Saturday, 11 April 2015

11:34 – We’re doing the usual Saturday stuff. I’m doing laundry and Barbara if off running errands, having lunch with a friend, and visiting her sister. We took some time this morning to make up a batch of the non-regulated chemical bags for biology kits, which was the last subassembly I needed to build a new batch of those kits.

Speaking of which, I need to get some purchase orders issued for kit components. Yesterday, I ordered a bunch of bottles and caps. That was the first time I’d ordered caps by the case of 10,000 rather than by the box of 1,440. They’re 20% cheaper by the case, and we’ll use them eventually, so it made sense to order by the case. I’m just wondering how big a case will be. A box of 1,440 is medium-size, so at roughly seven times as many caps, the case will be a pretty large box.

I’m running out of Zippo lighter fluid. I have a couple of 4-ounce (118 mL) cans in our car emergency kits, but I won’t touch those. (I know they’ll store well because a few months ago I opened a can that had been made in 1979 and it was full and worked fine.) The two 12-ounce cans I keep on my desk and end table in the den are empty or nearly so. I’m going to refill them with VM&P naphtha, which works as well as the official stuff and at about $15/gallon (3.79 L) at Lowe’s is a lot cheaper than paying $8 per 12-ounce can for the Zippo-branded fluid.

I’ve been reading a lot of prepper fiction lately, and almost invariably it has the protagonists bugging out with backpacks across devastated urban landscapes. Also almost invariably these protagonists are in their 20’s or 30’s, with equipment, skills, and physical conditioning that would be routine for SEALs, Green Berets, or Delta Force but are anything but the norm for regular people, including those in their 20’s and 30’s.

Now, when I was in my late teens through mid-20’s, I could run with those guys, and shoot with them, for that matter. I thought nothing of playing serve-and-volley tennis all day long in the August heat. My eyesight was better than 20/10. I hunted. I backpacked. I shot frequently on ranges and in funhouses for everything from combat pistol to clays to rifles out to 1,000 yards. I was in shape and as ready as anyone could be.

But I turn 62 years old in June. The state requires me to wear glasses to drive. My BMI is well down in the so-called normal range, and I think I’m in pretty decent physical condition for my age. But I’m a very pale shadow of what I was 40 years ago. Barbara is also in pretty good physical condition. She goes to the gym twice a week and is physically active day to day. But she’s had both knees replaced. In short, in a serious emergency, I can’t see either one of us being able to hike out carrying heavy packs. It’s just not on. Oh, we have what we need in terms of gear and so on, and the spirit may be willing but the bodies are weak. If we were faced with the need to evacuate on foot, we’d give it our best, but we’d almost certainly die trying.

That’s why my focus is on hunkering down in our home. In nearly any type of emergency, staying put will be the optimum decision for us. And for almost anyone else. Sure, a man of 27 might be a good candidate for SEAL Team Six, but what about his wife, his child, his mother and dad, his sister, and so on? None of them are going to be hiking cross-country carrying 80-pound packs. Nor would any of them be your first choice in a firefight. What they can do is function as what amounts to garrison troops to help defend your home, if it ever comes to that. Let’s all hope it never does.

21 thoughts on “Saturday, 11 April 2015”

  1. I grew up with a “prepping” disposition. My parents and grandparents instilled the behavior in me. They lived in interesting times in Berlin and Dortmund through WWII, and Eastern Europe before that. Reading posts here for the last few months have caused me to focus a bit more on the topic and step it up a notch. What follows is sort of a ramble of actions and thoughts I had that may spark a few comments.

    I just ordered “The Ship’s Medicine Chest” (1978 edition), two copies, one for my family, and one for my brother-in-law, who is a ship’s captain. It will be a good add to his kit I thnk. I also ordered a copy of “Emergency War Surgery”.

    My BIL, when he was on long trips, would have his doctor prescribe a small collection of drugs, so that he would have a decently stocked kit at sea. Has anyone else here done this sort of thing?

    This has me thinking about the usefulness of a bug-out-boat or prepping with boats in mind, specifically sailboats, fishing gear, and storage. In the Puget Sound area, this would be a viable consideration. IIRC, I believe the majority of the North American population is within a long walk from costal shores. In my current living situation, this is a serious option in my mind.

