Growth as a Prepper

It Gets Easier

When Hurricane Isabel hit the week before we got married, I had been "asleep" for a couple of years.  After Y2K, my urge to prep had kind of left me, and I never thought about it.  Our area was devastated by Isabel, but fortunately, we were able to get to my Dad's and take showers thanks to his generator, and we ate out most meals that week without power.  I then had not just myself, but also my bride to think about.

When Tropical Storm Gaston came through the following year, I was more aware, and had started to think more about prepping.  Our area was again devastated, but I felt like we were moving in the right direction with prepping.  I wasn't going 100mph to get ready for some possible event, I was gradually getting ready for whatever might come.  Slowly but surely, like the Little Engine That Prepped.

Over the next few years, we got generators, food, water, defense, a garden, and skills.  We weathered (no pun intended) ice storms, nearby tornadoes, more hurricanes and tropical storms, and even a derecho.  We also worked Dave Ramsey's plan to get out of debt, suffered some family losses and severe illnesses, and still lived our lives.  Each potential disaster that hit us got a little easier to handle and make it through.

Last week, even as Hurricane Sandy bore down on us, potentially bringing devastation and disaster to us yet again, we were probably in the best shape to withstand her fury that we have ever been in.  And wouldn't you know it, she left us relatively unscathed before hitting our neighbors to the north really hard.  had she hit, we'd be fine.  The generators would keep us comfortable.  Our stored food and water would keep us fed and hydrated.  Our life would be a little inconvenienced, but not like it was after Isabel.

I'm very confident in our preps to bring us through any number of disasters.  There is still more we need to do... being a prepper is an ongoing lifestyle, not a one shot deal... but we are making it.  If you are new to prepping or hitting a wall of some sort, slow down, take a deep breath, think about where you are and where you want to be, and make it happen.  Next time you get hit by a disaster (personal, local, regional or world-wide), you'll be better off than you would have been if it hit today.


Stay Out Of The Shelter

It Ain't a Conspiracy Theory - But They Suck!

Reader Steelheart left a comment on the last post asking about community shelters to help talk people out of planning to stay in one during a disaster.

I listen to Alex Jones a couple times a week.  I think he has some good information, and really has an in depth understanding of the darker side of government.  I don't remember if it was him or a caller that talked about the government forcing Sandy evacuees into FEMA camps up in NJ, NY and PA.

Now, I can't speak to what happens in local emergency management offices in other areas, but that's not how it goes around here.  Sheltering operations are costly, time and manpower exhausting, inconvenient, but a necessary evil for the vulnerable populations in a community.

My interpretation of why we have shelters is so that residents who truly have nowhere else to go during a disaster that makes it unsafe for them to stay in their home, have someplace relatively safe to go.  Nearly all of the people seeking shelter are among the city's poorest.  Many have health issues (some mental, some physical).  Some have addictions or criminal history issues.  Most will not maintain hygiene in a shelter situation.  If that is not enough to motivate a person to avoid a shelter, the cots are in close quarters and you will be surrounded by people snoring, screaming, crying and farting.  There is no privacy whatsoever.

During Hurricane Irene we opened two different shelter locations and had about 400 people sheltered at the peak.  During Sandy, we had just a small handful.  We had the shelter set up with about 100 cots.  There was plenty of room to add more if they were needed, but those 100 were set up close together to keep that extra room available.

Here's what it looked like after set up but before anyone checked in:

Oh yeah... You don't decide when the lights go out... and do you really want to sleep around all those strangers with the lights off?

Why do I prep?  So I never have to be in the position of deciding that my wife and I would be better off in a community shelter.  If you have family or friends who say that they plan to go to a shelter, please get them to read this and that they know what they are getting in to.  All that being said, if you are in a position of joining a CERT team or volunteering in a shelter, you can really help those who need it most and may be unable to prepare on their own.

Steelheart - Thanks for the suggestion!


Quick Sandy Update

Dodging a Bullet... Maybe?

Well, I've been tied up with Sandy.  Yesterday I had to go into work for a couple of meetings in the city EOC and check in on the shelter set up.  If you have every considered going to a community shelter during a storm... DON"T!!  Do whatever you can to be prepared enough or have alternatives so that you never have to do it.

This morning I left the house at 0600 to head in to work in the EOC for an expected 12 hour shift.  The trip started fine.  Dark, clear, no wind... oh look, a 6 point buck up ahead... I'll slow down to see what he does...  Good, he's heading in the woods... crap!!! He's coming right at me! BAM!  Daggone deer made a beeline to ram his head in my front quarter panel, slid down the side of the Element, and then ran off in the woods.  That's an insurance claim...

Anyhow, we got the EOC activated and the shelter open... and waited... and waited...  I left about 4 p.m. when we went to a skeleton crew for overnight staffing and we'll be back again in the morning.  Sandy has slowed down her forward movement and moved farther east before she angles in again.  That was good for us but will be horrible for NJ, NY and PA.

While I was in the EOC, at home we lost power.  My wonderful bride got the generator fired up and never missed a beat.  Please make sure that both spouses and old enough children know how to operate your alternative sources of power or heat... generators, solar backup, fireplaces, etc...

Looks like tonight into tomorrow will be the worst for Sandy's affect on us.  We'll be fine, but the rest of the NorthEast needs to stay alert and stay safe!


Book Review & Author Interview: Brushfire Plague

Brushfire Plague by R.P. Ruggiero, Prepper Press ($13.95 on Amazon)

"The Brushfire Plague made the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 look like a case of the common cold."

The publisher, Prepper Press, sent me a review copy of this book at no cost.

Brushfire Plague starts off with the main character's (Cooper) wife on her deathbed from a horrific flu-like illness that is going around in the Pacific Northwest.  Cooper is a regular guy, left devastated by his wife's death, raising his son in a suburban neighborhood.  His neighbor, Dranko, is somewhat of a prepper, who has a few surprises in the basement.

As the disease rapidly spreads, infrastructure begins to fail and lawlessness rules the area.  Cooper rises to a leadership role in his neighborhood and runs through adventures, battles, and investigating the source of the plague.

The main characters show true personality and growth as the story arc develops.  Secondary characters and those with brief appearances are there for reasons and important parts of the story.  There really is no fluff or space filler.

The scenarios and solutions presented have a realistic feel to them.  The source of the Brushfire Plague are hinted at throughout the book, but is still pretty much a surprise when it is revealed.  Sadly, it is not outside the realm of possiblity.

I really enjoyed Brushfire Plague.  It was an easy read, and well written.  It sounds cliche, but  had a hard time putting it down when it was time to go to sleep.  If you like TEOTWAWKI fiction, you'll love Brushfire Plague by R.P. Ruggiero.

Author Interview: R.P. Ruggiero

I was thrilled to be able to interview R.P. and thank him for sharing his story with you.  Here it is:

What is your background?  Brushfire Plague shows your knowledge in medicine, tactics, and survival preps.  How much of that comes from your life?

Since, Katrina, I got serious about prepping and have spent a lot of time learning skills, practicing, and storing supplies.  I very much believe in Robert Heinlein’s credo that “Specialization is for insects.”  He meant that each person should have a wide variety of skills and talents.  Both of my brothers served in the military, so I grew up with a keen interest in tactics and military history.  I also studied basic tactics as part of my research for writing Brushfire Plague.  I avoid being specific about my day job for operational security reasons, but I spend a fair amount of time working with others under extremely stressful situations.  That gave me an insight into how the dynamics play out between people during such times.  I think I’ve been able to bring those areas of knowledge and skills to good use in writing Brushfire Plague.  So far, I’ve been pleased as very experienced survivalists and preppers have read it and found the realism factor to be strong.

