3 LED Headlight" with two white LED's and one red LED (to preserve night vision according to the package, but also good for tactical light discipline) which straps around your head like a headband and gives you hands free light where you're looking. It comes with a storage bag and looks so handy I'd better get another 'cause I can see myself raiding the BOB to "borrow" it for other tasks.

As with all electrical gear I tested it out as soon as I got home. Middle of the night fifty miles from the nearest telephone pole is no place to find out that a piece of equipment you're depending on isn't dependable. It works fine. I augmented the three AAA batteries that came with the headband with six more (all tested with my battery checker) batteries packed separately from the headlight in a little plastic container that'll keep'em from jiggling around and contacting each other's ends.

My Walmart had two other LED headlights. One, that the salesman really wanted to sell me for some reason, clipped onto the bill of a baseball cap and looked really neat. But it used two nickel sized and shaped batteries that I reckon might be hard to find in the middle of WTSHTF so I passed on that because we also have lots of devices around the house that use AAA batteries and would more likely have more AAA's around if TEOTWAWKI arrived unannounced. Simplicity of supply.

The other proffered LED headlight had six (6!) LED's Two white, two red and two ultraviolet (supposed to be good for night fishing) which I passed on because of the higher price and I couldn't see me needing ultraviolet.

I'm not very mechanically inclined (in fact I somehow manage to cut myself every time I touch anything sharper than a crescent wrench) so my original BOB tool kit was small and got smaller over the years as I raided it for tools to do this and that.

I've reconstituted it so it now contains a small needle-nosed Vice Grip and large Vice Grip pliers, a pliers & a wrench (both from Sears) that adjust themselves to the size of whatever they're grabbing, a Phillips screwdriver, a pry bar masquerading as a large flat blade screwdriver and a Sears "Dog Bone™" eight in one wrench. All rolled in a piece of canvas. Those tools plus the genuine Leatherman I always carry in the glove box should be capable of performing any repairs I'm capable of performing.

I also repackaged the Jumper cables (the long thick-wired ones not those shorty thin-wired ones like they sell at Walmart) and a long thick tow rope and a short towing strap that'll attach to the towing shackles on my vehicle.

Being a retired surplus dealer I've got an E tool and a bunch of brown (camouflage) Army surplus washcloths which I'm using to stuff between things in the boxes (so as to keep the rattling down) and as towels and mechanic's hand wipes. Also, since they are tufted like towels, they could be stuffed into clothing for insulation (instant field expedient sleeping bag) in a pinch. When I was stationed in Germany in the early 1960's our field pants and parka liners were made of a similar material. Not as good as the stuff they use nowadays, but better than nothing.

Here I should point out that my vehicle BOB is actually three containers; two sturdy cardboard boxes and a gray plastic tub I got from Walmart since I wanted a container that wouldn't leak oil or whatever if one of the containers in it did.

Since I don't plan to be taking anti-freeze, oil or windshield fluid with me if forced to abandon the vehicle I'm not worried about how "man portable" that part of the kit is. If there's time I can always strip out the duct tape, WD-40, JB Weld and tools before abandoning the vehicle.

I chose to keep the vehicle Bug Out "Bag" in the cardboard boxes because the old things are abnormally strong and don't look like there'd anything valuable in them. The gray plastic tub, however, is a different matter. It simply reeks of "something valuable may be in here" so I'm planning to write some off-putting label on it with a broad felt tipped pen. Something that says "there's nothing worth stealing in here" like "Baby clothes" or "Family Photos" or some such.

As stated the gray plastic tub holds the liquids and tools. One of the old cardboard boxes holds the jumper cables, tow rope and tow strap and assorted lengths of 550 cord and some other cordage. Also a windbreaker, baseball cap, bonnie hat and patrol cap.

The cardboard boxes are more of a 72 hour Bug Out Bag. Their primary purpose is to provide the tools and supplies to get me to the home Bug Out Bag.

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Monday, December 21, 2009


The purpose of camouflage is to break up the outline of something so it blends in with the surroundings. Sounds simple, right? Just wear red plaid when in front of a brick wall, gray sweat pants and hoodie in front of concrete walls and green in the jungle.

But what if you move from the brick wall to the concrete wall? The red stands out like a sore thumb in front of gray concrete and vice versa.

Ay, there's the rub as Hamlet would say. Uniform designers have been attempting to come up with a universal camouflage for centenaries. White snow camo won't work in a green jungle but bureaucrats pinching pennies still push for money saving "one camouflage pattern fits all backgrounds" uniforms.

Bureaucrats be damned all camouflage is local!

Let the bureaucrats try to figure out how to make a primarily green uniform blend with buildings and get the clothing that'll blend in with the background in your area of operations.

That'll probably work out to be two groups of clothing. Tans, browns and grays for winter and greens, browns, tans, and grays for summer. Where snow is on the ground white overalls would be necessary. Fortunately painter's overalls are relatively cheap.

When we owned the surplus store the Border Patrol came in one day asking me to order some USMC MARPAT woodland pattern camouflage pants and shirts which they'd finagled a way to get the government to pay for.

They showed me a color picture of four of their guys wearing uniforms of the MARPAT pattern standing in front of a bunch of mesquite bushes. Unless you looked close all you could see was faces and hands.

Of course down along the river there's a lot more mesquite than inland. High plains would probably need more tans and browns. Your area will dictate what color works best for you.

Try not to show the inverted "V" of your legs. Humans are the only animal with that silhouette and people have subconsciously learned to look for it.

Most modern shoulder weapons are effective to three or more hundred yards, but the distance at which the unaided human eye readily sees the enemy is closer to a hundred yards thus the camouflage patterns on most military uniforms is small. The patterns are set at a size to fool enemy soldiers at a hundred yards or less. These smaller camouflage patterns turn into "blobs" of solid color at about 100 yards or more. Larger patterns conceal better at longer distances thus the camouflage patterns on vehicles is usually larger.

Blending in means harmonizing when among other people too; military cammies or even civilian hunting cammies will be out of place downtown. If you don't want to look like a militiaman on shore leave, try wearing regular civilian clothes that match the colors of the animals of your area.

Tans, browns, grays and even a little black work for the animals so why not put them to work for you too. (You'll probably want to add some greens to spice up the mix.) Wearing a mix of earth toned colored pants, shirts, vests, jackets, hats and boots help to break up the human shape thus helping you to blend in with your surroundings.

A few Hawaiian shirts in black, green and brown with large non-bright contrasting green or brown flowers on them work well as a non-obvious urban camouflage. On the one hand aloha shirts are made to be worn with the bottom hem not tucked in which facilitates carrying concealed weapons. On the other hand they are virtually all short sleeved which means your arms will provide moving patches of flesh color to an observer.

Our eyes look, but our brain sees. Researchers studying auto/motorcycle accidents found that motorists were looking at motorcyclists but not seeing motorcyclists because they were expecting other cars and trucks. Turning on motorcycle headlights and having motorcyclists wear bright colored clothing has helped reduce motorcycle accident rates because the human eye/brain sees/notices movement and light.

Camouflaging vehicles.
A white underbelly and underside of wheel wells will reduce the shadows under a vehicle. Painting the corners of the vehicle a different color from the rest breaks up the shape of the vehicle making it hard to "see" when it's not moving.

When parked; earth toned cardboard or canvas can be put over windows to eliminate reflected glare. You'll want to cover running and break lights too. Likewise all chrome should be painted black or you could let the color of the camouflage paint around the chrome "run" into it.

People subconsciously look for the round black doughnuts of tires so painting the sidewalls and hubs a camouflage color removes that cue when the vehicle is still. The camo paint should go across the tire/hub line so as not to just create a doughnut of a different color.

Movement will give you away no matter what you are wearing or driving.

On the road the brain is looking for "vehicle" shapes. In the field the brain is looking for "game" shapes or "man" shapes or "vehicle" shapes. Camouflage breaks up the expected shapes by blending them in with the background and foreground.

Camouflaging Buildings
You can unobtrusively camouflage earth tone colored buildings by painting the corners different colors than the rest of the wall and/or roof. Or maybe a tree planted at the corner would help break up the outline.

