“The Road” – The good guys

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

Theres some spoiler stuff here for “The Road” so consider yourself warned. Also, this is probably the last Im gonna mention anything about it until the movie comes out.

Theres a scene where the father and son have exhausted their meager food supply. They haven’t eaten for days and they scavenge and scrounge through every place they stumble across. Over the years, everything has been picked clean and theres nothing to be had. Theyre weak, starving and the dad feels that its only a matter of days before they die. Then he stumbles across someones backyard bomb shelter hidden under a few inches of topsoil. They find cases of canned goods, fuel, clothes, toiletries, and are thus saved from starving to death. The boy wonders why this stuff is there and the dad says:

Its here because someone thought it might be needed.
But they didnt get to use it.
No. They didnt.
They died.
Is it okay for us to take it?
Yes. It is. They would want us to. Just like we would want them to.
They were the good guys?
Yes. They were.

There you have it. We’re the good guys. Next time you wonder if youre just being paranoid and wasting your time and money, think about that – youre one of the good guys.

Where does the money go?

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

Someone asked:

Having followed things here off and on for a few years I’m surprised you say you only spend $1,000 per year on smallarms related purchases. I’m in the induetry when in the states and I know dealer costs are a little easier on the checkbook but I’d still have guessed $3,000 or maybe even a little more per year.

That makes me wonder, since you seem to be the sort to do detailed tracking through your lists, have you ever thought about going through the books and seeing how much your expenditures are in different categories? Not just adding to the stocks but other expenses as well? Vehicle, business, home (all survival related but maybe not in the same category as FD foods and ammo), entertainment, etc.?
Might be an interesting exercise. Actually I suspect many people might be a bit surprised as to where the money goes if they were to sit down and look at it. Some might even change their priorities if they knew a good chunk of change goes to things that they don’t really get much use out of.

Well, it helps that we have the FFL and that in my civilian life I run a shop that sells reloading components and gear. But, really, alot of the stuff we have that is directly preparedness-related as far as firearms go is stuff we already had. For example, I still have the first AR I ever bought myself back in 1988. When I started putting together a collection of guns with preparedness in mind I already had most of what I deemed necessary…just needed extras. Most of our ammo was either purchased back in the day when you could get a case of 7.62×39 for $95, or .223 for $135, or is reloaded on the big Dillon. There might have been years where we spent more than $1000 (this year for example will be a big one) but there are years when we spent half of that. On average, its probably about $1000 a year for the gun stuff. A thousand bucks a year is not alot of money…even an underemployed monkey can come up with $3 a day, I would imagine. Also, very few of our firearms were purchased new. I dont think I’ve ever paid more than $400 for a high power or $800 for an AR or $200 for an 870. If you cracked a look in the gun safe it’d be easy to scream “yuppie survivalists!” because theres nothing in there that was used at Stalingrad or has ‘-arov’ in its name but the fact is that if you make more than minimum wage and youre not an idiot with your spending, you can sock away an AR, Glock and 870 pretty quickly.

How much do we spend per year on non-firearms preparedness stuff? Thats trickier. Why? Because alot of preparedness stuff is simply stuff you normally use, except in larger quantities. Let me give an example – I like chicken. When I go to CostCo I always get about 10# of the stuff and when I get home it gets broken down into 1# packages, sealed up, and tucked away in the deep freeze. As the year goes on some gets pulled out and used and more goes in to take its place. So that chicken isnt really bought solely for preparedness…it gets used for normal usage as well. ALot of our food storage is like that so I dont really see the cost of that being considered any different than regular groceries. Succinctly, very little money above ‘normal’ grocery expenses goes to food storage. There are, of course, exceptions. The frezedrieds arent cheap so I got dealer status with MH and save myself a big chunk of money. Even then, since the MH lasts at least 25 years you could dollar cost average it out and it would be less than $200 a year. The bulk stuff like wheat, corn, rice, etc. is ridiculously cheap. A hundred pounds of rice is only about, I think, $30 last time I looked at CostCo.

