Entertainment, GB, Zero moments

One EOTWAWKI series down (“Jericho”), one to go. The latest offering being readied for the masses is ‘K-Ville’. A series about police during/after Hurricane Katrina. Now, lets think about that for a minute. I have read almost nothing positive about the police, native or imported, during the aftermath of Katrina. We’ve all seen the footage of them dogpiling some little old lady to take her pistol away from her….we want a series about these people? Im betting Nagin and the othe New Orleans politicos are pushing hard for this one to a) take some heat off them and b) rewrite history. Still…I’ll probably watch it until the pro-cop message gets to be too much.
Speaking of fiction, I would be terribly neglectful if I did not mention that ‘I Am Legend’ is coming up later this year. You saw it when it was called “The Omega Man” and maybe even before that when it was called “The Last Man On Earth” (starring the terribly underappreciated and very interesting Vincent price). The premise is like many zombie flicks – everyone else is infected with a disease that makes them dangerous except for a few solitary surviviors fighting off the hordes. In this case the danger isn’t flesheating undead but rather a form of vampirism (largely ignored in TLMOE but played at a slightly different angle in TOM). Its worth noting that TLMOE was more faithful to the book (titled “I Am Legend”) with its less-than-happy ending. TOM was slightly more upbeat but was full of insanely pointless Christ imagery. (You can find FAQ’s about all that somewhere, Im sure.)

Ive seen some production stills from the new IAL movie and it looks interesting…Will Smith wandering deserted streets with an M4 hanging off his shoulder, that sort of thing.

In a (very) slightly related vein, the new Resident Evil movie is also forthcoming with a slight Mad Max flavor to it. I need no excuse to watch Milla Jovovich running around killing things. If the apocalyptic wastelands are going to have babes like her running around I will personally push the button that starts World War III.

As I think about it, there hasn’t been a lot of apocalyptic themed entertainment since the end of the Cold War. In fact, I will suggest that the recent resurgence of zombie movies is a direct result. Without the Cold War we cant have an apocalypse from Russian nukes so we replace bayonet-thrusting Russian troops with flesh-eating undead.

Lets see, I think the last really good movie along these lines was probably Red Dawn (anyone here not have a copy of this???) and that was 20 years ago.

There have been a few movies that were probably more ‘realistic’ and were, in my opinion, designed as a scare tactic for nuclear disarmament. The foremost would be the hyper-depressing ‘Threads’…a movie so depressing and fatalistic that, as I understand it, it was shelved for a number of years in the UK. (Its premise was based on war games projecting the outcome and aftermath of a large nuclear exchange). ‘The Day After’ was a fatalistic US movie on the aftermath of a nukefest. One scene that stands out in my memory is the kid breaking into someones house to steal an empty jar of peanut butter so he could try to scrape the remaining bits of PB out of it…I cant recall but I believe the homeowner killed him over it. Heady stuff.

The premise of life after an apocalyptic event is full of potential for storylines and arcs that should keep a series from getting stale. I thought ‘Jericho’ was doing fairly well in that regard. I’d read people saying that there was too much drama and interpersonal storylines. But, that’s life….it isn’t going to be running gun battles against looters all the time youre still going to have to deal with people and how they react to things.

One more mention of a book – “Among Madmen” was a pulp novel that I found in a used bookstore. The premise is very similar to ’28 Days’. People spontaneously become rage-fuelled killing machines with no warning. Society grinds to a halt and everyone hunkers down as people guard against their neighbors or outsiders suddenly going berserk and killing everyone they can. The story is told from the perspective of a police chief in a small upstate NY town who has to try and keep his town safe from the berserkers and from the usual post-apocalyptic cast of bad guys.

Onto other matters……..

Group Buy on the #10 cans of Mountain House ends in a week. This’ll be the only order with MH for 2007 so if youre in hurricane country or otherwise living in an area with an elevated risk you may wanna hop on the train before it leaves the station. Also, if you don’t want the #10’s, I also have the ProPack pouches on hand for immediate delivery…theyre very nice for tucking into backpacks, buckets and truckboxes.

Minor the other day. Was at the shop minding my own business when I heard a loud noise from outside coupled with a bright flash of light. Transformer in the alley blew up. Power was knocked out to most of the block except my shop (long story but my shop is wired to a different power pole than everyone else on the block). Makes no difference to me, but it made a difference to my neighbors who have a cabinet manufacturing facility in what used to be an underground garage. A garage with one stairwell in, no windows and no emergency lighting. I always have a big MagLite here at the shop so I grabbed that and my Bag O’ Tricks and headed next door to see if they needed help. Went downstairs and there were only a few people there but they needed to turn off the saws and planers for when the power came on and the only flashlight available was a remarkably cheesey 12v worklight with a 90% dead battery. Passed out a few lightsticks from my bag, retrieved my Streamlight LED from the main pocket of my bag and handed it to the gal in charge, and went with them to provide illumination so they could turn off the machines. Since these people are also my landlord my being prepared pays off in lots of goodwill dividends. Power company had the transformer fixed an hour later. I returned to the bunker to replenish my supply of lightsticks and pat myself on the back. Moral of the story? Be prepared.