Straight lines, squares, rectangles, right angles and perfect circles are almost nonexistent in nature. When you see any of them they're virtually certain to be man made.

Decretive odd shaped doodads at the corners of a building break up the shape of the building into a harder to recognize blobs so the square-ness and/or rectangular-ness don't show from across the valley. Bushes along the wall will help break up the straight line created where the building meets the ground and taller bushes or vines between windows help break up the sameness of the walls.

Black or dark metal screens will help reduce glass glare.

Silhouetting is what happens when you walk over a ridgeline. A dark silhouette of you appears against a light sky to viewers at or below your elevation when the sky becomes your background. All the camouflage in the world won't break up your silhouette then (although it may make you look like a walking bush) so stay off ridge lines as much as possible. If you must cross a ridgeline try to do so in a gulch or ravine which will hide you or among brush or trees which will obscure your silhouette.

Remember, movement attracts the eye and your shadow moves with you. Move very slowly when you are trying to sneak up on something or someone and stay in the shadows as much as possible any time you are trying to stay hidden.

Noise Discipline
If it rattles it tattles. Even a Ghillie suit won't hide you if you clank like a tank. I read of a US Army Ranger whose ambush was ruined when his wristwatch alarm went off just as the "enemy" was entering the kill zone. Fortunately he was a student at the U.S. Army's Ranger School and the "enemy" was fellow students.

Light Discipline
I have seen people signal across a valley with the side of a stainless steel hunting knife. Anything shiny must be covered. Camp well away from the trail; if you must, build small (well shielded) campfires. Looking at a fire destroys your night vision for up to 30 minutes.

The Army issues flashlights with red filters for a reason. Red light not only preserves your night vision it's less visible from a distance. Even so US elite forces prefer to use their red lights (for map reading & first aid) under ponchos.

Scent Discipline
The smell of smoke from that small campfire will give you away to anyone downwind. Take a bath, stinky!


HCF adds this:

There is a whole 'nother kind of camouflage, the kind you use to blend into a crowd. If you want to be another South Austin Hippie, wear a band T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. "He was a big dude, with a beard, wearing an Austin City Limits Festival T-shirt." Yeah, that narrows it down. There are times when you really don't want to stand out of a crowd.

And I replied:

I won't ask what you did to get the cops so interested in you, but that is an interesting problem. How to blend in when in the city? Again there is no universal camouflage; what works in one environment may not in others.

A T-shirt and shorts probably won't blend in too well with the suits in the banking district and vice versa but within the habitat of the South Austin Hippie (ACL Festivalist Maximus?) the T-shirt camouflage is perfect. Searchers are reduced to looking for a red or yellow or whatever colored T-shirt. For that reason dark colored clothing might be better for furtive movement because white/light/bright colors tend to attract the eye.

Clothing that will blend in perfectly in some parts of town tends to stand out in others.

A zebra amongst a herd of horses on the plains of Texas tends to stand out even at the edge of the herd. Likewise a horse in a herd of zebras will stand out against a backdrop of black and white stripes, but less so at the edge of the herd where the horse's natural coloring (browns & tans) tends to blend in more with the surrounding veldt.

Reversible clothing can help by changing the color of the cloth, but not the style of the attire.

How to hide a beard? Wear a burqa?


And jC adds:

Dave, a quick note
I think the best 'hide' stratey is to find some cover and remain motionless.
I walk a trail nerby frequently, sparsly populated by teens drinking, bums, people walking for exercise or exercising their dog. I dont always want to meet these people.

Squat down by some tall weeds or a scrub tree and they will walk right by. Anything that disturbs your shapes make you invisable. Stopping all motion, you look like a rock or a stump. People and animals have no memory.

I havent figured out what to do about steamy breath in the winter, but I have some time to find out now.

Very true, jC!
Staying perfectly still is as much a part of camouflage as face paint, camo clothes and covering shiny objects. In fact you've reminded me of a couple of incidents from my past that I'll be putting in the article (inspired by you) to be uploaded after I "publish" the article I've written on updating my Vehicle Bug Out Bag. I've promised to hold off on publishing that one until December 24th of this year. Let's see, what to title jC's inspired article?

Be Still My Foolish Heart?
The Importance of Being Earnestly Still?

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Most Likely Scenario

What if everything goes to Hell in a hand basket, but the basket remains (more or less) intact?

Isn't that pretty much what happened with the Weimar Republic? Sure the whole affair was pretty much TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) for the German people, but the fabric that held their lives together held (with a few major rips and tears) until another government took over. People had jobs, the trains and trolleys ran and government services staggered along. In other words people coped.

When we look we see pretty much the same thing happening time and again. Major disruptions major changes, but the majority of the population doesn't flee their bungalows in the burbs to go live in a bunker in the bush.

So why is it that we Americans feel an economic collapse would inevitably lead to riots and burning cities with the majority of the population fleeing to the countryside?

I'd like to postulate that it ain't a'gunn'a happen!

I suspect if the U.S. dollar's value continues to plummet people will adapt to the new situations as they occur. As long as the water is on people will want to sleep in their own beds at night even if they have to pile on the blankets to keep warm or eat a meal, cooked on a hibachi, by candlelight. As long as they can flush the toilets they'll stay.

Think of the Great Depression not Mad Max.

I'm going to slant future columns toward the supposition that people pretty much remain in their homes with diminished governmental services.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


I've been basing my planning on the assumption of the phases of Total TEOTWAWKI something like this:

1. Pre Accumulation phase
• Wherein people who prepare (often called "Preppers") store extra amounts of food, water, supplies and medicine during "normal" times.

2. Post Accumulation Phase
• Wherein people who didn't stock up ahead of time make a mad dash for the store. The scenario will be sort of like in the Southeast or North when a hurricane or blizzard is predicted only much worse.
• If civil authority is perceived* to have failed this phase could get violent.
(*Perception is reality, at least insofar as how we react to it.)

3. Hunker down phase
• Wherein "Preppers" and "survivalists" (preppers with guns) hunker in their bunker or hide in their homes.
The prepared ride out the famine and the resulting die off while the unprepared are forced to wander in search of food, water, supplies and medicine.
• Anyone wandering near a bunker is likely to get shot.
• Anyone breaking into a home is likely to get shot.

4. Reemergence phase
• Wherein the survivors emerge into the post TEOTWAWKI world.
• This is the phase when old alliances will be tested and new alliances forged.
• Family groups will be the nexus as clans and tribes are formed which, in turn, will morph into towns, cities and city states.
• Basic services (food, water and shelter/protection) MUST be delivered by these groups or they will wither and disband. That means the group must obtain or maintain food by any means necessary. Yes, back to barbarians at the gates.
• Whatever is left will be salvaged by whoever is left. I expect something like Europe after the Black Plague where empty houses and lands were free for the taking and outlaws roamed the land.

In my estimation there will be two phases in a post TEOTWAWKI world where gold, silver and diamonds would be useful:

• For a short time immediately after the TEOTWAWKI event when people hope/ expect/ wish things will soon get back to normal. During this period people will be willing to trade their food or medicine for gold, silver or diamonds in the expectation that they will have the better of the deal when things get back to normal and a gold coin will again be worth more than a can of beans. (Picture Homer Simpson trading his family's last canned ham for the Hope diamond and then realizing they don't have any food left. "D'oh!")

• During the following famine starving people will not be willing to trade food for any price. When it is realized that many medicines can no longer be manufactured those who need the medicine will hang on to them like life itself. Gold, silver and diamonds will probably not be valued highly in such circumstances.

• During the reorganization phase as clans and tribes form cities and city states. Once order is (more or less) reestablished there will again be a need for money to facilitate trade. Although I very much doubt anyone will be willing to accept fiat paper script again, gold and silver coins will probably serve as money. Diamonds, gold and silver bars would be useful for larger purchases like land.

In summary I expect gold, silver and diamonds to be useful going into and coming out of a post TEOTWAWKI world.

In the middle phase gold and silver coins would be almost as worthless as the government's paper tender which would have value only as tinder.