Without being a spoiler, Brushfire Plague really takes a look at what could happen with an uncontrolled pandemic.  How realistic do you think the potential is for a widepread, deadly pandemic?

We are overdue for another worldwide pandemic.  No one can predict how virulent the next one will be.  But, with modern travel, when it happens it will spread very quickly.  While I certainly hope one isn’t as deadly as I portrayed it in Brushfire Plague, it is prudent to be ready for this scenario.
What advice would you give to readers about building neighborhood or community involvement in preparedness?

Start small.  Host a workshop on Earthquake Preparedness (or other natural disaster, depending on where live) for your neighbors.  If everyone was ready to survive a few weeks in your neighborhood, guess what?  YOU have just increased your margin of safety. Get neighbors or friends to read Brushfire Plague—or one of the other great survival books out there—to get them thinking. 

Then, listen for opportunities to engage others further in prepping.  Does someone from that earthquake workshop sound pretty interested in preparing?  Discuss a joint purchase of food or supplies.  Ask questions, see where it leads.

Obviously, there’s a delicate balance on getting others involved and your trust level. That’s why I recommend starting small and then seeing where things develop.  Ultimately, the goal is to develop teams of people who are ready to work together in a time of crisis.

Your writing style is very smooth and easy to read and follow.  Have you written anything else?

Thank you for the compliment. I set out to write a very good novel.  I felt that a novel that engages readers imparts the survival lessons that are woven in most effectively. Brushfire Plague is my first novel.  I spent a year and a half writing it and had some great editing help from Prepper Press.  I’m been very appreciative of the amount of feedback from readers about how well written it is, that they find it riveting, and engaged they become with the characters.  Of course, the stories about people who ‘can’t put it down’ and stay up all night to finish it are truly great!

Brushfire Plague is a great, stand-alone novel.  But it certainly leaves room for a sequel.  Any plans for that?

Thank you.  I wanted to have a lot of closure to a very dramatic storyline.  I think I accomplished that, based on what I’ve heard from readers and reviewers.  Obviously, I left a door open to a new chapter for Cooper, Dranko, Jake, and the others.  Yes, I’m currently writing the sequel to Brushfire Plague and expect it to be released by the summer, if not earlier.  Your readers can stay up to date by visiting www.brushfireplague.com or “liking’ the Brushfire Plague page on Facebook or following me @rpruggiero on Twitter.

What do you think are the top few catastrophic events that folks should prepare for?

I’ve always believed in spending your preparation dollars and time on the most likely situations first.  First, whatever natural disasters are common in your area (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).  Second, temporary disruptions in civil order based upon economic or other breakdowns in society.  My third one is to be ready to survive a pandemic.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding prepper, what would it be?

Start where you are.  This topic can be overwhelming to newcomers.  We need to be realistic about people’s resources and time.  So, my advice is to start small.  Get two weeks of food and water set aside.  Then, build to 2-3 months.  I’d also recommend this approach in the key areas of preparation:  Food, Water, Shelter, Security, and Communications.  For example, after your food, figure out your security measures.  I’d start with firearms training and a pistol.  Then, get more training and a long arm.  This incremental approach on a broad front is smarter, I believe, than having 20 firearms and lots of expertise in their use, but no provisions for water.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding novelist, what would it be?

Read “Novelist’s Boot Camp”.  That’s what I did about three years ago and it changed my entire approach to writing.  Then, develop the discipline to start writing…and keep writing.  It’s worth it!

I really enjoyed reading Brushfire Plague and I want to thank you for getting me a review copy and for taking the time for this interview.  I'm sure my readers will appreciate it.

The pleasure is all mine.  Having it out there and hearing from readers has been a true pleasure.  I encourage those who read it and enjoy it help me spread the word…and let me know what you think at rpruggiero@gmail.com

Self Reliance Expo - Mesa, Arizona - Saturday!

After what looked like a great day on the Self Reliance Expo Facebook page today, Saturday is the last day of the SRE in Mesa, Arizona.  You'll get to meet great speakers like Survival Mom - Lisa Bedford, Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, and our great sponsor, Jeff "The Berkey Guy" Gleason.  It is well worth it if you are anywhere close by.

Hurricane Sandy - Frankenstorm

Sandy is going to be devastating.  If you are on the DelMarVa peninsula or farther north, please make sure you are ready for high winds, extensive rain, power outages and downed trees.  A little farther west, you could get all that, but with up to two feet of snow in some places.

I've got to go down to work Saturday morning for a briefing at the city Emergency Operations Center, so that will disrupt my last minute preps a bit, but we are in pretty good shape.  After I got home from work today I changed the oil in the generators and fired them up for about 15 minutes.  I put a freshly sharpened blade on the chainsaw too.  First thing in the morning, I'll clean out the gutters and carry all the lawn furniture in the shop.  When I go in to work, I'll top off a couple of empty gas cans so that we have plenty for up to a week without power.  Hope it won't be out nearly that long!


Prepper Ponderings

Twice In One Week?

Well, I don't normally "ponder" this often, but I've got some important stuff to share...

Getting Ready for Sandy

The predictions are getting worse for Sandy.  She'll either head out to sea, or hammer the East Coast, hitting somewhere between Virginia and New England.  If you are in that area, here's a couple of reminders for your last minute preps...
  • Leaves have started falling - make sure your gutters are clean by the weekend
  • Crank up the generator and top off your extra gas cans (gas is down in the $3.30 range here so it won't hurt quite as bad as it would have a few weeks ago)
  • If land fall looks to be a day away, secure your lawn furniture and anything else in the yard that could become a missile.
  • If land fall is imminent, fill up your tub with water for flushing or running through the Berkey
  • If you are on the coast or in the path of high winds, tape and/or board up your windows - I'm assuming you have pre-cut plywood for that
There are probably a few other last minute things to do, but it will vary based on your needs.  I'm also assuming that you already have your regular preps in place.

Some New Links I Like

I've added two new links to my blogroll.  The Shepherd School is a site I've heard about before, and I recently connected with the operator on LinkedIn - it seems we are both emergency management professionals by day and preparedness bloggers and teachers by night.  They have a ton of YouTube videos and some great articles on the site.  Reality Survival is a site I've recently become acquainted with.  JJ focuses a lot on bushcraft and wilderness survival, from a military background point of view.  The recent posting about home video surveillance cameras was of particular interest as I was talking with a co-worker today on that very topic.  His car and home have been vandalized several times recently with a bb gun.

Portable Solar

I've been talking to Jay at JasPak about his portable solar generators.  This is a really cool idea.  The solar panel is on a wheeled and tiltable frame, and the deep cycle battery and inverter is stored in a heavy duty pelican-style case.  It puts out 1,100 continuous watts, or 2,200 surge watts.  It's portable, so you don't need to permanently install it.  I can see a great use for this at my home.  In an outage, I run a big generator all day for lights, TV, refrigerator, freezer, well pump, hot water tank, etc...  I have to also run a generator at night for my CPAP machine, along with a fan and the shallow well pump for those "late night journeys."  If I had a JasPak, I could eliminate the nighttime generator, which would be safer, quieter, and reduce fuel and maintenance expenses.  The JasPak is not cheap, but looks like just the ticket for some applications.  If you are interested, visit the site and let them know you heard about it here.


