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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Closet Prepper or Out and Proud?

Original Article

So you got 2 years of food stored, 2,000 rounds of ammo, an arsenal that would make a 3rd world country proud and enough medical supplies to support an inner-city hospital … do you hide it or flaunt it?  There are pros and cons of being a vocal and known prepper in your neighborhood or town.

Keep it in the basement and let no one see!

The benefit of being a closet prepper is that you can lay low during the next disaster and not pop up on the starving neighbors’ radar when they run out of food.  In my humble opinion, closet prepping is the best way to go.  If you are known as the crazy survivalist of your neighborhood or town you are exposing yourself to unwanted attention.  There are going to be a lot of people without food and water and the LAST thing you want is those folks at your door because they know you got what they desperately need!

They will come to you for food/medicine/ammo and at first it will start off as a request.  After you deny them then their tone will turn more desperate and they will try to appeal to your sense of charity and goodwill.  After that it will get nasty.  They’re starving and pissed off and you have what they don’t … SO “F” YOU!  People will turn to animals real fast.  If they know you have it, you are a target.   They will do whatever they have to to get it.  (You know, I can’t blame them.  If I was facing a situation where my kids were starving then I would be desperate too!)

Check the video on the left called “Old Friends”to get an idea of what you might be dealing with in your neighborhood.  (originally posted by Rangerman at

After the SHTF as a closet prepper, you will need to reduce your rations so you start losing weight like everyone else.  When people start congregating out in the neighborhood and complaining about the lack of food and how tough times are … you agree with them.  Talk about how hungry the kids are and how much this sucks.  Misery loves company… don’t forget it!  No one likes people richer or happier than they are!  If you don’t believe me (I know you do, but humor me for a second) the next time people are talking about their mortgages (if you are lucky enough to still have one) mention that you don’t have a mortgage and watch the expression on their face.  They will hate you because they think you have a house that is paid for and they don’t.  I bet you the rumor flies through the neighborhood too.

You will have trouble convincing people you are struggling and hungry if you spent the last five years bragging about your food stores and medical stash.  I promise you that the neighborhood WILL turn against you if they think that you have what they don’t. 

If you got it flaunt it!

So, are there ANY benefits to flaunting your preps?  Flaunting, no.  Gently broaching the subject to judge your neighbors’ response, yes.  If no one knows your prepared mindset then you are never going to build a “group” or “militia” for when the times get tough.  Doubling or tripling up is an excellent way to increase your chances of surviving a SHTF scenario.  I don’t need to go into the benefits of doubling up, go over to Rawles’ site, he has volumes on it.  But what you need to remember is that you need to trust these people with your life, and more importantly, the lives of your children.  You can’t find these people on internet!  You need people in your neighborhood that you have known for years and that you can trust.  If you are a known prepper then you have a chance of bringing the neighborhood together or at least getting together with a few of the families when the need arises.

Other pros to being out-in-the-open … you get to invite all your prepper buds over when you get a new pair of night vision goggles or handgun.  The girls can commiserate about the best wheat grinder and share ideas for sprucing up Mountain House prepared food.  Camaraderie will aid your quest for self-sufficiency.  Be sure to go about it in tactful way.  Once people know you are a prepper … that is it.  You can’t un-ring the bell!

Thanks To My Readers!

The comments and emails about the blog have been overwhelmingly positive!  Many people have commented that as suburbanites, no one is focusing on them and the unique prep needs they (we) face.  Think about the last major SHTF scenario, it was Katrina in New Orleans.  People were on their own, without food, water or electricity.  Those weren’t wilderness retreats being flooded, those were neighborhoods … suburban neighborhoods!!

ALSO: A big thanks to Jim over at Bison Survival Blog for sending a bunch of traffic my way.  In my opinion it is the ultimate blogger compliment to have another blogger take off on your idea with thoughts of their own. 

Thanks Champ!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Simple Home Security - The Denial of Area Strategy

Four-digit combination padlock.Four-digit combination padlock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Original Article

Your home can often be made more secure by following a few simple security measures. Maintaining a safe distance is a major self defense strategy that is used on a personal level and can be readily applied to your home as well.  Using a denial of area strategy is one of the most effective means to maintain a higher level of home security. 
Any means or device that can be used to prevent an adversary from entering or crossing a specific area around your home will increase the level of your security. You will want to make it as hard as possible for them to even get close to your home without being detected. The type of device or the method used to do this doesn’t have to be totally effective and in a lot of cases it may not deter the individual who is determined to violate the security of your home. It just needs to make an approach to your home more difficult and time consuming. 
The goal of a denial of area strategy is to slow their progress, restrict their movements, limit their access or place them in a position where they may be discovered more easily. You may wish to avoid any strategies that may place you at a greater risk for personal injury (i.e., spreading broken glass outside your windows). The following security tips can help increase your level of home security.
Simple Home Security Tips
1. Deny them the cover of darkness. - Many times those seeking to violate the security of your home will prefer the cover of darkness to hide their activities. Installing good lighting outside your home that will illuminate all the entrances to your home and key areas of your yard will deny them a place to hide in the dark.
2. Deny them a safe place to hide. -  Many times thorny plants and shrubs located in strategic areas of your yard will deny them a place to safely hide. Many times they won’t be aware of the hazard you’ve provided for them until it’s too late.
3. Deny them easy access. - A good fence with locks on all gates is a good start. Forcing someone to climb a fence will slow them down and make it more time consuming for someone seeking to violate your security measures. Should someone actually get close to your home, properly installing door locks and securing your windows will slow them down even more.
Denying easy access to areas around your home is a simple way to increase the levels of your home security. 
Caltrops anyone?

