Monday, December 21, 2009

Fiction - Part XI - Packing

The next few days started off very relaxing. Natog fell into a routine with spending 75% of his time doing chores. Cooking meals and washing dishes, collecting wood, packing and re-packing supplies for the trip to Maine, loading ammunition, cleaning and checking weapons. One early morning Natog drove to the local range and checked the zero on his M1A and his bolt-action .308 Remington 700. Quickly packing up he made it out of the gun club before any nosy cops showed up.

Al and Mary stopped by. Natog made tea and chatted while they beated around the bush. Seems both sets of parents fled New Bedford and were staying in Al’s tiny apartment. Natog donated a case of canned goods, some extra candles, a roll or two of toilet paper, and five pounds of rice he hadn’t vacuum-sealed yet. He also took the time to teach them how to filter water through T-shirts and boil the water before drinking it or using it to brush your teeth.

Every night at varying times they scheduled before Natog left Dartmouth, the family chatted using the VHF radios. Nothing that would give them away was mentioned over the air. Likewise no mention of supplies, weapons, or Maine were mentioned either. If they needed to, they could have used two identical books to make a simple code that only those with the same edition could decipher, unless you had access to some NSA supercomputers.

Over the next few weeks Natog had to make many hard decisions on what gear to take, and what had to be left behind. Woodworking tools were the toughest of all the decisions. The Berger’s farm had no tablesaw, but Natog’s Unisaw weighed in at 400 pounds and was 3 feet wide and 7 feet long. Natog did pack his dado set, and other 10” blades for the trip, figuring another tablesaw might be squired through barter.

For handsaws he limited himself to two crosscut saws, and two rip saws. The flea market finds would serve him well if he needed to do any construction or furniture work while in Maine. He added his Japanese crosscut saw, a flush cutting saw, a panel saw and two dovetail saws. The dovetail saws were in very rough shape, but he hoped he could salvage them. He managed to get two large saws suitable for felling trees, and those were set aside to strap to the loaded trailer.

He packed all his hand power tools. Including his biscuit joiner, routers, and all the bits and blades he had for them. He bought his biscuits in bulk, along with woodworking glue, so he had plenty there. He did take the router lift for his big router out of his table saw so he could build a router table if needed. He also made sure to take all his drill bits.

Rounding it out he took his eggbeater drill, his brace and bits, and all his sandpaper. He took his water-based poly, and his wax, but all other stains, paints and sealers were left behind. He also squeezed in all his tape measures, rulers and layout tools. He packed a large assortment of files, with a few rasps added for good measure. Finally, he packed all his chisels and planes for the trip.

All of the tools were loaded into totes and loaded onto the trailer. The heaviest ones were put on top of the axle, and the lighter ones were set down next to the trailer to load on top. Canned goods were carefully gone through. A few items were set aside for morale boosting up in Maine, namely the Spaghetti-O’s and Canned Ravioli. As much as possible was set aside for use in the next few days. The rest was packed up and loaded in the back of the jeep, or the trailer in totes.

All of the staples such as rice, beans or, pasta were destined to be packed up for Maine. As he was packing it, he noticed a few vacuum packed bags of rice were no longer sealed, but no teeth marks could be found. Upon further examination, the rice itself punctured the plastic bags, allowing air in. When Natog checked his mylar packed corn, all but one were no longer sealed. Since there was nothing that could be done, the buckets had the lids put back on, and were packed in the trailer for the trip.

One problem Natog had was the glass mason jars and spaghetti sauce he had. The best he could come up with was to load them into cardboard boxes he had saved from moving, and cutting the box down even with the top of the jars. Then he cut the extra cardboard up and slipped it in-between the glass jars. These boxes were loaded into the truck, with clothes he was taking tucked around then to keep them from moving, and to act as added padding.

Natog packed his firearms for transportation. His M1A, shotgun, and pistol were to be kept handy, but the rest was packed up for transport along with all of the ammunition and cleaning supplies. For the M1A, Natog loaded his vest with mags, giving him 8 total. The shotgun had it’s short barrel on already, but the longer one was loaded into the truck as well as it’s choke tubes. Natog kept his skeet shooting bag out, with about 20 shells of slugs and 20 buckshot in the two halves. The rest were packed up. He also loaded the shell sock on the stock of the shotgun with 5 rounds of 3” buckshot. With the 5 rounds loaded in the gun, he had plenty of ammo for it. His prized bolt-action rifle was loaded in it’s case, with 7 rounds in it’s stock sock of hunting rounds. It’s 4 round magazine was loaded but, not in the rifle. In all his packed guns the trigger locks were left off, a clear violation of Massachusetts law, but odds are there were going to be bigger problems with the cops with the arsenal Natog was taking to Maine.

