Monday, August 30, 2010

Survival Shows: Critique and Forecast

(I was going to just tack this onto the Survival Show Critique as an addendum to the existing column rather than starting a new one in order to keep the information all in one place and because the comments weren't really long enough to warrant a whole new blog entry when I started. But once I got started and realized I was going on three pages I decided to make it a new blog entry. If you haven’t read Survival Show Critique I'd suggest you do, for context and clarity before reading this entry.)

I'm falling in love with the Man Woman Wild show. The man/woman, husband/wife camaraderie/friction that's evident throughout the shows is both amusing and enlightening. For example:

Mykel is showing Ruth how to drink from/eat an Amazon plant when she turns to the camera and says: "How can he remember all these plants? If I send him to the grocery store he comes back with the wrong detergent time and time and time again." The 'pained husband' look on his face while she's complaining to the cameraman is priceless. Yeah, guys, we've all been there.

Beyond Survival with Les Stroud
Les Stroud is back with a new version of Survivorman entitled: Beyond Survival with Les Stroud which I find not only less entertaining but less informative than the original shows.

The show's promo says it all:
Les Stroud seeks out the true masters of survival - the last indigenous tribes in the most remote corners of the planet - to learn their techniques, experience their rituals, and share the secrets of how they've survived in the wild for thousands of years - before they vanish forever.

I watched the first episode and frankly turned the sound down about halfway through the show. Watching Les chew, get high on and spit "betel nuts" as he mixed with the local population just wasn't my cup of tea. According to the promos the remaining shows will be the same as Les minimises the survival aspects and concentrates on going native.

Stuntman vs. Wild?
Man vs. Wild (or maybe it should be called Stuntman vs. Wild?) promises some changes this season as Bear Grylls will be taking two fans along for the ride as he hops hundred foot deep chasms and "gets trapped without light deep in the heart of an enormous limestone cave." We'll see if his two fans are up to eating rotting flesh too.

BTW Bear is doing more hawking of survival stuff than any of the other survival hosts. Bear has an official "survival knife" and official "survival clothes" listed online.

Mentioning knives reminds me Mykel & Ruth consistently carry large sheath knives that verge on being Roman short swords and the sheaths are often festooned with little pouches which presumably carry sharpening stones and other survival gear although I haven't seen any of it demonstrated yet. Mykel sometimes wields a large Gerka knife (Kukri) and I wouldn't be surprised if the Man Woman Wild show soon has an official knife or two.

The guys over at Blade Forums have some interesting ideas on new survival shows staring the same cast members:

trichos writes:
"I'd love to see an episode where Dave teams up with Bear. It would be action packed! On the other hand, it'd be great to see Cody and Les work together sans crew. They seem to share a similar vibe."

To which quick kill replies:
"Dave&bear would be a mad house! Then you have Les&Cody.It would be informative but I think it would be to calm to harmonic. And probably not be as entertaining. Now if you through les, Cody, bear, Dave, and Mike & wifey all on an island or up in the mountain. And they had a drawing for their partners and grab a random bag of gear. Then each had to make it to a randomly selected... but different point for "rescue"now that would be an interesting show.. "

The only problem with that is that idea is that although Cody + Dave + Bear + Les + Mykel + Ruth = six survivalists I doubt Mykel would be willing to have Ruth taking insane chances with Bear Grylls on an island OR a mountain top.

Likewise Les and Bear's styles are so completely different that I can't see them teaming up for anything more than a pre show cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Perhaps if the stars of the four shows maintained their current partners (or none in the case of Les & Bear) and then were to grab random bags of gear and head for four equidistant points for rescue…

Mmmmmmmmmmm… now that would be a good one hour show or series of shows as the cameras showed us ten minute* segments of each "team" as they trekked through jungles or forests, across deserts or tundra and mountains or savanna.

(* Your average TV show half hour has about twenty-two minutes of actual show. The other eight minutes or so is taken up by promos and commercials so a one hour show with four "teams" could be broken down into five or ten minute segments for each team.)

Another variation I'd love to see would be each of the four shows do a show or series of shows on disaster survival applying the same survival skills they use in the wild to deserted and destroyed urban and suburban environs.

