Storm's Brewin' Jan. 31, 2011

Midwest Whiteout

Sounds like a Mack Bolan title, doesn't it?   A massive winter storm is bearing down on the Midwest and across to New England.  Reports are calling for up to 2 feet of snow in Chicago and around the Great Lakes.  It will be combined with winds of 40-45 m.p.h. to produce blizard conditions with minimal visibility.  Drifts of 5 to 10 feet will make normal travel near impossible.

Time for those last minute tweaks to your preps to be ready.  Have you filled your extra gas cans so you have a few extra days of generator power?  Moved the firewood to a location near the house so you can get it easily and safely?  How about those alternative cooking sources... are your propane tanks filled?

How's the car?  Have you replaced the cold weather gear in your car kit that you brought inside to wash after the last storm caught you?  Do you have your chains or snow tires ready (admitidly not something folks do around my area)?

Check in with your elderly neighbors or relatives.  What can you do to help them get safely through the next few days?

Have you crawled under the house to cut off the water to the outdoor spigots (I need to get this done next weekend)?  Have you closed up your underhouse vents and checked the seal on the crawl space hatch?

If you are living a preparedness lifestyle, you ought to be ready for most anything that life will throw at you, but there will always be last minute things to do, especially if you know something is getting ready to hit the fan.  Don't let it discourage you or make you think you're not doing something right.

Of course, while much of the country is freezing in a blizard, here in Centeral Virginia, it should be crowding 70 degrees Wednesday.  But back into normal winter temps on Thursday.


Airport Safety Jan. 30, 2011

Moscow - Not The First, Nor The Last

The recent terrorist suicide bombing in the Domodedovo International Airport outside of Moscow took 35 lives and injured over 170.  "Security experts" were quoted in the news saying that this shows that terrorists are now focusing on the airports instead of the airliners.

Terrorists targeting airports is old news.  There is a history of such attacks in the US and other Western countries. At LaGuardia in NYC in 1975, a bomb went off near the baggage carousel and killed 11, injuring 79.  The case remains open.  In 1983 at Orly in Paris, a bomb at the Turkish Airlines counter killed eight and injured  55.  In 1985, the Abu Nidal Organization conducted simultaneous attacks at the El Al counters in the Rome and Vienna airports, killing 19 and wounding 140.  In 2002, an Egyptian opened fire at the El Al counter in Los Angeles International, killing two and wounding four before being killed by a security officer.  In 2007, two Islamists attempted to drive a car bomb into the Glasgow, Scotland airport, causing damage to the airport, injuring five innocents, and succeeding in one of the attackers dying.

Terrorist attacks in unsecured areas of airlines are not new.  So what can you do to prepare.  Probably the best thing is to maintain situational awareness.  Know about the country you are flying to and about the airline carrier.  Do either represent frequent targets?  Do either represent sympathy to terrorism?  Keep aware of current events.  If traveling internationally, check the CIA World Factbook and the State Department Travel Warnings when planning your trip.

Don't get tunnel vision watching for your luggage on the carousel or looking for the money changing station.  Notice what is going on around you at all times.  Get a cart or a skycap to tote your luggage so that your hands and attention can be free.  Keep some basic essentials in a small carry on with you.  Consider travailing with a small flashlight and an emergency smoke hood (different subject, but if you traveling on a subway, you really ought to have this or something similar).

The odds are that your travel won't be a target of a terrorist attack at the airport.  But please just keep it in mind as history shows that it can happen in any airport at any time.


Rural Differences Jan. 29, 2011

East Coast vs. Someplace Else

I live in a small, rural county of about 17,000 people, located between two major metropolitan areas in Central Virginia.  We also own some rural acreage in Southeast Wyoming where we hope to move before we are too old to enjoy it.  Both home sites are about 20 miles from their respective state capitol buildings, and are rural enough to shoot in the back yard and we can see just one or two neighbors.

In this Virginia county, people have grown dependent upon the government.  The local weekly paper just had an article about one of the volunteer fire/rescue companies in the county being taken over by the county paid, full time Division of Fire.  It seems that the volunteer group couldn't keep enough members ready to answer calls for service fast enough to please the city folk who have moved here "to get away from it all" but demand the same services and conveniences they had living in the city.  The same people who (not kidding here, ask my wife who was a 911 supervisor) call 911 to report a wild deer in the yard.  So, because part of the county had a volunteer fire/rescue service that was plenty capable for the way its been for years, but that wasn't good enough any more, every one's taxes go up to add to the size of government.

Compare that to the fire department newsletter we got from our Wyoming community the same day as the aforementioned article.  The community has maybe 1,000 - 1,500 wide-spread residents, and little-to-no commercial or business enterprises.  The fire company and auxiliary are very active.  There are 10 emergency sheds in place around the area, each centrally located to a group of residences.  Inside the sheds are AED units, and first responder kits.  Volunteers throughout the community have been trained in CPR/AED and have keys to the sheds.  If you wake up with chest pains, you call 911 to get the squad rolling from the city, but then call your neighborhood's CPR person who will go get the AED then come to your house.  The newsletter had a brief on the 13 folks who recently completed a 24 hour class in Basic Emergency Care.  Twelve people are currently going through Fire Fighter 1 and 2 class and will finish in June.  This fall they will start an EMT class for local residents.  They have numerous volunteers who are trained and participate at whatever level they are comfortable with.  Some only fight prairie fires, others are trained for full structure fires.  Some only keep the trucks cleaned and maintained, others keep the records or even put together the community fund-raising cookbook.

Two similar communities, separated by 1,500 miles and a world of attitude.  If times get worse for us, where do you want to be?  In a place where people depend on the government and have no sense of responsibility, or a place where folks take care of themselves and each other?

EDC Kit Update

Back in June of last year, I wrote about my EDC Kit.
It was serving its purpose, and fit in well with whatever I was carrying.  Unfortunately, I depended too much on the spring clip to hold it on my belt.  Sometime last month, it popped off probably getting in or out of my car at work and I did not realize it.  I tried backtracking to no avail.  So, somewhere in the greater Hampton Roads area, some lucky soul has my EDC kit.  I hope they are using it in good health.

For now, I really don't have one.  I have a flashlight and pocket knife either on me or near me nearly all the time, and a first aid kit in each of the vehicles.  I carry a NukAlert on my key chain, and am keeping my filled Sport Berkey water bottle with me.

I'm on the hunt for a better pouch for the rest of my EDC gear.  I'm thinking about a leather cigarette case with a belt loop.  If I can't find exactly what I want, I may have to break out the old Tandy gear and make my own.

Support If It Hits The Fan

I am amazed and honored by the growth of If It Hits The Fan since I have gone to daily posts.  I've had more page views in January that I had in the first 7 months of existence put together.  There are several ways you can help me.

Please support our advertisers and affiliates.

Directive 21 and Survival Gear Bags have been early supporters.  Please look to them for any of their products that you need, and let them know you came to them through If It Hits The Fan.

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Finally, please spread the word.

