Confessions Of A Burglar

There are some good tips in the first part of this ABC 20/20 piece that interviews an ex-felon on what he looks for when targeting a house to break into.

The troubling part is the second half of the segment, where the woman wakes up to find a man standing at the foot of her bad wearing a ski mask and holding a baseball bat.

What’s her survival tactic?  She… pretends like she’s falling back asleep.

Now, I don’t know about you but in my book, that’s a pretty big gamble that she took, hoping on a wing and a prayer that THE GUY STANDING AT THE FOOT OF HER BED ISN’T A RAPIST!

If you’re at the point where a guy can easily break into your house in the middle of the night and is standing over your bed with a baseball bat… and you’re only alerted to his presence when he’s at the foot of your bed… then you’ve already lost.

So, what do we do to make it more difficult for somebody to sneak into your house in the middle of the night?  For starters, locked gates, tall fences, defensive shrubbery and house doors and windows that are securely closed and locked is a good start.  I’ve written about the Night Lock before: It’s a good product.  We use one on our front door and I check to make sure it’s on every night before I go to bed.    A bedroom door that has it’s own lock on it will add another layer of defense.

However, even if all of the above are inferior in keeping you safe at night, there is one easy line of defense you should have: A good dog.  Or even better: Two dogs.

A good friend of mine, an ex-cop, owned a Doberman Pinscher that he bought as a puppy several years ago.  I hooked him up with a breeder that I had bought a dog from, so I knew they were good bloodlines from working dog stock.  But it had been several years, and the dog was now a senior, suffering from poor hearing and sleeping much more deeply than he had in younger years.

A man broke into his house.  The Doberman continued to sleep.  The intruder came into his master bedroom and… his wife’s little Shih Tzu jumped up and started barking a ruckus.

My friend got out of bed and pulled a shotgun on the robber and held him until they were able to call the police.  The police came and arrested the robber, who had already broken into several other houses in the area.

Could have ended a lot worse.

Having a dog sleep in the bedroom is not a bad idea.  Having a dog sleep in the hallway that leads up to the bedroom is an even better idea.

Be safe.

Shaving After The Apocalypse: How To Prepare For Your $900 Shave And Haircut

What happens when the apocalypse doesn’t end in fire and brimstone?  What if the apocalypse looks more like a hyperinflation scenario where a shave and a haircut costs decidedly more than the proverbial “two bits”?  Or maybe “your two silver bits” are too valuable to waste on a $500 3-pack of disposable razors.

From wikipedia: In the United States, the bit is equal to 1/8th of a dollar or 12.5 cents. In the U.S., the “bit” as a designation for money dates from the colonial period, when the most common unit of currency used was the Spanish dollar, also known as “piece of eight”, which was worth 8 Spanish silver reales. One eighth of a dollar or one silver real was one “bit”.

With the adoption of the decimal U.S. currency in 1794, there was no longer a coin worth 1/8 of a dollar but “two bits” remained in the language with the meaning of one quarter dollar, “four bits” half dollar, etc. Because there was no one-bit coin, a dime (10 ¢) was sometimes called a short bit and 15¢ a longbit.

Imagine this: After years of endless quantitative easing, inflation starts to run away like a horse from a burning barn.  The Federal Reserve is unable to get it under control due to a variety of circumstances and now instead of $9 for a haircut at Supercuts the sign outside says $900.

Sure, you might find a barber you can barter for a haircut.  But why not get yourself set up now to be more independent and reduce the cost of haircuts and shaves?

Imagine trying to get a  job that allows you to earn a wage that keeps up with runaway inflation. Now imagine walking in to a job interview looking like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top.  Unless you’re applying for the position of “bass player” — long hair and an “Old Man Winter” beard simply isn’t going to pass muster for most jobs.

So, what’s a forward-thinking prepper do to circumvent the inevitable $900 haircut?  Here are two options that have worked well for me and my family:

For DIY Haircuts:

The FloBee: The Flobee was a staple of the 80’s TV infomercial.  Here’s the funny thing you wouldn’t expect about this product: It really works!  The Flobee attaches to your vacuum cleaner hose and gentle pulls the hair away from the head and then cuts it at a predetermined length.  An attachments allow you to give haircuts from 1/2″ to 6″.

