Monday, June 30, 2008

Archery Part II - Arrows and Points

Now for the pointy bits, I use cedar arrows for my bow. This is because of the limitations in some organized shoots, where a traditional bow must shoot cedar arrows to qualify. There are three disadvantages of cedar arrows. They can disintegrate into a pile of toothpicks if you hit something hard with too powerful a bow. The weight difference between different shafts (of equal length) makes serious accuracy extremely difficult. They also do not have easily interchangeable points like the aluminum and carbon fiber arrows have. Aluminum arrows can bend, but with patience they can be bent back. Carbon fiber arrows are expensive, but are the best you can buy. You cannot use cedar arrows with a compound bow, as the arrows would most likely disintegrate upon release, and certainly on impact. I never liked using aluminum for my longbow, as the arrows seemed sluggish at release.

A dozen shafts cost $40+ for cedar, $40+ for aluminum, $60+ for carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is nearly indestructible, so long as you don’t lose it, so that’s the way to go. Different camo and even wood grain finishes are available on carbon fiber and aluminum shafts.

The choice between feathers and plastic vanes depends on a couple factors. For traditional shoots, you need to go with turkey feathers. Also, for any bow that uses a shelf, or your finger for a rest needs to use turkey feathers. I learned this the hard way. The feathers collapse, so it doesn’t kick the ass end out when released. The plastic vanes also mar the side of the bow. Turkey feathers are not as durable as plastic vanes.

The length of the fletching is determined by arrow speed. The faster the arrow, the shorter and smaller the fletching. For a modern high-powered bow, you can use the tiny 2” vanes. I use 4” turkey feathers on my cedar shafts. Smaller vanes are also affected by crosswinds, so I’d go with smaller ones if you could. I’d say unless you’re an Olympic shooter, then I’d go with a 3” minimum.

Now the fletching on arrows is not straight. They slightly curve around the shaft between 1° and 6° degrees. This induces the arrow to spin, increasing accuracy, but it shortens the range a little. The reality is in most hunting situations you're about 30 yards from the target. At a 3° fletching, the arrow would turn once, maybe 1 ½ times. Basically, this adds diddly-squat. It doesn’t cost extra, and I like the idea of my broadhead twisting inside a little, which cuts more tissue, and gets lodged in so the deer will bleed more, making the kill quicker and easier to find.

As for colors, I’d go with bright, the brighter the better so you can find the shafts that miss. If for tactical reasons you want to camo them up, that’s fine, but I’d just use a deeper quiver. Also, a can of black spray-paint makes anything tactical in a hurry.

The plastic clip that connects the arrow to the string is called a nock. I strongly suggest you use a nock that has a positive lock on the bowstring. Being able to scratch ones nose in a treestand without the arrow falling out is important. When stalking, you can use your primary hand for tasks while still being able to draw and release rapidly.

There are several types of points available for a multitude of purposes. First off is the field point which is used for practice. Then for hunting, there are broadheads, judo points, bird points and adder points. They have recently come out with a ton of specialized points for turkey and small game, but the types I have listed here have worked just fine for 30+ years.

The adder point is available for CF and aluminum shafts, as it’s basically a disk of blades that slips on the field point before it is screwed into the shaft. This adds cutting surfaces and allows the harvesting of turkey and similar sized prey.

Judo points are blunt, with little spring arms that grab the hide of the animal to transmit as much of the impact to the animal as possible. These are good for any small prey, rabbits, gophers, squirrels, up to about house-cat sized animals. Anything larger than that would just get pissed off. I see that judo points are available for cedar shafts on Cabelas website.

Bird points are wire contraptions that are for taking birds in flight. These are only available for aluminum and CF arrows.

Broadheads are for taking of large game. I would never use a two bladed broadhead because the wound can close, which is inhumane for the animal, and then is near impossible to track without the blood trail. Three-bladed (or more) broadheads are the way to go, a triangular cut will keep on bleeding, allowing you to track your prey via blood trail, and helping it bleed out.

There are two kinds of broadheads, fixed blade and mechanical. Cedar arrows can only use fixed bladed broadheads, so that is what I’m familiar with. Broadheads have more surface area than field points, so a cross wind is more of a factor. Mechanical broadheads have the blades collapsed into the head, and as the arrow impacts the target, the blades spring out to full size. Perhaps someone could mention in the comments what the advantages of each are. I’m not a hunter, so I’m curious as to which is better.

With all broadheads try to get ones with a carbide tip. This is an advantage because if you hit bone, the carbide tip will punch through it. I have not seen any available for cedar shafts, but I am still looking.

All arrowheads are rated by weight, measured in grains. In order to be as consistent as possible, try to make sure all your points are the same weight. Each arrowhead will shoot a little differently because of the change in center of mass, but with the same weight, at least you’re going to be at least in the same ball park.

I would recommend getting carbon fiber shafts with an appropriate fletching - 4” feathers for any traditional bow, and 3” vanes for any compound bow. All fletched helical with 3° or so offset. And the brighter the fletching the better for retrieving lost arrows.

I would buy 125 grain field points for all your shafts, and some of the adder points. I’d get six or so of the three bladed broadheads with carbide tips and replaceable blades. Be sure to stock up on the blades. Some use o-rings to hold the blades in place, so be sure to have extras of those as well. And I also would get six or so of the judo points. Being able to swap heads you can go into the field and harvest whatever comes your way. If you fletch arrows yourself, you can use different color schemes for each type of broadhead, then you’re not guessing what you’re drawing out of your quiver.

The next section will be on accessories: gloves, tabs, quivers, silencers, and all that fun stuff.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A good day for preps

Well I decided to drop the $ on the gas and hit the flea market, and make the trip to Harbor Freight. Scored some great stuff today.