Food would have value because people have to eat.

Guns & Ammo would have value because although you can't eat guns a guy with a gun can get food from a guy without one.

• How will it play out? Who knows. The history of humankind is tyranny. Will our democratic tradition hold, or will the need for a strong leaders establish tyrants?
• It would be a waste of our time to discuss what we think SHOULD happen since our chances of controlling it are miniscule.
• A more fruitful endeavor, however, might be to discuss ways of setting up the framework now for a better world then.

* Perception IS reality, at least insofar as we react to it.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home Invasion Robbery

(The following advice assumes you are not a drug dealer, pimp or bank robber. In other words a raid on your home would most likely be the result of someone misreading the address.)

"This is the Police!"
"What the heck?"
"Who IS that?"
"Geeze it sounds like they're knocking the door down!"
You look out it's a guy with a baseball cap that says "POLICE" on it.
You've done nothing wrong; this is all a big mistake you'll need to straighten out before they damage your door.
You open the door and some guys rush in and throw you to the floor, but only the one guy has a police hat.

Congratulations! You've just opened the door of your home to home invaders. Prepare to be tied up, robbed, maybe raped and perhaps murdered all in the comfort of your own home. Oh, and your family too.

They won't get much because you've got the good stuff hidden. Right?
Not to worry, they'll torture you and your family until you give it all up.

But, you've got the really good stuff in the safe. Right?
No sweat, they'll torture the combination out of you too.

Do you REALLY think you'll be able to hold out when they torture your family in front of you?

In fact, since they don't know what all you have they'll probably keep torturing you all long after you're being truthful when you cry "We don't have any more!"

Then comes the dangerous part, they have to decide if they want to leave witnesses.

The key to resisting / preventing a home invasion robbery is at the door. Your reaction in the first few moments will decide the outcome.

If you are suspicious don't open the door!

If they have a warrant (and in certain other rare circumstances) the police have a right to force their way into your home, but there are some limitations. Laws vary from state to state but generally warrant service goes something like this:

If the real police are at your door with a No Knock warrant you won't be having any conversations at the door. It'll be just be a KA BLOOM! as the door is smashed in and then you'd be greeting (fill in town name here)'s finest.

The police may under some circumstances be required to announce themselves and wait a specified period of time (measured in seconds) before smashing down the door. Again you won't have a chance to engage them in logical debate about whether or not they are at the correct address.

Those methods of entry are required to prevent suspects from flushing or destroying evidence. But you're not worried about flushing evidence, your concern is protecting your family from home invaders.

Better a busted down door than a busted up family. The door can be replaced (at government expense if you're innocent) but your family can't.

Let's take a look at home invasion modus operandi (Methods of Operation)


This one’s simple the crook simply walks or crawls in through an unsecured door or window.

The defense is just as simple: Keep all doors and windows closed and locked. Bars over windows and/or spiny plants under them (cactus or rosebushes etc.) will discourage entry at those points but doors and windows should be kept locked anyway. Doors should have metal gates or, at a minimum, a peephole.

1.) A (usually female) gang member feigns a minor emergency (distressed motorist needing to make a phone call, etc.) to gain entry. Once the door is opened the rest of the gang, which as been hiding just out of sight, rushes in.

The defense: Call for them, with the door or gate still closed and locked and the person still outside, "Debbie says to tell you her car broke down…" If the person at the number called doesn’t know a "Debbie" it’s an indicator that this is not what it seems to be. Go on alert as you dial 911 and tell "Debbie" you’re calling the cops for help for her. If she’s for real she’ll appreciate your help. If she’s part of a home invasion she’ll suddenly find an excuse to leave in a hurry. Stay on the line with 911 so the cops will have a better chance to catch the gang before they hurt someone.

2.) One or more men more or less dressed like cops pounds on your door demanding immediate entry to serve a (fake) warrant or claiming it’s a raid. These guys seldom have full police uniforms and are more likely to flash fake badges and claim to be detectives.

The defense: Look out your windows before opening the door. Are there uniformed police with marked police cars out there? (If so it’s probably legit.) Or do you see parts of police uniforms and no marked car? Time to get suspicious.

Real police are issued a badge and a commission (small piece of paper that authorizes them to perform police duties. Detectives usually carry their commission in a wallet which they flash with their badge. Uniformed cops keep their commissions in their wallet and seldom show them depending on their badge and uniform to identify them.

Badges are not very good for proving police status.

When I ran a surplus store we sold replica MP (Military Police)* & CID (Criminal Investigation Division) badges that even real MP's and CID agents couldn't tell from the real ones. My policy was that a customer had to prove that s/he was a real MP or CID agent before I’d sell them a badge. (One law enforcement wantabe tried to prove his police status with a star shaped badge that looked like it came from a box of Cracker Jacks. The Cracker Jack logo in the center had been covered with one of those round blue stickers from Chiquita banana! (Chiquita’s logo had been blocked out with a blue felt tip pen.) I was not impressed.) However not all badge retailers asked questions before selling badges and there are a lot of fakes out there.

Realistic police and sheriff badges are sold on the Internet and through the mail from magazine ads. I had wholesale catalogs which offered badges to "prove" I was anything from a Jedi knight to a deputy with the Podunk PD or a fire chief.

*Incredibly after nine eleven the government sold a batch of real MP badges! I bought some of them and applied my regular stringent policy to their sale. I have no idea what policies were applied by the other retailers who bought the rest of the batch.

If you have any doubt about the authenticity of the "cops" at your door call 911 before opening the door and be sure your 'callers' hear you talking to the 911 operator. Real cops will be unfazed crooks will suddenly decide to serve their "warrant" elsewhere.

Forceful Entry:
With this method of home invasion the crook(s) just breaks through a door or window. There may be simultaneous break-ins at several doors and/or windows similar to a real police no-knock raid.

Fortunately for your wallet the defense for this one is the same one that works to defend you and your family and your home from so many other crimes. Iron bars on all windows and metal gates on all doors tell crooks to go away because getting into your house will take time and make noise both of which they don't want. Always remember, crooks don't want witnesses so making them attract attention to themselves at the very beginning of the crime discourages them.

Our last method of Home Invasion comes pretty close to the Follow Home Robbery. The crooks lay in wait near the entrance to your home; either the bushes by the door or near the driveway/ garage. As you exit your vehicle with your hands full of stuff and your mind on what you're planning to do they jump you. Once under control you will be marched into your home.

The defense in this case is particularly important because if you've got metal gated doors and bars on the windows kidnapping a family member with a key is their least obtrusive way in.

First, just as in your defense against Follow Home Robberies you want to check your rearview mirror as you turn into the street where you live. Being followed? DON'T GO HOME! Instead head for one of these places.

Secondly, be alert when pulling into your driveway. Bushes should be cut back leaving crooks no hiding place to lie in wait.

Thirdly, be alert as you pull into your driveway. If you see shadowy figures put the vehicle in reverse and hightail it out of there. Your family will be safe behind locked gates and barred windows while you call the police.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Helps to Know Where You Are

"Of course we all know that the sun rises in the West and sets in the East."
WAIT! If you didn't instantly realize that sentence was written backwards you need a compass.

Of course we all know that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, right? Still not sure? You need a compass. Just to be clear, the sun rises over New York and sets over California. That is to say it rises over NYC and sets over LA if that's easier for you to remember. (OK technically it's not exactly over them, but you know what I mean. That's right the sun really does rise in the East and set in the West, honest.

But what'da ya' need a compass for if, when the balloon goes up, you plan to put the pedal to the medal and zoom straight over the river and through the woods to grandma's house?

Well, in a crisis, if yours isn't one of the first few cars to get over the river you're likely to get stuck on the wrong side of that bridge as the grandmother of all traffic jams develops on said bridge.

There are thousands of scenarios where you could be evicted from your vehicle and forced to hoof it in an emergency. Stumbling along among the ill-prepared hoard with your Bob (Bug-Out-Bag) full of preparations is definitely not where you want to be unless you have enough to "share" with a thousand or so fellow travelers.

