Friday, 25 September 2015

08:20 – Barbara is taking a vacation day today and heading out to run errands. We’re in pretty good shape on science kit inventory, so we’ll spend most of this weekend getting things organized, inventoried, straightened up, and cleaned.

The biggest benefit to having Barbara come to work full-time for our business is that by having her do stuff that I’ve been doing until now, my time will be freed up to do stuff that needs my attention. Things like developing new science kits and writing the manuals for them, as well as other things we need to do to grow the business. One of those things is devoting lots of time and effort to the prepping book, which the other demands on my time have forced me to let slide.

As my editor at O’Reilly would no doubt confirm, getting me to declare one of my books finished and ready to publish isn’t easy. He’s basically had to pry every one of them from my fingers, because I always figure that just a bit more work will make the book better.

But with Barbara available to work on science kit stuff I plan to get serious about finishing the first volume of the prepping book, spending at least two full days a week on it. I’ll then get it into print with Amazon’s CreateSpace service as a first edition, with updated and expanded/improved edition(s) to follow. Volume One will cover the first day through the first year, with Volume Two covering emergencies that last longer than one year.

Having to devote a lot of time to working on science kits, making sure our Obamacare coverage is in effect as of 1 October, and researching relocation issues, I haven’t had much time to devote this week to prepping. Here’s what I did to prep this week:

      • I read 77 Days in September (The Kyle Tait Series Book 1) by Ray Gorham. It’s yet another TEOTWAWKI novel that has the protagonist walking for months across country to get home after the entire electrical grid in North America is destroyed by an EMP attack, but at least this author seems to have been paying attention when his teachers were covering spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. Either that or his wife, who is also his editor, fixed his draft manuscript. This is a very odd book. It may be the only extant example of a PA romance novel. It’s almost a Harlequin PA novel, replete with love letters from the protagonist to his wife via the daily journal he keeps on his long journey home, reproduced in full in the book. The real problem I have with this book is that the protagonist is a complete wimp. In one segment, someone steals the guy’s cart, which contains all his food, spare clothing, tent, and all the other possessions he needs to make it home. He takes his .22 rifle and follows the guy, eventually confronting him. The thief shoots at him with a pistol, and he shouts to the thief to keep the cart because he doesn’t want anyone to be hurt. But the thief comes after him, and his only concern is to escape without being hurt or hurting anyone else, specifically the thief. The thief starts shooting at him and hits the protagonist in the arm. Even then, the protagonist hesitates to return fire because he doesn’t want to hurt the thief. Give me a break. He finally shoots the psycho thief and reclaims his cart, but he feels guilty about it. This guy is too dumb to live. His wife, hundreds of miles away in Montana, is also too dumb to live. A deputy sheriff has been pestering her and obviously intends to rape her. She has a pistol. Does she carry it? No. Does she tell any of her friends what’s going on? No. When the likely rapist shows up drunk at her door after multiple warnings to leave her alone, does she shoot him? No. At his request, she gives him a hug, hoping that he’ll then leave her alone. Geez. I’ll give this one two stars because the author at least avoids most of the grammar and spelling errors that are rampant in most PA novels. If I were rating it solely based on plot, dialog, and so on, it’d get one star. The second volume begins on the day he arrives home, and is a more traditional PA novel.

I understand why PA novelists like to use an EMP attack as a plot device. An EMP attack–or a Carrington Class Solar storm, which would have similarly devastating effects and one of which in 2012 missed striking our planet by about a day–is by far the worst thing that could happen. Worse than a 1918-class pandemic virus, worse than a full-out nuclear war, worse than a Lucifer’s Hammer-class asteroid impact, worse than anything else imaginable. And it very easily could happen. If it did, the best response for most people would be the old Civil Defense advice for a nuclear attack:

1. Remain seated
2. Bend forward and place your head between your legs
3. Kiss your ass goodbye

I’ve read all of the unclassified reports on EMP I’ve been able to get my hands on. I may even have seen some of the classified ones that were on Clinton’s server. The consensus seems to be that a bad EMP attack would have very severe effects on our electrical grid and everything else that’s attached to a reasonably long conductor, but it’s very unlikely to destroy the computerized systems in all recent vehicles. Many, perhaps, but probably not even a majority. It’s also very unlikely to cause every plane in the air to crash. Airliners are, after all, sometimes hit by lightning, which seldom causes them to crash.

    • I started doing serious research into the Sparta, NC area as a possible relocation destination. It’s a bit closer to Winston-Salem than Jefferson is–60 to 70 miles versus about 90 miles–but it’s far enough away that I’d be comfortable living there. The underclass population is close to zero, and there’s no serious crime to speak of. It’s just a plain old mountain town, rather than being artsy/craftsy/touristy like the Jefferson/West Jefferson area. There’s some shopping, including chain supermarkets and drugstores, but the nearest Walmart Supercenters are in Galax, VA and West Jefferson, which are both about half an hour from Sparta. Sparta has a good county hospital, and the people who live there tend to be independent and self-sufficient, as you’d expect for the North Carolina mountains. At first glance, homes seem to be more affordable than they are in the touristy Jefferson area.
    • I picked up another 10-day course of high-dosage amoxicillin/potassium clavulanate, a very useful broad-spectrum antibiotic. With some infections, one course of this could mean the difference between life and death. Bacterial resistance to plain amoxicillin is now so widespread that many physicians prescribe it pretty much as a placebo. Clavulanic acid salts are β-lactamase inhibitors, which allow the combination drug to work against bacteria that produce β-lactamase and therefore render plain amoxicillin ineffective.

So, what precisely did you do to prepare this week? Tell me about it in the comments.

11:44 – We’re just back from a small Costco run. The only long-term storage stuff I got was a dozen one-gallon bottles of Kirkland water. I covet those 1-gallon PET bottles, both for storing solutions for science kits and for recycling as long-term storage containers.

On the way to Costco, we stopped at Gander Mountain and bought our first M4gery, a Ruger AR-556 with a few spare MagPul magazines. Barbara I wanted to buy two, but I Barbara convinced her me that one was enough for now. And it’s true that we already have a vintage Ruger Mini-14 with spare magazines, not to mention a dozen or more other shotguns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, and assorted other ordnance, so one AR probably is enough for now.

Just in passing, I asked the guy if they had any bricks of .22LR. He said no bricks, but they did have buckets of Remington .22LR HVHP, at $80 for 1,400 rounds, so I grabbed a bucket of those as well. Just under six cents a round seems pretty reasonable nowadays.