The Saturday Night Special

...It's Got a Barrel That is Blue and Cold

Most have heard that southern rock classic, but if you are younger than about 30 or so, you might not really know what they mean by Saturday Night Special.

Since the Clinton "assault weapons" ban of 1993, the focus of the gun controllers has been on expensive, high quality, high capacity, cosmetically militaristic, semi-auto rifles and pistols.  Nobody cares about the lowly revolver or pocket pistol.  But back in the 70s and 80s, much of the focus was on small, inexpensive pistols and revolvers that could be easily concealed in a pocket and were of dubious quality.  Part of the GCA 68 import bans related to pistols of "sporting use" to limit the import of such guns as the RG .22 revolver (used by Hinkley to shoot Reagan et al.)

The term "Saturday Night Special" has it's basis in racial and class prejudices.  The liberal, elitist prejudice believed that good, quality people of breeding and money could afford to buy quality weapons, and if they knew the right judges or greased the right palms, they could get a concealed weapon permit, or even just have the police look the other direction.  They believed that it was the white trash and ghetto blacks who could not be trusted to have guns, and would buy, steal or trade a cheap, often old or unsafe, pistol in an alley behind the honky tonk or nip joint so they could go shoot their cheating wife or dice opponent... typically on a Saturday night.  Probably the peak of the bias came when they tried to ban the possession of any firearms by people living in federal housing projects.  These were people who truly needed the ability to protect themselves, and could only afford to do it with the cheapest pistols around.  Somehow, the courts realized that this was completely unConstitutional and overturned the laws... and then came crack cocaine and the associated guns that are still on the list for the gun grabbers, and they forgot about the Saturday Night Specials.

So, now that the history lesson is out of the way, why did I bring it up?  I recently saw on a gun forum somewhere a thread about cheap pistols like the Hi-Point and if a person should buy one if that was all they could afford or if they should continue saving to buy a better gun.  Most of the arguments centered on how much better a good gun because of the features of the cheap guns that made them undesirable... bad trigger pull, heavy, hard to find a holster to fit, picky about ammo, poor sights, etc...  They talked about someone being so disappointed with their cheap gun that they wouldn't go to the range regularly and practice and that it might turn them off of shooting completely.

I think they missed a big point.  The person who is going to buy a Hi-Point or a Lorcin or a similar gun is not likely to visit a firearms forum nor to be a gun enthusiast.  It is likely to be a person with little money but a need for self defense and protection.  There will be some young people who buy one just to have a first pistol, or a spare pistol, and perhaps people who want to buy extras for arming family and friends who show up at a BOL after SHTF, but most will simply be people wanting to defend themselves.

All of this made me think about some of the guns I had when I was young that might have fallen into the category of Saturday Night Special.  The first pistol I ever bought was when I was about 14, and I gave my dad the money to pay for it... a Raven P25 on sale for $39.99 brand new at Southern Gun World.  I put a couple hundred rounds through it over the years, accidentally shot a B&W TV set doing dry fire practice to the Happy Days flipping records during the theme song, and sold it to a lady I worked with in my first security job when I was 18.

Next up, I got my dad to sign for a H&R 9 shot .22 revolver.  IIRC it cost $79.  I really liked that .22 despite the heavy trigger pull and rudimentary sights, primarily because of the 9 shot capacity.  I'm not sure when or why I sold it.

My last foray in to the world of cheap pistols was an FIE .38 special derringer.  The summer I turned 17 I was out in Idaho visiting my grandparents and other family.  My cousin had a friend whose dad took us all to a gun show.  I had $50 burning a hole in my pocket and saw the derringer.  The friend's dad gave the seller my money and I was the proud new owner.  I bought a locking case at the White Elephant sporting goods store and flew home with it in my checked luggage.  Worst $50 I ever spent.  After shooting five rounds, the pot metal firing pin on the upper barrel broke.  Funny thing is, I still have that little piece of broken junk.

So, cheap guns.  You get what you pay for.  But sometimes, that's all a person can afford.  They serve their purpose.


Expo Speaker Schedule

The Complete Schedule Is Out

I really hope a bunch of you will make it to the Self Reliance Expo in Hickory, NC at the Hickory Metro Convention Center on Sept. 14 and 15.  I'm speaking on Saturday afternoon and am really honored to share the stage with some of these heavy hitters in the preparedness world!

Here's the schedule:

11:30 - 1:00 Putting Together a Bug Out Bag with - Jack Spirko
1:00 - 2:30 Preparedness of, by, and for the Kids - Jeff Foster
2:30 - 3:20 Sprouts as an Essential Part of Food Storage - Connie Nielsen
3:30 - 4:20 Preparedness not “Pre-Scaredness” - Mark Price
4:30 - 5:20 Everyday Preps for Everyday People - Sylvia Britton
5:30 - 6:50 Active Shooter Awareness - Adam Francis

9:30 - 11:00 Modern Survival Philosophy - Jack Spirko
11:00 - 12:30 Survival Medicine: When Help is NOT on the Way - Dr. Bones & Nurse Amy
12:30 - 1:20 Working Smarter Not Harder-Tips for Preppers with Disabilities - Vickielynn Haycraft
1:30 - 2:20 William Forstchen - Author of One Second After
2:30 - 3:20 Food Storage 101 - Donna Miller
3:30 - 4:20 Preparing your Child For School Emergencies - Donald Green
4:30 - 5:20 Invictus Presents: How to Plan Effectively/Long Range Hunting - Mainstream Preppers
5:30 - 6:20 Self Reliant Health – Healing Through Knowledge & Truth - Dr. Christopher

With these great speakers and a line up of nearly a hundred vendors (including our fantastic sponsor, Jeff "The Berkey Guy" Gleason of www.Directive21.com) this is an Expo not to be missed if you are anywhere in the SouthEast or MidAtlantic regions.  You can get ticket information here.


Fall Gardening

Lousy Summer

My garden was bad this year.  I started off with the best of intentions, but we all know where that road leads.  My tomatoes have had tons of blooms, but only now am I starting to get any fruit, and only a few.  With Louis being down with an ACL tear and surgery, he has not been able to patrol the back yard on his own, and the rabbits have made a feast of my strawberries.  I had a lot of seeds I meant to get going, but just never got around to it.

But there is hope!  Next weekend I will direct sow my organic lettuce seeds.  It's a variety of 4 or 5 different lettuces, and they always have great results.

Carrots are also on my fall list.  I really love a small, misshapen, organic, heirloom carrot.  They are ugly, but full of flavor.  I just hope Louis is able to get around more to protect them from varmints!

I think I am a little too late for brocolli and cauliflower, but I will give them a shot and hope for a mild fall and early winter.

How was your garden this year, and what do you have planned for your fall crops?


Prepper Ponderings

Is It Worth The Money?

Each of the last three times I've been in a grocery store, I've seen people using the CoinStar machine to cash in a bag or jar of change.  It seems like a lot more than usual.  But I guess it is almost the end of the month and folks are hard up... understandable about why they would cash in coins, but why are they paying 10% as a service charge?  We save our coins up in a gallon glass jug, and cash it in when it gets near full.  It's typically about $250-$300.  I would never think of dumping it in a CoinStar machine and paying $25-$30 bucks for a few minutes of convenience... Especially if I was so hard up that I NEEDED to cash in my change.  As far as I know, banks will still give a customer free paper rolls.  I have a little plastic coin stacking rack that we use that makes it super easy.  I think I paid $5 or so for it years ago.

Ratchet Straps!

