Kerosene heater stuff

My current kerosene heater has been acting poorly lately…its just age and wear taking its toll. On the other hand, I’ve had it almost 13 years so I figure its done its service admirably.

Anyway, since its the season for end-o-winter clearances I headed up to Lowes and Home Despot. HD had one kero heater left and was selling 5-gallon cans of fuel for about $29. A quick trip across the street (god bless competitive markets) to Lowes showed heaters and all related materials (except kero) 50% off. Wicks were $5 down from $10, hand pumps were $1 and the heater I saw was marked down to $64.50 from $130.

DynaGlo Models RMC-95-C4 and -C5..and I can see no difference between the two. both are 1.9 gallon tanks, 12 hour runtime, 23k btu…..

Sadly, because of environmental and other legislation and rules, the really razoo heaterslike Toyosun are no longer imported. (Or at least, not the really good models.) But most modern kero heaters are pretty much identical.

So, if youre looking to replace or upgrade, head down to Lowes and Home Despot while the sales are going on.

Refuelling concerns, politcal preparations and ,Rawles’ both had reposts of an after action report (AAR) from some hurricane refugees. It was pretty much what Ive been reading over the last six months…taking 30 hours to cover what normally took eight hours, closed gas stations, etc, etc. The disturbing part was about how when they were refueling their vehicle the people involved were close to being robbed for their fuel. The description mentions having to stand there with pistol in hand while fuelling and even the deterrent effect of that was sketchy.

As we all now, desperate people sometimes do things that defy good sense, and unarmed people trying to rob obviously armed people are one of those things.

So, I was wondering to myself, whats the solution. Its easy to say ‘shoot the first guy that comes too close after being warned’ but when push comes to shove I think there’ll still be reluctance to actually do that.

I figured there were a few options. In no particular order –

Refuel in an out-of-the-way area or in a way that obscures what youre doing from most observers. Perhaps when youre at ¼ tank you pull off an exit and drive a mile or two down the road and into a driveway or to the side of the road in some trees and refuel that way. Drawback is that from what I read, many exits were blocked off by the cops for various reasons. This means youre only choice is to refuel on the side of the interstate in full view of everyone else, who will no doubt be jealous of your forethought and wonder why you shouldn’t share with them since its unfair that you have fuel and they don’t.

A subterfuge would have been to have two people hold ponchos up to screen the activities of someone fuelling. To the casual observer it might appear to simply be someone taking a dump by the side of the road. Pretty sure this wouldn’t work though. Also require more people than might be available.

Neatest option would be some way to refuel covertly designed into the vehicle. In the case of a pickup truck, perhaps a secondary fuel port on the inside of the truck bed. Then a person could sit in the bed, have the fuel can below the line of sight and use a bulb-type pump to transfer fuel. Or simply run a large diameter length of tubing into the tank and have the free end routed over the gunwale and into the bed of the truck. Drape a sleeping bag or something over the side to conceal the tubing and it may simply appear that youre lounging in the back of your truck when in actuality your discretely pumping fuel into your tank below everyone elses line of sight.

Travelling at night might make a little more sense since you’d have cover of darkness to refuel and perhaps even less traffic to deal with. However, darkness brings its own problems too.

Finally, a dedicated non-lethal shotgun loaded with a blank or two and then some rubber buckshot. If things get ugly you fire a blank or two into the air or ground and if that doesn’t work you start bouncing rubber buck off the tarmac and into legs or just aim directly at the offending persons legs. If that doesn’t dissuade them, drop the gun and transition to pistol. The major drawback to this is, of course, that once you start pulling the trigger, even if it’s a blank or nonlethal round, someone might respond in kind.

A few people replied to the initial post suggesting that an overwhelming show of force would be the answer. Someone fuels while someone stands guard with their tweaked out M4gery. I think that some misanthropic opportunists might see this as a challenge and do the old ‘Whaddya gonna do? Shoot me? C’mon tough guy!’ routine and wind up escalating the situation unnecessarily. Tough call. In a pure nukes-have-destroyed-Chicago-NewYork-and-Washington-its-the-end-of-the-world scenario you probably could get away with simply warning someone to leave you alone and then shooting them if they press the issue. In a temporary disruption though…well, things will be back to normal in a week and it’ll catch up to you.

Of course, you could also just leave early and avoid a good portion of this. Or you could prepare to stay in place and avoid a good portion of this.

Really, theres no easy answer. Each possible solution has its own particular set of drawbacks.
Unless Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2008 or Al-Queda nukes Miami, I don’t think the Republicans will win the election. I usually try to keep the political content to a minimum here but I think the current administration has made too many people hostile to them and its going to show at the polls. Unless the GOP clones Reagan and nominate him, I think the 2008 election will give us a Democrat for president.

If I’m wrong, great. I’d be happy to be wrong. But if Im right, then we could be looking at more gun ban situations. Sure, a Democrat President hamstrung by a Republican House and Senate majority might result in the kind of political stalemate we can all benefit from but Im not willing to take that chance.