All of the reloading supplies for his rifle and pistol would be making the trip. His reloader for shotgun shells wouldn’t see much use as he had nothing but #8 shot, which would be good for quail and doves, but nothing else. He did pack 200 1oz skeet rounds for the trip, in case there were quail up in Maine. The powder and primers were loaded carefully in the jeep, and at no time did he mix powders or put one kind of primer in another box. It would be a shame to get up there and blow your own head off by being a dumbass he mused.

Clearing out his shed, he loaded his generator, chainsaw, and all his rakes, shovels, etc. onto the growing pile on the trailer. He also collected his spare bar oil, chains, the shorter bar, and so on and so forth for the trip. He filled his jeep’s tank with the stored gas he had, and still had 2 ¾ 5 gallon cans left. These would be lashed in the front of the trailer, but in easy reach. Packed deep in the middle of the pile was his spare propane tank, and the half-full one from his grill.

He had been packing for several days when a police cruiser rolled up while he was carrying a box of food from the house to the garage. Two men got out and started to approach Natog. Turning his right side away, he checked that it was a Brockton cruiser, not a Middleboro one.

The first thought through Natog’s head was a string of profanity followed by a series of ideas to get out of this situation. Before the officers could take a third step, Natog called out “That’s far enough, officers.”

They were both in uniform, and had their hands casually on the butts of their guns. The larger one shouted back, “We jus’ want to talk to you.”

“Well you can do it from there.” Natog kept his hands visible, he knew there was no way he could out-draw a service holster, and wanted them to have no excuse. He had a sinking suspicion that one of these two was the boy’s father from the other night.
The officers continued to approach. “That isn’t very neighborly of you! Bob, get a load of this guy!”

While the two were looking at each other, Natog made a run for it. Turning fast he dropped the box and dove into the garage. A few choice swears followed him as he kicked the door shut with his foot. Quickly scrambling to his feet, he turned the deadbolt as one of the cops laid a shoulder into it. Natog was heavier, so he managed to shut the door and turn the bolt. His shotgun was in the house, so he pulled his pistol and took cover behind his joiner. Finally, he could hear the cops over the rushing blood in his ears.

“Open this door you cocksucker!” The cop was trying to kick open the door, but he was unable to gain any leverage. The threshold was a foot off of the driveway, and there was just a single step. The other cop was trying to lift the garage door, but Natog kept the bolt on the door engaged with the track, preventing it from opening.

“I didn’t see a warrant, and you are out of your jurisdiction, so take a hike!” Natog yelled at the door.

“We just want to talk!” came back as the kicking on the door tapered off.

“Bullshit, why did you have your hands on your guns then? You have no reason to be on my property, so I will ask you to leave, after that you are trespassing!”

“Heh, Charlie, get a load of this faggot! We are in a State of Emergency, we ARE the law! Now you get your ass out here, we need to talk with you.”

“Any talking will be done through a door, I do not recognize your authority.”

“Recognize this. When we get you out of there, we are going to beat the fuck out of you.”

Natog thought to himself “Oh Shit.” Digging in the jeep he pulled out his combat vest and M1A out. Holstering his pistol, he took a magazine from his vest he slapped it into the magazine well and pulled the bolt back before letting it slide home.

The slide of an assault rifles bolt slamming shut makes a rather impressive sound. To Natog the sounds of Bob and Charlie scrambling, grunting and swearing while taking cover was more impressive. He took his position behind the joiner again, with the barrel of the M1A leveled at the door.

“So… What did you want to talk to me about, anyways?” Natog waited another minute “Bob, Charlie? You there?” There was no answer. After a minute he heard the dogs go crazy in the house, and one of the cops curse a few times.

Although now armed to the teeth, his mobility was limited. The only entrances and exits were through the garage door or the regular door. Both were on the same side of the garage. The garage did not have a doorway into the house. Natog took a long time listening, but heard nothing.