Is there a more useful item to keep on hand in the truck tool box?  They are so much more versatile than bungee cords for large items (not to mention safer - ever had a bungee cord snap loose and come back to hit you?) and far easier to get tight than rope.  You can secure loads of trash going to the dump.  You can keep that new furniture (or gun safe) upright in the back to bring it home.  You can keep the generator from sliding around when you take it in for service.  In a complete Without Rule of Law (WROL) situation, you can use it to secure captured looters (although handcuffs would probably work better).  If you don't have any, you really ought to get several in a variety of sizes.  Today I used one to secure my grill in the back of the truck to take to work for an end of summer cookout.

The Latest On Isaac

Isaac is a slow moving Cat 1 Hurricane as he moves to make landfall near the Mississippi/Louisiana border.  They said a little while ago that the storm surge could involve two consecutive high tides because he is so slow.  A lot of heavy rain and long term high winds make for a big risk for trees to come down.  If you are in the area, be careful and alert, and let us know how you fare.


Mental Survival

Ever Heard of Todd Love?

We all have those friends who do nothing  but complain. 

Sometimes it's a co-worker you see every day.
"Hey Bob, how'r you doing?"  "Ohhhh, I had a root canal."

You probably have a bunch of them on Facebook.
"Wow, woke up with a killer headache again.  Just wish I could make it for a month without feeling like crap on a weekend." or "Life just isn't fair!  My life sucks!  I can't BELIEVE that she said that about me!"

This weekend, I heard about a Marine who really made me ashamed of ever complaining about something not going right or not feeling well.

Sometimes things happen that we can't prepare for.  When that happens, we really have only two choices... give up or beat it.  I'm thinking about catastrophic injuries or sudden losses of a spouse.  I'm sure we all know people who have come out on top from one of these situations, but we also know people who just gave up.  I figure that if you are mentally tough enough to beat it, then if that catastrophic loss does not happen, that toughness will be a huge asset when any SHTF situation happens.

Let me tell you about Cpl. Todd Love.

A 20-year-old Recon Marine, Cpl. Love jokes that he was sent out to look for IEDs, and he found one.  In October of 2010, he lost both legs at the hips and most of his left arm.  Four weeks later, he was able to get himself in and out of his wheelchair.  By April of 2011, he was home to Georgia on leave, then back to Bethesda for another 18 months of physical therapy. 

There are a lot of people that would get such an injury and just lay in bed feeling sorry for themselves, and fading away.  This is the picture of Todd Love that I saw this weekend of him running with Team X-T.R.E.M.E. in the Spartan Race 10.5 mile mud run in Leesburg, Va.

If we can develop just a small percentage of the mental toughness as this Devil Dog, we'll be so far ahead of the game during a disaster... whether it's a widespread TEOTWAWKI event, or a localized or personal disaster, the mental part is key.

Todd Love, if you ever see this, then let me say, as an old Marine Corporal myself, Semper Fidelis, and thank you for your service and your motivation.


Is Prepping a Moral Imperative?

Nasty Weather Even Without a Hurricane

I've spent much of the past day and a half dealing with Emergency Management in the city where I work to establish shelter operations for several apartment complexes that were flooded by a combination of heavy rain and high tide.

I think that far more people would take it upon themselves to prepare if they could get a look inside a public disaster shelter.  It's crowded.  People have varying levels of patience and understanding.  Hygiene is not at its best.  You have no privacy.  The person in the cot next to you might be an addict or alcoholic in withdrawl, a sex offender, or other undesirable.  If you get a cot, you might be one of the lucky ones.

I do understand that some people are unable, for what ever reason, to prepare on their own.  It is for those people, that the rest of us who are able-bodied and able-minded have what I believe is a moral obligation to prepare.  By being prepared, we free up limited public resources for those who can't.


Are You Ready For Isaac?

... And I Don't Mean Your Ship's Bartender

That picture cracks me up!

But seriously, Hurricane Isaac is heading toward the Keys, then on up to Alabama and Georgia.

Now hopefully, if you are already reading If It Hits The Fan, and you are in the path, you won't need to rush out for milk, bread and toilet paper like all the unprepared folks out there, but there are a few things that I always need to do for the last couple of days before a hurricane comes to town.

Make sure the generator is running right and top off any empty gas cans.

Have a plan to evacuate ahead of the masses if you think you might need to.

Secure lawn and patio furniture, toys, tools etc...

Grab a little extra cash from the bank. 

How's the chainsaw?  Good and sharp?  Running well?

Anything in the blackout kit need replacing or checking?

Clean out the gutters.

And, just make a quick check of your regular preps.

I hope that any readers in Isaac's path will come through with no troubles.  Afterwards, please check in here with the comments section or on the Facebook page to let us know you are ok.

As I told one reader of Facebook, Hunker down and be safe!


Neck Gun?

Yes, I AM Happy To See You

I almost always wear a small Buck 860 neck knife that I reviewed back in October of last year.  Whether opening a box, or cutting up my chicken breast for lunch, it is a very functional little tool.

I am a big fan of the North American Arms Mini-Revolver and often carry one either in my pocket, or in a basket-weave, wet-molded, belt holster that I made.  I reviewed it this past February.

The other day, I was talking to a friend who has access to a Kydex molding machine, and I mentioned that it would be pretty good to make a small, Kydex holster for the mini-revolver to hang upside down from my neck.  He told me of his idea...  Get a base for a quick detachable sling swivel, drill and tap the grip frame of the little revolver so that it fits the machine screw of the swivel base, and wear it on an elastic cord around the neck.  I like the basic concept, but not completely.

With the elastic cord, you have the benefit of just dropping the pistol and having it be secure... but I think that with as little of a secure grip you have already, that if you stretched the cord tight to shoot, it would interfere with your grip.  My modification to the idea is to use a dog tag chain.  If you need to use the gun, you just jerk it away from your body and the chain easily breaks.  I mentioned in my review that I used to know an old undercover cop who carried one around his neck, but his chain went through a hole drilled in the grip panels.  Using the screwed in sling swivel base will, I believe, give it a thinner profile and a better grip.

I'm going to try and pick up the swivels this weekend, and my buddy with the Kydex machine is going to get both of our guns drilled and tapped.  I'll let you know how it works.


Prepper Ponderings

Covered Bridge Home

I'm looking at a neat show on HGTV right now called "You Live In What?" where folks have converted other buildings to homes.  An old ice cream factory, a train depot, that type of thing.  One really cool one with potential for preppers was built on an old bridge crossing a good sized creek.  By necessity it is narrow and long, but very well built with lots of comfort and conveniences.  As a prepper, I was intrigued by they ability to exit on either side of the water (or even straight down into the water), the running water under the bridge, and the wooded, secluded environment.

Green Living Festival

For those in the Hampton Roads, Virginia region, there is a Green Living Festival at the Newport News Midtown Community Center (570 McLawhorne Dr.) on September 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Free admission
  • Over 70 vendors
  • Earth-friendly lectures
  • Farmers' Market
  • Children's activities
  • Live music and entertainment
  • Fitness and health demos
They are also having rain barrel workshops at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  The workshop costs $40 and you need to preregister at 757-591-4838.

For more information, please visit www.NNMasterGardeners.org.

I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to go, but if I do I'll let you know and I hope to meet some readers there.

