Prepper Ponderings

Weekend Off

I didn't post over the weekend.  Saturday was expected, as I was at a Celtic Festival and Highland Games all day and well into the night.  Let me tell you, a kilt is not the best weather gear in 30 degree windchill with a 40 mph wind and driving "wintery mix."  But my torso was good to go with a t-shirt, heavy twill shirt, an Orvis zip up sweater with a wind-proof liner, and a Dick's rain coat.  Sunday was filled with helping my wife bake to prepare for the family cookout and pumpkin carving at the in-laws.  A little break is always good, and now I'm back.

Custom Knife

At the Celtic festival, I visited the booth of Mike McRae and Scotia Metalwork.  I've visited Mike's booth for the past several years, and always admired his hand forged knives and swords.  This year, my wonderful wife bought me an amazing Sgian Dubh (translated as black knife, typically worn tucked into the stocking of a kilt wearer) that Mike forged with his distinctive differential tempering, and fitted with a beautiful California Buckeye Burl wood handle and a Marine Corps Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem.  This knife is as gorgeous as I believe it is usable.  I can't do a full review of it until after I get it for Christmas, but a friend has had one of Mike's Sgian Dubhs for several years and has been very pleased with it.  If you are in the market for a great, handmade knife, that is also a work of art and a piece of history, give Mike a look.

Amazing Story

In this month's America's 1st Freedom magazine from the NRA, there is an amazing interview with Nikki Goeser.  In 2009, Nikki was a Nashville DJ who did karaoke events with her husband.  A stalker was at one of their shows and shot and killed her husband right in front of her.  He was tackled to the ground by a couple of patrons and is awaiting trial.  Nikki had a concealed weapon permit, but could not legally carry in a bar, so she was unarmed.  Since her husband's killing, she has worked with the Tennessee and Ohio legislatures on gun rights and removing the prohibitions against having concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol.  Her story is heartbreaking, but inspirational.


Great News!!!

He's Safe!
The other day I mentioned the local 8 year old Autistic boy who was lost, and all the Search and Rescue volunteers who were out looking for him.

Today, 120 hours after he disappeared in extremely rugged terrain... a Civil War battlefield park bordering a river, filled with trenches and crevasses, bordering a quarry operation, temps in the 40s several nights, an area populated with bobcats and coyotes... he was found alive, and in remarkably good health.  Robert Woods doesn't speak, and in all likelihood, never knew that he was lost.  His mind does not work that way.  Today was cold and rainy, and tonight will dip down near freezing.  If he had not been found today, tonight would probably have killed him.  It truly is a miracle that he was found alive.

I'm old friends with many of the public safety folks who have been involved with the search, and I've known a few of the volunteers too.  By my rough estimate, there were about 45,000 man hours spent over the past week by these folks who really gave of themselves to find this little boy.

There is no logical reason why this little boy survived.  There are a whole lot of "normal" children and grown adults who would not have survived 120 hours in these conditions with the clothes on their backs and no training in wilderness survival.  I truly believe that God kept this boy safe and alive, and He used this ordeal to bring the people of this region together in prayer.

Here is what what we know so far of Robert's remarkable survival.

But what about other kids?  We need to spread the message and the skills to ensure all children recieve a basic level of training in wilderness survival.  A message as simple as staying put if lost (and in a relatively safe location), having a whistle and a water bottle, and using the environment to provide shelter, can keep a child alive long enough for rescue.  As for children with Autism or other developmental disorders, parents can work with their local law enforcement or rescue squads to get GPS trackers for the kids to wear if they are prone to wandering.



National Emergency Alert System Test

You've probably started hearing the reports already that on Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, there will be the first ever national level Emergency Alert System test.  I grew up with the Emergency Broadcasting System ("This is a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System.  The signal you are about to hear...") and don't ever recall hearing a real activation.  With EBS, licensed broadcasters would get a signal and have to manually switch to the EBS.  If they didn't, they could get fined or even lose their license.  EAS came into being 10 or 15 years ago.  With EAS, "they" take over a station's signal and broadcast the test or an emergency message, typically severe weather.  That's why you frequently hear a disc jockey, song, or commercial get cut off in mid-sentence - they get no advanced information about the EAS activation or test.  These tests are conducted at the local level weekly and state level monthly.  They've never been conducted at the national level where the federal government takes over all the airways at one time for a national-level test.

That is what's coming Nov. 9th at 2 p.m.  That is why they are doing so much advanced notifications.  It seems there is still concern that some Americans will have a "War of the Worlds" type response to a national message and panic without realizing it is a test.  I don't know... are folks really that stupid?

Now, I've heard some broadcasters express concern about the fact that the feds are taking over the airwaves.  Like so much that the government does, I don't know that the goals are sinister, but there certainly is potential for the technology to be used for nefarious means.  Sure, it is probably good to have the ability to get a common message out to everyone simultaneously, but does it have to be automatic and involuntary?  Could not that same technology be used to take over stations that were not broadcasting "approved" information or viewpoints?

A big weakness in this system that I see, is that from what I understand, the national-level EAS messaging is not compatible with NOAA weather alert radios.  There are many folks in offices, or even at home, who may not watch or listen to broadcast radio or TV, but have a NOAA radio on at all times.

Are there any broadcasters out there reading this?  Is my tin foil hat on too tight?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Kilted Prepping

I've been feeling a pretty negative vibe all day... lots of nastiness in the world and on the news lately... but that feeling came to an end when I got home.  I'm going to a Celtic festival and Highland games this weekend, and my new Clan Leatherneck Sport Kilt came by UPS today.  I've been a kilt wearer for nigh on 15 years now, but I seem to have outgrown my traditional wool kilt (also in Clan Leatherneck tartan) and even my more recent olive drab Utilikilt, so I needed to get a new one quick.  Sport Kilt came through with flying colors.  How does that relate to prepping?  Ahh, it probably doesn't, but Sport Kilts and Utilikilts are great for hiking or being out in the woods when a $500 wool kilt might be a little overkill.  Plus, Celtic festivals are full of well-armed, yet peaceful folks, and a ton of fun.  And life is a lot more than gloom and doom.  Soon I'll do a review and compare and contrast the three kilts.  At the festival, I usually march in the grand entrance Parade of Clans with Clan Leatherneck, so hopefully I'll get a video of that up on the You Tube channel.  You know that bagpipes were once banned as a weapon of war, don't you?


Search & Rescue

Anyone Involved in S&R?

As I type this, at the other end of the next county over, nearly a thousand volunteer and several hundred professional rescuers are looking for a 9 year old little boy with severe Autism who wandered away from his family on a hike Sunday afternoon at a Civil War battlefield park.  The past two nights have been down in the 40's, and part of the 80 acre wooded park is bordered by a river.  They've expanded the search to a 2,000 acre area.  Those with Autism are often attracted to water and don't acknowledge the dangers, simply walking on in and drowning.  With those two factors, hopes for his survival are slim, but folks around here are praying for a miracle.