Pulling his shop stool around he took a seat and prepared to wait it out. He knew they were out there, as he didn’t hear any car doors or engine. Eventually, they gave themselves away by walking around the back of the building, and stepping on some snow.

“Listen, I’m not coming out of there, and you guys are not going to get me out of here by force. IF you had a legit reason to arrest me, then this place would be crawling with Middleboro cops and Troopers. So, I turned your kid in for trying to rob me and you want to blame me for it? Is that it?”

Finally they broke the silence. “My kid is going to a detention center because of you. So yeah, I’m going to take it out on you. You better grow eyes on the back of your skull, because I’m going to get my due. You hear me?”

“Whatever. Stay away from me, stay away from my house. I’m not intimidated by thugs.”

“Fuck you.” With that he heard a set of feet crunch through the snow and get into a car.

Natog strained his ears, and sure enough, one car door slammed and the car started up. Then another set of feet crunched to the car and got in. Just in case, Natog waited another half-hour before sticking his nose out. Using tactical movement, and wielding the M1A to point to likely ambush points, he made his way to the house. The box of food was gone. One of the panes on his front door was broken, but the bolt was still locked. When he unlocked the door, the dogs were freaking out, and trying to rub their eyes. They must have dumped a whole can of pepper spray into them. Thankfully, his foresight into having a deadbolt that was keyed on both sides paid off. There was some blood on the floor, not much, just enough if the thug cut himself on the glass or one of the boys bit him good.

The bathtub was almost empty of water, so he brought the dogs in and carefully washed their eyes out. It took a while, and it used half of his remaining water, but he couldn’t let them suffer. He had about four gallons left for drinking and washing. The dog’s bathwater could be used to flush the hopper.

Natog didn’t get much sleep that night. Every sound brought him wide awake, reaching for his shotgun. The next morning he unpacked the trailer enough to get at a few tools. Cutting down a 2x4 he made crude braces to help doors resist being kicked in. he made two for each door he used regularly. The front door simply had a couple scraps of 2x6 across it at chest and knee height. These 2x6’s were screwed into the frame of the door, and the next studs over. He used 3” deck screws, as drywall screws were too brittle for this task.

To add security to the door, he attached a 2x4 strip to the door just below the doorknob. He placed another on the floor a few feet in front of the door nailed into the floor joists. Two 2x4’s were then cut to fit in-between the two braces. The 2x4 was trimmed with 45 degree cuts on all 4 sides so it was very snug and form fitting between the brace and the door, likewise with the floor. This with the addition of the kickplate around the deadbolt, and 3” screws used for the hinges made the steel clad doors very resistant to being kicked in.

Using some scrap plywood he blocked off windows as best he could. He put up these over the drapes and curtians so they couldn’t be seen from the outside. He covered the windows in the living room, and the inlaw apartment, the rest would have to wait.

None of these precautions would prevent someone from getting in, it would only slow them down. With his pile of scrap wood exhausted, Natog sat down and had a nice lunch.

The hardest part was going from room to room collecting everything he wanted to take, and putting it in the living room to pack and sort. Some of his prized possessions he couldn’t see taking, but didn’t want to leave them for the looters. All of this was boxed up and brought to the attic above the garage. Natog knew that a fire would take it all, but he had no way of protecting it if he could bury it in the frozen yard.

Sorting clothes was tough, as he fully anticipated losing weight, but gaining size in the shoulders and legs. To compromise, he packed a three day bag of clothes he would live out of for the next few days, and would pack the rest around the other boxes and the nooks and crannies of the jeep. Summer clothes were the last to pack up and were going to go on the trailer in garbage bags.

In the definite pile were a fair amount of board games, decks of cards, and several series of books. Also he had a selection of cookware, camping gear, sleeping bags, and his tent. He also had all his books related to blacksmithing, Gardening, brewing, and survival.

In the maybe pile were more books and games, his laptop, and all his hard drives that had data he needed on them. He also had his big monitor and his desktop system. All his fly tying supplies, and fishing gear, including salt, fly, and bass.

In the growing pile of discards were all his RPG’s other computer systems boxes of more books, and clothes that had no use in the outdoors, mainly dress shirts. The pants could be hacked into shorts, so they were in the maybe pile.