    I ordered and received three of the UltraFire mini flashlights, Not to stir up the topic of torch quality, I just wanted a few more lights around. I like the single AA battery form factor. I have about ten of the 3xAAA Costco varieties lying about and I use both types now daily (and nightly). I like the UltraFire better in general. I have ordered a dozen for myself and as gifts.

    A few years back I reallocated several guns from a family member. This got me to thinking of storage. What are your thoughts on long-term weapon and ammo storage in maritime or tropical climates, specifically humid areas, both warm and cold?

    On the topic of knives and such, my wife gave me a straight razor as a gift. I like it. It requires maintenance, so I ordered a 4000/8000 grit wet-stone, I particularly like that I will not be buying disposable razors, except for when I travel and can’t bring the straight razor, in which case I will use the remaining disposables I have. That should last me a couple or three decades. The straight razor will pay for itself in less than three years. Sooner if I bother to shave every day, which I do not.

    One of my family stories is from the not-so-good-old-days in Germany. For some reason sharpening-stones were not allowed where my family lived, I cannot recall why and will need to ask, but I do recall that my grandmother would say she used the backside of an earthen coffee pot for sharpening knives. They would always use one side and turn that side to the cupboard wall to hide the marks from undesired official visitors.

    That family story always gets me thinking on a variety of topics. Knives and maintenance, unfriendly and armed occupation, multi-purpose or multi-function items, etc.

    It is one reason I like martial arts and practicing with Escrima Sticks. My hands and feet are generally nearby and sticks are easy to find. With martial arts, I am style-agnostic; I like to learn techniques from any style.

  2. A lot of people recommend wagons and carts, but I’m not convinced. I think I’d rather carry a backpack or duffel bag of reasonable weight. I have the same issues with wagons and carts that I have with bicycles: (a) they tend to make you a target rather than allowing you to fit in with everyone else, and (b) are you going to carry them in your vehicle everywhere you go?

    If we ever are forced to evacuate, we’ll take multiple vehicles and just hope that we can make it to a safer area. Walking would be an absolute last resort.

  3. @Terry Losansky

    I grew with the same inclinations. Part of it was living through the 50’s and 60’s, when we were expecting the Soviets to attack. Another part was my grandmothers, particularly my mother’s mom. She was born in 1885, and her basement was always well provisioned with canned goods, both commercial and home-canned. She didn’t consider this “prepping”, not least because the term hadn’t been invented back then. She just considered it normal prudence.

    And I just realized that my dad might have dropped bombs on your parents and grandparents. His B-17 bombed Berlin for sure. I don’t know about Dortmund. I think that was mostly or all RAF rather than the 8th USAAC.

    As to boats, I’m not a boat person but I can see many severe drawbacks, not least that it’s pretty hard to hide on the open water. I’m sure one could find isolated coves and so on, but an awful lot of people know about them. And I’m not sure how you’d go about defending a boat. I’d worry a lot about pirates.

    And I just ordered four more of the Ultrafire Cree lights. I keep giving them away, so I thought I’d better replace the four that I’ve given away recently.

    As to pistol/ammo storage, ammo cans are the obvious solution, but vacuum-packing pistols and ammo should also protect very well against moisture and corrosion. Actually, even ziplock bags should work pretty well. For long guns, you can buy foil-laminate Mylar bags. They aren’t cheap, but they cost much less than waterproof plastic cases. Another option is plastic pipe with either screw-on or glue-on caps, although the latter makes it pretty hard to get to the guns quickly.

  4. “Not to stir up the topic of torch quality, I just wanted a few more lights around.”

    Do you realize what you’ve just done here, sir? Yikes. Now the Flashlight Gang will be at it again for weeks. Thanks a lot.

    I agree with Dr. Bob again; the spirit may be willing but the flesh is kinda weak at 61-62, regardless of how many marathons we can still run (none) or what we may be able to bench-press (in my case maybe a box of Kleenex). So we jus’ gon hunker down right here, and if we have enough warning and it looks like we might be better off humping overland and over wottuh to northern Noveau Brunswick, then so be it, but it’s mos def a last resort. The only scenario I can imagine where we might wanna do that is if the country really did become like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union and existence here would likely end us up dead or in a camp. Even then, bailing to O Kanada might not save us.