On the way to the Flea Market, I found a little feed shop in the middle of nowhere. They have whole wheat for $16 for 50# They didn't know if it was winter wheat or not. Looked like Red wheat. I'll have to do some investigation before I buy. Next time I buy some preps online I'll get some mylar bags and O2 absorbers. They had whole Oats for $14.25 for 50#. They had corn too. The next phase of my food preps is to get whole grains to increase my storage. That reminds me I need to figure all that out and post it.

So at the flea market I scored the following:
2-man crosscut saw $10
7.62mm Ammo can $5
Two hatchets $5 (really needed those)
Drawknife $5
Rosewood and brass square $3
Folding ruler $2
Bear Compound Bow $15

Funny how I'm not a big fan of Compound bows, but I get one basically given to me for nuthin'. It needs a new string, and the on-bow quiver is broken and needs top be replaced, but the peep sight and pins are all good. I'll fix it up and then I can do a direct comparison on the two different techniques for shooting. Reminds me I need to finish up my post on Arrows and Accessories. I think I'm going to splurge tonight and blow some gas and head down to Foxboro to the Bass Pro Shops they have there. And I think I'll get me a nice dinnah (as we say) tonight.

At Harbor Freight, the tools are mostly crap, but you can find decent stuff if you can look for it. I got the following there:

Two ton come-along
Two 18' tow straps (6000# rating, with safety hooks)
two led lights (with batteries)
feeler gauge (really needed that)
tubeless tire repair kit

I wanted to get the tow straps and come-along while they were on sale. Very handy items to have in the jeep when going off-road. I wasn't thinking about getting gear for the Jeep, but by buying while the items were on sale, I saved myself $15 or so. I feel that preparing is a journey. I cannot afford to sell my house, quit my job and move out to the sticks of North Dakota. There is an equal chance that TEOTWAWKI happens while I'm on the hopper at home, or 50+ miles from home base shopping for more preps, or even watching a movie in the theater. I urge everyone to start down the path. Start with three days of food and water with some basic gear to survive a hurricane, blizzard, ice storm, or whatever. I don't ever see my self like Rawles, with an off-grid ranch, and buying hand crank hospital beds for his group.

Rawles has his poop wired tight, but you cannot start to prep with that end goal in sight. You need to start small, then expand as best you can and as you can afford. How many nitwits gathered $50k+ in debt buying stuff just before Y2K? Part of preparation is preparing your mind. You need to be responsible, not just for yourself, but your friends and family as well. One day I might be as prepared as Rawles, with a throne made from sacks of junk silver on the front porch of my off-grid bunker drinking a home-brewed beer from my propane-powered kegerator, when the balloon goes up. I just have to grow my own barley and hops.

More likely, I'll be pounding away on my blog when the power goes out. Then I got to survive with what I got. First stop is the tequila - I'll need a double belt before I start figuring if I need to bug out or bug in.

The Toadies

So every now and then we need to blow off some steam. I went with some buddies to the Toadies concert at the Middle East Underground in the PRC (People's Republic of Cambridge). What a show! I always regretted not seeing them, and I had no ides they re-united and were on tour. Mien Gott, what a great show.

I got totally hammered, which is required by law to keep my Irish Heritage official. Was good to not worry about work, preps, the mortgage, etc. for a night.

About the PRC. Most of the rest of country thinks Mass is liberal. Well I live in Mass and the citizens of Cambridge are as liberal as it gets. They make regular liberals look like Oklahoma Republicans. They will tell you how to think under the guise of being free-thinkers. They will tell you guns are evil. Abortion is good. If you have a penis then your to blame for everything. It's comical. Well I need to keep laughing or I'd be beating the snot out of the next nitwit who smells like Patchouli.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The cold, hard facts

I live in an intensely populated area. I got the idea from this post from stealth survival where he was mentioning his town’s population. My town has over 35,000 people in it. That is 35,000 hungry mouths to feed in the case of a disaster. That’s also 34,999 nitwits trying to take my food.

To give an outline of my dire situation here, let me go over how many neighbors I have.

Boston 4.5M
Providence, RI 1.6M
Hardford, CT 1.2 M
Springfield 680k
Brockton 94k
Fall River 91k
Lowell 100k
Worcester 175k
Nashua, NH 87k
Manchester, NH 107k

So within 50 miles or so from my house I have 8.6+ million souls. If Katrina had slammed into Providence, RI instead of New Orleans there would have been an additional 1.1 MILLION people displaced. (NO had a population of about 500k.) That’s a lot of debit cards and trailers to get up here. Do you think for one pico-second that FEMA could handle that level of evacuation, support etc.? Yeah I didn’t think so.

The numbers are sobering. I cannot leave Mass because of my career, and my family. All I got is my Mum and brother, so I cannot tuck tail and haul butt to the west. Well not anytime soon, anyways.

I tried to figure out how many law enforcement officers are on the payrolls for the area, but evidently that number is not easily available to your average citizen. I did some social engineering and found out that a good average number is 1 uniformed police officer per 1000 people.

In any military engagement a ration of attacker to defender of 3:1 is considered an excellent attack. That’s for standing armies in open ground. For urban combat i.e. MOUT operations ( Mobile Operations in Urban Terrain) The ratio needs to be a lot higher. I do not have an exact ratio, but 10:1 seems right to me. In my area of suburbia, cops outnumbered 1000:1 would be toast.

But what about the national guard? There are 8000 soldiers in the Massachusetts National Guard. About half of them are away in some sandbox in the Middle East. Assuming all those soldiers and airmen are home on leave, which brings the number of those promoting law and order to 16,600. We just doubled the odds for law enforcement to 500:1!