Stored fuel is like groceries…we fill the fuel cans and rotate them through usage, so its fuel we were going to use anyway. Same for alot of things.

If you were to ask what % of household income goes into preparedness around here I’d say less than 10%..probably closer to 7%. But we’re atypical of average consumers. We don’t buy toys like jet skis, ‘fun’ vehicles, or boats. We don’t have any debt except the mortgage. We don’t have any credit cards, student loans, vehicle loans, or anything like that nibbling away at what comes in. No kids. We live pretty plainly and try to live within our means.

It’s just my opinion but I think pretty much anyone can put together a very nice ‘war chest’ of food, fuel, ammo, guns, gear and the like if theyre sincere in their desires, focussed and disciplined in their spending habits, and careful in their shopping around.


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

Ordered 12/03/08
Delivered 05/28/09


But….each of the three guns you see there only cost $750 ea. And theres a complete A2 Upper. And three lower parts kits. And a field repair kit. And two stripped lower receivers.

Are these not things of beauty!?!?!

People…people who eat people…

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

Cannibalism is a strange business. It crops up in ‘survivalist fiction’ more often than not. Almost every post-apocalyptic movie or book makes reference to it at some point. Almost always the context is a bad one..the bad guys eat people, the good guys don’t. Historically, its been almost the opposite….survival cannibalism seldom has any nefarious or evil undertones. This is probably because, with very few exceptions, most cases of survival cannibalism involve consuming those who have already died rather than choosing someone and killing them. (However, there are at least one or two tales of sailors stranded at sea who drew straws to see who would be killed and consumed for the benefit of the others. Even in those situations it was consensual – everyone agreed to the draw and the consequences.)

In most fiction, cannibalism is a devilish, evil business of hunting down people and either killing them straight away for consumption or torturing and abusing them and eating them later. In one or two books Ive read theres an even more sinister but quite practical practice – partial cannibalism. Removing a limb from the victim and keeping the victim alive (and the ‘meat’ unspoiled) until more is needed. I find this last practice especially horrific and, unfortunately, it may not be solely fiction. Supposedly there were isolated Japanese troops in the islands during World War Two who may have eaten prisoners (or parts of prisoners) and kept them alive, taking parts of them as needed, to keep their food source from spoiling in the tropic heat. Stories like these are almost never proven but stranger things have happened during wars. I’ve been rereading a book about the battle at Stalingrad and theres mention of cannibalism and the military response to it – execution squads that would kill anyone who had a rosy color to their cheeks amongst the grey, starving troops.

Why do I mention this macabre subject? I was reading ‘The Road’ and one of the characters asked if they would ever resort to eating people if they couldn’t find any food. The response was that they would never resort to that, better to starve.

So, what we have here are ethical or moral questions. Is it wrong to eat someone in a starvation situation? I think it depends on a few more variables. In the famous case of the soccer team stranded in the Andes, the snow was littered with bodies, preserved by the cold. Faced with starvation, they chose to consume the already-dead. I see no moral or ethical issue there. In fact, the survivors were very concerned about how the public would receive their actions and they were almost universally accepted and supported for what they had done. Even in the straitlaced age the Donner Party episode occurred in there was little reproachment for what had been done in the name of survival. People just accepted that it was a horrible situation and that people ‘did what they had to do’. (However, British sentiment was far less sympathetic when accusations of cannibalism arose in the adventures of some of their doomed arctic explorers. A proper Englishman would rather die than lower himself to such savagery, they claimed. Discovery of the bodies of ill-fated adventurers with knife marks on the bones, dismemberment at the joints and bones with the marrow removed proved otherwise.)