High Rise Hotel Preparedness

Would You Be Ready for SHTF While Traveling?

Last night I was out of town to speak at a conference for work.  It was held in a very nice hotel and the conference sponsors paid for my room.  If it was on my dime or on my employer's, I'd have ended up staying in a much cheaper place down the road a little ways.

The hotel had a couple of 6-8 storey towers with rooms.  My room was on the third floor.  Safe from a ground level forced entry, and low enough to safely escape in a fire.

Upon reaching my room, I scouted out the emergency exits.  I was at the far end of the hall from the stairs.  The stairway door was at the end of the hall, not on the side, so if I had to head that way in dark or smoke, I would just go until I hit the wall, then find the door.  My room had a sliding glass door that led to a foot wide "balcony" with a sturdy railing.  It would be easy to drop my belongings over and climb over the rail, then hang and drop the remaining 10-12 feet to the ground.  It was grassy below my room, so I should be able to do that with minimal, if any, injury.

Before going to bed, I prepositioned my pants, shirt and slip on shoes.  I had my wallet and car keys in the pants pocket.  Other essentials such as my EDC kit were in my overnight bag, ready to grab.  Beside the bed I put my glasses, cell phone, and headlamp.  If the fire alarm sounded in the middle of the night, I could slip on my glasses and headlamp, get dressed, grab my phone and overnight bag, and be on the way to safety in less than a minute.  If the hotel burned down after I got out, I'd have all of my crucial belongings so that I could get home.

In other, general planning, I parked on the outskirts of the parking lot so that I could easily get out if the lot was filled with emergency responders.  The folks attending the conference were avid participants in the open bar provided by one of the corporate sponsors.  I poked my head in there for about 15 minutes to be polite, but I can't fathom the idea of being all tanked up at three in the morning in a strange location when the fire alarm goes off.  The hotel was in a decent part of a decent medium sized town.  There was nothing about the conference that was controversial or that might attract unwanted attention.

All-in-all, I'm confident that I had an effective emergency plan for my overnight stay away from home.  What do you all think?  Anything I overlooked?  Any tricks you use when you stay in a hotel?


Prepper Ponderings

More Machine Guns In Virginia Than Anywhere Else?

There was a fascinating article in today's Roanoke Times that said that there are 30,000 legal machine guns in Virginia, more than any other state.  In second and third place are the far more populous Florida and California with about 28,000 each.  The article is relatively balanced, but fails to understand that the vast majority of these machine guns are owned by law enforcement agencies.  I've found the ATF's annual NFA report and will be reporting my analysis of it soon.

Late Season Hurricane?

Tropical Storm Sandy is swirling around in the Caribbean and may cause some trouble along the East Coast next weekend and in to early November.  In a worst case scenario, it could cause some issues with the election.

It all depends on the jet stream.  If it comes in one way, it will blow Sandy out to sea.  Another way could make her skip along the coast then hitting the north east, potentially with hurricane snow.  Yet another way could hammer North Carolina and Virginia, much like Hurricane Isabel of 2003 with widespread damage and over a week of power outages.

The only thing certain is that along the East Coast, we need to pay attention to her.

Self Reliance Expo - Mesa, Arizona

Ron has released the final outline for the Expo.  The complete list of speakers is here.  The complete list of extra classes is here.  Looks like some great classes, including Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy's very popular suturing class using pig feet.  I saw folks taking that class at Hickory and really wish I could have taken part.

Upcoming Contest

Later this week I'll be announcing a reader contest where you can win a copy of the latest prepper novel, 299 Days, by Glen Tate.


Product Review - Custom Primitive Knife

$50 "Ren" Knife from Blacksmith Carson Sams

Well, yesterday was the annual Richmond Celtic Games and Highland Festival.  One of the highlights of my year when I get kilted up, smoke cigars and drink Guinness all day, and listen to bagpipes and the grunts of large men throwing things.

Yesterday there was a new vendor, Carson's Customs LLC, the business of Carson Sams.  Carson is a blacksmith out of Partlow, Va.  He had a forge, anvil and vise set up.  Most of his equipment is well over 100 years old and incredibly well built.  You can't find a vise like he used at Sears.

He had a wide range of products for sale and that he was working on there.  Grilling tools and Celtic crosses were popular with many customers, but I was drawn (no blacksmithing pun intended) to his knives and weapons.  He had some really nice hatchets made from files with shaving sharp edges.  One cool item was a three pound war hammer with about a 18-20 inch handle, and a head with four squared off prongs on the striking face and a skull penetrating spike on the other end of the head.  He also had some neat railroad spike knives.  Most of the time when you see these, they are very simply drawn out from the spike.  Carson Sams makes his with nubs and rough surfacing on the spike grip so that they are much more ornate than a typical one and have a much more aggressive grip.

The knife I got is his "Ren" knife, made from a single piece of drawn, high carbon steel.  Overall it is just under 10 inches long with about a 4 3/4" blade.  The spine width is 1/8" and the blade grind is convex or axe style.

The grip is formed by the elongated tang curving back on itself and then out again.  While it is very stylish, it is also very useful.  It can easily be held in a saber or icepick grip.  It is also ideal for choking up on with your index finger ahead of the curve and thumb up on the spine for fine or delicate work.

This thing is razor and needle sharp.  Just the slightest touch of my finger to the tip drew blood like I was doing a sugar test.

It is ideal for a field or camp knife, and could have function as a fighting knife as well.  With the high carbon content and very flat, sharp angled spine, it is great for striking a flint or fire ferro rod.  I need to make a sheath for it, but that should not be too much trouble with very basic leatherworking skills and tools.

If you are in the market for a primitive style knife, I think this one is a great choice.  Carson doesn't have a website, but you can reach him at carsonscustoms@hotmail.com.


Hot Links

Mmmm, Sounds Like Sausage

No, not sausage, but some interesting and current links to help you keep informed on the latest news and cool information.

SHTF Thumbdrive

I've been thinking about getting a couple of those hardened and encrypted thumb drives for my BOB and GOOD kits.  The only problem is that they cost upwards of $100, and I really don't have that kind of money to spend on a tiny piece of electronics that I might never have to use.

Yesterday, on The Survival Podcast, Jack interviewed James from SurvivalPunk.com.  Survival Punk has tons of really cool and innovative ideas.  One that they spoke about on the show was his design for a homemade hardened and encrypted thumb drive.  Here's the Survival Punk write up on it with pictures.

I think I will put one of these together as a winter project.  A couple of slight changes I'll make:  On the stationary end cap, drill a hole and insert a small loop screw.  That way I can string it from a paracord strap.  On the removable end cap, I'm a little concerned about tightening it down too much, so I'll use a bit of solder or JB Weld to keep the cap from being screwed down all the way.

The Day After... Election Day

I was recently talking to a friend who is in the command structure of a pretty large, urban police department.  At the time, his department had not established any plans for the aftermath of the election, regardless of who wins.  A couple of days ago I was speaking with an acquaintance with the same agency.  It seems that now they are putting things in place to be ready for violence. 

