Closing of the year

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

First, Im all out of the #1120 Pelican cases. They were a good deal and they shall not come this way again. However, still got plenty of the #1010 cases..they’ll fit cell phones, MP3 palyers, most small digital cameras, emergency spare parts kits for guns, backpack stove parts, etc, etc. Theyre $12.50 each prepaid postage right to your bunker. When they gone, they gone.

Cool! Gimme one!


Right now probably the biggest and most active topic on the forums are the ‘predictions for 2009′ threads. If I had any precognitive ability whatsoever I’d be sitting on the porch of my 1500-acre parcel shooting icicles off of trees with a AI AW sniper gun. However, since I don’t have any precognitive abilities that will allow me to win Powerball, break the bank in Vegas, shut down the race track and nail Angelina Jolie after an all-night strip poker game anything I predict will be worthless.

All Im willing to say is that, for almost everyone, 2008 was quite the year. I think 2009 will be more of the same with the added thrill of the Carter II administration making it worse. It is, in my humble and thoroughly discredited opinion, time to circle the wagons and hold onto every cent you have. It will get worse before it gets better. And though it will indeed get better, you gotta make it through the bad parts first.

Regardless, depsite my own feelings of doom and gloom regarding the next spin around the sun, I hope that everyone has a safe, warm, well-fed, financially-secure 2009.

Surplus Pelicans

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I likes me Pelican cases. Crushproof, waterproof, airtight and always up for taking some rough usage….all the qualities I look for in a gal right there. One of my vendors was closing out some gen-u-ine Pelican cases that had been contract-made for Nikon. Turns out theyre Pelican cases with Nikon stickers on ‘em. Oh they still say Pelican on ‘em, it’s just an annoying yellow sticker next to the Pelican logo. Fortunately, that sticker peels right off. Best part, the #1120 cases are my favorite olive drab..I mean..sage…er…whatever the new term is these days.

Picked up a few and I have some extras for those that are interested. Theres two sizes:

The 1120 which will fit a G19 and a couple mags, most snubbie .38/.357’s, and would make an uber-sweet first aid kit container.

The 1010 which will hold a cellphone, iPod Nano, rifle/pistol spare parts, and many small digital cameras. Very handy.

The 1120 has a foam insert that was pre-cut for whatever Nikon was selling. Digital camera, Im guessing. You can buy replacement foam or just throw the foam away and maximize your usable space. Color is the lovely OD/sage. Takes a beating and keeps on …well..something, I guess that rhymes with beating.

The 1010 is solid black, non-transparent, has a lanyard, comes with a foam insert that is uncut and may be cut to accomodate whatever you want.

#1010 $12.50 postage paid.

#1120 $22.00 plus whatever shipping is. Weight is two pounds so cheapest is USPS from zip 59801…anywhere between $4.80-$8.25.

Both types of cases are brand new, never used. Just overruns, Im guessing. Only have about a dozen of each so when theyre gone, theyre gone. Excellent containers for storing stuff that absoultely must be protected. Ideal for critical electronic gear like GPS, camera and radios. Email if youre interested:

Pictures? Ok:

Tuna sale, economic ramblings

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Got a chance to stock up on tuna today. The local Albertson’s had the StarKist brand pouches of tuna marked down to a buck each. However, there was also a stack of manufacturers coupons there that were ‘$1.50 off 3’. So that winds up coming out to $0,50 per pouch. Well…at that price wouldn’t you pick up a couple dozen too? (Those coupons expire 9/2009 so a stack of ‘em are coming home with me also.)

It’s weird…finding little scores like that seem like huge triumphs to me these days. Like Im getting away with something or just discovered plutonium by accident. I become immensely pleased with myself. However, as Poor Richard would say, a penny saved is a penny earned. Any money that isn’t being spent on food, fuel or other goods is more money we have to set back against whatever may come.

When I was a kid I never gave a thought to where the food, heat and shelter in my life came from. What kid does? We open the fridge and theres a carton of milk, we turn on the shower and we get hot water, we go to bed and we have clean sheets. We never really grasp, as a kid, that every one of these things came from our mom or dad (or both) getting up every morning and slogging to work. It wasn’t until years later that that lesson dawned on me.

