Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prepare: World Food Prices and Shortages

China has to increase its domestic production of corn, rice and wheat to meet demand for 2011.

The US still supplies two thirds of the world's corn exports, but with oil at $84 a barrel, may be tempted to divert corn oil to biofuel.

South America and Russia have had weather problems which are leading to lower crop yields.

The dollar is weaker than it was two years ago making its purchasing power less.

Read more here and here.

What does it all mean?

In 2007, rice shortages led to riots in other countries. The rising price of food, which immediately effects one fifth of the worlds population due to poverty, leads to shortages and domestic disturbances.

Remember the shortage of rice in the markets a few years ago?

If - key word - you can, it might be a good time to  stock up on staples like rice, corn meal and flour as all may go up dramatically in price. Rice should always be purchased in 25 or 50 pound bags. Flour is good to buy in bulk, but consider a grain mill and purchasing wheat as flour begins to go rancid once it has been milled.

As always, store wheat and rice in buckets and seal them up good - they should last for years.

If is the key word. Don't go into debt or panic buy because of the news. Purchase only what you can safely afford and what you will eat.

Watch the news carefully in 2011 regarding food supplies, prices and the price of oil. These be real trends to watch next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prepare: START Treaty will probably pass

The latest Washington DC treaty to lower the number of nuclear weapons the US possesses, START, will probably pass the Senate today. The treaty will limit the number of nuclear warheads for both the USA and Russian Federation to 1500 (down from 2250) and the number of launchers to 800 total land, sea and air.

START will also resume inspections by both sides of each other's nuclear arsenal and launchers.

A number of characters will be doing a happy dance when this treaty gets passed.

Here is what is not covered in the START treaty.

- There is nothing in the treaty about the number of nuclear weapons and launchers that China can have, nor about any sort of inspection for their growing nuclear arsenal.

- There is nothing in the treaty about limiting new countries from obtaining nuclear weapons. Right now the list of countries who have produced crude weapons or are working dillegently on them includes North Korea, Venezuela, Myamar, and Iran.

- There is nothing in the treaty which limits the USA or Russia from assisting another country with the construction or design of nuclear weapons. Further, there is nothing in the treaty which limits either country from new military treaties which can be used to increase the potential nuclear offensive capability of a new alliance.

- There is nothing about the treaty first inspecting the working capability of either country and places limits based upon that capability. Thus, one country may only have 600 functioning launchers meaning this treaty is only window dressing.

 - There is nothing in this treaty which addresses the real potential cause for nuclear war which is a terrorist organization, backed by legitimate states, using nuclear devices against the USA or Russia.

At this point, the USA and Russia have successfully, over the past twenty years, reduced the number of functioning nuclear weapons and launchers they both have. That's great if the largest problem in the world is the potential of a nuclear war between the USA and the Russian Federation.

However, in 2010, this situation is not the problem the world faces today.

The real issue with nuclear proliferation today is not between the USA and Russia, but with dozens of other nations which are actively and agressively working on building nuclear capability. If the USA and Russia eliminate too much of their working nuclear deterrent, they may find themselves in the near future at the mercy of a collaboration between nuclear armed terror groups and rogue nations or even a growing nuclear armed nation like China.

At some point, those doing the happy dance with the signature of this START treaty had better start recognizing that the real danger comes from those not in the room on signing day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Prepare: New Nuclear War Preparedness Guide FedGov

There is a new nuclear preparedness guide from the FedGov and sponsored by a group called the National Association of Government Communicators.

Check it out here. It's in PDF format which means you will need Adobe reader which is free.

In case you don't have the time, here's a synopsis of the report.

- A nuclear detonation occuring in the USA is possible due to proliferation and terrorists.

- Such an event would be horrific and communication with the populace by the government at all levels would be important.

- Several suggestions about what to do, i.e. where to shelter, in the event of a nuclear detonation.

- How to deal with decontamination, radiation illness, food and water concerns.

- What to expect from the government at all levels.

- Sample statements for local, state and federal government spokespersons (which was interesting - I hope I never hear them).

There were some very frustrating statements in the report.

- Constant reminders for government leaders to reassure people that all would be well.

- Suggestions that the populace consider volunteering their time or donating to the Red Cross in the event of a nuclear detonation or war complete with URL of related websites.

- The most annoying line "Will shelters be available for people instructed to evacuate?"
"Yes, there will be public shelters with food, medicine, etc".

Reminder - there are no stocked public shelters in the event of a nuclear detonation. They were dismantled years ago and never replaced.

What was missing? The real responses by the government to a disaster of this magnitude...

- There will be martial law in effected areas if not completely nationwide.

- Despite the fact that the attack came from an enemy, the American people will be the ones penalized. Consider all the actions taken against Americans since 9/11 for our "safety". Been on an airplane lately?

- Civil rights will be curtailed in a post-nuclear America and probably will be off the table for awhile.

- Civilains will be on their own for most of their needs. The government has shelters however.

An interesting report none the less and worthy of review. I can only wonder why this document and related news reports have been so widely noted lately and can only believe they are due to the federal government's push for the new START treaty with Russia.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Prepare: NYT - Nuclear Strike is survivable

I woke up today in a different world. Dogs and cats were friends. People liked New Coke. Heck had frozen over.

There in the New York Times was this article about nuclear war and how people could survive it or at least increase their survivability by simply staying put and taking shelter rather than fleeing.

Since the 1970's, the mainstream media has marched the public to the drumbeat of the repeated message - "Nuclear war, no matter how large or small, will result in the complete destruction of the earth and the death of all people. The world will end and there is no point in attempting to prepare for or survive a nuclear war as the resulting world will be worse than death".

Now this.

Administration officials argue that the cold war created an unrealistic sense of fatalism about a terrorist nuclear attack. “It’s more survivable than most people think,” said an official deeply involved in the planning, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The key is avoiding nuclear fallout.”

The only sense of fatalism came from the media. Ordinary citizens built home fallout shelters and stocked their basements. The government, especially under Kennedy, planned and stocked thousands of public shelters across the country. It was the news media who propogated the myth that all would die horrible deaths regardless of their preparations.

“We have to get past the mental block that says it’s too terrible to think about,” W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said in an interview. “We have to be ready to deal with it” and help people learn how to “best protect themselves.”

Good gravy. They actually want us to do something about it ourselves rather than wait for Uncle Sugar and his merry band of FEMA friends to show up, hand out bottled water and debit cards and make the problems all go away?

What is sad about this is that in the 1980's, Cresson Kearney produced a book which outlined research from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory about surviving nuclear war. The media and several prominent politicians quickly dismissed it as their own conventional wisdom maintained that nobody would survive a nuclear war and that nuclear disarmament, by the USA, only of course, was the only option to avoiding nuclear destruction.

Now this.

It could be that the administration, pushing for a new START treaty with Russia, wants to frame the nuclear war thing again in the media as a way to get approval for their efforts.  Everything is politics of course.

And other than producing the pamphlet outlined in the NYT article, I doubt the federal government will revive the public shelter program, Civil Defense or shelter stocking.

However, let's not forget that there are now more nations with nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon manufacturing capability than there was as late as the 1980's and more nations will soon join them. We are in an arms race not between two nations, but between thirty or forty.

It's great the government wants to talk about nuclear war preparedness again, but remember, they only want to have a conversation. Talk is cheap. Real preparedness starts with you right now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prepare: Lights Out Book Published

If you are an old hand at this stuff and are a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, than you surely have read "Lights Out" by David Crawford. Originally published online in chapter format over a whopping two year period, "Lights Out" is probably one of the best survival fiction stories written in the past decade, online or traditional.

