Sunday, September 26, 2010

Camouflage Again

Check This Out
Click on the small images at the bottom of the page to enlarge them. EACH of the images has at least one person wearing MultiCam in it. (Click on the arrows at the ends < & > to see more pictures.) Sometimes they are so nearly invisible you'll swear there's no one there, but there is, you just have to stare at the picture for a few minutes to see them, but they're there. Also note the contrast when the MultiCam wearer is near a person wearing Woodland camouflage.

Being Seen
If ya' want'a be seen use Movement and Contrast.

For Contrast try Black on white, white on a black (or any dark color) background or white, orange, red or yellow against a green background. Ayup, flowering plants figured out how to attract pollinators and seed spreaders a long time ago.

Movement of just about anything against a contrasting background multiplies the chances of being noticed by the human eye.

Being UNseen
If ya' want'a disappear? Combine camouflage patterns (and/or dark dull colored clothing) with the elimination of outline, movement & contrast. Then blend in with the background shape and color.

Eliminate movement. Stand still! The human eye/mind is really attuned to noticing movement, particularly with peripheral vision. Turning your head, bringing your hand/arm up to take a toke on a cigarette will draw the attention of people to whom you were invisible. If you have to move walk within tree lines or next to large objects that will mask your movement and your hide your shape.

Contrast Wear clothing that approximates (i.e. does not contrast with) the colors of the background you expect to inhabit.

Back when I was running the surplus store a group of Border Patrol agents, wanting to order some MARPAT, came to me shortly after the USMC MARPAT camouflage pattern came out. They showed me a full color photo of some Border Patrol agents from a different district standing in front of some large mesquite bushes while wearing Woodland MARPET except for their hands and faces the agents were very hard to see. If they'd been wearing gloves and a little camo grease paint on their smiling faces they would have been virtually invisible!

In my humble opinion, in of all its versions MARPAT is superior to the ACU's Universal Camouflage Pattern.

Shape Wear clothing that blends in with your background so that your human shape isn't easily discernible. The human mind looks for remembered shapes. That's why it easily picks out the double-popsicle on sticks shape of a human's torso and legs or the "vehicleness" of a car or truck.

Never stand out in the open. Always stand in the shade and as close to large natural terrain objects (bushes, trees, boulders and buildings) as possible.

Outline Wear something that breaks up your outline. Ghillie suits and some modern 3D civilian camouflage like the Leafy 3D camo pants, jackets, hoods and hats sold at stores like Cabela's, Bass Pro or your local sporting goods store.

Not having your shape outlined (or silhouetted) against the sky is one of the reasons military units take up positions on the military crests of hills.

I was moved to begin this revisit to the subject of personal camouflage when I stumbled onto the MultiCam web site the other day. MultiCam is, in my never so humble opinion, such a strong improvement over the US Army's current camouflage uniform that it's blasted its way through the layers of Pentagon inertia and bureaucracy to force its adoption for troops on the ground in Afghanistan. "However, it has been newly commissioned in 2010 and will be replacing the UCP pattern over time for use by US Army Units serving in Afghanistan."

MultiCam is such an improvement over the Universal Camouflage Pattern (Ayup it's the same ACU) that, if the bean counters can see their way clear to stop diverting millions of taxpayer dollars to the manufacturers of ACU's we could/would/should see MultiCam on our military here in the states soon.

It'll be a big improvement since the so called "Universal Camouflage Pattern" which is supposed to blend in with everything in general in fact blends in with nothing in particular which is why MultiCam is replacing the ACU's in the theater of operations where bullets are actually flying.

I'm planning to buy a set of cammies in MultiCam soon.

To Comment on this article E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bug Out Bag

The other day I watched some guy's video presentation of his Bug Out Bag and its contents. We can forgive him his choice of a multi hundred dollar military/civilian backpack with more outside pockets than a billiard table; after all we enthusiasts do tend to get carried away sometimes.

His choice of color (coyote) was good but short of shotgun shells I can't figure out what all the "shotgun loops" would be useful for. And truth be told, all those outside pockets could come in handy.

Any of the military/civilian camouflage patterns in dark green, brown, black or tan or those colors themselves would be as good. (Just stay away from the bright colors like reds, yellows, orange and white.) You'll probably find more of the blend-in and camouflage bags at sporting goods and outdoor stores.

One good thing about the backpack is the fact that it was a hydration pack which lets the wearer drink on the go without stopping to unlimber a canteen.

Water is one of the heaver substances out there weighing in at a tad over eight and a third pounds per US gallon so having all that weight in close to your back not only enables you to carry more water, it keeps the weight in close to your body and leaves room for something else besides a canteen on the belt.

