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27 January, 2015

H&R Pardner Pump 12 Gauge – Great Budget Shotgun for Home Defense and a Poor Man's Version of the Remington 870 Express

Few weapons are geared better for the defense of one's home than the classic 12-gauge shotgun. Plenty of stopping power, while simultaneously allowing you to choose the load you prefer with respect to ammunition, and with a ballistics spread (typically about 1 inch per yard to the target) that is more forgiving in case one of your family members isn't quite a crack shot (don't believe the myths about aim no longer being important with a shotgun, however – as I stated, the spread only expands at a rate of around 1 inch per yard traveled from the barrel, so it is still important to practice shooting). Probably the two most widely-owned and touted shotguns on the market today are the Mossberg 500 series and the Remington 870 and their variants, but – as should always be true with regard to emergency preparedness – affordability is also key.

That being said, one should never allow the price point of a piece of survival gear to occupy a more important spot in their thinking than does the safety of their family and friends or the defense of their home. You don't want to cheap-out when lives could be at stake, but that doesn't translate to a need to deck yourself out in the most expensive gear possible either. Also, there is a great deal of research (conducted by the United States military) that pretty much guarantees whichever side in a gunfight is capable of sending more lead downrange nearly always prevails, so a cheaper firearm that leaves money left over in the budget to stock up on ammunition is always an important factor to consider.

And, for that reason, I would like to take this opportunity to place the spotlight on a weapon that is sitting on my personal wish list and which will probably be my next firearm purchase: the H&R Pardner 12 gauge shotgun, which is made by the same company who owns the Remington and Marlin brands and accepts the vast majority of aftermarket parts produced for the Remington 870 Express, yet will only set you back about half as much, leaving a lot of room in the budget to stock up on shells...


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26 January, 2015

DIY First-Aid Kit, Part 3

Read Part 1 & Part 2

After having gotten a fairly decent start on my little DIY first-aid kits, I still felt as though I was missing quite a bit, and then it dawned on me that – although I have included things like alcohol and peroxide to keep wounds from getting infected and protective gloves for use in treating an injured person – I still lack vital resources for taking care of a downed individual. And, I've also been looking for a way to repurpose these little plastic snack containers that I didn't really want to throw away, because they are good quality plastic and have nice-fitting lids. So, with all of that in mind, you can see in the picture what I ended up doing.

One of these containers now sits in the bottom of each of the backpacks that house my two identical first-aid kits. As you can see by reading the DIY label, each contains 10 sterile gauze pads, cloth-based medical tape (pretty sturdy, it's what they use in hospitals to anchor IVs, etc.), a tube of antibiotic ointment, as well as what ended up being 110 bandages of varying sizes. And, as pictured, all of this fit nearly perfectly in the nice little plastic containers, which also serves to protect everything from getting crushed inside the backpack as well as it just being a mess of random items piled on top of one another inside there.

Little by little, I'm beginning to feel better with respect to my ability to deal with minor injuries in the event of an emergency situation, and that increased level of confidence and readiness is exactly what I had in mind when beginning this project. I'm not anywhere near done, of course, but I will get there a step at a time. I'm also doing it on a pretty small budget, which likewise makes me feel pretty good and I'm hoping will be an example to others that emergency preparedness doesn't have to be something you spend hundreds of dollars per month to undertake. Basic survival gear and putting together small survival kits aren't really any more difficult than what I'm doing here, so hopefully others will see that as well.


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25 January, 2015

Building My Own DIY Everyday Carry (EDC) Kit: A Step-By-Step Journey, Part 3

Read Part 1 & Part 2

No respectable Everyday Carry (EDC) kit could possibly be considered complete without the addition of two vital elements: lighting and a cutting tool. The entire purpose of carrying such a kit on your person at all times is to ensure in yourself a greater level of readiness so that, whatever situation might arise, you can be confident that you have tools at hand which will both assist in your survival as well as getting you home to where the rest of your emergency preparedness supplies are stored. To that end, I have included an LED pen light as well as an interesting little knife that I'll talk about a bit more later.

