suburban living

Project Prepper, Part 36: New Gear For Around The Property

Getting back on track with the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I want to talk about some new gear I’ve picked up. As a somewhat-new homeowner, I understand there will be times when I’m forced to investigate God-knows-what around the property, day or night. And as my girlfriend and I have come to discover, we have quite the wildlife refuge going on outside our house. As such, I’ve acquired some items in case an encounter with a four-legged (or two-legged) creature isn’t exactly a “pleasant” one:

Outdoor Security Final

Maglite S6D015 6-D Cell Flashlight (, $24.88)

Some specs compiled from

• 163 lumen Krypton 6-cell bulb
• 19.5 x 2.9 x 2.8 inches
• 2.8 pounds
• Machined aluminum
• Self-cleaning rotary switch, 3 position, On, Off and Signal (manual momentary on-off)
• Spare lamp safely secured in tailcap
• O-ring sealed for water resistance
• 1/2 turn, cam action focus, spot-to-flood

A favorite among old school cops/security guards. After popping 6 D cell batteries into the flashlight and wielding it for the first time, I now understand why. This 19.5-inch machined aluminum device is a beast, and bright to boot. No creature (two- or four-legged) in their right mind would want to mess with this thing.

I also picked up an accessory pack (, $8.68) for the flashlight, and have already affixed the terrific anti-roll device.

Tact Gear Tactical Vest (Sportsman’s Guide, $26.99 with member discount)

From the Sportsman’s Guide website:

16 pockets for mags, radios, flashlights, pepper spray and more.
Rugged 8 1/2-oz. 60/40 Poly / Cotton blend with DuPont™ Teflon® fabric protection
Concealed crossover backup gun pocket with VELCRO® brand closure
Brass zip front
Brass D-ring
Badge tab.

I don’t know if it’s possible to ever run out of pockets with this vest. I’ve treated it with water repellant and have it hanging in a coat closet for fast, easy access. The last two items are contained in the vest.

Mace Brand Pepper Spray Police Strength 10% Pepper Foam (, $14.19)


• Compact yet powerful model is a convenient size for carrying.
• Flip Top Safety Cap
• 10% Foam Spray
• Contains UV Dye for marking assailants for easy identification

I bought a two-pack of Mace Pepper Foam some time ago for potential use indoors (supposed to reduce chance of area contamination). This is one of those canisters. Since the device may have to be deployed in close quarters, I’m sticking with the pepper foam outdoors for now.

Enlan Bee M024A Folding Knife (Ebay, $10.61)

From vendor hellogiftshop’s web page:

Producer: Enlan Cutlery Co.,Ltd
Model: M024A
Blade: 8Cr13MoV (58HRC) stainless steel
Handle: Aluminium+ Stainless Steel; Money clip
Whole length: ~170mm(6.7″);
Blade’s length: ~71mm(2.8″);
Closed Length: ~100mm(3.94″)
Liner Lock
Net Weight: ~99g

I was on the look out for a good-yet-inexpensive knockaround folding knife that wasn’t “scary” for these parts to keep in the vest. I’d heard decent things about Enlan Cutlery out of China, and came across model M024A (drop point, dual thumb studs, liner lock, realistic-looking wood grain, legal in municipality/Cook County/Illinois) for a measly $10 and change. Like every other piece of gear I talked about in this post, I still have to put my Enlan knife to the test. However, my first impressions of the folder are positive. I would have preferred to buy American here, but was unable to tick all the required boxes.

More next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

(Editor’s note: Items added to “Gear And Supplies” page)

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Chicago Magazine Article On Area Preppers

This morning I read an article on the Chicago Magazine website that focused on Chicago-area preppers- particularly those in the suburbs. Rod O’Connor spoke to preppers residing in Downers Grove, Glenview, and on the North Side for his piece, in which he observed:

The prepper movement has climbed out of the bunker and established itself, quietly, along affluent streets in Chicago, its suburbs, and beyond…

The article is a pretty good read. Finding it difficult to get a suburban prepper to interview, O’Connor wrote:

Preppers are, not surprisingly, a paranoid bunch. Locating people willing to speak with me about their habits was more challenging than finding vegans at a gun range…

Obviously, a little bit of discretion with such matters goes a long way in protecting preppers and their loved ones in a SHTF scenario. But O’Connor also needs to realize that preppers are only too familiar with the numerous hack-jobs perpetrated by the mainstream media at their expense.

