Saturday, 24 September 2016

06:48 – When I was making up solutions for forensic kits yesterday, one of them required concentrated sulfuric acid, 160 mL of it. I always weigh sulfuric acid rather than measure it volumetrically, so instead of putting 160 mL into a graduated cylinder, I put 294.4 grams of it into a tared beaker.

As I was doing that, it struck me that my failing memory is something I need to take into account. I of course remembered that the density of the acid was 1.84 grams per mL. I’ve known that since I was about 12 years old, along with the densities, freezing points, and other key physical characteristics of hundreds of chemicals. Maybe thousands. At any rate, of any chemical I’d ever looked up even once. I should say, I “knew”, since those tens of thousands of factoids that used to reside in my memory have apparently taken the last train for the coast.

Yes, it’s easy enough to look up the density of sulfuric acid on Wikipedia, but what if Wikipedia is no longer accessible? In this case, it wouldn’t have been a problem, because I have a copy of the CRC handbook on the shelves downstairs. But what about all the stuff I used to know from memory I no longer remember? I need printed copies of that type of information. Either that, or a hypnotist who’s good at recovering lost memories.


Posted in personal, science kits | 77 Comments

Friday, 23 September 2016

08:59 – Barbara has posted a report on her trip up to Cape May, New Jersey. She got home yesterday morning about 9:15 a.m., after spending the preceding night at Al’s and Frances’ house in Winston. Colin and I were both delighted to see her return home. In an embarrassing watch-dog moment, the first either of us knew Barbara was home was when she opened the door from the garage and shouted, “Did I sneak up on you?” Colin hadn’t heard her car coming in the drive and pulling into the garage, or even the sound of the garage door going up and coming down.

When I first heard that Charlotte authorities weren’t releasing the video of the shooting, my first thought was that the video must not support their claim that the guy they shot was armed and brandishing his weapon. From reports this morning, it appears that that is in fact the case. Both the Charlotte police chief and mayor have tacitly admitted that the video does not prove their version of what happened. I don’t really doubt they’re telling the truth, but the lack of video evidence is unfortunate. Of course, even if the cops had knowingly shot down an unarmed man, that would not excuse the rioting. There’s never an excuse for rioting.

And I see that Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit is now in trouble. It started with a tweet he made concerning a woman whose truck was blocked by rioters, who then broke into the back and looted the contents. There’s no doubt that this woman was reasonably in fear for her life. Reynolds tweeted, “Run them down”, which was good advice for anyone faced with such a situation. But the progs were predictably outraged, claiming that Reynolds was advocating going out and running down “protesters” at random. Twitter, who are in fact a bunch of twits, suspended Reynolds’ account, he’s now in trouble with the law school where he’s a professor, and USA Today has suspended his column for a month and required him to post an apology. An apology for what? Giving good advice for anyone driving when a riot breaks out and rioters block their escape?


11:24 – If you’ve just been thinking about laying in some supplies in case things get bad, now would be a very good time to get off your ass and actually do something about it.

The problem with a lot of people is that humans are very good at adapting to a new normal. If you took normal people twenty years ago and magically plopped them down into today’s environment, they’d be horrified at what’s going on. But it’s the old frog-boiling thing. Most people see another riot and just tacitly accept it as the new normal. But it’s not normal, not even close, and it really is time to get off your ass and make some preparations for bad times to come. Yes, there will be quieter times interspersed with the outrages, but the general trend is downward. You need to be in a position to feed and protect your family. Do it now.

Posted in Barbara, news, prepping | 85 Comments

Thursday, 22 September 2016

09:00 – More rioting in Charlotte overnight. You know things are serious when the governor calls out the National Guard. Charlotte is just the latest big city to experience underclass scum rioting. I’m afraid we can expect more of the same in other cities, and we can expect it to become a regular thing. Eventually, I expect rioting to become a regular thing in big cities and to start becoming common in mid-size cities like Winston-Salem. And, if nothing is done to stop it, I expect rioting to shift from occurring just in the city of the week to occurring simultaneously in cities across the country.

