Monday, June 30, 2014

Making a Bow– An Effective Expedient Weapon, by E.M.

Making a Bow– An Effective Expedient Weapon, by E.M.

Imagine yourself in a bug out situation. You have had to abandon your vehicle because a bridge is out, and you can’t go back because your vehicle is hopelessly blocked in by others. You leave your vehicle, taking your vest, your rifle, and your BOB. You head across country toward your retreat, which is about 100 miles away, where you plan to meet your family and friends. You think it will take maybe a week or so to get there. You have three or four days of food and 120 rounds for the rifle. You follow the river downstream toward the next bridge, hoping things won’t get too crazy before you can cross. The river is deep and wide with a swift current this time of year.
Let’s fast forward two days. You are now being pursued by six armed men and are running for your life. You have dropped your BOB somewhere back there, in the hopes that they will stop to retrieve it and give you a little more time to escape, but that hasn’t worked. You don’t think you can take on all of them and survive. At this point, crossing the river is one of your best options for giving them the slip. You are already exhausted, but you have no choice but to plunge in the cold water. A couple of hundred yards out, about half way across, the strain of swimming with your boots, fully clothed, with your vest and rifle is wearing you out, and you realize that you just won’t make it without shedding some of this load. You reluctantly drop your rifle and a little while later your vest. The other shore is drawing closer, but you aren’t sure you will make it. You feel solid ground under your feet at last and drag yourself into the shallows and collapse. You made it by the skin of your teeth and with just what you have in your pockets.

The Goal

This story is just meant to illustrate a scenario where you might end up without your rifle and most of your other gear. I realize that any of us would prefer to have a gun of any sort rather than having to rely on a more primitive weapon, like, for example, a bow, but it’s plausible that you find yourself in a situation where it may be all you have or can fashion for yourself. Tying a string on a bent stick is not going be of much use, but it’s not that hard to make a decent bow with just what you have in your pockets. So, given all that as an introduction, I’d like to give you the basics of making a primitive bow and some arrows you could use to potentially feed and defend yourself until something better comes along.
I don’t make bows for a living and still have much to learn myself. There are many volumes out there that deal with this topic. I’m assuming here you have a knife. I carry a Swiss Army knife that has a blade, scissors, a saw, and screwdrivers among other things. A multi-tool would be great, too. You can make a bow with just a sturdy knife.
Forgive the technical part, but it will help you to make a better bow. Your goal is to impart as much kinetic energy to an arrow as possible. All other things being equal, an arrow with higher kinetic energy will penetrate better and inflict more damage than an arrow with less energy.
(Kinetic energy) Ek=1/2mV2 (one half times the mass of the arrow, times the velocity of the arrow squared)
So, doubling the mass of the arrow will double the energy, but doubling the velocity of the arrow will increase the energy by a factor of four 2×2=4. So a lighter arrow shot from a faster bow is a good strategy for making an effective weapon. Lighter bow limbs and using a faster rebounding species of wood are good guidelines for making an effective bow.

Find Some Wood

The best species are: hickory, ash, osage, mulberry, honey locust, and black locust
Get familiar with these species; you will find at least one of these growing in all parts of the continental U.S.
Hickory is common in the eastern U.S. and is very forgiving when it comes to making bows. Even an imperfect job of bow making will likely give you a serviceable bow. It is hard, tough, and difficult to split. It does not snap back to shape as quickly as some other potential bow woods but will still produce a good expedient bow.
Ash is a good bow wood. It’s not as tough as hickory but springs back well and is generally straight-grained and easier to split.
Osage orange, also called hedge apple or Bois d’arc, is probably the best bow wood in North America. The heart wood is bright yellow, and, if the tree is straight-grained, it will split fairly easily. It springs back very quickly and will make either a long bow or flat bow. It is more difficult to work than some of the other woods. Osage is more sensitive to mistakes but will make the best bow, if your workmanship is good.
Mulberry is similar to osage in its properties and color; however, the tree looks totally different. The specimens I have worked had a lot of knots and twisted grain. If you can find a straight tree, you can make a good bow from mulberry.
Other woods that will make a good bow are black locust and honey locust. Honey locust is unmistakable with its massive clusters of thorns. If you find one, hang on to some of the thorns; you can use them to make a lot of useful things, like needles, gigs, and fish hooks.
Splitting and cutting. Look for a tree without a lot of branches in the section that you plan to use. Straight, even bark structure can sometimes indicate that the wood beneath is straight grained too. This is not a sure bet but working with straight grained wood will make this a lot easier. You can use trunk wood, or branch wood. Wood from a tree that has been struck by lightning can sometimes be splintered at the stump, leaving pieces of the tree sticking up that can be used. Make sure the piece is sound with no flaws or cracks. Saplings are tempting but don’t work as well. They are mostly sap wood and not as strong as wood from a larger tree. Cutting the stave can be done with whatever you have– a wire saw, a Swiss army knife/multi-tool saw, hatchet, machete, or a knife if it’s all you have and flint as a last resort.
Shaping. Rough it out with a machete or hatchet, if you have one, or a knife if you don’t. In extremity, you can use flint, if available. Using flint will take much, much longer, and you have to change your mindset and level of patience and expectation. Use a sharp edged piece of a pound or two in weight to do the heavy and rough cutting. This will work better if you can attach it to a handle of some sort. Use thinner flakes to scrape and serrated flakes to saw and cut parts, like the arrow nocks. Working the flint to make these kind of tools is beyond the scope of this article. This is something you might want to play with for a few hours when the pressure is off on a Saturday afternoon.
Bow Shapes. There are two basic shapes for primitive bows– the longbow and the flat bow. Long bows are usually five or six feet long and somewhere in the 1-1.25 in wide range near the handle, tapering to .5” or so at the tips. The depth of the limb– the distance from front to back– tapers from tip to handle, and the cross section of the limb is a deep D with the flatter section on the back, facing away from the user. Some woods can’t take the compressive stress on the belly of the bow and won’t make good long bows. If you have this problem, the grain of the wood will “collapse” or indent on the belly. Since the wood choice and quality is more critical when making a longbow, this style may not be the best bet for a survival situation. A longer longbow is less likely to break but also would give you less cast for the same cross section.
Flat Bows. There are a lot of advantages in going with a flat bow. Most Native Americans used flat bows. The bows are shorter (under five feet) and wider than longbows; flat bows are generally 2- 2.5 inches wide on either side of the handle, tapering to .5 to .75 at the tip. The design can be more forgiving, since the bending force comes from the width, not the depth. The stress on the wood is less, which means that it is less likely to break.
The Back of the Bow. (This is the surface facing away from you when you shoot) It should be made from the surface of the wood that was facing the bark. If there is sap wood, it is generally better to shave that off for the types of wood discussed here. Follow a single grain boundary all the way down the length. Follow any curves or waviness in the grain. Don’t worry if it is straight, just be very sure you follow one grain layer down the whole length. You may want to finish the bow to the last grain layer after the drying step.
The Belly of the Bow. (The part of the bow facing the user is the belly.) This should be slightly rounded so that a cross section of the bow at any point would be a flattened D shape. Follow any major grain where possible, especially on the last 1/3 of the limbs.
The Handle. Make the handle about 1-1 ¼” in diameter and blend the elongated “D” shape of the bow limbs to a round or “D” shape at the handle. Make this section 5-6 inches long. You can either rest the arrow on your index finger as you shoot or you can cut a shelf into the side of the bow just above where your hand rests.
The Width. Taper from about ½ to ¾ inch at the tips to max width about 5 inches above and below the center of the bow.
Drying. Wet wood will not make a useable bow. It will take too much of a permanent set, (called string follow). Use heat from a fire or coals to quickly dry the wood. You must be very careful and pay very close attention. Don’t damage your roughed out bow by burning or charring. You want heat, not fire. Of course this is not ideal. Bow makers use well-seasoned wood with controlled moisture content. You will not have that luxury but should still get a decent bow. This is a good time to straighten the limbs if they need it. The heat and moisture in the wood will make it pliable and allow you to straighten minor problems.
Finishing. As you get closer to the finished shape, use the edge of your knife/flint to scrape the wood. Hold it at right angles to the surface to shave very small amounts at a time from the bow.
Even before you get the bow to the point that it looks close to finished, put some temporary nocks on the ends of the limb and tie paracord or some other string material that will take the stress and put a bend in the bow and look at the shape. This is called tillering. If it bends evenly, that’s good; if not, take a few more scrapes off the belly of the bow on the limb that isn’t bending as much. Once you get down to a single grain layer on the back of the bow, you should never touch the back again. Don’t go crazy trying to get it to bend perfectly. If you take off too much, it will either break at full draw or be too weak to be of any use.