  5. I turned 50 in January, and I got the not so bright idea of walking in the 500 Festival Mini Marathon in three weeks. I did it seven years ago, so I decided to do it again. I guess the brain is really the first thing to go. Today I did a 10 mile walk, and it took me 2:49:25. Bug out on foot, I don’t think so.

  6. I think I’d rather carry a backpack or duffel bag of reasonable weight.

    I would think a backpack (shoulder straps and possible waist/hip strap) would allow much more weight to be carried, and for a longer period of time, than a duffel bag, either with hand straps and/or a single (usually narrow) shoulder strap. A backpack would also better keep your hands free for a walking stick (is one of these in your inventory to substitute for your cane?) or access to a firearm.

  7. As to boats, I’m not a boat person but I can see many severe drawbacks, not least that it’s pretty hard to hide on the open water. I’m sure one could find isolated coves and so on, but an awful lot of people know about them. And I’m not sure how you’d go about defending a boat. I’d worry a lot about pirates.

    As a boat person, I disagree. Even in a city like Portland, it is easy to get away from the city to places which are not easily reachable from shore. Defending a boat would be no more difficult than defending a house or a car. You can see and hear people come from a long way off.

    My plan is to hunker down. The boat would be an emergency way to escape. It’s harder to block water than a road. Pirates would be no more of a risk than a mob on shore. We are stocking up on food and I’m going to get Bob’s recommended water filter. That should give us unlimited water.

    Rick in Portland

  8. As I said, I’m not a boat person. But when I think about boats I think about fragile construction, imagining what a .308-class rifle could do to them. I guess one could hunker down below the waterline or behind the engine or whatever, but I envision lots of bullets sailing straight through the average boat without slowing down, not to mention holing it at/below the waterline.

    Contrast that with our brick veneer house, which is highly bullet-resistant. Basically, a 5.56-class round does some damage, but not a lot. Brick veneer will stop a 7.62-class round, although not multiple hits in the exact same spot. Even heavier stuff like .375 H&H doesn’t penetrate the brick with one hit. For that, you need .50 BMG or higher.

  9. One of the prepper fiction books that I read talked about turning a bicycle into a push cart for the long walk home from west Texas to Montana after a triple EMP event. The protagonist made it from Houston to west Texas in an old Jeep with friends who stopped at their daughters home at that point. The old Jeep was basically just about dead anyway with radiator and transmission problems but it survived the EMP due to no electronics.

    The downside of the push cart was that the protagonist kept his weapon in it, a 22 rifle. I would have slung that gun as he got beaten up once before he could grab the gun. The upside of the push cart was that he had about 100 lbs of canned food and water in it for the high plains portion of the walk.

    The Selco dude wrote an article that I cannot find on his website, that there was an initial portion of high violence at the beginning of the siege for a couple of weeks. Then there was a quiet period for a week or two when the bad guys waited to see who was going after them. Selco wished that he had gotten out then because it got bad after that when nobody asserted the rule of law in the city.

  10. “Brick veneer will stop a 7.62-class round, although not multiple hits in the exact same spot.”

    How about solid brick, with wood frame and plaster on the inside of it? Still, windows and doors are the sticking points; gotta reinforce both. And I imagine any crew-served automatic weapons would pulverize the brick; I just figger your average miscreants and felons don’t have access to those. Yet.

    Selco damn sure shoulda got out during that brief window; but he wasn’t operating on his own hook; there were family considerations. Then, how do you move a group like that through a civil war zone?

    I sure as hell hope we don’t get as bad as the recurring Balkans nightmares here. If we do, the carnage will an order of magnitude greater.

  11. Yes folks, I am still lurking and learning daily.

    What prompted me to step out of the shadows was Lynn’s comment about turning a bicycle into a push cart. For those of us who were around in the Vietnam War Era, the most effective transportation tool of the Viet Cong was the bicycle. They moved tons and tons of supplies every week on everyday repurposed bicycles.