Not all of the citizens are knuckleheads. Providence crime statistics gives us about 10,000 crimes for 175,000 people for 2007. That is 1.8 violent crimes per 1000 people per year. The question would be how many would turn to violent crime in a disaster. That is the $64,000 question. The number would be on a sliding scale relative to the severity of the situation, and what type of situation it is. In a blizzard the criminals can’t get around so the spike in crime is rather small. In an early-season hurricane, however, I expect a huge spike in crime.

This is why I’m torn on bugging out and bugging in. No fort can withstand an extended siege, so bugging out is a good idea. Even the smallest, most remote towns of Mass have a population of 10,000. Even if by some miracle I manage to get to the ass end of Massachusetts, I have 10, 000 neighbors. So bugging in makes a lot of sense.

Basically I need to keep my options open. I need to blend in with my neighbors, and keep under the criminal’s radar. I am working on an all-around plan, which has phases of preparedness. I’ll outline my plan in a series of posts once I’ve done some more thought on the subject.

It’s been nearly 6 weeks where the FUCK is my LTC? AAAARRRGGHHHH!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Archery Part I - Bows

I have some experience with archery, and from a suggestion in one of the comments on another post, I’ll do my best to share what I have learned. I have been shooting off and on for 20 years although for purely recreational reasons. The focus of this post will be practical information, but it is you, the reader that will need to go out and practice. I am by no means an expert, but I hope to get you started in the right direction. This subject is so broad that I will be breaking it up into several sections. The first section is about the bows themselves.

There are three main families of bows. These are the compound bow, the traditional bow, and the crossbow. The compound bow uses cams, pulleys, cables, etc. to provide a mechanical advantage. The benefit of this is less draw weight while aiming, faster arrow speeds, and flatter trajectories. This results in more accuracy. Traditional bows are split into two types, recurves and longbows. A recurve actually bends backwards when unstrung, while a longbow is flat. Recurves do provide more power in less length, but with modern materials the difference in length is only about a foot. Crossbows have a short, often compound, bow attached crossways to a stock. These bows provide the most power, but are the slowest to ready. They also have a trigger system to hold the bolt and string back, greatly increasing accuracy.

I have limited experience with crossbows, as I have never been impressed with them. I do not like crossbows because their rate of fire is horrible. For a time I could get off six well-aimed arrows a minute from my longbow, where a crossbow could do only two bolts in the same time.

I prefer traditional longbows and recurves to compound bows. Compound bows are “better” in the sense they are more accurate. The price difference is significant, and the additional complexity is not worth it IMHO. I’m old fashioned, so I’ve always used the traditional bows. A decent longbow is ~$200 new, where a cheap compound is ~$280.

Because of this mechanical advantage, and the way the bow is built, traditional bows and compound bows are shot completely differently. Most people grab a bow, nock an arrow, and draw it to their ear. For traditional bows, that is incorrect. You can learn to shoot that way, but when I was finally shown how to draw my longbow to my chin instead of my ear I gained a lot of accuracy and more importantly, consistency. I’ll go over shooting in another article.

If you break a string, you can easily re-string a traditional bow, where it takes a lot of work to re-string a compound bow. As most of us are preparing for when the SHTF, it’s a no-brainer to go for a traditional bow. It’s actually surprisingly easy to make a bow yourself. Here are two books that I’ve bought on the subject, although I have yet to try to make one for myself.

As for the weight, traditional bows are rated at so many #’s at so many inches. For example, my bow is 46# at 28”. At 28” of draw, there is 46# of pull on the string. Draw it farther and you get more pull, draw it less and you get less. Using a longer string on a bow can reduce the pull as well. If you’re just starting out, see if you can use a slightly longer string and work your way up to the normal string. Not all bows can do this, best to ask a local archery shop for advice.

I would recommend at least a 50# bow. This is sufficient for deer, black bears, and two-legged prey. For moose, grizzly, elk, etc I think you need at least 70#, talk to local hunters to make sure.

There are take-down recurves available for purchase these days, and these have the various mounting points for sights and stabilizers. I’ve never owned one, but I have almost purchased one in the past. If in a SHTF situation, the increased accuracy from sights and stabilizers might make the difference in having dinner. The limbs can also be interchanged, which is nice. These interchangeable limbs allow you to “work your way up” if you do not have the strength for a 50# bow by purchasing target or youth limbs. Likewise heavier limbs are available so the same bow can be used for elk and deer.

Traditional bows must be stored unstrung. Stringing a bow is an easy process, which I’ll do my best to describe. Nock the string on the bottom, and place the bottom tip of the bow on your right foot. This keeps dirt from getting jammed in there and prevents damage while nocking. Hold the bow at a 45 degree angle to the left, with the left hand on the tip of the bow. Hold the string out in the right hand, and step through with your left leg. Now the back of the bow should be under your left thigh with the string above your left thigh. In one smooth motion, compress the bow with the left leg and slide the string up until it nocks. Then gently release the pressure so the string is taught, and you’re done.

The next article will be on arrows, points and accessories.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Alaska Experiment

I just got done watching the whole series "The Alaska Experiment" which aired on Discovery Channel. I have to say that it was a really good show.

It's only eight episodes long, and chronicles the effects of four groups of people dropped off in the middle of Alaska in late fall. These groups are provided a staple of rice, beans, flour, salt, etc. but NO protein. They have to get that themselves.

None of these people had ever been more than a weekend camper. No hunting skills, one of them was going to become a vegetarian! To see the amount of fat stripped off of these people in 3 months is incredible. Burning 5k calories/day and eating 2k will do that to you though.

It is definitely worth recording and watching sometime. One of the funniest moments is the look on a girl's face when the gut a rabbit. She looked like she just learned where babies come from - the hard way! ZOMG I had to rewind a bunch on that scene. Like Caddyshack it kept getting funnier the more I watched it.