Alex Jones just ran this article about the rash of Twitter and other social media threats that are calling for riots if Romney wins, along with threats to Romney's life.  I don't care who you favor in the election, but the very idea of calling for riots and violence as a result of the election is unacceptable.  It brings down to the level of the third world and banana republics.  As preppers, it is incumbent upon us to stay situationally aware during and immediately after the election.  If you are in a swing state or heavily contested area, you might consider hunkering down for a couple of days or at least being ready to do so.


We know that Coronal Mass Ejections, or solar storms, are a threat to electronics and potentially the entire grid.  The one "good" thing about a CME is that we'll have some advanced notice, up to a full day or two.  Solar Stormwatch is a place that recruits amature astronomers to help keep an eye the sun and report ejections and solar storms.


I want to give a shoutout to Jack Spirko for the 1,000th episode of The Survival Podcast.  Like earlier milestone show, he invited listeners to call in with their stories of what TSP has meant to them and how they have progressed in their preparedness and road to self sufficiency.  This time, the episode took nearly 5 hours for all of the callers to get their messages out.  Jack has come a long way since I started listening when he was still in the double digits and doing his show recordings in his car during a morning commute.

Self Reliance Expo - Mesa, Arizona Next Weekend

Here's a neat idea.  A fellow named David Safewaters has hit Mesa a week early and is living out of his BOB as he awaits the expo.  You can follow his efforts on this FB page.

I had a great time and learned a ton at the Hickory Expo last month.  I really wish I could make it to Mesa, but since I can't, if you are in the region, I hope you will.  Here's a list of the vendors and exhibitors.


Creole Weasel?

Nutria in My Neck of the Woods

Nutria is an invasive rodent that was brought to the Louisiana area in the Roaring 20s with the plan of raising them for their luxurious fur to meet the needs of the rich wanting fancy coats.  Then the Great Depression hit and the market for fur coats crumbled, followed by the escape/release of the nutria.  Since then, they have spread out and now can be found in much of the US.  They are very destructive to marshlands and riparian regions, eating plant stems and roots, but wasting much of the rest of the plant.  Creole Weasel is not a known name for the nutria, but something my wife and I call them, kind of as a pet name.

Nutria are not really known in Virginia, but the other night, we had a big one cross the road in front of us near our house.  That's the first one we've ever seen around here.  I had a family of them living on a work property down closer to the Chesapeake Bay a few years back.

Seeing one so big and so close to our home got me to thinking...  We have a bunch of ponds around our place, so nutria damage is a concern.  I know the fur is super nice, so it might be good to learn how to tan and preserve a pelt.  What about eating nutria?  I think I saw Andrew Zimern eat one on Bizarre Foods, but I'm not positive.  Are there any laws about harvesting them in Virginia?

Let me share what I found out.

As a landowner, I can hunt or trap nutria on my land with no license.  As a nuisance species, there is open season all year long.  That's good.  Since they are attracted to vegetation, it might be hard to lure it into a trap, but it might be a good way to practice my snares set up in likely pathways.

There are plenty of ways to eat nutria.  I found this website that lists quite a few recipes that sound delicious.

Anybody ever trap nutria?  Any advice?  How about a recipe you want to share?


More Speakers for Mesa

The Mesa, Arizona Self Reliance Expo is Going to Have Some Great Speakers!

In addition to Dr. Bones & Nurse Amy and Survival Mom, Lisa Bedford, they've just announced Derek Williams, Ralph Anderson and Jared Winger.

The line up is shaping up very nicely!  Wish I could be there.  If you are anywhere near Mesa next weekend, you really need to go.  Go here for tickets.


New Sponsor With A Great Offer!

Welcome Aboard to Alerts USA!

I'm very excited to welcome Alerts USA as a new sponsor to If It Hits The Fan.  I first became aware of them about a year ago and was interested in signing up for the service, but never actually got around to it.  I recently became reacquainted with the service and was able to not only gain Alerts USA as a sponsor, but also a fantastic deal for my readers.

Alerts USA is kind of a cross between NOAA weather alerts, a CIA intel briefing, and having a friend working behind the scenes to give you advanced warnings and immediate notification on all kinds of threats... all sent to your cell phone or other mobile device.

So here's the deal for you guys.  Alerts USA's normal subscription price is $169 a year.  They frequently have it on sale for $99.  If you go to the special landing page and use the code IIHTF, you'll get the year subscription for only $75!

I'm really excited about this deal and hope lots of you will take advantage of it.  As preppers, we owe it to ourselves to keep aware of potential threats in the world.  I know that in my regular job, I'll be very glad to get this information on a regular basis.

Alerts USA also has two other programs that are free...  Threat Journal is a free weekly newsletter that they put out with tons of great information.  They have a sign up bonus of a free 2.5 hour downloadable audible preparedness course.  I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but I'm sure I'll pick up some good information.

Their other program is unique, and a great way to give back to the public... RadTest4U is a great FREE deal they are sponsoring with the folks from KI4U (who bring you the NUKAlert that I carry as a part of my EDC kit).  With RadTest4U, you send them your car or home HVAC filter, they check it for radiation, and send you the results?  Live downwind of a nuke plant?  Live in Seattle and are concerned about Fukishima residue?  Give this FREE program a try.

Don't forget the Alerts USA huge discount using IIHTF (or iihtf - case doesn't matter), and stay alert.

One special note - if you look up Alerts USA on Google, you'll come across a lot of BBB complaints about Alert USA (no "s") - that is for one of those deals where senior citizens get a pendant to contact EMS - "help I've fallen and I can't get up" - they have no connection to Alerts USA.

Another note - for some reason, my hosting service is acting up and not letting me make any changes to my advertising tonight.  Here is Alerts USA's ad, look for it on the left as soon as I can get it posted.


An Ode to Old Slabsides

The 1911

No gun safe is complete without a 1911.  I've had five of them over the years, still have one, and regret getting rid of three of the other four.

My granddad's 1911A1 that he brought home from WWII in an indigenous-made shoulder holster from India with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.  His plane crashed at Wright-Patterson in Ohio and no one ever asked for it back after he got out of the hospital.  I still have that and will never get rid of it.  I've replaced all the original springs with Wolff springs and use it in a match every couple years.  I still have the original springs and the shoulder holster, too.

A standard Kimber, four digit serial number - I bought one of the first Kimber's in the area, and carried it as a cop for a number of years.  At some point I swapped it for a Bushmaster AR15.  It was a good trade at the time, but I wish I had kept it.

Another Kimber, I don't recall the model designation, but it was the Commander size with a 4.5 inch barrel and standard grip length.  It was a sweet piece, but I sold it one time when I needed some green.

A Colt Series 70/80 transitional Commander - this was probably my favorite one I ever had.  I bought it the day after I turned 21.  The slide had Series 70 markings, but Series 80 internals.  It shot, fed and handled like a dream.  I don't recall why I got rid of it, but I could kick myself for doing it.

The last one was the one I really didn't care about.  It was, I believe, a Springfield, from back when there were only a couple 1911 manufacturers, and Springfield was one of the lower end brands.  This one had been "tricked out" in the style of a late 70s bowling pin gun.  That essentially meant that the original owner had bought a bunch of parts from the Pachmeyer catalog, and stuck them on the gun, without regard to fit or function.  I got a good price buying it from a friend in the late 80s, and sold it a year or two later to another friend for about what I paid for it if I recall correctly.