Nowadays, money is right up there with fuel, food and ammo. It’s a ward..a charm..a talisman..a protection… against the uncertain future. The more you have the greater your insulation from dire circumstances. And while there may be times when money won’t do much for a person (like when the store shelves are bare) money is quite easily converted into goods (when those goods are available). So anytime I can get tuna for 1/3 the price…that’s just as good as getting an extra 5 miles per gallon, or hitting three deer with one bullet. Its an economy of resources that means what I have will go further…or that I can keep more resources in reserve. is our friend. And store club savings, coupons, and manufacturers rebates are our friends also. (As an aside, I’ve encountered people who actually think theres a stigma attached to using coupons. :::shrug::: Theres a greater stigma attached to using food stamps and food banks, honey. Use the one so you won’t have to use the other.)


I don’t want to sound like a broken record, nor do I want to sound like an “I told you so”, but for the last several years now I’ve figured that the most likely Very Bad Thing that would happen would be economic. Sure there was a tie for first place with ‘nuclear terrorism’ but for the last several years economic disaster has been my first choice for what the most likely next catastrophic event would come as.

There are, to be sure, plenty of folks out there that say that this isn’t really as bad as every one makes it out to be. That this is a normal cyclical economic change and that it’ll swing back to the ‘good’ side of the meter in short order. Maybe. I probably tend to read the articles saying we’re all going to be eating our pets by Christmas more closely than I read the ones saying ‘sit tight, it’ll be back to normal in six months’.

I know very little about economics. I try to familiarize myself with basic ideas and theories but I am not nearly as conversant in the field as I should be. (I am trying, though.) However, I do know about consequences and results. For me, one of the interesting things about preparedness is how it changes your way of thinking. Preparedness makes you look at the possible outcomes of an action or event and to continue looking past those to the next generation of consequences. Its become second nature for me now.

So…anyone else would see automakers not getting their bailout and then predict that there’ll be higher unemployment. And that’s usually where their thinking slows down or moves on to other things. I see it as higher unemployment…and then an increase in demand for public services, those services being overburdened, taxes going up thereby forcing some businesses to cut back thus increasing the problem, crime rates going up as people with nothing to lose start to take ‘whats due them’, and finally a vocal group of these people getting a political solution that makes things even worse. All the while the economic figures, which may actually not be as bad as they seem at first blush, spook more people into circling their wagons…buying slows down, retailers suffer, more people are out of work, the .gov tries some Third-world tactics to get the economy moving again (stimulus checks, anyone?) The rest of the world follows our economy and things get lean everywhere else…and some of those economies, my friends, are in countries that are already unstable to begin with. And this sort of thing isn’t just on the US automakers…it can come from any market segment getting wiped out. However, that doesn’t mean I think the .gov needs to jump in to start getting into the [auto/financial/mortgage] industry. Let ‘em go broke. Things will be rough for a while but when the dust clears the surviving corporations and industries will be stronger. Natural selection and all that.

Or, quite possibly, Im overreacting and things really are just doing part of the give-take of a normal economic cycle. I hope that’s the case. I hope that people start feeling secure in their future and start spending money like drunken Democrats. I’m in the retail business, after all…my best days are when someone comes in with pockets full of cash and a head full of impulse and spontaneity. I want people to feel that theres no problem spending money because there’ll always be more. Its good for my business. Heck, all the stored food and gear we hold against bad times will keep for a long time so it won’t be like I wasted any money if things suddenly turn into a bustling vibrant recovery. But given the simple binary choice of ‘are things going to get worse or better in the near future’ I want to say that I feel they are going to get worse and not get better for some time. I’d like to be wrong, I really would. I have friends and family who are suffering now and will suffer worse as the economy runs its course. I don’t want to see them suffer and I certainly don’t want them to find themselves in the position of too many people these days – getting foreclosed on, eating .gov cheese and feeling helpless. But I do think that its going to get worse before it gets better. New administration or no….I think things are at a point where there are no ‘good’ solutions and only lesser degree of bad ones.

Nothing you or I can do about it. All we can do is take steps to prepare against it. Writing letters to politicians won’t, I think, make a difference nor will standing around pointing fingers. While the captain and crew are re-arranging the deck chairs I plan on quietly loading my gear into the lifeboat and start paddling away before getting sucked under by the whirlpool.