Were it something larger however…say, a citywide powerfailure after dark, I probably would have been a bit less charitable. I’d have grabbed my gear, locked things up, grabbed my Glock and head home.

IOR scope report

After long protracted deliberation I finally ordered the scope for my beloved CZ550. Originally, the CZ uses a 19mm dovetail which means regular rings dont work – you gotta have rings that clamp onto the base. This limited my choices somewhat. Fortunately, I found a place that manufactures a picatinny rail that goes onto my CZ. Once thats in place I can use any rings I want. Since the base adds a bit of height I figured I might as well go with a scope with a large objective. So…what’d I get? Well, had been wanting the IOR 2-10×42 with illumintaed reticle. But…I have a 3-9x Leupold and I always leave it turned up to 9x anyway…plus, a non-variable means less to worry about…plus I dont see myself shooting anything less than a hundred yards so a fixed power shouldnt be an issue. Thus, I got this. The 10×56 w/ ulluminated reticle. Stuffed it into a set of Warne rings and headed to the range.

Now, the reason I wanted a different scope was because even though my simple Leupold VX-II gave me great results and accuracy, I wanted something with a rangefinding reticle. The reticle used in this IOR scope really appealed to me. Also, everything I have read about these IOR scopes has been uniformly positive. They are heavy, steel, waterproof and built like a tank…and thats what Im looking for – durability. David Fortier reviews these things from time to time and I enjoy reading his stuff (a closet LMI, I suspect).

Get the whole thing set up, load some ammo and of to the range. I had consulted my computer and for the ballistics I was plannong on (168 gr. AMax @2700 fps) I’d have to be 2.13″ high at 100 to get a zero of 200. So…start shooting at 50 yards. Low. Dial it up some. Little more. Dead on at 50. Okay, back it off to 100. Fire four shots, making adjustments all the way. Ok, looks like about 2.13″ to me.

Tromp down to the 200 yard and set up a target dot. Head back, put three rounds in the magazine and fire away. Elevation was dead on. Seriously dead on.

How perfect was that? My scope is 1/4 MOA clicks so I figured one click to the left should give me 1/2″ @ 200 yds. Did that, zeroed the turrets and started playing.

Having no experience with mil ranging I was taking time to do math in my head. Theres a circular steel plate hanging at 300 yards. I bracketed it as being approx. 1.5 mils. At 300 yards 1 mil = 10.8″ (3.6″x3) so 1.5 mils should be about 16″ (okay, 16.2″). Walked downrange with a tape measure. Actual size was 15″. Close enough. Empty oxygen tanks hanging from the posts measued approx. 1 mil ..should be about 10.8″…wander downrange and, lo and behold, theyre 10″. Cool!

The lines on the scope are .1 mil thick and the center of the crosshairs is actually a dot (not a solid + as shown on IOR’s website). That dot is also .1 mil thick so it winds up being approx. a 1MOA dot (ok, 1.2 really).

So…15″ steel plate. 300 yards. Computer says my bullet will drop 9″ from 200 to 300 yards. That should be approx. 3 clicks at 1/4 MOA per click. (At 300 yrds 1/4 MOA is going to be 2.7″ so three clicks should give me about 8.1″.) Clicked away, aimed for the bottom 1/3 of the plate and spanked it. Very very cool. After that it was a clickfest busting rocks and assorted scrap at the edge of the 300 yard range.

So, thus far I am happy with this scope. It also has the illuminated reticle which glows a nice red color for those annoying lowlight or even more annoying black-crosshairs-on-black-target scenarios.

Out the door price was $700, btw. Scope came with a sunshade and a pocket cardboard-slide mil/yard calculator. Handy. Me, Im just practicing my base 3.6 math.


CostCo is at it again. Remember the Bucket O’ Survival Food that wound up having to be re-labelled because it was considered misleading to call it an xxx day supply? (By the by, CostCo has these things at $99 and I’ll bet they ain’t gonna sell many of ’em.) Well, same outfit, for a hundred bucks, gives you a bucket full of Made-In-China ‘survival gear’…also now at CostCo. It contains, among other things, a Sterno-type stove, a halfway decent waterbottle/purifer, a windup radio/light combo and of course some of the fabulous starvation-grade food pouches that made thei first preparedness offering so memorable.