Worst-Case Scenario
Bear Grylls did a mercifully short series entitled Worst-Case Scenario in which he mixed his usual tour de force of recklessness with a few good survival tips. Running in the open in broad daylight (while lecturing on the importance of remaining hidden from looters & outlaws), climbing up the outsides of buildings and repelling down elevator shafts in a survival situation is a recipe for further disaster not survival.

Survival Soap Opera
And now we turn to the problem of the "Survival Shows" turning into Survival Soap Operas.

Yes I'm talking about The Colony that contrived soap opera that's trying to pass itself off as a survival show. Every scripted scene in the promos I've seen (I refuse to watch this farce because it refuses to admit to the use of weapons & deadly force being used in an all out TEOTWAWKI situation) is just a shabby version of something from the TV soap operas. Replace the dirt smear on the protagonists faces with lipstick and you've got an episode from Days of Our Lives or any of the other melodramas.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Survivorman vs Man Woman Wild vs Dual Survival vs Man vs Wild

First off, before anyone thinks I'm putting on airs, I want to stipulate that with the possible exception of Man Woman Wild's Ruth England* I'm quite certain that all of the survival experts critiqued below know more about wilderness survival than I do.

I've enough survival knowledge to evaluate most of the survival tips given on the shows, and the likelihood that you will ever encounter the "survival situations" they put themselves into.

Also I realize these are commercial shows that must entertain to reap ratings and so I accept that they will occasionally do things that are contrary to good survival practices. But I expect them to clearly label these exceptions and to keep them within the realm of realistic survival situations.

(*Ruth is the only one who doesn't list survival expertise in her résumé or biography.)


When it comes to showmanship Man vs. Wild is a Barnum and Bailey Three Ring Circus compared to Dual Survival's Abbott and Costello; Who's On First routine. Continuing in the Vaudeville vein Man Woman Wild is a George Burns and Gracie Allen Show compared to Survivorman's Bill Cosby's one man standup routines.

Entertainment Value
Bear Grylls' antics on Man vs. Wild are, I think, more for ratings than instruction. Although he cautions against doing what he's about to show you how to do his examples speak louder than his words and his examples sometimes go way beyond survival.

The Abbott and Costello backwoods bickering of Dual Survival's Cody ("The more you know the less you need") Lundin and Dave (Patience my ass I'm goin' out and kill somethin') Canterbury is fun to watch. Cody's minimalist's 'at one with nature' eat shoots and leaves while foraging for bugs and snails style contrasts with Dave's 'hunter/killer "eating furry critters", snakes and alligators style.

Likewise watching survival expert Mykel Hawke instruct wife Ruth England in various survival techniques is entertaining as the normal give and take between husband and wife are added to the survival show mix. Mykel's explanations are more interesting because of the husband/wife aspect. I find myself looking forward to the next Man Woman Wild show.

Les Stroud uses neither outrageous antics nor verbal give and take between survivalists in his shows which makes him the best and least entertaining instructor of the lot. Still, if I had to recommend one show to learn survival techniques Survivorman would be my pick.

Relevance to Reality
If watching someone eat eyeballs from rotting carcasses, haul around half inch steel cable to slide down on from the top of a cliff to the top of a tree and repeatedly jump off of cliffs of indeterminate height into waters of indeterminate depth is your idea of relevant survival instruction then Bear Grylls is your man.

Walking around barefoot for twenty years is a great marketing gimmick for a Sonoran Desert survival school proprietor, but deliberately going unshod in a real survival situation is just plain stupid. Already Cody has had to resort to thick wool socks and field expedient sandals in the face of glaciers and cactus spines. The claim that having to go slow to look out for sharp rocks and scorpions somehow makes one more observant of one's surroundings reeks of excuse to me. Going slower or faster may be the difference between making it to the next waterhole or not. A discalced wilderness traveler is looking at the uneven ground immediately underfoot, not at surroundings.

Neither Bear's nor Cody's survival strategies is realistically defensible much less recommendable. The difference between the two survivalists is that Cody gives sensible advice while demonstrating realistic survival situations.