Unfortunately, the federal government sides with the rioters, which means there isn’t much the cities can do to stamp out this plague. Killing rioters by the hundreds or thousands would work, but there’s no way the federal government would tolerate the cops actually doing their jobs, because that would involve shooting Democrat voters. The only alternative I see is for city police departments to walk away from the inner cities, concentrate on protecting the surrounding suburbs, and allow the scum to loot and burn freely in the inner cities. That’d obviously be hard on the relatively small number of decent people who live in the inner cities, but what other option is there? Cops, firemen, paramedics, and other emergency personnel are already loathe to work inner city areas. How much longer will be it before they simply refuse to continue risking their lives by doing so?

Barbara returns home today. Colin and I can’t wait.


Posted in Barbara, news, personal | 133 Comments

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

09:47 – I see the underclass scum in Charlotte spent the evening rioting, looting, and burning. They even shut down a segment of I-85. No cops dead, but a bunch hurt. As usual, the cops were allowed only tear gas to fight these scum. Whatever happened to 12-gauge buckshot? They call a short-barrel 12-gauge shotgun a “riot gun” for a reason. Anyone can tell the difference between a peaceful protest and a riot. In the former, groups of people are marching around holding signs and shouting slogans. In the latter, groups of people are throwing bricks or shooting at cops, destroying police cars, breaking windows, looting, and starting fires. The former is Constitutionally-protected Free Speech, and should be not just tolerated but encouraged. The latter is a bunch of violent felons destroying property, looting, and endangering innocent civilians, and should be dealt with using lethal force. And what if the former turns into the latter? If you’re a peaceful protester, get the hell away from that riot, as quickly as possible. As Larry Niven famously advised: “Don’t throw shit at an armed man. Don’t stand next to someone who’s throwing shit at an armed man.”

What I’d like to see the next time there’s such a riot–any time there’s such a riot–is for the cops to cut loose with their riot guns and keep shooting until all of the rioters are dead or have fled. A hundred dead scum bags, or a thousand, would serve as a wakeup call for these scum bags, pour le d√©couragement des autres. And it would be, as they say, No Great Loss.

Barbara is due back sometime tomorrow. Colin and I can’t wait. The gasoline situation is starting to resolve itself, although there are likely to be shortages in North Carolina and other affected states for at least the rest of this month and probably into the first part of October. There’s a Beroth Oil tanker truck in the parking lot of the 4 Brothers/Liberty across the road right now, although they still have the pumps blocked off. There’s also a lot more traffic out on US-21 and on our road than there’s been for the last few days. Things appear to be gradually getting back to normal, but I hope people remember this event and take it as a warning of the same or worse to come.

I’m spending today making up chemicals, printing labels, and so on for more forensic kits. We have a pending bulk order for those from a large school district, and we’re down to fewer than a dozen in stock. Tomorrow and Friday will be occupied by building more.

I put in a small order with WalMart.com on Monday, including 32 standard-size cans of chili beans, two one-gallon jugs of pancake syrup, ten pounds of yellow corn meal, a 5.5-ounce jar of cumin, and one 22-ounce test jar each of Prego alfredo sauce and Prego roasted garlic alfredo sauce.

Email from Jen this morning, with a telling observation. With riots, bombings, and shootings continuously in the news lately, Jen says she’s changed her former practice. It used to be that when she heard news of such an event she’d go down to the basement and do an inventory of their preps to decide what they needed to add. Now, she says, this stuff happens so often that there’s no point to doing that because she’d be down there every day counting stuff that she’d just counted.


