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.

25 thoughts on “Friday, 25 September 2015”

  1. How did you get it? Doctor friend? Animal supply? Inquiring minds want to know

  2. How did you get it? Doctor friend? Animal supply? Inquiring minds want to know

    One shady way to get some: You can get any drug you want by walking into any pharmacy in Tijuana and paying cash. 🙂 Now, getting it back to the US might be an issue. I don’t think the USBP or DEA is going to throw you in their dungeon for bringing back an antibiotic. It’d be easy enough to find a Mexican doctor to write you up a ℞ for a high-dosage and lengthy course of antibiotics that would not be complete until after your return to the US. However, I’m not sure I’d trust the quality of meds being sold in a Mexican border town.

    I’ve stock-piled a little over the years by always “accidentally throwing away” my pill bottle right after I get it and having to have the pharmacy issue me a replacement upon my doctor’s approval (which she always gives). Since it’s antibiotics no one raises an eyebrow at me always losing, damaging, or discarding antibiotics and needing replacements. So, the one time every couple of years where I may need a course of antibiotics for this or that I usually end up needing a replacement bottle. 😉 The extras are labeled and in an airtight container and in the freezer. Now, if I was doing this with an opiate, something with a decent street value, or a drug used in the manufacturing of meth, then I’d be on some watch list.

    Outside of that, I know some people have acquired them through veterinary channels.

    I asked this same question recently. Here is RBT’s reply:

  3. In this case, I asked my dentist to prescribe a 90-day supply. He blanched at that, and said the best he could do was a 10-day supply with one refill. So I took it.

    Long term, I’ll just make my own clavulanic acid. NurdRage even has a YouTube video explaining how to do it.

  4. Wow, another week gone.

    Got my packet controller for my HF radio to the point where it’s talking to the pc and vice versa. Still have antennas to get up, and some reorganizing to do in the ‘shack.’ Got several more rugged Toughbooks. They are a generation better than what I had and will adequately run win8 if I choose. Now I need to sell the older ones, and I think I’m stocked up on laptops for radio.

    Brought the shelves home but haven’t got them installed in the garage, so no change in the storage situation.

    Purchased a bunch of compost to improve the soil in my raised beds. Consensus seems to be that I didn’t get very good soil for the beds despite what the sales girl told me.

    Got a few new veggies to plant in ‘window boxes’ on my fence. They worked well for turnips, and I’ve got a fence that gets some of the best light on my property. They are made from 2×8 deck boards and are basically a trough, 8″x 8″ x 8ft mounted on the fence, at calf and waist level. Other than needing to be manually watered, the ones I used on the back fence worked well. The side fence should be even better. The goal is to grow stuff where ever I can. I should gain roughly 50 lineal feet of growing space.

    Refreshed some medical stuff. Built another serious injury bag for the pickup truck (might have mentioned that last week.) Travel organizers for cosmetics/ toiletries work very well for first aid kits, and are often available at yardsales and thrift stores cheaply.

    Replaced the fire extinguishers I used putting out the truck bed fire. Do you have some heavy gloves in your vehicle, easily accessible? What if you needed them in a hurry to help in at a crash? Seconds can make the difference.

    Picked up a couple of good reference books for the library. Handbook of metalworking, and an engineering reference from the 20s.

    Continued with the police familiarization/outreach class. Worked arrest scenarios, used the ‘shoot/no shoot’ simulator. Very hands on, and eye opening. If your community has some sort of outreach, I recommend doing it. It is a rare peek behind the blue line, and at least here, is an opportunity for some frank discussion with concerned folks on both sides. Oh, and if you are within 20ft of a bad guy with evil intent, you will get stabbed or shot. Tueller Drill. Study it. Believe it. The speed with which it all goes wrong is shocking. I got “stabbed” or slashed a dozen times this week, and the BEST I could do was a tie in a gunfight from low ready- and that would have been a trip to the hospital or the morgue. GET TRAINING or get killed.

    Kids. I was talking to my daughter about having to leave the house in a disaster. I don’t remember how it started, but it had to do with some people having nothing. So we’re talking about the Cali wildfires and how when it’s time to leave YOU LEAVE. I told her that was why we have plans and why we practice fire drills. I reassured her that mommy and I have plans and she didn’t need to worry or be afraid. She looks at me and asks “DO YOU HAVE A PLAN B?” She’s 6. Yes, sweetheart, we have a plan b, and c, and d. She says “I think we should take as much food as we can.” She’s 6. Yes, sweetheart, that is a good idea. We have special food and water to take with us, all ready to go. “Would we go to grandma’s house?” Maybe, or the other grandma, or somewhere else that was safe.

    If you have kids, start including them in your preps. And if you haven’t already, read the Little House on the Prairie series to them and with them. The books are a very gentle introduction to the idea that bad things happen, but you just soldier on. They are also a look at how life used to be, the amount of work involved, and the levels of prosperity. Lots of good lessons, lots of good talking points. Highly recommended.

    Other than that, I got some home life stuff done. Got started on some organizing and cleaning (home stuff.) Did some ‘honey do’ items. Did some things to help with connecting to my local community. Can’t let prepping interfere with domestic/marital/home life. It should support it, never supplant it.