Tell your friends and coworkers about If It Hits The Fan.  Link to us through your Facebook page or on forums that you visit.  I've got a contest going on Facebook right now for $1 face value of pre-65 silver coins.  Visit our FB page to see how to enter.  Leaving comments on blog posts and putting links elsewhere strengthens my positioning on Google. 

Thanks for reading, and please visit often.


Mmmm, Donuts Jan. 28, 2011

Do You Have This In Your Kit?

Sure, you thought I was going to talk about delicious pastries.  I hope you have a great first aid kit.  Bandages, antiseptics, sutures, airways, you name it.  But what about those little thought of devices for the less than glamorous injuries?

I'm talking inflatable butt donuts.  You laugh?  If you need one, nothing can really take it's place, and life would be miserable without it.  Especially in a time of disaster or turmoil.  Which are often times when injuries can happen.  Why is this on my mind right now?

About 10 years ago, I broke my tail bone falling down the stairs.  After a miserable summer, I was pretty much healed up and having no problems.  Then I slipped off the porch steps and "POP!" there was that sickening audible crack as my coccyx slammed into the bottom step and broke again.  I spent several more weeks using an inflatable donut at my desk, on the couch, and driving down the road.  My tailbone is still sore sometimes, especially after sitting for long periods or on a hard chair.

Last night, I hit a patch of ice at the top of the back porch and boom, down I went again.  I was able to twist slightly and land on my gluteus maximus instead of dead center.  I have a horrible bruise, but thankfully, no freshly broken tailbone.  With my super long commute, I don't think I'd be able to make it to work without a donut.  I'm picking one up this weekend to add to the larder.  Just in case.

This Weekend

Be sure to check in this weekend, I have a couple big posts planned.


Prepper Ponderings Jan. 27, 2011

What Color?

Homeland Security has decided to do away with the color coded terrorism threat levels.  Probably a good idea.  We've been at Yellow for years.  I've developed security plans for critical infrastructure facilities that were based on the colors, but the time for that has passed.  They were put in place as a stopgap measure that seems to have stuck.

For the nation as a whole, it's hard to think that one threat level could be effective.  When Los Angeles is under a verified threat, I'm pretty sure that Green River, Wyoming is pretty safe.  I think that such color coding could be effective for individual cities, or perhaps specific parts of critical infrastructure and key resources.

DHS is phasing out the color code system between now and April.  I'll take it off of here this weekend.

What's On Base?

This is not a line from Abbot and Costello, it's a question you ought to know the answer to if there is a military or government facility near your home.

Last night, the Army's Dugway Proving Ground, about 85 miles from Salt Lake City, was in "lockdown" for almost 12 hours for "an ongoing security operation" with no other information about why the employees who were supposed to leave at 5:30 were stuck there until the wee hours of the morning.  Dugway is almost 800,000 acres, about the size of Rhode Island.

Much later, the Army revealed that a vial of VX nerve agent had been missing.  It was found.

Knowing what kind of facility is near your home is not being paranoid, it simply gives you situational awareness and allows you to adjust your risk matrix so that you can be prepared for what might be unique to your area.

One That Got Away

Time for another gun I got rid of that I wish I still had.  Back in probably 1987 or 88, I went to the local gun shop bound an determined to buy a Commando Mark 45 , a knock off of the Thompson.  List price on it was $210 and I had the cash burning a hole in my pocket.  Naturally, they did not have one anymore, so I had to get something.  I ended up getting the Mossberg 500 Bullpup.   If you are not familiar with the term "bullpup," it refers to a gun designed so that the receiver is actually in the stock, behind the trigger group.  It allows for the effectiveness of a shoulder fired weapon, but the convenience of a stockless one.  The Mossberg bullpup was heavy, bulky, and ugly as homemade sin, but it had a lot of character.  I sold it a few years later, but I don't remember what I got for it or what I needed the money for.  One recently sold on one of the gun auction sites for $535, so if I still had it, it would have been a good investment.


Everyday BOV Jan. 26, 2011

BOV Choices

BOV... Bug Out Vehicle... For the "real" survivalists, we know we need a F350 4x4 extended cab diesel, or maybe a restored 1972 Jeep Commando that won't be subject to EMP failure, or maybe, we go all out and get a restored military Deuce and a Half truck.  
All of those are really cool, I have friends or family with each, they definitely fit the bill for a BOV, but are not right for me.

I drive 115 miles every day on my round-trip commute.  My current daily driver is a long paid for 2002 Dodge 1500, 2 wheel drive with 153,000 on it.  It does me fine, and is pretty comfortable.  I've bought three new vehicles since 2000, and all of them have been stick shift, no cruise control, no power windows or door locks, but functional.  The problem with the Dodge is that I've missed about 5 days of work over the past few years because I couldn't get there in snow. 

I need a 4 wheel drive.  I don't need a traditional BOV because my goal will be to get home from work, not head for the hills.  I'm not buying anything new.  In fact, I won't buy anything for a couple years because I plan to pay cash for it.  It needs to be 4x4, get 20-25 mpg, cost $15-20,000 for one that is a few years old with about 60,000 miles or so on it.  It also needs to be automatic, have cruise control and power windows, and be comfortable.  I want it to be somewhat of an earth tone color.  I'm not a giant, but I'm not a small guy either, and the 2 1/4 hours a day on the road can wear me down sometimes.  I've kind of got it narrowed down to four that I am interested in.

The Honda Element   I drove one of these regularly at my old job.  It's pretty comfortable, surprisingly roomy, nimble, and kind of cool.  I like the older versions with the black plastic corner panels better than the newer style that looks a little "sportier."

Toyota FJ Cruiser   I understand that the white top is to bring back the flavor of the old Land Cruisers from the 70's, but I think they look really stupid.  A couple of years, the FJ was available in a solid color, but other years are all two-tone. There are a lot of aggressive options that can make this an off-road monster, but still be fine for the commute.  I've never driven one.

Mitsubishi Montero   The Montero is the winningest car in the history of the Paris to Dakar Rally.  Those are some pretty good bonafides.  They quit importing it to the US in 2006, so by the time I'm ready to buy, they may be too old for consideration.  I've also got a slight prejudice against Mitsubishi.  An old co-worker was a retired Marine who was a Japanese POW during WWII.  Bill was kept as slave labor in the Mitsubishi factory.  I've only driven one, and it was back in the early 80's 90's, a totally different body style.  But it was pretty comfortable.

Volkswagen Touareg   The Touareg has won the last three Dakar rallies, so it is certainly a capable vehicle.  It is loaded with features, and there have even been a few models in the US that have diesels.  I've never been in one, but I'm thinking it might be a tad small for me.

So that's what I'm looking at.  A couple years from now when my truck is at 200K, and we have the cash saved up, I'll try them all out (and anything else that might meet my requirements) and make a decision.  I'll let you know.


Jack Spirko has put out the fourth and final installment of his Herbal Actions series on The Survival Podcast.  Be sure to check it out.  Very informative.