And what about the "through the woods" bit? Have you ever tried to determine which way is North whilst in the midst of the deep woods? Hard enough at Noon let alone at Midnight. Yet, if you don't know which way you're going you could be wandering in circles or worse making good time, heading in a straight line -- in the wrong direction.

You don't need an expensive lensatic compass to tell north from south and east from west; a simple Silva type compass or even a Cracker Jack compass will do. Want'a go it alone? Quick, which way is west?

Is the North Star there for you?
Is it? Go outside and find it right now. What? It's daytime so you can't see the stars? Guess you'll have to wait for nightfall to travel unless you have a compass. What if it's night but trees or clouds or fog or smoke are in the way? You'll have to wait for dawn or risk going in the wrong direction unless you have a compass.

In daylight without a compass you'll need to memorize landmarks (mountains) at dawn to guide yourself through the day. If you lose sight of your landmarks you'll have to stop and do the old shadow and stick trick to find your direction.

You and yours are three days late and there's that that nice family of lumberjacks with a compass outside grandma's house offering to help and protect her if she'll let them come live with her. The stores you stored with her will just barely feed her and them. But there are outlaw bikers in the area. What will granny do? Gee won't that be an awkward scene when you finally show up.

It helps to know where you are at all times so you'll know which way to go to get there. A large part of seldom being lost is attitude; the rest is paying attention to landmarks and baselines. A baseline is any prominent immobile feature like a mountain range, road or river.

I am never lost. I am always right here. (Attitude!) The place I'm going to may be misplaced, but I'm not lost, I'm right here. People tend to discount that statement thinking I'm joking. I'm not joking but I've never found a way to communicate what I mean to them so that they grok it instead of chuckling at the joke they think I've made.

(If I can see the sky (angle of the sun & time of day/ stars at night) or prominent landmarks (sun rose here or set there so North is THAT way!) I can figure out where I am in relation to where I want to go. My sense of direction may not be accurate enough to lay in artillery, but only overcast skies or so many trees I can't see the sky can keep me from getting orientated. Once orientated, it’s only a matter of time till I find my baseline and then my destination.

I nearly got lost once when I was out hunting coyotes after work one evening. I looked over my shoulder and saw a bank of very dark clouds had come in from the west over the mountains. The clouds were very low and descending fast. It wouldn’t be long until they’d descended to the point where they’d lose their ‘cloud’ designation and be reclassified as pea soup thick fog.

Once the clouds settled over me it was going to get dark a whole lot sooner than I'd planed. There would be no landmarks, stars or even the fading light of the setting sun to guide me back to my pickup truck. I realized the cloud/fog bank would block out not only the stars but also my view of my primary baseline (the mountains), which ran generally north and south behind my secondary baseline the dirt road I'd parked on which ran the same direction as the mountain range.

Navigating via dead reckoning in an area of the desert I knew, I'd angled south as I walked east calling coyotes so all I had to do to get back to my truck would have been to walk west (back towards my mountain baseline) and then turn right (north) on the first dirt road (my secondary baseline) I came to. Then I'd planed to follow the road back to my truck.

That plan wouldn't work if I couldn't tell which way was west. I was already losing sight of my primary baseline (the mountains) which were my guide to which way was west. I had to get back to that dirt road before the fog bank settled around me. I hot-footed it back towards the mountains and my secondary baseline, the road. I had to trot the last hundred yards on instinct, faith in myself and the old trick of lining up on two or three sand dunes (or bushes or trees) that happened to be in a more-or-less straight line in the direction I wanted to go.

I completed the triangle (southeasterly from my pickup, westerly back towards the mountains, northerly on the road back to my truck) and carried a compass after that even when going to areas I knew well.

You can't get "there" from "here" unless you know where "here" is because you don't know which way to go to get to "there." Still haven't found the North Star? Those outlaw bikers and the lumberjacks are getting closer and Granny is getting impatient.

Bottom line; if you think you might be forced to travel under adverse conditions: get a compass and learn how to use it.

One of my better critics has pointed out that if navigating by compass alone without taking the Angle of Declination into account you'll likely miss a designated point. That is true. However, that goes beyond the intended scope of the article. I was urging you to get a compass so you could navigate into the general area of Granny's bunker. Remember "baselines"? If you want to be more accurate you'd do well to take his advice and learn a bit about map reading and declination diagrams.

This man knows a lot more about compasses, maps and probably orienteering than I do so if you're planning to hoof it into the high hills, swamps or deep forests take his advice seriously and learn a few things about map reading, map orienting and declination.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow Home Robberies

In this deteriorating economy we can expect to see a rise in the crime rate as lack of funding for law enforcement, courts and prisons translates into lower arrest rates, fewer convictions and shorter sentences.

Therefore I'm going to start posting a series of Crime Avoidance and Crime Fighting articles here.

This first article will be on Follow Home Robberies; how to detect them, how to avoid them and how to defeat them.

Follow Home Robberies can be the start of Home Invasion Robberies since once they've got you and your keys it's a simple step to take you inside where further robbing, rapes and even murder can be accomplished in the privacy of your own home.

If you're targeted they'll probably be following you home from work. Or the perpetrators may just pick out a "rich" looking person/vehicle as they drive down the road in the evening rush hour. In either case they'll be following you home which gives you an opportunity to detect them before turning into your driveway.

Of course there are always going to be cars behind you during the evening rush hour, but do all of them change lanes when you do? Probably not. There are two easy ways to 'Prove' a tail.

1. Drive the speed limit.
Except in heavy traffic almost everybody speeds. Just by driving at the speed limit you become a 'bump in the road' that everybody wants to pass. Except the guys tailing you. If you slow down and a car continues to stay behind you even though traffic permits him to pass you may have found a tail.

2. Four Turns to turn up a tail.
Another method to detect a tail is to go around the block. If you make four right (or left) turns in a row and the car behind you does too you are being followed.

If you suspect you are being tailed DO NOT GO HOME!
You don't want these guys to know where you live.

Continue driving normally (a high speed chase will likely result in an accident) until you are ready to make your move. You don't want the crooks to know you are on to them. Remember: As long as your vehicle is moving they can't get at you.

As long as they think you are leading them to your home they'll hang back. Stay on well traveled roads to discourage them from running you off the road in an attempt to turn this into a carjacking.

If they bump into you in an attempt to get you to pull over to exchange insurance information; slow but do not stop, open the window and motion for them to follow you, lead them slowly to a well lit populated place.

If you have a working cell phone call 911 they'll probably direct you to a "meet" with one of their patrol cars.

If you don't have a cell phone drive to the nearest police or fire station. Pull into their driveway in such a way that you can drive back out onto the street without having to back up. You don't want whoever is following you to be able to block you in. Whoever's following you will probably peel out when they see you pulling into the station. If they pull over and wait for you to leave and there are no cops or firemen outside stay in your car and honk the horn until someone comes out of the station. It would be nice if you could give them a license number.

If you can't find a police or fire station go to a well lit well populated place like a busy convenience store or shopping mall and call the cops from within the safety of a crowd.

If you fail to pick up the tail before pulling onto your street all is not lost. Make it a habit to check your rearview mirror when turning onto your street. Is there a car turning behind you? Does it belong to someone living there? If not, drive past your house and start following the advice given above. You do not want to pull into your driveway because then they will be able to block you in.

I'm giving you the benefit of my years of experience, study and training here, but I can't be there with you when the chips are down so use your own judgment and common sense in these situations.

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- - - - - - - - - -
Response from jC:
"I like the "pull into a convience store" suggestion. I have known people it worked for. But my story.

When I was in DC years ago, a guy pulled up alongside me and said "you have a flat tire!" So I nodded. My passenger got all upset with impending doom of a flat. But the guy stayed right behind me in the next lane. Lots of traffic. I slid into the slow lane, drove a bit slow and it was not too unusual he was still nearby. So I wonder.

No brakes, no signal, I whipped the wheel into a Motel parking lot. He was unprepared, so drove past. It takes about 15 seconds to look at the tires and get back into the car, on to the road just in time to see him try to circle the block. And plenty of time for me to be long gone.