I’m not kidding, I stood there and went through the bucket looking at all that crap. Factor in the Made-In-China angle and you have some seriously overpriced crap. However, I have to be fair…if I were trapped on the roof of a building by Hurricane Katrina and all I had was this bucket o’ junk I would probably be glad I had it. HOWEVER..for the same hundred bucks I could put together a far more superior system that covered more needs.

Still, the mere fact that products like these are appearing in the mainstream shopping venues is encouraging.


Well, its official – ‘Jericho’ is cancelled.

Im disappointed but the problem wasnt the show, the problem was the networks absurd way of showoing it – showing half the season and then taking ‘hiatus’ for a few weeks and then showing the rest of the season. What corporate retard thought that was a great way to keep viewers?

So…my greatest fear is that this will encourage people who fancy themselves as having some sort of talent to start writing and posting fiction on the various boards.

bases and bullets

Finally found a place that has a picatinny rail for my CZ550, one-piece, steel in stock and ready to ship. Interestingly they also make Rem. bases with stripper clip guides…just the thing for a Scout-type conversion. I figure the height of the rail, on top of the existing CZ receiver flats should give me enough height that a pair of med. (or even low) rings should clear a 56mm IOR 10×56 scope.
And…..ten thousand 9mm 115 gr. FMJ will be here tomorrow for me and the LMI to reload. $46/m delivered. And Im thinking 10m might actually not be enough……..

Thats alot of ammo…..

Tried to order in some bulk 55 gr. FMJ bullets for a customer today. Remington? Out ofstock. Win? Outta stock. Hornady? Nope.

And then I read this. Realize that listing is an ‘if all options are exercised’ type of thing. Great googly moogly thats alot of ammo. And dontcha think the boys at Olin are gonna crank up the SCAMP lines or whatever their using now and devote as much of their production capacity as possible to filling that contract? (Not to be confused with the SCAMP project from Colt).On the bright side, maybe they’ll run off a few extra million for ‘out the door’ sales to distributors. Summary: possible diversion of production resources may impact availability for civillian consumers.

Emergency Plan A

Looters in police, military and Red Cross outfits caught in Kansas. (No word if Mayor Anderson will hang ’em at the courthouse. [Jericho reference])

Really, you cant trust anybody in that sort of situation. We’ve all seen the video of the New Orleans cops helping themselves to stuff at WalMart and the like during Katrina.

On the other hand, theres a certain…moral flexibility…on our side of the fence, too. I was rereading some golden age survival book the other night (“Checklist For Survival”, Tony Lesce, Desert Pub. 1980) and found two recommended courses of action appropriately labelled “Emergency Plan A” and “Emergency Plan B”. “A” is where you know something bad is imminent and you rush out and start buying stuff on credit cards which you have no intention of paying back, and writing checks fully expecting your bank to be a glowing heap of slag within a few days. Never mind that this only works if no one else knows whats about to happen, because if they did I can guarantee you they arent gonna be taking checks and probably wont be taking plastic either. Plan “B” assumes you have a bit more notice…maybe several months. It advocates getting a menial job in a supermarket, getting the graveyard shift, and embezzling as much food as you can or, if things go really bad really fast, simply backing your truck up to the loading doors and ‘pillaging’ the place.

Im the first person to realize theres a difference between ‘stockpiling’ and ‘hoarding’. Theres also a difference between ‘scrounging’ and ‘looting’. Scrounging and looting both involve taking things that arent yours. Scrounging, I think, involves taking for an immediate and urgent need without profit or gain (other than alleviating the urgent need). Looting onthe other hand is ‘gimme’. Both are, morally, wrong but one id more forgivable…at least to me.

I suppose that, in a dire situation, any of us would steal what we had to, regardless of consequence, in order to keep ourselves or loved ones safe. However, thats a reason not an excuse. The whole reason I prepare is so I dont have to resort to things like that.

As an aside, I see this Lesce fella went on to do twenty more years of PaladinPress-type books, according to Amazon.com.

Prepare for weather, GB#5, CZ mags, wet weather gear, MRE chocolate developments

Nice spring day the other day, then, naturally, in the space of 24 hours, we go to rain and snow. Im riding my bike these days against $3/gallon gas costs, so a sudden 40 degree drop in temperature can make bike riding a bit cool. Am I worried? (By the way, as I type this its hailing the size of corn kernels out there…) Of course Im not worried…I reach into my bag and pull out my Cold Weather Module. Slip on a knit cap, wool trigger finger mitts and keep going. But that darn chill…hmmm…reach into the Bag O’ Tricks and pull out a Polarmax longsleeve tee and put it on over my regular tee and under my shirt and Im nice n’ toasty. Why? Because I know that in Montana the weather can change every five minutes and with this in mind, I prepared.