Staying above the water line!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

5 Tips to Improve Your Cold Weather Survival Shelter

Original Article

building a survival shelter 

On a recent weekend camping trip with my oldest son, we decided to practice a primitive survival skill that is rapidly becoming a lost art in America, making a shelter using only those items that we could find in the woods. Although I don’t have any statistics to back up my assertion, I’d guess that fewer than one percent of all Americans have ever spent the night in the woods without the aid of a tent, camper, or RV.

We’d both done this before but decided to do it again. I wanted the added experience that comes from practice, from trial and error, from experimenting with different types shelters and available resources. My son, on the other hand, likes to do it just for fun.

We were fortunate to have relatively good weather for our weekend. The highs were in a mid-40′s F. The nighttime lows were around 25F. During the day it was windy with gusts up to 30 mph, but at least it was sunny. During the evening, the winds died down a bit. It was clear and we could see thousands of stars. That also means that there is no cloud cover to hold in the heat so the temperatures generally fall precipitously when the sun dips down below the horizon. Oh, and it was damp.
I thought I’d share some thoughts or “lessons learned” from our weekend.

Smaller is Better

A survival shelter is a functional structure designed for survival. It doesn’t have to big and fancy. It doesn’t have to look like the Swiss Family Robinson created it as a precursor to their arboreal mansion. No, it simply needs to keep you warm and dry.

A smaller structure offers advantages to a larger one. First, smaller shelters require fewer resources to make and that means you’ll burn fewer calories putting it together. This is vitally important if you are in a true survival situation and you aren’t sure from where your next meal will come.

Another advantage of a smaller shelter is that it is far better for retaining heat. Without a fire, the only source of heat you have is that which your body gives off. A smaller shelter helps to hold that warmth. Even with a fire smaller shelters are more easily heated.

For a simple slanted A-Frame shelter, the inside space should only be about a foot broader and higher than you. If your shoulders are 30 inches, the insider of your shelter should be around 42 inches across at your shoulders and get more narrow toward your feet.

Remember: smaller means less work and more warmth.

Consider the Elements

consider the elements when building a survival shelter

The old real estate axiom “The three most important things in real estate are location, location, location.” holds true for erecting survival shelters, too.

Before rushing into building a shelter, spend a few minutes scouting for a good location. Ideally your location will be close to a source of water and a have a plentiful supply of easily collected firewood. But there is more to selecting a location than that.

A good location will make use of naturally occurring formations. The downwind side of a downed tree, the side of a relatively large dirt mound, or the side of a large rock all make for a good start to a shelter. Add some support sticks, leaves, and boughs to create a good shelter.

Be mindful of the prevailing winds when consider a location. Orient your shelter so that the door does not face into the wind. Avoid building a shelter right in the middle of a field if you expect rain or winds. Don’t build your shelter in a low-lying area or too close to the water’s edge as unexpected rain could flood your shelter.

Get Off the Ground

An air temperature of 75F makes for a pleasantly warm day. However, 75F in the swimming pool is not fun for long. Liquids and solids (like pool water or the earth) can steal your heat away much more efficiently than the air. That’s why it’s important to get off the ground in your shelter if possible.

Use evergreen boughs or layers of straw as a bedding. This will help insulate you from the cold damp ground and keep a heat loss in that direction to a minimum. Additionally the bedding will act as a pad and make your night a bit more comfortable.

On this trip, I tried something that I hadn’t tried before. I skipped making a bedding for me and opted to use an Emergency Blanket as a barrier between me and the ground. I reasoned that if it reflected 90% of the heat back to me, I would have minimal loss to the earth. So, I wrapped myself up in the blanket and went to sleep. As the night wore on, I got chilled. The blanket provided a descent water barrier between me and the ground, but it didn’t help protect me from the cold ground. It’s better than nothing but I’d recommend evergreen boughs if you have them.

Leave Ample Time

leave time to build a shelter

Making a survival shelter takes time. Gathering the requisite supplies putting them together will probably take longer than you think.

If you find yourself unexpectedly lost in the woods for the night, don’t continue to search for your way out until it gets too dark to see well. That will make erecting a shelter more difficult. Accept your situation. Recognize that you are going to spend the night in the woods, and begin making your shelter before that sun goes down.

Pace yourself. Don’t work so hard or fast that you sweat. As Les Stroud of Survivorman fame is fond of saying “If you sweat, you die.” Work at a good, steady pace and remove layers of clothing to regulate your core body temperature. A shirt drenched in sweat will freeze at night making for an uncomfortable experience at best.

Be Prepared

Don’t go into the woods unprepared. Know the terrain of where you’re going to hike or camp ahead of time. Familiarize yourself with a topographical map before setting foot in the woods. Let someone else know where you’re going and when to expect your return. If you get injured or lost and don’t return as expected, they can notify the authorities and send help. That may just prevent an unexpected night in the wilderness altogether.
Bring your survival kit with you so you’ll be prepared for most any situation. A good kit will have ways to start a fire, to navigate through the woods, to signal or call for help, for capturing and preparing potential food sources, for purifying water, etc.

Learn survival skills and practice them before you actually need them. They may just save your life.

Related Posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Will An EMP Fry The Electronic Lock On My Safe?

Original Article


Reader Question:
Saw the two articles on EMP (my biggest fear). In a moment of stupidity I bought a gun safe with a electronic lock instead of a dial lock. I just can’t get it out of my head that this will be a epic disaster if an EMP hits. I was looking to place some sort of protection over the keypad and have seen an article that a cage resting over it may be of some protection, but I have also seen some EMP protection bags which I thought if you sealed over the keypad would accomplish the same thing. I think they are like Antistatic bags you get computer parts in. So my question is would this work, or would the metal of the safe channel the pulse into the backside of the keypad and fry it anyway? Is anything kept inside a gun safe also proofed against an EMP? I would think it is, but curious.