First off, the LED pen light is an Energizer brand item that I pulled off the shelf of the camping section of my local Walmart. No real bells and whistles or any huge brand name well known for outdoor equipment or anything like that. Remember, one of my goals is to build this kit as economically as possible, saving money wherever I can. That being said and not being able to speak yet as to its longevity, I'm pretty happy with this purchase. It isn't the brightest penlight you'll find at only 21 lumens, but that is plenty enough. I'm not considering this as a tool to use while I'm doing brain surgery; it's just a handy little light that will allow a person to see after dark if they are stranded somewhere. Also, I consider it a big advantage that it runs on AAA batteries, which are exceedingly easy to come across just about anywhere. Also, being a penlight, it takes up very little room inside my EDC case, yet has a pretty sturdy metallic body that gives it a nice feel in the hand.

The knife you see in the photo, however, requires a bit more explanation. What you're seeing there is called a Micro Knife. It's one of those As Seen On TV things, basically a knife that folds down to the size of a credit card but is usable like a typical pocketknife. You can see the advertisement for it in the video below:

My thoughts on this knife represent somewhat mixed feelings. The bones of it are that what you're looking at is basically a fairly decent quality 2.5 inch surgical steel blade packaged with a handle that has to be pretty much the cheapest plastic imaginable. It is actually very malleable as opposed to being like a credit card, but the whole thing does fold down to the size of a credit card, which – realistically – is precisely how it is being marketed. Also, once you snap the two sides of the handle together it is stiffened just enough to provide you with a halfway decent handle to hold it by; it just isn't great.

Here's the deal: You can't buy something like this and expect it to compare with an $80 outdoor knife. That's just stupidity. These things are made in China, after all. It isn't even as sturdy as your typical pocketknife, but what it is is a very small knife that takes up virtually no room at all wherever you are intending to store it. Mine needed sharpened a bit out of the box, but I feel pretty confident with the way it cuts now. Plus, I consider this only to be at backup for having a better knife that you wear on your belt. Remember, emergency preparedness is all about redundancy and having a minimum of one backup for every item of importance (preferably more than one). For the purposes of this small Everyday Carry (EDC) kit and as a backup blade for another knife, I can say that I'm fairly happy with it as well.

By the way, when talking about a good knife to keep on your belt, I recommend the Camillus Les Stroud signature edition SK Arctic knife. It is a very sturdy tool, perfectly affordable, and it is simple without a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles, which is something I really like. The blade is carbon nitride titanium-bonded 440 steel with a no-stick coating. It is full tang construction, so it isn't going to snap off the first time you attempt to use it out in the field and the hilt is made of rubber and hard plastic that provides a nice grip. The sheath is also made from sturdy materials and likewise serves as a holder for the only other big feature included, which is a little fire striker rod you can use along with the knife to get yourself some sparks to start a campfire out in the field. The only thing I don't like about this knife is the yellow trim, but you have to understand that Les Stroud's focus on survival is geared toward folks stuck out in the bush somewhere trying to make it home, so a bright yellow that makes you more visible is actually considered a good thing whereas you and I might consider that to be a hindrance. Either way, such a thing is easily corrected with a little black shoe polish or even some black electrical tape, and you've got yourself both a really good knife and a fire striker for not a lot of money. Something to consider.

Or, if you aren't adverse to carrying something larger (which, admittedly, might not be best as an everyday carry option), a really great knife to have access to is the versatile, multi-use kukri.


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Guest Post: Hurricane Protection – What’s New?

Photo Source
No one who lived during the Hurricane Katrina event will ever forget the devastation and destruction, and the long-term effects that still exist today. More recently (2012), Hurricane Sandy destroyed the New Jersey shore. There is now no question that hurricanes are becoming stronger, more frequent, and more devastating the world over, primarily as a result, scientists say, of the warming of the oceans. In the last decade alone, moreover, over $200 billion in damages from hurricanes has been the conservative estimate. It comes as no surprise, then, that architects, engineers, and other structural specialists are focusing more and more on building construction that can withstand these super-storms, and a lot is actually being done to design safer buildings with products that were not even on the market 20 years ago.