Blog Review Jan. 25, 2011

Survival Tips : The Survivalist Blog

Recently I’ve been adding The Survivalist Blog, by M.D. Creekmore, to my reading list. Right now, he has a promotion going where if I review the blog, he’ll cross promote me with a link on his very popular blog, and I might win a great looking knife. So, here’s my review.

M.D. is living the survivalist lifestyle. He’s off grid in the Appalachian Mountains and practices what he preaches. I really like that his blog reflects his personal experiences with that life. He offers a free downloadable e-book that he has written that is a good primer for the beginning survivalist. M.D. also has an incredible number of reader comments after many of his posts. If more than a hundred readers regularly engage you, you must be doing something right. He also keeps his readers progressing with a weekly “what did you do to prep this week” post. His most recent post on that topic had 214 readers respond.

The Survivalist Blog is very popular, with good reason. M.D. Creekmore gives back to the community as evidenced by this promotion, his free e-book, and his reader interactions. Seeing how influential his blog has become since he started it in 2007, it gives confidence to me and how I hope to grow If It Hits The Fan.


Fire From Below Jan. 24, 2011

Ohio Gas Fires

Did you catch the news this morning about the village of Fairport Harbor in Ohio?  A sudden increase in natural gas pressure caused at least nine homes to catch fire.  The initial plan was to evacuate all 3,000 people in the village.  The mayor called off the evacuation because it would be "too chaotic to get residents out of the village through only three exits."  They had residents go outside of their homes and turn off their gas supplies, then remain inside until it was safe and clear.

I have a few questions...  Why does the village not have an evacuation plan that accounts for the three exits?  What would happen if they truly needed to evacuate?  Do most people know how to turn off their gas from the outside?

I'd say that the fire chief and mayor need to do some rapid studying on emergency management.  I also encourage each of you to know several evacuation routes from your homes and how to turn off all of your utilities from outside your home.


Blast From The Past Jan. 23, 2011

Leave My Elevator Alone

No, we're not going to talk about the movie, Blast from the Past, which really is a great romantic comedy in a survivalist scenario.

I've got three topics today that are all related to the past...

Old News

I've mentioned that I was published in an old issue of American Survival Guide.  Well, I recently came back across that issue, so here is the article...

My buddy, Richard, wrote the article, I contributed some to it and took the photos.  If you look beside the second picture, you can see my credit.  We split the $100 and probably spent it on ammo.  This was published in the January 1997 issue.  It was good to find this article again, I had been looking for it for quite a while.

Written In Time

Darn you, Jerry Ahern!  I started reading Written In Time, by Jerry and Sharon Ahern when I went to bed Thursday night.  I had to force myself to put it down and go to sleep.  Friday morning, I was almost late leaving for work because I tried to get in a couple more pages.  I've lost several hours of productivity this weekend reading it.  I'm not quite at the end, but I feel like I can give an effective review.  It's a great book.  The story is an original twist on the time traveler scenario, and it adds in some prepper plot lines.  The characters are more "human" than in a lot of books.  They are not experts at every weapon they pick up or at every task they attempt.  They make mistakes.  The dialog is not stilted, it flows pretty naturally.  This is one of those books, that I'm sure I'll be sorry when it is over.  Whether you're a fan of Jerry Ahern and The Survivalist (check out the fan page on Facebook that is actually run by Jerry), science fiction, or just looking for a good escapist read, Written In Time is for you.

Out With The Old

We have way too much stuff.  It takes up room, collects dust, and could be turned into money.  We've spent much of the weekend gathering up things that an appraiser from an auction company is coming out to look at.  Everything from some 18th century china and furniture to comic books.  On a side note, while going through my pile of comic books, I found am August 1974 copy of Ghost Rider.  What kind of parent lets their kid read Ghost Rider at barely 6 years old?!?

Hopefully the auction will bring in a couple thousand dollars that we can drop on our debt snowball.  Yes, I'm another one who believes that debt elimination is directly related to preparedness.  No matter how much money it brings in, it already has cleared up a ton of space.  A shelf and a half and several bins have been emptied in the shop.  That frees up a lot of room for prep supplies.  A spare room is looking more like a guest room than a Goodwill store warehouse.  We've still got a ways to go, but this auction will be a great start.


Welcome Aboard! Jan. 22, 2011

Big News

I mentioned yesterday some news, well here it is...

If It Hits The Fan has a new sponsor.  Welcome aboard to Directive 21, the premier distributor of the Berkey water filter systems!  Jeff Gleason, aka The Berkey Guy believes in If It Hits The Fan, and I believe in him and his products.  In addition to an ad for Berkey, Jeff has an ad for the great line of freeze dried food that he carries, Wise Food Storage.  In addition to Berkeys and Wise, Jeff also carries Aquatanks, an Emergency Seed Bank, Potassium Iodate, and several survival and self-reliance oriented books.  Jeff even offers free shipping the lower 48!

Directive 21 is with us for six months.  Please visit the site and support Directive 21 when you buy products he carries.  And tell him you got to him through If It Hits The Fan.

Chicken Sittin'

My neighbors, one of only two houses we can see in the winter, and the only one we can see when the trees have all their leaves, have chickens.  Right now, they only have 4, but have had about a dozen or so at times.  They had to go out of town on a family emergency this weekend and asked us to chicken sit.   During warmer times or when they are home all day, they let the chickens free range, but on a day like this (never got above freezing), they were inside their 20 x 20 chicken wire enclosure.  I had to go down after dark and close up the coop.  All four were sitting on their perches in the coop and clucked at me a little for disturbing them.  They've got a heat lamp in there to take the edge off tonight.

I'll go down in the morning to let them out again and make sure they have fresh, unfrozen water for the day.

If you are looking into getting chickens or rabbits or other small livestock, keep in mind that you'll need a plan to take care of them when you are not at home for extended periods.  They're fun to have around; the fresh eggs are so much better than the store bought ones; but they are work, and they depend on their owners to keep them healthy and safe.  The neighbors have killed a couple skunks and raccoons over the past couple years that had killed chickens.  You really have to figure out if the reward is worth the effort.  For us, I'm really glad our neighbors think so, but it would not work here.


Anthrax! Jan. 21, 2011

White Powder Protection

Anthrax... It's not just an 80's heavy metal band anymore.  Anthrax is a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.  It affects mammals and can be spread airborne, by contact, or consuming infected flesh.  It killed millions of people and animals up until the 20th century.  It can also be weaponized.

I'm sure you remember the anthrax mail attacks of 2001.  In Desert Storm, we had an anthrax vaccine in anticipation of a biological attack.

Infection can be pulmonary, cutaneous or gastrointestinal depending on the exact form of the source and how it entered the host.

If a person is exposed, rapid dosing with antibiotics can prevent infection. 

So what brought this on, you might be asking...

The area where I work is gearing up for an exercise to practice the distribution of anthrax prophylaxis to a large population after a terrorist attack.  I met with the emergency manager today to preplan for the exercise.  The original plan was to use school buses with armed escorts to distribute the antibiotics to every single family residence.  The manpower needs would be enormous.  A more recent idea is to use the voting precinct locations as distribution points with one-on-one distribution to the housebound who call a hot line.