There is some good info in the series for survivalists. Not the "how to skin a rabbit" stuff but how groups of people band together, what dumb things NOT to do, how cabin fever plays tricks on the mind. It even gives me hope, because one of the guys was tubby like me, and did just fine... Reminds me I need to go for a bike ride more often.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Must Read!

Somewhere I found this excellent article. Read it. Like right now.

We are in deeper doo-doo than I thought. I started the day researching an article on the economy and came across this gem. This article explains a lot of what's wrong with the economy right now, and gives us a fairly straightforward idea of what to expect.

I just cashed out 2 weeks of vacation in anticipation of my Class A LTC coming in the mail soon. I need to sit down and break out my preparations int a plan with definitive phases. Once I have the plan, then I need to stick to it. I have already begun in reducing the amount of $ I am spending in order to save for a financial disaster. I slacked off to much at work to research the original post I was going to write so I need to bust my hump for the rest of the afternoon to make up the work.

I'm not suggesting we panic, I am saying we need to keep doing what we are already doing. Don't let the direness of the situation drive you to do something silly, like take out an equity loan for canned goods and shotguns. Keep an even keel, but keep an eye on the horizon for the Storm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

are you F'ing kidding me?

So the republicans came up with this: $300 million to whoever builds a better battery. That is pure fucking genius. So lemme ask the question where is the money coming from? So I get to pay out of my taxes for something that the government should have been working on for 30+ years? In McCain's brilliant plan, every car made that is zero emissions gives the auto company $5,000 in tax breaks. For each car! If it's not coming from taxes then the FedGov is going to print more monopoly money to pay. Reduce corporate taxes, spend more money. That is just SUPER!

So the Saudis have played the American government like a fiddle. Bush goes in and begs for them to increase production, and they basically say "Fuck off!" Now they say they will increase production to win over the stupid people's public opinion. "Gee they are pumping more oil, why is gas still going up? Must be the Oil Companies!" Well what I see buried in the press reports is that the Saudis are pumping high-sulfur crude, which is shitty for making gas. Classic bait-and-switch.

I'm surprised that gas has not gone up more. Crude has doubled in price, but gas hasn't doubled... I need to do more poking around and see what the historic trend is between the price of crude and the price of gas. I also need to trend the price of #2 heating fuel because that is what I heat the house with. I got to polish up my crystal ball and see what we are in for this winter.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

shopping today

Well the early bird gets the worm, but the early prep shopper avoids the sheeple!

I dropped $40 on 10 gallons of gas, all mixed with fuel stabilizer and carefully stashed in the garage. While shopping I got an extra 4 cans of canned chicken breast - I hate spam so I don't even bother. Bags of rice are now $30 in BJ's, they were $20 when I started. I attribute panic to the increase, along with extra fuel costs. I grabbed six of the mini propane tanks for my lanterns and camping stoves as well, and stashed them in my basement.

I swung by a local bargain store and got 100 tea light candles for $3 and 50 citronella tea light candles for another $3. Also scored a pair of swim goggles for $1 for my civil disturbance kit.

A I also picked up maps of the NE area, and a detailed Boston map and tossed it into the Mini-BOB

The local archery guy has no 3 bladed broadheads, but pushed me to buy a dozen carbon fiber arrows without tips for $120. I'll pass. I did pick up a string silencer. I'll buy 6 three bladed broadheads online, and convert 6 of my existing arrows over. I will be buying CF arrow shafts online. For the price the local shop has them I can buy them online, and a fletching jig, and do it myself and save a few $.

I am working on a post about archery. It's really big at the moment, and I need to break it up into logical sections, ad do more cleanup.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Black Flag - Rise Above

Jealous cowards try to control
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
They distort what we say
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Try and stop what we do
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
When they can't do it themselves
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

Society's arms of control
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Think they're smart, can't think for themselves
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
Laugh at us behind our backs
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
I find satisfaction in what they lack
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, but it's no use

We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

We're born with a chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
I am gonna have my chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are born with a chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
And I am gonna have my chance
Rise above, we're gonna rise above
We are tired of your abuse
Try to stop us, it's no use

Rise above
Rise above
Rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above
We're gonna rise above
(used without permission)

Still pertinent after all these years. I guess I'm still a punker at heart.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Mini-BOB

Well I spent quite a bit of time going through and packing my mini-BOB. This is small enough I can carry it in my bag at work, or toss it in the truck without any trouble. Without any further adieu, here it is:
The core of this system is the fanny pack. Along with my Gerber multi-tool and the 2L camelback-clone I have 3 days of food, and a ton of water.

Now for the contents. I'm still missing a few items, which I'll go over later. The fannypack contains the following:

coffee filters in a ziplock bag - Good for removing sediment before using purification tablets.
Ziplock bag with Dryer lint
Vaseline in a film container
Swedish Steel
Altoids tin containing: Band-aids, Iodine swab, 6 500MG Tylenol, Antibiotic gel, & a Survival fishing kit - two bobbers, 20' of line, hooks and split shot.
4" x 7" bandage
2 boxes of waterproof matches
Water purification tablets
chapstick - I HATE chapped lips
10' of electrical tape (wrapped around chapstick)
tin foil folded into a little square
Emergency poncho
3 day survival food - lasts 5 years. 3600 calories in 9 squares
Space blanket
gallon and quart ziplock bags
para cord
25' of 1200# nylon strap
Mini maglite w/ extra batteries
micro flashlight w/ extra battery
unbreakable mirror
Folding knife
Whistle with compass and thermometer
4' roll of velcro - added after picture very handy stuff

And here is what I'm missing.

Duct tape
Some baby-wipes
sunscreen - maybe wipes?
bug spray - maybe wipes?
Roll of quarters
copies of ID's - laminated.
.45ACP Glock w/ extra mag or 2 - (Cannot take to work)
1L water bottle

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas. This should be enough so I can get back to the house if something bad happens. I'm still working on the bigger BOBs. I'll post what I have in those, once they are complete enough for public scrutiny.