If you are new to this genre, get a copy of this book as its really that good.

"Lights Out" takes place in present day San Antonio and follows Mark Turner, an average computer fixit guy for a midsized corporation, his family and friends and the events which befall them after a supersized electro magnetic pulse (EMP) instantly vaporizes all modern electronics and electric infrastruture in the United States.

In the days that follow, Mark and company have to learn to not only live without modern day comforts, but also how to provide food and security for their suburban neighborhood all while dealing with internal divisions, external threats and the constant ordeals of being thrust into the equivalent of the 19th century.

The story is real. Most online post-apocalyptic fiction features two dimensional cardboard characters, mind numbing lists of name brand equipment, dull lectures on grinding wheat, making soap, fiat currency and grinning idiots slapping each other the back after dispatching ne'er do wells with names like Scrag and Greasey. "Lights Out" has none of that.

Husbands and wives fight. Good people die. Children are injured. Homes are torn apart. Popular characters are killed off while bad guys get away with murder. There is something unexpected at each turn in "Lights Out" and readers will find themselves identifying with several characters in the story; I know I did.

After reading "Lights Out", you will look at your neighborhood and life different.

While "One Second After" was a shocking book a couple of years ago and also a great read, "Lights Out" has a different take on the same genre with separate outcomes.

"Lights Out" makes a great Christmas gift for the prepper in your house or a friend who "almost gets it" but needs a realistic little push.

I happliy found "Lights Out" on Amazon, but it took some looking and you had to know the author's full name and not the one he originally posted under online (you know what I am referring to if you are familiar with the story). I pulled a handy link to the book on Amazon for new readers.

Check it out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prepare: Washing Clothes

The day after Thanksgiving, I threw a load of bedding in the washing machine with some detergent, turned it on and left the room. Twenty minutes later, I did not hear the washer, so I went back in the laundry room and found two inches of water on the floor.

The repairs would have cost as much as a new machine, so I went out to purchase one. Bad timing, it was Black Friday and nearly all inventory was gone. Now, the prices were really low, and I really needed a machine, so I bought one and learned I would have to wait until the middle of December, at the earliest, for delivery.

So, what do you do for clean clothes when the washer is out which led me to thinking about how to wash clothes if there is no power or one is living in austere conditions.
First, in the real world, we borrowed the neighbor's washer for one day and got most of our stuff cleaned.

I could go to a laundromat too, like I did the last time the washer went out. But those public machines have a tendancy to ruin clothes and patrons throw all kinds of things in there, like crayons, markers, etc. Plus, sitting around those places for two to three hours is not a fun way to spend a morning.

Now, the prepper world. Here's what I did. I took a couple of small bins and used them to wash socks, underwear and T-Shirts for the kids. Detergent, water, soak, wring, soak, wring, rinse, dry. Time consuming and hard on the hands and arms.

Big stuff? I used the bath tub. Again, lots of soaking, wringing, etc. For sheets and jeans, I had my son take one end and I on the other and we twisted those things until most of the water was out and then tossed them in the dryer. If there was no power, I could have put them outside (during the day only - at night would have left me with a pair of Jeans-cicles), because we have had sunny weather lately.

Now, if this was full time work, I would like to have one of those James washers, but right now, the one I saw online was more expensive than a powered washer, so I won't be getting that back-up device anytime soon. Maybe I can make something like it? The wringer would be cool to have if I could mount it on a drum or something.

Which brings to mind, get a clothes line. Power or not, nothing beats fresh air drying of clothes outside. We also use a drying rack on nice days.

In the end, not having a washing machine for clothes at home is no fun. Having to do it by hand is not fun either, but it makes one think about how the task will be done if the SHTF.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Prepare: Flick your Bic

Check your pockets, purse, car, etc. Do you have a way to make fire? You know, like a camp fire, or light a candle, or some other way to make heat and light without batteries, electric this or that.

Go back 30, 40 or 50 years ago. Almost everyone carried some form of fire making capability either matches or a lighter. It was standard equipment for daily living.


Well, certainly, years ago, many more people smoked and needed a way to light their tobacco. But people used to carry fire around because it was normal and expected.

I remember growing up and my parents had a plethora of firemaking equipment about the house. A huge basket of paper matches, king sized boxes of safety matches, my father had no fewer than a half dozen Zippo type lighters with company logos and suitable for lighting the boss's cigar at a moment's notice.

My spouse carries a lighter. When they pull it out, they get the immediate comment:

"Do you smoke?" - while my better has never had a cigarette in their life. Why the lighter? Because it comes in handy so often. To light candles at a birthday party, to provide light in a pinch, etc. However, the general public has a tendancy to think a lighter or book of matches is akin to carrying around a vial of plague.

Today's family is more likely to only have one of those giant butane lighters for the outdoor grill and for lighting decorative candles around the house. You know, those foot long fire sticks. You can't carry that around in the back pocket or purse.

Paper matches, once the most common advertising item, is a thing of the past. Restaurants and bars no longer hand them out as they might be miscontrued that they advocate smoking in spite of the fact that so many people collected match books as a souvenir. What do they take now?

Matches are not often found in the home as parents worry that kids may get a hold of them and burn down the house.

I pick up a three pack of butane lighters at least once a year and keep them here and there. There are three in my emergency bag, another three in the kitchen cabinet and some more about. I don't keep them anywhere my kids can get them. I also have numerous boxes of safety matches, the big ones, in plastic bags, for emergencies.

I have a drawer full of those jumbo butane sticks, but they are useless outside of the house.

So why fire? What you are going to do if the SHTF and you are on foot? No fire and cold weather means death. How are you going to light candles or see in the dark with a burned out flashlight? How will you light that Sterno can to heat food?

There are lots of uses for fire on demand. And your survival kit demands that you have mulitple ways to make fire. So don't overlook the need for matches or lighters or dismiss them in favor or more primative firemaking capability.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Prepare: Civil Unrest Next?

Read the headlines...

Ireland - authorities prepare for civil unrest as new austerity budget unveiled.

EU - Authorities expect the chance of civil unrest to increase as budget cutbacks loom.

UK - Civil unrest increases including impromptu attack on Prince Charles limosine.

Haiti - Riots and civil unrest grow due to elections.

Now read this article from CNN. The author suggests that civil unrest may be around the corner in the US due to continuing high unemployment and possible entitlement cuts in the US federal budget.

How likely is this in the US?

First, unlike other countries, the U.S. has a higher respect for "law and order". Middle class, middle aged adults are not likely to grab a banner and go join a protest in the middle of downtown. And are much less likely to burn effigies or toss a trashcan through a store window. Remember all the rallies in DC over the summer and early fall? Not a single instance of violence or rioting in spite of the high rate of dissatisifaction by attendees over the state of things.

Other countries are different where protests are time honored traditions with the participation of a broad cross section of the population.

Second, people are angry at the lack of work, for instance, but their individual rights have not been trampled upon (enough) to make them want to go smash a store window or toss rocks at the cops. Rather, anger is limited to comments online and letters to the editor.

Third, we still have a representative democratic republic that for the most part, rolls and changes with the people. Sure, some of the representatives appear only to care about their own interests and avoid their constituents, but the last election and the number of deeply entrenched incumbents who received their walking papers shows that the system still works. Before the argument begins, is Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon still president? Most of the rest of the world's democracies still languish under thirty years in office career dicta-ticians.

Fourth, things are not that bad. They are not great, but we have not seen a widespread return to the 1930's with Hoovervilles and Okies traveling in Model T convoys (not yet at least). And we still have the fattest country on earth so everyone is getting plenty to eat.