Of course with water being all that heavy you can't carry very much of it without weighing yourself down to the point that mobility is adversely affected. That's were a Katadyn (or similar) water filter comes in. Or you could carry a small amount of household bleach (unscented Clorox) to disinfect as you go.

You'll want a suitably sized backpack for each family member. I've placed a list of links to hydration pack manufacturers at the bottom of this post. (You can find notes on Vehicle Bug Out Bags HERE.)

He chose to pack (without enumerating the contents for viewers) two first aid kits; one of the "Band-Aid variety" for small cuts and abrasions, and the other of the "bandage variety" (including a folding splint) for more serious injuries.

I would suggest that you pack the following two items in your "Band-Aid" level kit because I know from personal experience that both of these products work as advertised.

A bottle of New-Skin liquid bandage which dries rapidly to form a tough protective cover that's antiseptic, flexible, waterproof, and lets your skin breathe. (I've found New-Skin to last lots longer than a Band-Aid particularly on wounds to skin that bends.) Another use for New-Skin is for neutralizing splinters that you just can't seem to get out any other way. A drop of New-Skin on the splinter prevents infection, grabs the splinter preventing it from working its way in deeper and eventually, when the New-Skin finally comes loose days later, pulls the splinter out.

A package of moleskin because bugging out may require a bit of unaccustomed hiking which almost certainly will cause debilitating blisters if not treated immediately. (In my hiking days I'd use the scissors of my Swiss Army knife to cut strips and rectangles of Moleskin to cover sore red areas before they became blisters.)

In your "Bandage Level" first aid kit I highly recommend QuikClot or Celox or some other battlefield proven haemostatic agent for the treatment of deep or severely bleeding wounds.

A metal canteen cup or small pot for cooking and boiling water would be useful too. This brings me to Leather work gloves for use in handling hot things around the campfire as well as handling spiny prickly thorny things.

This brings us to walking boots or shoes, socks, pants, Gore-Tex jacket and a blanket or sleeping bag (in camouflage or a dark dull color) to be stored in a plastic bag to keep dry until needed. One of those large vacuum bags you see advertised on late nite TV would work well here, but any plastic will do.

He had another good idea i.e. packing a wad of small denomination bills in a plastic Baggie for use as long as money is being accepted. He chose small bills because, as he pointed out, there aren't likely to be a lot of people able to make change out there.

If things go from the paper money as legal tender to paper money as fire tinder stage it might be nice to have a few junk silver dimes and silver quarters in there too.

He chose to pack Electrical tape instead of the more versatile Duct tape. I'd choose the Duct tape because, as anyone who's ever compared the stickiness and strength of the two will tell you, Duct tape is stronger and will stick to more stuff. Electrical tape tends to stick to itself better than most other things and it stretches.

The Duct tape you'll find in the store is normally wider (17⁄8 to two or more inches) than Electrical tape which is usually about ¾ of an inch wide. That extra width plus the extra stickiness and strength makes Duct tape useable for more applications (you can always rip Duct tape lengthwise to get narrower pieces) in any situation where you're not repairing electrical wiring.

Please note that duct tape can be used for bandages and holding splints in place as well as dozens of other helpful uses like covering the international orange/reflective white stripes on your kids school backpack that's been pressed into service as a Bug Out Bag because you're on a budget. You'll find silver/gray duct tape at hardware stores and OD (Olive Drab) green and camouflage duct tape at military surplus stores.

In addition to his EDC knife he'd put another folder in the backpack as backup. Of course there was a big sheath knife too. Not a bad idea if you might find yourself needing to cut branches for shelter or fire.

My own choice of EDC knife is a genuine Swiss Army knife in a leather pouch on my belt. I choose a real Leatherman multi-tool for the Bug Out Bag.

Of course we all need fire starters. He chose a magnesium fire starter several BIC disposable lighters. A metal match would also be useful here.

You'll want a hank of 550 cord easily available in sporting and surplus stores. Try to get 50 to 100 feet of the real 550 cord not those cheap imitations. You'll thank yourself for doing so if you ever have to hang off the side of a cliff (been there done that) on a single strand of the stuff.

Two Flashlights; preferably LED flashlights using the same battery and bulbs (cannibalization to make spares) are a good idea in case one goes out when you need it most.

Of course anyone who watches Man Woman Wild, Dual Survival or any of the survival shows knows how to start fires with a nine volt battery and a piece of fine steel wool. So as a backup to your other fire starters why not add a small (many are the size of a pack of cigarettes) portable AM FM radio powered by (of course) a nine volt battery and a piece of fine steel wool in a baggie?

Like most of the other items listed here the cheap radio performs a multiple function i.e. morale booster, communications and fire starter battery holder. Having some idea of what's going on (or at least the official version) keeps you informed no matter where you are and could cheer you up.

