Half an hour can last forever

Thirty minutes. That is how long the shooter in DC had to kill before police caught up with him. It was seven minutes before the first cops even entered the building. This is not a criticism of police, it’s just that they cannot be everywhere. I feel like they did what they could, and did it well. You are responsible for protecting yourself and your loved ones. Own a gun, and learn how to use it. Thirty minutes can be the rest of your life.


A proper survival plan includes things like water, food, and light. One important thing that should be a part of your plan is communications. During the recent events in Boston, cellular communications were inoperable for hours. There is some question as to whether they were turned off by authorities, or if the heavy traffic overloaded the system, but the end result was the same: no phone communications were happening throughout most of the Boston area.
I have portable, handheld radios in the 2 meter band. There are 9 repeaters that are within 40 miles of my house, and each of these can be reached by the radios that I have on hand. This allows me to communicate across the majority of Central Florida with a large level of redundancy. In the event that all of those repeaters are non functional, we can go direct radio to radio on any one of hundreds of frequencies. These radios can be had for as little as $40.
If hundreds of available frequencies isn’t enough, you can get a dual band radio that also works in the 70 cm band. That band is less crowded than the 2m band, and adds thousands of available channels to the possibilities.
Set up a communications plan: “If anything happens, we will contact each other on the 146.22MHz repeater at the top of the hour, and on the 145.52MHz repeater at the bottom of the hour. If both repeaters are down, we will try 433.62 MHz., additionally, we will monitor 146.52 MHz.”

 The HAM license costs just $15, and no morse code test is required. Then you don’t have to worry about the cell phone repeaters.

Ammo standardization and Paqlites

I have been working on a plan for TEOTWAWKI as a part of my continuing prepping hobby. Of course, there are many things that we need to consider: Communications, food, water, transportation, etc. Bug out kits.

In the area of defense, we have selected the 9mm cartridge as the defense round of choice. Although there are handguns in the house that are capable of firing all of the popular pistol ammunition: 9mm, .357Sig, .40S&W, .45ACP, we felt that the 9mm was best for a number of reasons: it is light to carry spare ammo, recoil is manageable, and it is available in firearms that everyone in the family will carry. The round is also widely available. This doesn’t mean that I will be selling the other guns, but this is the round that I will plan our BOBs around, with each BOB containing a 20 round box of 115 grain +P.

I have selected the M&P40 as my personal handgun, and have fitted it with a 9mm conversion barrel from KKM. That gives me the capability of .40S&W, .357Sig, and 9mm in one handgun, with only a quick barrel change.

Also, for room and area lighting, we have elected to go with the UVPaqLite. It needs no batteries, doesn’t break, and provides excellent light for dark-adjusted eyes. Take a look, it is a good product for a reasonable price. It is easier to cart this around than a pile of batteries.

EMP and prepping

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Robert Hewes asks if my radios are stored in a faraday cage. I assume that he is asking the question because he has heard of EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, and its ability to damage solid state electronics. I will explain why this should not be a concern for most preppers.
EMP works by exposing semiconductor components to voltages high enough to break down the semicondictor. There is nothing magic about EMP, it is simply a powerful radio wave in the microwave spectrum (4-20 GHz) with a wavelength between 1 and 5 centimeters. This pulse is subject to the same physical laws as any other form of electromagnetic energy. The two that you have to keep in mind are the fact that radio waves travel in straight lines, and that their energy dissipates according to the inverse square law.
EM energy traveling in a straight line prevents it from damaging anything beyond the horizon, and the inverse square laws say that energy drops off that the inverse square of the distance. An EM weapon capable of damaging electronics at half a mile would require 250 times as much energy at 60 miles.
To extend the reach of an EM weapon, you must either set it off relatively high in the atmosphere, thus extending the horizon, and you must greatly increase the power. Weapons that cause long range EM effects to semiconductors over great distances require a lot of energy. This is why nuclear weapons produce the powerful pulses that reach long distances, but not many others.
Couple that with the fact that radio equipment is hardened to withstand certain amounts of EM, due to their nature (they are built to receive EM, after all, they ARE radios, it’s kind of what they do), and the problem becomes even more difficult.
In short, I am not worried about it. There are many things that I can prep for, and EMP is not on the radar.

Preparation and communications

As anyone who is a regular reader of this blog should know, I am a prepper, and have been for about eight years. It was being without power and fuel for ten days after Hurricane Charley (August 2004) first opened my eyes. Being a prepper doesn’t mean that we are sitting around preparing for the end of the world, although if you are truly ready for that, you are ready for anything less than that.

One of the lessons that I learned during Hurricane Charley was the need for communications. Cell service was out for weeks. With no way to reach the outside world or communicate with family members was a severe handicap. So I added getting a HAM license as a step in my preparedness campaign. It was a simple test, and a $10 fee for the license, and you don’t even need to know Morse code. In exchange, I got a license that allows me to operate radios that have enough reach for most disaster communications.

The radios I am using are mobile and portable FM units in the 2 meter and 70 cm band. These are useful for communications for a large area.  I have used the FT 7900 that I is mounted in my truck to talk to repeaters that are up to 50 miles away. I can routinely reach a repeater that is over 30 miles from my house. This allows me to talk to a person in Melbourne while I am sitting in my vehicle in Lakeland, over 60 miles away. If the repeater is out of the disaster area and has an active internet connection, I can use Echolink to talk to any radio operator in the world. Telephone patches are also available.

When talking directly to other radios without the use of a repeater, I regularly communicate with friends who are 8 or ten miles away with the vehicle mounted set. I’m sure I can reach farther, but we usually use repeaters for that.