Now, if any of the above does come to bear, such as politicians refusing to leave office. Unemployment above twenty percent. Widespread homelessness, espcially of families. Crackdown on Internet access and limits on free speech. Curbs on the right to assemble. Elimination of opposition organizations. Food shortages. Fuel purchase and travel restrictions. Utility blackouts.

Then, you have another thing entirely. This is the stuff that leads to dissatisfaction among the electorate. And once you get the mainstream, middle class, average American into the streets, look out.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

SHTF: Who Goes First?

This is a subject and post which will probably bug most readers. If easily offended, please turn on TV or something.

The question comes up frequently: When the SHTF, who will go first? In other words, which group of people won't make it and will fall earliest?

Generally, the response from those questioned, especially those into preparedness, is the same...

- Welfare recipients
- "Yuppies"
- Tree huggers
- Don't get its (DGI)
- Druggies

The stereotypical responses. Further, those questioned never consider where they would be. Most are self assured that they will be fine as they are in the "Get It" column.

OK. If the S really HTF, think about what will happen and who will really be effected.

- No more US mail.
- No more doctor's offices, hospitals, clinics
- No more pharmacies
- No more pensions or social security checks
- No more government offices or agencies to be called for assistance
- No more assistance, no more food banks, no more home delivered meals

Get it? If you live off any form of government assistance, then you are also at risk. That includes veteran benefits, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on.

Suddenly, the pool is larger.

Further, a healthy 20-something former condo living, BMW driving now desparate urban resident on the run is a real threat to a 60-something, scooter riding retiree who has a pantry full of food and a running pickup truck. One is healthy and the other is taking a kitchen counter top full of medications. Who wins in a one on one fight?

The welfare recipient may be dismissed, but don't forget, they have adapted to the system. They currently know how to get free medical treatment from the emergency room, how to get food stamps and eat, how to get a free bus pass and a ride, how to get discounted housing and a place to sleep. In a nutshell, they figured out how to ride the system to get what they want and need.

That same mindset can and will help them survive in a post-SHTF world. They will adapt and figure out where the lone survivor is with the stored food because that is how they survive now. They can sniff out "stuff" and consider themselves entitled to it. Watch out for this group, they are more dangerous then you think.

Next, addicts. Addicts don't care if they are dirty, if they steal, if others die or if they offend anyone in order to get their next fix. Most of all, they personally don't care if they live or die, afterall, they are pumping their body with dangerous chemicals with little regard for their own health.

Therefore, they are the most dangerous of all to the prepper post-SHTF. They will come for you and your stuff if they think you have alcohol, cigarettes or drugs that they need. And they won't think anything of killing or hurting to get it. The addict will also adapt to the situation much faster than the "stick in the mud" who thinks his preps are enough to ride out the situation.

Next up, the obese. I don't care if you have five years worth of food and the latest Socko-Whammo M5000 rifle, if you get out of breath walking from the Laz-E-Boy to the front door, your butt is toast. In the time it takes to turn around or get up from bed, the younger, faster and much slimmer raider is going to disarm you, push you on the floor and watch you flounder around like a turtle on its back.

Don't fall for this imaginary world presented online where the "feisty, he-may-be-slow-but-is-crafty old timer" defeats innumerable hoardes of city dwelling, welfare abusing, don't get it, yuppie raiders. Those who adapt first in the post-SHTF world will win. And they will win by being prepared now in the pre-SHTF world.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

SHTF: Food Riots

The spectre of food riots comes up in everyone's minds when considering preparedness and disaster. Generally, in the fiction world, an "event" happens (nuclear war, EMP, financial crisis, etc) and the mobs decend upon the grocery store and riots break out. It's good imagination footage for the reader to enjoy.

In the real world, food riots occur after the shortage conditions have arrived and the government or private organization attempts to bring in food supplies in an unorganized and destabilized environment. The helicopters land or trucks arrive, the crowds break impromptu barriers and relief workers are overwhelmed. Food riots ensue.

For preparedness sake, the possible scenario of food riots in the US would be a combination of the two.

A few scenarios..

An event takes place that would lead to the disruption of supply chains. That could be a natural disaster but on a national level, a massive terrorist attack on our infrastructure, or a war.

Another would be a financial meltdown which would paralyze key components of the food chain - farmers refusing to take credit payments for crops, truckers refusing to deliver goods, feed lots refusing to release stock, etc.

The second "shoe" would drop when stocks drop in stores. That means all stores including grocery, big box wholesale, fast food and all restaurants and even convinience stores.

At first, people would get by on what they had, but after a certain amount of time, one or two weeks at most, people would get antsy and start going to the market daily and waiting or listening to the news for food distribution in their area.

This is America. For all the law abiding folk, and for all the ones who are willing and ready to wait in line for an agreed amount of emergency food, a limit on grocery purchases or the need to cooperate, there is a huge segment who thinks otherwise.

Look at it this way. How many times have you been to the bank or any other place where you had to wait in line, and three people in front of you is the person with "the story"? About how they lost their driver's license or how they have 14 people at home who are sick or how they meant to have the paperwork in order but they left their only pen in their cousin's car?

Or how many people in America will think that because of their position or personal opinion of their importance will think that lines and rations are for "other people"?

Finally, how many borderline criminals exist in the USA? Not just the typical gang and thug members. But how many people swipe a few things from work, fudge their taxes, allow the clerk to give them too much change and walk away feeling entitled to their windfall?

All of these folk will be in the food lines as well and when they arrive and start trouble, there will be problems. They will demand, push and force their way to the front of the line. They will want more than they are allocated. They will see a shortage as an opportunity and demean all others around them.

Depending upon the severity of authorities' response, many innocent people will get hurt. And further supplies will not be forthcoming or recipients will be required to register at their local FEMA camp for ongoing meals.

Therefore, the same conclusion applies. 

- Stock food now. Many types of food, like rice, beans, flour, yeast, generic canned vegetables and fruit are cheap and everything is available now at the store.

- Don't get caught up in the food riots. When trouble starts, get away.

- Don't make the idea of shortages force action when it's too late.

- Finally, don't let others know what you have. Join the lines, get the ration cards, buy the allowed limit (as long as personal freedom is not limited) but don't let others see you "not" taking part as you have enough food at home. Others will visit your home if they think you are "hoarding".

- Make plans to get away from urban centers when food runs low. There is no more dangerous place to be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

SHTF: Remembering Pearl Harbor

Today is December 7 and is the 69th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. On that fateful morning, Japanese aircraft attacked the US Navy base at Pearl Harbor killing more than 2400 sailors, airmen and solidiers and starting US involvement in World War II.

There are dozens of good articles online, but better, there are interviews with some of the dwindling number of survivors from that day of infamy, to paraphrase then President Roosevelt. In a few short years, most who were there will be gone so read their stories today.

The lesson from today is that an attack like Pearl Harbor can come at any time. A survivor from Indiana remarked that young people need to understand the world and global affairs. Not so they can "understand and appreciate other cultures" as the current sentiment goes, but so they can recognize those who are ready and willing to do this nation harm.

Like it or not, the world is a dangerous place. We don't live in the fictional universe where a spaceship captain can hold innumerable peace summits to find common ground between warring species.  Rather, we live in a tumultuous world where motivations for hostility can run deep and old and no amount of college public affairs coursework can alter the course of history. Wars are started by people who don't like other people. It is as old as time and it will never change, because people rarely change. They merely change the ways the go about things.