From my experience, it’s rare that these individuals are given a fair shake by the press. Instead, ignorance, inherent bias, and sensationalism often shine through in the various MSM articles/segments.

By the way, if you do read the piece on the Chicago Magazine website, I penned the following comment in response to a blanket claim by another commenter that preppers are “selfish” and “paranoid”:

A popular misconception. As a regular observer of the prepping “movement,” there’s no shortage of preppers who have adopted a “give until it hurts” mindset when it comes to helping out neighbors/strangers in a poop hits the fan scenario. It’s discussed often in various prepper forums (“What should I be stocking up for my neighbors/others?” and “What’s the best way to get my neighbors/others food and supplies without putting myself and loved ones in danger?” are pretty common questions). In addition, those in public safety might disagree with the notion that preppers as a whole are “selfish.” In a neighborhood-wide or larger emergency, police, fire, and other public safety agencies might not have to aid citizens (preppers) that had the foresight and follow-through to prepare for such an incident, thereby freeing up responders to help others in the community who for some reason or another weren’t prepared. Selfish? How about carrying out their civic duty? Like “L O” points out, and other emergency preparedness-related government initiatives implore Americans to sock away at least 72 hours of emergency food, water, and other supplies. When it comes to prepping, plenty of practitioners look at it this way. Americans insure their health, their vehicles, their residences, etcetera. Why not insure one’s standard of living, at least as best one can in a significant emergency/disaster? Not such a “paranoid mindset” if you ask me.

Like I said, the Chicago Magazine article is a decent read- particularly if you’re from the Chicagoland area. You can view the entire article on the publication’s website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Chicago-Area Legality Of Self-Defense Tools Revisited

“That’s why my attitude has changed to, fuck the citizens.
When you need help people, call a protester.
My check will still come every 1st and 16th of the month.”

-Comment left on Second City Cop blog post, December 24, 2014

In the future, I see a myriad of problems for Chicagoland residents when it comes to police protection. The source will be economic in nature, with the “thin blue line” getting stretched more than most can imagine as Chicago-area police agencies see their budgets slashed significantly with the next financial crisis.

I’d argue this situation has already arrived. Look at the Chicago Police Department and all the spin that’s being deployed and goal posts being moved by City Hall because of financial difficulties in achieving/maintaining a fully-manned police department.

I predict work conditions will also steadily deteriorate. De-policing and work stoppages could very well accompany this slide as law enforcement officers inevitably take stock of their situation.

Police activity could also decrease if certain politicians, race agitators, the mainstream media, and other self-interested parties continue to support and spotlight the police haters in our society. Just to give you an idea of how much attention is being given to these “squeaky wheels making lots of noise,” the Rolling Stone magazine website ran a piece on December 16 entitled:

“Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody’s Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World”

And under the headline was this:

“It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police”

“It’s time to start imagining…” That pretty much summed up the piece right there.

Anyway, the point of this post is to announce that in light of what I see coming down the pipeline regarding police protection in and around the “Windy City,” I will be reviewing Chicago-area laws concerning self-defense tools.

Regular readers may recall that I pulled up information on the legality of such personal protection devices as expandable batons, knives, firearms, and pepper spray in Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois starting around Halloween 2013. But seeing as new laws keep being added to the books, and in light of the personal safety challenges I think are ahead of us, now is the perfect time to revisit this material.

We’ll get started next week…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Chicago-Commissioned Study Confirms Crime Increases With Streetlight Outages

One of the things I noticed right away about this subdivision in the Chicago suburbs that I now live in is that it is incredibly dark at night.