Bow Strings

The best bowstring material is one that is strong enough to carry the load of the fully-drawn bow and one that will not stretch. You want the bow limbs to be propelling the arrow, not the rubber band effect you get with a stretchy string. Dacron is the material that most bow strings are made of. The core of some paracord might be twisted into a decent string. The outer sleeve of the paracord might be okay, too, if you stretch it well first, since it is braided. A good boot lace could work, too.
Wild plant fibers might not be your best bet for a bow string. Plant fibers are usually only strong enough for a light bow, or else the string diameter gets too big. This also depends on your skill at twisting fibers. If you want to go this way, any yucca-like plant will have strong fiber in the leaves that can be extracted and used to make a bow string. Pound the leaves, soak them in water, separate out the fibers, and get all of the leaf pulp off of them, allow to dry before using.
Sinew works too. It should be cleaned and twisted together while moist into a string. These are very subject to stretching if they get wet or even with high humidity. Gut will also make a bow string. Multiple thicknesses of cleaned, dried gut will work. It has the same problems as sinew; it stretches with moisture and humidity. A good tight twist in the string will limit the stretch. you may need to let the string stretch, unstring your bow and shorten it, and repeat a couple of times before a string made from natural materials will have stabilized There is no need to get fancy with the loops on the ends of your bow string, a bowline knot works well (hence the name). If you leave a wooden bow strung for long periods, the wood will take a set and it will lose strength. It is best to unstring your bow when possible. It’s also not a good idea to “dry fire” a wooden bow. The energy that normally goes into the arrow goes back into the limbs and can cause a fracture.
So now your bow is to its final shape, you have scraped it down to smooth it as much as possible. The next thing to do is to seal the surface. You may be thinking that you don’t care about this, but sealing the surface will prevent it from absorbing moisture and losing strength. Any kind of oily substance– berries or seeds– is good, but a waxy substance is even better. Put some of the oily or wax substance on the bow. Now burnish the surface of the bow. Take an approximately 1” diameter stick from some kind of hard wood, making sure the surface is as smooth as you can make it with your knife. Hold it at right angles to the bow, press down hard and rub vigorously back and forth. This will compress the surface of the wood and if you are doing it right you will see that the bow is becoming shiny. This will help reduce absorption of moisture.


Materials Needed:
  • Small bamboo species,
  • reeds,
  • blueberry shoots,
  • dogwood shoots, anything that is between ¼ and 1/2“ in diameter and about 3 feet long.
You want to start out with a longer piece than the finished arrow to allow for tuning the arrow. Remember that a lighter arrow gives better performance but it must be stiff enough to fly straight.
Adhesives. There are not a lot of natural adhesives out there. Pine resin, when heated, can be used to seat points prior to wrapping with sinew or string. It can also be used for attaching fletchings. It’s not the best, but there are not many choices out there.
Thread. Threads from the middle of a piece of paracord or boot lace can work well for attaching the arrowhead, the fletchings, and for reinforcing the shaft below the nock. Sinew is the best natural material for binding the arrow head on. Spider silk can work if you live in an area like the South, where Banana spiders live. They make really big webs. Yucca fiber can work, too.
Selecting bamboo. Use small species bamboo (not a young piece of larger bamboo). Look for pieces that are as straight as possible, with small straight joints, about ¼ to ½ “ in diameter. The older canes are better. Bamboo is probably your best choice if available, since it is hollow and will be light and stiff.
Hardwood shoots. Look for shoots from blueberries, dogwood, viburnum, or any solid, straight sprout of the right diameter.
Splits. If you find a splintered tree or stump that has been struck by lightning, there are sometimes splinters big enough to be used for arrows. Shave them down to about the right size with your knife. It is more important to the flight of the arrow that they be straight than that they be perfectly round.
Straightening. Any freshly cut wood or bamboo can be straightened with heat. Heat the area to be straightened evenly by holding it near a flame or coals and rotating it. It needs to be hot enough that you can barely touch it. Once it is heated carefully, straighten it and hold it in that position until it cools. Once the wood is dry, this won’t work as well.
Nock. Make the final nock about ¼ “ deep and no more than 1/3 the width of the arrow shaft at the smaller end. Smooth the nock carefully or you could damage your bowstring. Wrap the arrow shaft tightly with thread or sinew just beyond the base of the nock to prevent the arrow shaft from splitting. If you are using bamboo shafts either make the nock just above a joint or carve a piece of hardwood to just slip inside the bamboo at the nock end and long enough to reach the next joint carve a nock as before and reinforce with thread or sinew. This will keep the bamboo from splitting.
Length/tuning. Do this before putting any fletchings on the arrow. The length of your arrows will vary according to the stiffness of the arrow, the weight of the point, and the style of arrow rest. The arrows flex when you release the string. This is affected by the stiffness and point weight. For a given arrow you tune the stiffness by making it shorter. Since making it longer is not generally an option, you start with a longer shaft and trim a little off at a time and re-nock it until it shoots right. “Right” is when the arrow flexes around the handle in such a way as to fly straight and hit the target straight on. In other words, not slanted to the left or right as it sticks into the target. You will know it when you see it. If the arrow doesn’t stick in straight in the vertical direction, you may be holding the arrow at the wrong point on the string. It should be just a little, maybe one arrow’s thickness, above the rest.
If you have a heavy shaft and want to make it lighter, you can shave it down with the edge of the knife blade. This will reduce the stiffness, so it may need to be shortened to shoot right from your bow. Having said all this about tuning arrows to your bow. You can shoot just about anything, but accuracy will suffer a lot. If you can take some time to dial in your arrow, it will make you more effective with the bow.
Point. Anything sharp with cutting edges is a plus. Hammered bottle caps, flint chips, broken glass, a sharpened piece of hardwood, or bone can be used. You will want the balance to be weighted forward. So if the shaft is tapered, always put the thick end forward. For an un-tapered shaft, the weight of the tip will help bring the balance point forward. Flint knapping is beyond the scope of this article, but both broken glass and flint make good points as long as it’s sharp and pointed, it will do the job. Of course, if you hit a rock or tree you may have to replace it. Notice that almost all the flint arrowheads you find are broken.
For small game and birds a blunt point is effective. The shock of impact stuns or kills them. For bigger stuff, a sharp point with cutting edges is ideal. A wider, flatter point will do more damage to the target. Try to avoid any abrupt transitions from the point to the arrow shaft; taper and blend it as much as possible. Pine resin works well for this when heated and formed.
Fletching. Use feathers, if you can find them. Ideally, use the flight feathers from a turkey, goose, duck, gull, or other similar sized bird. Otherwise use your imagination with plastic, paper, leather, duct tape, and so on. If the arrows are tuned and balanced well, you can keep the fletchings smaller. Glue them with resin and tie them on with small thread by winding through the individual fibers of the feather. For other fletching materials, glue, tie, or tape on as your materials and imagination allow. Many cultures use two fletchings, but most use three or four. Three is what I usually go with. Look at pictures of Native American arrows. Some have novel ways of adding the fletchings that don’t require glue or resin.
I know this all sounds like a lot of work, but with a little practice, and a machete or hatchet, it can be done in an afternoon. If you are stuck using a pocket knife, it will be a longer job. Just think of it as an extended whittling session.
I think it’s worth your while to look for some suitable wood and spend an afternoon giving this a try. If the time comes that you need to do it, you will be way ahead of the game.