Survivorman Wiki

Survivorman on Discovery Channel

Les Stroud

Man Woman Wild
Man Woman Wild Wiki

Man Woman Wild on Discovery Channel

Mykel Hawke Wiki

Ruth England Wiki

Dual Survival
Dual Survival Wiki

Dual Survival
Discovery Channel

Cody Lundin Wiki

Dave Canterbury Wiki

Man vs. Wild
Man vs. Wild Wiki

Man vs. Wild Discovery Channel

Bear Grylls

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stop, Look and Listen

[I can't believe I forgot to post this. Oh well, better late than never.]

One response to my article on Camouflage was from jC who pointed out the importance of remaining still when attempting to remain unseen. This prompted me to recall a couple of incidents from my past which I will pass on to you now.

As an eighteen year old PFC stationed in Germany during the Cold War I participated in a three day Escape and Evasion exercise wherein our platoon walked back to our barracks from a maneuver area while other US Army units played "aggressors" pretending to be Soviet forces that had overwhelmed NATO defenses (a real possibility back then) and taken control of the area. Our task was to evade the aggressors and walk back to NATO lines (our barracks).

Ayup! Just like when we kids had played "Cowboys and Indians" a few years before only this time we were playing with blanks, real tanks and armored personal carriers. We were walking; the "aggressors" had the heavy metal.

At one point we rendezvoused with a US Army Special Forces unit. As we walked single file through the forest I was fortunate to be right behind one of the SF guys as they led us through the woods in the middle of the night. I admired the way he effortlessly walked silently through the forest walking around downed branches instead of crashing through them like we did. It was DARK under the trees. Let me tell you, they don't call it the "Black Forest" because Germany ran out of colors to name their forests after! The SF guys led us to a clearing where a helicopter delivered cases of C rations to us. Then the SF guys disappeared into the night and we continued our journey, sleeping by day walking by night.

The other event from that trip that stands out in my mind occurred one night as we were walking around a small village (remember to escape detection avoid people and the places people frequent) and came to an open field covered with some sort of grass less than knee high.

A dirt road ran through the field coming up from the village and there was more forest on the other side. We were about halfway across the field when suddenly we heard the tank like clank of an M113's treads coming up the dirt road from the village. It had been running with its red (night vision saving) lights only so we hadn't seen headlights coming up the hill.

There was no time to retreat back into the trees much less make a run for the forest on the other side. Reverting to training we fell to the ground and lay perfectly still. That APC passed within six feet of me. I could hear the driver and TC (track commander) talking softly as they went by.

Years later while on a solo hike that same tactic stood me in good stead when a pickup truck load of cowboys came looking for me one evening.

I'd strayed off the National Park property and evidently onto some ranch. I was walking through waist high sagebrush when evening overtook me at the crest of a rolling hill.

Since I'd deployed my Optimus camp stove to heat up some freeze dried food for lunch, I merely stepped off the dirt track and opted to settle for a snack bar as I unpacked and unrolled my OD green Army surplus sleeping bag. The dirt road I'd been walking on was the only sign of civilization I'd seen all day so I laid out my bag with the head under a large sagebrush and turned in with my head less than four feet from the dirt track. I would not have slept so close to the dirt road if I'd thought there'd be any traffic on it during the night.

The sun was setting and I was just drifting off to sleep when the sound of a slow moving vehicle reached me. I was tired and didn't want to spend any time chewing the fat with the locals so I decided to just lay still and let the truck go by without hailing it. Good thing!

Turning my head slightly to the side I saw the truck was moving really slow with it's headlights on and two guys wearing cowboy hats standing in the back. As they passed by my position one of the ones in the back of the pickup said, "This is where I last saw him."

Now I REALLY didn't want to talk with the locals! I lay perfectly still until they were out of sight. Whatever the reason they were looking for me I'm sure it wasn't just to say "How Do!" I didn't move until they disappeared over a rise just as the sun set. They knew exactly where I'd been last seen and were looking for me. Still they drove right by without seeing me because I didn't move.

Where did all that "woodcraft" come from? Army training; Escape & Evasion class in AIT (Advanced Infantry Training) and an experience I'd had as a kid. This next from my unauthorized autobiography:

"We were sent to a Summer Camp somewhere near the Cleveland National Forest. One day the young collage kids who ran the camp decided to take the younger kids on a "nature walk" through the towering pines that surrounded the camp.

Tired of braiding bead infested bracelets, necklaces and key fobs from plastic and leather lacing I was eager to get out into the woods and see some real wild mountain lions, wild cats and bears; Oh Yeah!