Metaphorically, the preceeding paragraph could be a good example of why we do the things we do. The weather can change in five minutes here and life in general can change for the ugly much, much faster…but, as Theodore Roosevelt opined ‘you never have trouble if you are prepared’. A good question is how far into the foreseeable do you go in your preparations before you hit tinfoil beanie country (and the poorhouse). Preparing for job loss? Ok. Preparing for blackout/hurricane? Always good. Preparing for nuclear bombing? A bit of a stretch but not out of the realm of possible. Preparing for alien invasion? Pass the Reynolds Wrap.
Reminder that the Mountain House #10 can group buy is up. By the individual can or case, your call. Ends June 6. This’ll be the only sale for 2007 on this stuff and the price will be going up next year.
My extra 10-rd mags for the CZ550 should be here any day now. From a tactical standpoint I think that if you need multiple 10-rd magazines for your bolt gun you may have bitten off a bit more than you can chew. I mean, after the first ten rounds either your target is no longer a problem, dug into the ground, or way behind cover and calling in air support. So why’d I get five more mags? Spares. If one breaks or gets lost I want to be able to carry on. I haven’t shot the CZ in a couple months but I have a happy little notebook here full of shot targets and I can say it’s the mot accurate factory boltgun I’ve ever shot and a very large part of that is due to its single set trigger. I would, however, like to give Savages AccuTrigger law enforcement package a shot. The girlfriend is still holding out for the Remington LTR, though.
The rain the other day got me thinking about my wet weather stuff. Of the military ponchos I like the US ones the least. Theyre very light, which is nice, but their waterproof-ness isn’t always what it could be. Quite simply the material isn’t really waterproof. If it gets wet enough water just seems to absorb into it and when you touch it you get wet. I’ve been much more pleased with the German rain ponchos in their clay/brown color. What I really like about them, other than their waterproofitude is that the snaps along the edges are double sided so you can snap a bunch of these things together to make various shelters… sources for the German ponchos are a bit hard to find but if you can find one that’s got no holes in it and doesn’t have the snaps torn out of the edges, grab it…theyre good gear. The Swiss alpenflage ponchos have been on the market for a while and theyre not really ponchos as much as they are rain capes. Still, a good value and cheap enough to have a bunch. The color leaves me a little cold…not a lot of reds in a Montana environment..even in the fall, but some people seem to like it.

GI poncho liners make almost no sense to me. You cant really wear them in conjunction with your poncho unless you cut a hole in it and if you lace it into your poncho to create a sleeping bag or blanket you’d be better served with a Thinsulate or Wiggys poncho liner that’s going to provide more warmth. (Before you say it, yes I am aware of the ‘Ranger Rick’ kit to convert your liner to work with your poncho) Kifaru has come out with their Woobie which I like the looks of a LOT but am thoroughly turned off at the unbelievable price. However, rolled up compact and stuffed into a daypack it would be excellent insurance for when youre out hunting or tromping around in the woods.

One product I have been very pleased with, and that I recommend, is the Outdoor Research Goretex boonie cap. I think they call it the Seattle Sombrero or some other stupid cutesy name. It is, however, a good product.. has an adjustable band for head size, Velcro to hold the brim of the hat up, removeable stampede strap and can be had in ‘forest/black’ but its really more olive than anything else. Its an excellent hat for wear when the big flakes are coming down and you want to keep that stuff off your shoulders and out of your face.

I haven’t tried the military wet/cold weather gear yet (ECWCS) simply because I just don’t have that kind of money. However, I do see it on people around town and once in a while you can find some on the surplus market at a reasonable price.

Another wet/cold goodie that I would never imagine doing without is a quality set of GoreTex socks/boot liners. These things turn any pair of shoes into a waterproof pair of shoes without turning the insides of your socks into a sweaty swamp. I usually wear a cotton sock, then the liner, and then a wool sock. With that rig I could wear sandals in the snow and be warm and dry. Theyre an excellent piece of gear. As I’ve learned, if your feet are dry and warm you can walk pretty much forever. Cold and wet feet, on the other hand, are miserable and a danger to your health.
Whaddya know! Long-life chocolate!

Fal/PTR question, Mugabe economics, MH #10 cans group buy, Food

The FAL is a fine gun, so why did I get rid of mine and get the two Hklones? This question came to the girlfriends email. She said I might want to post a response but I demurred, saying that anytime you get into the ‘gun-x vs. gun-y” argument it rapidly devolves into flamewars and ‘agree to disagree’-fests reminiscent of the 1980’s Atari vs. Commodore vs. IBM vs. Apple threads….except the computer kids mostly didn’t have automatic weapons.