I would suspect that yes, the electronic locking mechanism of a safe could be at risk due to an EMP. Although electronic locking mechanisms can be real convenient, they also make me nervous because they all need a power source. Remove the power source and you’re stuck. Unless of course the safe also has a physical key that will override the electronic lock. Some do…
I also suspect that if you were able to cover the exposed portion of the electronic lock (keypad) with conductive mesh or solid metal, and as long as the metal is electrically connected with the surface of the safe with no gaps, then you will probably be OK. Remember though that the connectivity will need to mate with metal on metal, not metal on painted or enameled surface. This could be a challenge.
Another concern is ‘how’ the electronic lock is fastened to the metal door itself. Are any of the electronic circuits inside actually touching the metal for example… probably not, but who knows…

You mentioned Antistatic bag material. This may be an interesting solution. If you use the conductive ‘metalized’ or ‘aluminized’ mylar along with some eclectically conductive tape (they do make such a thing), you could tape the mylar to the surface of the safe, which would give you the required electrical bond, as long as you’re not taped to paint or enamel.

The things inside the safe would only be protected if they were insulated from the metal of the safe – not touching it. The interior could be lined with cardboard, or the electronic device inside could be wrapped in a heavy material or simply kept in a box inside.

You could theoretically transform one of your closets into an EMP-friendly closet by lining the walls, ceiling and floor (and door) with conductive material. Being sure that all walls are electrically tied together, you could keep your safe inside this room and feel fairly ‘safe’ against EMP.

Next time, just buy a good old fashioned safe with a combination lock or key ;)

Be aware that Mylar is a polyester film and an electrically insulating material. Metalized mylar is what emergency blankets are made from, as well as most food storage bags (although their thickness varies).
Polymer Science Metallized Fabric EMI Shielding Tape, 1″ x 50′
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10)

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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Easy Oat Bread

Original Article

English: Bread from IndiaImage via Wikipedia

  • 1 1/4 cup warm water (105-115F)
  • 2 teaspoon active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoon butter, melted, for brushing

    In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit, 5-10 minutes.
    In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

    Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

    Preheat the oven to 350F. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. You can finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat -to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Brush on remaining melted butter on top of loaf. Serve warm, slathered with butter and your favorite jam.

    There is no kneading involved with this bread and it only rises for 30 minutes. Super quick and easy. It is moist with a crispy crust and very yummy. It’s a keeper.
Related articles

Monday, March 26, 2012

Will A Metal Garage Protect From EMP?

Original Article


Reader Question:
I have a very big workshop/Garage and it is 95% metal. Would it protect my cars electrical systems in the event of an EMP attack?

An enclosed metal structure is ideal for protection of electronic systems against an EMP attack (or a natural EMP occurrence from the sun). There is one very large caveat though… that is, there can be no big ‘leaks’ in the structure. A 95% enclosure will still allow electro-magnetic radiation to get in, provided that the opening is larger than the wavelength of the radiation.

An ideal Faraday cage is enclosed in metal conductive material on ALL (6) sides, including the floor. This could be the Achilles heel to stand-alone metal sheds that are simply setting on the ground with no conductive material underneath to complete the enclosure circuit. EM radiation, if strong enough, will be conducting through the top surfaces of the ground and may find its way in through the open floor. A well constructed and grounded floor ‘may’ suffice though – poured concrete with re-bar that is well grounded for example.
An important factor to keep in mind is to be sure that the ‘electronic’ items that you are protecting should not be in contact with the metal enclosure of the Faraday cage. Keep them electrically insulated from it in some way – including from the floor.

To keep out microwave frequencies (emitted during an EMP along with other broadband ‘noise’), a typical screen mesh is small enough to keep it out, given that microwave wavelengths are about 5 inches, and provided that the seams of the screen-to-metal are electrically connected with the metal framework.

Also of note, a vehicle’s electronic systems are located all over the place on the vehicle. Although many parts of the vehicle are enclosed to a large degree, a problem is that most cars today have a-lot of plastic instead of metal on their enclosures, and would not prevent all EMP from getting in.

Your best solution sounds like plugging up the 5% leakage that you have with some sort of metal conductive screening material. Your doors must also be metal or entirely screened. The diameter holes in chicken wire should ‘technically’ be sufficient, but I would be safe and go with metal window screen mesh.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Microwave Oven Used As A Faraday Cage?

Original Article


Reader Question:
Can an old microwave oven be used as a Faraday cage?

YES, an old microwave is perfect for use as a Faraday cage against EMP (electro magnetic pulse). In fact, it is a Faraday cage! A Faraday cage is an enclosure formed by conducting material or by a mesh of such material. A microwave oven’s very design is to enclose the electro-magnetic radiation of microwaves, and keep them from getting out. The reverse will also be true – they can’t get in.

Think of a Faraday cage as a reflector. A reflector of electro-magnetic waves. It reflects waves on the outside from getting in and waves on the inside from getting out.

A Faraday cage by its very definition does not have to be grounded to reflect or keep out electro-magnetic waves (they normally are not grounded). From inside the cage, it makes no difference if the conductive shell is grounded or not. The inside ‘doesn’t know’ about the outside with regards to electro magnetic radiation.
The effectiveness of the ‘reflection’ properties of a Faraday cage depends upon the wavelength of the electro-magnetic radiation in question, the diameter of the holes in the cage’s conductive material, and the conductivity of the material itself. Aluminum, or even steel window screen is “good enough” to prevent any significant electro-magnetic radiation.