If you don't live or work in a metropolitan area, you probably don't have to worry too much about this.  If you do, then it might be good to contact your local emergency manager to find out your locality's plan.  If you have a good relationship with your doctor, it might be worthwhile to get a cycle of Cipro or other indicated antibiotic for each member of your household to have on standby so you won't be dependent upon the government.  After all, isn't self-reliance what we are striving for?

Thanks to Wikipedia for Anthrax details.

Big News

Be sure to tune in this weekend.  I hope to be able to make a big announcement Saturday or Sunday!


Keepin' Clean Jan. 20, 2011

Hygiene Products In The Pantry

Everyone knows about FEMA's suggestion for 3 days worth of food and water.  I'm sure we all agree that is woefully inadequate, but nonetheless, that's what a lot of people do.   What about your non-food items?  Ever run out of dish detergent or laundry detergent?  As a young bachelor, I learned that dishwasher detergent in the washing machine causes streaks in your jeans and laundry detergent in the dishwasher causes "Brady-esque" foam.

What about toothpaste?  Sure, a lot of people buy the three pack, but they don't get another one until they are almost done with the last one.  Then they find out that the coupon they have expired last week.

Maybe you saw the recent articles about the sudden disappearance of OB tampons that have resulted in a thriving market on EBay.

What about some sort of breakdown situation or personal TEOTWAWKI?  If you lose your job, wouldn't some extra toiletries and cleaning supplies help ease your mind?  Being clean also contributes to health and mental well being during a time of stress.

In our pantry, we have three shelves with toiletries.  Everything from contact lens solution and toilet paper to dryer sheets and bath soap.  We try to keep about a year's supply of everything, but will let it get down to 7 or 8 months to wait for a sale and/or coupon to make it the most financially beneficial to buy.  We really don't like to get below 6 months worth.

We did not get to that point all at once.  It took time.  We did it like we did with long shelf life food.  If we need one of something, we buy two or three.  If we have a great sale, we buy more.  If we start to look like we are nearing 7-8 months, we start looking hard for coupons and sales.  Some things, we find on such great sales, that we buy a ton of it.  A couple years ago, I found my deodorant at Wal-Mart in small size packaging that was on sale and came out to a price per ounce much lower than it had been in years.  I still have about 2 years worth left, and the prices have kept going up.   I'm smelling good today on 2009 dollars.

Toiletries and cleaning supplies are easy to track to determine how much you need.  When you open a new bottle of shampoo, use a Sharpie to mark the date on the NEXT bottle.  When you open that next bottle, you'll know how long the last one lasted.

Take a look at the things you use regularly that you don't normally think of stocking up on as prep supplies.  Plenty of food and water won't do much good if you and your house are filthy.

More on Herbs

Jack Spirko has published the third part of his four part series on Herbal Actions on The Survival Podcast. I'm learning much about herbs that I never even thought about knowing.  It's well worth the time to listen to it.

Surviving on Discovery

Tonight at 9 EST, The Discovery Channel premiers a new show, Masters of Survival featuring Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, Dave Canterbury, Cody Lundin, Myke Hawke and Ruth Englund.  Near as I can tell, it is sort of a "best of" compilation show to get ready for the new season coming up.  I'm a big fan of Dave and Cody, but have never actually seen the others' shows, so this will be a good opportunity to check them out.


Sport Berkey Water Bottle Jan. 19, 2011

Product Review

For Christmas, my wonderful wife bought me the Sport Berkey Water Bottle from The Berkey Guy, Jeff Gleason, at Directive 21.
Sport Berkey

This water bottle is a great deal.  For one, it is $24.99, buy 5 or more and they are just $20 each.  Replacement filter elements are only $16.99.  All of this is with free shipping.  Each filter is good for something like 6,000 gallons.  That makes your per pint price initially 6.6 cents.  On a replacement filter, it is just 4.5 cents a pint.  If I buy a case of Deer Park water at BJ's, it is about 11 cents a pint!  Even better, compare it to this ad from the January 1997 American Survival Guide.

That comes out to more than 41 cents a pint!

I've been carrying and using my Berkey Sport at work.  The filter makes the tap water taste great, it's easy to fill, and the loop on the top makes it easy to tote around.  When drinking, the suction needed on the straw is similar to what is needed for a milkshake.  I think it is getting me to drink more water throughout the day, which is always a good thing.

So how does it work in the field?

Shortly after Christmas, I took our little niece and nephew to the neighbor's frozen pond.  I busted through the ice and filled up the Berkey Sport for all of us to take a drink.  The muddy, nasty water came out crystal clear and pure tasting.  The only thing I would do differently in the future is prefilter with a bandanna or something to keep the heavy silt out.

I strongly recommend a Berkey Sport for your car, to carry at work or school, for visits to the park, and general daily use away from home.  It is truly one thing that can help you whether things are good or bad.  If you order from Jeff at Directive 21, please tell him I sent you.


A Book & Some Bad Things Jan. 18, 2011

Written In Time

Today I picked up the latest novel from Jerry and Sharon Ahern, Written In Time.  If you don't know who Jerry Ahern is, you've missed some good reading!  Jerry is not only a prolific gun and knife magazine writer, he is the author of The Survivalist series of TEOTWAWKI novels.  I began reading that series as a young teen in the early 80's and they really helped form my early thinking about survivalism and preparedness. 

In fact, Jerry Ahern and his writing is the reason I frequently carry a Sting 1A in the small of my back.
I'm really looking forward to reading this book, and I'll put out a full review when I am done.

Bad Things

Baby Doc back in Haiti.  Coups and rioting in Tunisia.  Floods in Australia.  Chinese stealth bombers.  Predictions of massive food shortages.  Inflation.  $3 gas.  "It" is hitting the fan for folks all over the world right now.  We have the opportunity now to prepare for our families.  I'm working toward it every day.  I hope you are too.


Fight for Rights Jan. 17, 2011

Virginia Gun Rights Rally

Had a big day down at the state capitol today.  Over 300 law abiding citizens exercised their rights to peaceably assemble and bear arms.  Out of all those in attendance, I was approached and interviewed by three different reporters.  One cameraman asked to video me for a bit after the interview because the cowboy hat and cigar looked great on camera.  Here's a link to my appearance on WWBT-12, the local NBC affiliate.  Right before my interview segment, there is a closeup of my Sig-Sauer P220 on my hip.  The local 50,000 watt AM talk powerhouse, WRVA, interviewed me and played clips of that interview on at least two different news breaks.

I also stepped into the belly of the beast and was interviewed by a reporter from the Washington Post.  They have not posted anything about the rally, yet.  We'll have to see what that looks like tomorrow.

It was good to be able to speak publicly about our rights and holding the legislators accountable for protecting those rights.