Posted in Barbara, Jen, news, personal, prepping | 85 Comments

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

09:32 – USPS is running today. Lori just stopped to pick up a couple of kits and told me that the Sparta area is getting limited gasoline deliveries. I suspected as much. When I took Colin out this morning to pick up the paper, there was a tanker truck sitting in the 4 Brothers/Liberty station across the road. The odd thing was that it’s normally a Beroth Oil tanker, because Beroth owns the chain of stores. This time, it was a generic tanker. The other odd thing was that when I looked again an hour or so later, the station still had the gas pumps blocked off. I wonder if the city/county has limited this station to filling emergency vehicles until the supply situation is resolved.

Lori also told me that things are getting crazy out there. When a guy at the Wilco station finally got to the pump, he filled up his tank and gas cans and then sat blocking the pump while he called his friends on his cell phone and told them that he’d keep the pump blocked until they could get there to fill up. Other people in line didn’t take that well, of course, and fist fights broke out. It’s just lucky that no one started shooting.

The problem, of course, is panic buying. Most people wait until their gas gauge is down to a quarter or less before they fill their tanks. In recent days, everyone has been filling their tanks regardless of how much they had left, not to mention filling every gas can available. Not to mention trying to hold a place in line until their friends can get there. Even if the pipeline and distribution system is operating at normal capacity, there’s no way it can keep up with that kind of demand.

My takeaway on all this is that once the emergency passes and gas cans are available again, we need to buy at least two or three cans, fill them, treat them with fuel stabilizer, and periodically cycle them through our vehicles. Not so much to have fuel for the vehicles as to have fuel for our generator if there’s a long-term power failure. I’ve calculated that we can run our well pump long enough to keep us supplied with water at a minimal level on five gallons or so of gasoline a month.

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Posted in news, prepping | 131 Comments

Monday, 19 September 2016

09:18 – Barbara filled her gas tank yesterday morning, and will fill it again if she starts to see lines at gas stations or any other indication that fuel may be hard to come by. With the spate of bombings and attempted bombings in the NYC and NJ area, it’s unclear just what’s going on. She’ll be back Thursday. Colin and I can’t wait.

I’ve always favored proportional response, so it seems to me that we should trade them bomb for bomb. Any time musloid terrorists detonate one bomb in the US, we should respond by detonating one nuke over a musloid city, starting with Mecca. Tit for tat.

Colin and I ate dinner from long-term storage again last night: ground beef Stroganoff over rice. Tonight we’ll have a chicken pasta casserole. We’re finding that it’s not all that difficult to make tasty meals from long-term food storage, but it’s important to actually make those meals during normal times rather than just stocking up on what you think you’ll need. To get started, I’ll again recommend buying a copy of Jan Jackson’s 100 Day Pantry and trying out some of the recipes. And visit websites like Jamie Cooks It Up for more recipe ideas that use LTS foods.

One item that’s often overlooked in designing an LTS food plan is keeping the protein balanced. Grains provide a significant amount of protein, but the amino acid profile of that protein is unbalanced. One can literally starve to death eating only grains, even if you’re otherwise getting plenty of protein. The problem is the essential amino acids that are absent or present only in inadequate amounts in grain protein. You can supplement that with animal proteins, which are relatively expensive, but you can also supplement it with bean/legume proteins, which have the amino acids that are lacking in grain proteins. We store what most people would consider a lot of canned animal proteins, mostly chicken and ground beef, but we also store a lot of beans. Those two can also be combined in various recipes like chili, which include meat and/or TVP for flavor and beans for the bulk of the protein. Incidentally, the amino acid profile of beans is also unbalanced, so you can’t survive on just beans. You also need the grains to balance the protein there.

Another mistake that many people make in designing their LTS food plan is basing quantities on current consumption. In a long-term emergency, your food consumption pattern will change, probably a great deal. No more restaurant meals, convenience foods, ordering take-out, pizza deliveries, snacks from vending machines, etc. And you will probably end up eating much more of some items than you do during normal times. For example, Barbara and I both like pancakes, but we don’t have them very often because it takes longer than just cooking fresh foods and it makes a mess of the kitchen. But in a long-term emergency, we’d certainly be eating more pancakes–many more–and we need to plan quantities accordingly.