Most purpose built “Faraday cages” that you buy are made out of copper screen instead of solid metal. As long as the holes in the screen are smaller than the wavelength of the frequencies you are trying to protect against, screen works just as well as a solid piece of metal.

An EMP is a broadband, high-intensity, short-duration burst of electromagnetic energy. In the case of a nuclear detonation, the electromagnetic pulse consists of a continuous frequency spectrum. Most of the energy is distributed throughout the lower frequencies between 3 Hz and 30 kHz. However the first effects of nuclear detonation are the very-high-frequency pulses, in the microwave range, and can work their way into Faraday cages if there are cracks, seams, or vents.

The frequency of a microwave oven is 2.45 GHz (gigahertz) and has a wavelength of 4.82 inches. Since the holes of the screen mesh of a microwave oven are small compared to the wavelength of the microwave itself, little radiation can leak out. There are also mesh screens on the sides of the oven cavity, one to protect the oven light while allowing it to shine into the cavity, the other to permit ventilation.
A microwave will indeed protect your electronic gadgets during an EMP, so long as you don’t press ‘START’…

We would like to involve you, the Reader, more!
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Email questions to the following and type “Reader Questions” into the subject line.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

60 Ways to Procure Food on the Cheap

Original Article

Have you noticed how the price of food skyrocketing these days?  While we were traveling for a year we were blissfully unaware of the cost of food as we usually ate out or ate with friends as we traveled.  Occasionally we would shop for a meal and cook but now that we are cooking nearly 100% of the time--and buying groceries to create these meals--I find the cost of food quite shocking (don't worry, I'll get to gas prices in a few days).  Here's 60 ways to feed yourself on the cheap:
  1. Skip restaurants. The $50 you pay for one meal at a restaurant could pay for a week's worth of food to eat at home.
  2. Dumpster dive. The bigger the city, apparently the better the pickings. There seems to be an art--and a science--to doing this so do a bit of research online (Google 'dumpster diving') before you head out.
  3. Sign up for food stamps if you qualify.  Many people qualify these days and don't even know it so Google your state's food stamp program and find out.
  4. Hit up your local food pantry for food you can take home and cook.
  5. Visit your local Salvation Army; they often provide free meals as well as food stuff to take home with you.
  6. Get a list of the free meal sites in your area and go. These are usually sponsored by churches and other social service organizations; all you have to do is show up and eat.
  7. Visit local churches, sometimes they can give you food or food vouchers.
  8. Forage for your own food. Depending on the season you can find nuts and berries, tree fruit, and mushrooms growing wild.
  9. Go fishing.
  10. Go hunting.
  11. What other foods are readily available for the taking in your area?  When I used to live near Seattle, we had beaches and beaches full of clams, oysters, crabs, even the super expensive goeducks--all which could be harvested for the cost of a permit and some home-made traps.
  12. Check out the loss leaders for your local grocery stores. Many people base their entire meals on these highly discounted food items which are meant to lure into the store so you will buy other stuff. Just buy the cheap loss leaders and skip everything else.
  13. Shop in ethnic stores. Many ethnic grocery stores have super cheap prices on stapes, fruit, vegetables, and fish.
  14. Shop the day-old bakery rack in your grocery store and the nearly out of date discounted meat items in the meat department.
  15. Check out bakery outlet stores in your area for bargain basement bakery items.
  16. Check out how these people were able to feed themselves on a dollar a day: Example #1 Example #2 Example #3
  17. Make soup. Soup with whatever you have on hand can make a bigger, heartier meal than just cooking up the few items that you are putting into it. Ditto with stir-frys and casseroles.
  18. Call 211. This is a national number you can call and ask for help with any social service need that you have. They can direct you to places to get free food and free meals as well as many other services you may need.
  19. If you have an old Costco or Sam's Club card, simply go into the stores and wander around the food aisles picking up food samples. Some days you can get a complete meal this way.
  20. Go to the mall or other community gathering place. Sometimes but not always you can score free food samples in the food court, free samples at events, and free items/coupons for new products that are being promoted.
  21. Crash events where there will be food: church socials, funerals, community meetings, community events, weddings, parties, etc.
  22. Trade work for food. If you walk by a restaurant that has dirty windows, for example, offer to clean the windows in trade for a meal.
  23. Check in with reddit.  Both this and this subreddit offer a place to ask for food (and often people respond!)
  24. If you live in a farming area, ask the farmer if you can glean his fields after the harvest.
  25. Choose a full time or part time job that offers free food as a benefit (many restaurants, coffee shops, and bars give their employees a free meal each day they work).
  26. Go an a date! My sister finds all of her dates through online dating sites. They often take her out for dinner and pick up the tab (not sure how well this would work for guys though).
  27. Check out Freecycle and the free section of CraigsList, pick up some items for free, then resell them at your own garage sale (people have been known to do this, fix the item up a bit, then relist it for sale on CraigsList too). Use the money earned for food.
  28. Shop in the bulk bin section of the grocery store. Here you can pick up a pound of rice and a pound of beans for a dollar and have food for a week!
  29. Cook from scratch. Skip the expensive processed foods and make your own breads, soups, casseroles, etc. It is generally much cheaper to make things from scratch than to buy pre-made items.
  30. Have people you can fall back on for food. When I was a starving college student, I knew that every time I went to grandma's house she would have a hot meal waiting for me (of course I would have visited her meal or no but this was definitely a bonus!).
  31. Panhandle on a street corner. Most people would say "no way" to this but if you and your kids are actually starving, this may be the most expedient way to get some cash together to buy food.
  32. If you have ever served in the military, check out your local military service center, DAV, or VFW hall and see what resources are available to you.