The food in the video was just health bars, power bars and candy bars. Nothing wrong with that. This is after all a bag for getting the hell out of Dodge not living out of for months. But remember that the non-canned food you buy in the grocery store, although lighter, is produced and packaged with the expectation that it will be sold and consumed within a few months.

When he mentioned Slim Jims and beef jerky I recalled reading about some of those products found to have mold on them while still hanging on the merchant's rack. I'd eschew Slim Jims and jerky in my Bug Out Bag if it's to be stored unused for a long time; which, hopefully, it will be.

Health and power bars tend to have a lot of grains in them. You might want to stick them in the freezer for two weeks to kill any bug eggs that might develop into larvae while sitting in your backpack waiting for Armageddon.

Then I'd place each bar separately in a baggie evacuating as much air as I could while folding the baggie around the bar and sealing it. Then place several baggied bags in another one repeating the process. Of course the emptied baggies will come in handy if you ever have to eat the contents while on the run.

But why bother?
Why bother rotating (hopefully you'll remember) store bought food that wasn't packaged for long term storage for years while waiting for an emergency you hope will never come when you've got one of natures best all around, and longest lasting, foods right beside those perishables on the grocer's shelf?

Eatable honey has reportedly been found in Egyptian tombs and is as nutritious as any power bar. Additionally, because of honey's antiseptic and antibacterial properties it can be used as a field expedient wound ointment.

Buy a small sealed jar of pure honey and tape the top closed with duct tape. I'd also recommend putting duct tape all around the jar to buffer it during rough handling. I eschew plastic bottles of honey because it's too easy for them to burst when compressed.

The leading hydration pack manufacturers are:

High Sierra


North Face

Outdoor Products


JW (an international traveler) writes:
"I keep a “minimalist” first aid kit in the glove compartment of my car, along with a few gadgets (to cut seat belt straps, break car windows, etc). I keep a full first aid kit and tool box in my trunk.

When I travel, I have a small tool kit that I carry with the obligatory Leatherman, Swiss Army knife, etc., but have a couple of small, lightweight “unique” items. By memory (so not nearly complete):

Dentist mirror
Magnet on a 8” stick
1’ of magnesium ribbon wire (for fire starting)
Matchbox sized piece of “fire starter”
Waterproof matches
Fully charged extra cell phone battery
6’ of thin monel wire
3’ #12 electrical wire and a few assorted connectors
Long needle nosed pliers
Small “interchangeable tip” screw driver/wrench set (including metric sizes)
Eyeglass repair kit
Jeweler’s loupe and small magnifying glass
Small calculator
Small (slightly over matchbook size) book of various pictures to use when no one speaks English (food and car items, hotel/bed, policeman, etc.)
Water purification tablets
Cypro (strong antibiotic)
Pain killers/anti-inflamitory/stomach/muscle-relaxant assorted pills
Antiseptic/anesthetic cream, a few Bandaids
Assorted other doodads that I don’t remember off the top of my head

The kit is about the size of a paperback book in a zip-up “leather” carry case and has proved useful over the years. Many of the “doodads” come from my scratching my head in the middle of nowhere and saying to myself “If I only had a …”

(Cap42 writes:
I wished I had brought mole skin or ducktape on my 24hour hike in Basic. Blisters really suck! I had one on my foot so bad from that hike that when the medic came around the next day and drained it it closed and filled back up over night and he had to cut it open and take the skin off the next day!


(This note is from "KC" a person I know to be a retired Special Ops medic.)

Lot of good ideas there. As far as what medical gear to take, I guess it depends on what it is you’re preparing for (length of time and conditions expected). Not to mention medical experience of the user; an experienced medical professional would want a LOT more than the average citizen (IV fluids and such) ‘cause they’d feel naked without it.

Th[is] link West Marine Medical Kits is to a (much over-priced) website that caters to boaters. For Godsake don’t BUY this stuff, but get ideas on how they packaged medical kits by length of time, number of people, and type of injury. If you’re putting together a kit for aftermath of a disaster (think Katrina), then a 3-5 day kit augmented with field dressing packs and anti-biotic ointment would do. Anything else could be improvised. Add to it as needed for the amount of people you expect to use it.

One of the kit manufacturers on the West Marine site, Adventure Medical Kits lists the exact items contained in their kits.

The medical kit listing for each of the kits on the Adventure Medical Kits web site has a handy, “printer friendly” button to print the list. Nice for use when building your kits to show what’s inside. Don’t forget to add the expiration dates of any meds you put in the kit. [sealed in clear plastic baggies]

If you’re thinking TEOTWAWKI, you can’t pack enough, and what you do pack better be labeled in Chinese and Russian along with English, ‘cause they won’t ignore the opportunity.

