Article – Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices

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

Man, talk about ugly.
Here’s an update on that nursing home incident during Hurricane Katrina.
I would have thought that a facility like this would be a little more prepared…especially since hurricances usually give you at least a few days warning. But, really, when youre three feet below sea level don’t you think it might be a good idea to move your electrical facilities to the second floor or higher?

Easy to Monday-morning-quarterback these things, though. Still, its a chilling and heartbreaking example of poor planning and folks being forced into hard decisions.

Growing stuff

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

On the right, bell peppers. On the left, the “I dont think thats too many seeds for one pot” basil collection. Just watering the basil fills the air with that lovely aromatic smell. Mmmmm…..pistou!

What we have here are the Hungarian peppers that Im growing in a discarded 5-gallon bucket. Theyre doing very nicely and are convincing me that, as far as container gardening goes, the discarded bucket is the way to go. While I like the look of the traditional style clay pots (as in the first photo) I like the cheapness, durability and potability of discarded buckets better.

Not shown is the dill, which may or may not get used for pickling peppers, and the tomatoes which are doing pretty good although I really should have staked them out earlier. Next year, I’ll screw some old conduit onto the sides of 5-gallon buckets and use that for trellising tomato plants.

Basil, tomatoes, peppers…..get some garlic and onion going and we have a party.

Frugal Squirrel vs. town officials

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

Hmmm…this is interesting.

,Rawles linked to this article but it isn’t until you read further that you realize the religious survivalist type referred to is the head honcho over at Frugal Squirrels. Im sure the guy at FS has his own particular take on the situation but I imagine that whatever his argument to the .gov types are it’ll be punctuated with a good deal of self-righteous religious zeal and impromptu interpretations of the law.

I do read the stuff over there at Frugals but I have a hard time dealing with the outrageous hypocrisy they have. Normally, I expect that from the superstitious types but I find it amazing they don’t seem aware of their double-standards. For example, they’ll rant endlessly about those darn Muslims and their wanting to impose Islamic law and how terrible it would be to live in a country ruled by such religious laws…then they’ll lament how the US needs to have its laws based on their holy texts and belief system. Hey, a theocracy is a theocracy no matter whose invisible friend is at the helm.

Another thing that I find annoying about the place is that they’ll delete a post that links to anything they consider offensive. For example, Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit” television program did a really great job skewering gun control. Someone posted a link to it and that link was deleted. The reason? Because the name of the show was offensive. ‘Course these are the same folks that’ll post about how all the ’sodomites’ need to be killed and that, essentially, if you don’t believe in their particular flavor of religion you’re obviously evil. Personally, after 42 years on this planet I’m pretty hard to offend and ‘bad language’ doesn’t even come close. I’m more offended by someone saying we need to kill a segment of society because someone’s imaginary friend told them to.

Of course, the head guy over there is quick to remind people that it’s his party and if you don’t like it you can pack up your bandwidth and go elsewhere. And thats absolutely true. Sadly, I think its a rotten thing to stifle discussion because you don’t agree with other peoples opinions. Im not saying that you cant use the banhammer on someone whose posts are just endless profanity and racist diatribe, but thats not the same as simple and polite disagreement.

So why do I still read the stuff over there? Once in a while theres a poster or two who can be rational and reasonable without dragging things down into a ‘my god is better than your god’ flamewar. Also, I find myself unable to turn away from the drama that sometimes ensues. Some poor bastard says his flavor of Christianity is slightly different than everyone elses and the fur starts flying. For a group that disdains .gov intrusion into peoples lives they sure don’t seem to find anything ironic about wanting to enforce their policies and beliefs into the lives of people who don’t share their beliefs.

This article about the right-of-way/road issue is going to be interesting on so many levels. I’m curious to see how it turns out. Im especially interested in seeing how the guys over at FS portray their side of it. I am certain that, no matter how it plays out, the guys from FS are going to come out of this looking like tinfoil-hat wearing religious zealots.