In the end the laptop was going with the HDD’s, all but one brewing book would be left behind. Two Hawaiian shirts were going to make the trip, just to liven up the winter doldrums. 90% of the camping gear was going, he was unable to fit the three camping stoves, so the large two-burner one would be left behind. He did take his kitchen knives and a few additional pots he normally didn’t take camping because they would be useful for an extended stay.

The one item he wished he could take, but couldn’t fit was a ladder. He hoped they had one up at the site in Maine.

After eight days of packing and re-packing his jeep looked like it belonged on the set of Mad Max. The rakes, shovels, and bucksaws wound up strapped to camping gear on the roof of the jeep. The trailer was covered in several green tarps and was stacked with six feet of supplies. The trailer was rated for a ton, and Natog knew he was well over it. There was no way he could run if he had to, stealth would have to be the way to go. From past experience, he knew that he would be unable to go faster than 50mph with the rig as it was now. Nothing else could be left behind. As it was, he wished he could fit more power tools.

All packed, he saw no reason to stay any longer. He would leave very early that morning, and planned to take the same route to Mum’s as he used to get to his house. He contacted them via marine radio before going to bed to let them know the plan. Mum gave stern warnings about being careful on the trip to Dartmouth.

About oh god thirty in the morning, Thor and Loki went nuts. Exhausted from the work, Natog was in a deep sleep, and it took a minute for him to clear the cobwebs from his head. Someone was trying to break in the front door, and the dogs were going ballistic trying to get at them. Jumping into his pants, he was pulling on his boots when things went from bad to worse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Well winter has showed up with a vengeance. Last week it was about 15 degrees F every morning when I left for work. Then we get 18" of snow over the weekend. I was ready for it, but still 18" of snow is a lot. Thankfully, it's all powder, so shoveling it is easy enough.

I had to swing by a few markets the day before the storm, not to buy anything, but to see the panicked buying of bread, milk, and eggs that precedes any snowstorm. If people panic-buy eggs for 2" of snow, I can assure you the shelves were totally bare for lat night's storm. If sheeple cannot plan ahead for a simple snowstorm, how in sam hill could they be ready for a real catastrophe?

Typically, most people forget how to drive in the snow, and as I made my way to a friends house to watch the Pats game today, I saw several knucleheads sliding all over the road. All the four wheel drive gets you is the ability to not get stuck, and allows you to accelerate without slipping. A 4x4 doesn't prevent you from sliding when trying to stop or turn, and that's what the noobie 4x4 driver doesn't get.

So part of My prepping has been to learn how to drive a 4x4. I don't get to practice often, but when I can I go out to a freshly plowed parking lot and do snow donuts. Learning how your vehicle reacts in a skid will help you if your car does start to slide in the rain or snow. Remember, we are not just preparing just for some grand disaster, but for the smaller more personal disasters that could hit us almost any time.

Being able to change a tire, or for that matter making sure your car has a spare tire. It's becoming less common in this day of "roadside assistance". I doubt AAA will be able to help you if your fleeing from a hurricane. So it's a smart idea to learn how to swap a spare tire, or change your oil, how to fill the anti-freeze, so on and so forth.

Here is a short list of skills everyone should know.

Build a fire
Change a tire
Tie the following knots: Bowline, Tautline hitch, clove hitch, sheetbend, square knot.
zero a rifle
sharpen a knive, axe and saw.
split wood & stack it correctly
perform CPR
Heimlich manuver
pitch a tent
Figure out the directions from the sun or stars.
Fell a tree
Field dress game
Clean a firearm
Use a map and compass

I could go on for hours, but this is what I could think of in the few minutes I had before going to bed. Expect the next installment of the story real soon. On the train ride to boston, I am either reading, or writing.

I just finished Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky. Although written as "youth fiction" I still found the story enjoyable, and it was a very, very, quick read. Only took me 5 hours to read the whole thing. There was a bit of deus et machina to end the book, but hey, your average movie has that to somehow have a shriveled up pitiful excuse for a plot!

Thats enough rambling for now. I need to hit the rack because tomorrow's commute is going to be brutal.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can't Sleep

I'm having some trouble getting to sleep tonight. I got a big day ahead of me tomorrow, the first day back at work in six weeks. I have a few other things bugging me as well.