Th[is] link is to the downloadable Emergency War Surgery book that has been studied by combat medics for many years. Very useful when combined with some medical training.

[Here's another link from KC's note that might prove helpful to some readers.]

Lastly, this idea came to me as I wrote the above. The electronic “books” (Kindle, Nook, etc) might be a viable way to take an extensive library of “How-to”, survival, medical and reference books with you in your G.O.O.D. BOB kit for TEOTWAWKI scenarios.

Serious. A solar panel charger in your kit could be used for many other things as well as the occasional re-charge of the Kindle/Nook. I think the cost-to-benefit ratio is in its favor.

Hope this helps. Please leave my name out of this; I have enough fame and fortune to deal with!

K (Invest in lead; the other precious metal.) C



JSMI writes:
Are you some kind of delusionary mountain man? The day you try to make it with a bulging “bug-out bag” is the day you’ll become a sitting-duck target for every hungry redneck without one. Good luck hanging from that cliff with your 75 pound backpack.

75 pounds?
Well, let's add it up:
Hydration backpack = Weight: 2 lbs, 6 oz Capacity: 600 cu. in.

"water weighs 8.33 pounds per gallon there is 128 ounces in a gallon 8.33 divided by 128 equals 0.065 pounds per ounce multiply by 100
equals 6.5 pounds
per 100 ounces"

Backpack with full bladder = just under nine (9) pounds.


Katadyn weighs 15 oz

205 piece First Aid Kit = 1.2 pounds (shipping weight)

My bottle of New-Skin and a package of MoleSkin from my medicine cabinet = 1.5 oz. The presenter showed personally assembled first aid kits in clear plastic baggies. I choose to go the same route because it's cheaper than buying a kit and you can tailor the contents to your particular needs and locale. I present the 205 piece kit here because it contains more they the presenter or I pack and it's weight is verifiable.

Paper dollar bills and some junk silver coins = 1 oz.

My two LED flashlights and a Leatherman multi-tool weigh in at exactly one pound.

My magnesium fire starter, the same size but Army issue, weighs in at just under 1.5 oz.

100 feet of 550 paracord = one pound (shipping weight)

Quick Clot = .2 oz.

GI metal canteen cup = 10.1 oz (shipping weight)

About five (5) pounds.


my about a quarter roll of duct tape = about 4 oz.

Cabela's polartec long sleeve shirt, leather gloves pair of pants, boots & boot socks = 4 pounds

Surplus US Army woodland camouflage Gore-Tex parka = 3 pounds.

Surplus wool Army blanket = 4 pounds I also have surplus nylon poncho liners that weigh in at under a pound. (Being a retired military surplus dealer has its advantages) which I'd use for summer evacuations or in addition to the wool blanket in the cold of winter.

About eleven (11) pounds.

So 9 pounds + 5 pounds + 11 pounds = 25 pounds which is a third of 75 pounds and a weight I can easily carry and (dare I say it?) live with.


To Comment on this article E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Burglary: What One Man Can Build Another Can Break Into

The pyramids prove anything one man can build another can break into. We're able to see the glory of Tutankhamen's burial regalia today because he was buried in a hole in the ground instead of an ostentatious pyramid. The more glorious you make your house look on the outside the more appealing it looks … to crooks.

Here are some tips on reinforcing your doors and windows (and other tricks) to help keep crooks out.

Install double key deadbolt locks on any door with glass in it or within thirty-six inches of a window. Be sure the doors and doorframes you pick are at least as strong as the locks you mount on them.

Putting a double key deadbolt lock at about five feet from floor on a solid core door is an effective defense against having a solid core door kicked in because it's very hard to kick up that high. Be sure to use three inch or longer screws to secure the strike plate just as you would with the double key deadbolt lock at the regular level.

One way to reinforce your doorframe is with the StrikeMaster a long strip of metal that screws through your doorframe into the 2X4's with three or four inch screws.

Or you could go whole hog and mount a safe room door either as the door to your house or for a safe room.

Outward opening exterior doors are more resist kicking in than the same door mounted as an inward opening door provided the hinges and door frame are strong.

Front yard signs and window stickers will discourage most small time burglars. But alarm company contracts are expensive so some companies sell fakes for those who want faux security.

However it does little good to put up fake alarm company stickers on windows if the crook can look in and see there are not relays and wires to an alarm system. You can purchase relays and wires cheaply at Radio Shack, tack'em where they can be seen from the outside and run the wires out of sight.

If you've got the money to spend the Ultimate Lock offers first class protection. Another expensive but quality lock is the Medeco deadbolt lock. Please note that with both these expensive locks it does no good to mount them on a cheap door or weak doorframe.