I’m guessing that has to do with the fact that there aren’t any streetlights here.

While the area is safe, such minimal nighttime visibility is a concern for me should crime ever pick up or TSHTF.

I was reminded of this situation when I came across the following on the website of NBC Chicago affiliate Channel 5 this afternoon. Chris Coffey reported this morning:

A new study commissioned by Chicago’s Department of Transportation confirms what many people have feared: crime goes up when the lights go out.

The study, which was conducted by data experts and Ph.D. students from Northwestern University, found on average crime went up 7 percent across the city when entire blocks of streetlights were not working

The city-commissioned study compared crime report data with streetlight repair service requests submitted to “311” over the period from April 2012 to July 2013. Researchers found an increase in theft, narcotics, battery and criminal damage associated with streetlight outages that impacted entire blocks…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yeah, my entire street gets pretty dark at night out here in the ‘burbs.

But at least my girlfriend and I have been purchasing and installing some security lighting around our property to combat the darkness. This includes:

• Outdoor motion-sensing wall lanterns- really light up the front and back when triggered
• Outdoor motion-sensing solar 300 lumen LED post lamps- With one in operation since spring (another on the way), it actually works pretty good so far considering the Chicago metro area is not exactly optimal for powering solar devices
• Outdoor motion-activated solar 600 lumen LED security light- on its way as I type this

All this is in addition to existing lighting that came with the house. With more coming (night vision is on the want list).

But more about security lighting in a upcoming “Project Prepper” post.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Coffey, Chris. “Report Links Chicago Crime to Streetlight Outages.” NBC 5. 3 July 2014. ( 3 July 2014.

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Chicago-Area Lakes Hit By Bad Fish Kill

A number of Chicago-area preppers/survivalists might be planning to fish the local lakes to supplement their diet should TSHTF.

If that’s the case, be advised of the following, which I read in a weekly roundup section in my Sunday Chicago Tribune:

Fish kill worse than usual, expert says

Another legacy of the harsh winter: The fish kill in small lakes around the area was worse than what one state fisheries official said he’d seen in 34 years on the job.

Here’s hoping this won’t jeopardize my shot at landing a big pike or largemouth at my family’s place in southeastern Wisconsin this summer/fall…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Chicago Gangs Completely Out Of Control?

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel today decried the weekend violence that left at least nine people dead and at least 36 wounded in Chicago, calling for adults around the city to instill the right values in their children and to stand up for the safety of their neighborhoods…”

Chicago Tribune website, April 21, 2014

This past weekend, I read some interesting takes on the Chicago-area violence from individuals much closer to it than most. Billy Briggs of the The Daily Telegraph (UK) wrote Saturday:

It’s an opinion I hear later from another gangbanger with the Black P Stones. The Stones are one of the Latin Kings’ rivals and have about 30,000 members.

In the suburb of Maywood on the city’s west side, I interviewed an ex-con called Anthony, better known on the streets by his nickname, Chopper, an allusion to his role in cutting illegal drugs before distribution…

He says Chicago’s latest problems are a result of gang discipline breaking down and the rise of a new generation of gangbangers who are completely out of control.

All the structure in the gangs is gone, so there is no leadership. There is so much shooting going on, nobody knows where to turn. It ain’t the older guys, it’s the young guys, as young as 13. It wasn’t like that in the 80s or 90s. This is new. Some of these guys just shoot for fun.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This perceived lack of structure and leadership was also highlighted in a different Chicago gang piece that appeared on The Guardian (UK) website this weekend. John Swaine discussed the recent shooting death of area rapper Mario Hess aka “Blood Money” and “Big Glo,” and reported Saturday:

In the 1990s, the aggressive jailing of gang leaders left behind a more fractured setup that is even more difficult to control.

“Back then, two of the heads could stand up and say ‘OK: enough, we gonna have a peace treaty,’” said Renaldo Hess, 43, who managed Blood Money before his murder last week.