Paratarp, curry

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

Not sure why, but for some reason I seem to be getting enthused about hunting season. Its pretty early to be even thinking about it since season doesn’t open until November. Still, for some reason I find myself looking forward to it. I suspect that its just me getting a hankering to grab a buncha cool gear and head out into the boonies for a while. Well, if that’s the case, so be it. Who am I to argue with such urges?
A buddy of mine brought by his Kifaru Paratrap for me to play with. I was kind of interested in one of these as a ‘just in case’ shelter for this hunting season in case I wound up getting stuck somewhere. However, after setting it up and examining it, I think it would work out rather nicely for someone who wants to keep weight to a minimum. Coverage and ‘floor area’ is more than if you used the classic standby of a poncho and some paracord. More importantly, this thing compresses to something you could fit in an M16 3-mag pouch and weighs less than a pound. It has no floor, so youre going to have to either be okay with laying on the ground or perhaps roll out your poncho to use as a groundcloth. (or, a ground pad if you have one). Color is a nice neutral brown that blends with pretty much everything. A fascinating accessory for this thing is a vestibule that has a cutout for a stove. Kifaru makes a stove that folds flat and has a rollup stovepipe that, literally, gives you a woodstove you can fit in your pack. Very clever. Anyway, the Paratarp looks like something I might need to add to the Christmas gift list. Price is typical of Kifaru, a little south of $200, but I must say that Kifaru seems to be a pretty good example of getting what you pay for. For giggles I set up the Paratarp and then set up a poncho shelter. The Paratarp had more room, offered more protection from the elements, and was a lot lighter when rolled up. The only advantages to the poncho shelter are its price, about 1/10th the price of the Paratarp, and its multitask role as a poncho.

I’ve been fortuitous in that I’ve never been forced to overnight unexpectedly out in the sticks. It’s been close a time or two, though. If I did have to overnight in some inclement weather, this thing and my Woobie would make quite the difference…and given the rather light weight of both products theyre things that wouldn’t be objectionable to keeping in the hunting pack ‘just in case’. The prices though….oy.
A friend of mine introduced me to curry. Im fairly predictable in my cooking and dining tastes. I have no problem eating the same thing over and over if its something I like. Some folks have a problem with that, but it suits me just fine. I suspect that if there was a 50# of Purina People Chow in the store, and I liked it, I’d live off it. (Two cups a day. One if Im trying to slim down. And maybe crack a raw egg over it if I want my coat to get glossy.) Anyway, the curry was interesting because all of the ingredients (curry paste, curry powder, onion, chutney, salt, pepper, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc, etc.) can be had in long-storage form. This means that a fella with 100# of rice sitting in a drum has a new option. This, naturally, interests me.

There are a few ‘cookbooks’ out there for cooking with long-term food and I’ve read the majority of them. They all seem rather bland and repetitive to me. Of course, this all depends on your idea of ‘long term’. For example, a can of tomatoes is good for a couple years whereas a jar of ginger may only be good for three months.

Still, theres very little that’s packed in cans and jars that won’t keep for at least a year or two these days.For example, I bought some spaghetti sauce when it was on sale a year or two ago and still use it. Tastes fine and keeps fine. (Of course, how you store things makes a tremendous difference in these matters.)

The missus has been reading backpacking magazines and as I was flipping through one I noticed that they have recipes for ‘on the trail’ meals. These meals require food that requires a minimum of preparation and doesn’t need a lot of refrigeration. So, I think I’ll have to start perusing the backpacking recipe books and whatnot.

Speaking of food, if anyone is interested I have an excellent deal on freeze-dried pork chop pieces. These are from a contract run of pork chops for the .mil. In the drying process some of the pork chops broke and therefore were rejected. But, hey, four 1-oz. pieces of pork chop is the same as one 4-oz. pork chop, right? More importantly, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Freeze dried, raw (so cook ‘em after you rehydrate them), with a thirty year shelf life. I only have a couple cases sitting here but if anyone wants some theyre $30/can. MSRP on the whole pork chops is about twice that. Email me at if you don’t want to spend the apocalypse as a vegetarian.

Portable shelters

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

A couple interesting ideas and concepts.

This one appears to be about as practical as a condom dispenser in a church bathroom. Its a ‘roll along’ frame that ’slinkies out’ to become some sort of odd looking shelter. I suspect this is like those bizarre ‘creations’ you see on fashion runways that no one would ever actually wear – an experiment in design and function that meets with wirtually no real-world success or interest.