I remembered the infomercial for this product but I had no idea that my mother had been using one over the past couple of years.  I complimented her on her haircut one day and my father said, “Did you know that she cuts her own hair with the Flobee?”  I didn’t think they were even selling them anymore!  And I was amazed with how good her hair looked and had to get one for myself.  Now, I’ll admit: I haven’t figured out how to give myself a professional looking haircut with it every time.  It’s not that it looks bad, it’s just that I’m particular about the way my side part and Johnny Carson quiff.  So, there is a bit of a learning curve.  But it does a good enough job that I can go two-to-three months in-between professional haircuts, whereas I would normally go to the barber once a month.  So, it’s definitely a money saver.



You could also use a regular clippers if you’re going for the Herman Cain-look, but personally: I like to leave a little on the top so the Flobee works well for me.  And for kids haircuts?  The Flobee is the best.

For Shaving:

I’ve always used an electric shaver.  It’s quick, easy and effortless.  But the problem with electric shavers is that you’ll need to replace the shaver heads every six months or so, usually to the tune of $35 a pop.  And once every couple of years you’ll likely need to replace the entire shaver.  A good shaver will cost you at least $90 in today’s dollars.  Once inflation takes hold? Who knows how much a shaver will cost, especially after Chinese imports are no longer the low-priced bargain they are now.

Sure, you could start shaving with a straight razor like your grandfather did.  But who wants to risk cutting their own gullet?  [For the record: My grandfather actually used a safety razor and so do I, now.]  Here’s the big benefit to using a safety razor: You’ll never have to spend money on disposable razors or electric shavers… again!

Lord Safety Razor

The true “value buy” in safety razors is the Lord double-edge chrome safety razor.  This is the one that I use.  The only drawback is that it’s made in the Republic of Jordan, if memory serves.  Or Egypt.  I can’t remember.  The safety razor takes a bit of getting used to: You need to make sure your skin is wet and then go with the grain when possible.

Derby Safety Razors

The blades make all the difference: I use Derby double-edge razor blades.  From a prepper’s viewpoint, here’s the really cool thing: A box of 100 blades will cost you less than $10.  I use one blade every seven days, so a box of 100 will last almost two years.  For $150, you can have enough razor blades to last the rest of your life and a few left over to barter with.

And if the inflation apocalypse never comes?  Being independent from the monthly expenses associated with haircuts and the ability to shave for a year on less than $5 means you’ll have more funds free to spend on beans, bullets and bullion.


An iPhone Case That’s Also A Stun Gun? No Thanks.

File this one under: False sense of security.  One of my readers sent me a link to this story:

If the link above still works, you’ll notice that the article starts with:

“Former Army soldier Seth Froom vividly recalls when he was robbed at gunpoint in his own house in 2011. With his face to the floor and an iPhone in his hand, he watched helplessly as his home was ransacked.”

“I kept thinking what I could have done to stop this,” said Froom. Two years after that traumatic event, Froom and his college buddy Sean Simone had invented a solution that has the potential to make millions — an iPhone case that doubles as a 650,000-volt stun gun.

Later in the article it states: “Touch the device to someone and it can deliver a shock that causes significant discomfort, ranging from mild to extreme pain, Simone said.”

In the video attached to the article (the one where CNN’s Don Lemon is screaming, “These need to be regulated! I’m not comfortable with just anybody being able to get these!” — they say the stun feels like a bee sting.

So, just to recap:

  • A professional soldier suffers a home invasion where a man holds a gun to his head… and the best solution he can come up with is… an iPhone case that causes a shock that feels like a bee sting?  Mmmmkay…  Might I suggest: Buying a gun and moving to a better neighborhood? Or at the least, get a Night Lock for your door and a big dog?
  • Stun guns are already legal in 40 states.  Good ones, the ones that deliver strong, painful shocks.  And Don Lemmon is worried that this thing is going to be a problem?  Why, because the kind of people who would run around shocking other people can’t walk into any Harbor Freight and buy a stun gun to do that, now?  Oh… my… god… what will we elites do once the unwashed masses have a way to run around and shoot each other… with iPhone cases that produce mild discomfort??