“Now, it’s much more chaotic.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Chicago news crew catches shooting on tape”
YouTube Video

So the jailing of gang leaders created an environment today in the Chicago-area gangs where structure and discipline is severely lacking. Toss in some feral urban youth into the mix- and the rampant gang-related violence that’s constantly in the local news these days makes a lot more sense.

Kind of messed up we have to hear that from individuals on/around the inside and from overseas publications.

Whereas here in the Chicago area, all we ever get from the politicians, their disciples, and their presstitutes is that a lot of the violence comes from not enough gun “control.”

Yet, I’d be surprised to find out if even one FOID card holder was involved in any of that carnage over the past weekend.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Briggs, Billy. “Armed and ready in Murder City, USA.” The Daily Telegraph. 19 Apr. 2014. ( 20 Apr. 2014.

Swaine, John. “Chicago gang shootings go on as Mayor Emanuel boasts crime at ‘record low'” The Guardian. 19 Apr. 2014. ( 21 Apr. 2014.

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31 Percent Of Chicago-Area Homeowners With Mortgages ‘Seriously Underwater’

Memorial Day Weekend 2007. I had just launched my first blog,, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” from my apartment on Chicago’s Northwest Side. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, I don’t want to just focus on turmoil in the financial markets as part of a coming financial crash. I also need to talk about the housing bubble and when that monstrosity bursts as well.”

All of it happened (except Washington and the Fed managed to postpone the crash I was- and have been- warning about, leaving us with the “Panic of ’08” and the Great Recession instead), providing me tons of material to blog about over the last seven years.

Now, my girlfriend and I were lucky enought to spot and sit out the housing bubble, eventually picking up a place last year for $117,000 less than it was at the height of the madness (according to one valuation). Regrettably, a number of friends and acquaintances in the Chicagoland area bought homes during the market’s craziest years, when price levels were incredibly high (in my neighborhood, some barely inhabitable “shacks” were on the market for half-a-million dollars back then). I really hope they aren’t “underwater”- owing more on their mortgages than their properties are worth- but I suspect a number of them are. Mary Ellen Podmolik reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Despite improving home prices, 31 percent of Chicago-area homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in March, owing at least 25 percent more on their home loans than the property’s value, a new report shows…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

31 percent? That’s bad news for the Chicagoland residential real estate market. The last time I talked about the “underwater people” on this blog was last fall, when I blogged:

This past Sunday, I spotted the following about underwater mortgages in my Chicago Tribune. Mary Ellen Podmolik wrote:

A lack of inventory is frustrating potential Chicago-area homebuyers, and a report last week from Zillow explains why some homeowners might like to sell their properties but can’t. Despite improving home values, 35.4 percent of Chicago-area homeowners with a mortgage were underwater at the end of June, meaning they owed more on their loan than the home was worth, Zillow said. That means those homeowners would have to sell their properties through a bank-approved short sale.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So will that 31 percent “seriously underwater” rate improve anytime soon? Here’s hoping. But considering the economic headwinds still working against housing- I’m not going to hold my breath (no pun intended).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Podmolik, Mary Ellen. “Almost 1/3 of Chicago-area homeowners still significantly underwater.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Apr. 2014. (,0,7135589.story). 18 Apr. 2014.

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Project Prepper, Part 24: Restart And Recap

It’s been a few months since I last published a “Project Prepper” post.

Considering all the material I have that’s just waiting to be blogged about, I don’t envision another layoff like that one happening again soon with this or one of the other series of posts currently running on Survival And Prosperity.

Today, I want to recap the “Project Prepper” series so far.

