Recently in skills Category

I used to build this type PVC cannon when I was a kid. Back then I used a tire valve and an electric air compressor to pressurize the chamber and propel the golf ball. These days, my PVC Cannon is adapted for internal combustion (a la potato gun).

You can use just about any aerosol or liquids that out-gas a substantial amount of volatile fumes. I prefer to use starer fluid, whenever it's available.

messagesThe combustion chamber has one weak side; a break away diaphragm that opens to the barrel. The thickness of the material used to create the diaphragm controls the strength of the discharge. A  few sheets of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a scrap of tarp works quite well.

This design was conceived of as as a "golf-ball propaganda cannon." It's not fast enough to serve as a weapon, but the cannon has great range and uses minimum fuel - perfect for short-medium distance communication.

In a RECESS situation, long after the courses have dried up and the sport has withered alongside the ill-considered Kentucky bluegrass, golf balls will serve as my carrier pigeons. If I aim my cannon downhill, the projectiles have the ability to quickly travel what may prove to be an impossible distance on foot. Short messages written on the golf balls can be used to call meetings, warn allies, send for help, elicit paranoia, or to build solidarity.

I'll produce a proper DIY (with parts list) for an upcoming post.

Leaving your Mark

People have been scratching in the dirt and painting on rock walls since the dawn of humanity. There are any number of reasons for doing so, and the rationale behind those rock paintings is still very much a mystery.

These days it seems that mark making is about often about branding. We identify our stuff, ideas, and selves with graphic avatars meant to communicate the whole enchilada within a passive glance. It's a truly universal practice, carried out by the world's most powerful nations and corporations to the most destitute street artists.

I've never "tagged" anything in my life - I swear. Growing up in Farmville, USA doesn't lend itself to that flavor of property destruction. With RECESS on my mind, I tag just about everything I make/own/and use with the symbol you see on this blog.

Why? Symbols can be incredibly important in a time of disaster or crisis. Here are a half dozen reasons I recommend you get one and stand behind it:

  1. Stability - Your mark can be a psychological focal point, centering force, and calm in the storm.
  2. Solidarity - Movements need symbols. They embody the group's message, and can be a powerful talisman for achieving your goals. Sports teams, conquering forces, and unions know this. If you want to build a community in your neighborhood, codify your shared ideals in a symbol unique to that community.
  3. Way finding/Organizing - A symbol can be a sign post, a cairn on the trail to salvation, or a code to suggest passage, safety, or danger.
  4. Hope - I think this point is clear.
  5. Visibility - Whether you are an a unified force of many, or an army of one, a symbol designed to represent and rally that force is a critical tool on and off the field of battle.
  6. Intimidation - Building on the comment above, the wide dissemination of a symbol as propaganda has tremendous potential for intimidation and intentional misinformation. This is particularly true if you are organizing a small community stockpile in a time of crisis - or operating alone.
Before you appropriate any random mark, think carefully about it. Select or draft a symbol that has significance to you. Mine should be fairly obvious. If you break it down you'll see the pool (lack of water), the bunker, a house (home), and a chevron (call to arms).

Make you mark and stand behind it. Own your brand, and own your ideas. Mark everything and get talking. Yes, that's what I said. People ask me about my mark and I tell them what it is and what it means to me. Those folks seem genuinely interested in my principals of preparedness, and I imagine most of them go on to live more vigilant, prepared lives following our brief conversations.

The people you'll need most on the day after tomorrow are all around you. Tell them what you believe in, and do it with conviction and honesty. If fear of persecution or ridicule is stopping us from communicating openly and sharing our ideas with friends, coworkers, and neighbors than maybe the world really will end. At the very least, this mentality (all too common on the prepper/survivalist literature I've read) is eroding the fabric of the communities we live in.

Would you honestly shoot someone for trying to farm your plot of bug-out land (as one blogger suggested)? If I caught someone farming, actually farming land that I owned in a time of critical need, I think I'd set down my shotgun and pick up a tool next to him. Yes, there will be hard decisions to make in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Senseless theft is an altogether different matter, but please don't shoot the farmer.

Would you really turn away a neighbor in a time of need - just because he/she didn't plan ahead? If that's true, than I imagine you believe they would do the same to you. Be accountable for that failure. Take control and possibly prevent that situation today. Be a better neighbor. Talk to your neighbors about preparedness. Help them to prepare; help the whole block. Not everyone will get on board, but you'll have far less to worry about once you know that most the people around you have got your back.

People evangelize much more obscure and controversial topics. Why not this? The mark you leave is of your own making. Do you want to be branded a "wacko" or part of "the lunatic fringe," or would you rather be known as the person who started the neighborhood watch, or talked everyone on the block into investing in a rain barrel? I'll be discussing my community action plans in a series of upcoming posts - stay tuned.

