Aged beef

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

If I start pulling meat out of the freezer thats any older than the stuff I had tonight, Im going to need a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to retrieve it.

I actually set a record this evening. According to the datestamp on the vacuum sealed package, tonights chunk o’ cow started its journey into cryonics in April of 2004. Thats right, tonight’’s steak was five and a half years old. Probably older than the cow was when the hammer hit its brainpan lo those many years ago at the stockyard.

And…it tasted just fine. To be fair, I won’t be 100% sure until ….:::looks at watch:::…oh, Id say noon tomorrow. But I figure it was just fine. Nutritionally it may have degraded a little but who cares? I almost never eat a meal because of its nutritional value, I eat a meal because Im in the mood for whatever tastes it offers.

The practical upshot here, assuming I’m still alive tomorrow, is that next time you pull well-packaged and well-preserved meat outta the freezer and wonder if its okay to eat after a year or two the answer seems to be a resounding ‘yes’. The usual caveats apply, of course: you sealed it up airtight, it was kept in a true freezer where it gets below zero…not the little box on top of your fridge, the temperature was maintained for all those years, etc, etc.

This is actually pretty useful information since on occasion we purchase some large quantities of meat and it can take a while to go through it all. I know for a fact theres some chicken down there thats about two years old and I think theres a humongous Butterball down there thats at least twice that.

On the flip side of the coin, while I wasnt too concerned about five year old frozen steak I might be a little leery of five year canned food. Usually the canned goods around here dont go more than a year or two before use, but you never know…might be an ancient can of something tucked ina forgotten corner of the cabinets.

Anyway, today’s experience (assuming Im alive tomorrow) shows that you can, under proper storage conditions, keep something like meat safe, edible, and tasty for at least half a decade.

Oh…the steak was seasoned with some Montreal steak seasoning and then broiled. Good stuff.

Satellite phone

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

Went up to the LDS cannery today. While there I couldnt help but notice the shiny Iridium satellite phone sitting on the desk. I inquired as to what the story was with it. I was told that all the cannery/storehouse administrators were given them so they could be in touch in case of a communication failure. Now, I can not imagine those tings come cheap but then again the church doesnt exactly seem to be hurting for money. Still, its an interesting sign that someone is thinking pretty far outside the box…especially since the cannery already has a very nice, very professional ham radio setup for communications purposes. Suspenders and a belt…I knew there was a reason I liked these people. If I had to guess, Id say that theres a focus group in Salt Lake City working up some hamthrax contingency plans and setting up the logistics. Speaking of signs, there was one on the front door of the cannery saying that if you had flu-like symptoms to please come back some other time. Serious business, these folks.

I must say, the satphone was pretty cool looking.

Fall, pen flares, winter car gear

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

Well, its no swallow coming back from cappucino, but the first sign of fall is here: the heat kicked in this morning. I’m not looking forward to going out nad seeing how the tomatoes are faring. However, I did ostensibly pick up one of the varieties because it was supposed to be pretty tolerant of the cool weather so we’ll see if that works or not.
While I very much like my Hk P2A1 flare guns, they do have the typical drawback of anything made by HK – theyre a bit…robust. This is a polite way of saying “Big and heavy”. (You know, kinda like how fat chicks are now “curvy”.) Anyway, while I do love me the HK flare gun, I also love having a pack that weighs as little as possible. When youre running around in the boonies its always nice to have some options in case you get in over your head, the flare gun is one of those little things that tips the odds in your favor. But the weight…the bulk…. meh. An option is the pen flare launchers. These things are tiny little flare launchers that, while slightly bigger than an actual pen, are still pretty compact but give good performance for their size. I was diddling around online the other day and found this place which sells the launchers, flares and cracker/noise bombs.

The items and their intended application are interesting, of course. Whats also interesting is the non-typical applications these things lend themselves to. The first thing that springs to mind is that these things would be an excellent starting point for making your own trip-flare warning system. A quick trip to Home Depot, some time at the workbench, a little camo spraypaint and you could probably put together an excellent perimeter warning system.

I may get one of their packages just to test out .
Speaking of winter and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, it’s probably that time of the year where we should put the winter emergency gear in the truck. Because you don’t wanna wind up like James Kim, a classic case of the big-city guy dying in the boonies from bad judgement and poor planning.