  33. If you are a senior citizen, see what services you qualify for (there are many senior-only meal sites in our area as well as a free meal delivery program specifically for seniors).
  34. If you are a tribal member, check with your tribe's social service office to see what services (food as well as others) that you qualify for.
  35. Shop at the Dollar Store. You need to know your prices, of course, as some items can be had for less than a dollar at other stores, however Dollar Stores can have some great prices on food.
  36. Sign your kids up for the free meal program at school if you qualify. This will reduce the amount of food you will need at home to feed them. Note that schools often have free meal programs during the summer as well when school isn't in session to ensure that kids get a good meal or two each day (breakfast and lunch).
  37. Google for ideas. People are always coming up with new and interesting ways to save money on food costs. By Googling the topic, you will find many ways to cut food costs (try terms such as 'save money on food', 'cut food costs', 'eating for cheap or free', 'cheap meals', etc).
  38. Pay attention to unit prices. When you are spending your hard-earned money on food, you want to make sure you are getting the best deal possible. Compare prices by unit (cost of ounce by ounce or pound by pound which is usually located on the shelf tag) to get the best deal possible.
  39. Use coupons. You can find coupons in newspaper ad sections, online, in the mail, and even at the grocery store itself. It takes a while to create a coupon "system" but you could end up spending a lot less on food.
  40. Be sure to use store loyalty cards as well to get sale prices on the food you buy.
  41. Buy in bulk. With some items, you can pay much less by buying in bulk. My favorite item to buy in bulk is a giant box of oatmeal for around $7 at Costco.
  42. Make a price book. It takes a bit of work to put together a food price book but some people swear by this method of keeping track of prices on the food their family most commonly uses. This way you will be able to know for sure what a "good price" is on the food items you buy.
  43. Grow your own food. Obviously this isn't a quick fix to your hunger problems but if you have a patch of land and a bit of know how, the cost of buying a packet of seeds (around $1 on sale) can pay off handsomely at the end of the growing season.
  44. Use food up instead of letting it go bad (make pie out of squishy apples, bake banana bread out of over ripe bananas, chop the rotten spots off of vegetables and add them to stews, etc).  This keeps you from literally throwing away money.
  45. Write to food manufacturers. When I find a product I like, I have, in the past, written to the food company to rave about their product. Often they send me coupons, product samples, and the like just because I took the time to shot them off a quick letter or email.
  46. On the other hand, be sure to rant about a food product if you have just cause (this works when corresponding with food companies as well as at restaurants). Usually the company wants to make it right and will reward your efforts with free products, coupons, etc.
  47. Know where you can get the most "bang for your buck" in the food aisle. Eggs, rice, beans, peanut butter, want to spend your limited supply of cash on items that are reasonably healthy, reasonably cheap, and reasonably filling.
  48. Buy generic or store brands. Many people who have been used to just tossing (highly advertised) food in their cart may feel like generics and store brands are some how beneath them. Not true. Most items are exactly like the highly advertised products, only much cheaper (note, make sure store and generic brands are, in fact, cheaper than a name brand product which is on sale...sometimes the name brand product can actually be cheaper).
  49. Shop local. Try Farmer's Markets, especially at the end of the day, to get great prices on nutritious food.
  50. Take advantage of freebies. This site lists every restaurant that will give you a free meal/menu item on your birthday. Other places give out freebies on certain days (ie: Ben and Jerry's has a "free cone" day).
  51. Go to a fast food place and hit up their Dollar menu.  Obviously you don't want to do this all the time because, well, it isn't healthy, but it can be filling in a pinch.
  52. Keep a written list of the restaurant specials in your area.  I learned this from a homeless lady when I asked her where she eats each day.  On Mondays it's a local burger place with 79 cent burgers, on Tuesdays it's Popeye's two pieces of chicken for a dollar deal, on Wednesday's it's Del Taco for three tacos for $1.08, etc.
  53. "Potluck" with others. If each person brings one dish, you will all eat like kings.
  54. Scour the internet or library for ethnic food recipes (Asian, Indian, Mexican, etc). In most countries they don't eat like we do in America (ie: the notion that you need a slab of meat on your plate at every meal and a big hunk of carbs). Ethnic cooking tends to focus on meals you can feed a large family for cheap (ie: rice, beans, soups, etc).
  55. Take a multi-vitamin. A bottle of vitamins will cost around $10 for a month. This will help make up for any nutritional deficiencies you may have when eating so cheaply.
  56. Think attitude and presentation. My Depression-era grandmother could feed the family a simple plate of beans and rice and we would think we were feasting. Mostly it was her positive attitude ("look at the wonderful meal I cooked just for you") and the presentation (beautiful plates, multiple "courses" like we were eating in a fancy restaurant when we were actually eating bean soup, beans and tortillas, beans and hocks, etc).
  57. Look for cheaper alternatives. If you were used to eating T Bones steaks, find a much cheaper cut of beef and roast it for hours until it is tender. If you were used to getting skinless, boneless chicken breasts for dinner, buy a whole chicken on sale and use every part of it.
  58. Learn to barter. You can trade just about anything (ie: friend shoots a deer, you offer to butcher it for him and keep part of the animal) and with enough practice as well as contacts with other barterers, you could very well end up with much more than you started with.
  59. Learn to preserve food.  Freezing is a simple way to preserve food when you end up with an overabundance of something.  Canning, smoking, dehydrating, making jam, etc are other ways to preserve the harvest and have super cheap food for the future.
  60. Don't be afraid to try new things--whether it is approaching a free meal site, trying a super cheap (and unidentifiable) food at the Asian grocery store, or literally asking for help because you seriously need it--be brave and try something new.  You may end up richly rewarded.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doomsday Preppers on National Geographic Channel – A REVIEW