In the case (literally a ‘case’ since it eventually wound up in court) of the sailors drawing straws on the ocean I think that there was no moral or ethical issue there if it really went down as described with everyone agreeing to draw lots. Note that there was some issue about whether the poor soul consumed was conscious when the lots were drawn…a factor which clouds the issue. But, if all were consenting to the lottery then I suppose theres no ethical or moral issue.

The notion of hunting down a person solely to kill them for food? I want to say that’s pretty much a guaranteed ticket out of the human race but then it occurs to me that people hunt down other people and kill them for their iPods, rather than as a matter of survival, and we often imprison them and let them out after twenty or so years. Would we be more or less forgiving of someone who kills a person, literally for their own survival? That’s the question I’m more interested in regarding this grisly subject. If someone shoots a shopkeeper for $200 cash are they more or less evil than someone who kills a person to eat them? You might argue that the cannibal killer’s motivation is more ‘reasonable’ – if he doesn’t do it he’ll starve to death – whereas the robber’s motivation may be something far, far less urgent. We can grasp, and maybe even understand, that people in a dire survival situation may do extreme things to survive. History is replete with cases of people marching across trackless deserts, living on rats and rainwater, cutting off their own limbs to save their lives, etc, etc. Under incredible and unimaginable circumstances I suppose its possible to at least rationalize the actions of murdering a human being for the sake of consuming them to prevent one’s own death by starvation. (And make no mistake, starvation, as Ive read about it, is a process that takes over a person and makes them pretty single-minded. It really is true – hungry people are dangerous people.) As distasteful and horrific as it is, I’d guess that the person who would kill you for your sneakers is a worse person than the person who would kill you to keep themselves alive.

Don’t get confused here…Im not condoning, forgiving, excusing or legitimizing something as abhorrent as killing another person for the sake of eating them. I think it’s the stuff nightmares are made of and I’d probably quite remorselessly shoot the first pro-active cannibal I come across. What Im saying is that, to me, its more understandable than the notion of killing someone over a stereo.

Do I think I could ever participate in such things? I think in the case of the stranded airplane passengers, absolutely. I’d detest it for reasons Im not entirely clear on (societal, Id imagine) but these people were already dead and I see no moral or ethical problem with consuming them to prevent my own death by starvation.

The lifeboat survivors? Im not sure. I’ve read accounts of people cast adrift and they seem to be able to subsist on seagulls and small fish. Of course maybe they conveniently overlooked mentioning they ate the cabin boy. I can’t really say what Id do in that situation … the notion of drawing lots and then killing the loser, even with his permission and approval, just seems wrong but I don’t think I could judge those who did partake in it.

The idea of starving, being desperately hungry to the point of eating the bark off trees, and then seeing someone walking down the path and deciding to kill them and dress them like a deer? I don’t think so. While I can understand the desperation and hopelessness of watching your body waste away and become so weak that getting up is a tremendous effort I cannot relate to the notion of arbitrarily killing an innocent bystander. Maybe its just me but I can’t see myself going along with it.

Non-survival cannibals (Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Fish, Ed Gein, etc, etc.) are a completely different story altogether, obviously. They should be taken out right after their conviction and hung from the nearest tall object, their bodies utterly cremated and their ashes dumped far at sea to remove any trace of their poisoned existence.