The list of stuff you would want to keep in your vehicle varies from person to person so Im really not going to get into a huge list here. If you really want to know, and youre really serious, spend a winter night in your parked car and think about what you would like to have there as you sit in the dark with your teeth chattering. Winter sleeping bag, candles, water, food…..thats a given, work from there. One thing I’ll recommend is that in addition to the candles, get a good candle lantern. Its safer to use, provides the same heat, more illumination and can be hung from a rear view mirror. Contrary to what was portrayed in ‘Titanic’ theres nothing noble, romantic or cool about dying of hypothermia.

LDS cannery trip

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

Took a little trip to the LDS cannery Friday. Man, I love being there. I think the reason it appeals to me is that everyone there is ‘on the same wavelength’ as far as preparedness goes. (Although admittedly we’re not on the same page about much else.) These are people who think the only strange thing about stockpiling food and gear is not doing it. If it weren’t for the religious aspect, I’d sign up in a heartbeat….although when I said that to the fella I was there with he said that there were plenty of people who probably were members who felt the same way.

I’m always tempted to take pictures of the place and post them but I think that would be an extraordinarily uncool thing to do. They’re nice enough to let me use the place, I should be nice enough to respect their privacy.

Regardless, I need to reciprocate at some point. Maybe talk to the guy up there and see if theres a fund or something I can donate to. Or maybe I’ll buy a couple missionaries lunch or something. Or take them to a strip club.

Didn’t pick up anything terribly interesting. I was going to ‘round out’ the odd-numbers of stuff I have. Six #10 cans fit in a box so my goal was to round up things I had that were in quantities that weren’t divisible by six. Picked up some sugar, dried apples, and quick oats but they were out of some of the other stuff I wanted like onions, drink mix and carrots. But that’s okay, it gives me a reason to head up there again some time.

I do believe that if we had to we could live off our stored food (inc. whats in the deep freeze) for probably a very comfortable six or nine months. Longer if you don’t mind fairly boring menus. I suppose that when youre hungry enough you don’t mind eating the same food over and over when the other choice is no food at all. I don’t really forsee much likelihood of a situation where there is simply no food available but rather something where we don’t have access to it for various reasons (financial hardship, etc.) However, I do feel pretty mellow when I think that if we had absolutely no money for food we could still feed ourselves for quite a while. Peace of mind is on of those things that makes the effort and expense worthwhile.


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

I very much need to stop listening to left-wing hate radio. I listen because it is always a good idea to know what your enemy is thinking. (You all remember your Sun Tzu, right? “Know your enemy as you know yourself…”) So, Im listening and the banter is about, naturally, the health care ‘reform’ package that is being worked on. A caller said that people who were worried about the cost needed to stop being selfish and start caring about their fellow man. So, lets examine that thought a minute. The caller isn’t denyong it’s expensive, and he’s not denying it may degrade the quality of health care services in this country. No, he’s saying that the important thing is that we not be selfish.

Personally, I think if you want to be selfish, be selfish. If you want to be caring, be caring. Problem is, this nosebleed on the radio doesn’t just want people to care about their fellow man. He wants to force you to care about your fellow man. Forced charity is, by definition, not charity. Come to think of it, I think its called extortion.

I’m charitable in my own way. I decide when and how I want to be charitable. If I want to be selfish, the only person I have to answer to about it is me…not my peer group, not some invisible man who lives in the sky, not anyone. For someone to demand that I relinquish some of my own resources to help others is pretty close to piracy. You can ask me for a donation, sure..I might even make one. But demanding that I do it ‘or else’ is just a bad idea. These people are pretty easy with spending other peoples money, arent they? If your cause is truly a good one, you won’t need to force people to donate. This is why the Red Cross pulls in millions in donations and NAMBLA has to have bake sales. If there arent enough people willing to gladly support your program then you need to either make your program more attractive to donors or do more with less. You dont call people selfish and then force them to donate at gunpoint.

Conservatives get tagged as heartless rich people with no regard for the plight of the poor. Liberals are labelled as whiny bleeding hearts who ‘feel for the poor’ and believe that by taking from others they can make everyone’s life better. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. I’m all for making money and keeping as much of it as possible to do whatever you bloody well please with it , but at the same time Im no fan of people living in cardboard boxes. Tax breaks, deductions, and other incentives might be a kinder and gentler way to convince the well-to-do to stop being ’selfish’.