    Now I am kicking myself. Last fall I gave away two bicycles that would have made great “push carts”. They were 30-year old Schwinn Hybrids, had a frame like a mountain bike, but made of a lighter alloy.

    Live and learn and am enjoying listening to the expert dialog going on.

  12. Yeah, the VC and NVA trail guys used bicycles a lot to move stuff; they also booby-trapped them and left them around. Ho Chi Minh trail was a lot of this traffic, plus endless trucks, which got regularly obliterated by USAF strikes for years. But Charlie’s most effective transportation tool of all was his own feet, in them ever-present sandals.

    We did some of that humping but also rode a LOT, in trucks, jeeps, choppers and planes.

  13. @RBT,

    I’d think that the ordinary FoodSaver ™ rolls of bag making material would work fine for bagging a long gun. It’s not expensive, and you can add a desiccant pack and vac seal it. I haven’t tried it though! You might want to sleeve the gun in a gunsock for added protection first.

    re: bug out with kids, when my daughters were born I decided that any bugout was essentially a medivac in terms of difficulty and effort. Very limited circumstances would trigger my family to bug out. There is even a smaller subset of things that would lead to that happening on foot. You’re not gonna be carrying a 40# pack when you are carrying a 50# child. And you WILL end up carrying them. I’ve decided that the trigger for me upgrading our bugout capability would be a dirty nuke or bio attack in a major city. Once they show that they CAN do that, I’ll be buying enduro style motorcycles. Hopefully it is never, or at least long enough that my kids get a little bigger. Very little short of that would render my home area unlivable while my home still stood.

    @terry, “his doctor prescribe a small collection of drugs, so that he would have a decently stocked kit at sea. Has anyone else here done this sort of thing?”

    I do a small version. I ask my travel doctor to write me for Cipro and a powerful antidiarreal. It’s pretty standard for travelers to most of the rest of the world.

    Well, off to bed. Hopefully the rain will let me work on the garden tomorrow. Costco had a seed ‘kit’ on sale for about $1 / packet, and it’s designed for 1 square foot gardening. I’m going to give it a try in one of the new beds.



  14. So our brick house should hold up against the average small arms fire by the average schmuck goblins, even if they have .308 or bigger rifles, unless they stand there and keep blasting at the same hole.

    If we see Ma Deuce out front, though, we’ll be high-tailing it out the back door ricky-tick.

  15. Yeah, I came across that Canadian report some time ago. It confirms informal testing I did back in the 70’s with .223 and .308 against concrete block and brick.

  16. Here is that Selco article about when to bug out, “Common mistakes while bugging out”:

    “If you woke up in the middle of the night, because something strange happens in your town, some event, maybe terrorist attack, or martial law put into effect or whatever, sit down and think for a moment.”

    “Your mission is to leave the area and reach your bug out location, do not confuse that mission with any urge to panically run. If you go into the panic you will make mistakes, and it is definetly not time for mistakes.”

    “You would be surprised to know how many people are prone to panic, and how many of them end up dead because of that.”

    “Try to gather some information, and act acordingly to that information, who, what, when, how long, where. Try to figure out what is happening before you start to bug out to your bug out location. What are problematic areas? Who is in control? You will never have perfect information but it is better than having no information at all. Speak to neighbors, listen to the radio and TV and look on Twitter and other social media.”

    “Yes that often means you will need to postpone your trip, maybe for hours, or sometimes for even days. You need to choose the best moment to leave the area (if you already missed to leave the area before SHTF).”

    Basically, hunker down until the situation clears up.

  17. Or the situation is showing a distinct propensity for getting a LOT worse real soon. Then it’s time to bail. Historical examples abound. Berlin 1938 at the latest. Moscow 1917. Georgia, CSA, late 1864.

  18. And yet, even when they were loading the train cars, people stayed.


  19. True, that. No accounting, or much of one, for that behavior. Or the utter lack of resistance in a lot of cases. Just kneel and wait to be shot, beheaded, imprisoned, etc.

    I sincerely hope we are made of sterner stuff here in North Murka in coming years but I worry. We’ve sat still for so much already.

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