Off Grid Green Living Center

Last weekend I was way over south of Richmond when I noticed a building on the side of Midlothian Turnpike (the epitome of urban sprawl) with a sign that said "Off Grid Green Living Center."  Intrigued, I stopped in on my way back past a little later.  Inside, I found a nice lady named Lori, who is the general manager, a few water barrels, and a bunch of solar panels.  Lori told me they just got a contract to install the largest residential solar system on the East Coast at the home of a local multi-millionaire who was the CEO of a long time Fortune 500 company that sold out a few years back.  I don't remember exactly how big she said it would be, but I think it was like 102,000 or 108,000 KW.  Most residential ones are in the 5,000-8,000 KW range.

Lori said they sell and install turn-key solar systems, but they also offer the unique service of solar training systems to electricians, building inspectors, and other businesses.

In the next couple of months, they will be opening a new section of the store dedicated to preparedness with gear and long-term storage foods.  They will also use the classroom facilities to offer preparedness classes on a wide variety of topics.  I'm looking forward to that.  You can check out their website at www.OffGridGreenLivingCenter.com.


Tactical Tanking Up

Fill'er Up With Situational Awareness

There are typically four or five gas stations that I fill up at on a regular basis.  Each has its advantages and disadvantages.  I've been thinking a lot lately about better ways to fill up, especially if times are getting bad and crime is getting worse.

Station Choice

Be careful where you fill up.  To do that you need to plan ahead.  Don't wait until you are running on fumes.  When I was driving my truck every day, I could fill up every other day and never much below a half a tank.  With the Element, I get better mileage, but it is a much smaller tank.  I just can't bring myself to fill every day to keep it above a half, so I normally let it get to between a quarter and a third and fill up every other day like I used to.  I plan a day in advance of filling up, and use that time to scout out prices among my usual stops.  If I find an unusually low price on my route, I sometimes make an opportunity purchase, but for just a few cents a gallon, I go to one of my regulars.  I base my normal stations on relatively low prices, usual availability of an open pump, the way the pumps are positioned in relation to each other, if there is a hook thingee to keep the pump handle squeezed, and to the store, and ease of ingress and egress from the road.

Approaching The Pump

I like to pause for a moment after entering the lot and observe the pumps.  I try to choose one without other cars at the adjacent pumps and where I can be pointed relatively straight at the lot exit.  I pull in on an angle with either the front or rear of my rig forming a wedge with the pump island.  If the front is angled in, I keep my driver's door closed, and fill up with my back to the car and the pump handle on my right side.  That puts me between the hose and the rear bumper, and I can scan my surroundings while pumping.  If the rear is angled in I keep my driver's door open and I stand between the door and the pump handle with the handle on my left while scanning my surroundings.  Either way this gives me a buffer zone that signals to bums or others to not approach me.  If they come near my buffer zones, it signals me to elevate my Jeff Cooper color condition to orange


We have a completely separate account in another bank that we use only for a gas debit card.  I normally hit the "no receipt" button if it is offered.  At one particular gas station I use, I don't have the option, and I make sure to get my receipt when the pump spits it out.  They actually print the card holder's name and the last four digits of the card number on the receipt.  You'd be amazed at how many people just leave the receipt hanging in the machine.  It would be really easy to find one, look up the person's name, and have a conversation like this:
Hello, Mr. Schmuckatelli?  This is Bob from the Visa fraud alert department, we have some suspicious activity on your card ending in 4567.  Can you confirm if the card is in your possession by reading me the entire number?  OK, great, can you confirm the three digit security code on the back of the card for me?   Great, thanks... Now, just to be sure that I am talking to the real Mr. Schmuckatelli, can you confirm your date of birth and mother's maiden name for me?  Wonderful.  Now, Mr. Schmuckatelli, the suspicious activity is for ordering a BowFlex machine for $1,299 for delivery to an address in Puerto Rico, did you make that order?  Well I am glad it was flagged and we got to you in time to stop it.  It's obvious that your card has been compromised, so here's what we need to do.  I'm going to cancel that card right now so no more fraud can go against it and we will mail you a new card.  To what address should we mail it?  OK, great... now please cut up that card and be sure to cancel any recurring charges like a gym membership that you have on it.  OK, Mr. Schmuckatelli, is there anything else that I can help you with tonight?  OK, great.  Please know that the Visa fraud department places our customers' financial security above all else and we are always available to help.  Have a wonderful evening!
I'm pretty confident that at least 50 percent of the population would spew out the information with no hesitation.  Grab that receipt!

Tank's Full

Once I'm full I either hop in, lock up and pull away, or, if I need to grab a Diet Coke or hit the head or something, I pull away from the pumps and park in front of the store.

Filling up with gas is something we all do all the time (unless you live in New Jersey or Oregon).  It puts us in a vulnerable position, but with a little awareness and planning, should not put us at risk.


See You At The Expo!

I'm Speaking at the Self Reliance Expo in Hickory, NC Next Month

I am super excited to be playing a role at the Self Reliance Expo.  I just got confirmation today that I am booked to speak on the Main Stage on Saturday, Sept. 15th, from 3:30 to 4:30. 

The Self Reliance Expo started a couple years back with some very successful shows in Denver, Salt Lake other western cities.  Next month, they are bringing it to the East Coast for the first time in Hickory, NC on Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th.  There will be over a hundred vendors, and I am thrilled to be a speaker along with such big names in the preparedness field as Jack Spirko from The Survival Podcast, Dr. Bones & Nurse Amy, and David Kobler, aka SouthernPrepper1 on YouTube and the evaluation expert on Doomsday Preppers.

If you can make it to Hickory that weekend, you'll be sure to learn a lot of great things from some great speakers and you'll have the opportunity to see, try and buy all kinds of great gear and other items...  And you'll get to meet me! Yay!  I'll be speaking on "Preparing Your Children for School Emergencies" and I'll be on the floor meeting vendors like our great, long time sponsor, Jeff Gleason, The Berkey Guy from Directive21.com

I'll be at the Expo all day on Saturday and really hope to meet a bunch of you guys! 

You can order tickets here for only $10 for both days for adults.  Children 12 and under are free to this family-friendly event.


Happy National Preparedness Month!

Well, Almost...

Here in Virginia, Gov. McDonnell has recognized at the state level that September is National Preparedness Month.  Sometimes, the guy from the government really is here to help...


August 20, 2012

CONTACT: Laura Southard

(804) 897-9732 or 897-2400


This September, ‘Pledge to Prepare” for emergencies Gov. McDonnell recognizes September as National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, an annual nationwide effort to encourage Americans to plan and prepare for emergencies. “Unfortunately, within the past 14 months, just about every Virginian has experienced tornadoes, the historic Mineral earthquake, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee or the recent severe derecho wind storm,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator of emergency management. “These are all powerful reminders that each of us is responsible to be ready for both predicted and unexpected emergencies. If you are not ready, you can pledge to prepare during September.”Families and individuals should plan as though they must go for at least three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or other local services.

To prepare, follow these four steps:

Stay informed. Get free information on what to do before, during and after emergencies at www.ReadyVirginia.gov and www.ListoVirginia.gov . Stay aware of changing weather conditions by monitoring local media reports. Get a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio with a weather band so you can hear emergency information when the power is out.

Make a plan. Discuss, agree on and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, see www.ReadyVirginia.gov and www.Ready.gov .

Build a Kit. Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and those in your care. Start with non-perishable food and water, and then add first aid, prescriptions, flashlights and batteries. Remember supplies for children, those with special needs and pets.

Get Involved: Before a disaster happens, the whole community can get involved in programs and activities to make families, homes and businesses safer from risks and threats. Check with local emergency managers, first responder agencies and volunteer organizations for training opportunities.