From the Survival Blog

Recipe of the Week: Fish Pie, by C.S.

Recipe of the Week: Fish Pie, by C.S.


Here is a recipe that my family enjoys. It uses several items from my long-term food storage. We are in Alaska, so some of our food storage may seem strange to you. When I first moved here from the mid-west, I thought the idea of canning salmon was the oddest thing. Now every year we can many pounds of fish, which make tasty meals through the winter. We also have a root cellar that helps us keep produce from the garden fresh through our long winters.

Serves 6 "Really it did"

2 Tbsp Butter or fat
2 Tbsp Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Cup Milk (use 1/4 Cup dry + water to make 1 cup)
2 Cup cooked leftover fish, flaked (I used 2 pint jars of salmon)
3/4 Cup cooked peas (I re-hydrated the dry ones from my garden)
1 Tbsp onion (dry works fine, check the amount with your onions so it is not too strong)
1 Tbsp chopped green pepper (dry again works well, check the substitution amounts for dry versus fresh)
1 Cup mashed potatoes


Melt butter in pan.
Add flour and brown.
Add salt and milk.
Heat and stir until creamy.
Add fish flakes, peas, onions and peppers. Heat through.
Turn into a greased baking dish.
Top with potatoes.
Bake in hot oven (400 F) 12 minutes.

Serve with a pile of steamed cabbage.

The Milky Way's Dark Heart

The Milky Way's Dark Heart


Within the Milky Way's invisible heart lurks a black hole.


By Rich Talcott in Discover Magazine


About the Map: It depicts the sky from mid-northern latitudes at the following times: midnight July 1, 11 p.m. July 15, 10 p.m. July 31. What You Can See: Our galaxy’s dust appears most prominent in the so-called Great Rift, which splits the Milky Way from Cygnus (nearly overhead in summer) to Sagittarius. Summer is traditionally vacation season, when city dwellers escape the hustle of daily life for some rest in the country. For anyone experiencing a truly dark summer sky for the first ti...

Who Are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties?

Who Are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties?


By Jim Daly , CP  (Christian POst)  Contributor


Last week I introduced a series by Bruce Hausknecht, Focus' judicial analyst, on two cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases can potentially have far-reaching implication on the state of religious liberties in our country, which is why it's important that Christians understand what's going on – and what's at stake.

The first part answered the question, "How did we get here?" In this second part, Bruce answers, "Who are Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties?"


Hobby Lobby

The Green family – David Green, Barbara Green, Steve Green, Mart Green and Darsee Lett – are committed evangelicals, and the founders and owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores, as well as Mardel, a chain of Christian bookstores. What began in 1970 in the family garage as a small portrait framing business today employs about 13,000 workers at more than 500 stores across the country.

The Greens intentionally operate their businesses in a manner designed to reflect their religious principles and, in so doing, bring glory to God. They are closed on Sundays, for example. They give widely to charities. They don't sell products that facilitate or promote immorality. They carry religiously themed material, and celebrate Christmas and Easter with full-page ads in newspapers.

Pertinent to their case currently before the Supreme Court, the Greens provide a generous company health plan that includes coverage for most contraceptives. However, they don't want to be complicit in possible abortions that can be caused by four of the drugs and devices required by the HHS mandate.

Conestoga Wood Specialties

open Bible in a man's handsThe Hahn family – Norman and Elizabeth Hahn and their three sons – are second-generation owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, a Pennsylvania wood cabinet and specialty products manufacturer begun by Norman's father in 1964. Devout Mennonite Christians, the Hahns are dedicated to running their business using biblical principles. Guided by those principles, the Hahns concluded (just like the Greens) that being forced to offer possible abortion-causing contraceptive drugs and devices in the company healthcare plan would be an intolerable violation of their deeply held religious belief concerning the sanctity of human life.

Penalized for their faith

The federal government does not contest the sincerity of these families' religious beliefs. But neither is it moved by their pleas for an accommodation of those beliefs—and the pressure the government is putting on these family-owned businesses is considerable.

With 13,000 employees, Hobby Lobby faces a fine of $1,300,000 per day ($100 per employee) if it offers a health plan that doesn't cover all 20 contraceptive drugs and devices contained in the HHS mandate. That's $474 million per year! Although the Greens have made clear that they only object to four out of the 20 required contraceptive drugs and devices, the healthcare law is unforgiving. Even if they objected to only one, the Greens would still be fined the full amount.