Focus of Protection – 3 Areas

1. Glass: Anyone who lives along the coastal areas of the Eastern seaboard, has, for many years, kept plywood pieces that can be used to cover windows. In more recent years, specific types of shutters have been designed to be permanently placed on the sides or tops of windows that can be pulled across or down when a hurricane is predicted. Door reinforcements can be snapped into place to prevent breakage. Most of the protection for windows and doors is related to protection against flying debris. More recently, building codes in hurricane-prone areas require stronger, shatter-resistant glass, but many homes of course were built before these codes were in place. When a home or building owner replaces any glass today, the new codes will apply, and the stronger glass must be purchased.

2. Roofs: It has not been unusual for roofs to literally “fly off” of both commercial and residential buildings during hurricanes. Preventing this in all new construction includes two things – stronger roofing material and literally “strapping” a roof to the building through the use of cables that are run from the roof all the way down to the foundation or basement. For buildings constructed before these new code regulations, there are a number of retrofits which can be implemented. Reinforcing brackets can be installed from the inside, where the roof meets the walls; heavier roofing materials (e.g., concrete) can be used when replacing shingles, placing weight on the roof that will help to hold it in place during hurricane-force winds.

Another issue has been the ever-increasing use of energy-efficient solar panels on roofs – panels that traditionally are not going to stand up to flying debris. New research and product innovations are now resulting in far stronger solar panel materials, and the wise homeowner will check into these!

3. Water Damage: Even if the home remains standing after a strong hurricane, flooding is a major cause of damage and destruction. Prevention of water intrusion, therefore, has become a focus of a lot of research and a host of new techniques and products. New construction requires the taping of all seams on plywood roofs, and, in some locales, the use of a foam sealant between the plywood and the final roof covering. Similar foams are used where roofs meet walls and where walls meet foundations. New types of interior and exterior window coverings made of PVC, in the form of shades, also show promise. There is even a very new product that allows a home or building owner to spray a foam around window and door crevices when a storm is approaching and that can peel off when it is over – how cool is that!

Every three years, the International Code Council publishes new recommendations for construction that will resist hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Most states and the federal government implement these recommendations in their own construction codes. As well, there are a number of research facilities that continue to test new materials against winds of up to 120mph, and, as those materials prove worthwhile, they are brought to market. For the average homeowner in an existing residence, it will be important to keep abreast of these new innovations, as home remodeling projects are planned.

Author’s bio:

Julie Ellis believes that, only through experiential knowledge does one become an engaging and creative writer. Her degree in Journalism and a host of real-world study and experience has made her a permanent and popular blogger for PremierEssay.net.

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24 January, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Nissin Chow Mein Noodle Meal

by Matt M.

I am always on the look out for inexpensive food items with a long shelf-life, especially if they are lightweight, portable, and easily prepared. Something I can take for lunch at work, saving me some cash, and that can be stashed in my truck, bug-out bag, and be stocked up on for here at the house as well. Additionally to being cheap and tasty, these kinds of meals can be prepared cold. I have many times just soaked the noodles and flavor packets in cold water for about an hour (or less) and have eaten them that way. This comes in handy if you are in a situation where you cannot make flame, noise, or do not have access to heated water for whatever reason. If you are on the move, you can pour the contents into a wide mouth-water bottle, add water, and leave it in your pack to shake around until you are ready to stop and eat it later in the day.

Recently, I have been trying various types of Ramen soups, noodles, etc. I found one that has great flavor, the noodles cook quickly, has that has more of a sauce consistency than a soup. And at .79 cents per package, it is a great bargain. Each package has "two servings" of 260 calories each. From my point of view, 520 calories for .79 cents is a deal. I tried one last night, and after tasting it went back and purchased 20 more for $15.80. Twenty meals for $15.80 is a great deal for my budget.