Plantings, MH

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

Weather here in Montana has finally warmed up enough that I feel its safe to move the tomato seedlings to the outdoors. One of the varieties of tomatoes is a Russian variety that’s supposed to be very hardy and able to handle less-than-warm environments…we’ll see how that works out. While the cukes and tomatoes are in the ground, I still need to get the peppers in. A buddy of mine was nice enough to drop off his rototiller for me to borrow so I’ve got no excuse for not getting out there and getting these things in the ground. Unfortunately, this area was at some point a giant glacial lake so theres no shortage of rocks and stones (is there a difference?) in the ground. Thus rototilling has a certain element of excitement and frustration to it. Still, it beats going at it with a pick and shovel.
The folks at Mountain House have warned me that prices will be going up in July, so Im putting in an order this week to beat the increase. Some people disdain the freeze-dried stuff as ‘yuppie survival food’ but if you can find a better way to get a piece of chicken to last twentyfive years in a lightweight, highly portable form I’d like to hear about it. While the wheat-salt-sugar-bean-rice approach may keep you from starving it isn’t terribly flexible and I have no intention of spending the apocalypse eating whole wheat bread, wheat cereal, bulghur ‘burgers’, and wheat sprouts. Sure, if I had no choice…but I do have a choice and that choice includes chicken, beef, pork chops, lasagna, teriyaki, scrambled eggs and chicken ala king – without the need to rotate. Additionally, the pouch freeze-drieds (as opposed to the #10 cans) come in handy for bugout bags and car kits.

This isn’t to say that we don’t keep the usual drums of wheat, corn, rice, salt, sugar, etc. around…theyre an excellent and cheap way to keep from starving. The freezedrieds just give me a million more ways to prepare the ‘staples’ into something that won’t get boring.

If you’re smart, and I hope you are, youre food storage repertoire isn’t just any one solution but rather a mix…canned goods, bulk dried goods, freezedrieds, MRE’s, etc. Im the first to admit that freezedrieds are an expensive way to go but then Im not advocating them as the everyday solution for food storage…theyre more of a nice adjunct to the cheap stuff like rice, beans, wheat, etc. Personally, the backbone of my food storage is the bulk dried stuff (rice, corn, wheat) and canned goods. The freezedrieds come in handy for other reasons, such as high portability if I have to leave and long shelf life if I want to cahce something.

Anyway, big order going in to MH and Im hoping that they wont be too backordered these days.

“The Road”

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

Read “The Road” today. Still not sure what I think about it and still rather unsure just what exactly it was about. To me it seems to be some sort of obvious statement and exploration about devotion, human condition, and, I think, man’s selfish nature versus his ‘humanitarian’ one and how it does or does not reward that behavior. Much like how ‘Moby Dick’ wasnt a book about whaling, but rather a book about the price of revenge and obsession using the whaling story as a stage for presenting ideas and metaphors, I think ‘The Road’ is the same way – an allegory that uses a post-apocalyptic setting to present its explorations and examples.

And it makes me uber grateful to live in a country where I dont even have to get out of my chair to have delicious hot food delivered to my door.

Gun show

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

Well, the Hamilton gun show came and went…

I saw aluminum G3 mags for $2 but they were pretty tired looking. Two bucks is a good deal though..I paid about that for the 250 I have socked away.

Saw a Colt 1991 .45 ACP with bluing issues for $400. That almost tempted me into doing something stupid but I managed to resist. Really, the finish wasnt that bad and when else can you get a big-name 1911 for $400? But…if I had $400 Id get another G17 for the stable. Only other handgun I saw that made me think twice was a stainless 5.5″ Ruger MKII heavy barrel. Just like the blued one I picked up the other day.

Primers were there if you were willing to pay, as I predicted, $40 per brick. AR mags could be had for $10 for GI or $20 for new. Saw almost no AR’s for less than $1200 with one notable exception. A nearby gun store was selling NIB Oly AR’s with A1-style sights and carry handle for $710. Apparently Oly, sensing a chance to get market share, is putting out a ‘no-frills’ AR for the man with a thin wallet. One drawback…its Oly.

Picked up some 60 gr. A-Max to load up for my HBAR so I can sight in my IOR M2 scope. Im looking forward to trying this optic out.

Trochmann wasnt at the show so there was no interesting ’survival gear’. Too bad, because every so often he comes up with some cool stuff. I have a huge bin fulla parachute flares and smoke devices Ive picked up from him over the last couple years…prolly from a cruise line that was rotating out their SOLAS stuff in the lifeboats.