I've never had any training as a volunteer in Search & Rescue, but it has always interested me. It's a great way to be of help to your community, and you have the opportunity to learn and practice wilderness survival skills.

Any of you involved in Search and Rescue?  Has it aided your prepping or survival at all?

Please say a prayer for little Robbie Wood tonight.


Want To Help A Kid?

Cub Scout Popcorn Time!

Most of you know that I have become involved with Cub Scouts, and have been the primary adult going with my 6 year old nephew as he has become a Tiger Cub.  I'm sure you've seen scouts set up at the grocery store, local festivals, and going door to door selling popcorn to raise money.

Well, I'm putting the call out to see if you'll buy some on-line.  By going to this link and using Scout ID# 18172846 (It should show you as supporting Caleb M.), you can order popcorn and he gets the credit.  About 70% stays with local scouting, so you really are doing a good deed.  Of course, there has to be a prepping angle here... you can order the 5 lbs of popping corn and put it up for long term storage.

Times are tight, so I certainly understand if you can't help us out right now, but if you can, I (and my nephew) will really appreciate it!  Thanks!


The 2-Wheel BOV

Motorcycling To Bug Out

Remember in the movie, Deep Impact, the boy takes the dirt bike and rides the traffic jam on the interstate until he finds his girlfriend, then they head for the hills to beat the tidal wave?

He's driving slow, weaving in and out of the stopped traffic... ripe for getting knocked off and the bike stolen if it were in real life.  I think if I were in that position, I'd have been riding the grassy shoulders, even up on the side hills if they existed.  Certainly there would be a need for some wire cutters in your saddlebag to cut through the typical wire fence than runs beside most interstates.

This week, one of my prepper friends bought the motorcycle that he has wanted for the 25 years that I've known him, a BMW R1200GS (that is a newer model/size, but he's always wanted that type).  The R1200GS is the ideal bike for on and off-road touring.  If you were riding to the Arctic Circle, this is the bike you'd want for that last 350 miles of gravel road in Alaska.  Its predecessors always were very competitive in the Paris to Dakar rally race.  He'll use it for commuting, and the occasional ride through country roads or the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it has strong abilities if he needs it to get out of Dodge.

But how realistic is it to use a bike?  For one thing, unless you commute, you won't have it with you.  Also, unless is is a R1200GS or an on-off-road enduro style, it might not be much good.  That Ninja or Road King won't have the versatility.

I've been thinking on it this weekend, and with my 60 mile commute, I think the only way a bike would work for me would be to get an older enduro style, then store it at a friend's house who lives near my work.  If it hit the fan while I was at work and the interstates and secondary roads were blocked, I could get to his house and pull my pack out of my Element, then ride off-road along the highway to get home.  It's probably doable, but I think I have other priorities.

Do any of you have plans to use a motorcycle to get home or bug out?


Sponsor Of The Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Wise Food Storage from Directive21.com.  Wise is delicious storage foods packed in serving size pouches and square, easily stackable buckets.  They have an estimated shelf life of 25 years under proper storage conditions.  Directive 21 also recently introduced Survive2Thrive certified organic storage foods.  This unique product gives you an option if you are planning to eat organic.  Check out all the great items at Directive 21, and please tell them you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.


Gear Giveaway

Austere Provisions Company is a fairly new survival gear company that is located very close to me.  On their Facebook page they are doing a gear prize giveaway when they reach 762 (as in 7.62 mm) fans.  They've still got a few to go, so give them a visit and "like" them to be entered in the drawing.  Please mention to them that you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.

Also visit their on-line store at AustereProvisions.com for a wide variety of tactical and survival gear.

Can It Yourself

LDS Cannery

One of the comments from yesterday was a great report of a reader's visit to his local LDS cannery.  I'm planning to make a visit to my local one this fall.  Apparently, in some areas, they are limiting users to only LDS members and guests, but I believe that many still allow anyone to come in.  To find your local one visit this website.  A call to mine got a recording that said they are open Tuesday evenings, Thursday mornings, and Saturdays.  It gave a name and number to call to set an appointment.  One thing to keep in mind if you call is to ask about the cannery.  I've read about some folks mistakenly asking for the Bishop's Warehouse, which is only for LDS members and is a charity operation.  That is different than their cannery operations.

Anyway, when you call to make an appointment, you'll need to complete the order form.  They don't have a wide variety of foods available, but the prices are really good.  Here is the order form.  Some price examples are: #10 can of hard red wheat for $3.50; black beans for $4.55; and apple slices for $5.70.  The price includes the product, the can, metal lid, oxygen absorber, and the use of the canning equipment.  With every 6 cans, you also get a carrying box and two plastic lids.  For building up staples, it's really unbeatable, and a great way to either flesh out your own stocks, or build up some basics to distribute as charity.


He Can Can, Can You Can?

Canning Dry Goods For Long-Term Storage

A reader (Thanks, Paladin!) sent me a link today for a new YouTube video from Engineer775.  Engineer775 posts tons of helpful, informative and entertaining videos about prepping to YouTube on a regular basis.

This particular one shows his family using a canner to seal up #10 cans full of dry goods.  He doesn't say how much the canner costs, but several families went in together to get it, and a pallet of 400 and some cans and lids.

It's really neat how these things work, and how simple they truly are.  The same type of set up is used at LDS canneries.  I'm not a member of the LDS, but from what I've heard, they are open to non-members coming in and buying dry goods and canning them.  I'm hoping to make it to the local cannery some time this fall or winter, and I'll write up a report on it.  In the mean time, watch Engineer775's video and see how it is done.

Update: Amazon has the can sealers at $625.  Not as much as I expected.  You'd still need to get the cans either from your local LDS cannery, or another source.  Make sure they are coated food grade, and not generic paint cans.


Lions and Tigers and a Monkey with Herpes, oh my!

 Crazy Animal Escape Story Out Of Ohio

I'm sure most of you heard about this story today.  A guy with a "wild animal rescue" farm released all his animals then killed himself.  Local police had to kill the vast majority of the animals in the interest of public safety.  There's a lot of internet chatter, both from those who said they shouldn't have killed them, and those who wished they could have been in on it.  Famous animal guy, Jack Hannah, came out in support of the police actions.  The best count I've seen is: 18 tigers, 17 lions, 6 black bears, 3 mountain lions, 2 grizzly bears, 2 wolves, and one baboon killed by police; 3 leopards, 2 grizzlies and a monkey rescued and sent to the zoo; and one monkey with herpes still on the loose.

I've actually got a little background in this area.  Back in my misspent youth, I spent a couple winters working with elephants, rhinos and giraffes in a zoo/preserve.  During that time, I occasionally worked with the hoofed stock (zebras, eland, camels, gnu, and Cape buffalo) and the big cats.

So how can we plan for something like this in our preps?