Contents Upon Opening
Meal Prepared Per Instructions

Garden veggies I decided to add
This package I initially prepared according to the instructions as pictured. As you can see from the pics included above, it comes with it's own tub-like bowl to eat from, which is nice in case you do not have a container. Being low, it does not fall over easily like the taller Ramen styrofoam cups sometimes can, and it is easier to eat out of than an MRE or freeze-dried food pouch. The plastic tub is also re-usable for other purposes. I decided to turn this from a carb-calorie meal into more balanced one. I spent about 90 seconds in my garden and picked some Kale, Swiss Chard, some small Brussels Sprouts, and a small White Onion. I chopped them up then steamed them for about a minute, adding the finished noodles back to the mix. This more than doubled the volume of the meal, so I transferred it to my stainless steel bowl. The result is rather good for being so inexpensive.

Editor's Note: follow this link to purchase the same item shown here from Amazon Grocery, though – admittedly – you're better off looking for them in your local supermarket or Family Dollar store first as the seller on Amazon is charging more per unit than what Matt found them going for in his area (that's with free shipping, though, so YMMV).

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Rules for When Not to Eat an Insect


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23 January, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "The Perseid Collapse" by Steven Konkoly

My newest Doomer Fiction book review will center today on the novel "The Perseid Collapse" by Steven Konkoly (Kindle edition). I must say that reading this novel felt a bit like a homecoming to me. As some of you might remember, I previously reviewed this author's work in "The Jakarta Pandemic," which turned out to be one of the best novels I've read since I decided to dive headfirst into the genre and do these reviews for Backwoods Survival Blog. I must say that I truly enjoy reading Steven Konkoly. His characters are relatable and he writes his fiction in short, fast-paced chapters that seem to make the story fly by – and the stories themselves are very engrossing.

This new series of novels, as it turns out, are actually sequels to "The Jakarta Pandemic" that I enjoyed so much. Time has jumped ahead for these characters by six years to 2019. Tensions still run high as a result of the devastating pandemic having rocked society to the tune of 28 million deaths only those few years before. Trust in the government is at an all-time low, and the militia movement is seeing a definite resurgence. The Fletcher family's son Ryan from the earlier book is now a college-aged young man away at school, and his father Alex's quest to reach him and bring him home from Boston University forms the backbone of this first novel in the trilogy.

Unlike the influenza pandemic that served as the disaster after which things began to unravel in the earlier novel, this one begins with what is believed to be the strike of an errant asteroid in the Atlantic somewhere off the coast of New England during the Perseid meteor shower (hence the title), including heat damage from atmospheric friction and the supposed detonation as well as a tsunami that rolls over the coastal areas, killing and displacing large numbers of the population. Oddly, there is also an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) effect, which only heightens the distrust toward the government among dangerous militia elements who believe the entire thing to have been a "False Flag" operation involving a low-yield nuclear warhead. It seems, regardless of the cause, that the Fletcher family and those neighbors they are closest to after the pandemic have thought ahead this time and have a bug-out location to which they intend to flock, namely a 20 acre isolated farmstead on a lake somewhere in southern Maine that is owned by the main character and where his parents live full-time.

But their son and the daughter of one of the neighbor families are stuck in downtown Boston, an area rumored to have been hit hard by the disaster as well as one that Alex Fletcher knows all too well is likely to boil over into a death trap, just like every other major city. As a result, this novel mostly revolves around two groups: Alex, along with two of his neighbors (including the young lady's father) must make their way to Boston to retrieve the kids, and the road gets more and more dangerous with every passing moment; meanwhile, his wife must oversee the evacuation of the remaining members of the three families to the isolated bug-out location. It isn't a long journey. In fact, the plan is to get everyone there on bicycles. And the thought is that it doesn't represent a very dangerous trip either, which is why all three of the fathers see fit to separate themselves from their families, but needless to say things don't always go as planned.

I would definitely check this novel out, if I were you. I devoured it in only two or three sittings, leaving me eager to begin the second installment. You would be very hard-pressed to find a better value for your entertainment dollar than this series. I am definitely a fan.