At two dozen posts, key topics I’ve blogged about since October 2012- when the first post debuted- have included:

• Starting up the “Project Prepper” series due to an increased awareness of man-made and naturally-occurring threats to life and lifestyle where I’ve decided to acquaint myself more with “prepping” via a sustained “hands-on” program of learning by doing

• Relocating from Chicago to the suburbs with an eye towards eventually settling down in Wisconsin (moved from Chicago to the northwest suburbs in late spring 2013)

• Establishing a prioritized list of 6 “innate survival needs” that my preparedness education will focus on:

1. Security
2. Water
3. Food
4. Shelter
5. Sanitation and Health
6. Energy

• Starting and building the foundation of an emergency water supply

• Starting an emergency food supply

Now, in these two dozen posts I’ve talked about items I’ve purchased as part of the “Project Prepper” series. For example, the Scepter 5 Gallon Manual Venting Water Jerry Can with CRC (Light Blue/Military Style) to store emergency water.

Going forward, I’m adding a new page to Survival And Prosperity this weekend entitled “Gear And Supplies” where I’ll be listing gear, supplies, and other items talked about in this series of posts and elsewhere on the blog- and links for where to buy them- if I feel they might offer something to readers.

It’s nice to be back in the saddle again. Until next week…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Graphic Shows Middle-Class Flight From Chicago

Back when I worked for a fire department in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, a veteran firefighter stopped by my office one day. I always assumed he was a lifelong resident of that area. He wasn’t. “Brendan” informed me that as a kid he grew up on Chicago’s West Side, near where the old Magic Kist Carpet billboard sign (those big neon red lips, remember?) used to be off the Eisenhower Expressway I think. I was told that the neighborhood was at one time very blue-collar, but by the late 60s-early 70s it was going to hell. His family saw what was happening to the area, and along with a number of other neighborhood families made the hard decision of leaving Chicago for something better in the suburbs.

I was reminded of that story when I came across a related one on the website of Chicago CBS affiliate CBS 2 last night. John Dodge reported:

The graphic that you are about to see is sobering, perhaps depressing, and you can’t take your eyes off it.

We have the exhaustive work of Daniel Kay Hertz, a masters student at the University Of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, to thank for that.

At the risk of sounding like an old carnival barker, step right up and watch the middle class of Chicago vanish before your eyes.

However, this is no side-show.

It shows the demise of the foundation of an American city.

Watch as the grey squares, which illustrate the middle class that dominated the most of the city’s neighborhoods in 1970s, quickly vanish over 40 years…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dodge was right. The graphic (after the body of the piece) is sobering, to say the least.

But not surprising to long-time Chicagoland residents or someone who’s ever run into a “Brendan” and has learned about their origins.

By the way, if the name Daniel Kay Hertz rings a bell with regular Survival And Prosperity readers, it’s because I blogged about a comparison he performed last year of homicide rates in Chicago Police Department districts from 1990-1993 to rates from 2008-2011.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


Dodge, John. “Amazing Graphic Shows Chicago’s Middle Class Disappear Before Your Eyes.” CBS 2. 3 Apr. 2014. ( 4 Apr. 2014.

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Signs Of The Time, Part 73

Regular readers of this blog might remember that I used to reside on the Northwest Side of Chicago. When my girlfriend and I first moved into that so-called “suburb in the city” almost a decade ago, a number of our personal belongings were stolen almost right off the bat (plant delivery left in building vestibule, steel Coleman cooler in indoor parking garage, Sunday Tribunes galore).

Consequently, my sister declared at a family gathering that I had moved to the “ghetto.”

Some individuals might have taken offense to that. I reveled in it. In fact, “Ghetto Superstar” is my “handle” on a number of Internet forums.

Some years later, I informed my sister that I might be sending her a package in the mail. She responded that might not be a good idea since some neighbors in her building had delivered parcels go missing.

Alas, the ghetto had arrived at her doorstep too (albeit at the foot of the Rocky Mountains).

Last week, I stopped by my parents’ place in the west suburbs. My mom shared with me that some recent deliveries to their building had been stolen. Thankfully, none of those packages belonged to my parents.

Still, back when I lived in the “ghetto,” that’s where I had my stuff shipped to, thinking it was a safer destination than my Chicago address.

It was. Up until now, it appears.

Damn thieves…

YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (

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Monday, March 31st, 2014 Crime, Security, Signs Of The Time No Comments
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