In preparation for 2008 I am advocating:

  • Magazines, magazines and more magazines (Those $2 HK91 mags may be a good investment) Esp. Glock, AR, AK and FAL mags.
  • Stripped AR lowers. The remaining parts are uncontrolled. 
  • .50 BMG guns and ammo if youre into that sort of thing
  • 7.62×39 ammo and any other caliber that a shut-off of the imported stuff would cause you to drastically shoot less. (8mm., 7.62×25, 5.45×39, etc.)
  • Powder and primers in case ATFE gets a wild hair to classify them as bombmaking gear and start requiring licenses. They already did this for some model rocketry motors.
  • If youre of the mind to get an FFL of some type (C&R, 06, etc) get it now.

I don’t think that the non-gun aspects of preparedness would be affected nearly as much as the gun aspect. Freezedried foods will still be available, as will fuel cans, MagLites, sleeping bags, water containers, etc, etc.

Weza from Freeplay

A step in the right direction, the foot-powered Freeplay Freecharge Weza portable energy source is the ideal way to keep your mobile device’s battery, and your waistline, healthier.

The idea is simple: pump the Weza’s pedal with your foot to get the generator spinning. Your stomping action provides enough wattage (up to 40watts) to charge an internal 12-volt battery. Ample charge to boost a car’s battery ,or keep your laptop running through any energy crisis. Brilliant.

Power outputs include 66” of jumper cable with negative and positive posts as well as a cigarette lighter output. A line of LEDs lets you know priming status at the touch of a button. Lazier souls will be relieved to know you can also charge Weza’s battery the old fashioned way, with an AC adapter.

The compact Weza weighs in at 20.5 lb and will be available next March to those with an extra $294.95 kicking around.
Must. Get. One.

Specs can be found at Freeplays website.
7 amp/hour battery but for my minimal needs of lighting and radios, it might be adequate.

bicycle, bags, food savings

I have a pretty decent mountain bike. Not the top of the line, but still pretty good…it’s a Gary Fisher that I paid about $500 for. For where I live and most of the errands that I need to run, it makes miles more economic sense than driving. Of course, for about five months out of the year its just too damn cold to ride it, but the rest of the time…

As Im sure you can imagine, the mountain bike has a few bonuses going for it as well, once you factor in the preparedness angle. I can avoid traffic jams and roadblocks, weave down alleys, sidewalks and between parked/stalled vehicles, requires no fuel, is quiet, covers a fair amount of distance, can handle logging roads and even foottrails in the sticks, and can carry an adequate amount of gear for immediate and short-term needs. (Esp. if I wear a backpack.)

Going back to the current apocalyptic paradigm of Katrina, anyone with a decent mountain bike, a map, a backpack, and 24 hours notice could have put some major distance between themselves and the worst-flooded areas. I remember seeing footage on 9/11/01 of people having to hoof it out of NYC. That can be a long walk in business attire. Even one of those funky ‘foldup/briefcase’ bicycles would have been several orders of magnitude better than walking…esp. if you didn’t know if things were going to get worse and needed to de-ass the area in a hurry. And, yes, I could also do all those same things, and do them faster, with a KLR650 or other motorcycle but, sadly, my budget can’t handle that right now.

I’ve been thinking about having the bike stripped down to the frame and having the frame powdercoated to give it an essentially impervious and protective finish…a nice olive green color with a matte finish. Although, I suppose, in a pinch I could just spraypaint the whole thing if I had to.

One of the things I need to do is pick up some maintenance manuals and tools and put together a bicycle repair/maintenance kit. Things like spare spokes, tubes, chain, links, cables, guides, etc, etc, as well as all the requisite tools like patch kits, pump, spoke tools, allen wrenches, screwdrivers, chainbreaker, etc, etc. Larger things like spare seat stems and wheels would, of course, have to go in the bunker.

I need to get a good pouch/bag to carry this gear. The requirements are that the pouch/bag be subdued color, immensely durable, versatile, capable of being carried independent of the bicycle (carry strap), affixed to the bicycle, and have the ability to be integrated (MOLLE, PALS, ALICE, etc) into a larger bag.
Interestingly, Im looking for a bag for my support gear for my CZ as well. I need a bag that meets the same criteria as above. I need to carry spare ammo, magazines, cleaning gear, scope tools, screwdrivers, range cards, spare sling and swivels, maybe a set of binoculars, etc, etc. Sort of a grab-n-go bag for my CZ550. And, like the bag mentioned above, it should be capable of being carried on its own through use of a sling or strap and should also be able to be integrated into a larger bag through the use of standard attachment methods/points.