Like so much else, a lot of it depends on situational awareness.  Ohio has no laws on ownership of exotic animals.  Even away from Ohio, you'd be amazed at how many of these small zoos, either legitimate, or private "rescue" places, are around.  There are also traveling animal shows of various levels of quality, and breeding operations.  Around here, I can think of at least five small zoos, three of which are in very urban locations.  The place I worked was very rural, but close to an interstate highway.  We sometimes got animals that Fish & Wildlife seized from traveling shows that did the county fair circuit.  I know of a couple of lions and a hyena that we got that way.  My mother-in-law is a rural mail delivery person, and she has a mountain lion breeding operation on her route.  I used to have a friend whose uncle raised German shepherd/wolf hybrids.  So, step one is try and find out if there is anything like this in your area.

Step two is pay attention to the local news.  The towns around this Ohio situation knew early on to be alert and stay inside.  I can't imagine that the "authorities" would try to keep something like a wild animal escape secret.

Step three is carry enough gun.  Now, I don't know that you can use the excuse, "but Honey, the lion from the zoo 12 miles away might escape and I just want to protect our family," to run out and buy a .460 Weatherby Magnum Mark V.  Although, if that works, please let the rest of us know!  A reader commented on Facebook that a 12 gauge shotgun has been used to take every type of African game.  It would be very reasonable to have a handful of slugs on hand if this is a risk you might face.  If your shotgunning has been limited to birdshot at the skeet range or the dove field, you'll want to practice with slugs.  They recoil far more than shot, and you have to aim more like a rifle.  While a standard 1 oz. rifled slug is always adequate, I'm a big fan of the saboted Brenneke slugs for accuracy and impact.

A lot of folks are asking, "why didn't they use tranquilizer darts on them instead of killing them?"  We had dart guns, but they were only used under very controlled circumstances and always with a veterinarian and a paramedic on scene.  The tranquilizer for large African game was so potent, that if it hit a person, it would kill them pretty quick.  I remember once one of my coworkers just got a drop of the tranquilizer on his bare skin and it started affecting him right away.  From the way this situation was described, it would have put the public at great risk if they had to wait for vets and dart guns.  It's not something that your animal control officers typically carry in the truck.  Also, it also doesn't always work.  Animals frequently die after being darted, or can attack after being darted. 

Despite having darts available, we seldom used them.  Every morning, as we went to the tiger hut to let them out into the preserve for the day, the first person in the door went in with a 12 ga. Remington 870... just in case a tiger got out of a cage inside the hut overnight.  The guys working hoofed stock carried a .375 H&H magnum for the Cape buffalo.  I remember once getting out of the truck to dump the bag of food on path for them while my partner stood by with the .375.  They were just barely off the road in the brush, and were barely visible.  "They" say that Cape are the most dangerous of all the African big 5.  Another time, two of the rhinos that did not get along got out of the house into the pen together and they began fighting - it would have gone to the death.  The director tried to nudge them with a full size pickup.  One hooked his horn under the side of the truck and jerked his neck.  He slid the truck about 25 feet across the ground and slammed it into a wall.  It took two fire hoses, and some 12 ga birdshot to the butt to finally break them up and get one back in the house.  When my place was shutting down, we shipped out animals to other zoos and preserves all over the country, and many of them had to be darted to get them loaded up.  When we were moving the Cape buffaloes I was on .375 duty, in the bed of a truck, poised over the roof, ready to shoot them if the dart failed and they attacked a person.  Luckily, the dartting worked, and they went down with little trouble to be forklifeted into their crates.  Unfortunately, one of them ended up dying in transport.  I just want the armchair zookeepers to realize that using tranquilizing darts is not as easy or safe as one might think.


Product Review: Mandoline Sli... ummm Quick Clot

Dehydrated Apple Time - Or Is It?

Sunday we went to Carter Mountain, across the street from Jefferson's home at Monticello, and picked about 70 lbs. of apples.  Fifty are Fuji for me to dehydrate on the Excalibur, and the rest were Stamen for my wife to bake and hopefully can.

Tonight I broke out the mandoline slicer and... using my fingers, instead of the provided safety holder... sliced the ever-living mess out of the tip of my thumb.  Stupid! The blood was flowing like water.

I had a small 2x2 inch Quick Clot pad in my EDC kit, so my wife got it out for me and I doubled it up on the wound.  That stuff works!  It didn't immediately stop my bleeding completely, but it slowed it significantly.  After soaking through the Quick Clot pad and a wadded up paper towel, I pulled it off to put a fresh gauze pad on.  It had stopped bleeding after about 10 minutes, but I think a few days of bandaging will be needed.  It's about the size of a pencil eraser, and pretty deep.  I'm guessing the flap of skin will die and fall off eventually.  I'm pretty sure that a larger size Quick Clot pad would have done the trick totally.  I will definitely do what I've been planning, and buy a bunch of them for our various first aid kits.

More on the apples when I get my giant thumb turban off so I can type better.


CDC Comic Books?

Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic

Here lately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been using a "zombie" apocalypse or pandemic to promote preparedness with a touch of humor.  I don't know if it works with the general public, but the prepper community has been enjoying it, and it can make for a light-hearted ice breaker for a conversation with non-prepping family and friends.

Today, the CDC released two comic books (or "graphic novels" in the lingo of the kids today) entitled, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic, parts 1 and 2.
Read the Zombie novella, for an accessible PDF version, click the link below this image. Read the Zombie novella, for an accessible PDF version, click the link below this image.


The story starts with a couple watching a scary movie, then the wife goes up to bed.  The husband and dog keep watching TV when news comes on alerting to a virus running throughout the Southeast causing a zombie reaction.  The news and CDC encourage viewers to gather basic emergency preps and to stay inside.  The husband and dog go down in the basement and gather supplies, including an old battery operated radio that his dad used during storms. 

As the night progresses, the sweet, old lady from next door comes over and tries to kill the man, as she is now a zombie.  He gets her out of the house as the wife comes down and learns the news.  The CDC rapidly develops a vaccine, and the story shows the process for getting it out to the citizens.  Meanwhile, the couple decides to go to a shelter and we learn the importance of keeping gas in the car.  At the shelter, armed, camouflage-wearing troops welcome them in.  Zombies gather outside the school as news comes that a vaccine delivery is on the way.  As the delivery truck enters the school gate, a mass of zombies also gets in and attacks.  The troops exclaim that they can't shoot the zombies because they are citizens too.

Side Note:  To that, I ask, why have armed troops at the shelter if they won't eliminate the threat?  I assume it is to put down conspiracy theories about FEMA camps and show that people should get used to armed troops, but don't fear them because they won't shoot citizens.  This part of the comics really bothers me.  It was not a plot advancement device, and served no purpose.  Why have it be a part?  What underlying message is the CDC sending?  If the armed troops serve no purpose, why not simply have a local firefighter or deputy providing security at the shelter?