On a side note, there were a lot of "barbecue guns" in attendance.  If you're not familiar with the term, its a Sunday-go-to-meeting gun.  Something fancy.  Engraving.  Custom grips.  Hand-tooled holster.  I'll wear a different rig next year.

There were some great speakers, including an elected sheriff, two state delegates, Scott Lee from WRVA, and Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.

I also passed out some business cards advertising the blog.  If any of you new readers are here that I met at the rally today, welcome!  And thanks for checking it out.

If you have the opportunity to speak to your legislators or rally in a public venue, I encourage you to do so.  Whatever your political agenda, let your voice be heard.  They work for us.  If you can't do it in person, pay attention to pending legislation and call, write and email them.


My Homework Jan. 16, 2011

My Wallet

On Friday, I asked everyone to check their wallets for unnecessary items that can lead to identity theft, or worse.  Here's what I have:
  • Some store receipts - keep these only long enough to reconcile your bank account or note in your budget/spending log.  Even if they don't show a debit or credit card number, they can show places you frequent if someone got your wallet and wanted to make you a target
  • $24 in cash - enough for incidentals throughout the week, but not so much that I'd be badly hurt if it got lost or stolen.  I keep emergency funds in a different location
  • 3 business cards for local merchants - I should put them in my Outlook and phone just to make my wallet a little thinner
  • Emergency phone list for work - I need to get them in my Outlook and phone also, then keep the hard copy stashed in the truck and at home
  • Hunting license - I should keep it with my hunting kit at home - if someone gets my wallet it tells them my address and that I have at least one gun to steal
  • 2 challenge coins - I really only need one at a time - main reason is comfort and a thinner wallet
  • Retired LEO credentials - need to keep
  • Driver's License - need to keep
  • Debit card - need to keep for the time being, but I'm moving toward using that account for bills, then cash for all planned purchases
  • Credit Union member number - going in the shredder in just a minute
  • 2 grocery store discount club cards - The best way to do them is to not give your name and contact info when you sign up and to only use cash for groceries - I'm not quite there, yet but I can get rid of one card because I seldom shop there and when I do, they have a "store" card at the register
  • Another Debit card - this one I will keep - we only use this account for pay-at-the-pump gas, and transfer our budgeted amount into the account each month
  • Bank credit card - I'm almost at the point where I feel OK not having it "for emergencies"  soon, very soon
  • BJ's card - Like Sam's or Costco if you are not familiar - need to keep it - I get gas and groceries there regularly
  • Health Insurance Card - need to keep  - other than my name, it has no readily identifiable information - it wasn't that long ago that such cards had your SS# on them.
Some of the other things I mentioned Friday, are not so much concerns for ID theft as they are concerns for personal security.  If you have a spare house key in your wallet, if they find or steal it, they know where you live and how to get in.  If you have your child's school picture with the name on it, a pedophile can use that information to get to your kid.  Store credit cards can encourage unplanned purchases - if you must have them, keep them separately and only use them deliberately.

Basically, just carry the bare minimum in your wallet.  Don't give the bad guys any extra information.


We did not make it to the range to really learn the gun this weekend.  I did take the wife in the back yard with a few rotten pumpkins and let her get comfortable with it.  She had never shot a shotgun before, but did great and blew the pumpkins to smithereens.

Rock The Casbah

Twenty years ago today, the air war of Operation Desert Storm began.  The local paper had an article today that the reporter interviewed me for.  I got quoted several times.  Here's the article.

In honor of that event, enjoy Rock The Casbah, by The Clash.  As the coalition forces flew their first combat sorties into Iraq and Kuwait, this song played in the pilots' headsets.  Enjoy!


Herbs Jan. 15, 2011

Nature's Healers

A few weeks ago, I mentioned on here that I was planning to add a couple patches of herbs to the garden this year.  The herbs will be more for cooking and flavor than medicinal, because medicinal herbs is a very complex subject that I need to learn a lot more about.

Thank you, Jack Spirko!  On The Survival Podcast, he is halfway through a four part series on medicinal herbs and herbal actions.  In each part, he focuses on 10 actions (immune stimulant, sedative, and anti-inflammatory are examples of actions) and discusses different herbs that accomplish each action.  Many herbs get repeated because they have so many different uses.  Dandelions and garlic come to mind there.

Anyway, if you have not listened to the series so far, it is well worth the time.  Jack shares a great deal of knowledge with the listener.  I need to go back and listen with a pen and paper.  Riding down the road, it is really too much information to keep track of.  Part One and Part Two have already been done.  The next two parts should be over the next two weeks.

One That Got Away

Here's another entry in my list of guns I've owned and gotten rid of but wish I still had.

I turned 21 on a Sunday.  The gun store was closed, so I had to wait until the next day to make my first pistol purchase from a dealer.  The gun I picked out was a used Colt Commander.  The grip frame of a standard Government Model, but a 4.5" barrel and slide instead of the standard 5".  It was in great condition, and fit just right in my hand or holster.  It shot wonderfully with good accuracy and no feeding problems.  It ended up being part of a stable of three different 1911 variants that I had at the time, and my usual carry gun.

A few years later, I sold it and a Springfield Armory Government Model that had been set up as a "competition rig" as they were in the late '70s.  I used the money from those two to buy a Sig-Sauer P220.  Several years after that, I sold the Sig to buy one of the first Kimbers to come out (a four digit serial number).  It's a vicious cycle.  I don't really regret getting rid of the SA or the Sig, but I do miss that Colt Commander.


What's In Your Wallet? Jan. 14, 2011

Identity Theft

When I speak to groups about crime prevention, one topic I often cover is Identity Theft.  A quick exercise is to have folks look in their wallets and see what in there is needed on a daily basis, and what they ought to be keeping locked up a home.

Here's your homework for the weekend...  Clean out your wallet.  Do you carry extra credit cards, especially store cards for places you seldom go?  How about your Social Security card?  Children's school pictures with their names written on them?  A spare house key?  Your kids' Social Security numbers and birth dates?

Mine should be pretty clean, but I'm going to double check it and see what is in it.  I'll report back on Sunday with what I find.  I'll also share my rationale then for some commonly carried items that I recommend against.

Protecting yourself and your family is more than a shotgun and flashlight beside the bed.  Identity theft can be a true personal SHTF for months or years, and cost you a lot of money and time.


Shotgun Jan. 13, 2011

It's In!

I took it out back this evening and put a handful of rounds through it.  I've never used ghost ring sights before on a shotgun, but they are very easy to pick up and aim with.  The action is nice and smooth, the trigger is good.  The breaching standoff on the end really doesn't do anything unless I am shooting off door hinges or if I want to use it as a bayonet, but it doesn't detract any either.  It is easily removable and I can put other Remington chokes on it for hunting if I want.

I'm still waiting for some suggestions on slings.  What are you guys using on your scatterguns?

If the weather is decent on Monday, I hope to get it to the range for some patterning and sighting in with slugs.  I'll give a full report.