Did I save myself? Was it really a threat? My minor suspicion is still uncertain. But NOTHING happened."


Hi, jC, I believe you were targeted. The fact that the guy followed you AND circled back coupled with the fact that you didn't have a flat screams evil intention. Good thinking on your part. As you noted, not letting him know you were suspicious gave you the advantage when you decided to make your move.

The "Your tire is low/flat." ploy is a variation on the Bump and Rob tactic. Both are designed to get the victim driver stopped beside the roadway, away from witnesses, where they can be robbed, kidnapped or raped.

Whether the other guy claims you've got a flat or bumps into your vehicle in an attempt to get you to stop to exchange insurance information your response should be the same: whip out your cell phone (or PDA or shoe or anything that looks like a phone) and call 911 as you drive to a well populated place before stopping. The 911 dispatcher may blow you off, but the crook won't know that and the last thing he wants is a cop.

As in most crimes the perpetrator mimics an honest citizen up until the moment s/he strikes. This makes it more difficult to decide how to respond. In the case of a fender bender you have to ask yourself; Is it a legitimate accident or a ploy to get me to stop where there are no witnesses?"

Here you can put your detective skills to work. Who's on the other end of the fender bender; a little old lady or a couple of rough looking dudes? Does your vehicle FEEL like it's running on a flat tire? Is the 'Good Samaritan' sticking around to "help?" Did this incident occur in a place where there are unlikely to be witnesses?

I've seen anti-crime tips which address the Bump and Rob ruse by telling the driver to stop but not get out of the car. They were advised to exchange insurance information through a partially open window. BIG MISTAKE!

As long as you are in a moving car the crook can't get at you. Once you're stopped, unless your car windows are bullet proof, it doesn't matter how far down your windows are; he's got you. Even if he hasn't got a gun, a tire iron or baseball bat gets him into the car and to you.

In the case of a suspicious fender bender just roll the window down far enough to motion for him to follow you. Then drive to a place where there are people (witnesses) to exchange insurance information.

In the case of the alleged flat tire, you'll feel a flat. If you don't feel wobbling you don't have a flat. It's harder to feel a tire with low air pressure, but if you can't feel it that means it's still drivable. It's better to ruin a tire than to ruin your life. If you're suspicious sacrifice the tire; drive to a safe place before stopping.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Binoculars & telescopic sights for Survival?

"What do I need binoculars for? If I really need to see something up close I can just get closer." While it's true you can get by without many pieces of equipment having the right gear at the right moment can give you a big advantage.

What do you need binoculars for? Recognizing friend or foe as a person or group approaches your position. Discovering what's going on 'over there' without exposing yourself and/or revealing your position.

But best of all binoculars are great for seeing into the shadows, binoculars gather light from their large objective lens and focus it down to the smaller exit pupil lens thus "amplifying" the available light making binoculars extremely advantageous in low light situations like around sunrise, sunset and on moonlit nights.

Short version: image magnifying optics give you an observational (intel) advantage over those without them.

The first thing you'll notice when looking through binoculars, telescopes or telescopic sights is that the image, although bigger, seems to shake. The greater the magnification or 'power' of the optics the more pronounced the perceived shaking. Really powerful optics need to be steadied to be useful. Note the mount for the naval (or artillery) binoculars in the picture

As a surplus dealer I acquired many binoculars (both military and civilian) over the years. Most I resold, but I hung onto four of the best; three new military equivalent ("armored") Steiner's and a Fuji M24 in near new condition. I almost didn't keep the Fujinon's because it's so light, small and looks so plain. In fact, if it weren’t for their sturdiness you'd mistake them for those cheap things they sell on late night TV until you looked through the lens and saw the quality of the image. The Fujis have become my most used binoculars.

From a web site selling the Fuji Apache (civilian version of the military model) binoculars:

"After the Gulf War, the U.S. Army decided that it wanted more "eyes" on the battlefield. The Army developed a specification called the "M-24" which was designed to be a compact binocular that would fit in the pocket of a battle dress uniform (BDU) and be as rugged, have the same magnification, and nearly equal the optical performances of the bigger binoculars. The 7x28 Apache is built to the same tough standards as the M24 binoculars. The new M24 is the first "pocket-sized" military binocular ever issued on a large scale. The optional reticle (left view side) allows for easy range or distance estimation."

It's an apt description; I've carried my M24's in my shirt pocket a couple of times. Note the civilian version is marketed as the "Apache" rather than as the M24 military model. The difference being in the placement of the carrying strap lugs on the Apache and the existence of anti-laser lens coatings on the lens and the reticle (ranging grid) in the left lens of the M24 military model.

In normal civilian use and after TEOTWAWKI the likelihood of your needing to protect your eyes from laser beams (anti-laser coating) or call in artillery (reticle) is slight so for our purposes here the M24 and the Apache are virtually the same since both have anti reflective and anti glare lens coatings.

As of this writing Weems & Plath list the Apache for $439.99 which is a good deal considering the quality involved.

Fujinon currently has the contract to manufacture the military's M24 model. They sell a civilian version (which they market as the "7 x 28 M") in Europe, but I've not heard of it being available over here.

Of my armored Steiner binos the 6 X 30 is the smallest, but it would take a pretty big pocket to carry them in. As of this writing they retail online for about$239.00

The next two Steiner's are both 7 X 50 Military Marine armored binoculars with the larger of the two having a reticle on the right side lens. However it seems Steiner has discontinued these models in favor of 10 X 50 models so I won't go into mine here. Suffice to say any Steiner binocular is among the best in the world.

Telescopes (á la spyglasses like Long John Silver and the Pirates of the Caribbean used to use) are generally about as bulky (longer rather than wider) as binoculars and don't have the depth perception advantage of binocular vision. Unless you've already got a good one, or are offered one at a fantastic price, eschew them.

Telescopic Sights
Probably easier to steady than binoculars, but without the advantages of binocular vision, rifle scopes serve a dual role as observation tool and aiming device. Be aware that anyone seeing you observing through a rifle scope will assume the worst. Actually, if you're going to be doing any hunting, having scopes on your rifles helps you get more and cleaner hits.

The ability to more closely observe something without getting closer to it is an advantage to sports fans, bird watchers, hunters & snipers that shouldn't be overlooked by survivalists.

Quality optics will give you good resolution, contrast, color fidelity, brightness, and overall image quality so spend as much as you can afford keeping in mind the pre-TEOTWAWKI fun applications you can put them to as you pencil them in on the "survival" side of the home ledger so as to keep the family budget under control.

[G writes:]
When using binoculars offhand, steadying the image can be a challenge. My uncle taught me this method – maybe it will help someone else.

Grasp the barrels of the binoculars with your ring and pinky fingers of both hands. Rest the tips of your middle and forefingers on your temples, and rest your thumbs on your cheek bones. Works pretty well, if you do not have a more secure rest to steady the view.

[I tried this technique and it works, thanks G!]

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WD-40, Duct Tape & 550 Cord

“All of life’s problems can be solved with two things—duct tape and WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. And if it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD-40.” – Unknown

OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Throw in 550 cord and the statement is almost true. Few things in our universe are as versatile as these three and two of them should be in your Bob (Bug Out Bag) while the third has earned a place in your vehicle's kit.

WD-40 is a water-displacing spray originally designed to repel water and prevent corrosion and later found to have numerous other uses. I use it to lubricate my guns, loosen rusted locks & bolts and as an insect repellent. Sprayed on electric circuits WD-40 protects them from moisture. WD-40 in the distributor cap displaces moisture allowing a car to start. It seems to attract fish to lures The company claims 2000 uses for WD-40 but there are many (like the fish lure) unofficial uses. WD-40 should be a part of your vehicle emergency kit if for no other reason, than it removes all traces of duct tape.

Duct Tape "(sometimes called duck tape [or 100 mile an hour tape]) is a [water resistant] vinyl, fabric-reinforced, multi-purpose pressure sensitive tape with a soft and tacky pressure sensitive adhesive. It is generally silver or black in color ..." You can also get it in OD green and various camouflage patterns.