“In any large emergency, police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees and power lines are down. The most important thing you can do to help your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and your family,” said Cline. “The more of us who are prepared, the quicker our community will recover.”  

To recognize the significance of National Preparedness Month, Governor Bob McDonnell issued a special proclamation. To view it, go to http://www.governor.virginia.gov/OurCommonwealth/Proclamations/viewproc.cfm?id=166  

Many families and teachers may want to talk with children about emergency preparedness during September. The Ready Kids website focuses on weather-related emergencies and helps educate children ages 8-12 about how they can help their families prepare. In-school materials for teachers also are available at www.ready.gov/kids or by calling 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO and TTY 1-800-462-7587. To learn more about National Preparedness Month and to join the National Coalition of people and organizations who have pledged to prepare in September, go to www.Ready.gov    

This is some good basic information to share with family and friends who are not already preppers, but who need to be encouraged to do so, even if they are not mentally ready for the "full Monty" of prepping, so to speak.  What is your state doing for National Preparedness Month?


Book Review: Holding Their Own II - The Independents

Holding Their Own II: The Independents, by Joe Nobody, Prepper Press, 2012 ($12.95)

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Joe Nobody's first fiction work, Holding Their Own.  Tonight I review his sequel to that, "Holding Their Own II: The Independents"HTOII picks up right where the first book left off.  Joe Nobody gives us further insight into some of the major characters' backgrounds and allows us closer looks at some of the secondary characters.  Some new players are introduced and some get killed.

Much of the story takes place in the town near Bishop's retreat, and Bishop takes on a greater leadership role in the community.  The action is fierce and ongoing with gunfights, explosions, and all the other excitement that makes for a great adventure novel.  There is an exciting rescue mission to an outlaw headquarters, and a mission of mercy to a nearby college town that is under the control of  "the skinnies." It's not all "shoot 'em up" though.

There is plenty of story to support the action and make the book more realistic.  Bishop's family grows... commerce in the town plays a role... and we find out more of what is going on in nearby areas and across the country. 

Not all of the U.S. is in as bad a shape as west Texas.  It seems that parts of the country are under control of the military and the government, while other parts are under "The Independents," a new government, formed from leaders and military units that did not approve of the direction in which the country was heading after the collapse.  What does this have to do with Bishop?  Quite a bit as it turns out, but you'll have to read the book to find out exactly how.  Holding Their Own is shaping up to be a very compelling series, and I'm really looking forward to Holding Their Own III to see what happens next.

The book was given to me by the publisher to review.


Help Wanted

You Can Help Make If It Hits The Fan Better

I really enjoyed writing last night's post about silver in response to a reader question.  One of the reasons I do the blog is to try and help people.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to send them to me on email or on the Facebook page.  You can be as anonymous or as public as you want.

If you have any particular skill, experience or knowledge that you want to share, I'd love to put out a guest post from you.  Just type it up and send it to me in an email.  If you want to promote your own blog or business, include a link in your post and I'll be glad to help get your word out.

You Can Help Get The Word Out About If It Hits The Fan

I've had steady growth over the past three plus years of writing this, and I'm currently ranked in the mid 70s for most popular preparedness blogs.  I'd love to break into the Survival Top 50 by the end of this year (although we are #14 in the Readers' Choice poll, which is pretty darn cool).  To do that, I need to add a bunch of regular readers.  I've got something brewing for next month that should get me a huge spike, and hopefully I can keep a pretty large segment of the new visitors.  But you can also help.  At the bottom of each post are buttons for linking to the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Google +1 and a couple of other social media.  A simple click on one or two of those buttons to share a post that you like on your social media outlets will go a long way to adding new readers.  Leaving comments on posts will add to my Google Analytic ratings, as will putting links on different forums or other places you visit.  It also introduces If It Hits The Fan to new readers.

You Can Help Support If It Hits The Fan

In addition to my regular advertisers who pay a monthly fee to appear on If It Hits The Fan, I have affiliate programs with Survival Gear Bags, Emergency Essentials, Survival Magazine and Amazon.  If you plan to buy from any of those sellers, using the links on my page to enter their website will earn me a small commission and not cost you any additional.  Especially for Amazon... if you enter Amazon through one of my links or the icon for my Amazon store, you don't need to buy anything that I suggest, simply enter through me and then buy whatever you were planning to buy in the first place.  It's that easy.

Last but not least, please visit our great sponsors and advertisers and when you do, let them know that you heard about them at If It hits The Fan.



Hi Yo Ag

Stocking Up On Silver

First, a disclaimer... I am not a silver expert.  I am not a financial advisor.  I'm simply providing information here based on research and personal experience.  If you lose your retirement fund, it's not my fault.  However, if you make a butt load of profit, I would not be against getting a cut of it ;-)

A reader sent me an email asking about buying silver.  He had ordered a couple of Canadian Maples from a dealer in Florida, thinking that as .9999 pure, it would be better than all the other .999 pure.  He was wondering if he made a good investment and if he should continue that route, or if he should try other types of silver.

If I was in his shoes...

First, why do I want to buy silver?  As an investment to turn over into cash when the price goes up?  To hold long term to protect my money against inflation?  For after TEOTWAWKI to use as barter?  Because it's neat looking and I like it?  All of these are legitimate reasons, but all have pros and cons.  If an investment, can you stand the risk if the price goes down?  The spot price as I write this is about $28.17 an ounce.  From 1990 to about 2002, silver bounced around the $4-$5 range for the most part.  The record high was on Jan. 18, 1980 and did not come close again until Apr. 28, 2011.  Both were in the $49 range .  If I was using silver as an investment, I wouldn't try to time the market or buy low and sell high.  I'd either buy on dips and hold... and hold... and hold... and hold... or I would buy a set amount each month, whether $20 or $2,000, and hold, hold, hold.  I also would not put all my eggs in one basket.  I'd limit my precious metals to about 10-20% of my investment or savings dollars.  SHTF barter silver has it's own concerns... Do I have all of my other preps up to speed?  I can't eat silver.  I can't patch a wound with it.  I can't shoot it (unless I'm casting bullets for werewolves or vampires).  Do I have other things for barter? Toiletries, food, airplane bottles of Jim Beam...that type of thing.  Am I out of debt?  All are important questions to ask before I start buying silver for barter or SHTF living.  If I am in the right position to do so, I'd want to diversify my silver.  Some junk silver (pre-1965 U.S. coins), some American Eagles, some mint rounds and bars, some marked industrial silver, some silver grain or shot, perhaps some 10 oz. and 100 oz. bars, some cool private maker rounds or bars... all have their own particular potential uses and benefits.

The second thing I would consider is to look at everything in the price whether buying mail order, the local metal shop, or off of eBay.  Include sales tax (I know, it seems stupid to pay a sales tax to buy money, but that's the rule, around here at least), shipping charges, and gas costs if I have to drive out of my way to a local shop.  The local metal shops have the benefit of paying with cash and no records, and maybe some negotiation wiggle room.  With more and more of the "we buy your gold and silver" shops popping up in every town, I can certainly shop around for the best deal.  On eBay, I can often get good deals on junk silver coins, sometimes paying below spot with free shipping.  With mail order from a big name dealer, I can get quantities that can often not be found at a local shop.