Back to the plot: As a zombie grabs the husband, he awakens from his dream to find his wife and dog leaning over him.  He tells about the dream and that he thinks they should prepare.  Just then, a storm approaches outside.  He goes in the basement to find his dad's old radio, and as they hunker down with the radio, they agree to go out in the morning and build their prep supplies.

All-in-all, this was a pretty entertaining story to get non-preppers interested.  It kind of showed what we talked about yesterday.  Prepping isn't just for the giant disasters, but also for everyday storms and daily living.  It is hard to read, at least on my screen, but check it out and think about sending the links to your non-prepping friends and family.


Not Why We Prep

It Ain't All About Breakdown

This afternoon, I bumped in to an old, very close friend at a store.  In fact, he was one of my roommates in the old farmhouse during the countdown to Y2K and was heavily involved in prepping with me for it.  Today, he said that he was on board for Y2K, but that he couldn't do it "this time."  He reads this blog, and he listens to Glenn Beck, along with other commentators, and he hears the talk of the economy and sees the natural disasters, but he also keeps a roof over the family's heads, keeps food on the table, educates his kids, and other every day things.  In his mind, he can't worry about what might happen because he has to concentrate on what happens every day.

That conversation today got me to thinking...   When many people think of prepping, they think it is only for the acute disaster or a long-term descent into chaos or collapse.  But that's not what it is about.

A premise of modern survivalism that I attribute to Jack Spirko is that everything we do to prep, must be a positive in our lives, even if nothing bad ever happens.

A saying I like to use is, "Eat tomorrow on today's dollar."  I often adapt that to reflect whatever the topic is...  "bathe tomorrow," "dress tomorrow," or even "shoot tomorrow."  In other words, buy things now when they are available and on sale, and then you won't have to spend more money on them later.  Nothing is going down in price.  I don't have 200 rolls of toilet paper just on the off chance that we become a third world nation and it becomes unavailable, I have it because I got it on sale, and I never have to worry about running out like folks who buy a 4 pack at a time do.  Same thing with tooth paste, soap, deodorant, and other hygiene items.  If I had growing children, one of my strategies would be to buy clothes and shoes for them in the next few larger sizes for coming seasons when they go on closeout at the end of the previous seasons.  I buy ammo in quantity and on sale.  I know it won't go bad, and I'll use it at some point.  Again, nothing is going down in price (a possible exception might be electronics) so I can beat inflation if nothing goes wrong, but I'm also prepared if things do.

My garden helps me eat healthier now, and can help feed us during a breakdown.  Changing my own oil and doing routine maintenance saves money now, and improves my basic mechanical knowledge if I breakdown on the side of the road.  Brainstorming tactics for a hostile situation exercises my brain and provides a mental escape now, and can give me a distinct advantage if I face a situation for real.  Getting out of debt frees up money for long term savings, plus improves our current lives now, and gives us a distinct advantage if there is an economic collapse or we just lose some income.  Everything we do to prepare, helps improve our lives today.

Sponsor of the Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Essential Packs.  They have a huge variety of pre-built emergency kits for every environment from home to auto to school to office.  They have some new kits, as well as some great sales going on now.  I particularly like the clock radio with the built-in NOAA weather alert.  Looks like a great way to keep a NOAA radio in the bedroom without having an extra plug getting used or more dresser top space.  Check out Essential Packs, and please tell them that you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.


Operation Exfiltration

Occupy Richmond Report

Today was the big day...  Carried the ladies to the theater and monitored the Occupy Richmond across the street, planning for an extraction from a hot LZ if needed.

When we got there, there was an abortion rally already going on in the park, complete with a stage and a PA system.  I started with my planned observation post on top of the parking deck, but my view of the park was blocked by trees.  I walked down to the corner of a dorm building, right across the street from the rally and took up a position there.  I had a small emergency kit with me that included some N95 masks and I was wearing wrap around shooting glasses, just in case things got out of hand and the police started deploying OC spray.  I found a couple of empty parking spaces on the side street very close to the intersection, so I went back and moved the BOV down.

That rally ended with no disturbances, and then the occupy group started moving in.  The stated objective of the Richmond group was to end the Federal Reserve.  That's actually something I agree with them on.  The problem is that every radical leftist with a progressive agenda piggybacked on and signs represented anti-nuclear, tax the rich, free college education, free health care, anti-Israel, and everything else you can imagine were being carried around. 

Thankfully, all remained peaceful.  When we pulled out after the play, there were about 350 protesters, and probably 20 police.  I hope the Richmond group has some class and keeps things peaceful... but I'm glad I had plans and preparations in place just in case the turned bad early.



What Would Glenn Beck Do?

Last night, on his GBTV show, Glenn Beck revealed his plan for preparing for the coming times.  He posted a list to his website of his suggestions that he sent to his family last weekend.  I'm posting his list here in it's original form.

Original Link

What can you do to prepare?

Glenn is explaining on GBTV right now what you can do to prepare for what he believes will be difficult times approaching. The list of he sent to his family and his producers will be posted in it’s raw form at 6:30pm ET. You can tune in to catch this special for free by signing up for a two week free trial! This will be available on demand shortly after 7pm ET.











All in all, a pretty good list.  If you have family and friends who aren't preparing, this is a good way to introduce them if they are not Beck haters.

Tornado Update

Turns out the tornado here yesterday was a little worse than I originally heard.  Turns out that 30 homes were damaged, including five that are uninhabitable.  One person was injured.  The elementary school lost part of its roof...  Same elementary school that lost part of its roof with Hurricane Irene in August.


Close Calls


We've had an interesting day around here.  Louisa County, ground zero of the earthquake in August, had a pretty stiff aftershock yesterday.  Today, they had a tornado touchdown.  A house that was built in 1746, and lost a chimney in the earthquake, had its roof ripped off by the tornado.

Closer to home, a tornado moved through three counties, including mine.  It did a little bit of damage a couple miles from the homestead, but nothing major, and no injuries.  It passed over less than a mile away. 

Glad we have the NOAA radio for the house.  I still need to get a CB/NOAA radio for the Element.  I was on the way home and just happened to hear the alert on the AM radio instead of listening to a podcast.


Entertainment In A Breakdown

What?  No TV?!?!?!

Or, no internet, no Kindle, no iPod, etc...  Whether from a solar flare, an EMP attack, or maybe just an ice storm knocking out power for three weeks, a good percentage of SHTF scenarios include a loss of power and utilities.  As fun as it sounds, you probably won't spend all your time running patrols, sitting in the observation post, or putting the family through intruder drills.  You're going to have down time and will need to fill it.  Not to mention, your spouse, kids, and anyone else you have around will need to fill that time too.


Naturally, books are a fine way to fill time.  Have a wide variety for all age levels that might be there with you.  Have different genres.  A great way to build a breakdown library is through thrift stores, yard sales, and library sales, where you can usually get paperbacks and hard covers for pennies on the dollar.  It's not uncommon near the end of a yard sale to walk away with a whole box of books for 25 cents or a dollar.  You can always pass on the ones that are completely out of your interests.