If you know a veteran of Pearl Harbor or World War II, take him or her out to breakfast or pay them a visit. If you don't, then offer a silent prayer to those who have gone ahead of you.

Most of all, never forget.

Monday, December 06, 2010

SHTF: What If Nuclear War Books

I spent part of the weekend researching Civil Defense again as well as other nuclear war subjects. It amazes me that in this day and age when we have nearly a dozen nuclear powers (up from five during the Cold War) our leaders still hope they magically make the problem go away with letters and meetings. They are not succeeding (look at the increase of members in the "club") and instead should focus some attention on dealing with the possibility somebody may get the idea of detonation one on someone else.

Along the way, I was reminded of two books which deal with the outcome of nuclear war and the effect on America and the rest of the world.

Resurrection Day by Brendan DuBois was a strange book I recall seeing in the book store when it came out and which deals with America in 1972 - ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis developed into full scale nuclear war between the USA and Soviet Union. Fortunately, the event never happened, but the author takes to possible ball and runs with it.

America, post-nuclear war, is a third world nation receiving financial aid from Great Britain and a shadow of its former self. With several cities nearest to military bases circa 1962 destroyed or heavily damaged, most of the US is limping along trying to get by under continued martial law.

The story involves a reporter's attempt to uncover what actually occured behind the scenes in October 1962 which led to war. Did President Kennedy barrel headlong into the conflaguration, or was it due to some behind the scenes manipulation by others? Along the way, the reporter, with the aid of a British agent, also uncovers a sinister, secret plot by the UK to rejoin the US to the Empire. Interesting take on the moment the US and the Soviet Union almost came to war.

The other book, WarDay by Whitney Streiber, concerns the post-nuclear US following a preemptive, late 80's attack by the Soviets. Again, the story follows a reporter a decade after the war as he and a companion travel the United States recording what has happened to the rest of the country.

With society dependent upon pre-electronic ignition vehicles (war EMP took out modern cars), letter writing instead of telephones, and a gold based currency, the main characters venture across a hazardous and varied country.

The US is divided unintentionally into different regions. Some, like Aztlan, are semi-autonomous territories operating outside of the federal government, yet recognized by foreign powers. Others, like California, are the new seat of the federal government and which exist under strict police powers to keep illegal aliens (from the rest of the USA) out.

WarDay reminded me of a personal story at the time of publication where a co-worker, upon completing the book, went out and purchased a used, pre-electronic 1960's pickup truck and a few ounces of gold as a hedge against the suggested events of WarDay. Needless to say, both purchases were based upon his own "take aways" from the book. It was that convincing of a story.

Both books, while somewhat dated, make the reader think about plausible scenarios and how they could come to fruition again.  Both are excellent reads and are good suggestions for Christmas gifts for the "Don't Get it (Yet)" in your household as they are mainstream published works.

Pick up both at Amazon

Friday, December 03, 2010

Prepare: Fallout Shelters, Washington DC, 1961

I stumbled upon this interesting article from the Washington Post from late last month about a guy with an interesting hobby - he catalogues the locations of old fallout shelters in the Washington DC area.

The article is here.

During the early 1960's, DC had the largest number of fallout shelters by population in the United States. Knowing that the nation's capital would be target number one in a nuclear exchange, the federal government launched a Community Shelter plan which located deep basements in schools, hospitals and churches and stocked them with emergency supplies.

As we know, most of those shelters were closed off and emptied of supplies by the 1980's as FEMA took over the role of Civil Defense and the powers that be decided it was better for the population to be unprepared than not. Regardless...

This collector of fallout and civil defense information is working hard to get the old fallout signs, not the buildings, protected as historical landmarks. I think it is a neat way to remind all about the importance of being prepared and a simple and cost effective plan by the government which actually would have made a difference if ever needed.

The author has to toss in a frustrating line in the article which I will quote:

Of course, the irony is that the District's fallout shelters probably wouldn't have done much good. But they would have let us die together.

This is annoying because the Community Shelter Program was designed to limit casualties and was based upon research and knowledge at the time. The very same article above notes that the designers of the US shelter program estimated that community shelters could save millions of lives. But of course that flies in the face of the popular, but incorrect idea that "we will all die in the event of any nuclear exchange".

Many would be spared the horrors of radioactive fallout with a simple shelter. And now, with the threat of dirty bombs in the hands of terrorists, a fallout shelter plan is what is needed now more than ever in the event of such a type of attack.

The fellow researching fallout shelters and the subject of the article believes he can still find a completely stocked fallout shelter (with expired supplies of course) in pristine condition. They turn up from time to time, but in most cases the supplies are in pretty bad shape. Of course, he should take a look at the website The Civil Defense Museum and contact someone who knows something about the whole matter.

One more note. I wish I could find more about the scenario called Operation Alert 1961 mentioned in the article. Apparently, this report described a number of scenarios which led to the creation of the Community Shelter program, Conelrad and other nuclear war preparedness plans.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Back in the 1970's, science fiction was a hot entertainment trend on television. In 1976, a year before the release of the movie Star Wars, CBS TV premiered a children's television show called ARKII. ARKII told the story of a group of scientists who traveled about the devasted future world sharing knowledge with the remaining people of earth.

I recently blogged about the film Damnation Alley which featured a working all terrain vehicle called the Landmaster. ARKII featured a similar, albeit, more benign type vehicle which led me to research the program and find out more about it. The vehicles were not the same and were constructed by different people.

ARKII opened with the narrator describing a dark and ominous future Earth destroyed by waste and pollution (very early 1970's ecology movement inspired). Next, the opening showed people reduced to barbarian like existence living in rags and pushing around carts made from old car parts.

ARKII was the name of the futuristic RV/labratory crewed with three young scientists, Jonah, Ruth and Samuel. A fourth character, a talking (!) chimp named Adam rounded out the regular cast. (Adam had this funny deep dubbed voice and he seldom spoke more than a line or two per episode).

The ARK was inspired by Old Testament stories from the Bible as were the cast members' names. ARK=ARKII, Jonah, Ruth, Samuel, Adam - get it?

The series takes place in the 25th century and the scenes of the world all pretty much look the same - Southern California desert. The people all have long hair, are dirty and wear old worn out clothes. (Since this was the 1970's, they probably had no problem finding plenty of hippies to use as extras. Ha-ha).

The ARKII team ran around solving problems with people finding dangerous old things like poison and chemicals, children with ESP powers, strange settlements of people with minor mutations and an occasional bad guy who wants the ARK's technology.

There were only 14 episodes of ARKII produced. Apparently, children on Saturday morning were not up for post-apocalyptic tales yet and the stories were fairly watered down simple stuff where a problem arose and was solved in thirty minutes with three commercial breaks.

Having not seen the show in over thirty years, here are some highlights I remember.

- They had a jet pack which Jonah, the leader, used in several episodes. This was the same type of jet pack made famous by 1960's James Bond and Lost in Space. 

- They had a dune buggy which popped out of the back of the ARKII for jaunts around town.

- All of the crew members carried these mirrors which looked like makeup compacts. When they held them up to bad guys, it made this flashing and caused the bad guys to pass out.

- Jonah also had this laser gun which looked like a picture frame with six LED light bulbs. Since it was a children's show, he never used it on people but used it to blow up things like rocks and whatnot.

- Jim Bacchus, Mr. Howell of Gilligan's Island fame, appeared in one episode as a cryogenically frozen  businessman from our time. Needless to say, he played a greedy guy only concerned with rebuilding his financial empire. Blah blah blah.