On the road you can duct tape broken vehicle hoses or hold a bent bumper off the road, make field expedient bandages and splints and use it as make do electrical tape. The MythBusters patched a fist sized hole in a boat with Duct Tape. Then they made a sail boat out of it. Duct Tape should be a part of your emergency vehicle kit and a small roll should be in your BOB.

Like The Force, duct tape has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together. -- Anonymous

550 Cord or Parachute Cord "…is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians." It comes in many colors, but OD green, black, brown & tan will blend in with surroundings better than red, yellow or orange.

As one web site puts it 550 cord possesses …"great strength, durability, [is] quick drying, [and has] rot and mildew resistance. 550 Para Cord consists of seven separate nylon strands inside a sheath to provide strength. The individual strands can be removed for other uses and the sheath can be used by it's self for lanyards of all types."

In addition to its usefulness as cordage 550 cord can be used for field expedient belts, boot/shoe laces, rifle slings, climbing rope (Careful with that one. We once used 550 cord to slow our decent down a very steep slope, but I'd hesitate to rely on a single strand of 550 cord to repel down a cliff.), tie downs, tie ups (I once tied a fallen something or other on the underside of my wife's car up off the road with 550 cord until we could drive to the dealership), snares as well as trip wires for alarms & booby traps. The inner cords can be removed and used as sewing thread, sutures or fishing line. Use 550 cord as a lanyard to insure you don't lose vital items like your Swiss Army knife, Leatherman Multi-Tool or compass.

Wherever possible melt the ends to prevent fraying. Buy MIL SPEC MIL-C-5040 cord. Real parachute cord has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. Authorized manufacturers change over time, but two of the current ones are: E.L. Wood and Gladding Braided Products

550 cord should be a part of your emergency vehicle kit and a small hank of it should be in your every day carry BOB.


Dave, I like the blog, and I like it a lot. I just wanted to pass along the feedback to encourage you to keep writing it.
Don from Kansas

Thanks, Don, encouraging words are always welcome because notes like yours tell me people are reading (and hopefully getting something out of) the blog.

Of course everyone can't remember everything they read here, but if each person takes away one or two ideas from each article there preparedness level will be that much higher. In the case of this article the "action step" would be to go out and buy a roll of duct tape, can of WD-40 or 100 foot length of 550 cord.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hide and Seek or King of the Hill?

Putting aside for the moment the question of whether or not you'd want to remain in place immediately after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event because every situation will be different, I'm going to tackle the question of what steps you might want to take to remain viable and invisible in your own home.

If you have a Neighborhood Watch in place it wouldn't take much for it to metamorphous into a Home Guard. Neighbors banding together to form a highly visible (cars parked across access roads, guards) organized response would tend to discourage those with bad intentions from entering the area.

If you don't have or can't organize a pick up squad of neighbors you'd be on your own. So, how to keep the bad guys out of your house?

It occurs to me that the same deterrents that discourage burglars and home invaders now would be effective in discouraging looters in some future scenario.

My current burglar deterrents (fence, clear yard, barred windows and metal gated doors) could be augmented by cacti under the windows (or thorny bushes for those of y'all in the northern zones) if time allowed. The deterrents speak to a would-be intruder saying: "This place is going to be hard to get into. It'll take a lot of work and noise to get inside. Why not try that other house with no fence and no bars?"

(To clarify, cactus or thorn bushes shouldn't block the view from the windows.)

Whether they be looters or refugees people tend to seek shelter in manmade structures so in a survival situation a little house on the open prairie would draw people seeking food, water and shelter like a magnet.

In my surplus dealer days I drove up to surplus dealer conventions in Las Vegas a couple of times. Along the route, in the middle of the desert, there was a house near a very large very deep gorge. By the gorge, within sight of the freeway, was a small house. The owner had evidently tired of being a Good Samaritan. The place was surrounded by a high barbed wire topped chain link fence and a HUGE (readable from the freeway as I drove by at 65 miles an hour) sign that announced there was "NO food! NO water! NO phone! NO NOTHING!" available there. I don't know how well that tactic worked during peace time, but I doubt the sign and fence would keep desperate refugees out after TEOTWAWKI or during a WTSHTF evacuation.

In the suburbs where "magnets" are abundant it would be sufficient, I think, merely to make the place you lived in look lived in and stronger than the other lived in houses on the block. OTOH in a scenario where people are foraging for food amongst the ruins of an abandoned city making your house look lived in is the last thing you'd want to do.

Other Tactics and Ruses
Quarantine Sign: If the event that caused you to pull in your horns involved disease a quarantine sign might effectively discourage visitors. Everybody "knows" the Health Department has Quarantine signs that they tack up on quarantined buildings, but few people actually know what the signs say so you could print up your own on your computer.

Blessings and Curses
Of course if there was no local epidemic the signs would be less effective. You can expect the neighbors to stand clear of you and yours after posting such a sign, even after you tell them it's just to discourage looters. Marauders might think the inhabitants are weakened by disease or dead and so an easier target then the house next door. Also if there is any remaining government they may be irked by your assumption of their authority.

Standard warning signs: Beware of Dog, Beware of Owner, Insured by Smith & Wesson, This House Patrolled By Armed Guard Three Nights A Week – You Guess Which Three, etc cetera aren't all that effective now and may not be any more so in the future.

Blessings and Curses
Such signs may discourage casual crooks and non-desperate refugees, but they may caution the more determined to be extra careful when sneaking up on you.

Making the place look Abandoned
Boarded up buildings are magnets for bums, transients and drug users now, what would make you think a boarded up building would be any less attractive to refugees?

Scattering furniture, bric-a-bracs and old clothes in the yard to make it look like the house has already been ransacked and then boarded up and abandoned indicates the owners couldn't properly secure the premises and so boarded it up. I.e. it'll be easier to break into.

How's about smoke marks appearing to come out of the tops of the windows and doors? Easy to do with a smoky fire in a can on a stick but you'll have to be very careful not to burn down the very thing you're trying to protect via subterfuge.

Blessings and Curses
Plywood over windows prevents you from seeing what's going on outside and loopholes in the very bullet penetrable barriers only hint that the place isn't disserted. Also, unless the other houses in the neighborhood are boarded up too you may be attracting people who want to steal the plywood.

Also keep in mind that these home desecration methods are saying: "Don't rob me, rob him!" a message that may not be well received by your neighbors.

If your neighborhood is intact being organized will discourage attack. Failing community organization, looking like the strongest house on the block may make you less of a target without antagonizing your neighbors.

In the initial shock after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event those who choose to remain in place will need to choose between playing Hide and Seek or King of the Hill.

So, bottom line:
The little house on the prairie better look like and be a fort with enough armed adults inside to repel boarders.

A bungalow in the 'burbs will want to look like all the other occupied houses in the area, but stronger.

If the area is abandoned a house that looks lived in will act as a magnet (see little house on the prairie above) to any and all who come close enough to see it.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Surviving 2012 in 12 Easy Steps

By now, no doubt, you've heard that the world is coming to an end in the year 2012 or maybe not.

"The forecast is based primarily on what is said to be the end-date of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is presented as lasting 5,125 years and as terminating on December 21 or 23, 2012."

So Where's the Playboy 4012 Calendar?
Great metaphysical and cosmological significance is placed on the fact that the Mayan calendar supposedly ended on that date, but tell me how many calendars for any year 2000 years in our future have we printed up? Maybe the Mayans figured they had plenty of time to get around to finishing the job later?

OK, so predictions or not you want to be prepared anyway, just in case. Good for you !

After all the Earth could become the victim of a strike by a large asteroid at any moment. Or a regional Thermonuclear War could break out and spread à la WWI.
Or maybe the whole world could be invited to a surprise party à la December 7th, 1941.
Or you could get all shook up an earthquake à la the 1994 Northridge quake.
Or terrorists could set off a dirty bomb in a major industrial or population center.
Then there's the ever popular national or international depression, pandemic or economic collapse (à la the USA in 1929, Spanish Flu in 1918 or Argentina in 2001) that cripples governments and leaves you largely on your own. So, yeah 2012 or not, you've got reasons to prepare so let's get started.