All right, it's just a fancy word for a diary, but it can be a good way to occupy time, as well as a learning tool.  All the great thinkers in history kept journals.  Thomas Jefferson's gardening journal is a treasure trove of information.  All you need is a notebook, and a bunch of pencils or pens.


Games can be great for all ages, but especially for younger children.  Get some classic board games like Monopoly, Risk, Battleship, Yahtzee and Uno.  There's a lot of newer games out these days too that are loads of fun.  One we particularly enjoy is Apples to Apples.  If you have very young children, get a couple like Chutes & Ladders and Sorry.  It's also good to learn some games that you don't need to buy, but can make up right in your living room.  Things like charades, Pictionary, Eye Spy.  Of course, have a couple of decks of cards around too.

Grown Up Fun

Of course, if it is just you and the spouse, or you have a place for privacy, there's the oldest fun around.  Why do you think families were so much bigger back in the olden times?  Sure, they needed extra farm hands, but also there just wasn't anything else to do after night fall...

These days, we don't really need the large families for a labor force, and if your SHTF is due to economic collapse, you probably don't need any extra mouths to feed, so if you have not been "fixed," you really ought to stock up on prophylactics.  That ought to raise some eyebrows when you wheel a cart full of Trojans up to the register at the Sam's Club.

Other Suggestions

What non-electric games or other activities that your family enjoys that you could suggest to folks on here?  Do you have a scheduled family game night already?  Even without a breakdown, it's great to turn off the idiot box and spend time interacting with the family.


Making Good "Cents"

Money Is A Crucial Prep

I'm currently reading the American Apocalypse series.  I'll do a full review when I finish all four books, but the first one, I think, really gives a good picture of what a slow, but severe economic collapse might look like.

Today on The Survival Podcast, Jack discussed some thoughts on the economy and his recent conversations with Fernando Aguirre, aka FerFAL, the author of The Modern Survival Manual, detailing his life with the Argentine financial collapse.

Also today, Rourke at Modern Survival Online reposted Larry Winget's recent blog post about 5 things that he is doing personally in challenging times.  You may not know his name, but you probably know who Larry is.  He's the bald guy in the Roy Rogers cowboy shirt that is a motivational and business speaker and writer.  So why is this important to us?  Well, he talks about money, but he also reveals that he is preparing.  He even calls himself a prepper.  He's one of us.  The lifestyle is really growing in the mainstream.  Check out what he has to say.

Finally, I'd like to turn you on to a blog that I used to read very regularly, and I've recently started going back to, The Simple Dollar.  Trent Hamm went through what he calls his financial meltdown, and writes about how he overcame it.  He also includes money saving tips, sound consumer financial advice, and answers reader questions.  Much of what he writes about as money saving tips are very adaptable to a prepper lifestyle.

Occupy Richmond

Lots of feedback on yesterday's post.  Some positive, some negative, and one of my biggest readership days in the past couple of months.  I'll be sure to report back how it goes.


Hippies and Commies and Freaks, Oh My!

Preparing For the Occupy Crowd

I support anyone's right to peacefully assemble.  I don't believe they have the right to disrupt commerce, destroy public and private property, or scare "the straights."  I'm sure you've all seen the recent reports of the Occupy Wall Street and thier clones doing things like, defacating on a police car, trying to take over the Air & Space Museum, making public streets filthy, and generally being spoiled little rich kids.  I'm sure at some point, this was planned as a noble cause, protesting for justice, but it has devolved into a mass of disorganized malcontents with no common goal other than being a part of something.  Within that group, there is further involvement of some with actual malice and harm being their goals.  That smaller group, has the potential to lead the rest of the herd into eventually causing riots and violence, ala London, Paris, and the "Arab Spring."  My advice in the cities where the occupiers are already campaigning, is to stay away if you can, but be very warry if you go there.

Well, I'm about to put my ideas to the test.  You see, Occupy Richmond will begin next Saturday in a park next to Virginia Commonwealth University.  When I was a young VCU student, those of us with conservative leanings called it Viet Cong University because of the radical leftists that filled much of the campus.  I was actually in a counter protest against the wannabe hippies protesting the Persian Gulf war before my unit was activated to go.  I was interviewed by the local TV news and said, "the young ones are cowards and the older ones are trying to relive the 60's."  Hopefully I've become a bit more articulate with age, and also a bit more tolerant of others.

So why am I going to be there on Saturday?  The park is right across the street from The Landmark Theater (formerly the "Richmond Mosque," an historic theater that was originally a Masonic Temple and venue that has seen everyone from Frank Sinatra to Willie Nelson to countless showings of the Nutcracker - Check out the current Jeff Dunham show on Comedy Central - it was filmed there).  Anyway, my wife, neice (don't tell her, it's a surprise) and mother have tickets for the matinee of Wicked that afternoon.  The original plan was for them to go, enjoy the show, and come home, leaving me to work on the yard, load some ammo, and do some reading.  That is no longer the case.

I'm not going to ask them not to go.  The occupation is not scheduled to start until right before the show ends, so I think it is still OK for them to go... with some precautions. 

Here's the plan:

I will drive, and drop them off right at the entrance, about an hour before showtime.  I'll park on top of the nearby parking deck where I can see the park and the theater.  I'll sit up there in a lawn chair, reading a book and smoking a stogie, periodically watching the park through binoculars.  My wife will have her cell phone (on vibrate) and one of our GMRS radios (turned off).  If all is fine, she'll call me when the show is over and I'll swoop in and pick them up at a predetermined door, with them waiting inside until I appear.  If I see things starting to get tense in the park, I'll call her on the cell phone.  When she sees my number on her phone, she won't answer, but they will immediately leave and turn on the radio after reaching the lobby, to await exfiltration coordinates.  I'll then swoop in and pick them up and "un-ass the AO."  While waiting, I may stroll among the perimeter of the park, looking for intel and indicators, it just depends on what I am seeing and what my gut is telling me.  I will be armed with a pistol, and two levels of non-lethal force.  I'll have some quality OC spray, as well as my Cold Steel Blackthorn walking stick.

My expectation is that we will be far clear of the area before any unrest begins.  If the occupation started this past weekend and had a week to build, I would probably have different plans, just as I would if they were going to an evening show instead of the matinee.  This group had 200 people at their planning meeting (the radio news revealed that they were doing the same creepy repeat after me chanting as was recently seen on Fox News with the Atlanta group), VCU has a history of left wing activisim, and we have a Federal Reserve branch in Richmond, so this could get pretty big.

What do you think?  Am I missing anything in my plan?  Have you been involved with or near any of the Occupy groups?  Am I missing the whole picture on them?