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New Regulations Causing Egg Prices to Skyrocket in California

It seems that the price of a dozen eggs is increasing rapidly for consumers in California as a result of new regulations that dictate each laying hen must be provided a certain amount of space within a facility, and only those producers who are following those regulations are now allowed to sell eggs within the state of California. This is, of course, both lessening the number of competitors for each company in the market as well as causing many producers to downsize the number of laying hens they keep. It isn't hard to figure out what the result of such a situation will inevitably be. Lack of competition equals higher prices. Fewer hens means fewer eggs means less availability, which also equals higher prices.

The laws of supply and demand are like nature: they don't give a crap about your problems.

Unfortunately, I can't see a situation where this changes. I would imagine that the higher prices are there to stay. My advice in such a situation would be to look strongly into the possibility of keeping your own chickens. This is obviously much easier to accomplish if you live in a rural area, but this remains as possibly an option even within many cities in America. You just need to check the local codes and regulations for your particular municipality.


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22 January, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Catching Fire" (2013)

The Doomer Fiction film I will be reviewing today is "Catching Fire" (2013) Blu-ray (DVD version). This film is the sequel to "The Hunger Games," which I reviewed previously. Likewise, you might also recall that I previously wrote a review for the novel upon which it was based

On the subject of my opinion, rest assured that I very much enjoyed both of the films I have reviewed thus far as well as the trilogy of novels where the subject matter originated. As a Prepper, the subject matter appealed to me on many levels, just as I'm sure it will also to you. Broken down to its most base foundational elements, it is essentially a story about regular people struggling under the yoke of a tyrannical government in a future far beyond our own, which – over time – evolves into a fight against that regime in a revolutionary zeal to gain the kinds of individual rights and liberties that you and I often take for granted. And, additionally, it is somewhat of a coming of age tale as the main character is a young girl forced to face overwhelming odds and fight for her own survival and that of the people she loves.

Surprisingly for this kind of fiction (which was, admittedly, originally marketed for young adults/teenagers), the story also commendably attempts to show the reader that even surviving the kinds of ordeals that these characters must face leaves scars that no one is able to easily see. This being the second film in the series, the characters who survived the hardships they had to face in the first film are quite obviously suffering from symptoms akin to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The novels go into even more detail, but even the film manages to make it clear that even the Victor(s) in the annual Hunger Games return to their homes as somewhat broken people, haunted by terrible nightmares of the things they have seen and done to survive.

For a deeper understanding, one really ought to read the novels as they are told from the point of view of the young lady who is the main character of the series, and so you actually get to experience all have her internal dialogue – the things that are going through her head at any given moment. Either way, though, I think it is a really nice touch of realism for this kind of subject matter to be included in the development of the characters, and it sends the clear message that going through a traumatic experience leaves its indelible mark on a person, whether they come home or not.

As always, there are tiny things I caught, which I believe would have given the story an even greater sense of realism. Then again, the truth is that even my nitpicking isn't about the film being flawed. I simply have all of this Prepper/ Survivalist knowledge stored away in my mind that causes me to see things the average person would not pick up on, which I'm sure is the same for you as well. An example of that comes to mind with the setting of the annual Hunger Games exhibition that takes place in this film: a tropical island climate. A central lagoon of saltwater, but no fresh water to be found. Obviously, it's hot and everyone is sweating, quickly dehydrating themselves.

The first thing that popped into my head when reading the novel as well as watching the movie was that they ought to be making some kind of a solar still to distill drinking water from the saltwater. Granted, it would have been a slow process, but we know it would have worked beyond the shadow of a doubt. Of course, multiple stills would likely have been necessary as each one only produces a small amount of water every few hours, and the locations would have had to have been chosen carefully. Direct sunlight would have been needed, rather than the deep shade of an overgrown jungle. In the end, they were able to use a different method that doesn't get a lot of attention: using a spile to extract freshwater from the bowl of a tree.