This second one is a bit more clever. A jacket with a built in tent. After playing with a buddies Kifaru Paratarp I can see this working. The Paratarp compacts down so small and light you probably could sew it into a jacket liner and not even know its there. Silnylon seems to be quite the miracle fabric these days. For the heavy-duty tinfoil hat crowd this would be part of the ultimate low-profile bugout gear.

Speaking of Kifaru, I’ll have a post up about their Paratarp in a day or so.

Link – cameraman airlifted wilderness dying starvation

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

And one more before bed…..
If you figured that in a total collapse you’d just live off the land, you might wanna read about this guy:

Channel 4 exploitation row after cameraman is airlifted from wilderness dying of starvation

It promised to stretch reality television to the limit: one man pitting his wits against the Yukon wilderness with just a camera for company.

But hopes for an epic three-month contest between man and nature were dashed when adventurer Ed Wardle failed to go the distance.

Seven weeks after striding out into the rugged forests of western Canada armed with a rifle and a fishing rod, Mr Wardle had to be airlifted back to civilisation suffering from starvation.

He sent out a distress call five weeks before he was due to finish filming his one-man survival programme Alone In The Wild for Channel 4.

Mighta bit of more than he could chew. Get it?

But, seriously, that whole ‘live off the land with just a knife and some gear’ fantasy never seems to work out when someone tries it for real. This guy hung in there for a goodly amount of time, though. No idea what kinda support he had though. Heck, for all I know he coulda started this thing weighing 300# and made out of fat.

Still, its an interesting article and the pictures are worth a gander to check out his gear.

News – Hate on the rise in United States

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

Toldja so.
Remember I said:

This is classic…classic, I say…dehumanization and propaganda tactics straight out of pretty much every horribly oppressive and repressive regime thats been around. You target dissenters, get the public to identify them as belonging to a class or group, demonize that group as convincingly as possible, propose measures to ‘reign in’ that ‘outlaw group’, get rid of your opponents while getting lauded for having ‘done something’ about that evil group.

(And, yes, I am aware that linking to your own posts in your own blog is the blogging equivalent of yelling out your own name during sex.)

So…dislike health care, wanna see a real birth certificate, and you like to go to gun shows? Well buddy, you’re a a racist militia type. Here’s the search warrant, you got a receipt for all those guns? And why do you need all that ammo anyway?

I’m telling ya, gang, the gloves are coming off and both sides of the political spectrum are pulling out the stops, choosing sides and it’s quite possible that folks like you and I, who just wanna be left alone, are gonna get caught in the middle. You’ve got a copy of “Unintended Consequences” laying around? Been to a gun show lately? Dislike Obama’s policies? Well, then youre an evil racist militia type and, darn it, that means you can get Patriot Acted right into the ground.

Personally, I’ve met white separatists and genuine militia members and while they are certainly an eccentric bunch they were, by and large, pretty harmless. Distasteful in some of their beliefs? Sure. Its a little silly, though, to say that if you dislike Obama its because he’s half-black. Thats like telling liberals they only hated George Bush because he’s white. I’m a firm believer that if you take the time to really get to know and understand someone, you can find a much better reason to hate them than just ’cause their a different color. Like, oh, say, their desire to socialize a nation.

So maybe in a few months we’ll get some ‘common sense’, ’sensible’, ‘minor changes’ in gun laws to make sure those previously unknown hordes of racist militia right-wing hatespewers can’t cause trouble.

Blood in the gutters? Revolution in the air? Troops in the streets? Highly unlikely. I’d almost say ‘never’. But what is more likely is grabbing at this sort of hysteria, whipping it up, pointing it at a target demographic (like, say, you and I) and using it to ramrod all sortsa nasty laws and regulations into our lives.

You know, I dislike Obama as much as the next guy. And for a dozen different reasons. And nowhere does the color of his skin have anything to do with it. He’s incompetent, he’s unqualified, he’s hopelessly out of his league, and he may be a genuine disaster as a President…but his being half black isn’t even on the charts.

Stay tuned, this isn’t the last of it. There’ll certainly be more as the umbrealla definition of ‘racist militia’ starts to cover more and more people.