Another not so cheap lock is the Schlage followed by the Kwikset which is the lock you most probably have on your front door.

When we bought our home and stores one of the first things I did was hire a locksmith to come out and re-key all the locks. Expensive, but worth it to be sure I was the only one able to turn a key and walk into my property.

As long as I was spending the money I had the locksmiths set one combination for all the house door locks and another for the store and warehouse door locks. That way I only had to carry two keys around with me. Like I said expensive: but convenient.

Thankfully Kwikset has recently come out with SmartKey door locks (double deadbolts, deadbolts and knobs) that allow you to key all the locks on your house to one key via what they call a "SmartKey tool.

I've replaced several locks with SmartKey locks and they are still working fine several years later.

A keyless open from the inside only device is The Original Door Stopper® a handy little round palm sized piece of metal that looks good and functions like a lock but needs no key to operate from the inside.

Another open from the inside only lock is a half inch rebar through eye bolts sunk into 2X4's on either side of the door. On an inward opening door the rebar would just slide through the eye bolts. For an outward opening door you'd need to put two more eye bolts in the door itself so the rebar would slide through all four eye bolts.

Obviously this is for a basement door or some other place where looks don't matter. Also, a door secured in this manner can't be opened from the outside unless you are foolish enough to have glass windows in the door or around the doorframe. And sliding the rebar into the eye bolts gets to be a chore if the door is in use all the time. This type of el cheapo locking mechanism is for doors that don't get much use.

If you don't have bars on all your windows it doesn't matter how many locks you've got on the doors.

Paint the bars BLACK so your mind's eye will dismiss the color making it easier to look through them at what's outside. If you've got lots of money and can't stand the thought of bars on your windows you go with Shattergard or a similar product.

Another way to discourage window attacks is to plant cactus, roses or some other thorny plant under windows.

Bottom Line
A lock, no matter what it costs, is only as break-in resistant as the door it is mounted on and the door is only as strong as the hinges/frame it is mounted on.


J writes:

Great advice. While my apartment is blessed with a steel door (with a Medico deadbolt, steel plate over outside lock, through bolted to the door and angle iron to the steel jam to prevent prying along with the rinky-dink lock supplied by the building) as well as internal bars over the windows to fire escapes (easily removed by pulling pins in case of a fire), I still built an alarm system (not central office connected to going to a loud bell with battery backup anchored to ceiling of concrete outside terrace.

System is "normally live", so if wires are cut, bell goes off. Also used 4" tamperproof screws to close four sides of box cover with a tamper switch, so even if the cover is to be removed - short of knowing ahead what tools to bring, such as heavy hammer and cold chisel, and the nature of the system, the bell will ring for a number of minutes). Bell is 10" and will wake the dead which, considering the dense population packing of the building and neighborhood, should act as a deterrent.

Is this system foolproof? Absolutely not (a local bank had its vault broken into from a drycleaner next door and anyone with enough incentive can penetrate the apartment from an adjoining wall to a neighbor, but it's unlikely that the normal burglar would take this route).

The major security concern, in my case, is not physical penetration, but "social engineering". About a year ago, a couple of "detectives" ran the apartment door bell and when my wife wouldn't open the door without calling the precinct first, they went away. Later we found that they robbed an elderly gentleman down the hall who let them into his apartment.

In my opinion, in all security, whether data or physical, there are a couple of important criteria. The obvious one is the security itself (whether a strong physical perimeter, data encryption or whatever), the second is what I call "authentication". All the security in the world won't protect against a violation of trust on a personal level. I brought this up in a conversation with ***** yesterday (though not using the "A" word) in the context of the ability of people lending their ID cards to friends.

While there are some interesting biometric devices (my traveling laptop, despite the fact that there is never any information stored on it, as I use an encrypted VPN to access a remote computer for my work, has its hard disk encrypted using my fingerprint as a key - well actually did a number of my and wife's fingers in case I get sloppy with a hammer).

While it might be overkill for a home, I saw a demonstration of these [CyberLock also available through TEC Solutions] which was very impressive (and they have matching cylinders for most major lock manufacturers)


Wow! Great response J (it sounds like you're almost as paranoid as I am. ;-) The "social engineering" part of your post reminds me that the next step up from burglary (danger to property) is robbery (danger to people) and then there's just plain felons on the run.

Our local news recently ran a story/interview with a woman who'd just come face to face with a fleeing felon. Seems the cops were chasing him through backyards when he tried to smash his way through her back door.

Her strong back door kept him out (good for her) but she got scared and ran out her front door (bad for her) and ran straight into him as he'd given up on her back door and was coming around to the front of her house just as she ran out. They met in front of her garage.