I can hear you now: “So what? Those cheap radios at WalMart claim that they are able to reach 30 miles or more.” To that, I say BULLSHIT. You are lucky to reach a mile with those things.

HAM radio is the way to go, if you are serious about disaster communications and about prepping. Give it a look, it is well worth it. A 2 meter radio can be had for about $20 new, and the ability to reach the outside world and call for help can be priceless.

When will this be available here?

So DuPont is selling a product called “Armura.” It is a kit that can be installed on certain cars that resists handgun rounds up to .38 special. This appears to be roughly equivalent to NIJ level I body armor. This is accomplished by adding Kevlar panels to the interior of the body panels, and by changing out the glass. The kit adds roughly 200 pounds to the weight of the vehicle, which would likely have little, if any, effect on gas mileage. It costs about $12,000 to up armor a vehicle with this kit. The kit is available for the: Toyota Corolla, GM Vectra (same chassis as the Buick LaCrosse or Chevy Malibu), Honda Civic, Mitsubishi TR4 (similar to the Montero), Hyundai Tucson, Honda Fit, GM Agile, Kia Soul, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi ASX, and the GM Cruze.

It makes me wonder if there would be a market for this in the United States. I think if a company get the armor up to a IIA rating, expand vehicle availability, and could keep the cost where it is,there would be a brisk number of sales to be made. Preppers would love it.


As a paramedic who worked in a 911 based EMS system for 22 years, I know about delay. The number of times when I was dispatched to an emergency after a lengthy delay were numerous, I would say that a delay of 5 minutes or more was frequent, and happened at least once out of every twenty calls. The worst such case was an auto accident where a police officer requested our response. We were not dispatched to the incident for 45 minutes. The dispatcher said that she had opened the dispatch window on her computer, and then got busy with another task, and forgot to ensure that we had actually been dispatched.

So it doesn’t surprise me that there was an 8 minute delay between the 911 calls and the dispatch of emergency workers in this case. Then, it took police officers an additional 6 minutes to arrive. From the call to the arrival of the first responder was 14 minutes. Let’s say, for our purposes here, that this was where you and your family were enjoying some activity, and you were being faced with an attacker trying to kill you. He is armed with a machete, or a gun, or is setting your home on fire with a can of gasoline and a match. How much pain and destruction can he accomplish in 14 minutes?

The sheriff says that if they had properly recognized the danger, they could have shaved 10 minutes off that time. Even so, a lot can happen in four minutes.

THAT is why I own firearms. That is why I own fire extinguishers and wear my seat belt. You are responsible for your own safety. That 14 minutes can last the rest of your life.

Safety is an illusion

I ran across this article about five of the safety measures that we take that do not make us safer. Interestingly enough, number five is the TSA and their airport security measures. According to the article:

There’s a reason security expert Bruce Schneier described the No-Fly list as “a list of people so dangerous they cannot be allowed to fly under any circumstance, yet so innocent we can’t arrest them even under the Patriot Act.”

 So they are so innocent that they cannot be arrested or charged with a crime, but there are plenty of people out there who would add this secret government list to the reasons why you should not be allowed to own one of the best tools of self defense: a gun. Secret lists kept by the government never work out very well.

 It turns out that antilock brakes and bike helmets do not help us, even though they are required by government. Sunscreen is a marketing ploy (because it doesn’t block the rays which are most likely to cause cancer). Breast exams actually increase mortality, because the number of unnecessary biopsies and the complications associated with them cause more deaths than the cancer they are designed to detect. Gated communities are also worthless.

In other words, security and safety as it is practiced today is an illusion designed to make you FEEL safer without actually making you safer. I guess feeling safer is better than actually being self reliant.

The point of no return

One thing that I have always been interested in is the page in the instructions for your income tax form that tells you where the money comes from and where the money goes. I use the instructions for the 1040EZ here (pdf warning) and all you have to do is look at page 37 to see what I mean.

According to this page, the government, for fiscal year 2009, took in $2.105 trillion in taxes, with personal income taxes equaling 26% (or about $547 billion) of that. We spent $3.518 trillion, meaning that we borrowed $1.413 trillion. We borrowed three times what we collected through income taxes. This tells me that taxes have nothing to do with revenue. After all, if we can borrow $1.4 trillion, why can’t we borrow $1.9 trillion and simply eliminate income taxes altogether?

This is irresponsible spending at its worst. The Democrats think that the answer is to tax the income of the rich is the answer. However, according to the IRS (excel file- 2005 numbers) the top five percent of income filers made slightly less than $145 thousand per year. That means that the top 5% of earners make a combined total of $2.6 trillion per year. Even if we established an income cap of  $50,000 a year, and confiscated every dime that everyone in this country made over that amount, we would not be able to pay for the government we have now.

The Republicans think that the way to fix this is to cut spending. The size if the cuts that are needed is incredible. A 40% across the board cut is needed to balance the budget. The problem is that we cannot cut the interest that we pay on our debt. Our elderly will not sit still for any medicare or Social Security cuts, but those programs account for over a third of our spending. If we leave them alone, we need to cut Defense, welfare, prisons, and every other expense by 60%. Any politician who suggests the cuts that are needed will find his or her political career cut short.

We owe more money than currently exists. There is no way that we can pay it back, no way that we can stop borrowing, and no way out, except default. The system is broken, and we lack the will to fix it. We will soon lack the ability. Soon, the decision will be made for us. People will refuse to lend us money, and the people will become restless. The government, and the political masters who run it, will become increasingly desperate to maintain their power, and dictatorship will be the inevitable result. In my opinion, we are past the point of no return. We are witnessing history, the fall of the mightiest empire the world has ever known. I wonder if a thousand years from now if we will be studied like the Roman empires, or largely forgotten like the Achaemenid?