  5. I think my prepping activates for this week are things I do because I like to do them.

    I have been experimenting periodically with bread recipes. Every recipe I prepare, I note the measure of ingredients, the items I may change, and the results. If I get results I don’t expect, I do research on what may have caused the difference and make alterations. It is continual improvement, with a mostly scientific process. For me, bread is fun to make, since I work from home and I can work steps in the process when I take breaks. I am baking a loaf this morning.

    Fire extinguishers and water filters have arrived. My daughter’s comments made me consider getting at least one more extinguisher. One step at a time.

    I ordered new gaskets for my glass canning jars. I am trying silicone gaskets to see how they seal and hold up with time. I don’t like how rubber gaskets can crack or become contaminated with time. I use the canning jars for preserving foods when I make large quantities.

    For example, I like making soups. Often I make a large batch and preserve a significant portion, perhaps a gallon divided into quart-sized jars, for use weeks or months later. It occurs to me that experimenting with soups may be an easy-to-do and practical exercise. With practice often comes better tasting results, as you learn what does and does not work. Soups are forgiving and flexible, which makes learning to cook easier. I am surprised at how few people actually know how to cook.

    Using the vegetable scraps to make stock is also easy to do, and large batches can be strained and preserved for later use. Freeze vegetable scraps (carrot and beet tops, onion peal, almost anything) until a sufficient quantity is available to make a large pot of stock. The stock can be saved for future use, and whatever is strained out goes into compost. The same can be done for meet stocks or bone broth. It is surprising how much food can be utilized and how much better tasting, and possibly more nutritious, the final soups can be.

    So this week, I made bread, soup, added safety features to my home, preserved some extra meals, and refined my recipes.

  6. What’s the best way for long term storage of pills? Vacuum sealed, with oxygen and moisture absorbers, in a subzero freezer and away from UV light?

  7. One shady way to get some: You can get any drug you want by walking into any pharmacy in Tijuana and paying cash. 🙂 Now, getting it back to the US might be an issue. I don’t think the USBP or DEA is going to throw you in their dungeon for bringing back an antibiotic.

    Indiscriminate use of antibiotics are a bigger threat than illegal recreational drugs as it is leading to the creation of antibiotic resistant super microbes.

    How are people handling other medications? My wife’s thyroid was removed last year, so she must take levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid) medication every day. Levothyroxine sodium has a relatively short shelf life. It appears that desiccated thyroid made from pigs’ thyroids might suffice (, but I don’t know how hard it would be to make my own in a PA world. Other people, like diabetics, will face the same problem.

    Any thoughts, folks?

    Rick in Portland

  8. They should be fine in their original bottles in the freezer, particularly if those bottles are foil-sealed. There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing what you mention, except that using a desiccant packet with a standard “B” type oxygen absorber is a bad idea. Those absorbers work by using the oxygen present to oxidize (rust) iron filings, and that won’t occur in the absence of moisture. Either use a “D” type oxygen absorber, or don’t include a desiccant packet. Actually, dry pharmaceuticals contain so little moisture that a “B” absorber probably wouldn’t work anyway, even without a desiccant packet present.

  9. Actually, given minimal resources and instructions, any competent chemist should be able to produce things like insulin and other animal-based products, synthetic antibiotics, opiates, and so on. That’s why one of my focuses is on being a wizard. Every PA community needs one, and I intend to be one.

    Insulin is very easy to isolate, assuming one has an ongoing source of pig or other animal pancreata. Even so, I’m working on an alternative. Most insulin nowadays is produced by genetically-engineered bacteria and yeasts. (By preference, eukaryotic yeasts rather than prokaryotic bacteria.) I’m trying to get my hands on such yeast, which I would then periodically reculture to maintain a live supply.

  10. “Got a few new veggies to plant in ‘window boxes’ on my fence.”

    Great idea! Never even occurred to me; I’ll steal it and tell wife it’s mine! Tx!

    “…if you are within 20ft of a bad guy with evil intent, you will get stabbed or shot. Tueller Drill. Study it. Believe it. The speed with which it all goes wrong is shocking.”

    There it is. Move off the X.

    “Can’t let prepping interfere with domestic/marital/home life. It should support it, never supplant it.”

    Word. And the the latter has taken up more of my time this past week than the former, also VA stuff going on. Basically only able, thanks to finances, to do repairs, maintenance, cleanup ops, and research. Got ideas and plans for secure/emergency radios. Secure OpenBSD laptop for commo stuff. Ditto ThinkPad specifically for radio apps. Mods continuing on .22LRs. Cellar cleanup wrapping up and now to clean out the freezer and assemble more shelving down there, a rainy day activity coming up, Monday, probably.

    Discussions pending with wife on finances and priorities this week, also.

    “I am surprised at how few people actually know how to cook.”

    Ditto. And including our son and his wife, who rely on frozen and fast-food crap. Our daughter, however, can cook, but it’s all vegan all the time. And takes many hours, using every pot, pan and cooking implement in the house. Cleanup by guess who?