Update on my preps.

Over the weekend I decided to store some gasoline, in case I needed to haul ass somewhere if I had too. I'm not sure what the difference is between storing gas in a metal or poly container, but since the steel containers are ~$40 and the poly ones are ~$5 I bought two 5 gallon poly containers and some fuel stabilizer. I have not had a chance to fill them yet, I will tonight on the way home when I gas up the jeep.

While I was out I stopped by Wally World and bought two 7 gallon water storage containers. Think they were $8 each, and have a spigot you can use with a little vent. Not too shabby. Filled them up and added 50 drops of bleach to each to keep them fresh. I did forget to date them, but I'll do that tonight.

I have a nice spot in my basement that I might be able to rig into a "hidden closet." It gets no sunlight, and already has shelves. It's about 10' from the furnace, and 15' from the oil tank so I should be good to go there. I'll devise some way of camouflaging the door. I need to hide my stores because I'm away from home a lot, and just need some meatball to shoot my dogs and rummage through the house, stealing all my preps. At least this way, I have a chance of keeping my stuff. I should be able to get a gun safe in there too, which is perfect. I'll snap some photos when I'm done.

A while ago I got my shipment of dehydrated food for the BOB. It's a lot bulkier than I thought, but it is lighter than expected. I think I'll take one of those compression sacks I got for $3, put 1/2 the food in there, and the other 1/2 inside the BOB, and eat the stuff in the sack first.

So I took the night off last night to watch the Celtics whup on the Lakers. I mean beat them like a red-headed step child. Feels good to be in the City of Champions. Now so long as Jeremy Jacobs sells the Bruins so we can get the Stanley Cup here I can die a happy man.

I have revised my plans for my Bug-Out-Bag System™ I cannot fit the minimum I feel I need into the camelback-clone I have, so I am going to use a fannypack I had in my paintball stuff. This is big enough to conceal a handgun, which was a big issue. Tonight I'll go through my Bug-Out-Bag System™ and get everything squared away. I'll do another post tonight with what I have in there. Guess I need to clean off the kitchen table though, and clean up the house a little.

I'm feeling better, but there is no rest for the wicked, no rest for the prepper either. I can confidently say I have 2 weeks of food and water in my home, excluding the dehydrated stuff. I also bought some salt, sugar, and cooking oil because I found it on sale. I do need to buy a bunch of baking soda though, haven't seen it on sale yet - next time I'm at BJ's I'll buy a big package.

There is a feed store in town, which is odd because there are no farms in 10 miles... I keep forgetting to swing by and see what they got. Next on my food prep list is wheat.

I also need to look at alternative energy. I'll be getting a generator, but I also want to get some deep cycle marine batteries, and a solar panel. Alternative power is expensive, so I'd like to have three months of food squared away before pursuing it. I am planning on using part of my bread and circus (i.e. economic stimulus) check for the genny. The rest is for a good shotgun.

I also need to keep an eye out for a cheap wood stove, if it gets too bad I could connect it to the chimney in the basement and heat the house with wood. Although a cord of wood is over $200 and climbing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mixing with the animals.

So I can't even go out and see a movie without some nitwit acting up. On Saturday I figured I'd escape the heat some, and go see The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton and Liv Tyler. Movie was pretty good, I'll rent it when it comes out on DVD to see it again.

During the movie, I had this nitwit a few seats over screwing around with his cellphone. It was a really bright one, with the whole case made of pink and purple lights. After the 6th time he was screwing around with it I got his attention, and whispered, "Hey, could you knock it off with the cellphone?"
He looks over, face twisted in anger, and in a rough tone of voice, "The lights come on when I open the fucking phone."
"So what? I'm not dicking around with my phone."
He gives me a dirty look, and I turn back and say "Thank you" before he could be more of a dick.

The world is sorely lacking in common fucking courtesy. He's there with his wife and 2 young kids and gets argumentative with me? Gee, Sorry Billy, your Dad's going to the hospital to have his teeth put back in.

So the movie ends and I'm waiting for the credits to roll by because they have been putting cool stuff after them, like in Iron Man. His family stands up, and starts to head out and he's looking down at me a few feet away. I'm watching him with peripheral vision, ready to beat the fuck out of him if he takes one step towards me. I figure I have 125+ lbs on him, so in a grapple I could take anyone that small no problem. He thinks better of it and heads off with his wife and kids.
So nothing after the credits, I go to hit the head, and sure enough he's in there, on his way out. The dumb bastard barely come up to my chin! He's like 5'4" He moves to block my path in, and I look him square in the eye and shake my head. He wisely steps aside and collects up his two boys and leaves. I wash may hands to make sure he's not dumb enough to come back in.

If I was 5 years younger I would have beat the fuck out of him as soon as he talked to me in that tone of voice. Guess I'm wiser, and I do NOT want to jeopardize my class A application.

I hate people, I mean I am REALLY starting to hate people. I avoid stores like wally-world, target, etc like the plague. The mass of stupid humanity concentrated in such a small area makes me dumber by contact. I don't usually see movies opening night, I prefer to escape the heat during the weekends and catch the really important ones on the weekends during the day.

AAR: (After action report)
1) I kept my cool, and kept my tongue.
2) I refused to be intimidated, although if he was 6'4 I think my BP would have gone up a bit.
3) I was smart in waiting to make sure he didn't come back in while I was talking a (much needed) leak.

Any critiques of my behavior is appreciated. I tried to relay the event as impartially as possible.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Getting antsy

Monday is my 4 week anniversary for my LTC application. I'm starting to get nervous because I really need a class A and I'm concerned they will stick me with a class A with restrictions or worse, a Class B.