As the group of 30 or so yammering kids walked down the old logging road lined with 40 foot pine trees I realized the noise we were making was probably scaring away all the animals. I began downsizing my childish expectations from seeing wolves to seeing coyotes and maybe a moose.

One of the college students had some knowledge of the wilderness and gathered a group of three or four of us quieter boys holding us back as the herd of kids meandered down the track talking up a storm. He told us if we wanted to see any animals we'd all have to be perfectly silent and perfectly still. He had us put our hands in our pockets and chins on our chests. We stood perfectly still like statues without talking for a few minutes. Then, like magic, birds began singing again and suddenly a squirrel looked around a tree trunk and started chattering at us. No wolves, no bears not a single moose; but I'd learned a valuable lesson about silence and stillness."

I also recall a possibly true story, from the old west, about an outlaw here in the Southwest. He'd just escaped from the local hoosegow, stolen a horse and hightailed it out of town. Knowing the sheriff would round up a posse to track him down he stayed on the dirt road until it passed through a field of tall grass. There he dismounted and slapped the horse's rump sending it running off down the road. He then walked out into the middle of the field and lay down in the grass. An hour later the posse passed by at a gallop sending up a cloud of dust and erasing his tracks. Then he walked back to town and stole another horse which he rode out of town on the same road going in the opposite direction.

When seeking to avoid human contact remember the old saying: It's better to remain motionless and be thought a bump on a log than to move and remove all doubt.

jC further adds:
In front of my house used to be about 20 railroad tracks, owned by 7 RR companies. It is a great walkway, if you can dodge the Quads and dirt bikes. I find all kinds of 'sign' out there from mummy bags, blamkets, down coats, tarpsm fire rings u name it.
Now there are 3 traks and a lot of trails. A perfect wal, but you don't aways know who the people are. So I stay away. I wear a Carhart dark brown coat and jeans usually. I'd like to find my hood to be less conspicuous but it is lost. Any dark color seems to work, walking silently helps too. I keep working on that.

I breath into my coat in moist cold weather, but I would appeciate your expertise on the best way to do this. Also some animals smell stuff well, so your odor, smoking, even a peppermint will spook them.

I think the best example of motionless is a deer fawn. I have stumbled across them lying in the grass, I knew the doe was neerby, but I could not see her. The fawn remained still al the time, even at close range, 4 foot or so.

During a Search and Rescue exercise an experienced huntress told me the best way to move silently is to move only one limb at a time! If you're careful and watch where you put your hands and feet it seems to work although it does slow you down. Also, walking or crawling put your extremities down slowly so as to be able to feel twigs and such beginning to break.

Yes, you are correct; a hood on your coat would help break up the "human" outline of your upper body. If you can't get the Carhart Company to send you a new hood try a (widest brim you can find) boonie hat. They come in all colors and camo patterns and the wide all-around brim will help blend the shape of your head & neck into the trunk of your upper body.

As to the problem of steamy breath on cold days, have you tried a balaclava, bandanna, scarf or neck gaiter pulled up over your nose and mouth when you don't want to steam?

I don't have any experiences with motionless fawns, but I do with a motionless coyote. A guy and I were hunting them in the desert one day when we walked around a sand dune and he stopped dead in his tracks. "See that?" he said pointing to the ground not six feet in front of us. I looked, saw nothing and moved my gaze further out thinking there was nothing directly in front of us.

"Where?" I asked.

"Right THERE !" he exclaimed again pointing a few feet in front of us. As we were arguing whether there was anything "there" a coyote that had been sleeping curled up into a ball with its tail over its nose got up not five feet from me and ran off.

So, yeah, motionlessness and camouflage do work wonders when it comes to hiding in plain sight.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

A potpourri of misery – with Solutions

The Best Defense is the name of a cable/satellite TV show that's been on for a couple of years. Recently they've begun rerunning their 2009 series The Best Defense: Survival! which, without using the word, deals with TEOTWAWKI from A to Z and then some.

If you have cable/satellite it's on The Outdoor Channel you can discover the exact days and times on your cable/satellite menu screen or you can get a preview here.

The following is a partial list of the promos you can watch for free. The series is also for sale on DVDs.