    “So this week, I made bread, soup, added safety features to my home, preserved some extra meals, and refined my recipes.”

    Outstanding. Mr. nick’s preps are outstanding, too; it’s a high bar/standard to reach for, wow.

    “Any thoughts, folks?”

    It’s a puzzle; my wife has Graves’ Disease and has been through the mill with it since she was a teenager. We’re getting her to the MD finally this coming month full a full and way overdue checkup. Probably needs eye surgery. A hard look at the meds she’s been on for years. Insomnia. Bad sleep apnea. Depression. Etc. How to pay for it all? Etc. It’s at the very top of my list this week.

    And I have two brothers who are cancer survivors, my mom with Pick’s Disease and in a nursing home, and my sister with epilepsy since she was thirteen, including, without the meds, gran mal seizures. I am, relatively speaking, the very picture of health and sanity….oh wait.

    Health, anyway. BP good, haht is good, PSA levels good, joints a little creaky at 62 but I’m working on that. Don’t drink, smoke or do dope. 6’5″ and 240 now.

    A sunny fall day here; back out to the yard and gardens!

  11. I don’t drink or do dope, but I do smoke a pipe and have no intention of quitting. I am down to 190 or just under, which is maybe 5 pounds more than I weighed when I was 20 years old and playing serious tennis.

  12. @rbt, but what has happened to your bmi? (not that it’s a great measure of fitness) It’s likely that you have much less dense muscle than at that age.

    This is certainly true for me. It’s also much harder for me to add back muscle, or to engage in vigorous activities. Plus, at 25 you didn’t worry about a heart attack if you over exerted, whereas even at 50, that’s my first fear after over exertion if I feel funny or something doesn’t feel right.

    @ofd, thanks for the kind words. I’ve been at it since ’99, but only seriously since 03. And only with ebola in Dallas did I finally get serious about long term food, or collapse of society style preps. Prior to that it was disaster preps with an emphasis on local or regional. A little at a time, punctuated with bouts of panic buying, and you will get results. In some areas I think your preps exceed mine. And I have some complacency now that I fight against. That’s why these “what did you do to prep” topics are useful… as reminders, food for thought, and a way to show steady (or unsteady) progress.

    Give the current economic climate, and personal circumstances, I have more time to spend on it than I did, and possibly more time than is prudent. Treating it as a hobby and enjoying it helps, but it can also trivialize what is a deadly serious activity. Kinda like guns. Shooting them is fun, but there are lots of ways to end up dead if you don’t take it seriously.

    And speaking of preps, and (reluctant) spouses, my wife now enjoys buying PMs. After getting a pile of junk Ag together, she now actively looks forward to picking out some other forms of Ag and (very rarely) Au. (Pre-1965 being hard to come by ATM, some of the really pretty foreign options are more attractive.) It may be stereotypical, but she likes the look and feel of it in her hand, shiny sparkley things, yes please!


    NB- forgive any awkward usages, there are times I try to avoid making it easy for a keyword search to work against me.

  13. @nick

    My BMI (agreed that it’s a useless metric) is down around the middle of what they call normal weight.

    You’re right about muscle loss. I think I lost my last muscle in 2009 or maybe 2010. Now I let Barbara do all the heavy lifting.

  14. “Now I let Barbara do all the heavy lifting.”

    Good policy. I’ve instituted that myself up here, since the days when I was a silly goose trying to pretend I was a big strong he-man warrior who can lift washers and dryers and haul 50-pound bags of topsoil all day and then stack firewood.

    In reality, I’m a frail old man, fiddling with old books and listening to the radio on the back porch…

  15. Me, too. I’m just a harmless, defenseless, old guy who’s no threat to anyone.

  16. 50# bag of dog food is about the heaviest I lift. At 64 those six step and thirty feet into the house about kills me. 🙂

  17. Come to think of it, I’m so frail now I can’t lift a shovel or firearm anymore, let alone big rifles and shotguns, and just haven’t got the juice anymore to slide back a magazine and rack a new one in, tempus fugit….

    …hope I can remember to even lock the doors and finagle which lights should be on outside at night…

    …our dog is gonna have to get his own food from now on…

  18. ” It can also use high-explosive rounds, essentially becoming a man-portable automatic grenade launcher or autocannon.”

    Very nice. Why weren’t we issued these in SEA or later on my cop street patrols? Darn it all to heck!

    How much fun could it be to have a dozen or so of these in the hands of Sir Richard Burton acolytes, under their robes, as they arrive at Mecca for the annual stampede…


    Short take. I’ve shot and been around other people who were shooting both .223 and 5.56 rounds in both 180- and 181-series Mini-14 with no noticeable problems. No raised (let alone perforated) primers or other signs of excessive pressure.

    In theory, .223 ammo should be safe to shoot in a rifle chambered for 5.56mm, but not the converse. Oddly, the .308/7.62×51 situation is the reverse.

  20. “How much fun could it be to have a dozen or so of these in the hands of Sir Richard Burton acolytes, under their robes, as they arrive at Mecca for the annual stampede…”

    Gun Nut.

    We don’t need auto shotguns where there a cranes around to do the job… 🙂

Comments are closed.