First, unless you have reliable information that makes you believe your house is located at ground zero you'll probably want to stay home and watch the whole thing on TV, Twitter, MySpace or Facebook after all, when something like that's happening it's much better to watch events unfold on FOXNews than to be on FOXNews. Right?

Second, having decided to skip the tailgate party in favor of watching from home you'll need refreshments. About a weeks worth, maybe a months worth of canned goods should stand you in good stead for your average WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) crisis. Of course if 2012 turns out to be TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) you may want to increase those canned goods. Buy foods you like, store them in a cool dry place, and watch the expiration dates on the cans. The whole thing can be a money saver for you if you buy by the case at one of the big box stores like Costco or Sam's and rotate the food eating the oldest cans first. Oh, and if the power goes out, it's easier to open cans with a manual can opener than your teeth.

Thirdly you'll want something to drink while all this is going on and here's where our sports party analogy gets all wet because instead of beer you'll want water for this one. Trust me. Water, about one gallon per person per day for drinking and cooking is the minimum you'll need if the catastrophe knocks out your water supply. How many gallons you keep on hand is up to you. If the earthquake or nuclear seismic shock hasn't broken the water mains you can use that water for washing and flushing.

Fourth if this whole 2012 End of the World thing turns out to be a home game you'll want to dress to egress. If you have to head for the hills you'll want to blend in with the other refugees. Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts in late December? What were you thinking? You should have a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag packed for each member of the family with warm (for your climate) clothes in it.

In the winter of 2012 a well dressed refugee will want to wear (or at least have) a Tuque or watch cap, wool sweater, wind breaker or rain jacket, wool socks and hiking boots or walking shoes.

Fifth, whether you make like the good shepherd and get the flock out of town or dig in for the duration of whatever comes (or doesn't) in 2012 you may want to have some trading goods on hand. If 2012 brings severe disruptions in the distribution system things like gold, silver and toilet paper may be very much in demand. A fifth of booze or a bottle of medicine could be worth their weight in gold.

A six pack of beer falls into the same category as a fifth of booze, but takes up more space and doesn't store well long term so think in terms of small, inexpensive (now) things that store well if you decide to become a catastrophe entrepreneur.

Seven You can't eat a gun, but a guy with a gun can get pretty much all the food he wants from a guy who has food but no gun. Speaking of life as we know it now; John Connor once said: "When seconds mean life or death the police are only minutes away." If 2012 turns out to be all that the alarmists claim it will be then that little homily will become: "When seconds mean life or death you are the police." Got gun?

Our eighth easy step to survive 2012 is to know the password or in this case the pass phrase which is: "I'm just passing through." The media like to make a big deal of the neighbors helping neighbors in a crunch scenario, but if you study the record closely you'll find that outsiders often don't receive nearly as nice a welcome.

If TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) comes and everybody knows government help (and law enforcement) aren't coming you can expect the locals to be a whole lot less accommodating to refugees coming to consume their finite resources. How then will you travel to your sanctuary in the woods? Use an old trick hippies used to get through hostile small towns. The locals didn't want the hippies, but they didn't want trouble either so savvy hippies made it a point to announce their destination was somewhere else and they were just passing through. Make it believable, give a specific goal; somewhere off in the general direction of where you want to go. That reassuring message, and any news you may be bringing should help you through checkpoints and barricades.

Ninth: Knowledge is power. Have a portable radio that can be powered by battery, solar or hand crank like the Solar Shortwave Dynamo Flashlight AM/FM/TV Emergency Radio with 6 Way Power Supply that can receive AM, FM & Short Wave signals. If the crisis turns out to be only a WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event which disables only local utilities and government (i.e. help is on the way) the AM & FM bands will help you keep informed of (at least) the official report of the situation. If the crisis turns out to be truly TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) in scope the short wave bands will provide information from sources like BBC World Service.

The tenth 2012 tip is: Don't go it alone. Whether it's WTSHTF or TEOTWAWKI the macho man tendency is to head for the hills, live off the land and civilization be damned, but the truth is that you can't surveil 360 degrees nor stay awake 24/7 so it makes sense to team up with trusted family/friends so as to divide rewards and responsibilities.

Our Eleventh easy step to surviving 2012 is efficiency. Humans didn't evolve to our present place on top of the food chain by being inefficient. All of the steps you take to stave off 2012 will come in handy for any old crisis, catastrophe, calamity or disaster if the end of the world doesn't come about in the manner those soothsayers say it will

Our twelfth easy step to surviving 2012 is to keep in mind that no one knows what's going to happen in the year 2012, least of all those who claim to know what's going to happen in the year 2012. True we've had a couple million years of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods and tornados so it's a good idea to be prepared for stuff like that anyway.

Plus in our own short time on Earth we humans have added our own technological four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Biological warfare (germs), Chemical warfare (gas), Nuclear warfare (mushroom clouds) and Radiological warfare (dirty bombs) Of course, I left out mankind's old fashioned favorite plain old war (Cain's murder weapon through broadswords, bayonets & bombs to lasers and laser guided bombs) in the interest of brevity. So your 2012 preparations will stand you in good stead if those eventualities come to pass.

But past performance is no guarantee of future results so in 2012 we may well be invaded by little green zombie ninjas in flying saucers so keep that light saber lightly oiled and handy!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Foraging for Food

On the joys of foraging or why you'll need stored food for short term crises and farming/ranching skills for long term cataclysms.

Foraging i.e. wandering in search of food cannot be planned on as a viable option for either short term emergencies WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) or long term cataclysms TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) because, at best, foraging provides sufficient food for only small groups and requires constant relocation.

City slickers whose experiences "roughing it" in the wild consist of weekends in National Forest campgrounds without cable TV will be surprised to learn wild flora and fauna are harder to find and catch in sufficient quantities to feed their families than is shown on the television survival shows. Just how many days will a half tame park squirrel feed a family of four?

Besides that wild things aren't anxious to jump into the cooking pot requiring the expenditure of energy to gather them. Expending more energy catching, cleaning and cooking food than it gives back is slow starvation.

To get an idea of just how hard it is to forage for food in the wild watch Survivorman or Man vs. Wild sometime. Both shows illustrate just how unsanitary and grubby (pun intended) eating grubs, gophers and gulls can be in the wild.

Les Stroud of Survivorman is the more responsible of the two showing how everyday items can be turned into field expedient tools. Bear Grylls, on the other hand, is prone to preface survival demonstrations with phrases like "This is very dangerous, you should never do it" before jumping in and doing the very thing he just warned you against doing.

For the purposes of this article it's sufficient to note that both men barely survive on the food they forage while losing weight and constantly moving to find more food. They are experts. They are feeding only one person; don't expect you'll do any better feeding your family.

Try to maintain a weeks worth of food, a month would be better, in your home. Maintaining a stock of canned goods, of the foods you normally eat, with expiration dates printed on them is a good way to do this. Try to rotate your stock eating the older stock as you replace it with new. Got a manual can opener?

In the event of a crisis WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) where you expect power may be disrupted eat only frozen and or refrigerated food until that food is gone or the crisis is over. If the power does go out, plan refrigerator raids with a list of the foods you're going to take out so as to keep the door open for as short a time as possible.

If the short term crisis turns into a long term catastrophe TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) your food stocks will enable you to remain (hidden) in place while chaos reigns around you. You'll have a better chance of survival after things have stabilized.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Survival Knives

I'll bet the image that popped into your mind when you read that title was one of foot long razor sharp black blades with needle points and names like Randall, Cold Steel, Ka-bar and Gerber. Truth be told if I was going to be dropped into the middle of nowhere and allowed to take only one tool I'd opt for my Randall, my Cold Steel Tanto or my Ka-Bar knife.

Sometimes called combat knives or fighting knives these fixed blade knives are just the thing for cutting down or whittling up small trees or big branches. Sure an ax is better and a chainsaw quicker, but when you've nothing but a sheath knife and night is falling I'll take the Ka-Bar in the sheath on my hip over the wished for chainsaw back at camp any day.