When I was a kid, my granddad taught me how to field strip is 1911, and I spent many a visit with my eyes closed, taking it apart and putting it back together.  When I was in high school, he gave it to me and I carried it on camping and hiking trips, and kept it in my bedside table for home protection.  In boot camp, still at the age of 17, we fam-fired (shot for familiarization) the 1911.  The drill instructor asked if anyone know how to field strip it, and I boldly (some might say stupidly) announced that I could do it blindfolded.  I had to put up or face the consequences.  Thankfully my youthful training had not left me and I was able to do it just fine.

Today, there are dozens and dozens of 1911 manufacturers, some giants like Ruger and S&W, others are small, custom shops like Les Baer.  There is just something about the way it feels in your hand, and the 100+ years of history.  The US military has had the 1911 in constant use since it was adopted (although since the mid 80s, only a few select units have kept it) and the Marine Corps has just orders several thousand new versions from Colt.

Self Reliance Expo

Less than two weeks away from the next Self Reliance Expo in Mesa, AZ.  If you are anywhere in the desert southwest, you owe it to yourself to go.  Great speakers, great vendors, and a chance to meet up with other preppers from your area.


Prepper Ponderings

Amazing Feat

This isn't prepping related, but did you see Felix Baumgartner's incredible free fall from 128,000 feet today?  I was absolutely spellbound watching it this afternoon.  Human ingenuity at it's finest.

Shelf Life of Medications

Anything you pick up at the drug store, whether prescription or OTC, will have an expiration date.  There has always been a ton of controversy about how long past the expiration date the medications will still be potent, or even safe.  Several years ago, the FDA and Dept. of Defense released a study about extending the shelf life, but it was since removed from public access and made very difficult to track down.

A couple of days ago, Dr. Bones of www.DoomAndBloom.net put out a post about a new study that he has asked me to share, as he believes it is one of his most important posts ever.

Here's a preview:

Over the years, I have expressed my opinions on the bogus nature of the expiration dates stamped on medications in pill or capsule form. I have cited the findings of the Shelf Life Extension Program, a program meant to investigate the possible usefulness of the millions of doses of various expired medications stockpiled by FEMA for use in peacetime disasters.

In my original article, “The Truth About Expiration Dates” 2 years ago, I indicated these findings were no longer available to the public. Now, a breakthrough scientific article has been published in the respected journal “The Archives of Internal Medicine”. Below is the article in its entirety, with important sections in bold type:
October 8, 2012 — An analysis of 8 medications indicates that most of the active ingredients they contain were present in adequate amounts decades after the drugs’ expiration dates, according to results from a study published online October 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Lee Cantrell, PharmD, from the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, and colleagues used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure the amounts of the active ingredients in the medications. The medicines, which had expired 28 to 40 years ago, were found in a retail pharmacy in their original, unopened packaging.

To meet US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, an active ingredient must be present in 90% to 110% of the amount indicated on the label. Drug expiration dates are set for 12 to 60 months after production, even though many compounds can persist far longer.

In the new analysis, 12 of the 14 active ingredients persisted in concentrations that were 90% or greater of the amount indicated on the label. These 12 compounds retained their full potency for 336 months (Dr. Bones 28 years) or longer. Eight of them retained potency for at least 480 months (dr. bones: 40 years). Dr. Cantrell’s team was unable to find a standard for homatropine, 1 of the 15 ingredients.

Only aspirin and amphetamine fell below the 90% cutoff. Phenacetin was present at greater than the cutoff in Fiorinal (butalbital, aspirin, caffeine, and codeine phosphate, but was considerably less in Codempiral No. 3. The authors attribute the deficit in Codempiral to conditions that led to preferential degradation of phenacetin because of its amide group, compared with codeine, which is also in Codempiral but is more chemically stable.

Three compounds persisted in greater than 110% of the labeled contents: methaqualone (in Somnafac), meprobamate (in Bamadex), and pentobarbital (in Nebralin). These relatively high amounts may reflect degradation of other components of the compounded drug, the fact that the samples were produced before FDA-instituted quality control measures in 1963, or inconsistencies of the analytical techniques between when the drugs were compounded and now. The new findings are consistent with the efforts of the Shelf-Life Extension Program, which has extended the expiration dates on 88% of 122 drugs tested so far. Extensions range from 66 to 278 months.

“Our results support the effectiveness of broadly extending expiration dates for many drugs,” the researchers conclude. They also point out that extending shelf life can significantly lower costs to consumers.

Limitations of the analysis, the investigators write, include an inability to confirm the storage conditions of the drug samples, as well as imprecise dating of the samples. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

For the preparedness community, this information is very important, as it lends credence to what I have been telling you all along: Get your medical supplies together, and don’t throw out drugs in pill or capsule form just because they have passed their expiration dates. We are anxiously awaiting lists of the 122 drugs that the Shelf Life Extension Program has tested, but you can expect them to be medications that will be useful in the aftermath of a catastrophe.

Please visit Doom & Bloom and watch his video.  It is an eye opener!     Just One Holster?   There is a school of thought that says you should always carry the same type of pistol in the same type of holster in the same location on your body.  That might have some justification for a peace officer who also has to carry a baton, handcuffs, flashlight, CPR mask, OC spray and extra ammo, and needs to be able to put his or her hands on the right tool at the right moment in time.  For armed citizens, I'm not so sure that applies.  We are much more in need of the ability to alter our carry based on what we are wearing and what we are doing.   A sport coat or an untucked aloha shirt is great for a regular old pancake holster.  Shorts & a T shirt might call for pocket holster and a .38 snubbie.  When we went to the corn maze the other night, it was chilly, but not cold enough for a big coat.  I also knew we'd be doing a lot of walking, so I didn't really want extra weight on my hip.  I dug out the shoulder holster and I was able to wear my Glock 17 with a lightweight, short jacket in comfort and concealment, with easy access.   Like a lot of you, I have a drawer full of holsters of various types.  I think the key to it is to practice drawing and presenting with all of them periodically (be 100% sure your weapon is empty and there is no ammo around you), and when strapping one on, mentally adjust yourself to what you have and where it is.


Free Prepper Downloads

New Additions To the Library Resources

It's been some time since I've added any downloads to the Library Resources page, so I've got some really cool ones for you today.  If you've never checked out the Library Resources page, give it a look for some great, free information.

Check out the three parts of the U.S. Army Special Forces Medical Handbook (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  It's over 400 pages of everything from basic medical information to field surgery to veterinary medicine.  It's an important companion to your first aid kit and training.

For homesteaders or anyone who might want to take full advantage of what gets dropped on our roof for free (except those who live in Colorado, where such activities are illegal), we've got the Texas Rainwater Harvesting Manual with all kinds of great information about how to build a harvesting system, different ways to collect water, and treatment.

If you have an AR15 or an M4gery of some sort or another, you really need to download the Army/Air Force/Coast Guard M16 Technical Manual.  It's much more detailed than an owner's manual.  It's ideal for anyone who might buy a stripped lower to build their own from the ground up.

I've had a Glock for a few years, but never really got into working on it like I have in the past with my Sig, Ruger Vaquero, or 1911.  Now that I've found the Glock Armorer's Manual, I can dig a little deeper on it.  If you are one of the millions of Glock owners out there, the Armorer's Manual is indispensable.

