Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Junk silver post and Coinstar

The other day I dropped a jar of coins off at a local Coinstar location. Now, I thought I had gleaned all the good stuff out of this particular jar, but I was wrong. Which was a good thing and something which might be of interest to you.

Most of my change was taken and tabulated by the Coinstar machine. But a number of coins were not:

- Foreign coins (naturally).
- New dollar coins (the big gold ones).
- Old dollar coins (the Susan B's).

And... drum roll please... a 1943 Washington quarter and two Roosevelt dimes, both pre-1964.

Does this mean that Coinstar automatically screens and kicks out pre-1964 junk silver coins? Don't run out and drop some Barber dimes in a Big Green Coinstar machine to find out, but it is a good thing to know if it is true.

Hey maybe Coinstar should fix that particular little bug? I mean can you imagine how much loot they are walking away from?

Trading junk silver: A new currency?

So let's say the end of the world has come to pass. Well, let's say there is still a world, but society is far different than it was before.

For starters, in our hypothetical situation, faith in government backed currencies has ground to a halt. And let's say, you check the pantry and find you are low on sugar and need to get some more. If you know someone who has some sugar, how will you get them to part with it?

Ideally, a form of trade will develop. The person holding the sugar may need something you have, like a couple of bars of soap. But if trading is not an option, what to do?

This is how money came into being. Having a good or service to trade for other goods or services is nice, but once consumed or the service performed, the good or service is no longer viable for future trades by the holder.

Money fills the role of the a means of paying for goods and services and which is generally constantly on the move from buyer to seller to buyer.

However, it helps when the money is based upon something tangible like a precious metal which all know and trust. And this is when junk silver, (pre-1964 silver U.S. coins) comes into play. We all know what a quarter dollar coin is, and we all hold silver to be precious metal, so the value comes into play quickly.

So why not gold? Gold is good, but is overkill as payment for three eggs, a few pieces of firewood or a quart of honey. Since it is in small denominations, junk silver makes a great low cost, small goods and services form of payment. And unlike gold, it is readily recognized.

Junk silver has a place in a post-modern economy and is worth adding to your SHTF portfolio today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

SHTF: Home supplies list

OK. I don't care what your motivation is. Terrorists. Nuclear war. Global warming. Jenna Bush as president. You want to have your list of supplies on hand for when ....


Food - start with the basics.
Canned, packaged and dry foods. Canned anything as long as you eat it.
Medium-term length survival foods - Flour, sugar, salt, cooking oil, yeast, beans, rice, vitamins and protein powder.
Long-term - long term survival foods like Ready Reserve, MRE's, Emergency Essentials, whole wheat, dry milk, honey and cooking oil.

Food final - arable land, a garden, seeds, good soil, even a bunch of pots and a compost heap. Anything which allows you to grow more food.

Water - the essential!
Water. A well, rain barrels, a catchment system, a cistern, water barrels to fill now for later.
Water filters and purification systems including filters, a pump and lots of plain bleach.
The ability to dig a new well, sandpoints for a hand hammered well, a nearby lake, stream, creek or river.

Power/Fuel - got to keep going!
Wood for the stove. Gas for the truck. Solar or wind for the home. Propane or diesel for the generator. Batteries for storage. Gas for the stove including propane, butane or natural gas.

Medical - Stay healthy or what to do when you get sick.
Other the counter medicines, lots and lots, starting with apirin and working your way across cold and flu season, allergies, bug bites, sunburn, anything which can be painful, deadly or harmful.
Herbs to substitute for manufactured drugs.

Firearms, ammunition, bows/arrows, knives/swords/axes, clubs, sticks, stones and chemicals.

Building materials, filters of all kinds, batteries, tarps, buckets, nails and other fasteners, tools, spare parts, rope, wire, flashlights, lanterns, tents, campers, cook stoves, bedding, hammocks, sleeping bags, and anything else which can be obtained from a hardware or camping store.

Soap, shampoo, tooth paste, disenfectant, bleach, cleaning supplies, toothbrushes, toilet paper, paper towels, tampons, towels, and razors.

Finally, lots of common sense, prayer, religion, faith, hope and courage.

You can call it from there. If I missed something, well, drop me a comment.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Junk silver: war nickel silver

We all know about pre-1964 silver U.S. coins, called "junk silver" found in quarters, dimes and halves.

However, did you know that there are other silver coins which are not as widely known? Did you know they are the lowly nickel?

In 1943, the so called "war nickel" was produced. Made with 35% silver content, the war nickel replaced the war industry needed nickel content with silver. Making the war nickel a neat find for the silver coin collector or pre-1964 enthusiast.