Conestoga, with approximately 950 employees, faces a fine of $95,000 per day, or $34,675,000 per year.

These are outrageous penalties for exercising one's faith. No company can survive a financial punishment of that magnitude for long. So the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga (and dozens of other family-owned companies) filed federal lawsuits asking the courts to stop the fines from starting, and to declare that the HHS mandate violated their religious rights.


Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame-honored daily broadcast, heard by more than 2.9 million listeners a week on more than 1,000 radio stations across the U.S.


Food Plots for Wildlife

Food Plots for Wildlife

Food and cover are fundamental to maintaining a quality habitat for deer or other wildlife. The more food there is for wildlife to eat the less likely they are to go looking for another food source.  An adequate food source will keep wildlife in your area; therefore, they will live longer, and reproduce healthier young.  Cover and bedding areas will also keep wildlife on your land for they need not travel.

Our specialized mixes can be planted in strips or patches along the edge of woods, near ponds, along fence lines or near areas of thick grass.  Whether planting annuals or perennials, both will provide an excellent food plot for deer.  Perennial food plots are a great food source because of there longevity and persistence to all the weather conditions.  Perennial food plots like White Clover, No-Till Mix, or Drought Mix are a good start.

You can also get good results from many of our annual seeds such as Turnips, Radish, or Peas.  Many hunters over-look annuals just because they must be planted every year.  But the ease of planting and benefit of an annual food plot are not to be over looked when building wildlife habitat.

The best thing to do is to have an abundance of food for your wildlife to choose from when you build a food plot.  All of our mixes have been field tested before we offer them for sale.

Soil preparations is essential for a good food plot. Weed competition is the most common problem experienced.  Food plot areas can be worked several times during the spring to eliminate annual weeds.  One thing to keep in mind is that tilling the soil will bring more weed seeds to the surface that will germinate as the soil temperature warms in the spring.  A spray, such as Roundup, can also be used prior to planting.  Roundup is sprayed after the weeds have germinated and started to grow to a height of at least 6 inches. Roundup will kill anything that is green and growing.  Wait 7 to 10 days after spraying and then plant you food plot.

All of our Wildlife Food Plot Products have their own unique growing characteristics to provide an attractive food plot.  The more food and cover you can provide for wildlife the less threatened they will feel.  Kester's mixes are best planted along the edge of a woods, where the deer can retreat if they feel threatened.

Poster’s comments:

1)       I try to keep about 3% of my land open, to include for planting for wildlife. 3% appears to be a magic number even many PhD wildlife biologists use these days. Now the numbers do change, so just be aware.

2)      My land work mostly focuses on edges and lanes. I always try to make my wildlife open areas irregular in shape. I do use a tractor with implements to help me get the job done.

3)      While humans like larger more rectangular type open areas (like growing pine trees like corn), wildlife tends to prefer edges of open areas where they can then disappear into the nearby forest land.

4)      Rabbits and other such small game also tend to like “greens”, like the leaves of the vegetables we may be growing.

5)      Feral hogs and other such large game also tend to prefer things like sorghum patches. I have seen many sorghum patches “mowed down” by feral hogs just eating. Often they did the deed at night.

6)      Quail and other small birds also like sorghum seeds, and other seeds like from “ lespedeza bicolor” plants.

7)      Consider establishing wildlife plots away from garden plots (if you can) as a method to better protect our human food sources that we grow.

8)      Home defense includes our plots of food that we grow to eat. Yep, garden areas should be defended somehow.

9)      Humans can eat many of the products of wildlife plots, too. Two obvious examples are turnips and peas. Just how much to take where you live is a judgment decision.

10)  Wildlife plots do take time and money to establish and grow, too.  There is “no free lunch”, as the old saying goes.

11)  There is plenty of “grazing” food in the forests for most wildlife and most areas. Now the area grazed is large and not concentrated, and it does take time to graze. Even one can “take the temperature” of their local forest by seeing how high the “graze line” is.

12)  Many wildlife move throughout the day and night. Where I live on the Cumberland Plateau in east Tennessee, I expect most wild game that moves will be hunted out (or fished out) within a year of any future hard times beginning. For wildlife that does not move much, then I expect other wildlife will move in to eat them, like coyotes chasing and eating rabbits. I hope to make it for a year, and then more traditional and often hard work routines will have to be established if I want to eat game food after that period of time.

Turnips food value

Turnips food value




From wikipedia: I note this link is similar to the earlier link.

Balut (food)

Balut (food)

I pronounce this food as “ba-loot”. “Ba” is like “baba” black sheep.

Here is a wiki link on the subject:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Film Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’

Film Review: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’


Guy Lodge in Variety Magazine

It’s always darkest before the dawn, goes the saying — but in resuming a franchise already suspended on a downbeat note, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” sees the simian revolution reaching unprecedented levels of bleak anarchy. An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than “Rise” journeyman Rupert Wyatt. Entirely replacing the previous film’s human cast, but crucially promoting Andy Serkis’ remarkable motion-capture inhabitation of Caesar to centerstage, “Dawn” ought to go ape at the global box office starting July 9, smoothing the path for further sequels to test the franchise’s complexity.

Following the robust performance of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” — which garnered warm reviews, more than $480 million worldwide and an Oscar nomination for its stunning effects work — “Cloverfield” director Reeves inherits the Pierre Boulle-originated franchise in considerably better condition than Wyatt did, considering the almighty whiff of Tim Burton’s 2001 “Planet of the Apes” remake. Credibility restored, then, it’d have been easy to get complacent, recycling the “Rise’s” most impressive setpieces and welding them to a hasty resuscitation of its movie-science narrative. Instead, Reeves and returning writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (joined by “The Wolverine” scribe Mark Bomback) have taken a different tonal tack, fashioning the new installment as an out-and-out war drama, with surprising subdivisions in its central conflict of man vs. beast, and battle scenes to do Weta Digital godfather Peter Jackson proud.

The action begins approximately a decade after “Rise” left off, with a pre-credits montage of global news reports filling in the subsequent drastic developments: The ALZ-113 virus (or simian flu) unleashed at the end of the prior film has wiped out most of the world’s human population, with a survival rate of less than one in 500. It’s a slight red herring of an introduction, given that the virus is no longer the most immediate threat to man’s day-to-day existence. With all government functions suspended and nuclear power critically depleted, any remaining bands of survivors exist in spartan, unlit isolation; if the flu doesn’t get to them first, the lack of basic resources will.