Promo - The Best Defense: Survival!
The Best Defense: Survival!, hosted by Michael Bane, is an exciting new show that features defense methods and survival techniques to help men and women be able to quickly analyze, respond and react accordingly to some of the most dangerous and unimaginable situations ever encountered. Terrorism, natural disasters and emergencies of all types are featured.

Show Open 2009 - The Best Defense: Survival!
The Best Defense: Survival, hosted by Michael Bane, is an exciting new show that features defense methods and survival techniques to help men and women be able to quickly analyze, respond and react accordingly to some of the most dangerous and unimaginable situations ever encountered. Terrorism, natural disasters and emergencies of all types are featured.

Bug In - Best Defense Survival!
Many of us have had to “hunker down” in our homes during snow storms, earthquakes and power outages. But what if you and your family have to stay in for a whole week, month or even longer?

Bug Out - Best Defense Survival!
The worst time to practice what you are going to do if you have to leave your home in an emergency is when the event is actually happening. In this episode, we’ll take you through the things you need to prepare in advance, as well as how to practice loading it to be sure you and your family get to safety in time.

The “Survival” Room
Welcome to season 2 of The Best Defense Survival. This season, we take viewers to the micro level of survival preparedness. The first step is planning the main room in your home that you are going to “hunker down” in during a disaster event; something Michael Janich has already done in his own home.

Security - Best Defense Survival!
The Best Defense Survival always deals with firearms for defensive use in a disaster situation. But your security during these times goes well beyond having a gun. From gun storage to physical barriers, this episode will show you what to consider around your home, as well as when moving out in the open, that will keep you and your family safe during a disaster.

Medical - Best Defense Survival!
Most of the medical kits people have cover the basics; band-aids, tweezers, rubbing alcohol… anything that can take care of our every day minor injuries. But when planning for survival, you need to take things a step further.

Water - Best Defense Survival!
During World War II, the town of Picher, Oklahoma produced a large number of the bullets American troops used in their M1 Garands, M1 Carbines and Thompson sub-machineguns. But what the town didn’t realize was the lead mining that was driving their industry was also poisoning the water supply. Michael Bane visits Picher, Oklahoma to introduce us to the idea that having to purify your water isn’t necessarily a far fetched idea.

Food For Survival - The Best Defense Survival!
The last place you want to be is at the grocery store, Michael Bane found in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans. Having been destroyed by hurricane Katrina, this supermarket was once the heart of a thriving neighborhood. When disaster hits, you need to have your own resources available to get you through.

The Threat of Terrorism - The Best Defense Survival!
From Episode 2 of The Best Defense: Survival - Michael Bane talks about the threat of terrorism

Plan for an Evacuation - Chris Gallagher The Best Defense Survival!
Chris Gallagher, NYPD Veteran and 9/11 first responder, gives tips on being prepared in the event of an evacuation.

Localized Weather - The Best Defense: Survival!
Teaser for the 5th episode of The Best Defense: Survival - Localized Weather Event.

Disaster City - The Best Defense: Survival!
The Best Defense: Survival and host Michael Bane visits 'Disaster City' in College Station, Texas - the premiere facility for training first responders and experts who have to deal with area wide disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, chemical spills, train derailments - it's all here.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Put It On Plastic? Gambling with Survival

How close are we to a catastrophic economic event?
In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra: "Predicting is difficult; particularly about the future." Just because you believe the end is near doesn't mean you should stock up on green bananas. Better to stock up on the foods that you normally eat with long term storage potential and rotate your stock. Most canned goods nowadays have the "best if sold by" date printed right on the can. . It's not unusual for canned goods to have expiration dates of more than a year out and, if stored in a cool dry place, they can be safely consumed even after many years.

Also, honey is a nutritious food source and (sealed) honey stores virtually forever.In addition to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties locally produced honey tends to immunize against local allergies.

As an added bonus most micro-organisms do not grow in honey making it an impromptu topical antibacterial agent as long as water is kept away from the wound which makes it a good ointment for rashes and burns. Honey can also be used to help soothe sore throats.

Is there anything we individuals can do to prevent the coming crisis?
Look, you're in the same position as a passenger on the bow of the Titanic on that fateful night just before it struck the iceberg. You are not a member of the crew and therefore are not qualified to see the iceberg. The helmsman will not heed your advice and the officer of the watch won't wake the captain with your warning. You'd best begin thinking about an alternative mode of transportation.