They are quite common, in fact, as more than 300 million were minited that year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lights Out - SHTF fiction

If you just showed up at Google and punched in SHTF fiction, you may have arrived here at the Prepare site. Let me save you some time, stop reading those half-baked, half-finished glory doom tales and put you on the page of probably the best, Internet-based SHFT fiction tale out there - Lights Out.

First, an update. Lights Out is not available at the link below any longer. The author has pulled free copies of the book online as he has published the book in traditional format. Here is the link from Amazon.

See the link here to download the whole story.

First, download the whole story in PDF format today. The story is good enough it may end up published and like "Patriots" (yes, by comma Rawles), it will be off limits gratis for the online crowd. Get it while you can, folks.

If you have read, Lights Out, good for you. You get it. If LO was not "gun porn" enough for you, or did not feature enough one-dimensional post-apocalypse convict, biker raiders, then to heck with ya.

Now, Lights Out is probably the best, realistic SHTF story out there, however, I have a few bones to pick with it.

Bur first the praise.

The story features mostly real people. Husbands and wives fight. Characters are flawed. Most of those facing the brave, scary world have little if any experience with the devil waiting in the dark. However, like Americans have always done, they step up to the plate and deal with it.

I like Lights Out and have read (in the process of reading a fifth time) several times already.

The problems:

1) Why did it take Mark Turner 9 freaking days to get to the darn grocery store? With a truck running, my butt would have been at Kroger, Costco or 7-11 everyday and loading up on everything I could get my mitts on!

2) Why didn't Mark and Jim tell the boss, Davis: "We have extended family and have no intention of leaving them to fend for themselves. Based upon your philosophy, you get where we are coming from. Thanks, but unless you open up the joint to our extended clans, you are on you own. You need us more than we need you. (New Age Ranch? Please... ).

3) Gunny was a cardboard cutout character. I love how he could not walk the Silver Hills neighborhood, but could do the quick step SWAT move with Mark at the Drew house.

4) They have one too many battle scenes - namely, the Jeep goes over the hill incident and the fight with the motorcycle gang in the culvert with the hand grenades. Again, a little over kill.

Reading Lights Out for the umpteenth time, I could be picky, but the bottom line is, it's a great story with very good characterization, a plausible story line and riveting action. Download it today.

Also good runner's up - Shattered and Deep Winter by T Sherry. The only problem with those stories is I kept hoping someone would punch Rick Drummond's nose once he made one too many smug responses and could not run to the Army or his pal the sheriff to protect him. Otherwise, another top story you can find on TB2K - if it has not been pulled for Lulu.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SHTF: Junk silver best picks

If junk silver, aka pre-1964 U.S. silver coins (90% silver content) is in your plans for currency or barter after the SHTF, then there are some coins which are preferable over others.

The reasoning is some junk silver coins are more readily available than others. Also, some junk silver coins are considered antiques and are widely sought after by coin collectors and thus will compete for your junk silver needs.

Rather, the best pre-1964 U.S. silver coins to see are those which are common, available from several sources and priced according to silver content rather than numismatic value.

The Mercury Head Silver Dime

Minted between 1916 and 1945, the Mercury Head Silver Dime was minted in large numbers and with the exception of certain coins minted in 1921, have normal numismatic value.

1946 - 1964 Roosevelt Silver Dime

As guessed, this silver version of the current Roosevelt was widely minted as well and each year has normal coin collecting value. Millions of these pre-1964 junk silver coins may be available simply because they are the same design of the current non-silver dimes in circulation. I find a couple of these a year from random coin searches so keep an eye open.

Washington Silver Quarter

Another junk silver coin with a modern, non-silver look a like in circulation. The Washington silver quarter, (again 90% silver), was minted between 1932 and 1964 in the U.S. These turn up frequently although many were reported melted by the Federal Government in the 1960's and 1970's.

The Franklin Half Dollar - Junk Silver

One of my personal favorites as a kid, the pre-1964 Franklin Half Dollar was minted between 1948 and 1963. Since it is different than the current Kennedy half, and was minted for only 15 years, do not expect to find many of these turning up in pocket change or at your local bank. My favorite story about the pre-1964 Franklin halve was watching a man recently at a coin and jewelry store selling multiple ziplock bags of these coins one afternoon. What a hoard!

Kennedy Half Dollar - Pre-1964 silver coin

Not a long mint time, only 1964, later coins minted between 1965 and 1970 have a 40% silver content which makes them worth something as well. Be on the lookout for these, but don't hold your breath, half dollar coins are not exactly common either.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

SHTF: Where is your survival retreat?