Succinctly, the biggest reason, for me, was economics. Within parameters of what I wanted in a .308 semiauto the PTR’s came out on top…not because they were ‘better’ than the FAL but because they were economically more advantageous while still keeping the qualities I wanted in a .308.

The HK series has its problems – lack of a last-shot hold open jumps to mind. And the FAL has some sweet ergonomics… but, as I posted some time back, for the price of 100 FAL mags (used) I could (and did) buy 260 G3 magazines. Plus spare parts are, for the short term, dirt cheap. Example: I have four extra stock sets that cost less than $100 total.

And while I love the FAL, the best clone out there, the DSA, clocks in at around $1300+. The PTR, probably the best Hklone, dealers at less than a grand (barely).

Don’t think Im selling the Hklone short…its functioning has been flawless and its accuracy beats the FAL (with open sights). I probably trust it more than the FAL and confidence in your defensive arms is a huge thing. Huge. Force multiplier huge.

So….I think both are great guns and youre well served by either. If youre on a budget the PTR might be the better value.
Article on the news about Zimbabwe raising the price of corn around 700% to fund subsidies to farmers to encourage them to…grow more corn.

I am officially starting the countdown clock on Mugabe. The level of dissatisfaction is growing down there and unless theres some amazing wagon-circling, Bobby Mugabe is headed for exile or assassination. Most likely exile…some nation will buy him out to retire to Saudi Arabia or something. Bloodless coups seem the preferred thing these days. Probably South Africa will make a deal in order to ensure some regional stability. Last thing they want it a refugee problem at their border, they can barely hold their own act together.

Why is this blogworthy? Hyperinflation examples in contemporary times aren’t too frequent. Argentina comes to mind. Argentina is far more advanced than Zimbabwe and in Africa economic chaos or the complete lack of economic policy at all seems to be the norm. But its interesting to see the effects… dissatisfaction as the poor get squeezed, the affluent start getting their parachutes ready, the police.military get the royal treatment to keep them loyal, popular support wavers, protests erupt, get crushed, erupt again, and in the end a black Mercedes makes a nighttime run to the airport as rebel factions loot the palace. Seen it before, see it again. These things happen the same whether its third world Africa or imperial Germany…although Germany made some poor leadership choices in hopes of getting out of their economic morass.

There are a few blogs out there from Zimbabwe and they talk about rolling blackouts, lack of fuel, lack of water, no public transportation, commercial deliveries of goods being disrupted, etc, etc. Its positively…New Orleansian.

Recent increases in fuel and food prices are not foreshadowing of some epic inflation ( or hyperinflation) episode in this country, in my completely uninformed opinion. However, they do make me think about economics in general and how it relates to me and the girlfriends security. (By security I mean our ability to be fed, warm, clothed and sheltered…physical security hasn’t been an issue for us since we learned which end of a barrel the bullet comes out of.) I know little about economics beyond ‘don’t pay more than you have to’ and ‘its gonna cost more later’. I am, of course, willing to learn more.
Speaking of future security, I have officially gotten the page up for Group Buy #5. This is the Mountain House #10 cans available as singles and cases, instead of just cases. So…if you want one can of Lasagne, one of Beef Stew, one of breakfast food and one of Chicken and Rice now is the time.

If you’re unsure what your tastes run to, order up a ProPack in the flavor you want (top right frame of the website). I recommend the Spaghetti, Lasagne, Teriyakis, Chicken w/ Rice, and Spicy Chicken. I’ve heard good things about the Chicken ala King as well. Its also worth noting that the ‘base’ foods (the vegetables, and FD meats) are an excellent choice if you’ve got a 100# drum of rice and want something to add to it to make a more interesting meal. Heck, 100# beans, 100# rice, a case of FD corn, peas, green beans, and chicken and you can make some good food sometime between now and 2030.

Prices on the MH will be going up before the end of the year. Bank on it. Also, one good hurricane or earthquake and expect product availabilities to shift hard and fast. Prepare and prevail.

Speaking of long-term storage food. Remember the bucket o’ ‘survival food’ that CostCo was selling? Its reduced to $99.99 and I bet its still not going to have too many takers. When Hurrican Katrina, LA Riots, and tsunamis aren’t on the news no one gives any thought to being prepared. Im the opposite….when things are going well I think ‘This is gonna come to a screeching halt annnnnny second now….’

Wait…here it comes: Honeybee die-off threatens food supply