But a survival knife can be many things under many circumstances. In populated places a big sheath knife hanging from your hip or dangling upside down across your chest may be looked upon as aggressive and, let's face it, there's not all that many trees needing to be made into kindling in cities.

Once again the best survival knife (like the best survival kit and the best first aid kit) is the one you have with you when you need it. For urban carry I leave the Randall sheath knife at home and put a Swiss Army knife on my belt. Truth be told, I use the scissors, tweezers and toothpick on my Swiss Army knife more often than the largest (almost three inches) knife blade on it. But Swiss Army knives still give you an edge, I once used the saw blade on one of my Swiss Army knives to saw a 2 X 4 in half.

If I'm feeling mechanically inclined I might opt for my Leatherman Multi-tool which is essentially a pair of pliers with other tools stored in the handles, generally knives, saw, awl and screwdrivers at a minimum.

No doubt you're asking yourself: "What's all that got to do with survival?" Good question and here's the answer: This blog is about survival after TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or in the immediate aftermath of WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) so here's why you may find a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman multi-tool as useful in some of those survival situations as a Randall or a Ka-Bar.

WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan)
In a WTSHTF environment the authorities may permit you to keep a Swiss Army knife while sleeping in one of their shelters, but they most certainly will not knowingly let you in with a Ka-bar.

TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)
In the backwash of TEOTWAWKI you'll probably find you have most of the tools you need at home IF you remain in your home.

On the other hand if you leave your home you will be faced with the not inconsequential problem of deciding what to take with you and what to leave behind. If fleeing by vehicle extra pounds matter because of the extra fuel needed to move them in a fuel deficient environment. If you (or someone in your party) are proficient in auto repair some wrenches and screwdrivers may be justified. You'll probably want to leave the wood saw, keg of nails and claw hammer behind.

If fleeing on foot your options are much more limited. (Also keep in mind that any evacuation begun on wheels may well end on foot.) Monkey wrenches and ball peen hammers are out of the question, but what about a hatchet? Is it worth the weight?

A sharp, well wielded, hatchet will cut down a sapling faster than a Ka-Bar (place middle of sheath knife blade against sapling; strike back of blade directly over the blade's point of contact with the wood with a small log about the size of your forearm. Cut a "V" into the sapling just like you would with a hatchet always being careful to strike the back of the blade directly over the place where it is against the sapling.) but you have to bear the burden of the hatchet all day to get a few minutes work out of it. A sheath knife weighs less and is more versatile.

It's not for nothing that Mountain men like John Johnson carried large sheath knives when venturing into the wilderness. (Note: I have a copy of the original 1958 edition, reprints may vary as to content.)

Most of us live in cities so, at least initially, part of our journey will probably be through built up areas. When sheltering for the night in the ruins of some building you'll probably find the screwdriver on your Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool is more useful for removing screws than the tip of your Ka-Bar. But keep in mind that when it comes to whittling 2 X 4's into kindling the sheer shearing power of a sheath knife beats a folder (folding knife) every time.

Despite the image of "survivalists" 'heading for the hills' and 'living off the land' in most cases most of us will probably opt to stay home or "shelter in place " as the government likes to put it, in which case you'll probably find the knives, saws and screwdrivers in the garage and kitchen drawers more useful than a Ka-Bar or Swiss Army knife. But those specialized home tools are both bulky and heavy. Enter the need for small, relatively light, generalized tools such as the Swiss Army knife and Leatherman multi-tool for on the go repairs.

Bottom Line
Tools are designed to perform different duties. You can pound a nail with the butt of a pistol, but you won't do a very good job of it and will likely damage the pistol. Likewise the tip of a Ka-Bar can be used to twist a screw, but you risk breaking off the tip. Better to use the screwdriver bit on your Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool.

Quality sheath knives and folders are meant for different jobs. There is a place for both of them in your survival gear.

Randall Knives
Randall Wiki

Ka-Bar Wiki

Gerber Wiki

Swiss Army knives
Swiss Army Wiki

Liver Eating Johnson Wiki

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Notes on Camouflage, Cover & Concealment

Surviving TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) will probably be more about building self-sustaining communities in the aftermath than gun fighting, still you'll need to know how to defend yourself, your family and your community. This crash course in tactics won't make you into a gunslinger, but it will give you a better chance of survival.

Here are the definitions of Camouflage, Cover and Concealment along with a few tips that could save your life.

• CAMOUFLAGE is the art of blending in with surroundings. Those big blotches on camo uniforms are meant to break up the outline so the wearer blends in with whatever s/he’s amongst. Camouflage in blending in it isn't necessarily being behind something else.

• COVER is something that will stop a bullet: a rock wall, telephone pole, metal mailbox, etc. Please note that what may be cover from a pistol bullet may be only concealment from a rifle bullet.

• CONCEALMENT is anything that hides you, but won’t stop a bullet. A bush is concealment. A big tree is cover. Those blue metal mailboxes are cover. Cover by definition is concealment, but concealment is not necessarily cover.

Fear and movie emulation incline us to hug whatever we’re hiding behind if someone is shooting at us. Tree hugging may have been an advantageous adaptation millenniums ago when dodging lions and tigers and bears, but we’ve got guns now so leave tree hugging to environmentalists and take advantage of the opportunities technology offers.

If you’ve taken tree-hugging cover behind one of those blue U.S. mailboxes, your field of fire is roughly 90° unless you peek over the top and expose your eyes and brain to harmful flying objects. Instead, take a step back.

By stepping back, you give yourself room to bring your weapon up to firing position and point it toward your adversary’s position and align the sights BEFORE exposing yourself to bring front sight to bear on target. Once an aimed shot has been delivered to the identified target, simply leaning back places you behind cover again. Your foray into the land of ricochet is much shorter.

A helpful hint from Rick O’chet:
If someone’s going postal in your vicinity those big blue boxes aren’t necessarily the best cover. The chink in post office armor is the legs, which allow an adversary to see/shoot under the big blue box. If no other cover is available, just hope your adversary isn’t an advanced student of weapon craft and send him a special delivery before s/he can post any more airmail.

In upcoming articles I'll discuss TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), preparing for it and other emergencies. You'll learn what foods to buy/store, water requirements for you and your family and how (and where) to shelter after disaster.

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How to Survive and Thrive in 2012

December 21 or 23, 2012 is claimed to be the end-date of the Mayan calendar and some people are claiming the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012. Whatever your opinion of these metaphysical and cosmological predictions this article is intended to show you how to prepare for the end of the world in 2012 or maybe just an increase in our normal level of global chaos. We'll use the Rule of Threes here.

One: Whether the cause is earthquakes, asteroid strikes or global thermonuclear war the average person can only survive three days without water before dying or becoming seriously disabled. Earthquakes could break water lines so you'll want to have some water on hand in containers. Those plastic one gallon jugs they sell at the supermarket are a good compact (reusable) storage option. You'll want one gallon per person per day for cooking and drinking. If no catastrophes occur on December 21 or 23, 2012 you can always drink the water later. This is survival water; in the event of disaster it's not for washing or flushing.

Two: The average person can only survive three weeks without food before dying or becoming seriously incapacitated. Take advantage of grocery store sales to buy canned goods by the case. Although you may normally drain the liquid from cans before cooking the food, in a survival situation you'll want to save/drink/cook with that liquid so as to increase the length of time your water supply will last.

Three: Shelter can be anything from the clothes on your back to a house on the hill to a bunker underground. Shelter keeps you warm enough to survive. Shelter keeps you out of the wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail. Shelter helps keep the sun (or radioactive fallout) off your skin. Shelter is good. If your home survives whatever happens on December 21 or 23, 2012 it will provide shelter for you and your food and your water.

Tips: Buy foods you normally eat so you will eat them if nothing happens on December 21 or 23 of 2012. Canned goods are good because they store easily and most now have expiration dates printed on them. Store canned goods and all food and water in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.

Warnings: If you quit your day job to prepare for December 21 or 23, 2012 and nothing happens you'll feel foolish asking for your job back on January, 1st 2013 so prepare in moderation.

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