Book Review: Survivors-A Novel of the Coming Collapse, by Jim Rawles

Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse

This novel, by James Wesley, Rawles, has been long awaited, not as a sequel to his very popular Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, but as a companion novel, taking place concurrently in a different part of the country with a different cast of characters (a few overlap with Patriots).  Patriots has been described as a technical manual disguised as an adventure novel.  Survivors shows Rawles' growth and skill as a writer, and is much more of a real novel, with good dialog, plot twists and turns, well developed characters, all the while subtly educating the reader in some of the finer skills and tools for surviving TSHTF scenarios.

If you are a fan of end of the world literature, then Survivors is for you.  It's 370 pages of adventure, excitement, and page-turning thrills.

Camping with Cub Scouts

We talk about preparing for hard times and thriving during good times.  I look at this weekend's Cub Scout camping trip the same way...  We were in a state park campground, with indoor plumbing just 50 yards away, and the kids ranged from about 6 to 11 or so, so it wasn't a great expedition, but it was a good opportunity to practice some wilderness survival skills.  I had my nephew carry is aluminum water bottle slung over his shoulder everywhere he went.  I toted my Dave Canterbury 5Cs kit packed in a Venturer Excursion Bag from Survival Gear Bags everywhere.  After dinner and skits on Saturday night at the main group campsite, they had let the fire go out to just a small handful of embers.  The Cub leader asked me to restart the fire for s'mores.  I sent boys out to gather twigs and sticks, and despite having so many "helpers" dropping leaves in the pit, I was able to get a roaring fire going again with a few minutes of stacking and blowing.  At one point, my nephew asked me to make him a sharp stick with my sheath knife.  Word spread fast, and I had boys lined up bringing me sticks to sharpen for them.  As we were leaving this morning, I had one following me out asking for another sharp stick.  I felt kind of like Shane.

As we were packing up this morning, a dad in a spot a couple down from ours had a dead battery, but no cables.  My emergency car kit to the rescue, and I got him started with no problem.  Just another example of preps being needed for an everyday, minor annoyance, that most folks have had happen to them, but they still don't prepare for. 

Sponsor of the Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Directive 21, home of Berkey water filter systems and Wise Food Storage.  What you might not know is that Directive 21 now sells the amazing Tattler reusable canning lids and the very high quality, Country Living Grain Mill.  If you home can as a part of your food storage plan, you know that the gasketed lids are the weak point.  The Tattler lids use the same techniques as traditional lids, but can be reused virtually an unlimited number of times.  Have you bought a bunch of whole grain or wheat berries as a part of your long-term storage food?  What are you going to do with it?  A friend has several dozen #10 cans of whole wheat, but his plan is to eat it as wheat berry gruel in a breakdown.  I've tried to convince him he needs to get a grain mill to use the wheat in ways his family will actually enjoy and not rebel against.  The $29.99 mills in the ethnic food section of the supermarket is made of pot metal and will break under steady use.  Nothing I'd want to bet my future on.  The Country Living mill is of the highest quality and has a lifetime warranty.  It's expensive, but worth it.  Visit Directive 21 and please let them know you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.


Cub Scout Campout

Out with a group of little cub scouts camping tonight. I showed how to get a fire restarted with coals and twigs. Also am the go to guy for making sharp sticks. I'll give a full report tomorrow. Doing this post on my phone.


Farmers' Market Follies

Is Your Food Safe?  The Media Want You To Think Not

I'm sure you've all seen or heard about recent stories of the government going after raw milk producers, family rabbit and chicken sellers, and the big-Ag lawsuits against farmers whose crops were contaminated by patented seeds blowing in on the winds.  It seems that there is a move afoot to regulate truck farmers and local markets out of business.  I guess the rise in farmers' markets (a 40% increase in the numbers over the past five years) are cutting into the big-Ag profits, so they need to call in debts from their former executives who now work in government.

This recent article from MSNBC tries to make the case that that locally grown food is unsafe and must be regulated by the government "for our own safety." 

Because that is so effective.  Had any listeria-contaminated cantaloupes or e. coli spinach lately from a factory farm?

The article speaks for itself, but even more loudly speaking are the hundreds of reader comments identifying this move for what it is.  One of my favorites is the guy who observed that most folks shopping at a local farmers' market have enough sense to wash their produce before eating it.

I encourage you to read the article, then think about it next time you are at the Kroger or Safeway produce section.  Then think about it again at your local farmers' market.  Check out the book review I did a few days back on A Field Guide to Farmers' Markets for some ideas on how to use that great, local produce.


Book Review: Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat

Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat by M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the author of TheSurvivalistBlog.net, and is someone truly living what he writes about.  Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat is his first book, and it's a good one.

M.D. was going through a divorce and a job loss when he decided to move to his 2 acres of "junk land" and make a go of it.  This book is for us to learn from his mistakes (I was particularly struck by his septic issues since I think our ground is similar) and also his successes.

The book is organized into chapters that make sense:
  1. Overview
  2. Junk Land
  3. The Trailer
  4. Solar and Generator Power Systems
  5. Water, Waste, and Other Stuff
  6. Security
  7. Stockpiling Water, Food, Guns, and Other Supplies
While this is a great book for folks who are looking to minimize their lifestyles, it also has some great information for beginner and experienced preppers who are still living "regular" lives.  The information on finding junk land was helpful to me.  I don't foresee ever needing to buy remote land to move to, someday it might be nice to buy a few acres as a camping/hunting/recreation spot, and M.D. shares some good ideas on how to do it and get the most bang for the buck.  I got a whole lot out of the chapter on Solar and Generator Power Systems.  His small solar system, which powers most of his life, seems like a great back up for my workshop or what I am looking at doing for our overnight needs during power failures. 

Probably the weakest part of the book is his section on Security, but I really don't see that as a negative for the book.  Volumes have been written on the subject, and he uses a little humor to make some very basic suggestions to the novice.

Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat is 82 pages, and an easy read in a night or two.  Whether you are looking to go Walden Pond, or just broadening your knowledge base, I can heartily recommend it.


Are You Healthy Enough To Survive?

How Well Will You Hold Up If It Hits The Fan?

Face it, we are all getting older.  With age, things stop working as well and when they break, they take longer to fix, if they can be fixed at all.  And of course, if we don't take care, more things will break.  I'm in my mid-40s.  I'm far from being the 163 pound teenaged Marine that I was at one time.  I'm not even the 185 pound young cop fresh from the academy that I used to be.  The job that I've had for the last 5 1/2 years is pretty sedentary, and I love to eat (ice cream is a major weakness).  I've had to order a new kilt for the fall Celtic festival season because my older ones seem to have shrunk considerably.  Deep down, if I have to do something, I usually can, it just takes me a lot longer.  In boot camp, I ran 3 miles in just over 21 minutes.  With an extra 120 pounds and no training, I can jog/fastwalk/stagger a 5K race in about 48 minutes last time I tried.  I can tote and move heavy things, but I see spots afterward and hurt for a couple of days.