One of the handiest resources I've found is the melt value coin list and calculator at Coinflation.  It's great for knowing how much to bid or offer, and making sure you don't get screwed by a less than honorable dealer.  Ten dimes, four quarters, two half-dollars all equal the same melt value - .715 ounces per dollar of face value.  A silver dollar is actually a little higher at .734 ounces of silver each.  These coins are not easily found, but I typically get a couple of dimes or a quarter in change every year.  If I worked in a business running a cash register, I'd be sure to always have some spare change in my pocket to swap out with any silver coins that a customer paid with.  If I owned a bubble gum or snack or drink machine concession, I'd really check all my revenue close before I took it to the bank.  I also check those Coinstar machines at the grocery store.  The machines will kick out silver coins, and anyone goofy enough to pay a 10% surcharge for cashing in change will often just leave the coins there thinking that they were too worn or dirty to be worth picking up.

APMEX sells every imaginable type of silver that you could want to diversify your holdings.  If I want junk silver, they have it from $1 face value ($22.73) to $1,000 face value ($20,906.60).  Old silver dollars are $28.38 each.  If I had $15,895 I could buy a 500 coin megabox of Silver Eagles.  For as little as $2,899 I can get a 100 oz. bar.  That sounds huge, but it is really only about 6.5 pounds.  They sell BB sized silver shot in bags ranging from 10 oz. ($299.70) to 25 kilograms ($23,525.76).

If I wanted to actually use my silver, I like the American Open Currency Standard which organizes silver trade and barter.  They sell their own AOCS precious metal medallions and work with the Free Lakota Bank as well.

Silver has historic value, industrial value, monetary value, and it can be a great way to store wealth.  If it is right for you, do your research, and don't let a huckster take advantage of you.  I hope some of the information and resources here tonight can help you do that.


Homemade Cleanser Recipes

Something Different

I met a nice lady at the LDS Preparedness Fair last weekend.  She runs the blog, Blanco's Bows where she puts up recipes, sales, thrifty living suggestions and craft ideas.  At the fair, she was showing a bunch of home made cleaners and disinfectants.  She had directions for making them printed out for fair goers, and also put them out on her blog this week here.  She was kind enough to let me share a couple of them with you, but for the other 22 of them, you'll need to visit her blog.  When you do, please leave her a comment telling her that you came from If It Hits The Fan.

Homemade insect repellent

If you are making large amounts of insect repellent, a good rule of thumb is to mix the repellent so it's 5-10% essential oil, so mix 1 part essential oil with 10-20 parts carrier oil or alcohol. For a smaller batch use:
  • 10-25 drops (total) of essential oils
  • 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol
The essential oils that work well against biting insects (mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas) are:
  • cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • lemon eucalyptus or regular eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • castor oil (mosquitoes)
  • orange oil (fleas)
  • rose geranium (ticks and lice)
Safe carrier oils and alcohols include:
  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • coconut oil
  • shea butter
  • witch hazel
  • vodka
I used the Witch Hazel & eucalyptus oil mixture and my son liked it.

Natural Shampoo
  • 2 cups liquid Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (I used the citrus orange)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix together in container. It comes out pretty runny so I put it in a foaming hand soap container and it works perfect! Even hubby who is skeptical of the whole “make your own natural products” liked it.

Give Blanco's Bows a visit and see if you pick up a couple of tips you can use.

Back To Normal Tonight

Had some unavoidable issues come up the past two evenings and was not able to get any posts up for you.  I'll be back tonight with great If It Hits The Fan content.

Thanks for the patience.


Spend Now - Save Later

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Many of us use opportunity buys to stock up on food and toiletries.  Timing purchases to meet the sale or coupon cycle.  If you are in position to take advantage of it, the same principle can used for larger purchases as well.

I visited a friend recently.  He's a prepper.  A couple of years ago he got tired of spending up to $4,000 a year on propane for his furnace, so he bought a used woodstove and installed it.  Since then, he's figured out that he uses about five cords a winter, and maintains a pretty good stack out back.  He cuts some deadfall at friend's and family's houses, and buys some from a guy who delivers it in a dump truck.  He gets a lot of his exercise cutting and stacking.

He's been paying $180 a cord, but his supplier wanted to get rid of seven cords of last year's wood and let him have it for $100 a cord.  It hasn't even finished curing and drying yet, so it will be good to go for at least another couple of years.  He had about three cords all stacked up already, so now he has a full two year's worth ready to go.  He did some calculations, and this $700 investment means that based on BTUs, the heat that would have cost him $4 with propane is going to cost him 26 cents for the next two years.  I know he's glad he was able to take advantage of the opportunity.

While visiting with him, we talked about health and fitness for a while.  I'm fighting the battle to get myself back in "fighting" shape, and my friend has really made some positive changes in his levels over the past couple of years.  He suggested some supplement packs from GNC that he uses.  I went to GNC today and found them with a regular price of $49.99 for 30 days, but on sale for $39.99, a 20% savings.  The sale goes until Aug. 27, so here's my plan.  I'll start taking them and make sure it all works with me.  If everything seems to be going right, on the 27th, I'll go buy two more packs.  When those are gone, I'll need to pay full price.  But, knowing that they are on sale now, I'm guessing that they go on sale on a regular basis, perhaps every four or six months or so.  I'll continue buying, putting aside an extra pack when I can, but when they go on sale I'll be able to by several more.  Over the course of a year or so, I'll get to the point where I have plenty put back, and I'll time my purchases to take advantage of the sale cycle.  It will ultimately save me $120 a year.  Not a tremendous amount, but it's a few extra cans of freeze dried food, some more ammo, or some first aid equipment.


Newport News LDS Preparedness Fair

If The LDS Church in Your Area Does One, Take a Bunch of Folks!

Read all the way through for a great discount code from a new friend of If It Hits The Fan.

I went to today's Preparedness Fair at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Newport News, Va., not really knowing what to expect.  All I had seen was a flyer... no website, no personal recommendations... just a flyer.  Knowing what the LDS church believes and promotes about preparedness, I figured it would be worth checking out.  I thought it might be a similar format to the local Survivor Day seminars I went to last January, with a series of speakers addressing an auditorium.  It was much better.

As I pulled in to a full parking lot, I saw part of it roped off with a some folks out there with tables set up and some displays.  I hoped that wasn't all there was.  I then saw signs pointing inside and when I went in, I was greeted at the lobby by a nice young couple that gave me a door prize ticket.  I went into the gymnasium where I saw it ringed with tables and two more rows of tables in the middle.  I did the "gun show circuit" and started moving from table to table.

At each table, there was a person or two and some items on display.  Most of the tables were staffed by church members with a particular interest or skill in that table's topic.  Nobody was selling anything or giving a canned lecture, it was just conversation with questions and each table had a flyer or two to take on that table's subject.

The tables were: Short term food storage, #10 cans canning, Financial preparedness, Water storage, Water purification, Survival Cove Foods, Geneology, Raised bed gardening, Container gardening, Dehydrating, Thrive/Shelf Reliance, Sewing, Red Cross, Police community services, Sheriff's office child fingerprinting, Honeybees, 72-hour kits, Homemade disinfectants and cleaners, Couponing, HAM radio, CERT, Peninsula Agency on Aging, Grain grinding & food canning, EMP events, more 72 hour kits, Family disaster planning, U.S. Coast Guard, Year supply of food storage, Preparing the home for disaster, and Solar cooking and rocket mass stoves. 

Outside, displayers featured: Chainsaw safety, Generators and power inverters, Vehicle emergencies and maintenance, Suburban livestock, Sprouting, and alternative cooking devices.