This is a video demonstration of the firing of an improvised 12 gauge shotgun. Pellets and wadding have been removed for safety. The gun showed no signs of stress following several test shots. This model can be adapted for fully autonomous use. Plans can be found in the DIY section of the site or seen here.

*This post had been temporarily removed pending the outcome of recent confiscations by the BATFE. It has been restored to its original form. For more information see this post.

Starting a fire is easiest with good tinder. This video demonstrates my favorite method of producing tinder using shredded currency (useless in a long-term RECESS situation).

Here is a demonstration of a modified paiute deadfall. Please see the DIY for this animal trap to build your own.

diy: Solar Oven

There are many methods of cooking food and sanitizing water in a crisis situation. Fuel is the great leveler. Fortunately, the sun is a reliable and abundant fuel source where I come from.

I built this solar oven from recycled cabinetry and a windshield deflector. You can build yours out of a shoebox. It's easier than you think.

*DIY coming soon*

This is a test of my steel bunker door design. The door held up well against .22, .45, 9mm, and 5.56mm carbine AR15 fire.

The design uses 1/8" angle iron welded into a continuous plate, multiple sheets of plywood, and a 3" square tube steel inner frame. As evidenced in the video, this design very effectively traps and destroys small arms fire. I recommend this door design for anyone building a home survival shelter or bunker.

Shotguns are great tools, and no RECESS should be without one. In a pinch, you can build your own. This shot-by-shot video DIY will show you how to make* an improvised 12 gauge shotgun from common household implements.

This design is a variation on a classic (1969) method from the US Dept. of the Army Improvised Munitions Handbook (TM 31-210).

*WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: The contents of this blog should not be considered a safe and reliable source of information.  This video/DIY/drawing is for illustration purposes only. Building a weapon of any kind is extremely dangerous and my be unlawful where you reside. Do your own research, and place your safety and the safety of others above all else.

Hit the jump for a supply list.

*This post had been temporarily removed pending the outcome of recent confiscations by the BATFE. It has been restored to its original form. For more information see this post.

Starting a fire is easiest with good tinder. This video demonstrates my favorite method of producing tinder using a waste product from my home... and yours, too.

Skill: Tigerwalking

learn from the tigerA tiger is a solitary animal, opportunistic in its hunt, and moving with a stealth belying its strength and mass. A tiger kills out of necessity, carefully defending life-giving resources found within its territory.

Knowing where to find strategic resources is essential survival knowledge. Efficient and effortless access to those resources is equally critical. If the name of the game is resources, than what does it mean to be resourceful? One definition is "having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulty." In a RECESS situation, most "difficulty" will arise from the sudden competition for waning resources.

It's foolish to attempt to hoard all the resources you and your family will require in a life-threatening scarcity. The smarter survivor will have ample knowledge of their surroundings. Learn from the tiger: stake out your territory and take stock. I call this Tigerwalking.

When the shit hits the fan, safe travel may be limited to just a few blocks in any direction. tigerwalking my neighborhoodMaintain a careful record of known food/water stores, strategic vantage/defensive positions, and equipment worth commandeering within a few mile radius of your home or place of work.
Like a tiger, you should pick and choose out of necessity, and defend your territory with your life.

Today, knowing the shortest route to a store that sells groceries, tools, or ammunition is useful. If that store is 15 min. from your home by car, your knowledge is of little use in a RECESS situation. In a crisis, there is little chance you will ever reach that store on foot, and an even greater chance that if you do it will be empty. If you are just now realizing the untapped potential of the tremendous heap of "stuff" contained in your own home, imagine that potential as you expand your territory to your block - or your neighborhood. The accumulated results of literally decades of weekend shopping trips are all around you.

Take notes,map key resources, and most importantly - practice discretion. Tigerwalk habitually - carefully scanning the contents of open garages, parked vehicles, and obvious new resources. Practice constant vigilance. Look around - then look again.
I've walked my dog along the same route for years. Just yesterday I noticed a home security camera that I'd never seen before. It wasn't new; the camera was well weathered. This camera is a clear sign of two possible scenarios:
  1. The house contains something of value
  2. The owners are paranoid - and as such, more likely to be armed.
In a RECESS situation, this house would be elevated to a location of interest and low risk.

Be observant, be prepared, and be organized. I use this Google Map and Flickr mashup designed to keep track of resources I spot while tigerwalking. When I see something worth remembering I use my iPhone and an application called MobileFotos to upload geo-coded photos to the map for later study. If you want to save a few steps, you could probably skip all the walking and spend your time online perusing Google Street View.
I've recently started streaming live video from my cell phone while tigerwalking. The performances are unscheduled and impromptu. You can can watch them here.
{ survival skills }
  • Skill: Firing a Golf Ball Propaganda Cannon
  • Leaving your Mark
  • test firing an improvised shotgun
{ resource map }

{ live stream }


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