A standard SAW ammo pouch comes close to what Im looking for and with a few minor modifications might work well, but I need to shop around a bit…hit the usual gearqueer sites like Kifaru, Maxpedition, etc, etc.
Speaking of my CZ, now that I have the lovely 8# keg o’ Varget to use I can accelerate my work on developing an ideal load for my .308. I’ve got some Sierra MatchKings to try out and also will be getting some Lapua .308 brass to try as well. I want to find a load that shoots well and then crank out about a thousand rounds of it to stock away. Then comes the fun part – calculating ballistics with things like time of flight, remaining energy, bullet drop, wind drifts, etc. at various ranges and making range cards. According to my software, assuming a target 6″ in diameter (about the size of someones face), if I sight in at 129 yards I can hold dead on out to 270 yards and hit within that 6″ target zone without having to worry about holdovers. Assuming my target zone is a 10″ circle (about a torso/chest size) I can sight in at 154 yards and hit within my target zone out to 330 yards.
What brings the good Commander Zero joy? Saving money and stocking his freezer..and if I can do each of those at the same time, all the better.

Case in point: ground beef. My local Albertson’s is only three blocks from my workplace, so each day around lunchtime I trot over and scope out the meat counter. Stuff that has hit (or is about to hit) its ‘use by’ date is put in a bin way at the end of the counter and marked down. Todays prize: 80/20 ground beef that was normally $2.99 a pound is in 1~2# packages at $1.69 per pound that’s about 44% off. Put another way, the $8.79 I spent to get 5.2 pounds of meat would normally have only gotten me 2.94 pounds of meat. Its like getting two-and-a-quarter pounds of meat for free. Darn near half price! Pays to shop smart, people! (They also had a few pork loin roasts and some angus beef marked down but I couldn’t really see them being as versatile as regular ground beef. However, on those occasions when they have a beef roast marked down, I try to get those since they are good for sandwiches all week.)

1/3 goes into the freezer for immediate use and the remaining 2/3 goes for the cryo-nap in my deep freeze downstairs (after being vacuum sealed, naturally).

There is no reason for anyone in this country to be hungry. If you can come up with $5 a day I can feed you until you bust. Last night I made shrimp fried rice and the cost was about…mmm…twentyfive cents for enough rice for two people…another thirty cents for three eggs..about twenty cents for one green onion…soy sauce was free since it was a packet from a Chinese take out…three bucks for some cooked shrimp (or I could use some of the even cheaper remaindered skinless chicken breast or steak and bring this in for even less)…so its about a $4 dinner, in terms of actual ingredients. That’s for two people, mind you…so that’s really $2/person. Still leaves me three bucks to feed you oatmeal, scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast and maybe some soup for lunch.

An interesting side note was that when I was cooking last night I had to restock the rice container that was on the kitchen counter. I got on the footstool, opened a cabinet and pulled down a white six-gallon bucket. Set it on the counter, unscrewed the GammaSeal lid and beheld bazillions of tiny grains of rice…all nice and safe, clean and dry, secured from rodent and insect problems, and when I scooped out a cup of the stuff it barely made a dent in the huge quantity that was there. Mmmmm…that’s security. I love that smug, satisified feeling of ‘Oh yeah, this was a good idea’.

There arent many people who enjoy a good apocalyptic fiction (as opposed to apocalyptic non-fiction, I guess) book as much as I. So, when I heard Stephen King had a book out (Cell) about zombies I figured Id give it a shot. Now, theres spoilage ahead but I dont think you’ll care because Im advocating you save yourself $18 and give this thing a pass.

Let us be warned: There be spoilage ahead

arfcom survival forum

Yup, got a bit weary of the fundamental and the judgemental over at the Cheap Rodent forum so I signed up at arfcom’s forum. Still read over at the other place, but after reading pretty much every post at arfcom I think I like them a bit better. Need to just lurk for a bit to see what sense of community they have though.

For the interested:

Egg fried rice experiment

Happiness is finding food storage that you like enough to eat even when there arent hordes of zombies roaming the streets.

Tried making egg fried rice this evening and to my surprise it came out pretty darn good. I was surprised because the ingredients were pretty unimpressive.

1 cup cooked rice
couple tablespoons cooking oil
green onion, sliced
three eggs

Beat three eggs lightly, add a pinch of salt and a little bit of the green onions and then beat some more.
Heat oil in wok and add eggs, scrambling and cooking until theyre about half done
Add rice and mix really really well
Cook with frequent stirring until eggs are dry, rice is thoroughly coated. Add remaining onions and cook another minute or two.

Its good by itself with some soy cauce. Where it really shines is as a base for adding whatever is handy like chicken or othermeats and whatever vegetables (or sprouts) you have laying about.

The original recipe calls for some green peas as well but I dont care for green peas so I omitted them. However, Mountain House makes freezedried (FD) green peas. The dehydrated eggs, rice and cooking oil can all be stored longterm and dehydrated or FD onions could be substituted for the green onions.

Good meal, filling, hearty, requires minimal prep and the cost is less than $1 for a large serving.