Haiti Earthquake Update

A year ago yesterday, Haiti got hit with magnitude 7.0 quake.  The latest death toll numbers include those who have died of injuries, and the cholera outbreak and is now at 316,000.  Over 1.5 million are homeless from the quake.  With just over 10 million residents in 2009, that would be like the US having roughly 9.75 million killed and 45 million go homeless in a year.

What would you do if your home and region were devastated by an earthquake?  Do you live on or near a major fault line?  Eastern part of the Ozarks as a live-in retreat?  Your golden if any number of major disasters happen.  But you might get it if the New Madrid Seismic Zone quakes.  If you survive but your shelter is gone, what's your back up plan?

Something to think about.


JIT Jan. 12, 2011

JIT?  Sounds like Jeff Foxworthy teaching us a new word...

JIT stands for Just In Time delivery.  In this day of bar codes and computers, it's how companies get stock.  Take a car manufacturer for instance.  They won't have a huge warehouse with a couple month's worth of parts.  They get constant deliveries so they don't need to maintain an inventory.  The problem comes when the company that makes the windshield wiper mounts has a fire and loses a week's worth of product.  The car builder has to shut down because they can't get that needed part.

What if, instead of the part manufacturer not being able to produce, the trucking company that delivers the part to the auto maker has a strike?  There's plenty of parts, the car maker can use them, they just can't get them.  Same result would be if the highways between the two plants was shut down for a lengthy period of time for a Mississippi River bridge being out or a landslide or something.

Your grocery store gets food the same way.  When you buy your six cans of Hormel chili, the computer automatically adjusts inventory, and if it reaches a certain level, orders another case.  No problem, right?  I'm sure they have several cases "in the back" to tide things over until the next delivery.  Nuh-uh.  JIT means that they constantly have trucks coming in from the district distribution center, which has trucks constantly coming in from the regional distribution center, which has trucks constantly coming in from all of the suppliers.  Those distribution centers are not warehouses. They are more like transfer stations.

Back in the early 80's I worked a couple years in high school at a local Safeway store.  The grocery aisles were about 2/3 the length of the typical aisle today.  The rest of the store was taken up by "the back."  We had pallets, boxes and crates of food.  (We also had this really cool hydraulic box crusher and baler that as a 15 year old kid I used with no supervision, but that's a story for the OSHA man to stroke out over later.) We still had the fresh food get delivered every couple days, but the "truck" only came a couple times a week.  There were no bar codes and scanners to maintain inventory.  Each item had a price tag sticker from a pricing gun.  There were far fewer choices.  There wasn't room for 27 varieties of peanut butter. 

If there was a trucker strike or other breakdown in transportation, our store would have been OK for probably a week or two other than the fresh food.

A few days ago I took a peek "in the back" of our nearby Food Lion.  The space was much smaller than when I was in the business.  There were only a couple pallets.  What was on the shelves was pretty much all there was.  The conventional wisdom is that most modern grocery stores would be out of food within 48-72 hours.  If things go bad, you can expect the shelves to be bare in a much shorter time.  Ever been to a Piggly Wiggly in the Carolinas when they are calling for snow?

Knowing that the ability to buy food can disappear with little warning, the prudent stock up themselves.  But you already know that.  FEMA says 3 days.  The Mormons say a year.  I say get what you can afford and have space for (you can be REAL creative with food storage space), over time if needed, food that you will eat, rotate.  Like they say, Eat What You Store, Store What You Eat.  Much of what you have you can get from your local grocer.  It's great to grow or raise part of it too.  And, there is a place for the long-term storables from Thrive, Wise, Nitro-Pak, etc...  Just try it periodically to know how to cook with it and to ensure your family will eat it.  Under stress is not the time to try new foods.
JIT works great for everyday convenience and cost savings for a store.  It does not work for your family if it hits the fan. 


Complete Survivalist Jan. 11, 2011

Magazine Update

Yesterday I mentioned that I had not yet received my copy of Complete Survivalist Magazine.  Well, my mailman must have been done reading it finally, because it came today.  I have only skimmed it, but it looks GREAT!  The first issue is only 32 pages, but they are on tap to expand it as they go along.  The only complete article I've read was on the Free State New Hampshire movement, and I learned quite a bit about it.  The other articles include such varied topics as homeschooling, nuclear threats, and product and book reviews.  I'm glad I subscribed to this, and look forward to the next issue in two months. 

Weather Report

Our friends to the south and north are getting hammered by this storm with heavy snow.  Around here, we're getting freezing rain.  Hope it does not take down the power lines, but the generator is ready if it does.


Magazines, Not Clips Jan. 10, 2011

Nope, I'm not talking the spring loaded boxes that hold ammo in a gun, ready to fire.  I'm talking about magazines that you read.

The Good Old Days

The 80's and 90's saw some great survival magazines.  Primary is American Survival Guide (originally Survival Guide).  Jim Benson was the editor and each issue featured guns, gear and skills to survive TEOTWAWKI, being lost in the wilderness, or terrorism.  Many issues featured gun giveaway contests.  I never entered, but I wonder how many people actually did.  A friend and I wrote an article for the "It Happened To Me" feature about our experiences in Desert Storm.  He took writer credits and I became a freelance combat photographer, but we split the pay (I believe it was $150).  My copy of the magazine is long lost, but the other night, my mom told me she found her copy - I'll get it next time I see her and scan and post the article.  After Y2K, ASG got bought out by a publisher who just did not get it, and it faded away.

SURVIVE was another magazine of the era.  It was published by Robert K. Brown and the gang over at Soldier of Fortune.  It did not last nearly as long as ASG.

Fast Forward

About a year ago, there were really no survival magazines on the market.  I've been reading Backwoods Home and Mother Earth News.  Both are more closely related to self-sufficient living, but have relevant survival articles.  BWH has a libertarian editorial slant and has a monthly gun column by Massad Ayoob.  MEN has a much more liberal editorial slant.  Both regularly feature letters from readers saying "Cancel my subscription because of your politics."  My politics are much more closely aligned with those of BWH, but I learn a lot from both and think both are well worth the money for a subscription.  There are also a few primitive skills mags and small farm/rural lifestyle mags, but I seldom read them.  Please leave a comment if you do, and what you think of them.


The past year has brought forth an avalanche of survival magazines.  Ron Hood, one of the senior statesmen in the modern survival movement has introduced Survival Quarterly Magazine.  A friend subscribes, and it is a slick, high quality, glossy mag with lots of recognized survival professionals on the masthead.  I was very impressed, and plan to get my subscription in as soon as I save up a little more allowance.

Dave Canterbury, the co-host of Duel Survivor on the Discovery Channel, has just release the premier issue of Self Reliance Illustrated.  I'm really looking forward to getting it.  It looks to be another high quality read with a very experienced writing staff.  My friend, professional adventure racer Payge McMahon, has a featured column each issue.

Finally, Complete Survivalist Magazine has just hit the market.  They shipped the first issue to subscribers on 12/13, and folks are reporting getting it, but I have yet to receive mine.  I'm not familiar with the group putting it out, but they have a blog and Blog Talk Radio show.  Judging by the cover art of the premier issue and the list of topics covered, it looks like it might be the heir apparent to ASG.  Word on the street is that they are also looking at doing a prepper/survival expo in Dallas this summer.  Stand by for more.