I met some very nice people who just wanted to help their fellow citizens learn and be prepared for disaster.  One gentleman I spoke with named Jack Chase had to live with his family for two years on his storage foods back in the early 70s when he was out of work recovering from being stabbed in the gut.  He runs a charity called The Needs Network that helps out people with food, clothes and furniture.  He also operates Chef Noah and provides a ton of free information on his website and on a CD Rom he was giving out with information such as the LDS Preparedness Manual, the FEMA Are You Ready book, and many other open source documents.  I'll be going through the CD Rom looking for information to share with you over the next few days.  He also had a couple of toilet paper alcohol stoves out (you can read about them here) He had a penny taped to the lid, and I asked what the significance was, expecting something about the chemical reaction of copper or an old Mormon tradition or something.  He does it so that you always have something with which you can pry off the lid... a real "duh" moment for me.  Check out both of his sites, The Needs Network and Chef Noah, and please consider making a donation to The Needs Network if you can.  I will do so myself. 

A couple that had their home 72-hour kit on display was also giving out some things.  They had a nice kit showing with all of the basics covered and organized into small, clear bags.  Clothes, food, shelter, water purification, first aid etc...  They keep it in one of those large plastic military shipping crates.  They were giving out little bags with the type of thing that I encourage keeping in your barter larder for charity... hotel soap, tissues, and a toothbrush.  They had another bag labeled as the Hy-Pak Crew Pack that has a couple of paper towels, some toilet paper, and some alcohol wipes - the type of thing that a person who has lost everything would be glad to have to "freshen up" a bit after a disaster.

I was particularly interested to meet the folks from Survival Cave Foods (corrected link).  Survival Cave is a long term food storage company based right here in Virginia.  I had never heard of them before, but I like what I see so far.  They had some samples out in one of those triple crock pot things.  First was the cream of mushroom broccolli cheese (I need to take getter notes) soup from their freeze dried menu collection.  These are a wide variety of entrees, sides, drinks and desserts that are in small serving foil pouches with oxygen absorbers, all stored in stackable square buckets.  The soup was pretty tasty, but a little runny - I'd probably use a little less water.  In the other two pots were from their canned meat collection.  This is ready to eat meat, packed then cooked in the can.  It contains nothing except the meat and a touch of salt.  If you look at a can of chicken from your grocery store, you'll probably see a lot of things that you can't pronounce and have no idea what they are for.  Survival Cave meats have meat and salt... that's it.  The juices come from cooking the meat in the can - no water is added.  The beef was shredded, and would be ideal for shepherd's pie, pot pie, quesadillas, or other recipes.  It was very tasty and great consistency.  The chicken was similar.  They had spiced it up a bit with a regular old fajita spice and it was also tasty with a great consistency.  It would be very nice for a chicken salad recipe.

They had a special promotion going for the fair, and told me that I could share it with you.  Go to their site and place your order in the next 13 days, and use the discount code: PLAN and get 10% off your order.  Please tell them that you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan.

This Preparedness Fair was a great way for the LDS folks to introduce prepping to people who may not have put any thought into it yet.  During the two hours or so that I was there, there were a couple of hundred people passing through.  Give your local LDS church a call and ask if they ever do anything similar.  It might even be an opportunity for you to pass on some of your skills or knowledge.


News Notes

Is The Revolution Coming?

This Washington Times editorial takes a look at a recently released Army contingency plan for using force against "tea party" activists who have taken over a South Carolina town.

Here is the actual document from the Army's TRADOC command that outlines what they see the Army doing between 2016 and 2028.  Part of it specifically deals with "homeland security" actions that are currently outlawed under the Posse Commitatus acts.

Think The Economy Is Getting Better?

Reuters put out this story that reveals that five of the largest banks in the US were told by Federal Reserve regulators to make plans for dealing with their own collapse, without government help.  This all came to light from a FOIA request that the Fed answered with more than 5,100 pages of redacted information.

I have a relative that retired as the CEO of a pretty large regional, multi-state bank in another part of the country.  In a note, I wished him well in his retirement and semi-tongue in cheek mentioned that it was a good time to get out of the banking business... before the revolution started.  I've since heard through second hand information that he and his wife may have left the big city and moved to a very small town in a rural area of another state where they have no familial or other connections.  If true, that could be a further indicator that things are much worse than we are led (or allowed) to believe.

Another Mass Killing

I'm sure you know about the 19 Christians that were killed this past Monday as they gathered in the Deeper Life Church for Bible study...  by the three men who wielded full-automatic AK47s while a fourth cut the power to the church?  Oh, you hadn't heard about it?  Neither had I until I stumbled on the story accidentally.  Seems it just isn't much of a news story when it happens in Nigeria and it doesn't fit the mold of what "THEY" want us to know.


Gun Stuff

Snake Charmer

Do you remember the Snake Charmer?  It was a little single shot .410 shotgun with a black plastic partial stock so that it just barely met the legal minimum length of 26" and the stock had a sliding cover that held four .410 shells at the ready.  They used to sell for about $79 and I always thought they were cool, but never got around to getting one.  NEF makes one these days, but the stock is different and it just doesn't have the same cool factor for me.

Anyway, yesterday while I was on lunch break from my FEMA class in Norfolk, I stopped in at a nearby gun shop.  It was one of those hole in the wall shops that had been there for years, and it looked like the bad neighborhood had grown up around the shop, but the owner was too stubborn to leave.  As I looked around the shop, I saw some great used guns, and a small selection of new ones.  Throughout the middle of the store was a crazy pile of gun cases, accessories, and other odds and ends.  Then I saw it... not the new NEF version, but an original Snake Charmer.  He got it down for me and I checked it out.  It was in really nice shape, but it didn't have a price tag on it.  He pulled up his computer, and at first I assumed he was checking his records, but I later figured he was looking on Auction Arms or a similar site.  He then announced the price as $229?!?!?!  I told him I'd think about it overnight.  I can't imagine he has more than $50 in it and it had been in the shop so long that he had to look it up.  I'd have been real tempted to snatch it up for $100 or $125 max, but $229... not a chance.  It would be great to have in a scabbard on the side of the lawn tractor.

Top Shot Speaks Out

The winner of last season's Top Shot, Dustin Ellermann, recently put out a great essay on the Texas Fish & Game website on the politics of guns, offering sarcastic advice to politicians and media types who want to ban our guns.  Unfortunately, some seem to be taking his advice.  Give it a read here


Media Roundup

Useful Apps

I added three free apps to my iPhone today that might be of interest to you.

First is the Alex Jones Show app.  I have a long commute each day and typically listen to The Survival Podcast, and recently added Dave Ramsey and Alex Jones to my lineup.  Alex Jones is an interesting show.  He definitely sees a conspiracy behind every corner and in every shadow... but is he wrong?  I think he is on the right track with a lot of things, but carries it over the edge for entertainment purposes... but I really don't know.  I wouldn't put it past the powers that be for him to be accurate more often than not.  I used to listen to Art Bell on midnight shifts, and Alex Jones kind of reminds me of him in attitude if not in volume and tone.  Anyway, the app gives free access to the previous day's radio show, anytime you want to hear it.

Next up, I put on a FEMA app (it's right next to the Alex Jones app - do you think he felt a disturbance in the force when I did that?).  The app is pretty basic information, but it would be great for your friends or family that aren't preppers, but you are trying to get them on board.  This is a good baby step.  The app has disaster safety tips, a list for building a 72 hr. kit, instructions on applying for assistance after a disaster, maps to local emergency shelters, links to FEMA online media, and information on volunteering or donating before or after a disaster.