It can't go on like that.  Things ain't getting any better out there, and I think that I need to fix myself so that I am ready to take care of my family when things go down the tubes.  Will I ever be a lean, mean fighting machine or 165 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal again?  Nope.  But I am losing weight and getting back into a semblance of shape.

Last week, I went to the eye doctor, dentist and regular doctor, none of which have I seen on a regular basis.  All in all, everything was pretty good, but there are a few things I need to work on to stay healthy, and I now have the motivation to do it.

What else am I doing?  I've joined a gym near my work.  So far, I've been going on a regular basis and doing a circuit course.  I had forgotten how good exercise can feel.  I've also started following my caloric intake.  I have the free app, "Lose It" on my phone, and it makes it very easy track what I eat.  I'm down about 10 pounds over the past month and a half, and have about 80 more to go.  The more I lose, the more motivated I am and the better I feel.

So, how's your health?  If it could be better, what are you doing about it?  If you truly think that bad times could come, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be as healthy as possible.


The Evolution of the Gun

30 Years of Gun Culture

I thought today that I would share some of my recent musings on guns, where they were, where they are, and where they are going.  I've been a part of the "gun culture" since about 1980 when I got my first .22 at the age of 12.  It's a bolt action single shot, Springfield, Wards-Western Field.  My grandparents bought a pair of them to go on their honeymoon when they got married in the early 30's.  My dad had this one when he was a kid, and they passed it on to me.  One of my cousin's has its partner.

In the late 70's, I found out that there were such a thing as wrestling magazines, and spent every spare dollar on them.  Shortly before getting the rifle, my eye wandered at the magazine rack of the drug store near my house, and I found out about gun magazines.  I was hooked.  Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, American Handgunner, Soldier of Fortune, Survival Guide, and assorted digests.  I was probably getting 5 to 10 magzines a month and reading them cover to cover.  I studied the magazines.  I ordered manufacturers' catalogs.  I even studied up on ATF regs in preparation of getting a FFL when I got old enough.  I could recite the "class III" regulations forward and backward.  This continued all through high school, where I friend once referred to me as "a walking Gun Digest."  I continued like this up until the turn of the century, then kind of drifted away from the magazines.

That is where we get to today.  The technology and types of guns available is so much different than it was back in the early 80's.  Back then, an annual digest was heavy with high quality revolvers and European military style rifles.  Colt had the Python, Lawman, Trooper, Detective Special, Agent, Diamondback... now the only revolver they make is the Single Action Army.  Smith & Wesson had the  J, K, and N frames...  the only lightweight one was an aluminum frame airweight... the Centennial had a grip safety, and a Barami Hip Grip with a Tyler T Grip was the mark of a "professional."  For your battle rifle, if you wanted an AR-15, you got a Colt.  Anything else, you looked at H&K, Galil, Berretta, or Sig.  Maybe a National Match Garand if you were hard corps or an Iver Johnson M1 carbine if you were like me.  In autopistols, you got a Colt Gov't. Model, or perhaps a Commander, Combat Commander or Officer's Model.  Browning hi-Powers also ruled the day.  S&W made tolerable pistols, Ruger was yet to come out with the miserable P85, and there was no such thing as a Glock.

Want a full auto?  They were plentiful and fairly inexpensive.  A Thompson was less than a grand.  If you wanted a gold engraved M16, Thompson, M14, etc... from the American Historical Society, you could also get them in full auto for a few dollars more.

About the worst thing was that you had to sign the dealer's bound book to buy ammo.

And then, 1986 happend.

The McClure-Volkmer Firearm Owners Protection Act passed to remove the stupid ammo signing and a few other items that were good for us.  However, the Hughes Amendment, passed under dubious circumstances, essentially froze the number of transferable full automatics and drove the prices sky high.  That $1,000 Tommy gun from 1986?  About $20,000 today. 

In 1988, George H.W. Bush finished off the importation of many of the fine European military style rifles and carbines.

In 1993, the Clinton gun ban came and fought crime by outlawing bayonet lugs and flash hiders and introduced the "thumbhole" stock to our vernacular. It also drove the prices of standard capacity magzines sky high.  The only good thing was that it drove inventors back to the drawing board and the 1911 was reborn, along with a huge variety of small and light weight pocket pistols and revolvers made of amazing space age materials.

In the mid-90's, the small target rifle company of Kimber figured out how to make a "custom" grade 1911 using CNC machining at a price low enough for the common man (I had one with a 4-digit serial number than I carried on duty for several years).  Also around this time, Col. Jeff Cooper (never mind the Bren 10 failure of the late 80s) pushed for the Scout concept rifle. A lightweight bolt gun with a long eye relief scope... perfect for big, dangerous game of the two or four legged variety.

In 2003, the Clinton ban faded away, and the designers again took off with rifles, shotguns and pistols that look like spaceman ray guns with innovative designs and features.

A look at today's annuals show an amazing variety of weapons of every style, shape and caliber, and to fit every budget.  The really amazing thing is that nearly every manufacturer, large or small, old or new, has a firearm that is based on one either 100 or 50 years old.  Everybody has a version of the 1911 and the AR15 today.

I'm no longer a "walking Gun Digest," but I'm still a member of the gun culture, and today is wonderful time to be one.  If you haven't looked at what's out there lately, do so.  It's a whole new world.  Now if we could get that stupid Hughes amendment out of action...

Survivors Ordering Day

Don't forget, today is the day that Jim Rawles' new book, Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse, hits the market.  I just ordered mine, along with a couple other books that I'll review for you in coming weeks.   As of right now, the book is at #2 overall on Amazon.  Let's see if we can help get him to #1.

Product Review: Buck 860

Buck 860 Neck Knife

When we were out in August and toured the Buck Knives factory, I picked up a Buck 860 neck knife in the gift shop.  I've been wearing it almost daily since then and am ready to give it a fair evaluation.
The knife is 4 1/4 inches long overall, with a blade length of slightly over 1 3/4 inches.  With the sheath and paracord lanyard, it is 1 oz.  Just the knife itself is 0.4 oz.  It comes shaving sharp, and so far it seems to hold an edge pretty darn well.  I've cut packing tape, envelopes, paracord, twine, and miscellaneous other items over the past month and it will still shave my arm.  The two finger grooves, combined with the spine serrations in two places make it very comfortable and easy to use for either fine work or more sturdy efforts.

The paracord is comfortable, but I need to replace it with a beaded dog tag chain for safety reasons.  My sheath is different than the one pictured in Amazon, but I think both are equally useful.

If you are in the market for a small neck knife for EDC, the Buck 860 is a value priced, but high quality and useful blade.


Time To Plant

Fall Gardening

It's finally cooled off for the season (I hope).  The ground is good and moist, and the compost is ready to spread.  Time to get that fall garden in the ground.