Check out these new Library Resources and download them to a couple of thumbdrives and/or e-readers.  Really, it's also probably a good idea to print hard copies (or at least pertinent highlights)  in case the grid goes down.


Prepping For Fun

It's Not Always About TEOTWAWKI

One of the basic principles of modern survivalism is that everything we do to prepare for disaster should also make our lives better even if nothing goes wrong.  One way to do this is to use our preps for recreation.  Tonight I did something cool and fun and got a little prepping mixed into it.

My wife and I went with her sister and her husband, along with our niece and nephew, to a corn maze.  If you've never been to one, it's where a farmer has grown his corn is a maze pattern, with hidden map pieces, clues and surprises throughout.  This particular one was way out in the country and the maze field covered five acres, with two miles of pathways.  We tromped around for nearly two hours, finding 10 of the 12 map pieces and clues.  During that time, a pedometer showed that we walked right about three miles.

So where does prepping fit in?  The folks running the maze require each group to have a flashlight.  We used our headlamps, keeping our hands free and lighting up where ever we turned our heads.  Several other groups that we passed commented on what a good idea it was.  I'm a huge fan of the headlamp for everything from checking skunk traps in the backyard to working on the EMP BOV to setting up a campsite after dark.

About an hour into it, as we came across map section 6 for the third or fourth time, I thought it would have been a great idea to bring a GPS unit to track our route and show us when we were doubling back over the same path.  It would be a great way to practice using it and learning how to track our movements.

We also could have used our Camelbacks.  We really didn't expect to be in there for two hours of constant walking.  We were all pretty thirsty by the time we were done.  It would have been handy for carrying a few extra batteries for the lights and a couple of snacks.

It was also good to get out there and hike on the uneven terrain, getting some exercise that could mentally be practice for orienteering or escape and evasion.  Don't limit your prep activities to worst case scenarios.  Have some fun too.

Welcome to a New Sponsor!

I'm glad to welcome Ron Douglas and the Self Reliance Expo as a new sponsor of If It Hits The Fan.  I had a great time at the Expo in Hickory, N.C. last month.  The next Expo is in Mesa, Arizona later this month on Oct. 26 and 27.  There will be a ton of great vendors, including several of our other sponsors.  Speakers include Lisa Bedford, aka Survival Mom and Dr. Bones & Nurse Amy.  If there is any way you can make it to Mesa, I really encourage you to do so.  You can get tickets here.


Book Review: Founders - A Novel of the Coming Collapse

Founders: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles, Atria Books, 2012 ($25.99)

Well, the first thing I did when I got ready to read Founders was look at the back cover at the critics' quotes reviewing the last book in the series, Survivors.  I'm reading the quotes and who wrote them... heard of that magazine, know that guy, familiar with that blog, never heard of that one, hmmm, there's another one called If It Hits The Fan... what?  Yep, sure enough, a quote from when I reviewed Survivors made it to the cover.  I now have "world famous literary critic" to add to my list of cool things I have done.

So anyway, Founders is the third book in the series that James Rawles began with Patriots.  Unlike other series, this one is unique in that the three books take place contemporaneously with other parts of the country, back stories and minor characters from the other books.

The third chapter starts off in my home town of Richmond, Virginia.  This is always exciting, but makes me a little nitpicky.  In a Patricia Cornwell novel (nearly all of which take place in Richmond), the had the character buying a gun at Green Top, a favorite local gun shop.  But then she described the interstate junction incorrectly.  Clive Cussler had Dirk Pitt and the NUMA gang involved in a classic car race at the state fairgrounds followed by an exciting chase scene down historic Rt. 5 with a police helicopter in hot pursuit.  Back then we didn't have any police helicopters around here, just a multi-jurisdiction airplane.  More recently, in the novel, Memorial Day, Vince Flynn had the terrorists killing a Hanover deputy at a self-storage place on Rt. 360 that I knew exactly where he was describing.  He then had the terrorists come into my county, New Kent, and go to the beautiful riverfront homes at Plum Point to kill a couple and steal their cabin cruiser.  At the time I was a volunteer deputy in the county and wasn't familiar with Plum Point, so the next time I worked, I set out to find it and see how close it was to Flynn's description.  Let's just say that he used quite a bit of literary license... it's riverfront alright, but not the nice homes with cabin cruisers docked out front, more like 35 year old single wides with a Ford Pinto up on blocks for a dog house and a rusted out jon boat pulled up in the mud.  So where does Rawles go wrong with Richmond?  He has the character going to my alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, for law school.  VCU has a fine medical college, but no law school.  He should have gone cross town to the University of Richmond which has a highly regarded law school - Judge Bork is one of the professors.  The character attends a Messianic Jewish temple, Tikvat Israel, on "Grove Street."  Tikvat Israel is indeed the local Messianic Jewish temple, but no Richmonder has ever heard of Grove Street... It's Grove Avenue.

That's enough of my personal connections to Founders, what did I think of the book?

I really liked it.  It took some minor characters from the first two novels and fleshed out their stories.  A large part of the book was about a couple that appeared in both of the other books and had to hike from Chicago to Idaho after the breakdown.  We really get a good look at how they spent that two year journey.  We also get a much better understanding of how the new government was formed and how the battles went around the country.

Rawles has mastered the art of writing dialog.  In Patriots, the dialog tended to be very stilted and artificial.  It was better in Survivors, but now the dialog is natural and easy flowing... a pleasure to read.  He still manages to teach the reader valuable preparedness information while conveying a great adventure story.

There has been some criticism that Rawles puts too much religion and morality in the book.  I think that where he included it, it was a part of character development or to further the story.  Readers who know Rawles know of his faith.  New fans will have to accept it, or not, it's their choice.  But I don't think it is any reason to avoid the book.

Although the three books were written to be contemporaneous and the order read shouldn't matter, I think that Patriots should definitely be read first.  Survivors and Founders can be done in either order.  I think there is still room in the Patriot universe for additional contemporaneous stories.  I'd also like to see one that comes immediately after Patriots and shows how the rebuilding goes.




Some Quick Questions About Me

What is your favorite rifle?  If I really had to pick one, I'd say the H&K 91.  I became enthralled with it back in the early 80s when H&K had cool ads in all the gun magazines.  It was one I always lusted after but could never afford, especially after Bush 41 signed the import ban.  I'm fortunate now to have the American-built of mostly H&K parts PTR 91.  It's a keeper.  One that got away that I wish I still had was an Iver Johnson M1 Carbine with a Choate pistolgrip stock.  Incredibly handy, and very underrated by the "gun experts."

What is your favorite pistol?  I really, really, really want an early model Colt Python with a 6 in. barrel, highly polished nickel finish, and original wooden grips.  After that, it would be an early model S&W 29 with a 6 in. barrel in highly polished blue with original wooden grips.  Those were two that filled my boyhood dreams.  In all practicality, though, I really love my Sig Sauer P220 in .45 acp that I've carried since the early 90s.

Shotgun?  I've never been a big shotgun guy, but I guess a regular old Remington 870.  It is truly versatile and there is a world of accessories available for it.  It is as reliable as the day is long.

What survival skill do you want to learn next?  Food canning.  I know the basics of water bath canning, but I want to get more comfortable doing it, and I want to learn pressure canning.  These skills are very valuable in everyday life just for preserving the harvest and taking advantage of sales.  It can also be used for wonderful Christmas gifts.  In a breakdown situation, having home canned foods will really stretch the store-bought long term storage and provide needed comfort foods.