As to rather serious complaints, I will only say that using a spile to get fresh, potable drinking water in the fashion portrayed here is not something that is all that easy to accomplish, and you can be sure they wouldn't have gotten such a substantial trickle of water on their very first attempt. Also, unlike the novels where the number of arrows she is carrying is always on her mind and she keeps a very good count (it's not like she can replace them), the film more or less depicts her simply shooting at random with no worries. She even wastes one of them to gauge the height of the arena by shooting at the electronically-camouflaged top of the dome, and makes no effort whatsoever to retrieve it. The novels, on the other hand, in addition to her keeping a count, depicts her as retrieving every undamaged arrow she possibly can. Hopefully, any young ladies who are deciding to get into archery because of these films have read the novels as well. Otherwise, they may be picking up bad habits.

Another lesson that comes to mind with in the subject matter of this film and the novel before it is, essentially, that survival is much more easily accomplished as a team. Some people enjoy the idea of surviving alone. Admittedly, if you don't depend on anyone else, you lower the chances that someone could possibly betray you; but the trade-off is that you also have a much more difficult time keeping yourself alive. I'm a firm believer that survival should be accomplished as a group activity.

All that being said, I highly recommend this film series. If you haven't seen it yet, my advice is to correct that oversight as soon as you have the opportunity. You won't be sorry.


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If You Don't Believe It's a Good Idea to Keep a Firearm at Your Home, Then I Have a Video for You to Watch

Few issues mean more to me, on a deeply personal level, then does the Second Amendment right of every American to bear arms. I can understand the views of pacifists, but when it comes down to defending one's own life and/or the lives of those around them from someone who intends to do them harm, then I simply cannot understand any impulse by which a person would allow themselves to not be in the position to eliminate that threat as quickly as possible. I consider self-defense (extended to also include defending the lives of other innocents) as more than simply a right – it is a divine animalistic instinct, designed to ensure the continuation of the species, and it should never be dampened.

Still, many consider firearms ownership to be a radical step they aren't comfortable with taking. I would wager, however, that watching the video below might change their thinking were they to actually place themselves in the position of the young man in his apartment, watching in horror as his neighbor kicks his door down and steps through brandishing a machete toward him and his girlfriend. For the record, the assailant survived and has since been sentenced to prison. You can read more about it here. It's interesting to note that the young man forced to defend his home has remarked that his mother was an "anti-gun" person, but the terrifying experience with which her son was faced has changed her mind... as facing reality often will.


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21 January, 2015

Survivors: Television for Preppers That You Should Watch Now While You Can

As I'm sure you are probably already aware as a result of my in-depth analysis of each episode of The Walking Dead as it airs, I am a true believer in the idea that Doomer Fiction can sometimes have great value. Not only is it a means of entertainment for those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture that actually speaks to our interests without constantly poking fun at us for being crazy, but you can also sometimes glean ideas you may not have thought of on your own but that can serve to help you if ever in a similar survival situation.

One such show Survivors originally aired on the BBC a few years ago and can be watched right now by anyone who pays for a minimal Netflix subscription monthly. The reason I am spotlighting this program right now is because it could be disappearing from Netflix soon. As you may already be aware, the streaming service offered by Netflix gets its programming by way of certain contracts that are not renewed from time to time. Recently, it was announced that a lot of BBC programming would disappear from the Netflix streaming service in early February, but an agreement was reached not long after so that a great chunk of this programming will remain available after all. As it stands at this moment, however, I have been unable to get any type of confirmation as to whether or not Survivors is one of the programs that was saved. As a result, my advice is to watch it now, if interested. If I'm wrong and it remains available after the first few days in February, you aren't out anything for having already seen it. Better safe than sorry.