A class B means no "high capacity" firearms. They term that to be any magazine-fed weapon that can hold 10+ rounds. A class B also means I cannot carry the firearm, It's a license to own I guess. I've pretty much made up my mind to get a Glock .45. As it is, I'd have to buy a used one, which could take 3-4 months to find. If I get stuck with a class B, which is wholly dependent on the mood of the Chief of Police, I can kiss that Glock good-bye.

It takes 4-6 weeks to get through the LTC process here in Mass, so I'll be nervous as heck until I actually get it. But Daddy, I want it NOW!

I already know what gun club I'd like to join when I get my LTC. It's local, has an outdoor rifle and pistol range, as well as a trap/skeet range, an archery range, and an indoor pistol range. Dues are under $200 a year. Already have the $ set aside for it, just need the license first. Would be nice to be able to practice with my bow, it's been over a year! That reminds me I need to buy some arrows with broadheads.

Since Mayberry got such a deal on a .22, I think That will be the second firearm I purchase. I haven't shot with any regularity in my life. I am a natural shot with longarms and bows, but I really have to work on my pistol skills.

Not to brag, but on fine fall day my buddy's dad took me and his son for some trap shooting. I have never been before, so I was all wired up. I was 20 at the time. Now My buddy's been shooting 12ga since he was 9, and is a decent shot. Now to make a long story short we both fired 50 rounds total between stations. He scored 38, and I scored 45... He was pissed, so I didn't get to go shooting again. Was a lot of fun though.

I expect to drop a healthy chunk of $ on ammuntion so I can practice. Argh! I hate waiting!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What does the future hold?

I cannot say what the future holds. I lack the wisdom to see if any of the multitude of possibilities presented by fellow bloggers, by zealots, or mass media are correct. All I can do is use my best judgment to try to focus on the more likely scenarios. These days, an external threat would be comforting in at least we could band together as a nation to face this threat. The partisan politics that are tearing this country apart would be cast aside in the face of such a threat.

I fear we don’t have a convenient bogey-man to focus the nation’s will on. Someone somewhere said the best way to judge a man was by his enemies. America no longer has the Soviet Bloc as its adversary. We have a nebulous, terrorist organization that exists all over the world, and is harbored and sheltered by our own allies. How would such an enemy bring America to greatness? The average citizen feels that they would never be the target of such an enemy. Without a defined threat to the individual citizen, then such an enemy is no threat at all.

Without the threat of Soviet ICBMs raining from the sky, America has decided it’s the biggest kid on the block. Look how our current Chief Idiot bullied everyone to let us beat up on Iraq. Would any cold-war era president allow us to be involved in a two front war with the Red Menace waiting for us to blink?

Our economy is in shambles. The Chief Idiot is printing money so he can continue his wars. The Defense contractors are practically cuming in their pants, as brand-new Predators roll off the assembly line. Politics dictate weapon choice, so our troops are fielded with inferior weapons. Shady firms like Blackwater and others are getting big, fat contracts to provide “protection” to our overseas companies. Halliburton, those scumbag fucks have relocated their HQ to Dubai so they don’t have to pay corporate taxes on the no-bid contract for whatever billion dollars. No fucking bid. No competition. Fucking nepotism, cronyism, pure stupidity. The worst is that the republican party machine is going to get away scott-free!

Ok, so Clinton got his dick sucked, whoop-dee-fucking-do, and he got impeached, but the mindless masses send their sons and daughters off to fight a war for Halliburton’s bottom line and no one says shit? WAKE THE FUCK UP! I swear the next republican who brings up Clinton’s impeachment is getting a punch in their junk.

Forgive me, I digressed from my point.

So the government, i.e. politicians, are looking for the next bogey-man, and we have already seen how they have suspended our rights with the Patriot Act. Will America’s next Great Opponent become its own population? Without a global force to counter America will it decide to go after China when it decides it can annex Taiwan? Will the smaller 2nd and 3rd world nations gang up to pull us down like a pack of wolves taking down an elk? Will the west rise up in a second civil war, the Reconquista? Will it be our economy? Will a major international conglomerate buy off the government with a quick influx of cash to boost our poor dollar?

I am convinced the status quo can no longer be sustained. Something big is going to happen, and it’s going to happen in my lifetime. What this will be I cannot say. There is a possibility we all get through the next 100 years with nothing more than the recession of '08 to set us back a little bit. I honestly hope that is the case. I am a betting man, and I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I'm putting my $ into canned goods and a good shotgun!

I’m almost done with my first phase of preparation. I just need to properly arm myself. What I have for a budget depends on if I get a buyer for my paintball equipment, but even if I don't get a buyer I'll have a decent weapon in my home to defend myself.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Flea Market finds

Just got back from a bike ride in the sweltering heat we have here today. That's a petal bike, BTW. Thought it's be a good idea to bike to the market since I'm out of mayonnaise. Humidity's up about 90% and it's 90+ outside right now.

I braved the early morning heat to hit a flea market. Some major finds this trip! I got three compression sacks for sleeping bags and such, $3 each. A huge mosquito net for $6. A military duffel, with shoulder straps for $5. And a folding shovel for $10. Not too shabby a haul.

I am still looking for a decent pair of binoculars and a decent hatchet. No luck with either, yet. Nothing good enough that's cheap enough. What I am seeing are vendors asking $20+ for a pair that are so scratched I can't see through one side. Likewise, I can get a hatchet for $10 new so why pay $5 for one beat to hell?