San Francisco — or the post-ape-ocalyptic remainder of it, at least — is once more the setting, brilliantly realized by production designer James Chinlund as a gangrenous wasteland of vegetation-swamped slumhouses, the city’s erstwhile landmarks glumly clothed in rust and moss. Its few residents are led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), a former military man bent on revenge against the apes for the loss of his family to the virus. More sanguine is Malcolm (Jason Clarke), who spearheads a project to recover the city’s electricity by regaining control of the O’Shaughnessy Dam. That entails encroaching on the forested domain of the neighboring ape community, still ruled with a firm but hairy hand by Caesar; with relations between man and ape already fragile, this violation throws fuel on the flames of civil unrest.

Though Caesar responds to the diplomatic overtures of Malcolm and his medic wife, Ellie (Keri Russell), and grants them limited access to the dam, not all his subjects approve. Particularly irate is Koba (Toby Kebbell), a hot-headed, human-hating ape with mutinous designs on his leader’s position; when an equivalently reactionary member of Malcolm’s party is revealed to have broken Caesar’s “no guns” condition of cooperation, the resulting furor gives Koba the impetus to launch his aggressive counter-movement. (Sadly, the writers resist giving Caesar the line “Et tu, Koba?”) The script elegantly constructs its human and ape communities as opposed but markedly similar ecosystems, each one internally fractured along lines of relative tolerance toward the other.

The “Apes” franchise has always been a politically loaded one, and this latest entry states its left-wing credo in ways both allegorically implicit and bluntly direct. (You’d have to be pretty obtuse to miss the pro-gun-control subtext attached to misdeeds on both sides of the man-monkey battle.) While the previous film functioned as something of a cautionary tale against man’s destructive meddling with his environment, “Dawn” apportions blame a little more equally, as the beasts (introduced in a thrilling, technically jaw-dropping faceoff against a grizzly bear) are shown to be no less reckless an influence on the biosphere than their former superiors. “I always think ape better than human,” Caesar admits to Malcolm, his speech patterns having evolved rather rapidly even over the course of this film. “I see now how like them we are.” It’s a reverse epiphany that would have Jane Goodall in tears.

Regardless of whose side audiences might take, however, the fallout is inarguably spectacular. Reeves stages the ensuing crossfire in the human colony with much the same sense of kinetic panic he brought to the flipped monster-movie mechanics of “Cloverfield,” albeit with far more technical dazzle this time. With most of the below-the-line talent new to the franchise, “Dawn” has an aesthetic entirely distinct from that of “Rise,” with Michael Seresin’s antsy camerawork painting from a strikingly dank palette, and Michael Giacchino’s chorally embellished score occasionally evoking the grandeur of Howard Shore’s work on the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The editing by William Hoy and Stan Salfas rotates multiple points of drama before hurtling into a too-busy finale that sells Oldman’s arc particularly short: Still, while nearly half an hour longer than its predecessor, the film certainly doesn’t feel it.

Naturally, though, the services of effects wizards Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon have been retained — and with even more astonishing results this time, with the enlarged population and evolved capabilities of the ape community (who can now ride horses, handle firearms and goodness knows what else) posing fresh logistical challenges that are seamlessly met. The fusion of the film’s motion-capture work with its sophisticated fight choreography is particularly staggering.

That Caesar’s community now seems so integrated and completely characterized is certainly due to Letteri and Lemmon’s magic, though much credit should also go to the actors behind the illusion. Serkis must by now be used to the superlatives heaped upon his agile fusion of performance and image in many a CGI spectacle, though he’s in particularly empathetic, emotionally specific form here; Kebbell’s brute physicality and wild-eyed animosity, meanwhile, burns through the digital disguise. Despite Clarke’s everyman likability and some reliably gonzo posturing from Oldman, the less hirsute ensemble seems a little bland by comparison. Perhaps the film’s on the side of the apes after all.

Film Review: 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

Reviewed at Moscow Film Festival (closer, noncompeting), June 27, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 130 MIN.


A 20th Century Fox release and presentation of a Chernin Entertainment production in association with TSG Entertainment, Ingenious Media. Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver. Executive producers, Thomas M. Hammel, Mark Bomback.


Directed by Matt Reeves. Screenplay, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback, based on characters created by Jaffa, Silver. Camera (color), Michael Seresin; editors, William Hoy, Stan Salfas; music, Michael Giacchino; production designer, James Chinlund; art director, Aaron Naaman Marshall; set decorator, Amanda Moss Serino; costume designer, Melissa Bruning; sound (Dolby Atmos), Ed White; supervising sound editors, Douglas Murray, Will Files; re-recording mixers, Andy Nelson, Files; senior visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; visual effects supervisor, Dan Lemmon; visual effects, Weta Digital; stunt coordinators, Charles Croughwell, Marny Eng, Terry Notary; associate producer, Jennifer Teves; assistant director, Mathew Dunne; second unit directors, Brad Parker, Gary Powell; second unit camera, Gary Capo; casting, Debra Zane.


Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Jon Eyez, Enrique Murciano, Terry Notary, Judy Greer, Nick Thurston, Karin Konoval, Keir O'Donnell, Kevin Rankin.


Cooking oil

The Middle East That France and Britain Drew Is Finally Unravelling And there's very little the U.S. can do to stop it


The Middle East That France and Britain Drew Is Finally Unravelling And there's very little the U.S. can do to stop it

By John B. Judis in the New Republic

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) publishes a weekly webzine, The Islamic State Report. The latest issue is headlined “Smashing the Borders of the Tawaghit.” (“Tawaghit” are non-Muslim creations.) ISIS, citing the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916 between the British and French, boasts that it is destroying the “partitioning of Muslim lands by crusader powers.” That may seem like a quixotic task for a relatively small band of irregulars, but in trying to redraw the map of Iraq and Syria, ISIS has hit upon a weak link in the chain holding the nations of the Middle East together.

It is easy to blame what is going on in Iraq or Syria on dictators and terrorists, but these various bad actors are bit players in a drama that goes back at least to World War I. What is happening is that the arrangements that the British and French created during and after World War I—which established the very existence of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, and later contributed to the creation of Israel—are unraveling. Some of these states will survive in their present form, but others will not. The United States may, perhaps, be able to slow or moderate the process, but it won’t be able to stop it. 

If you look at a map of the Middle East in 1917, you won’t find Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, or Palestine. Since the sixteenth century, that area was part of the Ottoman Empire and was divided into districts that didn’t match past or future states. The British and French created the future states—not in order to ease their inhabitants’ transition to self-rule, as they were supposed to do under the mandate of the League of Nations, but in order to maintain their own rule over lands they believed had either great economic or strategic significance.

In 1916, as The Islamic State Report indicates, the French and British agreed to divide up the Ottoman Middle East in the event that they defeated Germany and their Ottoman ally. The French claimed the lands from the Lebanese border to Mosul; the British got part of Palestine and what would be Jordan and Southern Iran from Baghdad to Basra. After the war, the two countries modified these plans under the aegis of the League of Nations. At San Remo in 1920, the British got the territory that in 1921 they divided into Palestine and Transjordan and all of what became Iraq. (France gave up northern Iraq in exchange for 25 percent of oil revenues.) The French got greater Syria, which they divided into a coastal state, Lebanon, and four states to the east that would later become Syria.