And I feel confident in believing it is programming that will appeal to those of you reading this. It tells the story of a devastating influenza pandemic that rocks the world, leaving behind only a small fraction of Earth's population as survivors (hence the title). And it gets started with a bang. The viewer is immediately introduced to myriad characters as droves of people fall sick and government ministers scramble to try to keep things together. The viewer quickly witnesses the infrastructure of modern society begin to fall by the wayside as a result of absenteeism, both because so many people are sick as well as the fear of catching the disease. Gas is hard to come by with long lines and waits of 45 minutes or more to top off your tank. Hospitals begin turning away patients as the result of being packed far beyond their capacity to treat people. A young doctor, one of the characters who is featured on the show, admits to a friend that the flu shot the government is encouraging everyone to get represents nothing but a fallacy, useless for treating the particular strain that is killing so many people – they are simply trying to keep the populace from degenerating into a mass panic. It seems that the virus is killing people by causing their own immune systems to go into overload in a way that is reminiscent of the cytokine storm effect responsible for causing most of the deaths that occurred during the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. The government eventually folds – for all intents and purposes – when they are unable to maintain the necessary infrastructure of the country, leaving the populace only with a televised promise to get things back to normal at some point in the future. Those who survive are pretty much on their own. The first episode even manages to lay out a pretty good case for why being part of a community is important to the survival of humans.

Anyway, as I said before, my advice is to check this program out now to ensure that you are able to see it. It runs for two series (what they call a season across the pond) of six episodes each, so there's only 12 episodes of just under one hour in length, though the first episode runs for around 90 minutes. I'm watching it myself as I write this, and I definitely recommend it.


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One Very Simple Survival Food That Is Both Easy and Inexpensive to Stock Up On In Large Quantities

I realize that each individual has their own tastes and that some of you are probably making terrible faces simply after seeing the photo to the right of this text, because you can't imagine yourself sitting down to eat and actually enjoy Vienna Sausages. To those folks, I would respectfully say that I feel a bit sorry for you that you're going to be missing-out on what is probably one of the best survival foods available to us, once the price per calorie is factored into the equation.

This Walmart store brand, for instance, packs just over 200 calories and 5g of needed protein into a tiny serving that only costs $.43 per can at my local store. Sitting down to a meal that includes two cans of these would guarantee you fully one-fifth of the calories and protein that the FDA says you ought to be getting in a given day, before even factoring in the rest of the meal and anything else you might have had throughout the day. And it would cost you less than $1 per day to achieve this goal. That sounds like a win to me. Add to that the fact that, like pretty much all other commercially-canned foods, it has a long shelf-life, and it is hard to go wrong with these as a part of your larder. I have personally eaten them as far out as five years from the time I originally purchased them and stocked them away with my long-term storage foods, and the taste and texture was virtually no different than when they are eaten fresh.

Some folks need some sort of condiments in order to make them palatable, but as a poor boy growing up in the coal fields of southern West Virginia, I've been eating them all my life straight out of the can and loving every minute of it. That being said, I do prefer that they be a brand under which they are served in broth, rather than that strange jelly substance often found with some canned meats. I've been swearing by this Great Value Walmart brand recently, because they come in a light chicken broth (as pictured below) and only cost $.43 per can. I would suggest supplementing your own long-term storage foods with a bunch of these, if you can stomach them. There are quite a few different flavors under different brands, if you're willing to pay a bit more, and it is easy enough to store spices, soy sauce, etc. if needed. As always, YMMV.


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20 January, 2015

At Least Two Dead in China from Bird Flu with Confirmed Cases on the Rise

Chinese state media is reporting that two people have died of the particularly deadly H7N9 strain of avian influenza in one of their Eastern provinces, and that 15 cases of human infection with the disease have been confirmed already in January 2015 (a double-digit count in less than three weeks). This is significant because this particular strain of the disease was one of the things I mentioned a few days ago in an article asserting that health officials are wary of the new mutation, due to its potential for causing a devastating worldwide pandemic. In addition, one must also realize that the regime in power in China is not very forthcoming and is notorious for downplaying situations such as this in the world press, so if they are admitting to 15 cases and two fatalities in less than three weeks then there is a good chance the numbers are actually higher in reality.

Add that to five dead already in Egypt this year from the more typical H5N1 strain and the recent discovery that the H5N2 strain of the disease (which has not yet mutated to be able to jump species and infect humans, but eventually could just as H7N9 did in 2013) has popped-up in infected geese, ducks, and chickens on the coast of Washington state right here in the U.S.

Now would be a great time to make sure that you are squared away with respect to pandemic emergency preparedness.