I'm really hopeful that all of these magazines will succeed and live up to my expectations.  There is room for all in this world of preparedness media.  I encourage you to check them out and support one or more of them that best suits your need and interests.


Prepper Ponderings Jan. 9, 2011

No Post Yesterday

I was completely out of media contact yesterday.  We were rearranging our main room (it holds the living room, dining room and office area), and both the DirecTV and internet were unplugged.  I crawled under the house last night to run new DirecTV coaxial cable to the TV's new location.  I need to go today and move the Cat5 phone cable to plug in my computer in its new location.  I write this today from my wife's laptop using the wireless router.

From a prepping/self-reliance standpoint, I really enjoy being able to do things like run new wires, change out electrical outlets, and add phone plugs.  It saves money from not having to call in service to do it.  It also ensures I can work on and fix things during tough times.  A few years ago, I did not have these skills.  If I can do it, most anyone can.

From being unplugged from the media for a day, I missed the big story out of Arizona.

Arizona Killings

I woke up this morning to news of the horrific attack on the Arizona Congresswoman yesterday.  From what I have read, it looks like the killer is severely mentally deranged, and has a leftist anarchist viewpoint.  Of course, that has not stopped the finger pointing and blame at the right.  He used 32 33 round magazines in his Glock.  You can bet that this will be the fodder needed to try and push through a new version of the old 1993 "assault weapons" ban.  You can bet a new one will be much more in depth and won't have a sunset clause.  If you can do it without going into debt, might be a good time to pick up that AR15 or pistol that you've been looking at, or maybe some extra magazines.

All that being said, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.  I hope that justice is swift and sure for the killer.

Saving Money

How long have you had your current car insurance policy?  A couple years ago, we switched companies and saved about $200 a year.  Last week, we shopped around again and ended up switching back to our original company and saved another $300 a year.  That money will add to our debt reduction snowball.

Have you noticed over the past few months that the width of a roll of toilet paper has shrunk?  At least the brands we use have followed that.  It's been quite some time since a 1/2 gallon of ice cream became a quart and a half.  I noticed recently at Food Lion that a case of Coke products now has 20 cans instead of 24.  To the consumer who is not paying attention, prices have not gone up.  If you're paying attention, you know that you are paying the old price, but for a smaller quantity.  Pay attention to your per unit prices.

Is anyone running Net Flicks through their Wii?  I'm thinking of doing that and removing Starz from the DirecTV.  I think it will save about $36 a year, and give us more choice in our movie watching.

Post Apocalyptic Fiction

One of my favorite genres.  I just a few minutes ago I learned of "The Last Man" written by Mary Shelley (of Frankenstein fame) in 1826.  It is written as a first person account from the point of view of a survivor of a worldwide pandemic.  "The Last Man" is available for free e-reader download through Google Books.  It is also available as a free Kindle edition from Amazon.Should be interesting.


Still haven't been able to get my shotgun.  Just could not connect with the dealer yesterday.  Hopefully within the next few days we can make it happen.

Glenn Beck

You may know that Glenn Beck advertises Food Insurance.  Food Insurance is one of the many companies vying for your family's preparedness dollars.  I have no first hand knowledge of this particular company, but am interested to know if any of you have bought from them and what you think of their products. 

On his show Friday, Glenn mentioned that he had given all of his family members a 6-month supply of Food Insurance for Christmas.  He said some had called him in tears thanking him, and that others who think he is crazy have not said a peep.  He sent the 6-month supply to siblings, in-laws, cousins, everyone.  All I have to say is, "Hey Cousin Glenn!  You probably don't remember me, but our I'm your great aunt's second cousin's step-brother's first wife's niece's high school boyfriend's brother.  My Christmas present must have got lost in the mail, but no hard feelings.  Look forward to getting my Food Insurance!"

Think it will work?


Moles? Voles? Who Knows? Dec. 7, 2011

Tunnels Are Taking Over

I don't know which we have, although I just learned a neat trick to remember which are which.  Moles - start with M - Meat - Moles eat worms and grubs.  Voles - start with V - Vegetarian - Voles eat roots and plants.  Both tear up the yard and can ruin a garden.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension Service recommends spring loaded traps like THIS.  I've heard everything from Juicy Fruit gum stuck down in the holes to car exhaust run through a hose into their tunnels.  Here is a video clip from the Nashville Fox News station about a man there who is making a living ridding yards of moles and voles, and he does it with a dose of good old fashioned home made explosives.  Looks like a cool job for someone with an entrepreneurial streak or an option to add to a lawn service.

Using a raised bed box, seems to have kept the buggers from getting into my garden last year, but my yard is maze of tunnels and soft ground.  We'll see how they do with a more active garden.  I'd rather not have to kill them, but I will go Elmer Fudd on them if they get into my veggies.


Gun Update Dec. 6, 2011

My Shotgun Is In!

I got the call today, my Remington 870 Express Tactical is in.  I'll pick it up Saturday.  I'll run a few rounds through it Saturday afternoon just to make sure it works, then I'll take it out to the range in a week or two to give it a full workout.  I'll get the pattern with buck and bird shot at 10 and 25 yards, then slug accuracy at 25 and 50.  A full report will follow.  I'll need to get a sling for it, but I'm not sure what type.  Any suggestions?  I will also get a SideSaddle and a Blackhawk Knoxx Recoil Reducing Stock, but those can come later.  The sling is the first priority.

You've Got To Fight For Your Right

Here in Virginia, we are not cursed with too many onerous gun laws.  Gun rights actually made progress last year with allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol (as long as they don't drink) and allowing people without permits to carry concealed in the car.  We really have to give most of the credit to the Virginia Citizens Defense League.  Every year, legions of law abiding gun owners descend upon our Jefferson-designed state capitol building to meet thier legislators (at least the ones who do not run and hide) and press for a return of the right to keep and bear arms, all while carrying weapons and wearing orange "Guns Save Lives" stickers.  After a couple hours of that, everyone gathers on the Capitol lawn for a rally with advocates, politicians, and the occasional celebrity.  I've been twice, and it is really an amazing event.  This year's Lobby Day is Monday, January 17th.  If you are in Virginia, I encourage you to come.  I'll be there for the rally.  Details can be found HERE.  If you don't live in Virginia, I encourage you to become involved with whatever advocacy group is active in your state.  If you don't support gun rights, well, I promise not to infringe upon your right to not have a firearm if you promise not to infringe upon my right to have one.


Tomorrow is another garden-related post, but not just restricted to what I am doing.


Garden and Gun Jan. 5, 2011

No, I'm not plugging the hoity toity "lifestyle" magazine that refuses to take ads for the NRA Foundation.  It's just the two topics I'm covering today.