For example, when Barbara looks at a 10-pound bag of Krusteaz buttermilk pancake mix, she sees enough pancake mix to last the two of us a year or more. Same thing the other day when we ran out of pancake syrup and I opened another gallon.

But in a long term emergency, things change big-time. Instead of feeding just Barbara and me, we may be feeding Frances and Al, not to mention Colin. That means we’d need maybe 2.5 times as much pancake mix and syrup as we normally use. And instead of having pancakes maybe once every three weeks, we might be having them two or three times a week. And the pancakes would make up a much higher percentage of those meals’ nutrition because we might be serving them alone instead of with bacon and eggs or whatever. That means that what looks to Barbara like a year’s supply of pancakes may actually last us only a week or two in a serious emergency. And we need to stock accordingly, if not specifically Krusteaz pancake mix, at least the flour, egg powder, oil, and other items needed to make pancakes from scratch.


10:51 – Things have turned very bad very quickly in Sparta. Lori just delivered the mail and told me that she may not be able to run her route tomorrow because she’s low on fuel and all of the gas stations in the county are out of gas. I thought USPS would have its own fueling point, but apparently not. I immediately called Barbara and let her know what was going on. Gas stations in New Jersey are still open, and the guy told her yesterday when she filled up that they didn’t expect to be impacted until late this week. She’s going to take the ferry across the bay, which will save her about four hours of driving. She thinks she can get home on the full tank. I told her to fill up at every opportunity on the way home, even if she’s down only a gallon or two and regardless of price, and that if she does run out of gas to call me and I’ll come get her. I have about 22 gallons in the Trooper, which should give me at least 350 miles of range with some reserve if I drive at optimum speed. That means that as long as she can make it to within 200 miles or so of home that I can go get her.

I thought when I originally read about the pipeline problem that things were probably worse than they were admitting, and it looks like I was right. USPS being unable to deliver could be life-threatening for folks who get critical medications by mail. I just hope the supply situation is remedied soon. Once Barbara gets home, we can hunker down and await developments, but a lot of people are going to be seriously inconvenienced by this. If it goes on a few more days, a lot of businesses will have problems because key people can’t get to work. I hope that transportation will be okay for now with what diesel stocks they have or can obtain, but I’d guess that in a week or ten days transportation might start winding down. Let’s hope the pipeline is fixed before that.

Posted in Barbara, cooking with LTS food, news | 124 Comments

Sunday, 18 September 2016

09:20 – I called Barbara first thing this morning to make sure she knew about the Colonial Pipeline break, that the governors of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee had declared states of emergency, and that South and North Carolina may not be far from doing so. According to Google, it’s 532.1 miles from Cape May, New Jersey to Sparta, North Carolina using the most direct I-81 route. That’s more than she can get on a tank of gasoline, even driving at the most efficient speed. I suggested she fill up her tank today. I didn’t suggest that she buy a 5-gallon gas can or two and fill them as well, although I probably should have. There’s no good estimate on how long it’ll take Colonial to get the pipeline running again, but they’re building a bypass so it’ll probably be at least 10 days or two weeks if they work around the clock on it. As it stands, the East Coast has lost something like 50 or 60 million gallons a day of gasoline, which is a significant portion of the supply to the East Coast from Georgia up to New York City. I checked my Trooper, which has 4.7 miles on the trip odometer since the last fill-up.

I decided to re-watch Jericho while Barbara’s away. I notice new stuff all the time. For example, I hadn’t realized until last night that there are mountains or at least foothills right outside Jericho, Kansas. Until now, I thought of Kansas as flat. If I didn’t know the series was set in Kansas, I’d almost think they’d shot that footage outside Los Angeles.