I've been dickering with a 3% logo, but so far I'm not happy with the results. I don't like the III logo running around on a patch, and I'm not a big fan of the ones with MOLON LABE on them either. That's a bit to militia-ish for me. I'm not in a militia, I'm in a revolution.

More troubling is I cannot find my iPod anywhere. Damn thing is just gone. That's what I deserve for cleaning the house as thoroughly as I did. I have my old Rio player from 2001, but the software doesn't run well on XP. It like windows 98 much better. ARGH! I lost half the songs on it and I cannot load any new ones. Looks like it's going to be a long train ride tomorrow.

So nothing out in the market is making sense. the dollar is getting stronger and gold & oil are dropping. Looks to me like there is some subterfuge going on in the markets. Someone is manipulating things, and I'm willing it's the Fed. Ron Paul has been gaining support for an audit the worse things have been getting, so I wouldn't put it past the banks to pull this kind of crap.

Well it looks like the stiff drink I drank is kicking in (finally) so I'm going to hit the rack. Good night all, and be sure to keep prepping through the holidays. Speaking of which, whatever holiday y'all celebrate, I hope it's well spent with family and friends!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to business

I have been slacking off a bit lately, and it is high time I got to get my butt into gear. With the looming Zombie apocalypse, there are a few things everyone has to do before the mindless horde comes looking for dinner.

First off, there are some movies out there that are absolutely a must-see. Zombieland is a must-see. Very funny. The Hangover gets a little raunchy at times, but I honestly fell out of my chair while watching it. This is the logical child of Animal House and Airplane! This film was so funny, I would be willing to bet the script was written in the 70's, because that's the last time I watched a move that funny. Animal House, Stripes, Caddyshack, and Airplane! could be topped by this movie on the all-time- funniest movie list. Avatar looks real good, but I am a little concerned that James Cameron might get on a soapbox.

I do not watch a lot of TV but a few shows will be missed when the balloon goes up. The Big Bang Theory is a staple for geeks anywhere, myself included. I got the boxes of comic books in the basement to prove it. The new series V, based on the 1983 & 1984 miniseries (the regular series was so bad I removed the memory forcibly by inserting an icepick up my nose) is really, really, good. Hope they don't fuck it up like Heroes. Or die off like Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles, or The Dresden Files. Flash Forward is getting high marks from friends, but I have not had time to check it out. Any if ANYTHING, and I mean ANYTHING gets in the way of me watching the last season of Lost, I will hunt you down and beat you to death with my shoe.

As for books, anything of any decent quality is being drowned under by sparkley vampires and assorted other lame-ass emo drivel. I have been going back and re-reading older authors like Heinlein, Herbert, Asimov and Tolkien. I am in the middle of the Belgariad, by Eddings right now. I couldn't find the last three books in the local used bookstores so I had to order them online. Still used, but they have to be sipped from the left coast.

So stock up on entertainment. For boardgames I recommend Settlers of Catan, and ALL it's expansions, it is a load of fun, and even women like it. Citadels is a small, compact game that is fun to play as well. Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is fun, but not good for the youngsters. Another favorite is Boomtown, which is published by a Rhode Island Game designer. Expensive, hard to find, and out of print makes Civilization, a hard game to get, but if you're lucky enough to have one, it's a good weekend game. Finally there is World in Flames, which I played at the convention in MI this year. Epic in scale and complexity, it has the price tag to match.

So stock up on fun stuff to do, and take care of seeing those movies before it all goes to hell. If it's bad enough of a collapse I envision movies being re-done as plays by campfires. Until we get back on our feet.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Job

So I found me a job. I'll be a contractor for a major University in Boston for three months, and I have a good chance of being picked up as a permanent employee after that.

The advantage of being a contractor is I get paid for overtime, which is nice. The drawback is I got no benefits, and I don't get any holiday or vacation time. I won't even go into the insane benefits package if I become a full time employee. I am getting more $, so I can easily pay for the benefits.

So now I got me a job, so I'm going to have to go back to the grind.

This has been a learning experience, for sure. It turns out between severance, saved vacation, and unemployment, I've been making more money than ever. All of it carefully stashed away for the end of the 3 month contract, in case I'm not picked up as a perm.

What's surprising to me is the lack of stress about the whole thing. I've lost some weight, been getting great sleep of night. Funny how bad the situation was at the last place. I can laugh at it now.