Also, you might enjoy reading the following articles I wrote a few months ago:

There's More to Be Afraid of in a Pandemic Than Just the Disease Itself, Part 1
There's More to Be Afraid of in a Pandemic Than Just the Disease Itself, Part 2


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Making a Patrol Map for Recon in a Survival Situation

In a situation where you might be forced to attempt survival in an outdoors setting, such as after having to bug-out, it will be imperative for you to know what is around you at all times. It simply would not do for you to have no idea in which direction would be the best to flee in the event that danger approaches, and it could be that the safest area in which to camp may not offer direct access to the water source you will need to keep yourself hydrated. In this event, it would be necessary for you to return to the watering hole at least once per day (more often if you are not equipped with a container within which to bring water back to camp), and so it will behoove you to create a reconnaissance patrol map of the area.

Such a map would be useful, both so that you are not completely dependent on your own memory or having to burn calories that you are not sure how you are going to replace by having to go back and check on the details of something that you may have forgotten. Also, another member of your family or group can benefit from you having already located a source of drinking water, certain trails, etc., rather than multiple individuals essentially doing the same work you have already done. They would simply need to look at your map.

To create a recon patrol map, one need only make a rough drawing, using a watch to mark on the map how far apart each feature is by designating the amount of time it took you to walk the distance. You can get a decent explanation by watching the video below, and all you need with you is some sort of timepiece and a paper and pen/pencil, which I previously talked about including in the basic Everyday Carry (EDC) kit that I am personally building.



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19 January, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert

I had previously heard about freeze-dried ice cream and always wanted to try it. I mean, I'm somewhat of an old hat when it comes to freeze-dried and even dehydrated long-term storage foods, but the idea of putting ice cream through the same process you use to freeze-dry eggs or chili macaroni has always been a bit hard to grasp, at least for me. I truly had no idea what to expect, but I can now officially let you know that it was far from a disappointing experience.

That being said, and purely based on what I thought would be my own preference, I placed the entire mylar pouch in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours before I intended to give it a try. It plainly tells you on the packaging that, just like with other freeze-dried foods, no refrigeration is required, but I simply thought it might make it taste more like a typical ice cream sandwich if it had a bit of a chill to it. I was wrong. Complete waste of time. In fact, it wasn't even really cold. I don't know if it was because of some thermal/insulating effect with respect to the mylar pouch or what. That is my assumption and it does make sense, seeing as how – with other meals – this packaging is meant for you to be able to pour boiling water into it and yet still be able to hold the outside of the pouch to eat your meal directly out of it. Pretty dumb on my part, but it truly it never even crossed my mind until later.

Also, unlike most of their other products, the Mountain House Ice Cream Sandwich doesn't require any kind of preparation. It's ready to eat right out of the package. As you can see from the picture, it even comes out wrapped in the thin white paper that one might expect to find around a typical ice cream sandwich purchased from the freezer section of their local department store.

With respect to further observations and opinions, I can say this much for sure: it was crunchy, and I absolutely did not expect that. I'm not saying it as though that is a detraction at all. I simply wasn't expecting it, by any stretch of the imagination. You can either bite the ice cream sandwich directly or break off pieces with your fingers, but the texture and consistency will remind you more of breaking off pieces of a particularly thick candy bar than it will of eating an ice cream sandwich. The flipside of that, though, is that it does taste exactly as you would expect it would.

It is definitely a classic ice cream sandwich, no different than one you might pull out of your freezer at home, all except for the fact of it being room temperature. And crunchy. Knowing what I know now, I will remove them from the mylar pouch and simply place the desert into my refrigerator with the white paper still protecting it in the future, simply because I would prefer to eat it cold while refrigeration is still an option. It doesn't taste bad at all at room temperature, however, so it would still be a good thing to have a limited supply of in order to combat the monotony of meals in an actual survival situation. Once you are actually eating it, it also reacts with the moisture in your mouth and reconstitutes, so that you get the impression of the ice cream melting in your mouth.

Entirely weird. Completely unexpected. And very, very enjoyable.


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