A few guns that need homes

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

A friend of mine passed away recently and I wound up with his pile o’ guns. We had some very dissimilar tastes in guns. I figured that when push comes to shove you wanna go with something in a common caliber thats relatively easy to find mags and parts for and is designed for hard use. He chose a more…esoteric..path. Anyway, although he did have a couple winners that I’m keeping for myself I do have a couple long guns to find a home for. If anyone is interested:

AG42b Ljungmann, 6.5×55, 10-shot semiatuo. Might even be California legal. Comes with: bayonet and scabbard, correct military sling, two leather ammo bandoleers, small spare parts kit/toolroll, bunch of stripper clips, several boxes of genuine Swede ball ammo that’ll shoot through a battleship.  $900

JC Higgns 45 in .35 Remington. Let’s not get wierd here, its a Marlin 336 made for JC Higgins brand. Pre-crossbolt safety. Good shape.  $250

Glenfield 60 (another Marlin re-brand…its a Marlin 60) .22 LR. $125

Mas 49/56 It’s French. And, oddly, some folks like to tinker with them. $275

Springfield 1903 sporter in 6.5-06 comes with dies and if youre willing to pay a little extra, a pile of ammo. $375

The .22 and the 1903 have El Cheap ™ scopes on them so Im not even considering them scoped.  Interested folks can email me. Buyer pays shipping and whatever FFL fees your dealer charges.

Article – Mormons vs. economy, Ironkey

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

I mentioned earlier that there are some folks out there that just didnt get the memo. On the other side of the coin, there are those who not only got the memo but also take it to heart. Case in point for today, those fun loving Mormons.

Mormons well-served by self-reliance in hard times

Mormons may be among the country’s best prepared to weather the current economic hard times. Since the Great Depression, church leaders have preached a doctrine of self-reliance and selflessness, calling on members to plan for their own future while tending to the needs of others.

“It’s a critical component of our theology,” said Bishop David Burton, a senior church administrator who oversees the faith’s worldwide welfare and humanitarian services programs.

Members are encouraged to squirrel away a few months’ worth of living expenses and stock a one-year supply of emergency food. Church handouts, classes and a Web site describe how to prepare, store and cook with emergency food supplies so nothing goes to waste.

Although there is obviously a religious component involved in this, I’ve never been ‘preached to’ or otherwise fed any religious dogma in my experiences at the Mormon cannery although they do start of each session with a fairly generic prayer that would pretty much fit into just about any flavor of Christianity. Then again, Im open-minded enough to just ignore the religious parts and focus on what needs to be done rather than stand around arguing some sort of theological minutia. Seriously, if having to listen to five minutes worth of religion gets me a couple hours of access to a dry-pack cannery…well, its five minutes well spent in my opinion.

Anyway, my point is that this is an excellent example of group cohesiveness. You have a demographic that has set up, organized, operates and perpetuates it’s own internal welfare and preparedness system. Pretty cool. I often wish that they had some sort of affiliate or junior membership…something that gets you all the benefits (or some of them anyway) without having to drink the Koolaid. You know, like joining triple A….send in a few bucks, ignore the literature they send but still get the roadside service.


The gift-giving part of the season is done…I did pretty well. I got a really cool watch, a Warcraft t-shirt, and a few stocking stuffers. The missus got something that I had never seen before but was immediately captivated by: Ironkey

This baby has a browser built into it so when you surf it leaves no trail on the computer youre using. Anyone tampers with the USB drive case body – it fries itself. Ten failed password attempts? It fries itself. The security applications of this sort of thing seems readily apparent. I may need to get one of these for myself.

The Festivus post

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Seasons greetings as theologically appropriate. Best wishes for a quiet, uneventful, secure 2009. But I’m not holding my breath……..


As always at this time of year, theres a few people who didnt get the memo: Two men die in bitter cold. Other than having the misfortune of being dead, what did these two poor souls have in common? Lets read the article for the answer:

One of the deputies returned to the area this morning and found Bobby Lewin’s body in a field northeast of his SUV. … Sheriff’s officials say Donald Blum of Monticello was found conscious outside his car after he apparently started to walk to town.