I read a lot of science fiction at the time and I was facinated with the show. My sister of course, wanted to watch Josie and the Pussycats or Sigmund the Seamonster, so I often only got to see an episode every other week. Fortunately, the show ran in reruns for years so eventually, I got to see all of the series.

ARKII is out there on DVD, I think. It was a hug-a-tree post-apocalypse story, but still a fun view for kids and adults alike.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

SHTF: Damnation Alley

Damnation Alley is a survivalist story from the 1970's. It was first a book and then a movie. Let's review both.

Damnation Alley the book was authored by Roger Zelazny and features the main character, Hell Tanner. A cross between Mad Max Rokatonski and Escape From New York's Snake Pliskin, Tanner is a member of the motorcycle gang, Hell's Angels. With a criminal record a mile long, a captured Tanner is given a job delivering precious medicine to Boston from Los Angeles in exchange for a full pardon.

No problem, right? Wrong. Damnation Alley takes place in a post-apocalyptic American after a massive nuclear war. LA and Boston (and a few other cities like Albany and Salt Lake City) are all that remain of the USA. The Midwest is one big radioactive, dust filled, electric storm raining rocks and dead animals wasteland home to freak mutated oversized creatures and desparate outlaw gangs.

Tanner won't be travelling on his hog, though. He is assigned a "Car" which we later read to be over 30 feet long, armored and armed with rockets, .50 caliber machine guns and flamethrowers. What's more, is Tanner is assigned a partner to help with the driving.

Early on, two other Cars which are also part of the convoy to Beantown both buy the farm leaving Tanner in charge and the only hope for getting the serum to Boston, now if full pandemic mode.

Tanner faces off against giant Gila monsters, a hunormous spider, a crazy scientist and attacks by two gigantic motorcycle gangs. Does he make it to Boston? Read the book and find out.

Damnation Alley the book precedes The Road Warrior and other like genre films by at least fifteen years and clearly sets the theme in motion.

Damnation Alley the movie is a whole other matter. Filmed and released in low budget glory in 1977, DA stars Jan Michael Vincent and George Preppard as two Air Force officers at a desert ICBM base.

After launching their missiles, the base and dicipline slowly fall apart and problems are compounded after an accident kills most of the surviving crewmen and officers.

Here' a snippet from YouTube

Preppard and Vincent (and two other airmen) take off in a pair of Landmaster survival vehicles loosely based upon the Cars of Zelazny's book. Along the way, one Landmaster is destroyed and a few more survivors, notably a woman who looks like she just walked out of the shopping mall, are found and added to the team.

The Landmaster was a real vehicle designed by Dean Jeffries and still in one piece in California. I doubt it has those mortars or rocket launchers any more though.

Flesh and metal eating cockroaches, a giant scorpion, some lame shootouts and a brief motorcycle chase (the only nod to the original book) and our wayward service members arrive in some green valley full of happy survivors who can't wait to meet them.

The book is worth the read and hardly dated at all. The movie is worth finding in the one buck DVD rack at Wallyworld and good for a laugh.

Either way, Damnation Alley is one of the original survival books/movies available to complete your collection.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best Christmas Gifts for the Survivalist

I can't believe I originally wrote this two years ago for Christmas 2008. But it's a fun topic and overdue for an update.

Ho ho ho! Everyone loves Christmas and its just around the corner!

So what to get the bunker dwelling, canned food hoarding, "end of the worlder" in your life?

Or maybe you need a handy little list of suggestions to slip under the pillow of a loved one who is not sure what to get for a prepper like us?

Here are my Best Christmas Gifts for the Survivalist

1) A retreat. If money is no object, then give your favorite survivalist a super gift!

Survival Realty features only survival style properties throughout the United States. Some are very affordable and there is one near (in the same state) where you live.

Or check out Missile Silos for Sale and let your special survivalist design his own fixer upper or get one already done! As for me, I am not a big proponent of buying a former government base for a bug out retreat as everyone knows where it is. But for the true afficinado, nothing beats an old Atlas or Titan silo.

2) The ultimate bug out vehicle

You got to have wheels to get around. Fortunately, there are several to choose from and model your own after out there.

What survivalist doesn't want his own special set of wheels for hightailing it to the mall before Christmas and to the wastelands the day after?

Why bother looking for a Ford F150 with a camper top when you can have something more exotic?

How about a Unicat

Or a Unimog ready to go?

Or your own submarine? While they don't have one currently for sale, they do have access to more for the buyer who wants their own World War II era sub for quick getaways!

3) Food, food, food

Nope we are not talking about a little food basket or worse, a fruit cake. We are talking survivalist food!

How about a Nitro Pak one year food supply? The best long term storage food company out there and now, for a low one time price, can purchase a year supply of goodies to stock the bunker. What prepper would not love to wake up to a full pallet of Nitro Pak boxes and white buckets?

How about some MRE's? MRE's are like SPAM and Tang to your prepper. A couple of cases are affordable and fit just right under the tree!

Trying to keep it simple? How about a case of SPAM Classic, 12-Ounce Cans (Pack of 6 )?
Speaking of Spam, nothing goes better with egg nog than a Spam sandwich for Santa!

How about some quickie gifts from Amazon?

A Leatherman Surge!

Petzl E49P TacTikka Plus 4-LED Headlamp, Black

Or an LED headlamp?

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse

Or how about a simple copy of Patriots?

Either way, shopping for the prepper in your life is easy. There are only about 30 days left, so shop early and shop often!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prepare: Remembering Civil Defense

Once upon a time ago, long before FEMA botched up hurricane relief and the TSA went around feeling people up in airports, the United States used to have a program called about civilian preparation called Civil Defense. Run by the Department of Defense, Civil Defense was charged with providing for civilian relief and response during natural disasters, but was primarily for preparing for the populace war and surviving the aftermath.

Civil Defense had its origins during World War 2, but that organization was concerned with blackout drills, aircraft spotting and civilian war effort organization. Following World War 2, civil defense fell by the wayside, until the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. At that point, the US realized that the potential of a intercontinental nuclear war and its effects on the civilian population. Unlike preparing cities for convential bombing, nuclear weapons brought a new dynamic into play.

Cities struck by atom bombs required suitable sheltering in place and avoiding the by produced effect of nuclear weapons; radioactive fallout. That meant an appropriate shelter underground and stocked with adaquate supplies of food, water and medicine to support the shelter inhabitants. It was assumed that a nuclear war could come with little notice so shelter dwellers might arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

Further, civil defense required new communications between the public and the military. The use of air raid sirens and the new Conelrad radio plan were devised and developed to alert civilians in the event of attack. The air raid sirens were the same ones used during WWII, but were soon upgraded and made part of every city and town. The Conelrad radio system designated two separate radio frequencies found on any AM radio. Listeners were instructed to tune to either one (or sent to the other by the originating station) for important alerts and news. The Conelrad system was replaced with the Emergency Broadcast System which basically commandeered all radio stations. This system is still in effect today.  

Through the 1950's, individuals purchased or built their own fallout shelter at home. It was quite common during this time period, and especially after the Soviet Union demonstrated the first intercontinental rocket, for homeowners to dig a shelter in the backyard or convert part of the basement for fallout shelter duty.
When John Kennedy became president in 1960, the US kicked off a true nationwide, civilian civil defense plan into action with the Community Shelter Program. Thousands of office buildings, churches and schools were inspected and determined to be adequate for sheltering civilians for a period of up to two weeks during a post-atomic attack period.