The story detailed exactly what I've been warning my wife about for years as I constantly remind (nag) her to keep all doors locked at all times so I dragged her from her shows in the living room to watch a replay of the story on the bedroom TV with accompanying commentary by yours truly ("See, it really does happen!") as the woman recounted how she'd somehow been able to run back in her front door locking it behind her.

The news story ended with her neighbors recounting how "motorcycle cops and six police cars" pounced on the guy shortly thereafter and my grumbling wife returning to her show.


JRG writes to add:

Cutting solid wood door stop chocks and pounding into door head, jamb in several locations will help secure a door as well. Have read some folks in Sand Box use this when clearing buildings from insurgents, pounding these into doors in rooms already searched.


To Comment on this article E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

EMP is High Noon Then We Descend Into Darkness

Protecting Ourselves from EMP
Leaving the technical stuff to the techies* let's look at what you can do to protect your electronic stuff from EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) without spending a lot of money. (*techno stuff for the techies is at the bottom of this article.)

Faraday Cages
Faraday Cages can be as simple as a grounded aluminum foil or metal mesh around the electronic device(s) to be shielded or an entire room or building so shielded. The cooking chamber of your microwave oven is a Faraday Cage in case you were wondering what all those little lines on the glass door are for.

The simplest Faraday cage for small appliances (like the hand cranked/solar radio you plan to use in an emergency) is the cardboard box they came in plus a slightly larger box completely covered in aluminum foil and grounded with a shielded (plastic coated) wire such as you have laying around like cut from the charger of that last generation electronic device you tossed, half the cord from that old lamp you threw out or maybe some speaker wire leftover from installing your stereo. Strip the last few inches of plastic to expose the copper wire then tape the metal part of the wire directly to the aluminum foil on the outside of the larger box. Then attach an alligator clip to the other end of the wire.

Make sure NONE of the aluminum foil (or wire mesh) extends into the inside of the larger box. Place the electronic device(s) still in their original (or other) cardboard box(es) so that there is only cardboard to cardboard contact within the larger box. You want a small space or non-conducting material between the outer Faraday cage box and the inner box(es) with vulnerable electronics.

Obviously it would be a pain in the arse to be taking everyday use items in and out of your Faraday cage every time you want to use one of them, and there's no guarantee that the Electro Magnetic Pulse won't come while you've got them out so you'll probably want to protect just the emergency stuff like that crank/solar emergency shortwave radio that listens to broadcasts from around the world located on frequencies between 1700 kHz and 30 MHz.

If you have a store room for emergency supplies you might consider stapling chicken wire or other metal mesh to its walls, ceiling and door then add your spare light bulbs, crank/solar emergency radio and solar battery charger.

Putting your emergency generator in a chicken wire lined shed might be a bit much, but maybe not.

I'm currently trying to force myself to read by One Second After by William R. Forstchen and finding the plot progression painfully slow. The protagonist jumps from facts to conclusions with all the deliberate speed of a leaping tortoise as he slowly realizes the implications of EMP.

I know it's a novel and he's (presumably) trying to introduce the concept of EelectroMagnetic Pulse to his readers, but com'ON!

If the lights, TV, radio and 99.9% of vehicles in your town suddenly died would you expect to see people wondering around wondering what happened or would they be out trying to buy food hand over fist and buying (or stealing) horses and mules?

With the 18 wheelers out of commission how much would old Nelly and an old hay wagon be worth?

Here's some links for those who want to know more:

World Band Radio

Faraday cage

Mythbusters build a Faraday cage

* EMP Shielding for Techies
"The purpose of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) protection system is to protect critical electrical systems from the effect of intense electromagnetic (EM) effects caused as a result of an explosion. The frequency spectrum may extend from below 1 Hz to above 300 MHz. The high-altitude EMP produced by an exoatmospheric nuclear explosion is the form of EMP commonly of most interest because of the large area covered by a single bomb. This high-intensity EMP can disrupt or damage critical electronic facilities over an area as large as the continental United States, unless protective measures are taken in the facilities. The development of such protective measures involves grounding, bonding, and shielding."
US Army TM 5-690/c5

To Comment on this article E-Mail Me Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Buying Gold and Silver Coins

Gold and silver coins are a means to carry wealth through hard times such as war or the collapse of a currency/government. Holding Gold & silver doesn’t pay dividends; Gold & silver are just a store of value. Insurance if you will. Gold & silver (particularly coins) will help you reestablish yourself after a financial storm.

One hundred years ago you could buy a Colt pistol with a one ounce gold coin. You still can. The value of gold hasn't changed, just the value of the currency. Let the traders make a "killing" in precious metals, unless you're a trader you want gold to hold.

Unless you’re planning to buy a small country someday gold, platinum or silver bars are out. Each bar represents a huge hunk of value and it’s hard to make change for a gold bar when you’re buying a loaf of bread. There is also the problem of proving the bar is 24 karat or whatever. Coins are of a known weight and karat.