So here is what I'm still looking for:
a few bandannas
bug spray (Keep forgetting to buy some)
Binoculars (pref 50mm)
firearms (still waiting on the LTC first)

So far so good. I should be getting my LTC in the next 3 weeks, here in the nanny state, it takes 4-6 weeks. I'm starting to get worried they'll give me a class B :( we shall see.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grendel by John Gardner

I'd like to share with everyone one of my favorite books, Grendel by John Gardner. It's a excellent story about the monster from the Beowulf saga. Every time I read it, I find new passages that poke and prod my understanding of myself, of humanity, and of the gods.

Do not think my brains are squeezed shut, like the rams, by the roots of horns. Flanks atremble, eyes like stones, he stares at much of the world as he can see and feels it surging in him, ... His hindparts shiver with the usual, joyful ache to mount whatever happens near ... I cannot bear to look. "Why can't these creatures discover a little dignity?" I ask the sky. The sky says nothing, predictably. I make a face, uplift a defiant middle finger and give an obscene little kick. The sky ignores me, forever unimpressed.
(used without permission)
One of the ideas of the book is that Beowulf is just as much a monster as Grendel. I have argued that the Shaper is the true villain of the book, but that might be my mistrust of Organized Religion and Mass Media.

It's only 150 or so pages, and well worth the read. I'm reading again, for I think the 12th time. the only book I've read more is The Hobbit. The margins are filled with notes and asterisks, highlighting a particular thought for further digestion. There is a bit of swearing in the book, and it's a shame that some school systems are banning the book from study just because of a stray F-Bomb or two.

I'll try to post other reviews of my favorite books from time to time, hope you enjoy them.

Fire testing complete

So I spent some time here and there over the last week testing the best way to reliably make a fire in a survival situation. I found that the best way to make a fire in all cases was dryer lint mixed with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly.

It doesn't take much, about a dime-sized spotch of Vaseline, and a quarter-sized tuft of dryer lint mixed together. This is easily ignited by a swedish steel, match, etc. Just keep it out of the wind and your going to have a good fire in no time.

In my BOB, I now have a film canister with some Vaseline in it and a small plastic bag of dryer lint. I'll also have waterproof matches, as it's good to have two of everything really important. I no longer carry any newspaper, as it's pointless, and in a pinch I can use a little TP to help things along.

I found a great deal on firesteels here, at

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Education, part 2

Continuing my thoughts on how we can re-vamp the current educational system. At the end of the first part, I listed what needs to change in order to make an educational system that benefits the teachers, the citizens, and most importantly - the students.

1) Hold Teachers accountable
2) Hold Students accountable
3) Privatize the educational system
4) Reduce governmental involvement to oversight

I have friends that are teachers and they would (attempt) to beat the snot out of me for even mentioning this: remove tenure for any educational system below the university level. Teachers kill them selves to get tenured, once tenured it's nearly impossible for them to be fired. Because the teachers are not held accountable, in general, they no longer care for the individual student. They just are "punching the clock" until they can retire. Only in extreme cases have teachers been held to task for how they treat the students. My fourth grade teacher survived calls for her termination for 10 years before she retired on a fat pension. She wasn't a teacher, she was state-run day care.

If through standardized tests, students are not getting what they need to know then the teacher and school will get in trouble with government oversight. That's when the beauty of private schooling is revealed - the teacher gets fired - a better one is then hired. Teachers have more motivation to help the students. In a privatized system, the teachers benefit as well, more on that later.

Now we hold the students accountable for their own education. If you don't hand in you homework, parents get notified. Because schools will be competing for students, you can bet they will have "value-added" services like comprehensive reporting on the student's progress, virtual parent-teacher conferencing, and excellent care for the student's education. Additional tutoring will be available for the students either as an added fee, or as a value-added program of the school.

If the students misbehave, they can be tossed out on their ass. Bring a gun to a private school, and your PHUCT. As a private institution they can have drug-sniffing dogs walking the halls every day. I like the idea of that. As the situation progresses, private schools will be able to rapidly change their security situation. Gangs becoming a problem, hire armed security guards, dress them up like SWAT and roam the halls. problem will be solved quite nicely, I think.

Privatizing the school system reduces governmental waste. Teachers can be paid according to the school they teach at. If they want more $, then the can go to another school. Part of the issue with teachers is once they are settled in at a school there is no longer any room for growth. Sure, they can become a principal, or whatnot, but their career is stagnant. I think this is one of the leading causes of the apathy of so many of my teachers in public school.

Schools will specialize. I see schools that are devoted to special needs. Those working there have the training and desire to work with special kids, rather than forcing them to integrate with regular student populations. Some schools will be known for engineering, others for religious education. If your a creationist, then send your kid to a creationist school. I'm big on the separation of Church and State, and all lot of the bullpucky with creationism, vs. evolution vs. Intelligent design goes out the window. All three classes can be offered in the largest schools, and you tell your kid which one to take.

How would teachers benefit under a privatized system. For one, they might not get as good benefits, but they also would not be shacked with students that were forced to be there. Their jobs would become easier, as they would specialize in what curriculum they taught. Security would be increased as the school was on private land, and could hire Blackwater for security if it was needed. Since it's easier to dismiss problem students, the threat of gang violence is reduced to nil. From the teachers I know, most would saw off their own right arm for a room of students that actually wanted to be there. Although state pensions would be gone, and the school year would probably be longer, teachers would have choices in which 401k, or health plan they would get. Also with the adoption of technology to make their lives easier, they would have the benefit of being able to work on other projects, research, writing books that could not be done under the current load of paperwork. Imagine teaching in a facility that is kept up maintenance-wise! The past threats of black mold and such would never happen in an environment where schools were competing for students.

Now how much of your tax dollar goes to the school system? How much of that $ is wasted on no-bid government contracts? How much is wasted on the lunch program for kids that don't eat the food because it's gross? If we ran education like a business, then a lot of cost-saving technology would already be implemented, instead of waiting 10+years for them to finally adopt it. Tele-learning for kids out sick from school. Online recorded lectures so the students can review for study? A secure, online, examination system so teachers can work on lessons and tutoring instead of grading exams. In high-school, give seniors part-time jobs as teaching assistants helping with tutoring freshman algebra?