No FALs, no PTRs, no high-end AK’s. Good selection of magazines at decent prices but ammo was still thin and overpriced. Did see one item I hadnt seen before – an AR-180B with a side folder stock. I was under the impression all the 180B’s, unlike the original 180’s, came with a fixed stock only. This thing had an FAL-para-style sidefolder. Interesting. I rather like the 180B…you get gas-piston reliability and AR mag compatability in something a little more robust than the Keltec.

Only purchase I made at the show was a couple boxes of 12 ga. rubber slugs. Nothing else jumped out at me, although, as I said, that 1991 made a strong case for doing something reckless.

Standardization link

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

Interesting post over at TSLRF regarding standardization of firearms.

If you read the comments, someone suggested that all you really needed was to agree on a caliber and let everyone get what they wanted based on their needs and budget.

Lemme tell you a story. Many years ago I went to visit some friends. We were planning on doing a bit of shooting so I packed up my guns and flew out to visit. On my return trip, there was some difficulty and my guns didnt make it back. In fact, it was several months before they finally came back to me. So when I returned home, I was essentially unarmed. Sure, I had a 10/22 in the safe and probably a .38 somewhere, but no AR, no autopistol. (Keep in mind this was before I had the level of redundancy I have now.)

One of the LMI, who was in a position to have spares of his stuff, came by and dropped off a rifle and pistol for me. No mags, no ammo, no optics, no slings. Just a couple guns. Because we had standardized on a particular platform, I already had everything else I needed…already had plenty of mags, ammo, slings, optics, holsters, etc. Thats pretty much a classic example of how standardization has benefits.

Standardization isnt the exclusive domain of the thundertoy. I’ve standardized on things like battery sizes (AA, D and CR123), sheath knives (Glock), canteens, Nalgene bottle sizes, etc, etc. It streamlines logistics and allows for discounts through bulk purchases.

People who are into preparedness tend to be a fairly…individualistic…lot. Getting several of them to agree on something (especially something like firearms) can be a challenge at times. But, ideally, in addition to being rugged individualists your associates are also reasonable and logical beings as well. People who can appreciate the advantages and disadvantages presented to them on this issue, and come around to a decision thats mutually acceptable to all.

Even if your ‘group’ is no larger than you and your spouse, its still an excellent idea to have commonality in these matters. Similar models of GPS, similar models of flashlight, similar models of backpacks, etc, etc….it really does make things easier. Just be sure to think things through and be willing to accept that maybe your idea of what should be the adopted [firearm/flashlight/tent/pack/radio] for your group of like-minded individuals may not stand up under arguments from the others. Be flexible, be open minded but always keep your eye on the big picture – your goal is a commonality that meets your anticipated needs. What are those needs? Thats for you and your buddies to decide.

CostCo item

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

Was up at CostCo the other day and was kinda surprised to see this in one of the aisles:

Looks interesting enough. For someone who simply wants a turnkey system it would have some appeal. No getting parts from five different vendors, wire/outlet compatability issues, etc, etc. So..what does $300 get you from CostCo? Lets look:

Now I am no expert, not by a long shot…but I think that a careful consumer could get a lot more bang for his buck shopping ala carte rather than going for the combo platter here. Im not really sure, to be honest. I’ve been meaning to investigate setting up a small system for quite a while now but it keeps getting shoved on to the back burner.

Before anyone asks, yes the label that I saw did say “Made In China”. I bet youre not surprised, right? I noticed these kits are available on eBay at various prices…most of them north of $300.

Anyone have any comments or opinions on this versus putting something together on one’s own?

Strum, Ruger & Co. Gas Piston AR

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

Ruger has announced their gas-piston AR for those of us who can shell out two grand for an AR.

Please note the copyright at the bottom of the page:

Thats right, the gun isnt even on the shelf yet but “Strum, Ruger & Co” are going to have to issue a recall for the webpage.

Im sure that after the usual one or two recalls, it’ll be a fine rifle ..errrr ….webpage.