Finally, I downloaded Relief Central from Unbound Ministries.  This app is intended for folks who are going on relief or mission work trips to countries that have been through disaster or other problems.  It is also useful for helping prepare for any international travel.  It has direct links to the CIA World Factbook, a Field Operations Guide for disaster relief, and the CDC Yellow Book with risks for malaria and yellow fever by country.  I don't foresee much use for this for myself, but I have a couple friends currently in other countries who could have made use of it.

I "Heart" Radio is an app I've had for quite a while.  It allows you to listen live to many radio stations around the country, or you can set up your own personal "station" with whatever genre of music you happen to favor.  I've been using it to listen to the Cigar Dave radio show on Saturdays, but this week found that Dave Ramsey has begun his own channel where the continually rebroadcast the previous day's radio show.

Dillon Blue Press

Do you get the Dillon Blue Press?  It is a free digest-sized magazine put out by the Dillon Reloading folks.  Most of it is ads for their various great products, but each issue also includes a couple of interesting articles.  I got the current issue today and opened it up to find what is probably one of Jerry Ahern's last articles... on the Walther P-38.  I learned a few things from it that I didn't know.  You can find out more about the Blue Press here.


FEMA Ain't All Bad

This Is What FEMA Is Supposed To Do

I spent today in a FEMA class on Public Assistance Eligibility.  Back in the day, I always thought of FEMA as the federal agency that served to help local governments get their infrastructure and public operations back up after a massive disaster that overcomes the locality's abilities.  Not to pay for uninsured homeowners to get their roof repaired or for a private business to buy a generator after a storm because they are too trifling to get one ahead of time.  And certainly not to establish "camps" and manage martial law.

Anyway, this class was for local governments and political entities to learn how to correctly apply for federal assistance in rebuilding destroyed schools, washed out bridges, and overtime and bulldozer rental for debris removal.  It was a dry subject but pretty informative and could be useful in my regular job.

The next two days will be classes on Debris Management...  wish me luck (and lots of caffeine)!


Prepper Ponderings

Did You Hear About The Latest Mass Shooting?

No, not the one that meets what the media and the powers that be want us to think about mass shootings. The one late Saturday night where a woman tried to gun down a group getting off of a Detroit riverboat casino and only seven people got shot. 

The media are spinning the Wisconsin one big time, trying to make hay with it coming on the back of Aurora.  I told my wife when it happened that I bet it ended up being a veteran who did not get an honorable discharge, was a racist, and got the Sikhs mixed up with Muslims.  The only place I got it wrong was I predicted an "assault weapon," but this freak just used a single 9mm pistol and changed magazines several times.  It all seems a little too convenient... a veteran (albeit not a combat vet, and received an other than honorable discharge), so Homeland Security has already said that we are prime candidates for domestic terrorism... a racist, that Southern Poverty Law Center claims to have been tracking for over 10 years, but they base that on his white supremacy rock band that he did not start until 2005 and that "he attempted to make a purchase" from a racist organization before that... he used a "legally purchased" 9mm pistol, despite having a couple of misdemeanor convictions... unlike the Giffords shooting and Aurora, he did not use an "evil, high capacity" 32-rnd Glock magazine, he apparently used several standard capacity magazines, and rapidly changed them - which I'm sure will be spun into the need to include all semi-autos in any future "assault weapon" ban

Maybe I'm paranoid or reading too much into this, but the dots connect.  Once is happenstance, twice coincidence, third time is enemy action.  Keep alert out there folks and stay vigilant about what is going on in the state house, congress and the White House.

What's Up With The Silly Grip?

Here's a video that the city of Houston has put out about surviving a workplace shooting.  I guess the basic information they present is good for the sheep out there who are not prepared, armed, or aware.  I don't present it here to give you information.  I want you to notice two things... at 59 seconds, the killer simply ignores the sign on the door barring concealed weapons - how dare he?  Now he's going to get a trespassing charge slapped on him - that'll teach him... and at 4:32 this new way of carrying a carbine at high ready with the stock barely on the shoulder, no cheek weld, no sight picture, and a loose, limp grasp on the pistol grip.  I started seeing this a couple of years ago, but it is becoming more and more prevalent.  I asked a friend "in the business" about it today and he had no explanation for why some do it that way.

Surviving Gunshot Wounds

Of all places, Business Insider just had an article on surviving gunshot wounds.  It is all in the medical technology and response.  One of the few benefits of war is terrific advances in trauma medicine.  Ever seen a Civil War doctor's bag?    It's no wonder Stonewall Jackson died from getting shot in the arm.


Book Review: Holding Their Own

Holding Their Own – A Story of Survival, by Joe Nobody, Prepper Press, 2011 ($14.95)

Joe Nobody is the nom de plume for a survival and preparedness author who has written “Holding Your Ground," (reviewed by me here) "Without Rule of Law,”and “The TEOTWAWKI Tuxedo” non-fiction books. "Holding Their Own" is his first fiction effort.

Here is his bio from his Amazon author’s page:

Joe Nobody (pen name for the author who wishes to keep his identity confidential) has provided systems, consulting and training for the U.S. Army, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Naval Research, United States Border Patrol as well as several private firms and government agencies which cannot be disclosed.

He is currently active in this area and for the security of his family and ongoing business, wishes to remain anonymous.

He has over 30 years of competitive shooting experience, including IPSC, NRA, and other related organizations. He has been a firearms instructor and consultant for over 30 years and holds the rights to a United States Patent for a firearms modification.

Joe initially became involved in helping private citizens "prepare" at the request of his students and clients. A conscientious instructor, he would always inquire as to why they wanted to learn certain skills or techniques and often the response was to prepare for more than just simple home invasion or self-defense. If you ask Joe what his greatest attribute is, he will tell you he is a "problem solver" and uses his formal education in Systems Engineering to this end.

"Holding Their Own" is a in the same line as the classic, "Alas, Babylon;" "One Second After;" and "Patriots". There is a pretty regular guy, a deteriorating world, and the hero becomes more than a regular guy as he leads his family and community through the troubles.

In this story, Bishop is a civilian contractor doing security work for an oil company after a stint in the Army. A crumbling economy is exacerbated by a series of coordinated terrorist attacks on a massive scale that leads the nation into despair and partial anarchy. Bishop and his wife, Terri, first try hunkering down in their Houston neighborhood, but a declaration of martial law leads them to want to bug out to a retreat they have established in the West Texas desert mountains.

Most of the book deals with how they bug out, logistical problems, and good and bad guys that they encounter along the way. In one gunfight, Bishop is seriously wounded and the author does it realistically. In many survival novels, someone gets shot, but as the Black Knight in Monty Python might say, “it’s just a flesh wound.” Bishop actually becomes severely injured and his life is on the line. Fortunately, Terri uses some field medical books and improvised instruments to stabilize him and get him on the road to recovery. In a number of scenes, the author uses real-world information from other resources, as well as things I read about in his “Holding Your Ground” to educate the reader while entertaining.

After a long and arduous journey, Bishop and Terri make it to a small town not too far from their isolated retreat. There, they encounter a group of bandits that has taken up residency in the town and are keeping the citizens on edge. This leads to the end of the novel and sets the stage for "Holding Their Own II – The Independents." I’ll be reviewing that in the coming week for you.

Joe Nobody hit a home run with "Holding Their Own." It is well written, fairly plausible, and keeps the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. On top of that, if you are not careful, you’ll also learn a thing or two that will help you in your own preparedness efforts.

This book was given to me by the publisher to review.