Because I can

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

The internet is abuzz that in Arizona several people attended an Obamacare rally while toting guns…including this fella. As expected, the left is foaming about how this is a sign of intimidation, a sign of violent lunacy on the right’s part, and, of course, Im sure someone is calling it racist. A bit odd since the gentleman in question with the AR over his shoulder is African-American ..a person of color…black. His reply, when asked why he’s carrying the pistol, rifle and spare mags? “Because I can”. Good on ya!

Now, here’s my question….during the election, when leather-cald, truncheon-toting Black Panthers were at the polling places, where was the outrage?

This reminds me of when I was visiting the girlfriend in VA. She had to work that day so I was hanging out at her condo. She said her friend M. would come by and we’d go out to lunch. Theres a knock on the door and its this big black guy with a stainless Sig P220 on his hip. Going to the range? Nope. Coming back from the range? Nope. So why ya carrying the Sig, I ask. His exact words: because I can.

I think that “because I can” is the best reason for a citizen to do something and the worst reason for a .gov to do something.

Once in a while someone asks why I have a pistol on me. I usually say its because its my responsibility to protect myself. I think now Im going to say, as diplomatically as possible, ” and because I can”.

I have no intention or desire of heading to AZ anytime soon, but if I did I’d like to meet that guy and shake his hand.

Pocket radio, politics, gardening

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

I was at REI a few weeks ago and they had some small windup radios on sale. I’ve been wanting a small radio for my everyday bag. The particular one I picked up was a Eton FR150. Its your typical Baygen-style windup radio with AM/FM, weather band and an LED flashlight. Its about the size of an AR mag, although a little thicker. Sound quality is about what you expect..a little tinny…but its information, and information in a time of crisis is always valuable. I think this thing was marked down 50% to about $15. In addition to the handcrank, theres a small solar panel on the radio. These sorts of things will work on sunlight but the catch is that you have to keep the energy demand as low as possible. That means if youre going to sit this thing in the sun and listen to it you need to keep the volume as low as possible to keep the power requirements down. The optimum arrangement is to use an earpiece so you can keep the volume down yet still hear things clearly. Under what circumstances does this sort of thing come in handy? Well, you don’t have to be too imaginative to figure that out. An unexpected power outage is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s good to be able to check the local radio stations and see if things are just localized to a couple of blocks or is something more dramatic. I remember reading about people who died in the World Trade Center when they were trapped in the elevators and, not knowing what was going on, waited patiently for rescue until the buildings collapse around them. (This does not mean that they were without recourse. Another survivor story from that incident recounts how the elevator occupants forced the doors open and found themselves facing the wall of the elevator shaft. As fate would have it, one of the people in the elevator was involved in the construction of the building and knew that the wall was simply sheetrock. They punched a hole in the wall and found themselves in an empty washroom. They escaped to tell the tale.) I think that if the occupants of those elevators had known what was going on they might have been spurred to more dramatic ‘self-rescue’, as the term is now called.) There are smaller radios out there..the folks at CountyComm have one that I’d very much like to have but it runs on AA batts and I rather like the notion of not having to worry about batteries. On the other hand, a smaller, lighter, radio that provides the same functions would be nice to have. Still, for fifteen bucks I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
It seems pretty hard to look at the current political wrangling going on and not think that battle lines are being drawn. What I mean is, the national health care debate, such as it is, seems to be galvanizing the public into choosing sides and those sides are getting pretty unfriendly in their attitudes towards their opponents. Personally, I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This new trend towards unambiguous partisanship is clearing the fencelines and people are choosing the camp they want to be in. This is good. When your opponent comes out and states clearly that he opposes you, regards you as the enemy, and will work actively and purposefully against the things that are important to you…rejoice! He has made your decisions easier. The ambiguity and grey areas are swept away. You now know who your enemy is and can move on to the battle. It’s much easier to deal with people who you know are against you than it is to deal with people whose sympathies and loyalties are unclear or murky.
My peppers are coming along nicely. I’m something of a fan of container gardening and used two different size containers this year. For some plants, I used regular 10” flower pots. For a few others I used old 5-gallon buckets salvaged from the trash. The plants growing in the buckets are growing bigger than the ones in the flower pots. What I like about the buckets is that I can move them in/out of the sun as needed and by leaving a few inches of space at the top of the bucket watering the plant is simply fill to the top of the bucket. The water doesn’t spread out, it has nowhere to go except to percolate its way down through the bucket.