The shelters were stocked with federally designed and funded supplies. Food, in the form of crackers, wafers and high cabohydrate candies, barrels of water, radioactive detection equipment, medical supplies and hygene items. The supplies were meant to last for years and upon regular inspection, could be rotated and replaced by the Civil Defense in concert with local authorities.

Some of the public shelters were huge and could house thousands of civilians. There were public shelters which were elaborate and were cleverly placed in chambers attached to massive bridges and overpasses. Rows of boxes and barrels of supplies filled alcoves and closets deep under public offices and schools. By 1965, more than 100 million civilians could be temporarily housed and fed up to 700 calories daily while sheltering for 10 days to two weeks underground. 

By 1970, Congress lost interest in funding an active nuclear war civil defense and preparation system. Shelters were ordered to keep supplies in place, but replacements were no longer available. Many of the supplies went bad; crackers turned rancid, water barrels rusted, medical supplies expired.

In the late 1970's, President Carter changed the name from Civil Defense to Office of Emergency Management reflecting a change in the federal government's plans for dealing with potentential nuclear threat. Despite the constant and real threat of nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union, the government adopted the philosophy that the cost of providing some basic protection for civilians was too high and the maintance work too much.

By the 1980's, at the height of the Cold War, most public shelters were cleaned out of decaying supplies and closed up. The familiar yellow and black signs remained, but little else was prepared for civilians in the event of an all out attack. The government recommended that civilans evacuate from cities and created a paper only plan which would shepherd civilians out of major cities along packed highways and direct them to overwhelm unprepared rural towns.

With the formal end of the Cold War in the late 80's, civil defense for all intents and purposes died. Weekly siren tests were cancelled. Remaining equipment like survey meters and dossimeters were auctioned off. Fallout shelter signs came down and public shelter areas were closed off. Many of the buildings which once held shelters had long been torn down or refurbished. A 1960's list of Community Shelters might only contain one or two buildings in a city which were still standing or had the same name 30 years later.

To this day, the news often reports of the discovery of an old abandoned and forgotten public shelter still stocked with molding crackers and rusted barrels of water. Writers scratch their collective heads and comment on the assumed futility of such preparations. The idea that the government would create a cost effective and workable plan which could have sheltered at that time, half of the civilian population, seemed ludicrous.

With the attacks on September 11, 2001, many asked where the public shelters were in the event of a nuclear attack and most were shocked to learn that there were no public shelters any longer for civilians. While the heads of government had secret bunkers scattered throughout the US, civilians were left to fend for themselves. Instead, the population was advised to purchase some bottled water and plastic wrap, hide inside their condominiums and wait for FEMA to show up.

What's worse, is there are no stockpiles of supplies, no matter how crude, available any longer. There are no readily available long term food supplies, hygene kits or survey meters available. In the event of an attack, cities and civilian governments will be left to distribute what food is available in grocery stores and warehouses and depend upon radiation detection equipment available to first responders or hobbyists. There are few who have any idea how to construct a fallout shelter or determine if a shelter is adequate for use.

Ironically, nuclear weapons have not gone away like the Civil Defense system has. More countries have atomic bombs than did during the early 1960's with more working on acquiring the technology. In many ways, the threat is higher than it was during the Kennedy era. Yet the US government, for the past thirty years has hoped that the "head in the sand" mentality will make the problem go away.

Regardless, it is up individuals and groups to prepare for the potential of a nuclear attack. Fortunately, the knowledge and supplies are available thanks to the internet. Anyone can prepare a simple shelter at home and stock it with food available from the grocers. Even survey meters and dossimeters are available online. The problem, however, is Murphy's law states the shelter will be in one location and the owner in another the day the nuclear weapon goes off. That was the beauty of the Civil Defense system - a shelter could be only a few blocks away from 90% of the population at any given moment.

This post is nothing more than an overview of the Civil Defense system we once enjoyed in the United States. For a better and more conise history with lots of great pictures and personal experience, please visit

Water Barrels and Storage

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Eight Protection and Security

Having a retreat, no matter where it is, requires some external security and detection of outsiders who may mean harm.

Ideally, your retreat is remote enough and disguised from prying eyes. Regardless, if someone finds you, they may have enough of a surprise to overwhelm the best defenses.

A good defense depends upon forward intelligence about possible threats from all directions. A good place to start is with nearby roads and paths which lead into your area. Someone who takes from those who produce is generally lazy. If there is a road leading to something they want, they most likely will take it.

Cover the roads will living eyes, not remote cameras or sensors. Both can break. Have remote watch stations manned by trained observers armed with both weapons and communications. The more advance notice, the better chances the defenders at the central retreat have.

Remote watch stations should always be able to alert a designated person back at the retreat. Radio contact should use signals and codes by default.

The retreat itself should have a high ground, hidden observation emplacement. Observers should take a hidden or round about path to the emplacement in the event others are watching from a distance.

A retreat's defenses should depend upon a) slowing down attackers and b) not giving the attackers defensive positions to attack from. The surrounding area should be clear or dead fall, stacked firewood, old vehicles, and other objects the attackers can use as cover.

The retreat should have a series of fences and barbwire to slow down the advance of an enemy force.

The defenders should have multiple fighting positions - trenches, spider holes, and sandbagged foxholes with egress points back to the main fighting position. Overlapping fields of fire and more than one long range shooter must be in position when the attackers make their move.

All adults and older teens must carry weapons at all times. A long gun being preferred. There should never be a central armory with all weapons under lock and key and under the authority of one or two people. If you can't trust the people on your retreat with a gun, then they should not be in your retreat.

In most cases, raiders will attack a soft target rather than expend all of their capital on a losing proposition. Remember, the defenders have the advantage as they are in their base of operations and supplies while the raider is away and travelling.

 Remember, most attacks follow the classic pattern. One force attacks with long range weapons while the remainder moves in from at least two different directions while the defender is pinned down. Have long range shooters in place to detect and take out snipers early.

Having a good defense is the best offense against an attack on your retreat. Plan, practice and train.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Seven Protection and Security Part Two

The last post covered the basic reasons and rationale for owning at least one firearm for protection post-SHTF. This post will cover at another aspect of security.

In the previous post, the possibility of conflict with desparate gangs or criminals was brought up. The reality is, that no matter how well armed and trained you might be, sooner or later you will run up against another force better armed or larger than yours. Further, it only takes one shot to mortally wound and end your preparedness plans.

Thus, the best long term scenario is cover and concealment. Instead of waiting for discovery and conflict, avoid being seen at all and lower the potential for violence.

Cover and concealment means keeping a low profile and sometimes, hiding in plain sight. The home should blend in with the background. Gardens and food production should not be evident to passing eyes. Cooking odors should be kept to a minimum. There should be little if any use of noisy equipment or generators.

The problem is most of us don't live that way. You can't train a child not to be a child. Children like to run, scream and play. You can't live off cold canned foods forever; raw meat from game or domestic production has to be cooked. Sooner or later wood will have to be chopped or repairs made to a vehicle or home.

With this in mind, in the urban or suburban environment, cover and concealment are tough if not impossible. There is too great a chance that someone will see, hear or smell you out. Any home or dwelling must be camoflaged to look abandoned and deserted which makes cooking, gardening and day to day living difficult.

A rural location can be concealed much easier if it simply is off the beaten path enough. Further, access can be controlled by blocking roads or paths or making them appear inhospitable.

However, not all of us can move to and maintain a totally rural life unless we are totally prepared for all that entails. Its a tough call.