You've probably noticed there aren't enough lifeboats so depending on the authorities for salvation will be problematical. A wooden stateroom door doesn't provide the comforts of a lifeboat, but it floats.

Have you selected your door? The water's cold so you'll need something to tie yourself to the door with. Got rope?

Getting away from the seafaring analogies, when things go to hell in a hand basket there'll be a shortage of hand baskets. Having your own hand basket will mean you not only don't have to stand in line to get one, but you'll be helping the team effort by not being in that line and thus putting that much less strain on the over stretched and stressed hand basket providers.

Whether you shelter in place (most likely for most people) or make a run for it you'll need water, food and medicine which brings us to the next question: How ya' gunn'a get all this stuff?

Getting back to the hand basket analogy; given a crisis developing over a period of days there'll most likely be a rush to buy food and camping supplies. We've seen it all before; the weather bureau forecasts a blizzard or hurricane and the nightly news shows video of empty store shelves and people lined up at cash registers with carts full of bottled water, food, tools and supplies. You don't want to be in that line unless you're just topping off.

Why not? Since nobody knows when the tipping point will arrive why not wait till the last minute and then max out the credit cards and sit safe and secure in your chosen hideaway as the world unravels around you smug in the knowledge that the credit card bills will never come?

What makes you so sure the stores will be accepting credit cards or even open for business? Hurricanes and blizzards are local events for which merchants are happy to put survival supplies on plastic because the merchants know that when the storm is over the credit card company will still be around to pay them. But what if they aren't? Or what if the merchants fear they may not be?

Perception is reality at least insofar as we react to it and a radioactive hole in midtown Manhattan or even just a dirty bomb in the Bronx would likely cause the banks who sponsor credit card companies and the merchants who get paid by them to put the kibosh on credit until things get sorted out. But there are physical reasons you don't want to base your survival plans on plastic.

It wouldn't take a mountain sized meteor melting Montreal to put plastic survival plans in the potty. When we ran our store something as trivial as a lightning strike on a power pole would take whole sections of the city (and our credit card machines) down. The Northeast and New York City Blackouts in 1965, 1977 and 2003 made cash king for the durations.

And then there's the prospect of sabotage of our national electrical grid, Internet or banking industry infrastructure to worry about.

No, I'll stock up on food and forgo the opportunity to join the desperate mobs of looters left holding a wallet full of useless plastic when the pantry is empty.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Would Canadian dollars circulate in the US as a replacement currency?

Given the stability issues of the American dollar would foreign currencies like the Canadian (CAD), affectionately called the "Loonie" by Canadians, or Australian (AUD) dollar or even the Swiss Frank (CHF) become substitutes for the fading US dollar?

I imagine Canadian dollars (CAD) will begin bleeding across the border more frequently and permanently soon after the American dollar (USD) becomes worth less (note I said "worth less" not worthless) than its northern counterpart. But the real penetration of the Loonie into the southern states will come with the realization that the condition isn't temporary and that the USD is approaching near worthlessness.

Residents on both sides of the Canadian/US border are used to the daily fluctuations in the exchange rate of the CAD vs. USD and take it in stride often trying to take advantage of the situation by shopping on the side of the border that gives them the best bang for the buck (or Loonie as the case may be).

Look at the "EXCHANGE RATES" chart at the bottom left of the page. The "CAD/USD" rate is the one we're talking about.

If the Loonie catches on as a unit of exchange vis-à-vis the greenback in the USA the demand will be tremendous. The government of Canada provides physical money (cash & coins) for a population of less than 35 million people. The population of the United States is over 300 million. It is with good reason that they refer to us as "The Giant to the South" among other less flattering terms.

There would be pressure on the Canadian government to increase it physical money supply, but doing so would decrease the fiscal health of the Loonie. In a country experiencing hyperinflation the news that the foreign currency they were coming to depend upon was ramping up the printing presses might undermine the value of the Loonie here too.

Australia isn't eager to accept hordes of penniless refugees either. However I've been told that remotely opening a bank account there is possible contact: Addy Cheong Business Manager, Westpac Business Banking, Westpac Banking Corp.
There'd be little problem adapting to Australian English but getting there would be a long swim.