Coins enable you to carry value without making it look like you've got a pistol in your pocket. (You should have a pistol too, but the pistol should be in a holster.)

If you must you can buy bullion gold and “junk” silver coins by phone or over the Internet, but in doing so you are leaving a paper trail. Take delivery. If you let them talk you into allowing them store it for you there's a risk (despite what they say) that your gold & silver may be "intermingled" in the vault with their PM and/or the PM (Precious Metals) of other customers. Then if the gold dealer goes bankrupt, as they are wont to do, your gold will be held by the bankruptcy judge until it can be divided up between all the claimants. (Translation: You ain't gunn'a get all you paid for.)

This almost happened to me many years ago, but I got wind of the gold dealer's problems (via Howard Ruff's newsletter) and demanded (via registered airmail) immediate delivery of my coins. My coins went out the day before the bankruptcy was declared. (Whew! Thank you Howard Ruff.)

It's better to buy bullion gold and “junk” silver coins from a local coin dealer. Park around the corner, pay cash (NEVER check or credit card), don’t give your real name, wear a wide brimmed hat & don't look up at the security cameras, be sure you’re not followed when you leave the store. No, I’m not kidding.

If the time ever comes when the government wants to crack down on people "hording" silver & gold (à la 1933) you don't want to make it easy for them to find you.

Unless you've acquired enough coins to fill the hall closet, don't store your coins in a bank “safe” deposit box or with someone else (e.g. the company that sold them to you). Safe deposit boxes are not safe. The contents aren’t insured by the bank and the bank will be more than happy to open your box for the government. Also, the bank may be closed when you need to get at your “safe” deposit box most urgently. Can you spell Banking Holiday?

"Bullion Coins" means the PM is valued by its mass and purity rather than by a face value as money.

"Junk Silver" refers to circulated silver coins which have no collector's value due to their wear & tear incurred as a result of being used. The silver content is the same as a collector's coin, but less of a premium because numismatists aren't interested in them.

Buy Bullion pre-1964 US silver dollars. As scarcity spreads prices (even in PM coins) will ratchet upwards.

Buy Bullion "Junk" pre-1964 US silver coins (Dimes, quarters & half's) they'll come in handy for small purchases.

Buy Bullion Krugerrands (10th, 1/4, 1/2 & 1 oz.)

Buy Bullion Canadian Maple leafs (10th, 1/4, 1/2 & 1 oz.)

Older U.S. Eagles (pre 1933) are collector's coins and should be treated as such.

Modern Gold Eagle coins generally cost more to buy, and are generally no more recognizable than Krugerrands or Maple Leafs to John Q. Public. You'll pay premium for them and end up selling them at wholesale if TEOTWAWKI doesn't happen.

Their sole redeeming social value, in my opinion, is the fact that they (like all US money) are legal tender for all debts public and private at their face values which means, in theory, that the government couldn't confiscate them any more than they could confiscate the regular coins in your pocket. But, as Yogi Berra once said: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." I consider them only slightly safer from confiscation than Krugerrands and Maple Leafs.

Also, if the gold eagle coins are "recalled" by the government, expect to get no more than face value for them. Receiving $5.00 dollars for one tenth ounce of 22 karat gold is not my idea of a fair deal.

Other countries make bullion gold coins but they are not as well known as the Krugerrand and the Maple leaf so such coins will be harder to 'pass' if bad times come to pass. Do you know what a British gold Sovereign looks like, its karat (purity) or how much it weighs?

Eschew “Rounds” they have no status as a legal tender and those premium brand gold and silver coins you see on TV (Franklin Mint etc.) will not be easily recognized by non collectors i.e. the very people you're likely to be trying to spend them with or sell them to in an emergency.

You’d be buying them, Rounds, at retail + a premium and you’ll end up selling them at wholesale without a premium. They are not collector coins so don't expect a premium when you sell them. The guy at the coin shop will laugh at you if you start talking about premiums on Rounds when you're selling them. (Of course if you're buying Rounds it's a different story.)

Want to know if that gold or silver coin you hold is really a gold or silver coin? You'll want to buy a Fisch fake coin identification wallet for each type of the coins you invest in. Fisch Instruments, POB 160332, Sacramento, CA 95816.

With a Fisch wallet you can buy a coin with confidence anywhere there is a flat surface.

And if things get really bad you could set yourself up in business checking other people's coins for them.

NEVER buy "collector" coins ! They are a rip off for non-experts. First off, the people you’re likely to be selling them to in an emergency aren’t likely to know a collector’s coin from a Kopeck and won’t willingly pay your premium. Most people have at least heard of Krugerrands so they should be easier to spend.