These lands had always contained a mix of religions and ethnicities, but in setting out borders and establishing their rule, the British and French deepened sectarian and ethnic divisions. The new state of Iraq included the Kurds in the North (who were Sunni Muslims, but not Arabs), who had been promised partial autonomy earlier by the French; Sunnis in the center and west, whose leaders the British and the British-appointed king turned into the country’s comprador ruling class; and the Shiites in the South, who were aligned with Iran, and who had been at odds with the Sunnis for centuries. After the British took power, a revolt broke out that the British brutally suppressed, but resentment toward the British and toward the central government in Baghdad persisted. In the new state of Transjordan (which later became Jordan), the British installed the son of a Saudi ruler to preside over the Bedouin population; and in Palestine, it promised the Jews a homeland and their own fledgling state within a state under the Balfour Declaration while promising only civil and religious rights to the Palestinian Arabs who made up the overwhelming majority of inhabitants.

In the new state of Lebanon, the French elevated the Christian Maronites into the country’s ruling elite, and created borders that gave them a slight majority over the Shia and Sunni Muslims. In the land that became Syria, the French initially separated the Alawites (from whom the Assad family would descend) and the Druze into their own states and empowered the urban Sunni Muslims in Damascus and Aleppo. During World War II, Syria was finally united in the state that exists today.

From the beginning, these newly created states were engulfed by riots, revolts, and even civil war. Most of the early revolts were directed against the colonial authorities, but after World War II, when these states won their independence, the different religious denominations, ethnicities and nationalities fought each other for supremacy—the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites in Iraq, the Jews and Arabs in Palestine (and later Israelis and Palestinians), the Maronites and Muslims in Lebanon, and the Alawites and Sunnis in Syria. The resulting strife was not a product of the Arab character or of Islam. As University of Oklahoma political scientist Joshua Landis has noted, the turmoil in these lands was very similar to that which took place, and is still taking place, in the various states constructed and deconstructed in Central and Eastern Europe in the wake of the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires and Germany’s defeat after World War I.

In Lebanon, the turmoil has been almost continuous. Lebanon still lacks a stable governing authority. In Iraq and Syria, inter-sectarian and inter-ethnic conflict were temporarily stilled by dictatorships that severely repressed any hint of revolt. Israel used its military to contain the conflict with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza. But in Iraq and Syria, the lid of repression came off, as a result of the American invasion in 2003 that ousted Saddam Hussein and as a result of the Arab Spring spreading to Syria.

Theoretically, the lid could be reimposed in either country by a brutal dictatorship, but it looks increasingly unlikely that either Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki or Syria’s Bashar al Assad will be able to impose order on their deeply divided states. What’s most likely is that Iraq and Syria, like the former Yugoslavia, will splinter into separate states. Iraq’s Kurds are likely to be the first to go. The danger for the United States does not lie in the breakup of these states, but in the empowerment of terrorist groups like ISIS that could threaten the region’s oil output and use their base in lawless areas to spread disorder and terror elsewhere, including the West. In the long run, the United States has to worry about instability in a region that is so important to the world economy and that will eventually have more than one nuclear power.  

In the past, the United States has been of two minds in dealing with disorder in the Middle East. The United States generally backed kings and dictators as long as they were friendly to the United States. But under George W. Bush, the United States sought to create a democratic revolution in the region by ousting Saddam. That proved to be futile and dangerous, but the Obama administration appeared to endorse those objectives in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. At present, the administration’s strategy seems ad hoc—enthusiastically embracing Egypt’s repressive government, while calling for Bashar al Assad’s removal.

What the history of the region suggests is that—to put it in somewhat vague terms—things are going to have to sort themselves out. The people of this region will have to learn how to govern themselves through experience, as the people of other nations, including the United States, have had to do. Outside of Israel, where the United States can exert pressure to end the occupation, but is often reluctant to do so, American influence is very limited. There will be more dictators, but also fledgling democracies. And American objectives will probably have to be limited to preventing terrorist attacks on the West, the interruption of oil supplies, and the subversion by groups like ISIS of the more stable regimes in the region. Its principal tools are diplomacy (that must include Iran), sanctions, and as a very last resort, narrowly targeted armed intervention. ISIS won’t get its Caliphate, but the United States won’t get its United States of Arabia either.


Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic

Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic

Note: Permission to reprint, repost or forward the following article in full is granted, but only if it is not edited or excerpted.

By James Wesley, Rawles — Editor of

(Updated: July 9, 2009.)

The emerging threats of the H1N1 Mexican Swine Flu and the still-present Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major flu outbreak, (H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the United States) took five months to reach the United States. With the advent of global jet travel, it is now likely that highly virulent disease strains will be transmitted to population centers around the world in a matter of just a few days. This what happened with H1N1.

In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and your family from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of H1N1 mutating into a more virulent strain is relatively low, the potential impact if this were to occur would be devastating. The current strain of the virus has a low lethality rate for humans. But even if H1N1 turns out to be a “non-event”, in the next few decades there is a very high likelihood that some other disease will emerge and suddenly make a pandemic breakout. The odds are against us, because influenzas have tendency toward antigenic shift. Because influenzas are viral and are spread by casual person to person contact, the majority of the world’s population will be exposed in just a few weeks or months. Even today, more than 30,000 Americans die each year from flu complications–mostly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and your family, and to help restore order during a pandemic:

A.) If appropriate, Raise Your Immune Resistance. (Only for non-cytokine storm variety flus–see the following discussion)

B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness

C.) Avoid Exposure.

D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.

E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I will briefly discuss each of these requirements in this article. I have also posted more detailed follow-up articles on each topic in my daily blog (web journal) at

Raise Your Immune Resistance

There are two philosophies to fighting off influenza viruses. The first and mostly prevalent is to raise the body’s immune response. The other is to maintain normal immune response to prevent a collapse caused by over-response–a “cytokine storm“. Unless you are immuno-suppressed, do not raise your immune resistance for an influenza where cytokine storm has been reported to be causing a significant number of deaths.

To raise your immune resistance to disease it is important that you stop smoking. If you are a smoker you have already realized that you are much more susceptible to respiratory infections. Smokers are at high risk to develop complications. Get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, drink only in moderation, get plenty of sleep, and use top quality vitamin supplements (from a company such as  eVitamins.) If you are overweight, you need to alter your diet get down to within five pounds of normal body weight. You need to change your diet for two important reasons: First, unhealthy foods weaken your immune system. Cut out refined sugar. Avoid candy, snack foods, soft drinks, and any processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or MSG. Avoid store-bought meat, which is often tainted by the hormones and antibiotics used in commercial livestock feeds. Wild game or home-raised livestock is much healthier! Lastly, pray. Why? Anxiety is a form of stress that weakens the immune system, and prayer is a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress. And more importantly, as a Christian I believe that it is crucial to pray for God’s guidance, providence, and protection.