If I had a decent amount of wealth you can bet I’d be converting it into some sort of untraceable and relatively unseizable form. The notion that ‘the rich’ are somehow evil and that the ‘working class’ are slaves to ‘they system’ is getting more and more play these days. We already hear mutterings about making ‘the rich’ (whoever that is) pay ‘their fair share’ and I promise you that youre going to see the definition of ‘rich’ encompass lower and lower incomes and the definition of ‘fair share’ encompass higher and higher takings.

Banks are giving less than 1 or 2 percent on interest these days anyway, so might as well just keep it in nice untraceable cash at home anyway.

Dinner, 9/11 and its effect on civil preparedness

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

Hmmm..I’m hungry, but dont feel like going out for groceries. Fortunately, it’s an easy thing overcome. 2006 was a good year for beef, so I pull 2# of vacuum-sealed 80/20 ground beef outta the deep freeze. Theres cases of jars of spaghetti sauce on the shelves, so I grab one of those. Theres also about 40# of various pastas, so a pound of penne will come with me to the kitchen. And, since part of the reason theres so much of this stuff is because I buy it when its on sale, the whole meal costs about…mmm….$4 and will easily serve three people. Annnnnnnnnd…….thats how we roll.
Did 9/11 change the way that this country thinks about civil preparedness? In my utterly worthless and unfounded opinion, no. I think the potential is certainly there for the events of 9/11 to be a catalyst for a new era of civil defense but I don’t think its happened. To be sure, .gov started flinging money around to, it seems, any municipality that asked for it. Grants for hazmat training, grants for protective gear, etc, etc….an excellent opportunity for a town or city to get itself prepared. Has anyone taken advantage of that? I’m sure many have, to some degree or another, but I think many more haven’t.

I think part of the reason there hasn’t been a renaissance in civil defense is that there’s an attitude of ‘its too painful to think about’ and ‘worry about it when it happens’. Even if the .gov were to drop. Say. $10 million on the governing body of Anytown, USA, there’d be a dozen committee’s, panels, commissions, advocacy groups and others demanding that the money be used to fit their particular vision of whats needed. Worse, in some cases the money is used to pull money from elsewhere. I had a customer with a local sherriff’s department who was lamenting the the lack of guns and ammo for training. I asked him if his department had gotten any Homeland Security grants or funding. He said that they had gotten $80k earmarked for their department. I asked what happened to it. He said the county commission simply pulled $80k from the sheriffs budget and used it elsewhere…this way the $80k did technically go where it was supposed to.

On the other hand, you can’t realistically expect the out-of-towners to dictate where the money has to go. After all, wouldn’t it make sense that the chier of police or the fire department would have a better idea of what they need than some guy in Washington with a clipboard who has never even been to RFD #3?

We used to have a Civil Defense program in this country. It was an embarrassment compared to other countries but at least it was an effort. Relics of the program can still be seen in the black-and-yellow fallout shelter signs that still adorn many public buildings. (As an aside, I saw my first one in Montana the other day at the local high school. When I grew up in NY every school and some apartment buildings had the signs on them, with caches of ‘supplies’ tucked away in some dark corner of the building.) The programs eventually were folded into FEMA and the shelter programs, which were already languishing, were abandoned, I believe, in the late 80’s or very early 90’s. There are still, however, mounds of the old CD shelter supplies quietly rotting away in the dark wet basements of courthouses and schools all around this country.

Since 9/11 the other major disaster was hurricane Katrina. You would think that watching videos from that even would convince people that local government needs to take a serious stand on civil preparedness and defense. However, I’d be surprised if the folks in Louisiana have done much more than prepare for the next event by having their excuses and blame games transcribed to laminated cards.

On the other hand, 9/11 and Katrina did change the way the people of this country think about preparedness. Preparedness has gone a bit more mainstream, and although the stereotype of some gun-toting, camouflage-clad redneck misanthrope remains as the image people think of when they think ‘survivalists’, I think more people are coming around to our way of thinking.

And, still, the public sector lags behind the private sector in terms of preparedness. I’m sure there are people reading this now who work in some capacity for their local municipality and they’ll say in comments that their agency has been buying new fire trucks/body armour/hazmat suits/etc, and while thats great it’s still a drop in the bucket. Even if local governments couldnt afford to set something up you would think they would do their best to strongly encourage and support people who take the responsibility for their own preparedness seriously.