Apparently, there is a whole subculture of people known as “Vandwellers”.  (People who live in their vans).  I can see the utility in doing this if you were a grad student and you wanted to avoid racking up a bunch of student debt.  Definitely.  But I’d have a hard time doing the same thing at 40, unless it was in an actual Class B RV with a bed, toilet and shower.

Some people do, though.

Here are a few interesting links:

Duke Grad Student Secretly Lived In a Van to Escape Loan Debt

2.5 Years of Living In A Van


He Quit His Job To Live In A Tent And Write Code

I really wish we could check in and see where this guy is in a few  of months.   My guess is that he’ll either be living with friends/family or renting a small apartment when the novelty of shitting in a hole and showering in a cold river wears off.  Especially when winter starts to roll in.

Outdoor living is not so easy.  Sure, camping is fun.  Even primitive camping… for a couple of days or a week at the most.  But coming home to find a rattlesnake in your tent kills the joy of outdoor living… real… quickly.

From the article:

“I recently quit my job and my apartment to live in the forest in a tent.

Actually, tonight, I’m in a wind shelter by a still and beautiful lake, and in front of me there is a small fire; the sun is setting.
And on my lap, my laptop.

I’m a developer. I moved to a tent in the forest to be able to code on my startup project full time.
Not only does that give me the time to do this but it also gives me peace of mind.
I change my location about two times per week.”

Read the rest of the article, here:

The Truck Camper As A Bug Out Vehicle

I like the idea a lot: Put a truck camper on a diesel truck and you can still pull a cargo trailer (or a trailer with a dirt bike) behind it.  Or even a boat.

The only apparent negative is that– after talking with a friend who is an RV expert– the truck campers can be kind of “tippy” in the wind.  The other big negative is that if you’re stuck in grid-lock for hours (picture the highways leading away from New Orleans in the run up to Katrina) … you have no way for your passenger to use the bathroom or lie down and take a nap.  With a Class C RV, they just get up and go in the back.  So, definite trade-offs, but I think the truck camper idea is still worth merit.

Take a look at this article:

The Truck Camper As A Family Emergency Vehicle

Guns For Preppers

My latest book, “Guns For Preppers” is now available for your Kindle (or Kindle app on Ipad).

Click here to read more about “Guns For Preppers”

A valuable guide for the absolute beginner covering the five guns every prepper must own to survive hard times. Written by the author of the best-selling book, “Dogs For Preppers” and the voice behind the Sobert Gummer “Survival Prepping For Hard Times” blog.

Topics include:

• Do You Really Need A Gun?
• The Gun As A Tool
• “What If I Want To Buy Just One Gun?”
• The Five Guns Every Prepper Must Own
• What If You Need To “Bug Out” With Your Guns?
• Survival Fantasy Vs. Survival Reality
• Why You’ll Need A Pocket Pistol
• Stopping Power
• Resources: Everything You Need!

Sleep Well Knowing You Can Protect Your Family

Guns For PreppersThis 33-page booklet provides the ultimate beginner’s guide to the five guns every prepper must own whether they live in a city, a suburb or out in the country. You can pay $10-$30 for a longer book containing lots of filler material you don’t need. Are you really going to become a gunsmith, collect an arsenal, or join a high speed/low drag tactical team? Stick to the essentials and pay a lot less.

These Are The Guns You Need To Survive Hard Times

At a bare minimum, I’ve boiled down five types of guns that every prepper should own.

“Five different types of guns?” you’re asking yourself? “Surely I don’t need five different types of guns.”

Yes, you do. Five different types of guns. Since two is one, and one is none– each of these five types of guns will in some way overlap in their main use. Later you may choose to “double up” on each type of gun.