Here's my plan for the fall:

Lettuce - I've got some great organic seeds that have been very productive for the past two springs.  They're a variety, so it will make for nice mixed salads.

Carrots - I had some trouble with my spring carrots.  They didn't grow more than stubby finger sized.  If the fall harvest is similar, I'll try a different seed next year.

Radishes - I didn't plant any in the spring, so this should be a nice fall treat.  I love radishes and am looking forward to slicing them up on my salads.

Beets - I've never planted beets before, but I really like them.  With any luck, I might get treated to some pickled eggs in beet juice for Thanksgiving. 

So, what are your plans for your fall garden?

Sponsor of the Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Shelf Reliance.  Having recently moved into a new headquarters, the folks at Shelf Reliance are having some great sales right now on their Thrive brand food products and on their food rotation storage systems.  I'm going to get a couple of Pantry model Cansolidators to help organize our shelves some more.  Visit Shelf Reliance for high quality foods, rotation systems and other camping, preparedness and survival gear.  Please tell them you heard about them from If It Hits The Fan.


Monthly Tasks

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?
Test run your small engines and equipment?
Checked the belts, hoses, filters and tires on your vehicles?

Book Suggestion

Jim Rawles is getting ready to release his new novel, Survivors: a Novel of the Coming Collapse with a planned "book bomb" day on  it's release date of Oct. 4th.  I just got my latest payment from Amazon from the commissions from you folks using my Amazon links (THANKS!), so I'll be ordering it on the 4th as well.  If you'd like to order this long awaited sequal to "Patriots,"
please go through my Amazon store or links to continue the commissions - at no additional cost to you.

Terrorism Threat Analysis Part 2

Here's my thoughts on the analysis from Friday...  Let me preface by saying that I believe the main threat to America is the lone wolf, a legal resident or immigrant, likely an American citizen converted to radicalized Islam or other extreme belief in prison or on the street.  Just because someone is not a card carrying member of al-Queda or hasn't been to Yemen for terrorism training, doesn't make them any less of a threat.  Perhaps they are more of a threat simply because they are overlooked.  Google the term "sudden jihad syndrome" for a huge number of examples.

Biochemical Attacks - Reports that al-Queda of the Arabian Peninsula is seeking castor beans to make ricin...  I don't see this as a major concern.  Ricin is terribly lethal, but it's fairly easy to make, and castor beans are easy to get... I think that if it were a true threat, we'd already be experiencing it.  I'm sure there are other biochemical threats, but there are easier and cheaper methods out there.

Radiological Bombs - the so-called "dirty bomb."  Again, I don't think it is much of a threat.  It would be fairly easy for them to get the radioactive materials, so why haven't they done it?  It would cause extensive cleanup in the blast area of the bomb, but a car bomb or backpack bomb would cause the same amount of immediate destruction and mayhem, just not the long term residual problems.

Backpack Bombs in Shopping Malls - This is a real threat.  A "lone wolf" can easily make a personal sized bomb that would take out him and a few bystanders.  A small conspiracy group could plot for simultaneous attacks at locations around the country... just three or four would shut down our retail economy and then cause an over reaction like metal detectors at store entrances and M16 toting National Guardsmen at the supermarket.  It's not just shopping malls.  Imagine the reaction if four suicide bombers hit high schools in different parts of the country right at the bus loading section during dismissal, or what about if they mixed in with the crowds waiting to enter movie theaters or amusement parks before the gates open?  Low cost, minimal planning and coordination (thus minimal opportunity for law enforcement infiltration), and impacting places that are generally seen as safe.  This is probably the one that is the most worry for me, as far as the one that is most likely to actually happen.

Vehicle Bombs - These are less likely than personally carried explosives, just due to the quantities and skills needed to make them effective.  Obviously, they have been used successfully in the US, but I think the odds of predeployment discovery are higher.  Again, simultaneous attacks at various locations around the country would have the most long term impact.

Cyberterrorism - This is not something I know a great deal about, so I'll have to take the experts' words for it.  I can say that the IT security guy at work once told me that we were getting thousands of intrusion attempts each day, most of them coming from Africa, China and Russia.  The right attack on a banking system, defense system, or utility system could have catastrophic effects.

Small Aircraft Loaded with Explosives - This is another one that could easily happen; I don't even think the explosives are needed.  Take a Cessna 152 or Piper Cub, two of the most prolific small planes around, and fly it into a crowd at a college football game, Tea Party rally, or a Hollywood awards ceremony.  Do it at multiple football games at small colleges in the mid-West at the same time.  It's not that difficult to earn a pilot's license, and then you can rent a 152 at nearly any municipal airport.  As we recently saw at the Reno air races, just a plane crashing into a crowd can kill 10 or 15 people, no additional explosives needed.  At an air race or air show, it's always in the back of the audience's mind that something like that could happen.  At a small college football game, no one would think of such a thing... and the crowd would likely be denser with more injuries and death. 

Look at the recent arrest of the guy who bought a radio controlled model plane and planned to load it with C4 and hit the Pentagon.  His plan had almost no chance of actually causing any major damage.  For the cost of his extremely high-tech model plane that he bought, he could have gotten his private pilot's license, rented a small plane, and flown it into football stadium at the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, killing far more military leadership than he would have with his remote attack on the Pentagon.

Train Bombs - Again, we don't need to think too hard to come up with a realistic scenario here.  Three killers with vest bombs, one on the NYC subway, one on the DC Metro, and one on the Chicago "El" train, all detonating at about the same time on a morning commute.  Maybe a couple weeks later, two more who were inspired by the attack hit the San Francisco BART.  Might only be a half dozen killed in each attack, but what would that do to the nation's economy if people in those cities wouldn't or couldn't go to work for a few weeks, or the capacity of those systems crashed because of the perceived need for searching all passengers and bags.

Energy Assets - Right outside of Washington D.C., along the I-395 inner loop, is a farm of oil tanks, each of which probably holds a couple million gallons of gasoline or fuel oil.  The same tank farms are located along interstates outside of many major cities.  A car pulls of to the shoulder at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, a couple of guys get out with RPGs

What Else?

The other four risks mentioned in the article are not real specific, and are more organizational and planning oriented.  Things not mentioned that have a history of being done in the US include plowing a car into a crowd on purpose (done at the University of North Carolina and on the Dulles (Va.) Airport connector road); mass killings in malls (Salt Lake City); poisoning salad bars (Antelope, Oregon); seemingly random "assassinations" on the street (fictionalized in "Unintended Consequences" and in the racist screed, "Hunter" - possibly happening for real against transvestites in DC right now).  Of course, who can forget the DC snipers?  A handful of random shootings shut down Maryland, Virginia and DC for nearly a month.  Those two chowderheads probably would have gotten away with it had they not started leaving letters and making phone calls.  On a side note, the priest that they called that ultimately lead to their arrests, was Father Sullivan of Ashland, Va.  He's passed away now, but he married my wife and me.