Both guys left the vehicle and started hoofing it. Both died, probably quite badly, after they left their vehicles. The moral is: be prepared and stay with the vehicle. Even a flipped over car is more protection from the elements than trudging through knee-deep snow hoping that some car will come along. It won’t. Know why? ‘Cause if its bad enough that it forced you into a ditch, its bad enough that everyone else is probably staying home. Buy a Rubbermaid tote, an old duffelbag, a huge ammo can or even just a heavy-duty cardboard box and put in a sleeping bag, some blankets, flashlights, batteries, candles, matches and that sorta thing. Secure the whole thing so it wont fall apart and shove it in the vehicle where you can get to it and leave it there. Personally, I’ve never actually frozen to death but I can imagine that its a very unpleasant experience…esp. the part where you realize youre about to actually die and that you brought it on yourself. Epic fail. Stay with the vehicle. Set it on fire if you have to, but stay with the vehicle.


What would Commander Zero like for Christmas this year? Theres a lovely ‘77 Land Cruiser thats completely restored and tweaked out at one of the local used car dealers. That’d be nice. I have a box of fifty AR mags sitting here at my feet that I still have to pay for. Be nice to have those too. County Comm has all sortsa neat stuff I’d love to have. But, naturally, the things I really want are more complicated than that. I want security and peace of mind. Sure, theres plenty of tangible goodies that contribute to that but those are the means to an end. What I want is the ‘end’..I want the peaceful, unconcerned, satisfied feeling that ‘everything is going to be fine’ and actually have everything be just damn fine. I’ll let you know how that goes. Oh..and I want the same for my friends too.


Tomorrow will be spent with some friends having a lovely Christmas dinner and exchanging a few gifts. I got my host an early gift at the last gun show…an autographed copy of a rather definitive guide to the SMLE by Skennerton. We ran into him at the Missoula gun show this fall and between the Aussie and New Zealand accents it was sort of amusing. Sort of. Kinda. Well, not really but it gave me something to make fun of later, which is really all that matters. Anyway, my point being that tomorrow will be spent with friends having a good time and I recommend that if you are able to, you should do likewise and spend some time with friends or, if you can tolerate them, family.

Tracking inventory

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Ayn Rand said that mans primary tool of survival was his mind. I agree with this. Matter o’ fact, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t agree with that. In addition to one’s mind and whatever intelligence it holds, another vital and intangible necessity is information.

I’m sitting here going through my spreadsheets calculating things like projected food supplies, etc, etc. and it occurs to me that many people simply don’t have the information necessary to allow them to best utilize their resources. In short, if you don’t know whats in the fridge you’ll buy the wrong groceries.

Some things we keep track of around here, some we do not. Things we don’t keep track of are non-consumable goods like, say, kerosene heaters. We have two. They generally do not get ‘used up’. They don’t need to be rotated out, they don’t spoil, they aren’t used and need replacing. If I have two kerosene heaters socked away in January of 2008 its almost a certainty they will still be there in January 2009. So..they aren’t inventoried.

Most consumables, especially food, are inventoried. This is simply because the food is used on a day to day basis and a running inventory needs to be kept so that we know what we need when we go shopping. Other consumables include batteries, toiletries, ammo, magazines, lightsticks, etc.

Keeping track is pretty simple. Write up a spreadsheet and keep a copy on your USB drive and a printout with your gear. When you pull a jar of olives out of storage you cross out the quantity on your spreadsheet and write in the new amount. Once a month or so you take your printout to the computer and reconcile it with your spreadsheet. The only difficult part is being diligent about tracking what comes in and what goes out. If you can get a handle on that then youre good to go. It is virtually identical to balancing a checkbook.

When we make a pilgrimage to CostCo, WallyWorld or when the local supermarkets have big sales we’ll check a copy of the spreadsheet and see if any of the things that we need to replace/stock up on are on sale. It really is that easy. Whats cooler is that if, in my wanderings, I stumble across a good deal on something I can call the missus and have her look up if we have plenty of ‘x’ and I can know whether I should pounce on the sale in front of me or not.

Once you have the spreadsheet set up, it’s a simple matter to make a copy of it and use that copy to play ‘what if’..for example, I just ran our stockpile of Mountain House through a spreadsheet to calculate servings per can and use that info to calculate how long our supply would last. Assuming three meals a day for two people, we’d be good for a little over three months. Add in the MRE’s and its another month and a half. Add in the bulk food like corn, wheat, and rice and you add another three months. Fold in the day-to-day food stash (things like canned tuna, spaghetti sauce, canned broth, canned vegetables, etc) and you add another six weeks. When its all said and done its about ten months. Start tweaking numbers, like reducing to two meals a day, etc. returns interesting results. However, none of this is possible if you don’t know what you have.