In addition to my own experience living in some of the most dangerous places in the world, I’ve consulted with gun experts from a variety of backgrounds and put together what I feel is the best short treatise on what firearms you will need to cover all bases in a SHTF scenario.

Includes Free Resources Section

Includes a brief resources section with organized links to additional information available for free online, including more information on guns and gun laws. Get access to all the resources and support you will ever need to help you easily acquire the guns you need and learn how to use them in a friendly, non-intimidating environment. Get started today and sleep better knowing you’ve got the knowledge to go out and buy the guns you need to protect your family and survive any hardship! (33-page booklet with 11,000+ words)

If you’re looking for an introductory guide to guns for preppers, this is the one!


A Few Camping Hacks That Are Borderline Genius

I’ve always felt that camping is a pretty good way to field-test your preps.  And let’s face it: It’s fun.  Buzzfeed has a good list of  “41 Camping Hacks That Are Borderline Genius.”  Some of these are purely fun stuff for the kids, but many are definitely prepper-worthy.  Although I question the time investment in making your own lantern with a milk jug and a head lamp.  If you know you’re going to need a lantern, just pick one up at your local sporting good store.  They’re not expensive (I find the little cheap LED ones are even more practical than the larger ones when camping) rather than wasting time doing arts and crafts hour.

But I guess it’s a good activity to keep the kids busy (read: Off drugs).

I do like their idea for a make-shift toilet.  Using the milk crate gets you higher up off the ground.  Right now I’ve got a luggable-loo and about 25 five gallon buckets in the garage, but I may need to put together one of these with the milk crates as it seems like it would be a lot more comfortable than squatting on a five gallon bucket.

Check out the camping hacks at the link below.

Camping Hacks That Can Be Used By Preppers, Too

We Just Bought Five Buff Orpingtons and Three Rhode Island Red Chicks

The day before yesterday we brought home five Buff Orpington chicks and three Rhode Island Reds.  Originally I wanted pullets (adolescent chickens) so that I wouldn’t have to wait so long for the chicks to start laying eggs, but to have them shipped from a hatchery as pullets is prohibitively expensive.

So we decided to buy chicks locally.

I was surprised that all of the local feed stores had already sold out of chicks, and by the end of May they tell me that demand drops off so they don’t reorder.

If You’re Going To Buy Buff Orpington Chicks,
Get Them Way Before The End Of May

We found a local feed store that was still placing special orders.  Apparently, the chicks get sent up from Mexico.  So, I’ve got Mexican chickens.


chicksAt least they’re purebreeds.  (And at least they’re not imported from China like everything else seems to be these days!)

It was difficult to find the Buff Orpingtons; Much easier to find the Rhode Island Reds.  We chose the Buff Orpington breed because they are supposed to be the “Golden Retrievers” of the chicken world: Easy going, good natured and passive.  We ordered eight, but of course the feed store screwed up our order (or the hatchery did, I’m not completely sure!) and when we went to pick them up, there were only five Orpingtons so they gave us three Rhode Island Reds.

Eight chicks in total.  Probably seven by tomorrow morning as one of them seems to be constipated and have a prolapse so I doubt she’ll make it another couple of days.

  • The plus side of having two day old chicks is that you get to watch them grow and as a first time chicken owner get comfortable handling the birds.
  • The negative side to raising two day old chicks is that it will be approximately five months before they start laying eggs… so, October.  That’s a long time to wait.

Where To Keep Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Red Chicks

I’ve got the chicks in a 2 1/2 foot by 3 foot rubber stock tank with a 2×4 board across it that I clamped a heat lamp to.  For bedding, I’m using pine shavings.  (Apparently the fumes from cedar shavings will kill them… so stay away from cedar!)

A great resource for raising chickens is the Backyard Chickens web site, where you can find pretty much anything you need to know about chickens.  I also bought about half a dozen e-book on raising chickens because I’m an info-whore. also seems to have quite a bit of useful information, even though I’m not raising these as pets… I’m raising them as a hedge against a SHTF scenario.