Be Ready to Fight the Illness

There are some symptoms that distinguish between colds and flus: Flus typically cause fever, chills, achy feeling (malaise), headaches, and extreme fatigue. Cold symptoms are usually restricted to the upper respiratory tract while flu symptoms tend to involve the entire body.

Influenzas tend to kill most of their victims in two ways: dehydration and lung congestion. Even the Avian flu, which is respiratory usually starts with stomach flu symptoms. Stomach flus usually induce diarrhea which rapidly dehydrates the victim. To fight this, you need to stock up on both anti-diarrhea medicines (such as Imodium AD–an anti-spasmodic) and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte. (The latter is available in bulk though large chain “warehouse” stores.) The various sports type drinks (such as Gatorade) can be used as oral rehydration solutions (ORSs) too. However, I prefer to dilute them about 50% with water, they have a lot of glucose in them which will exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.

If commercial ORSs are not available, I have read that you can make an emergency solution as follows:
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons honey, sugar, or rice powder
• 1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (table salt substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon trisodium citrate (can be replaced by baking soda)
• 1 quart of clean water

Imodium is a trade name for Loperamide. It can be purchased generically for relatively little cost, at such places as warehouse stores. The generic (house brands) are just fine. Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well – for treating fevers. These two antipyretics can be taken together or on an alternating 4 hour schedule (take each every 4 hours but split them, for example at 8 AM take acetaminophen, at 10 AM take ibuprofen, etc. This makes it easier to monitor the patient and get them to drink fluids, if they’re up every 2 hours they will have to drink some fluids). Either have a traditional glass thermometer for each person, or a digital thermometer with lots of disposable sleeves. The thermometers are a couple of bucks at most drug stores. The sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don’t cross-contaminate your patients.

Note: There is a difference of opinion on in medical circles about suppressing a fever with an non-seasonal influenza. It all depends on the particular strain. Before using aspirin (for adults) or Acetominophen (for children and adults), check the literature on the current flu strain. If there are widespread reports of “cytokine storm” reactions by patients, then suppressing a fever might be a good thing.

Statistically, the largest group that were killed by the 1918 flu were 16 to 25 years old–those with the strongest immune systems. Those patients often died because their bodies fought the virus too vigorously, in a cytokine storm. Aspirin can help suppress the response that leads to a cytokine over-reaction. Again, there is still considerable debate in medical literature over the issue of fever suppression versus the risk of cytokine over-reaction in treating influenzas.

Because influenzas are viral rather than bacterial, most antibiotic drugs (antibacterials) are useless in combating them. If you suspect that you are coming down with influenza get bed rest! Too many people ignore their symptoms because “that project at work just has to get done.” Not only do they risk their own health, but they infect their co-workers! Liquids help ease congestion and loosen phlegm and are of course crucial to rehydration. Just a fever alone can double your body’s dehydration rate.

Respiratory flus such as the Swine Flu and Asian Avian Flu kill mainly via congestion. Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing guaifenesin as the main ingredient.

You will need to watch carefully for any symptoms of pneumonia develop. These include: difficulty or painful breathing, a grunting sound when breathing (quite distinct from the wheezing of bronchitis or the “barking” of croup), extremely rapid breathing, flaring nostrils with each breath, or coughing up rust-colored phlegm. Pneumonia can be a deadly complication of the flu and is the main cause of flu-related death. It is important to note that pneumonia is typically a co-infection that can be either viral or bacterial. In case of a bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are crucial for saving lives. If it is viral, there is not much that can be done. While antibiotics can clear infection they cannot remove secretions. The patient must cough them all the way back up the respiratory tract. Do not use cough suppressants–anything with active ingredients like dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine. A “productive” (wet) cough that produces phlegm is a good thing! This is where you may need expectorants. One that works well is Robitussin (the original type of Robitussin without any capital letters after the name). These are also available as generics, and quite cheap, so stock up. You should also read up on postural drainage and percussion techniques for chest secretion clearance–for instances when your patient cannot or will not cough effectively.

Avoid Exposure

Aside from being actually coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person, the most common way to catch the flu is by touching something which has been coughed on or sneezed upon by an infected person. For instance, the person that used the shopping cart before you had the flu. They covered their mouth with their hand when they coughed then used that very hand to push the cart around the store. Now your hands are touching the same place. Without thinking while shopping, you rub your eye or nose and you have introduce the virus to your most vulnerable point of infection. When you are out in public do not touch your eyes or nose. Wash your hands frequently to remove any germs you have picked up. Teach your children this as well.

Even though the chances of a full scale “nation busting” pandemic are small, the possibility definitely exists. A full scale pandemic that starts taking lives on a grand scale may quite reasonably cause you to take some extreme measures to protect the lives of your family members. You can cut your chances of infection by more than half if you prepare to live in isolation (a strict “self quarantine”) for an extended period of time. You need to be prepared to avoid all contact with other people during the worst of the pandemic. The self quarantine period might last as much as three years, as successive waves of influenza sweep through the country. Think this through, folks. What would you need to do to successfully quarantine your family? Grab a clipboard and start making some prioritized lists.

History has shown that infectious diseases do their worst in urbanized regions So if you can afford to, make plans to move to a lightly populated region, soon. Where? Read my blog ( for some detailed recommendations, but in general, I recommend moving west of the Missouri River (because of the west’s much lighter population density) to a rural, agricultural region. When looking for a retreat locale, look outside of city limits and away from major highways that will serve as “lines of drift” for urban refugees. You are looking for a property that could serve as a self-sufficient farm–something over five acres, and preferably closer to 40 acres. In the event of a “worst case” pandemic situation, there is the possibility that power grid could go down. Even if your farm has well water, you may be out of luck. A home with gravity fed spring water is ideal, but uncommon. So you will either need to be able to pump well water by hand–only practical with shallow wells–or be prepared to treat water that you’ll draw from open sources: rivers, creeks, lakes, or ponds.

Plan to live at your retreat year-round. In the event of a full scale pandemic, the police and military will probably be ordered to enforce draconian quarantines of cities, counties, or perhaps entire states or regions. Having a well-stocked retreat is useless if you can’t get to it. Live there, and become accustomed to getting by self-sufficiently. Plant a big vegetable garden, using non-hybrid seeds. Raise small livestock that can forage on your own pasture. Get your digestive system accustomed to consumption of your bulk storage foods. Home school your kids. Develop a “hunker down” lifestyle with minimal trips to town. Each trip to town will constitute another opportunity for infection.