In addition to this sort of mathematic adventure, having a comprehensive and up-to-date list keeps you from doing bonehead things like buying something you already have. Money is tight enough without wasting it buying something you already have plenty of. (However, to be fair, a lot of times winding up with an ‘extra’ anything isn’t bad unless it keeps you from getting something you really do need.)

Spreadsheets don’t have to be complicated. Mine usually look like this:

[description], [brand], [model], [size], [quantity]

This format works for things like flashlights:

Flashlight, MagLite, MiniMag, 2-AA, 6

Or food:

Tuna, StarKist, Chunk White, 4 oz., 18

Or gunstuff:

Magazine, Glock, G17, 17-rd, 25

You get the idea, I’m sure. The thing to remember is that these lists are only useful as long as you religiously stick to keeping it current. You cant pull a jar of applesauce off the shelf and not mark it off on the list. Figuring you’ll do it later means it never gets done. I keep a clipboard and pen with our stuff so theres almost no excuse not to quickly put a ‘-1’ next to an item. On the freezer theres a self-adhesive whiteboard and marker so that theres always a current listing of whats in the freezer. Makes it real easy to determine if its worth picking up another couple trays of pork chops when theyre on sale.

Of course, theres also another reason for this sort of attention to detail….when I watch the news and get that feeling of impending doom I can look over my spreadsheets and think “Heck, we’ll be juuuuuuust fine”. And that is a priceless feeling to have.

Gun panic waves, 4×4 invincibility, food for vehicle storage

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Well, its officially one month until inauguration day for the Carter II administration. The panic buying we’ve been seing is going to come in four waves:

  1. When he gets elected
  2. when he gets inaugurated
  3. When new anti-gun legislation is proposed
  4. When new anti-gun laws take effect

Wave One is history, Wave Two is on deck and Waves Three and Four are warming up.

Guns are a small part of being prepared, but they are an important part. Theyre the part that keeps all your other preparations in your garage and not rolling down the street in some thug’s El Camino. Usually, the best gun for the job of protecting ourselves and our life-saving stashes of gear are the guns that are evil-looking and take those notorious ‘high capacity magazines’. Succinctly – part of being prepared means having suitable firearms. If you dont have those suitable firearms now you will probably be unable to get them in the future when they are banned. Therefore, buy ‘em now, and buy alot of them.


Our trip to Helena was uneventful for us, but not for some others. We saw two vehicles that had skidded off the road. Both remained upright but they were still reminders that there’s very little worth driving too fast for. I’ve noticed that many times the vehicles in the ditches are the four-wheel drive SUV type of rigs. Im guessing the owners, feeling smug about having four wheel drive, figured that they were immune to the effects of ice and snow because of that magic ‘4×4′ decal on the side of their truck….and were quickly brought back to reality by gravity and simple physics. Overconfidence….it ain’t just a river in Egypt. Drive carefully.


While packing for the trip, I needed to throw some food in the box for those ‘just in case’ moments. Lets think about the requirements of that….it has to be something that can be eaten cold, won’t freeze, has at least some nutritional value, is somewhat cheap, and doesnt require utensils. Fresh fruit was out of the question…might freeze solid and would go bad after a while. Canned tuna was out for the freezing and utensil reasons. Dried fruits had a great deal of appeal but I worry that when the summer gets the vehicle temp into the triple digits the storage life will dwindle quickly. Then, like a thunderbolt, the idea came to me. A food that can be eaten right out of the container, won’t freeze, can last almost indefinitely, and tastes good.

Sooooo….right next to the HK flare gun and GPS is a big box of Cap’n Crunch. ALthough, really, any breakfast cereal would do but..hey…its the Cap’n. Who doesn’t want to have an experienced military mind around in a crisis?

Seriously, man…think about it. Breakfast cereal has almost no moisture in it to freeze, doesnt need to be thawed or heated, can be eaten right out of the box, has some nutritional value, is a familiar food, even the kids will eat it, and is cheap.

On a slightly more serious note, long-term food for a vehicle is always a problem. Anything stored in a vehicle is subject to heat/freeze cycles and these cycles can be hell on almost any stored food product. Even MREs, vaunted for their military use, have cautions against freezing/thawing cycles.