I think next year I’ll be doing almost everything in 5-gallon buckets. It’ll be especially nice for the tomatoes since I can just screw some scrap lumber onto the side of the bucket to form a cage/trellis for the tomatoes. Plus, if the weather turns sour I can always move them to a more sheltered location.

My basil, by the by, is doing exceptionally well. It’s a huge bush-like mound of greenery that can easily be thinned down to make pesto (or pistou) and still have an abundance of leaves.

Deja vu – Officials see rise in militia groups across US

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

Here we go again. The race baiters at the Southern Poverty Law Center are wringing their hands over the revival of interest in ‘militia groups’.


You know, I live in western Montana, a place thats had more than a little connection with this sort of thing. Heck, I see Militia of Montana honcho John Trochmann at pretty much every large gun show ( he sells useful geegaws like Israeli trauma dressings, parachute flares and the like), and have met more than a few people who, even by my standards, might be ‘out where the buses don’t run’ in terms of their tinfoil-hat quotient. I’ve met militia types, white separatists, white supremacists, and religious zealots….so I think I have a little bit of credibility on these matters.

Militia? Eh. I would bet you some serious coin that there are far more armed paranoiacs out here with non-political motivations than there are wannabe revolutionaries. What I mean is, you show me a guy with a safe full of AR’s, a couple thousand rounds of ammo, a shortwave radio, a basement full of food, a library on improvised munitions and a handful of like-minded friends who get together once a month to go shooting and I will bet you some pretty heavy odds that their motivation is to protect themselves and their families…not to storm Washington DC or foment a race/class war.

Truth is, for better or worse, most folks worry about number one first. Sure, there’s plenty of whackos out there with a head full of bad wiring, a pistol, a grudge, and a plane ticket to wherever they think the voices/aliens/mindcontrol chip/deity  in their head says to go. But, so what…theres always been screwed up people out there. Are they forming militias and plotting to overthrow the .gov? Maybe. I’m sure theres a buncha guys in a basement somewhere plotting this sort of thing. But theres always been that element, regardless of the party in control of the .gov. Heck, in the Bush years the Democratic Underground weenies were always talking ‘revolution’ but no one paid them any mind. Funny how its only the right-wing militias that get the press.

But, lets read between the lines. Which is more alarming – the notion that theres folks who are so dissatisfied with the government that they think theyre willing to take up arms against it..orrrrrrrrr….the notion that a government has gotten so out of touch with its people that those same folks are pushed towards these extreme actions? Or, put another way, whose behavior is more disturbing …. the woman with the black eye and swollen lip going to karate class or the drunk abusive husband that slaps her around? Really, rather than looking at these ‘revived militias’ and clucking about how terrible and dangerous they are maybe the better question is what could .gov possibly be doing to drive this sort of behavior?

But to the goons at the SPLC, if you disagree with the current administration (which automatically means youre a racist, in some circles), live outside of New England, own guns, listen to talk radio, and sock away food, fuel, ammo and metals…well, youre probably one of those militia nuts.

This is classic…classic, I say…dehumanization and proaganda tactics straight out of pretty much every horribly oppressive and repressive regime thats been around. You target dissenters, get the public to identify them as belonging to a class or group, demonize that group as convincingly as possible, propose measures to ‘reign in’ that ‘outlaw group’, get rid of your opponents while getting lauded for having ‘done something’ about that evil group.

So, like it or not, the odds are pretty good that you and I, regardless of if we actually are in a group of some kind, are going to get labelled as dangerous right-wing militia nutjobs. Not much we can do about it. I suppose we could sink beneath the radar and be pretty low profile. Its already established that the whole ‘if youre not guilty youve got nothing to fear’ thing ain’t gonna work.  Besides, didnt the lefties during the Bush years tell us that dissent was patriotic? Funny how that tune changes once theyre in the White House, innit?

So, lemme recap:

Sure, theres probably self-styled militia groups forming around the US. And theres probably a few that have been around since the ’90s and have just been keeping a low profile. And 95% of them are concerned with protecting their own very local interests.  A half-dozen guys who get together to stockpile food, practice shooting and tactics, and  bitch about the government are not a militia.

But most importantly, look past the news hype and ask yourself  “What is the government doing that is so bad that has all these people up in arms?” and then examine the issue(s) for yourself.