Who should you have learned more from?  My Grandpa, Ray Green.  He was a master with machinery.  He traveled the Pacific NorthWest, and later the country troubleshooting and repairing mills.  He could build anything.  He could fix anything.  He was a big time hunter up until the late 50s, and was a great fisherman into the 80s.  He came of age well before the Depression.  He smoked meat and fish, he helped Grandma can fruit, jelly, veggies and fish.  He had all kinds of hand tools - and knew how to use them to their fullest extent.

What is your preparedness motto?  Back before Y2K, as friends and I were prepping, I coined the phrase, "You'd be damn glad to have a _________ in a breakdown situation." 

If money were no object, where would you have a retreat?  We dreamed for a number of years about moving to Wyoming, but it just doesn't look like it is going to happen.  I've really become interested in eastern Tennessee, in the Smokey Mountains.  Beautiful, rural, hilly country, little regulation, good climate, no income tax, far enough from big cities to not worry about refugees, but close enough to go to town if we need to.  It's also close enough to home and family for us.

What does your wife think about your prepping?  She is supportive and encouraging.  She trusts me to know what is going on and to get us ready for it, but she is quite capable herself.

What's the first advice you would give to someone starting to prep?  Don't go overboard.  Think things through.  Don't go into debt to prep.  Take care of the basics - a few weeks of food (check out my affiliate link with Emergency Essentials), water and hygiene products, a long gun and a pistol, a 72 hour kit and a couple of Get Home Bags (check out my affiliate link with Survival Gear Bags), and a NOAA Weather Alert Radio.  Fully tricked out M4s and a pallet of Mountain House foods are cool and great to have, but start slow and learn as you go (and from other people's mistakes).

I'd love to see your responses to some of these questions in the comments section!


Surviving a Mall Shooting

When You Least Expect It

This afternoon, the local news was jumping for a report of a shooting at one of the older malls in the area.  When I was a kid, it was within walking distance of my apartment complex and I spent quite a bit of time there.  It was a nice enough place back then, kind of the upscale place to shop.  Like many suburban malls, as the suburbs have expanded, it has gone down hill a bit.  It's still not a "bad" place, but it is more empty than full, even in the Christmas shopping season.  When the food court was added back in 1987 or so, I was the contract security officer working the construction site for the last few weeks while it had some openings to the parking lot.  Today's shooting was in the food court restrooms, so I knew exactly where it was when the news came out.

Fortunately, there were only two minor injuries... one was an elderly lady falling in the panic escape, and a guy that got hit by ricochet.  They still haven't released the full story, but it sounds like it was a negligent discharge in the "family" restroom.  Probably some guy thinking he was being safer by not using a regular stall, but then being careless.  The guy who did it managed to slide out in the panic, but the police released a description of him that almost sounds like he could be that BATF agent who shot himself in the foot during a gun safety demonstration a few years back.  Hmm, it's Columbus Day, federal employees were off... anyone know where that ATF agent is these days?

Anyway, what can we do if we are in a mall when a mass shooting happens?  Well, the first reaction of many might be to say, "I'll take cover, draw my legal concealed weapon, and engage the target if I have the opportunity to save lives."  That's a great idea, but most of us aren't in the mall alone.  We are often there with family, including children.  What do we do with them?

I've written before about situational awareness.  There are some specifics related to being in a mall.  When you enter a mall shop, check out the entrance.  Some have sliding glass doors or a sliding cage door.  Others have a roll down cage.  See if you can notice how to close it.  Is it a simple chain and pulley set up, an electric push button, or a key switch?  Perhaps just a pull will get it shut.  If you frequent a particular mall or shop, try to remember the particulars and do a quick mental rehearsal of how you would quickly secure it.

But that's not good enough.  You don't want to hide in a corner.  Head toward the rear of the shop.  There will probably be a door at the back that goes to an office.  You could gather all the occupants in the office, lock the door, and use the phone to call 911.  But that still might not be good enough.  In the rear of that office should be another door.  Beyond that is going to be the back areas of the mall.  Deliveries come in that way.  It is almost like a catacomb.  You can get to many other shops' rear doors, or to any number of building emergency exits or loading docks.  Heading out that way is much more likely to get you to safety in a mall mass shooting than hunkering down in a shop.


Helping Someone Else Survive

RIP Trooper Fox

Friday night a Virginia State Trooper, Andrew Fox, was killed directing traffic as heavy crowds left the state fair and Kings Dominion theme park at the same time heading to the interstate.  A woman heading away from the interstate struck him in a Jeep Cherokee and came to a stop on top of him.  I didn't know this young trooper, but I have directed traffic at that same intersection many times, and almost got hit a couple times.  Once a car came by so close and so fast that I barely got out of the way and actually hit the side of the car with my Mag-Lite as they whipped past.

The first time we were in Wyoming, in 2006, I saw signs on the highway announcing a law that drivers must either get over a lane or slow down as they pass emergency vehicles.  A couple years ago in Virginia this same law was passed.  Now I really don't believe there is a need for the vast majority of traffic laws.  Most of them are in place more for "revenue" than for public safety.  But this is a law that is needed.  One highways, main drags and rural back roads, I've had cars and trucks come by so close and fast that I've been buffeted off balance.  Every year, tow truck drivers, highway workers, cops and fire/rescue workers get killed by cars passing too close.

Even if it is not a law in your area, please slow down and give these folds some room.  Some police do abuse this law.  There is an officer in south east Virginia that makes a habit of sitting on an interstate exit ramp with his lights flashing and radar going.  If a car goes past him without slowing to a crawl, then he gives the driver a ticket.  But jerks like that are the exception rather than the rule.

To keep yourself as safe as possible if an emergency brings you to the side of the road, make sure you have some basic safety equipment in your car emergency kit.

Reflective Triangles
Road Flares
Reflective Safety Vest
Flashing Amber Lights (I reviewed the Auto Buddy here) Go to the Emergency Essentials link on the right side of this site.

And make sure you pull as far off the pavement as is safely possible.  I keep a couple of small tarps and knee pads in my kit, along with a chunk of 2x6 to put under a jack on soft ground.


Strap On The Tin Foil Hats!

Every now and then, I get a little wrapped up in connecting all the dots and have to look at what is going on in the Matrix.  Like they say, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.  Of course, they also say, what is assigned to evil may alternatively be blamed on incompetence.


Did you see where the federal government has bought a state prison in Illinois where at one time they were talking about moving the Gitmo prisoners to?  Do we need another federal prison?  Did they do it for a secret plan to empty Gitmo right before the election?  Did they do it to set up a FEMA reeducation camp?  Did they do it to get bloggers ranting about it in a psyops plan to get us discredited when they explain a perfectly logical reason for it?

Jury Nullification

Last week an Amish raw milk seller got found not guilty by a jury who exercised nullification.  Jury Nullification is a time-honored aspect of common law where the jury says, yep, you're guilty of breaking the law, but the law itself is unrightous, so we are going to find you not guilty.  In many places, it is illegal for the defense attorney to bring up the concept.  Will nullification spread, or will it become completely outlawed?