If the freezing/thawing cycles don’t destroy the packaging and turn the contents to mush, theres the environmental factors of the food. Will it freeze in the winter? Will it spoil in the summer? Is it thirst provoking? Can you eat it without utensils? Will you get tired of eating it? All things to consider. The most ‘neutral’ food product for this sort of duty is, unsurprisngly, the ‘lifeboat rations’ we see floating around the itnernet. Like a cross between a PowerBar and the sweepings from a cabinet shop, these things are taste/texture neutral (if youre lucky), come in a foil vacuum-sealed pouch, are impervious to temperature and are as exciting to eat as a rice cake. However, it most certainly beats starving.

Theres no easy answer to the ‘food to keep in the car’ question. One way to do things would be to simply not leave food in the car but rather grab something from the cupboards when you leave home. This would assure you relatively ‘fresh’ food and be more appetizing than the Datrex food bars. Drawback is that this means each time you undertake a journey you have to open the kitchen cabinets and go ‘Hmmmmmm…..’.

So, for me, the nutritionally questionable foods seem to be the leading contenders. Sure Breakfast cereal and Pop Tarts arent going to be doing your body any great favors but when it’s -15 and you’re on Day Three stuck in your car, burning a jillion calories to stay warm, that processed food is gonna be pretty darn welcome.

And, yes, I did think of the old standby: beef jerky. While an excellent choice for the winter I have my fears about it in the summer. I think I’ll stick with breakfast cereal and the like for now. Although I can and do just rotate a few complete MRE’s through the truck gear bag … but then again, Im more diligent about that sort of thing than most people.


Travel stuff, AR mag arrival

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Went to Helena today. Its a hundred-and-some-odd miles from here and we have to climb McDonald pass to get there. The forecast, naturally, was for evil winter weather that would kill you just as soon as..well…kill you. So, since this trip was kinda required, there wasnt much choice but to load up the appropriate gear and sally forth into the winter. The amusing moment was listening to the radio when a public service announcement from the Montana DOT came on:

Radio: …travellers are advised to check weather and road conditions before travelling…

Me: Did that.

Radio: ..make sure to fill your tank before leaving, dress warmly and carry blankets….

Me: Sage advice…got it.

Radio: ..if you become stranded, stay with the vehicle and attach an orange flag to your vehicle antannae to signal for help..

Me: “A flag”? A FLAG?! I’ve got an HK flare pistol with 30 flares, five handheld flares, five lightsticks, two parachute flares, a candle lantern, a MagLite and ten gallons of unleaded gas and a book of matches. I dont need a flag, I have pyrotechnics!

Seriously, an orange flag?

Fortunately, the trip to Helena went about as smoothly as we could have hoped for. In addition to the rolling fireworks factory that was our emergency signalling gear, we also packed blankets, sleeping bags, food, water, our insulated Carhart overalls, water, GPS, first aid kit, and all the usual sundry items that one packs for a disaster. I won’t even mention the guns and ammo because if you need to be told that we had some with us then you’re obviously new around here. Bringing guns along when we go anywhere isnt noteworthy, not bringing them is.

And, of course, since we were prepared for trouble we had none. Do I feel that I wasted time loading up the truck with gear? Not at all. Its insurance and I was glad to have it along.


Received another 150 AR mags today from CProducts. They are mostly earmarked for resale at ‘youve gotta be kidding me prices’ but Im trying to find a way to keep a bunch for myself. You just can’t have too many, y’know. This last batch took, I think, about four weeks or so to ship. I expect if I ordered more theyd not only be more expensive, I probably wouldnt see them until next Christmas.

Scrap prices, cold weather trips

Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Its worth noting that, according to various news reports, the market for recyclables has dropped quite a bit. Things like paper, aluminum, scrap steel, etc, etc, are bringing a fraction of what they were a few months ago. More importantly certain metals, such as copper and lead, are trading way below what they were a few months ago. So does this tumbling of copper prices mean that the cost of bullets will go down? Dunno…if the price of steel goes down does that mean the price of a Cadillac goes down? Probably not. While the material cost (in this case, copper) may go down, that drop may not translate into a drop in the price of the finished good. After all, that bullet still needs to have the copper made into blanks, cupped, drawn, trimmed, swaged, polished, etc, etc. The costs of those processes aren’t really affected by the lower price of the material. Still, I like to think that there may be some relief down the road in terms of bullet and ammo pricing. Regardless, while I cant say with any certainty if the price of ammo and bullets will go down, I can say that it is more likely that prices wilremain high or go higher. As political situations unfold there will, naturally, be issues with availability that will push prices higher (supply and demand, that old axiom). So…I’d say youre more likely to save money than waste money if you continue buying ammo and bullets at the moment.