Regardless, unless one lives on top of a mountain like a hermit, sooner or later you are going to run across another person. When that happens, you want to minimize detection of your home and resources until you know the stranger is safe. And you will need some system to detect a stranger before they reach you.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Six Protection and Security Part One

Getting Started is a series of blog posts for those new to preparing for an uncertain future and possible scenarios. Subjects covered include food, water, security, storage, location and other supplies.

Protection and Security. If you have a problem with firearms and see no need for them in any scenario then this post is probably not for you. If not, read on.

Go google prison inmates. Take a look at some of the images of the types of people in our nations correctional facilities. Now imagine there are no bars between you and them. That is one very real and extreme scenario in the event of a societal breakdown and collapse. In several natural disasters, convicts have managed to use the confusion to escape into the general population.

Let's say a gang of six or seven convicts makes it to where you are right now. What are you going to do? These men or women may be convicted murderers or bad check writers. Regardless, they are desparate and want anything you have - clothing, food, liquor, cigarettes, even you.

Let's say it's not convicts, but a local street gang. You know, the kind that like to surround a lone enemy and "stomp" on his head and body until he is dead.

You are in your home, urban, suburban, or rural. What do you do? Call 911? That won't work. How about hope the bad guys go away? What if they don't? How about giving them some of your things and play nice? How's that going to work out?

You most likely may have to fight them. But these guys are hardened criminals and convicts. Fighting is second nature to them whereas you may be an accountant, secretary or mechanic.

There is an equalizer (and even then, it is a poor alternative to hiding and running away, but more on that in a bit). That is to have at least one firearm. If you have owned or own a gun, you are up on the person who has not. And if you do not own a firearm, but are shopping for one, then again, you have the jump on the individual who does not and does not want to own a gun.

My simple rules about guns -

1) A gun you know how to use is better than five you have never shot, loaded or learned to shoot.

2) The gun you have in your possession right now is worth the ten you are saving up for.

3)  The gun you have plenty of ammunition for is better than the "high dollar, black rifle, safe queen" you cannot afford to buy cartridges for.

4) The gun you can hit targets with when shooting is better than the gun with expensive optics and sites which promises long range, tight patterns but which you have never fired.

 Bearing this in mind, being able to go out right now and buying a quality pump action shotgun and one case of shells ($200 for the gun, 70.00 for the shells) is light years ahead of drooling over a Springfield M1A you might have enough money for in two years.

And having the ability to take the Rossi .38 you could afford to the range once every two weeks and putting 100 rounds through it is far better than playing video games in your head with the 1911A you "plan" on getting next year when your tax check comes in.

And consistently hiting targets with that Ruger 10/22 is far more worthy than imagining what it will be like hitting targets with a Barrett .50 you will buy when you hit the lottery.

I think you get my point.

When the bad guys come, having at least one firearm, that you are familiar with and have suitable ammunition for will be one of three deciding factors to your survival.

More to come...

Brought to you by Impact Guns

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Five Water

A continuing series for the new prepper. How to get started with preparing for an uncertain future.

Water. Drinking, cooking and cleaning. Without it we die. Water is easy to store but difficult at the same time. Stored water takes up room. What can you do.

Stage One - Store a gallon per person per day. A family of five needs five gallons of water. You can purchase cases of water, but that gets expensive fast. There is plenty of tap water coming into the home now. So get some containers and fill them up. To keep it fresh, add a cap of bleach.

Stage Two - What happens when the stored water is gone? Get more. You can setup a rain water catchment system or bring water from a nearby creek, river or stream. In both cases, the water will have to be sterilized before it can be taken. That can be done with filters, boiling or bleach. You can also use a plastic bottle and sunlight if you are really in trouble.

Stage Three - Get a permanent source of water: a well. If you live rural, you may already have a well. If it is not too deep, you can use manual power (a hand pump) to bring it to the surface. If it is far down, you will need a powered pump. The same goes for the suburban dweller only digging a well is most likely illegal where you live. Some communities allow home owners to have their own agricultural well. Check the water quality before drinking any though! Many urban and suburban water sources may be contaminated.

Get water storage containers, put aside one gallon per person per day, find a way to get more water, a way to sterilize it and a renewable source.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Don't let that happen to you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Four Food Part Three

A final word on food. If you are a new to "prepping" for emergencies, having a food strategy should be your first priority. Even if you are a on a strict budget and watch every penny, you can still purchase and store extra food for very little money.

Earlier, we talked about two food buying strategies as well as food storage plans. Today, we are going to talk about really long term food strategies.

If you have read other preparedness forums and blogs, you will often hear participants talking about "wheat", "wheat grinders" or something similar. There is a reason for this.
Wheat is one of the oldest foods know to man and one which has been harvested for thousands of years. Wheat, when store properly, can remain fresh for use for years. There have been wheat kernels found in Egytian tombs which could be sprouted for instance.

Wheat is the basic component for bread and cereal. Also, most wheat has nutrients and minerals neccessary for sustaining life. Wheat, rather than its' processed form, flour, is desirable because it retains the nutritional content that flour loses far too soon after it is processed.

Wheat also is good for you. The high fiber content is good for digestion and has far more benefits than that bag of chemically induced Wonder Bread.

There are several varieties of wheat and each is good for certain things. Like hard red winter wheat is good for bread while soft wheat is good for pastry and pie shells. Know your wheat before you buy!

Buying whole kernel wheat requires something to grind it with to reduce it to soluable form like to a cereal or fine for bread flour. A wheat grinder is needed and there are several types to consider. For normal times, having an electric grinder is convinient, whereas in a post-power situation, a manual grinder is needed. Buy quality. Some grinders are well priced, but are not suitable for long term use. Read reviews and ask others.

Wheat can be stored in plastic buckets with bag liners like rice.

Cooking oil is another long term storage food to stock up on. Oil provides fats which are critical to health. Vegetable and olive oil, when stored in sealed containers, can last for years with out going rancid.

Powdered milk is also stored by many long term preppers. Milk is rich in calcium of course, and is neccessary for strong bones and teeth.

Finally, a sweetener like sugar or honey should be stored as well.

Many preppers store these four basic food products, along with mulitple vitamins for long term storage. Basically, one could live off just these four foods for a very long time. The odds are even better if one can supplement these foods with a garden and some occasional fresh meat (i.e. game, chickens, etc).

However, gettting started, first store foods you know and will eat.

In the next segment, we will take a look at water - how to store it, collect it, find it and purify it.

Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Three Food Part Two

Are the titles of these posts getting confusing? I hope not. This is a continuation of a "getting started" series for new preppers. Like you, I am no expert. I learned what I know about preparedness on the job and from websites like mine. I hope you find it useful.

My last post dove in to the subject of food, namely, building a practical long term food supply. If you have some liquid income, feel free to skip the hard work and make a purchase of LTS food from Mountain House or one of my other advertisers. My better half will appreciate it!

Otherwise, if you are pinching pennies and watching every buck, but want to have a preparedness plan in place, please read on.

As I mentioned yesterday, a food plan does not have to be so disconcerting. There are two easy methods to building a food supply -

One - Buy Two! That is when buying one item, double the purchase. Please limit this to dry, canned and shelf stable foods. Instead of two cans of tuna, get four. Five pounds of sugar on the list? Get ten. Take the extra and store it away.

Two - Buy Bulk. Get a membership to a warehouse club or search out an ethnic grocery store. Both carry extra large sizes of certain commodity foods like rice, pasta, flour, sugar and so on. Instead of purchasing a one pound bag of rice, get a twenty five pound bag. Place in proper storage and add to the storage until there is a one year supply for the number of people in the house. 

Both of these food buying plans demand the right storage. Putting a plastic bag of rice on the shelf may result in a bag of bug infestation at a future date. Food storage is mandatory. 