I had a dream the other night that the end had finally come (What else do we dream about? :)). The family across the street went to grandfather's ranch. The couple next door went to their lake house. Wife's friend and family went to family farm.

We had no where to go.

All relatives were either long gone or lived in urban areas. Nobody to go to and no one who could take us in.

I have always believed in "bugging in" first as part of my survival preparedness plans. Why? Because this is where my supplies are. I know the area, where supplies may be available, what plants and food grows best here and the people around me.

However, all of us in the preparedness world need to consider a fall back, well out of town retreat should the big one happen.

For instance, if there is a nuclear, chemical or biological attack.
If there is a pandemic.
If there is wide spread social breakdown, rioting, looting and unleashed crime.

Staying in an urban area would be the worse idea in those situations.

How to get out of town is one thing which i will not cover here.

But where to go, your survival retreat is the first problem needed to be solved.

A survival retreat can be a few acres of land a couple of hours out of town. It may be a hunting lease or fishing camp. Perhaps the corner of some family property someone still has mineral rights for.

To prepare for your survival retreat, check local listings within two hours of your town for rural properties for sale. A house, farm or shelter is not neccessary if money is tight. Rather, find five or more acres with access to running water for starters.

When checking the property, count the number of ways in. Is there a farm to market road? Dirt road? Uphill or downhill? Trails? Rocky or difficult terrain? After all, when you go to your retreat might be in bad whether or in the winter.

How about that water supply? Is it a running stream, river or creek? Or a dried up stock tank? Access to a river is ideal as it can supply drinking, bathing, washing water and a potential food source.

So your survival retreat has all these things? What next? Well where would you live?

Consider a portable travel trailer for starters. Or maybe a used mobile home. Or a do it your self cabin kit.

Any of these cost affective options are good, but the priority should be on inexpensive and portable. Why?

Because you may only visit your survival retreat a few times a year. Rural properties left unattended are often the targets of vandalism, crime and potentially squaters. Wouldn't it stink to find a family of meth heads camped out in your 250,000.00 dollar retreat shelter?

Also, consider finding a storage space in a nearby town to pre-place supplies. Things like water filters, camp furniture, sleeping gear, cooking equipment including a stove and fuel, long term storage food, "defensive equipment" and other necessities which will not go bad or expire.

I don't think anyone should place needed supplies at their retreat unless they are well hidden in caches onsite. But that is my opinion.

The catch is how to pay for something like a survival retreat. Consider a rural home or property loan. Or use part of your retirement savings. Remember, land nearly always increases and maintains its value. It might be a good financial investment.

Finally, know how long it takes to get to your survival retreat and how much fuel will be needed. Maintain that stock at all times. Keep supplies close at hand and ready to load should you have to leave home with little notice. And always have more than one route to your retreat. Preferably off the main roads and beaten track.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

SHTF: Car emergency survival kits

The other day I mentioned some of what I keep in my desk at work in an emergency survival situation like the SHTF.

In my car is another matter. First, I have more room which is a good thing. The bad thing about stuff in your car is, a) it might get stolen if someone breaks in your car at work or while it is parked at the mall, b) it is suceptible to the elements and where I live, it gets pretty toasty in a parked car and c) what do you do with all that stuff if your car does not start or runs out of gas on the way home?

First, I keep in my emergency survival kit the following handy items:
1. An inverter to convert car power to AC power; handy for stuff like cell phones, computers, etc.
2. A combination air compressor (tire inflation) and emergency light.
3. A tool box containing a variety of hand tools, road flares, tie downs and an odd fan belt or two.
4. One container of motor oil.
5. One jug of antifreeze.
6. One CB radio with antenna.
7. Another set of FRS radios.
8. A handheld super bright flash light which is powered off the cigarette lighter in the car.
9. Two regular flashlights.
10. Some fishing gear I keep leaving in the car.
11. One case of bottled water. Probably not good with the temperatures and plastic breaking down in heat.
12. One generic cheapo tarp.
13. One roll toilet paper.
14. One roll paper towels.
15. One bottle hand sanitizer.
16. One pair of work gloves.
17. A baseball bat (in case I go to a baseball game or something. There is a baseball glove and a couple of baseballs in there as well!).
18. A hat.
19. One windbreaker.
20. A cheap folding baby stroller. This is probably the best thing in the car. Imagine having to carry a small child 5 or 6 miles home? Or a bunch of stuff?
21. One five gallon gasoline container.

These contents, plus those in my bag at work and a few other odds and ends should be enough to get me home and hopefully avoid the worse that others deal with in a survival situation. I can think of more emergency preparedness stuff for my bag and car just from writing this article!

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