Tangentially, I suppose its possible that people who have been cashing in scrap to ‘make ends meet’ or help mitigate their financial problems are going to be outta luck…which, I guess, could translate into a bit of social instability in regions where homeless and poverty-stricken people rely on a few dollars from recycling to keep them from being ‘forced’ to do other unsavory things. But, hey, they’ll be okay because ‘hope’ and ‘change’ are coming. Right? Right??


Bloody hell, its cold outside. You know its going to be an interesting time when the forecasted daily high temperature is still below zero. However, this is Montana…you have to expect this sort of thing from time to time. For weather like this, if you have to be outside in it, those military ‘Mickey Mouse’ boots do a pretty good job. Fella at the gun show was selling them but, unfortunately, he didn’t have them in my weird foot size. (And before anyone starts sending links, yes, I can find them online but I hate buying clothes and footwear online…if it’s the wrong size it takes two weeks to try again with a different size.)

The belt for the furnace blower broke the other day. Makes sense, its probably about as old as me. Didn’t notice it until I wondered why it was 53 degrees in the house. Could have improvised, I suppose, with some pantyhose or other McGyver-esque improvisation but it was easier to just go to the hardware store and get another belt. ‘Course, if it had been a more catastrophic failure we might have had a problem….or not. We’ve got kerosene and propane heaters and plenty of fuel for both. Might be chilly but the pipes won’t freeze and we won’t get frostbite.


Cold (really cold) weather means vehicle precautions. The cheapest, best precaution you can take is simply not to drive anywhere when the weather is life-threateningly cold. Realistically, however, that isn’t terribly likely. We gotta go to work, get groceries, go to the range, etc, etc. So the next cheapest insurance you can have is a couple heavy duty blankets or sleeping bags. I’m a suspenders-and-a-belt kind of guy so I prefer a couple heavy military wool blankets (excellent bargains) in the truck along with a military cold weather bag. That’s the minimum. A candle lantern with a few extra candles and matches will help keep things warm and bright if one is forced to sit by the road for any amount of time. The usual carbon monoxide warnings apply, naturally. When the missus was commuting to and from school every weekend I gave her a Rubbermaid container to take with her with all sortsa cold weather I recall it was a candle lantern, candles, matches, flashlight, batteries, a couple MRE’s with heaters, hand warmers, packets of drinking water (the small ‘lifeboat’ pouches will freeze solid but because of their small size they are fast and easy to thaw whereas a liter bottle of water, once frozen, is going to take a good deal of time and heat to thaw), sleeping bag and a few other odds and ends. And, obviously, its always a good idea to throw a shovel or two in the vehicle if you can.

Also, and this is one of those things that should be written in stone, stay with the vehicle. In almost every news story about someone getting stranded and dying the rescuers find the vehicle first and then find the hapless, lifeless victim. (Yeah, one or two exceptions, but easily 90%+ of these things have the rescuers finding the vehicle first.) If you have water, blankets/sleeping bag, a little food and some candles why wouldn’t you sit tight? Vehicles are usually pretty easy to find since they follow known courses (called ‘roads’) whereas a guy on foot could be anywhere. So…stay with the vehicle. And if you wind up getting a ride from a good Samaritan, leave a note at your stranded vehicle so no one thinks you wandered off to die.

We’re supposed to go to Helena tomorrow but the weather forecast is calling for some winter nastiness. We’ll head out and once on the interstate we’ll see how things look. If it looks ugly or even remotely dangerous we’ll do the smart thing: turn the bloody truck around and return. Sure, the odds would probably be good that we’d make it okay but why take chances? However, just to be on the safe side, I’ll be packing up all the necessary surivival gear as well as adding a few sundry items to the truck (like a few extra flares, another 5-gallons of gas, my insulated Carhart bibs, and the like.)