The government would be there as a independent, fair, and logical body to determine what is the minimum to graduate from one grade to another. This governmental body would ensure a minimal quality for sanitation, food services, etc.

Perhaps a rating system like we have for restaurants could be established. This rating would track the core knowledge of math, English, American history, reading, health education, basic sciences, etc. and post it for the world to see. So if a school wanted to charge a lot for tuition, then it'd better have the basics down cold. Note that a large amount of some schools curriculum is not included. I had to take four years of Religion in high school, and under this system those classes mean squat for the rating. However, the Catholic Church could post whether or not the school is teaching correct doctrine. Likewise, a commie-pinko school could be endorsed by the US Communist Party.

Changing the way we educate our children should be one of the top priorities of the next few Presidents. The US has fallen way behind in how our students compete vs. other major industrialized nations, and to compete in the global markets we need new ideas and big thinkers. With the current educational system, the crop of such gifted students is rather thin to say the least. This is something that can be changed now, even with the government clusterfuck we live under now.

Education, part 1

Well this is a bit of a sore subject for me. What I am going to try in this post is outline what an educational system needs, in my not-so-humble opinion. I am going to try to maintain balance between the individual, and their rights, and the needs of a society at large. This first part is my personal experiences at the mercy of the current educational system. The next part wil begin to outline the end goal, at least in my eyes what it should look like.

I attended a small town educational system until high school, which I transferred to a Catholic high school 20ish miles away. The town's high school was atrocious, college prep was the second most available curriculum, behind shop. This class also had a piss-poor agricultural program.

I entered the school system a year early. The town has some arcane method of selecting when students could enter school, but my mum fought the system and managed to win. Later the Skool system would try to use this against me.

In Kindergarten I had my first run-in with how abysmal the town's educational system was. I used to get terrible ear infections, pain was a constant in my life as a child. My parents did what they could, but nothing could stop the pain. Eventually, I lost hearing in both ears. No one at skool even noticed until they called out all the kids for recess after nap time, and I didn't go until the teacher shook me, even after calling my name in my ear for a few minutes. You see, even back then I was a wily bugger, I had taught myself to read lips. I'm still figuring out who to thank (I'm agnostic), my hearing returned mostly intact after the eardrums healed. It's kinda my own damn fault, as I adapted to my new surroundings. Even to this day my mum swears I never lost my hearing, that's how bamboozled I had her. Now did the Skool take any time to make sure I was seeing a doctor? Did they at least contact my parents face to face to discuss what's going on? Nope. Nada. If my ears didn't heal then I would have been the "student left behind"

For my next escapade in the piss-poor skool system here in town It's actually rather funny. Well It's funny now, but as a kid once I figured out what they were doing I went postal. It was in the 3rd grade when it started. I was never one to get good grades, I was a C student, and never showed much interest in getting anything else. Well in it's infinite wisdom, the skool system decided that I was "special". Not the gifted "special" but rather the hockey-helmet-wearing "special." My mom fought to keep me in regular classes, but behind her back they would stuff me in with the other 2-3 special education kids. It's one thing to be bored, it's another to be bored out of your skull while some kid rambles on for 6 hours about the Beatles albums. I was 7, I didn't know who the heck the Beatles were, never mind who produces what album...

I'll never forget the fourth grade so long as I live. For the entirety of the fourth grade I never learned any math, nor social studies, not even how to improve my cursive handwriting. I drew trucks. The skool system decided that due to my obvious problems with learning, that the only jobs I would be suitable for in society was:

1) truck driver
2) fisherman
3) farmer

Now, I have nothing against those professions. There are smart and dumb people in all walks of life. But in the 70's, the dawn of the information age, if you drove a truck then you were assumed to be as smart as a box of hammers. As for fishing and farming, only morons did manual labor. your father was a fisherman to put you through college. Such was the wisdom(HA!) of the 70's.

Now to say I drew trucks, that's exactly what I did. On big and small sheets of manila paper me and my classmates drew Peterbuilts, Kenworths and Mack's. For an entire school year!

Now that little school I was in only went to the 4th grade. I would go to another school in town for 5th grade then it's off to middle school for 6th - 8th grades. It's in 5th grade when the skool system finally realized the mistake they were making. In town, 5th grade is finally where the entire body of students merged into one giant group. This school was new, only 5 years old at the time, and none of the existing teachers for the earlier town schools transferred there. So by and large, the teachers were young, and enthusiastic, and most importantly not tenured. The first few months of the 5th grade were spent in a much larger group of "special" kids. And then my salvation arrived in a small standardized test.

The Iowa Test of Basic Skills, how I love thee. So one day I'm bored out of my skull in "special class" when they give us these exams where you fill in the little dot with a #2 pencil. Most of the kids drew on the paper, drooled on it, wiped their ass on it or yes, even masturbated on it in class. I sat down in the corner away from the bodily fluids and took the exam.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am way above average in intelligence. The reason I had always done poorly in school is because I was bored. Nothing was challenging me. Turns out once they got the results back from the test, I was called in to the principal's office. I scored so high they thought I cheated. After several teachers coming in with questions they realized the mistake they made. the very next day I was moved into the advanced classes. Needless to say the Skool never apologized for it's mistake.

So how can we improve things? Consider this a teaser for my next pot on the subject.

1) Hold Teachers accountable
2) Hold Students accountable
3) Privatize the educational system
4) Reduce governmental involvement to oversight

A quick thanks

I'm stuck here at work (on Sunday no less) and before I work on my big post for the day, let me just give a quick thanks to those that take the time out of your busy days to read my rants, and my follies.