I store my dry bulk goods in 5 and 6 gallon buckets. I place the food item in a sealable plastic bag with an anti-moisture packet, place in the bucket, seal tightly and stack in a cool, dark closet inside the house. 

Don't store food - 
- in cloth or burlap bags. 
- outside in damp, temperature extreme sheds. 
- in hot attics
- only in original packaging.
- on ground or dirt floors susceptible to flooding, bugs or accessible by larger vermin such as rats or mice. 

I picked up my buckets at a restaurant supply store. I have also used the sealable buckets from the hardware store and they work well for me. Some of my buckets are five years old and I have had no problem with them. 

Here's a good video about storing food: 

There will be one more part on food before we move on to the other topics. In the meantime..

- Buy Two - buy double and store the extra.
- Buy Bulk - buy big sizes and store
- Store properly

Get your supply of storable food at!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part Two Food

Overwhelmed? Gettting prepared is too much work? The thought of building a one year food supply seems too daunting? Never fear, the journey starts with a single step.

Survival experts say building a supply of stored foods for an emergency should be a priority. Whether it is a three day supply in the car or six months at home, having stored food is a great insurance policy. Many who are suffering in today's economy have been thankful they put back extra food. They have been able to live off their preps while money has been tight.

If you are new to prepping, maybe you have been reading some of those SHTF fiction stories online and feel completely out classed as the hero places an order for a one year supply of LTS food from Mountain House without a care in the world. It sure gets depressing when you look at your bank balance and know a similar action would be impossible.

But here's what you CAN do. You CAN buy extra food in small amounts and put it back for a hard time. You only need a plan and to get started. Don't get stressed because there is not a pallet of number ten cans piled up in the basement. Rather, focus on getting a one week supply, then two, then one month and so on. OR start getting certain bulk foods each week or every paycheck and building a multi month stockpile of food one at a time.

Note: we all eat differently. I know in my house, we are more likely to make meals from frozen or fresh meat, fresh vegetables and starches like rice, pasta or potatoes. In your home, you may use more canned and packaged foods. As long as there is not a dependence on "to go" meals or pre-packaged foods like TV dinners then a food storage plan can be developed.

And in a survival situation, we will have to make compromises in what we eat anod where it comes from.

So, for our survival food storage program, we are going to make some deliberate shopping choices when we go to the supermarket.

The easiest way to start is the "buy two" plan. Instead of buying one or two packages of spaghetti noodles, pick up twice as much. Two packages go in the pantry and the other two go into a storage bucket or bin. Take a piece of paper and write down what is in the bin and the quantity. Use this strategy and put extra effort on dried and canned goods.

Or you can start buying bulk sizes. A one pound bag of rice may be enough for a couple of meals. But for about the same price per pound, maybe even less, we can buy a twenty five or fifty pound bag of rice. Rather than going to the grocery store, we will get bulk purchases like these from the warehouse club or a specialty ethnic store.

The same can be done with pasta, dried potatoes, flour, sugar, salt, and spices.

Again, don't do this all at once. Week one, buy a fifty pound bag of rice. Week two, buy ten or twenty pounds of pasta. Week three buy twenty five pounds of brown sugar and so on.

Once a month, take an inventory of what is in the pantry and in storage. Then make a "fill in the blanks" shopping trip. That is, pick up the items missing which will complete a one or two week food supply. A few cans of chicken or tuna. Some canned soups. Maybe some bullion cubes or peanut butter. As they say, rinse and repeat. Once the checklist says that a one week food supply is complete, aim for a two week, then one month and so on.

Are warehouse prices better than the grocery store? Sometimes they are. Check the per can or package price and compare to your local market. My warehouse store has 12 cans of tomato sauce in a box for about six dollars. That's .50 a can. My grocery store has a similar product for about .80 a can, so the warehouse store wins.

However, grocery store brand canned vegetables are often cheaper, when on sale and are often three cans for a dollar. Keep a comparison "price book", watch sales and clip coupons. Again, if canned grean beans are on sale, pick up twice as many as you think you will use and store the extra.

Finally, understand where food comes from. You can raise some of your own food. Start a small vegetable garden in the yard. Plant tomatos and herbs in pots on the patio or porch. Plant a fruit tree. You can start a real food insurance program if you have the ability to produce some of what you eat.

Don't get overwhelmed about building a food supply. Start small on your food plans and build from there.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Prepare: Getting Started Part One

I just finished reading an online preparedness fiction story. It went the usual way..

Man wants to get prepared. Has a retirement account, savings, inheritance, great credit and regular income. He makes a list of things needed for a fallout shelter, weapons, food and other supplies and within two years, is ready to ride out a nuclear attack which fortunately happens right when he completes his project.

For normal folks like us, this sort of story is depressing. I don't know about you, but I don't have fifty thousand dollars for an inground, sixteen hudred square foot shelter. I don't have five thousand for a year supply of LTS food for two. I don't have ten thousand laying around for a Springfield M1A, a fifty caliber sniper rifle or thousands of rounds of ammunition.

If I were new to prepping, and found a survival themed forum and read one of these stories, with it's over the top American Safe Rooms doors, Canning Pantry canners, or Slumberjack sleep systems, I would feel compelled to turn off the computer and invest in some cyanide for the Big Day.

If this sounds like you, don't run out to the hardware store for some rat poison yet. Like the saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", prepping is the same way. One step at a time.

Survival, in any situation, can be broken down into small pieces. For instance, food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, protection and medical. Each of these can be tackled reasonably as long as there are reasonable goals set. Jumping off the couch to make a one time purchase of food for five for one year is simply not doable for most of us. However, anyone can successfully stock one week of food, two weeks of water, or four working flashlights with batteries without going to too much trouble.

So, get ready to begin the journey of a thousand miles, one step at a time.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Prepare: Taliban Gun Locker - Guns and War

I read a great blog post, from all places, the New York Times, on the types of guns captured from the Taliban by US and Allied forces. The author examines a sample of each weapon and draws some interesting conclusions about the motivations for their use by the Taliban.

Today's post is not an assessment of the Taliban and how well or poorly they fight against US soldiers. Rather, it examines how one force maintains their weapons, which ones they use and how it applies historically and for other insurgents.

The takeaways..

The AK47 can be used for years, but has problems with range and effectiveness after hard use.

Common calibers are much more important then diversity, technology or effectiveness.

An museum piece can not only remain useful, it may be preferred.

The Taliban are using AK47, PK, Mosin Nagants and Lee Enfield rifles. Most of the weapons have seen heavy service and many are subject to field repairs. Almost all were maintianed well internally, but were battered and dinged.

What is interesting is the commonality of the Mosin Nagant and Enfield bolt rifles. Both have been in service one place or another for over a century. While the Afghans were seen using these rifles during the Soviet invasion of 1979, most fighters today are carrying the ubiquitous AK rifle. However, in some areas, the old bolt guns are preferred for their long range sniper capability.

This is an interesting article and which can give all of us pause to thought. There are also comparisons for similar offerings here in the US.

For instance, while the 7.62 x 39 or 54 cartridge is not as common in the US, the 30-06 is and would be fireable from the Mosin and Enfield's peer, the Springfield '03 rifle it's offspring, the M1 Garand.

In addition,  the .223 catridge is common in all AR pattern rifles and can be found nearly everywhere in the states. The same cannot be said for several other cartridges which lends itself to preparation advice; stocking the calibers and firearms which would be common and ubiquitous.

Check out the article, it is very in depth and surprising considering the source.

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