Gun Rights

What lies in store for gun owners after the next election?  If Obama wins, will a Republican congress fight his second term efforts to ban guns (primarily because the remember the 1994 bloodbath - not because the elitists have any particular belief in gun rights any more than $12,000 Purdy shotguns and custom bolt guns for guided elk hunts) or will "compromise" rule the day and some "sensible" gun laws be passed for "public safety" and "for the children?"  If Romney wins, will he go back to his record of "sensible" gun bans and restrictions with full support of congress?  Will either of them pull a Bush 41 and use executive orders to bar imports and redefine "sporting purpose?"  Will Romney make gun rights a factor in his Supreme Court appointments or will he be like Bush 43 and simply appoint middle of the road neocons and progressive republicans?

School Lunches

In more and more places, "outside food" is being banned from schools.  Children have been forced to throw away their packed lunches and made to eat a school lunch.  Who benefits?  Big Ag.  Big Chemical.  Big Pharma.  Not the kids eating the food.


The Prepper "Big Tent"

I Think There Is Room For All

Typically, the media portray preppers as right-of-center, Christian, obsessed with storage foods and guns.  Yep, that certainly covers a fair amount of us, and historically, that is probably a pretty good snapshot.

But there is a lot more to the preparedness movement than just that.  Hippies in a commune probably will come through an economic SHTF, a famine, a pandemic, and lots of other events better than a lot of folks.  Back-to-the-land families being relatively self-sufficient on a small farmstead out in the rural suburbs, home schooling the kids and maybe dad having a job in town just to cover other expenses will do OK.  I know one of our readers is a military wife, feeding her family organic, promoting healthy living at the co-ops and in the PX or Commissary, and homeschooling her kids.  There are some radical leftists who believe that global warming is mother Earth's war against over population and the human infection... but they have some preparedness traits.  LDS church members come from all walks of life and political persuasions, but a basic promotion of their church is family preparedness.

I think we do our movement ill by keeping things just to "our type of people."  I'm not suggesting that you tell everyone you know about your food, guns, gardens, silver, etc... in detail, but let's try to open up the idea of preparedness to a wide variety of people...  The "big tent" that Reagan spoke of the Republican party as having.  In many ways it is already happening.  Many of the people who read Mother Earth News also read Guns & Ammo.  The LDS churches in many areas open up their members' expertise in different topics to the public through preparedness fairs.  Your local farmers' market will likely have grass-fed beef and organic eggs being sold to democrats, republicans, libertarians, anarchists and commies.  If you check bumper stickers in the parking lot of the next gun show, you'll see a bunch of Ron Paul and Mitt Romney stickers, but you will also see some Obama '12 stickers.  And likely as not, that young, gay, African-American couple getting in the Obama Volvo also believes that tough times are around the corner and they might have just picked up an AR15 and a couple of cases of MREs at the show.

I encourage you to find any sort of common ground you can with people, just to open a conversation.  You might not agree on the whys and the hows, but at least get the conversation going and you might agree on something.  These folks might not necessarily form the nucleus of your new survival group, but if folks from all walks of life are going to be impacted by SHTF (whatever it might be), wouldn't it behoove us to encourage folks from all walks of life to prepare?

After all, we are all Americans (no offense to my readers in Canada, Great Britain and other countries - the same applies to your countrymen) and we are all better off when our neighbors are prepared.

I'm going to give you a challenge for the rest of this week and the weekend.  Find at least one person a day that you wouldn't normally talk to, and open a basic conversation.  It can be as simple as, "Remember that flu pandemic scare from a couple years ago?  I saw on the news where a new form of swine flu has started affecting humans.  It hasn't been widespread yet, but what if it becomes more dangerous?  What do you think would happen here at work (or church or school or the grocery store) if it does and things need to shut down for a couple of weeks?  Wow.  What would you do?"  and just let them think and reply.  Don't jump right into SHTF and guns and freeze dried food.  Just get the mind churning.  Maybe close with, "I think I might stop at the drug store on my way home and pick up some extra flu medications before flu season really hits us." 

Report back here in the comments section and let us know what you found out.  Remember, it should be folks you wouldn't normally strike up a conversation with, not your buddy at the range or a fellow homeschool mom.  Maybe that guy at work you nod hello to as you pass in the halls, or a family of a different cultural background that is in the same grocery aisle as you.

Good luck and let's open up the Big Tent!


Hip Shots

Debates Tonight

I don't want to get in to politics.  Anyone who has been reading for a while knows that I have pretty strong libertarian leanings.  Anyway, I'm not going to say, "I don't care who you vote for, just exercise your right and get out there to vote."  I think that is a very dangerous attitude that leads to uninformed or disinterested voters basing their vote on what a coworker or a celebrity said to do or a ridiculous standard about who you want to have a beer with.  I encourage you to vote for the candidate who comes closest to matching your views.  If you haven't decided yet, watch the debates to see what the two major party candidates have rehearsed.  You might also go to www.ISideWith.com and take the quiz.  Don't just answer yes or no, delve deeper into the choices.  At the end, you'll see what percentage and what categories you might share with ALL of the candidates.  You might be surprised.


My step-nephew graduates from Army basic training in Ft. Jackson tomorrow.  I want to congratulate Patrick and wish him a very successful and rewarding career and say thanks for serving!

Great Book

Last night I finished reading The Battle of the Crater by William Forstchen and Newt Gingrich.  The only thing prepper-related about it is that I bought it and got it autographed by Dr. Forstchen after he spoke about One Second After at the Self Reliance Expo a couple weeks ago.  But, it is a great book.  It's a fascinating look at the Union soldiers who tunneled under Confederate defenses just down the road from my house at Petersburg.  It's mainly the story of the U.S. Colored Troops who could have turned the tide of the war at that battle if generals hadn't gotten in the way.  It's historical fiction, and a really good read.

Up Next

I was planning to start my next Forstchen book (To Try Men's Souls) tonight, but James Rawles' Founders came from Amazon tonight.  I'll get that read and a review up this weekend.




Not a real post tonight, just catching up on some housekeeping.

I've moved some things around on the blog and have updated my advertising information.

If you know any great prepper-related businesses that are looking to advertise with us, please send them a link to the Want To Work With Me page, and tell them what a great blog we have here.

I'll be back to regular writing tomorrow.

TV Review: Revolution

I'm Not Sure Yet

Have you caught Revolution yet on NBC?  Over the past two nights we've watched the first two episodes on Hulu.com.

Remember that "Scary Movie" series where they took all the memorable things from all the horror movies over the past few years and used them for humor?  I see tons of post-Apocalyptic movies that have influenced the Revolution folks.
  • Jericho - the ongoing back story and mystery people and messages that we just see or hear bits and pieces of
  • The Postman - the way the militia ride into town
  • Waterworld - some of the city shots with flooding
  • Planet of the Apes - the outfits of the militia, the way they used slave labor to pull the wagons
  • Hunger Games - the whole bow and arrow thing, in the first scene, the teacher tells a group of kids, "I know this isn't as cool as bow hunting."
At the end of the first episode, we find out that the uncle and his friend were Marine Corps Sergeants, stationed at Parris Island.  That implies they were drill instructors... but they sure had long hair and really didn't look the part.

It really shows the results of gun control.

Logically, it is hard to wrap my head around all electricity going away.  Even an EMP wouldn't take out things like flashlights and old Model T Fords.

I'm going to keep watching for a few more weeks to see if I get hooked or not.

What do you think of Revolution?