Trip To The Farmers' Market

Ashland, Va. Farmers' Market

This morning, we made the trip to the weekly farmers' market in the town of Ashland, about 30 miles from where we live.  During the winter, I had visited what they call the renegade or outlaw or something like that market where a couple of meat vendors set up for a few hours every other weekend in the off season.  This was my first time going to a full fledged market.

They set up in a small grassy area behind the town hall.  There were probably two dozen tents.  Most selling your usual tomatoes, squashes and zucchinis, but quite a few had exotics like miniature striped eggplant and giant Iraqi eggplants, different types of squashes, and a number of melons.  At some farmers' markets, you get a dude who drives his stakebed pickup down to North Carolina each week and comes back with bushels of green beans and watermelons.  At this market, all were locally grown by the people who were selling them.

Several farms had pastured chicken eggs, and others had different meats.  We ended up buying a bunch of grassfed, pastured beef, some free range chicken, and a pack of sweet Italian sausages from two different farms.  We also got a nice bag of zucchinis and a pack of raspberries.  I picked up two sugar baby watermelons, then had to call the police...

You see, back in 98 or 99, when I was living in a rented farmhouse, the landlord lived next door.  One day he brought us over two sugar baby watermelons... one for me and one for my roommate.  I've never been a huge fan of watermelon and had never even heard of a sugar baby.  A couple days later I tried mine and it was the best thing I had tasted in a long time.  In fact, I liked it so much I also ate my roommate's.  He came home from work that afternoon with a hankering for his sugar baby only to find that I had eaten it.  Over the past 13-14 years, we've stayed close friends, but from time to time he jokingly brings up his sugar baby that I stole.  Fast forward to today.  He is a police officer in Ashland.  When I found some nice looking sugar babies, I bought two and the called him on his cell phone to see if he was working this morning.  He said he was, so I told him to come by the market because I had something for him.  We waited for him at the Jeep, and when he walked up, I thrust a plastic bag holding a melon at him and loudly said, "The feud ends, NOW!"  He immediately knew that I bought him a sugar baby, but I imagine to a tongue wagging, small town gossip gal, it might have looked like I was handing a cop a head in a bag and telling him I had killed my neighbor or something.  As my wife said when I told her that, it's fun in my world.

Anyway, if you haven't checked out your nearest farmers' market, you ought to give it a try.  According to the USDA, last year there were over 7,100 farmers' markets in the US, an increase of 17% from 2010.  You can use this search tool to find a market near you with the products you want.


August Specials

Help Support If It Hits The Fan

When you buy from Emergency Essentials, I'd really appreciate it if you would use the link on their ad in the top right of the blog here.  Doing so will get me a small commission and not cost you anything extra.  It's a win for both of us!

I got the August Emergency Essentials catalog in the mail today, and they have some great deals. 

Provident Pantry Freeze Dried Strawberry Slices $14.99 ($14.49 for 6 or more)

Katadyn Combi Micro Filter $149.99 (31% off regular price) - I've had a regular Combi Filter for about 15 years and love it.  Easy to use and great tasting, pure clean water when out in the boonies.

Several different brands and flavors of emergency food bars (sometime called lifeboat bars) for about a third off

Great savings on metalized storage bags, Gamma Seal bucket lids and oxygen absorbers are all marked down

The AutoBuddy Emergency Light is over half off -I did a review of this cool product back in December of 2010 - the current sale price is even lower than it cost back then.

Quick Clot in two different sizes are on sale - I had to do an unexpected review of Quick Clot in Oct. of 2011 when I cut the tip of my thumb off with a mandoline slicer.

If you are getting ready to start canning your harvest, they have several different stainless steel canning pots on sale

There are plenty of other great things on sale this month.  Use my link and see if they have anything you need for your larder.  Thanks!


Ernesto, Mi Amigo

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch]

He's Developing Faster Than Expected

Well, it's that time of year again for those of us in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S. - Hurricanes are coming.  Ernesto was Tropical Depression 5, and was expected to become a tropical storm this weekend.  He's developed quicker, and looks to be a full blown hurricane by Monday.  He doesn't look like much of a threat to the U.S., but we really won't know if he'll head up through the Gulf until later.

So it's hurricane season... it happens every year.  If you are prepared in general, you really don't need to do anything specific for hurricane season.  If there is a storm heading for your area in a couple of days, you need to do some last minute things such as securing lawn furniture, cleaning gutters, and topping off fuel supplies, but the biggest priority for the whole season is just staying aware.

I check the National Hurricane Center every couple of days until a Tropical Depression forms, then I check daily or more frequently depending on where it is.

I work in a coastal city, and just picked up one of the local TV station's annual giveaway hurricane guide at a grocery store down there. It's a free 20 page magazine with checklists, storm planning and response information, a tracking chart, evacuation routes, flood maps, and advertisements for various businesses that might be of interest to someone prepping for a hurricane.  I'm sure stations in most hurricane areas produce something similar.

My wife found a new app today that looks to be a good thing to have. The Red Cross has developed this Hurricane App for iPhone and Android.  I just tried to download it on my iPhone, but it needs iOS 4.3 and I don't have that.  I need to mess around with the phone to update the iOS.

The Red Cross App has information here... and includes these features
  • One touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows users to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that they are out of harm’s way
  • Location-based NOAA weather alerts for the United States and its territories users can share on social networks
  • Remote monitoring of personalized weather alerts where family and friends reside
  • Locations of open Red Cross shelters
  • Simple steps and checklists people can use to create a family emergency plan
  • Preloaded content that gives users instant access to critical action steps even without mobile connectivity
  • Toolkit with flashlight, strobe light and audible alarm
  • Badges users can earn through interactive quizzes and share on social networks


What Would Happen...

...If Half The Country Lost Power?

Did you see the story about the two massive power outages in India the other day?  India has about 1.2 billion people, and over half of them, 670 million, were without power.  Reports today indicate that the failure was the result of a "technical snag" and infrastructure being "a mess."

Irrespective of the cause, what would happen if 150 million Americans lost power, even if just for a few days?    That would be roughly the states along the East Coast and the Great Lakes... centers of finance, government, media and manufacturing.  Plenty of dense, heavily populated metropolitan areas, but also lots rural agricultural land.

I would imagine that the folks reading If It Hits The Fan would easily be able to make it through three or four days without power.  But what about the people in those cities, and the cascading effects on the economy from everything being shut down?  What about the groceries that would be lost in the stores?  The lack of information from the local radio and TV stations not being able to maintain generated power that long?  People unable to access ATMs or credit card machines... Restaurants being unable to cook food... Gas stations being unable to pump food... Public works, garbage trucks, police cars and fire trucks being unable to refuel or maintain communications without fuel for backup generators...  Airports shutting down...  Schools and businesses shutting down...  Alarm systems being down... Hospitals running out of backup generator fuel...

When I posed this question on Facebook, a couple of folks said they would just Bug In and ride it out.  I really don't know any other way.  I'd run our generators (very secured) and with satellite TV, we could get information from outside of the affected area.  I would be very concerned about crime, but much more so if we were closer in to the city.  Out here in the country, it would still be a threat, but we would be home and I don't see this situation spawning roving hordes getting this far... they'd be to busy in the city.

I don't think this scenario is very far fetched.  There have been widespread power outages in the US before, just not THAT wide... but as interconnected as the national grid is, it could happen.  For the prepared, it would not be that much different than a regular multi-day outage from a storm or something.  For the unprepared, it would cause panic and overreaction because of the loss of services and lack of information.

Just another thing to consider as we prepare.