Original Article

Well folks, as the popularity of our culture/ideals/beliefs spreads – we will start to see more of this time of television.  There have been shows about prepping before but not like this.  This appears to be about “real” preppers (quotes are intentional), what they are prepping for and then “professional preppers” critique their setup.  Why wasn’t I asked to consult on this show?  NatGeo… I am waiting!  Check out the show’s page HERE at National Geographic’s Site.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS / OPENING THOUGHTS: Ok, first off the show wasn’t bad and held my attention.  It featured actually people so the general public can relate.  This is opposed to experts (sometimes nutbags) who usually just speak at the camera.  Let’s face it – there are very REAL reasons why we should prep and there are some waaaaay out there crazy reasons too.  I am not judging you and why you prep BUT, if you are asking main stream America to get with the program then perhaps we should focus on the more mainstream reasons for prepping:
  1. Earthquakes / Tsunami / Floods / Hurricanes / Tornados / Influenza / Terrorist Attack – Yes.
  2. Economic collapse / Peak oil / Meteor strike – Maybe.
  3. Alien Invasion /Mayan Calendar End of World / Rapture - I don’t think so.
The events referenced in set #1 have happened and will happen again and therefore mainstream America has seen the horrible effects right on the their TV via CNN.  List #2 could happen but haven’t happened in our modern history and therefore are out of sight and out of mind.  The #3 list are arguably fantasy and although theoretically possible – any prepper running around claiming they are prepping for these scenarios casts a negative shadow on what we are doing.

THEREFORE - Even if you believe in #2 or #3 – please downplay it for the good of prepping so more people will embrace what we are doing. REMEMBER – the more people who are prepared and self-sufficient, the less people we will have to shoot when they come for our preps!

THE REVIEW - The episode I watched last night had a couple from Texas prepping for the reversal of the magnetic poles and basic complete SHTF, a plant enthusiast (to use the term lightly!) in LA prepping for an earthquake and a girl living in some city (I think Texas again) prepping for peak oil.  Everyone gets credit for realizing that self-sufficiency is an insurance policy and it is better to be prepped than not.

#1 Texas Couple with Container Fortress.  Ok, who can fault these guys for having a container fortress with 50 years of food?  Not me!  If I had to join a group these guys would be #1 on my list (although I wasn’t a fan of the shit-brown shirts they seem to love but oh well) They also have found other like-minded people, some with a military background, to group together this is usually very difficult to do.  This group was my favorite and I thought that they had done a FANTASTIC job prepping.  They came across a little nutty because their preps were so in-depth but – if the world goes to shit – they will be sitting pretty.  I also like how they were not mall ninjas – everything they had they did themselves.  They had skills and were living their daily life as they would during SHTF.  How cool was the methane production capacity?  Add to it their bug-out plan and they are seriously good-to-go!

#2 Hippy Plant Lover.  I am sorry but this guy got on my nerves.  Really dude?  You are prepping for an earthquake and plant-eating is your focus?  Get a box of MREs and avoid having to stop at all to forage for plants and kill squirrels with your damn sling.  $20 bucks says he can’t hit the ground with that sling!  Then he has barter items in his bag – sir… during the time you are trying to escape from LA after an earthquake is not going to be the time when barter systems are setup.  You will be shot and your stuff taken.  Period.  I think he had the right idea in that he was ready to walk out of LA and having a B.O.B is good – be a little more realistic buddy and ditch the plant gathering while escaping LA.  Once out in the wild and IF you find a group to associate with – your skills will be VERY valuable, until then you are a liability.

#3 Peak Oil Gung-Ho Girl.  Props to NatGeo for finding a singe female who is prepping.  Props to this girl for prepping.  But if she was really concerned about peak oil – she should definitely live outside of the city.  She said she was a web consultant or something like that – you can do that job anywhere.  So her WHOLE plan was to walk (chuckle) out of the city with pink shorts on and a headlamp (chuckle more) in order to get to a prepositioned vehicle that she expects to still be there and not on fire (all out laughter at this point).  COME ON!  Either have your car at home so you don’t have to walk out of the city during general unrest OR bug-in.  She joined the army in the end so she gets love for that.  Anyone in the armed forces is good with me.  I also didn’t like how NatGeo says “she regularly trains with firearms” when it was clear that she had never fired a shotgun or AR and had limited (if any skills) with a handgun.

There are my thoughts.  Great to see prepping mainstream so we’ll take what we can get. Can’t wait to see more episodes!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Powdered Charcoal for Medical Uses.

Original Article

Activated charcoal U.S.P, is a pure naturally produced, wood charcoal carbon.  One teaspoonful has a surface area activated powdered charcoalof more than 10,000 square feet.  This allows it to adsorb large amounts of chemicals or poisons.  Always store charcoal in a tightly sealed container.  It readily adsorbs impurities from the atmosphere.  Charcoal from burnt toast is not effective, and charcoal briquettes can be dangerous because they contain fillers and petrochemicals to help them ignite.