To make self-quarantine effective, it is essential that you are prepared to live in isolation for many months, and possibly years, to avoid contact and subsequent risk of infection. This can be practical for anyone that is retired or self-employed in an occupation that does not require regular face to face contact with clients or customers. (For example home-based mail order, self-publishing, recruiting, medical/legal transcription, or telecommuting.) But for anyone else it may mean having to quit your job and live off of your savings. So it is essential that you get out of debt and start building your savings, ASAP. If you can possibly change jobs to something that will allow isolation or semi-isolation, do so as soon as possible. For most of us in the middle class, this may mean “doubling up” with another family to share resources.

To protect yourself (at least marginally) from infected spittle, wear wrap-around goggles and buy or fabricate surgical style masks, in quantity. Note that even an N100 gas mask filter will not stop an airborne virus, since the viruses are too small. But at least a cloth mask will give you some protection from virus-laden spittle. Once the pandemic breaks out in your region, you won’t look out of place wearing these, even on a trip to the post office. Stock up on disposable gloves. Note that some individuals are allergic to latex. So do some extended wear tests before you buy gloves in quantity. Wear gloves whenever away from your retreat, and wash your hands frequently, regardless. Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes at all times. Stock up on soap and bottles of disinfecting hand sanitizer.

Stockpile Key Logistics

To make long term self quarantine effective you will need to buy a large quantity of long term storage food from a trustworthy vendor. Storage food is bulky and expensive to ship, so plan to buy locally or rent a truck and travel to a nearby state to pick up your storage food. In the eastern U.S., I recommend Ready Made Resources, of Tennessee. (See: In the western U.S., I recommend Walton Feed of Idaho. (See: It is also important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity–both to your neighbors and to any relatives that might end up on your doorstep at the 11th hour.

Stockpile fuel–firewood, home heating oil, or propane, plus fuel for your backup generator, vehicles and/or tractor. For liquid fuels, buy the largest tanks that you can afford to buy and fill, and that are allowable under your local fire code. If you heat with wood or coal, determine how many cords or pounds of coal you buy each winter and then triple that amount.

Build a sturdy gate to your driveway and get in the habit of keeping it closed and locked. It may sound far-fetched, but in the event or a “worst case” you may have to repel looters by force of arms. Buy plenty of ammo, zero your guns, and practice regularly. Hurricane Katrina showed how fragile our society is and how quickly law and order can break down in an emergency. Plan accordingly.

With the consent of your doctor and his prescription, you should stock up at least moderately on antibiotics such as penicillin and Ciprofloxacin (“cipro”) to fight co-infections. But they should only be used if it is abundantly clear that a co-infection has set in. (Again, watch for pneumonia symptoms.)

There are a few drugs that have been clinically proven to be useful in lessening the symptoms of viral influenzas, and shortening the duration of illness. These include Relenza (Zanamivir), Tamiflu (Oseltamivir phosphate), and Sambucol. These drugs are used immediately after the onset of flu symptoms. Of the three, Sambucol–a non-prescription tincture of black elderberry– is probably the best. I predict shortages of these drugs in coming months, so stock up while they are still readily available!

Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I already mentioned that it is important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity. I cannot emphasize this enough. Helping your neighbors is Biblically sound and builds trustworthy friendships that you can count on. To avoid risk of infection, you need to be prepared to dispense charity from a safe distance–without physical contact. Think: planning, teamwork, and ballistic backup. While your family’s food storage can be in bulk containers (typically 5 to 7 gallon food grade plastic pails), your charity storage food should mostly be in smaller containers. Or, at least buy some extra smaller containers that you can fill and distribute to refugees. Also be sure to lay in extra gardening seed to dispense as charity. Non-hybrid (“heirloom”) varieties that breed true are available from several vendors including The Ark Institute. (See: By dispensing charity you will be helping to restore order and re-establish key infrastructures. The bottom line is that you’ll be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

In closing, I highly recommend that you read Dr. Grattan Woodson’s monograph “Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic”, available for free download at my blog site. Also see:

Postscript from Reader and Contributor “Dr. November“:

I’m not a big believer in Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or the other neuraminidase inhibitors. It’s only demonstrated effect is to make the course of the flu slightly less long (on the order of 1-2 days less), but it has a critical requirement: IT MUST BE TAKEN within the first day or two of feeling ill. Most people (myself included) will just feel a little ‘off’ those first couple of days, or try to work through it. Tamiflu in this situation is pretty useless. Also, if someone is going to use it, they MUST have it on hand before they get sick: Getting the first symptoms, then deciding to call your physician and getting an appointment to get the prescription the week after next isn’t going to help. Finally, it’s pretty expensive (a standard 5 day adult dose is around $100 plus the physicians appointment). It’s also going to be in short supply as people start trying to get it (similar to Cipro following the anthrax attacks and scares). BTW, Mom’s old standby for respiratory infections (chicken soup) is as effective as oseltamivir. I doubt that it would be a good choice for an avian or swine flu pandemic, though.

I was favorably impressed with a study done in Israel about the efficacy of Sambucol. At least, it’s not expensive and won’t hurt anything.
So, what should people do? In addition to the suggestions you’ve offered, I have a few more: If the pandemic strikes, and you can’t avoid going out among people, wear disposable gloves (they don’t have to be surgical or sterile). You don’t know who last touched that … whatever (door knob, elevator button, etc). Carry and use several pair, and learn how to take them off without touching the outsides (ask a medically trained individual to show you).
Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes! If your hands become contaminated, don’t transfer the virus to mucous membranes. Wash your hands often (and also, BEFORE and AFTER using public restrooms, then don’t touch the door knob on the way out – use an extra paper towel). Hand sanitizer gels are OK but plain soap and water is fine too. If nothing else is available, a ‘dry wash’ (vigorously rubbing your hands as though you were soaping them up) is surprisingly effective in removing the outer dead layer of skin cells that harbor virus particles or bacteria. It won’t get rid of every single one (nothing will) but it’s a matter of odds – the fewer, the better.
Teach everyone (especially the dear little germ transport mechanisms we call children) to cough into their elbow or armpit – NOT to cover their face with their hands (and then what?) or use a tissue (and then what?). And to wash their hands afterwards.
I can commend a medical blog that has an excellent article (and link to a free New England Journal of Medicine article) on avian flu: and – Dr. November

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and I don’t give medical advice. Mention of any medical device, treatment, drug, or food supplement is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment or the use of any drug, food supplement, or medical device. is not responsible for the use or misuse of any product mentioned.

Copyright 2006-2014. All Rights Reserved by James Wesley, Rawles – Permission to reprint, repost or forward this article in full is granted, but only if it is not edited or excerpted.

About the Author:
James Wesley, Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a noted author and lecturer on survival and preparedness topics. He is the author of “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse” and is the editor of–the popular daily web journal for prepared individuals living in uncertain times.