Colin and I ate dinner from long-term storage last night: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As still more evidence on the mythical nature of best-by dates, the jar of peanut butter I used had a best-by date in March of 2013, 3.5 years ago. It was opened 18 months ago, and has been sitting on the pantry shelf since then. The odor and taste are indistinguishable from a fresh jar just opened. I’ll keep what remains in this old jar for further testing months or years from now, but I think it’s safe to say that the real shelf life of a jar of Jif Creamy peanut butter is at least five years, and probably a lot longer. At about $1.50 per pound, it’s a good shelf-stable way to store both oils and proteins that supplement grain proteins. Oh, the Welch’s Grape Jelly I used had a best-by date about a year and a half ago, and has been sitting open in the refrigerator at least that long. It was fine as well.

Bombings in New Jersey and New York City, a musloid slasher at a Minnesota mall, a cop ambush and mass shooting in Philadelphia. No word on just what caused the pipeline break. Things may be ramping up for the election. Historically, Committees of Vigilance arise when the government can’t (or won’t) protect citizens. I hope that never happens in the US, but I’m afraid it might.





Posted in Barbara, long-term food storage, news, personal, prepping | 81 Comments

Saturday, 17 September 2016

08:50 – Barbara left yesterday afternoon to spend several days visiting with friends in Cape May, New Jersey. Colin and I made two quarter-pound burgers for dinner. Usually, I have only one, but when Barbara’s gone Colin feels entitled to more human food, so I made enough to share with him. He’s always worried that with Barbara gone I’ll forget to feed him. Of course, now that we’re in Sparta, if he gets a bit peckish there’s always the herd of cattle in the field adjoining our back property line.

Because of my vertigo, Barbara always worries about leaving me alone for long periods. She’s afraid I’ll fall and can’t get up. To assuage that fear, which is not unreasonable, I carry my cell phone on me the whole time she’s gone. I also won’t shower while she’s gone, because the last place in the world I want to lose my balance is in the shower. Instead, I’ll just do sponge baths.

Interesting email overnight from a guy who’s looking for a hobby that would be a useful skill to have if the SHTF. He’s thinking about buying a high-end personal CNC milling machine and downloading templates for everything imaginable, up to and including AR-15 lowers. The problem is, he knows nothing at all about the subject and wanted to know what I recommend. I don’t have a recommendation, because I know nothing about it. But as I recall, MrAtoZ purchased just such a milling machine a year or two ago, so perhaps I can get him to write a guest article about the issues involved and his recommendations for consumables, etc. for someone who’s willing to spend at least two or three grand to get set up.


10:14 – Oh, good. I just got email from Jen. Her husband read my post this morning and said a CNC mill might be a good hobby for him. He’s into mechanical tinkering anyway, and hinted that his workshop has plenty of space remaining. So that’s at least two people who are thinking about it. MrAtoz?





Posted in Barbara, Jen, personal, prepping | 79 Comments

Friday, 16 September 2016

09:59 – Barbara is leaving today to drive up to Cape May, New Jersey to spend several days visiting with friends. It’ll be wild women and parties for Colin and me while she’s gone. Or it would be, if I knew any wild women. Unfortunately, Alleghany County and Sparta are really just a big Basket of Deplorables, and wild women are very rare in a BoD.

Another flurry of emails from Jen and Brittany, both of whom independently decided that, with the approach of colder weather, what they’re both shortest of is firewood. Both of them have trees and the means to fell them, but both decided just to order in a good supply of dry firewood. Like me, neither of them expects anything catastrophic to happen with the election but, also like me, both of them think there’s a small but real chance that something will happen. Better to be as prepared as possible against that.

The closer we get to the election, the worse things look for Clinton. A couple months ago, it looked like it’d be a slam-dunk for Clinton. A month ago, Clinton still had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the polls, but now things appear to be just about tied. The momentum definitely favors Trump, and that’s even without an October Surprise. And I think we Deplorables are underrepresented in most or all of the polls. I think a lot of mainstream Democrats and Independents are going to end up holding their noses and voting for Trump.