Activated charcoal can help with mild digestive upsets, stop diarrhea, viral and bacterial infections. Activated charcoal adsorbs toxins, renders them inert and carries them through the digestive tract. Charcoal is not metabolized or digested by the human body. It is a valuable aid in the treatment of accidental poisonings.
A 1981 study shows that activated charcoal cuts down on the amount of gas produced by beans and other gas-producing foods.  Charcoal adsorbs excess gas as well as the bacteria that form the gas.  It is also helpful in relieving symptoms of nervous diarrhea, traveler’s diarrhea,  spastic colon, indigestion, and peptic ulcers.  For such problems, it is suggested that you take 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of powdered charcoal up to 3 times a day.  Take it between meals, as food can reduce its effectiveness.  If you are using charcoal tablets instead of capsules mix the charcoal in a glass of water and drink.

Activated charcoal is inexpensive, simple to use and is a time-tested natural remedy that has many valuable uses without dangerous side effects

Do not take charcoal with other medications it may adsorb and inactivate them.  Usually you can take charcoal two hours before or after other medications . If you are taking prescription drugs, check with your doctor before beginning treatment with charcoal.

Tablets or capsules of activated carbon are used in many countries as an over-the-counter drug to treat diarrhea, indigestion, and flatulence

The 1 July 1977 issue of the Special Forces Medical Specialist Handbook in Appendix 33 Primitive Medicine in a Survival Situation discusses the uses of charcoal.  One of the big problems in prisoner of war camps in Korea was dysentery.  One of the treatments that helped was to take charcoal.  Their method was to take a partially burned piece of wood, scrape off the charred portions and swallow them.  They would take about a handful.  This charcoal was not activated but still helped.  The more you break it into powder the better.
If you decide to make your own, use charcoal from a fire in which only clean wood has been burned.
I have used charcoal for upset stomach problems for many years with good success.  I always keep some around.  It is is available at most health food stores, some pharmacies and on the internet.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Survival Kit: Signal Mirror

Original Article

A signal mirror is one of the many things that you could choose to add to your survival kit. It is a tool that could save your life. A signal mirror is, you guessed it, a mirror – but it’s design and purpose is to alert others of your location.

An ordinary reflective mirror is better than nothing, and will work if handled properly. The thing is, it will not be as effective as a mirror designed to be a ‘signal mirror’ which includes features that help you to aim the mirror precisely at the target (an aircraft, ship, vehicle, spotter, etc.).

The secret to a true signal mirror is something called retro-reflecting material, or a retro-reflective mesh style ‘aimer’.

“Retro-reflective” means that the light is reflected back to the source. In the context of a signal mirror aiming device (the round hole and mesh in the middle), this material consists of tiny glass beads glued to a mesh screen, which creates a fireball on the mesh (an image of the sun), which is used to indicate where to point the mirror. You tilt the mirror to overlay the fireball on your target.


The original patent for the signal mirror (# 2,557,108) was issued in 1951 to inventor, Richard Hunter.

A few key notes from the Mil-Spec…
Military Specification MIL-M-18371D(ASG), Mirrors, Emergency Signaling
  • 2 different types of signal mirror, a 2×3″ and a 3×5″
  • 2 layers of glass laminated together with a sighting device and lanyard
  • Wide angle retro reflecting material for sighting

Signal Mirror Aiming Instructions:
  • Reflect sunlight from mirror onto a nearby surface, hand, etc.
  • Slowly bring mirror up to eye level and look through sighting hole. You will see a bright light spot. This is the aim indicator.
  • Hold the mirror close to the eye and slowly turn and manipulate it so that the bright light spot is on the target.
  • Even though no aircraft or ships are in sight, continue sweeping the horizon, for mirror flashes may be seen for many miles, even in hazy weather.
Note: Never look directly at the sun, that includes through the aiming hole!

Not every signal mirror is made from glass. In fact most are made with plastics and other reflective coated materials for lighter weight and cost. However, the signal flash produced from a glass mirror cannot be beat. Here’s one that I found online:
Military Glass Signal Mirror

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to Light Up Your World, part 1: Oil Lamps

Original Article

using oil lamps after the end of the world
“Light” and “darkness” have been important features since the creation of the world.  The two opposites provide division of our days and help set the rhythm of our body clocks.  In addition to providing us the opportunity to see once the sun has gone down, light has always been important to people as a source of comfort.
We like to have candles to light when a storm knocks out the power.  We want to have a flashlight handy to determine the cause of the thump in the night.  If the electrical grid should fail for any length of time, how would you provide that precious light?
In this series, I want to cover some of the various possibilities you might consider for light sources.  I will focus on one or two per posting, discussing the pros and cons of that source, and list some choices in style or brand.  I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions too.

Oil Lamps

The oil lamp has been around in one form or another for a LONG time.  One of my favorite passages in the Bible even mentions the wise young ladies who brought extra oil along for their lamps and those who ran out while they waited (Matthew 25) .
An oil lamp can be made at home with found materials-  as simple as a wick of some sort sticking up out of a jar of olive oil or even something fun and unusual.  There are also lots of reputable companies that make durable ones, too.  Lehman’s carries some.  Beyond the old-timey looking and lantern styles, there are some beautiful tabletop versions that look like porcelain or brass lamps even.