So, what am I planting this spring? 
Scarlet Nantes carrots; Straight Eights slicing cucumbers; World Beater sweet peppers; Jalapenos; Easter Egg radishes; Illini Star tomatoes; Amy's Sugar Gem cherry tomatoes; and Cilantro.  I have organic lettuces that did great last year and I'm going to plant again this season.

I'll order some fall crops a little later in the year.  I have a great spot in the front yard for a pumpkin patch.


I have finally gotten around to putting together my package to get my concealed weapon permit.  I've never had one before.  Before I was a cop, I carried openly (usually ;-), then for 15 years as a cop, I did not need a permit.  I have retired credentials, but that federal law that gives retired LEO the ability to carry nation wide is designed specifically to make the process as much of a pain and inconvenience as possible.  I've also always thought it was wrong for police to be given privileges that other law abiding citizens had to jump through hoops for.  So, I've gone ahead and done it.  I got the notarizing done today and will drop it in the mail tomorrow.  As much as I hate the idea that I need to pay for government permission to exercise my rights, at least here in Virginia it is a pretty simple process. 

Ultimately, it comes down to personal responsibility.  No one else can protect you and your family, you have to do it yourself.  As they say, "When seconds count, the police are minutes away."

What's Up With The Birds And Fish?

The reports keep expanding the affected areas.  Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Sweden, Canada, United Kingdom, Texas... it keeps growing.  I can't even begin to speculate on what might be causing these things, but it's pretty darn weird, and somewhat disconcerting.  Definitely something we should all be keeping an eye on.


Garden Planning Jan. 4, 2011

It's Garden Time

Last year was my first garden.  I have a 16 x 4 box, 24 inches high.  Last year's effort was a learning experience, and I will expand a bit this year.

I've got three seed catalogs, each with their unique aspects:

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a sort of a commune in Louisa, Virginia, less than a couple hours from me.  One of these days, I'll take a field trip up there and write about seeing it first hand.  Their catalog is the smallest of the three.  For each category (cucumbers, tomatoes, etc...) they have some general background and planting/harvesting instructions.  For each variety, they have some pretty good information about where the plant originates, how long it has been around, and variety-specific information.  I've made most of my selections from this catalog.  Although I've got to pay Virginia sales tax (boo, hiss), the money will stay in Virginia, and the plants are adapted to the climate here.

Territorial Seed Company is the thickest catalog, with a huge variety of plants.  It also has the largest selection of tools and accessories, as well as books.  They are out of Cottage Grove, Oregon.  For each variety, they list some specific details.  They also offer a wide variety of seed order sizes ranging from a tiny sampler pack to 25 pounds for some varieties.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a beautiful catalog, about a foot square, printed on glossy paper.  It is run by a young couple out of the Ozarks in Mansfield, Missouri.  They are very proud that all of their seeds are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented.  The catalog features tons of large, full color photos of the produce, but their descriptions are not as thorough as the others.

Each of these companies will send you a free catalog.  I think each is worth supporting with part of my order.

So, what seeds am I getting?  Check back tomorrow to find out!


My Personal Survival Test Jan. 3, 2011

20 Years Ago Today

(some mild adult language follows)

On Thanksgiving Day of 1990, I got home late in the morning from my job feeding and shoveling the poo of elephants, rhinos and giraffes (on holidays, we started early and finished early) to find my roommate telling me to call my unit.  I was a corporal in a Marine Corps Reserve artillery unit.  I called, and got the word to report the following week with all my gear... we were going to war.  That bit of news made for an interesting Thanksgiving that evening with my family, and also to a whirlwind of activity for the next week.

After a month of training at Camp Lejeune, on January 3, 1991, the Marines of Hotel Battery 3/14 arrived in Saudi Arabia to attach to the 1st Marine Division and eventually end up on the spearhead of the liberation of Kuwait. 

It also lead to my first long-term test as a survivalist.  Over the next 3 and a half months, I spent nearly all of my time in the field, living out of my rucksack.  I kept my M-16 and gas mask with me at all times.  I survived incoming mortar rounds, learned to drive a 5-ton truck while taking incoming fire, and sent an awful lot of 155mm downrange on "troops in the open."  I saw a good friend moments after he got a large piece of shrapnel through his chin that missed taking off his head by about 5 inches.  I ate a ton of MRE's and learned the value of "comfort foods" from home.  I went for over a month bathing out of a bucket and crapping in a hole while balancing one butt cheek on my e-tool shovel.  I mourned one of our Marines who never made it home.  I lost about 40 pounds.  I mounted my bayonet to take prisoners, and had my 1st Sgt. (the late L.T. Parker - truly one of the greatest men I have ever known) yell, "Damn it, Green!  We're here to take 'em prisoner, not poke 'em in the ass!"  I learned (by watching, not doing) that you should not pop the primer on a Soviet 12.5mm round by hitting it with a nail in a board.

I witnessed incredible bravery, teamwork, and enthusiasm.

I was physically and mentally challenged, and I passed.  Twenty years later, I know I am not up to the physical aspect the same as I was when I was 22 and in some of the best shape of my life, but mental will be a huge part of the game if we enter a TEOTWAWKI situation, and I'm pretty sure I could make that part of it OK. 

I was going to write some on other topics, but I think I'll stop here.  To the men I served with, the Marines of Hotel Battery, Semper Fidelis.


A Guaranteed ROI? Jan. 2, 2011

20% Profit?

Now I am not an investment counselor or a financial expert.  This is just a few comments on what I believe may ensure considerable, and fairly short term, return on an investment.  Are you ready for it........?

Socks and underwear.  Maybe jeans and t-shirts, too.  It seems that cotton has skyrocketed in cost over the second half of 2009, but the manufacturers have not passed on the rise to customers.  Until now.  Cotton has gone up due to increased demand in China and India, and poor production levels from Asia and Australia from bad growing weather.

What does it mean for us? If you have a little extra cash or can alter your budget a bit, go out and pick up a few extra packs of socks, underwear, and t-shirts.  Grab a few extra pair of jeans.  If you have small children, pick up some in larger sizes that they will grow into.  If the price goes up 20% or more as expected over the next year, you'll get a return on investment more than one would typically expect even from the stock market. 

Dress tomorrow on today's money.


1st Of The Month Jan. 1, 2011

It's the first of the month, have you...

Test run your generator?
Rotated you gasoline stores?
Tested your smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors?
Checked your household and vehicle fire extinguishers?
Given your dog his heart worm pill and flea/tick treatment?
Changed your HVAC filters?

Gun update
My shotgun won't get shipped until Monday.  There was a miscommunication with the distributor.  But on a bright note, I got my cap & ball revolver back in working order.  I had put it out of action at a Cowboy Action Shooting match some time ago.  Remember, its powder, bullet, THEN Crisco, not powder, Crisco, bullet.  The latter makes for soggy powder that does not go bang and gets the bullet stuck.  I used a bullet puller chucked into my drill to pop them out, then cleaned all the nasty gunky powder goo out of each chamber.  I'll put a few rounds through it today to celebrate the new year and get that black powder smell in the air.