You'd have to study numismatic coins for years to get enough knowledge to be sure of getting a “collector” coin that was sure to go up in value over the years. Collector grading of collectable coins is simple: his coins are top grade your coins are trash. Stick with bullion gold coins and "junk" silver coins and leave the "grading" to numismatists.

Remember, if the world doesn't go to Hell in a hand basket you are buying at RETAIL and will be, someday, selling at WHOLESALE which means value of the coins must go up just for you to break even. If you buy collector coins or rounds prices will have to go up a whole lot more just for you to break even.

Check out the local pawn shops/coin dealers many advertise "we buy gold" but there are usually only one or two who do it big time in any town.

A coin shop, as opposed to a pawn shop that buys gold, will be selling gold daily to a processor; the little guys have to save up enough gold & silver to justify a shipment. This is one time you want to be dealing with the big dog that's getting the volume discount.

To Comment on this article
E-Mail Me
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Timing Is the Thing it's True

One of the problems with discussing survival scenarios is the assumed timing & circumstances that the parties bring to the party. If they're talkin' different stages of the same scenario or different scenarios they'll often talk past each other.

Are we talkin' an emergency lasting a few days (flashlight), a few weeks (generator), a few months (candles) or a few years (know how to make candles)?

The optimist will think in terms of an emergency that'll last, at most, into the generator stage. The pessimist will be stockpiling candle making supplies. Unless they clearly state their expectations to each other their preparations may be at cross purposes.

Timing has to be taken into consideration when planning for a survival scenario. Are we talkin' a short emergency which may work itself out in a few months (Hurricane Katrina) in which case you may expect a return to normal societal functioning in the near future?

Or are we talkin' a get out of California as it sinks into the sea scenario for which you'd want to carry your legal documents, credit info, health records and other information you'd need to reestablish yourself in the new, albeit badly shaken (pun intended), economy?

Perhaps you want to be ready for an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building hitting the Earth and you'll need to get to the Equator where enough sunlight may get through to grow crops?

My point is your preparations depend on your estimation of future events and how long you think those events, and the fallout from those events, (bad pun) will last.

If you expect the current crisis to last for decades, and gasoline production to be a thing of the past, you might want to trade your brand new gas powered Jeep 4X4 for a horse (gasoline, even with stabilizers, will only store for about a year; diesel lasts much longer but they won't be makin' much more of it) OTOH If you expect the crisis to be largely over in a few months, keep up the Jeep payments.

If you're a guy with a can of gas facing three guys; one offering a briefcase of fiat paper legal tender that can be used as tinder or toilet paper, one with a suitcase full of canned food, that will last for years if stored in a cool dry place, and a guy with a pouch of gold & silver coins and you:

A. Are where you want to be so don't need the gas to 'get out of Dodge' anytime soon.
B. Believe the current crisis is short lived (i.e. you'll be able to buy more gas later) or so long lasting that gas will spoil before you can use it.
C. Can't leave due to family or other obligations.
D. Don't have a motor to use the gas in.

So you determine that trading the gas will be better for you than keeping it. But what do you trade the can for; the briefcase, suitcase or pouch?

If you believe the situation is short term and will soon revert to normal and that the number of dollars in the briefcase is greater than the current value of the gold you'd want the dollars.

If you believe the situation is less than total TEOTWAWKI and will resolve in a few years you'd want the gold because its value would almost surely be greater than that of a dollars assuming the wounded dollar survives at all. Also the gold (which is after all just a medium of exchange) could be traded for food, medicine and other things.

If however you believe the situation to be total TEOTWAWKI and you'd be better off trading the gas for the suitcase full of food because starving people won't trade food for gold no matter how much is offered and certainly wouldn't want fiat toilet paper.

Gold (and silver) coins would be useful in the early stages of going into TEOEWAWKI as a trading medium for goods and services, but useless during the following famine when people would rather live than die rich.

Au & Ag coins would probably be useful again when civilization begins reestablishing itself most likely as a mixed lot of robber barons morphing into some sort of feudal systems and Greek/Roman style direct democracy city states. In such a situation transitioning from barter to coinage would require trusted coins. Unfortunately there's no guarantee (and little likelihood) that will happen in your lifetime. So if you're thinkin' TEOTWAWKI any gold & silver coins you don't use would be useful for your children or grandchildren.

If you've got a full larder sufficient to last you and yours through till the crops come in a year or two hence you'd probably choose to sell to the person offering gold & silver because when all the excitement is over the Au & Ag is more likely to have some value to those you hope to trade with. Besides you can always use twigs and leaves for that other stuff.

To Comment on this article
E-Mail Me
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your last name, email and any other specific information for privacy purposes.