Benefits vs. Drawbacks

Some of the pros for choosing oil lamps for a light source include:
1.  you have a choice of oils to use-  kerosene, “lamp oil, and olive oil will all usually burn in the typical oil lamp.   It’s possible to even burn used cooking oil, but it will likely give off the smell of whatever you cooked in it
2.  they can be nearly odorless- kerosene is the exception hereoil lamp
3.  little to no smoke-  this will depend on what type of oil you choose, but they tend to produce less smoke than candles and some other fuels
4.  many can be hung or mounted on the walls to provide something like a sconce;  others are made to be portable
And the cons:
1.  kerosene is a non-renewable fossil fuel that produces an odor many find disagreeable, especially indoors
2.  it’s not advisable to put different kinds of fuel/oil in the same lamp.  Many advise replacing the wick if you have to empty the lamp and fill with a different oil
3.  lamps need occasional cleaning and filling
4.  lamps may contain breakable glass
I’d advise stocking oil and extra wicks.  If you run out of wicks, it is possible to fashion your own.  Note that the addition of salt to the wicking material will help make it stiff and slow down the rate of burn of the wick itself.
Important note:  In the U.S., “paraffin” oil is a liquid candle-like oil.  In the UK, “paraffin” means kerosene.  Be sure you know what you are buying and how it can safely be burned.  Kerosene is less viscous and draws up the wick more easily, often producing a brighter light.  It has a lower “flash point” than paraffin lamp oil.  Sometimes lamps or wicks work better with one fuel vs. the other.  Be sure you read the instructions that come with any lamp you purchase.  NEVER put an unapproved petroleum based oil in a lamp to burn- it may explode!
Got a favorite brand of lamp or oil?  Any tips to share?  Do you scent the oil?  Please share in the comments section below.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Grains: Millet

Original Article

Millet is a type of grain cultivated in East Asia. It is safe to eat for those with celiac disease, making it a good grain to store in your food storage in place of wheat.

To make millet we need water...and millet.

Add 1 cup millet to a pan

and add 3 cups water.   The ratio to cook millet is 1 part millet to 3 parts water.

Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat for 12 minutes.  When that 12 minutes is up, remove from heat entirely and keep covered for another 20 minutes.

After the cooking time is over, this is what your millet will look like. All the water will have been absorbed by the millet.  It looks a bit like couscous at this point. Although a bit thicker.

Fluff with a fork and add seasonings. Millet is very bland on its own so be sure to add salt and pepper and other seasonings if desired.  You could also cook the millet in chicken broth/vegetable broth instead of water if desired.

I believe Mountain Man added dried parsley and oregano, and a little lemon juice to this version.

Serve as the main carbohydrate alongside your protein and vegetable!

I thought millet tasted like a cross between couscous and quinoa.  With the right seasonings, it was quite delicious.


1 cup millet
3 cups water
salt and pepper
other seasonings (optional)

Combine millet and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat, let simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat entirely and let sit for 20 minutes (keep covered).  Fluff with a fork and add seasonings as desired.

Makes 4 servings

Have any of you tried millet before? What did you think?  Any tips for us?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Value of Books Post-Collapse


Original Article:
In the comet/apocalypse classic Lucifer's Hammer, one of the survivors takes the effort to cache hundreds of books--individually sealed and then buried an a cleared out septic tank. They're books on a wide range of topics--science, industry, history--with the intent that they could be used to one day rebuild civilization.

No survivor should be without a library of useful books, be they military manuals and survival guides, technical manuals, religious texts, histories or more theoretical. They can teach useful skills and knowledge pre-collapse, and help with survival and rebuilding efforts if/when the collapse comes.

In this day and age of easily available internet info and digital readers, physical printed books are often overlooked. Unfortunately, in a collapse scenario, this information would quickly become unavailable. Good luck getting those how-to's on YouTube when the grid is down.

Printing could quickly become a valued skill post-collapse. Community bulletins, newsletters and updates could become a primary means of communication. Then there's of course the ability to copy other books and print new ones--the printing press is hailed as one of man's greatest achievements for a reason. Something to think about for those considering their role in an apocalyptic society.

A library of useful books could also become a source of barter and support--some books could become essentially priceless. Without the grid--computers, TV, movies--even B-grade novels would be highly valued as forms of diversion and escape.

I'm one of those who dislikes the massive clutter that comes with a large book collection, so the siren's call of digital readers is sweet to me. An eReader like a Kindle powered by a solar set up is a potential option, and a heck of a lot more mobile than a library of a couple thousand books. Unfortunately, they're prone to damage, breaking, etc. We have printed books that are centuries old--let's see your Kindle last that long.

What are some of your must-have books for after the fall of civilization? What's your strategy--are you focused on a single topic of interest (woodlands survival, blacksmithing, medical, etc.) or more widely spread?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Food prices and the future…..

Original Article

food, prices, economic collapse, shortage, food storage, storage, survival, preparedness, SHTF
I do most of the grocery shopping in my household and do my best to get the most for my money. Over the past few months I have seen a series of increases and wonder if it will continue. These increases are not so drastic that I suspect many people just do not notice. Increasing prices just a few pennies at a time and/or shrinking the size of the package by a few ounces masks to most what is going on.

Once or twice a week I stop at Bojangles and buy a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit along with a large Diet Pepsi.  Last summer I was paying $4.24 for the combo. Last week I paid $4.71.  That is an 11% increase. Not massive hyperinflation but it is a decent increase.

I used to buy large cans of Bush’s Baked Beans for .99 cents. That was a few year ago. Last summer the price had risen to $1.25 at Wal-Mart and $1.50 at my local grocery store. I complained back then. Just recently I found the same product at Wal-Mart for $1.89 at Wally-World and $2.15 at that same grocery store.  That is almost a 37%+ increase.

Last spring I would buy the store brand loaf of bread at my local grocery store for .99 cents. I am now paying about $1.45 for the same loaf. That is another 46% increase.

These are but a few of many possible examples of prices increases. Beyond just the raw prices increases I am finding sales are not as good as they once were. Additionally some stores have tightened their coupon policies which surmount to a price increase as well.

Every nickle and every dime add up. With the price of gas on the rise which no doubt will effect food prices (and everything else) – no better time than the present to stock up.


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