Switzerland is famous for it's clocks, cheese, chocolate and desire to stay Swiss. I've been told that opening a bank account in Switzerland requires a visit in person and a search for a Swiss bank willing to accept American deposits. Although most Swiss speak some English you'd be at a distinct disadvantage, language wise, there.

One solution might be to have an account in Canada, in Loonies, in a Canadian bank. Even now Canada requires some means of self support for immigrants I imagine those rules will get more stringent if a crisis unfolds.

Canada has (from their point of view) the disadvantage of speaking the same language (except Quebec) as us and being so close to the American hordes. If it comes to that I think getting in early would be preferable.

Of course there's the little matter of taking what you have with you with you if you must immigrate in a hurry. The most commonly considered vehicles of cross border wealth transportation are gold & silver bars, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.

The liquidity of these items is debatable. Unless you "know people" establishing the value (or even the authenticity) of precious stones, gold or silver bars might be problematical. Still Diamonds were one way some Jews smuggled their wealth out of Nazi hands.

In a crisis situation it'll be hard to get change for a gold bar or one carat diamond when buying a loaf of bread. Even a one ounce Krugerrand may be too much.

For what it's worth, my opinion is that gold and gems would be best for carrying wealth across national borders. Silver coins are much less portable in significant quantities but would be useful for stay-at-homes buying groceries in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

Survival sites traditionally recommend booze as "trade goods" for "survival situations" meaning hard liquor because Beer and cigarettes don't store well for long periods.

Yes Jim Beam and Johnny Walker would make good long term bunker buddies as would other brand name whiskies as long as you don't partake of too much the merchandise before trading time.

For medium term trade goods consider over the counter medicines. Most have about a year's shelf life (it's printed on the side of the bottle) and I've been told by a Special Forces medic that most over the counter medicines are useable (albeit with somewhat inhibited efficacy) long after the "sell by" date if stored in a cool dry place. I keep a year's supply on hand of each of the over the counter medicines we use and plan to stock up with several years worth if given a chance when the balloon goes up.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

One handed reloading of the semi-auto pistol

I recently fielded a question on another board:
"I was told you cannot use an automatic with the left hand, especially changing a clip. I never thought of this. Does anyone make a Left handed automatic? Is a custom conversion even thinkable?"

(The question reminded me that many people don't know much about guns in general or pistols in particular so I threw a few explanatory and illustrative links into my answer.)

My answer:
Whoever told you that didn't know what they were talking about. I've shot many left (weak) hand only stages at combat pistol matches with my M1911A1 (1) Browning .45 ACP caliber semi-automatic pistols. Thousands of pistol shooters fire regular off the shelf semi-auto pistols left handed every day.

Also, it's called a magazine, NOT a "clip" because the magazine surrounds the cartridges on five sides. The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) has what is commonly called a "box magazine" because the magazine extends below the rifle. The M-1 Garand rifle and many European pistols use clips which merely "clip" the cartridges together.

Most semi-auto pistols have the magazine enclosed within the grip of the pistol when firing and are just referred to as magazines.

Many M1911 type pistols have ambidextrous thumb safeties so that's no problem for lefties if they remember to buy the right (pun intended ;-) gun. Also there are ways to fleck the thumb safety on and off with only the left hand on M1911 type pistols that I won't go into here, but they should be able to learn to do it safely from any competent firearms instructor.

To avoid the thumb safety issue altogether with Semi-automatic pistol buy a Glock pistol which has the safety in the trigger.

To change the magazine using only one hand (left or right) on a semi-auto pistol do this:

My preferred way to reload with just one hand:

Note this guy may get dirt in his muzzle:

(There are other methods that work but that I consider them to be less safe.)

If you're going to practice this maneuver be sure to do so with an unloaded gun and magazines for the first ten times or so until you're sure you're doing it safely and keeping the Muzzle pointed away from you at all times.

(1) M1911A1
(There are literally uncountable numbers of auto pistols based on Browning's design. If you've ever fired an automatic pistol chances are, no matter who made it, it was based on Browning's design.)

If you wish to try this technique do so with an unloaded (check three times) gun and magazines!

OH and one more thing!
Be sure to practice with an unloaded gun and magazines!

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