A white police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a black armed robbery suspect who pulled a gun on him. Based on the reports of the incident, there’s no doubt that it was a good shooting. After the fact, it was determined that the dead suspect, Tyree King, was 13 years old and that the gun he pulled on the cop was a very realistic-looking BB pistol. That cop had to assume that it was an actual Glock, and that he, his colleagues, and innocent bystanders were at risk of being shot. I have no sympathy for the dead suspect. Think of it as evolution in action. One has to be incredibly stupid to pull a gun on a cop, let alone a toy gun. No reports of rioting so far, but it wouldn’t surprise me if riots occur. I’d think that any reasonable person would conclude that this kid deserved to be shot, but BLMers are not reasonable people.

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Posted in Barbara, Brittany, Jen, news, politics, prepping | 44 Comments

Thursday, 15 September 2016

09:50 – There was some discussion yesterday about whether food in #10 cans is suitable for individuals and small families, or only large families or groups. The real answer is that it depends both on the types of food and on your budget.

Meats and other highly-perishable foods are best stored in smaller containers. Even a large family or a group may not consume an entire #10 can of meat in one meal or even one day. Yes, there are various workarounds, such as keeping a large container of pottage simmering for days or even weeks at a time, but it’s best to store meats in smaller cans that can be consumed in one meal. Most of the canned meats in our deep pantry are in 14- or 15-ounce cans, like Costco chicken. The largest cans of meat we stock are Keystone Meats 28-ounce cans.

But shelf life isn’t an issue for the stuff we store in #10 cans. A lot of that is long-term bulk staples from the LDS Home Storage Center: flour, rice, sugar, macaroni, spaghetti, non-fat dry milk, and so on. A lot of it is also stuff from Augason Farms: powdered eggs, butter, and cheese, TVP meat substitutes, Morning Moos milk substitute, and so on. All of these have rated shelf lives of several years sealed (and in reality much longer), but the important part is that their rated shelf lives after opening are typically one year or more. That means we’ll never need to use the contents of any of these #10 cans quickly because we’re concerned about spoilage.

The other issue is cost. A #10 can is expensive. LDS Home Storage Centers sell a limited selection of bulk staples in #10 cans and retort bags, and they sell basically at cost. But those #10 cans are still costly. For example, on our last Costco run, we bought 100 pounds of flour in 50-pound sacks. It cost $0.25/pound. The LDS HSC sells a 4-pound can of white flour for $3, or $0.75/pound, so the packaging cost is twice the cost of the food itself.

LDS also sells 7-mil foil-laminate Mylar one-gallon bags and oxygen absorbers for about $0.50 each in quantity 250. Each one-gallon bag holds about 6.67 pounds of flour, so repackaging 100 pounds of flour requires 15 of those bags, at a cost of about $7.50. One hundred pounds of flour in #10 cans from the LDS HSC costs $75, versus about $32.50 if you package your own. Your cost is $42.50 higher in the #10 cans. Or, another way of looking at it is that $100 buys you about 133 pounds of flour in #10 cans versus about 308 pounds of flour if you repackage it yourself.

In fact, if you’re really on a tight budget you can skip the bags and simply use free 2-liter soft drink bottles. Your $100 now buys you 400 pounds of flour, perhaps a bit less if you add a $0.10 oxygen absorber to each bottle.

Of course, repackaging it yourself requires time and effort and makes a mess, and neither the bags nor the bottles are rodent-proof like the #10 cans, but everything is always a trade-off. Don’t underestimate the convenience factor. It’s a lot faster and easier to buy the flour in #10 cans. They come in cases of six. All you need to do is drive to your nearest LDS HSC, pay for the stuff, and load it into your vehicle. Haul it home, unload it and transfer it to your pantry, and you’re finished. The time required is minimal, and for many people that’s more important than the higher cost.


Posted in prepping | 36 Comments