Perhaps its natural selection in action…the prepared will come out of the disaster just fine and the .gov that failed to prepare gets voted out next election, however given Nagin’s ability to retain his job I dont have much hope for the future.

For a window into the past of this nations Civil Defense progarm, hit this website. I especially like the fallout shelter tours.

The ‘blood in the streets’ scenario

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

I finally got back my copy of “One Second After” the other day, but not before lack of new reading material got me thumbing through a copy of “Lucifer’s Hammer”. (And if theres a difference between the last two thirds of both of those books, I cant see it.) Books like that make a person wonder what the end of the world will actually look like. I’m probably the most optimistic survivalist you’ll ever meet. Of course, at the same time I hedge my bets. Someone was saying to me the other day that they were talking to someone who firmly and passionately believed that, by Crom, it was all going to come to a head by December and there’d be blood in the streets. Who knows? We all have beliefs that other people may think are ludicrous but make perfect sense to us. Space aliens, global warming, religion, conspiracy theories, etc, etc….you name it and someone somewhere believes in it with the same conviction they have that the sun will come up tomorrow. (Although, to be sure, there’s probably a few folks around who will happily take money against that.)

Do I really, genuinely, honestly believe that there will be some huge Bosnia-esque civil war with armband-wearing factions running around with stolen military weaponry leading a great revolution against [insert nefarious cause/organization/person here]? No, I do not. I would sooner believe that a comet will hit the Pacific Ocean and wipe out California than believe that you would get a coast-to-coast widescale shooting war in this country. Why? Well, for one thing, by and large, most Americans are simply too lazy. We have our houses, our cars, our mortgages and our jobs…to risk all that you would have to genuinely believe that not only is your cause a righteous one but that it’s a winnable one. While there are certainly plenty of people who probably do believe they could foment a successful armed revolution in this country I think its extremely unlikely that there are enough of them to amount to anything bigger than a Shay’s Rebellion type of scenario. Armed uprising? In all states? With tens of thousands of armed citizens willing to throw away everything they’ve worked for in their lives and face the rest of their lives in jail if they don’t succeed? Nope…not seeing it. (Because unlike Shays Rebellion, there aint gonna be any amnesty.)

Sure, there are plenty of people in this community with sig lines that say things like “vote from the rooftops” or “Soap box, ballot box, cartridge box…in that order” and other pithy bumper sticker slogans. And some of them may mean it quite seriously. But are there enough people who genuinely believe that to pick up a rifle, kiss the wife goodbye, march off to wherever, and join some partisan army of thousands who think the same way? I doubt it very much. It’s happened in other countries, to be sure, but the motivation…the catalyst…for those incidents was much more pronounced than whatever affront we currently feel we are being forced to face. Quite simply, things are not bad enough to really make huge numbers of people want to sacrifice everything they have in their life at this point and in that manner.

Keep in mind, though, Im talking about a nationwide type of insurrection (or revolution or civil war or whatever you want to call it). On a local, smaller level…well, that’s a completely different story. Smaller venue, smaller forces. Still awfully unlikely though. And there’s still the usual race/class riots but, again, that’s usually quite localized.

No, I think that when the big event(s) take place it’ll be something, anything, other than some enormous citizen uprising that tries to ‘restore’ or ‘replace’ the current government. Earthquakes, hurricanes, riots, depression, hamthrax, economic collapse, terrorist nukes, etc. all seem far more likely than some sort of replay of the Revolutionary War. As an aside, it is interesting to note that while we think of the American revolution as something that swept up everyone in a united cause against the British the facts are that while there were Loyalists and there were those wanting independence there were far, far more who simply just wanted to live their lives, which were already difficult enough, without buying more trouble. I suspect that’s quite true today.

Where do I sit on that? Well, I’m all for ‘reforming’ or changing a few faces in the .gov and there are plenty of ways to do that that don’t involve marshalling an army. It’s a lot easier to put together $100k for opposition campaigning and a good smear job than it is to put together $100k for munitions and remote operating bases. Heck, we’ve just seen that a guy with a radio show can get people punted out of national-level positions…that’s a lot easier than convincing 500 people to run off into the woods and sacrifice their lives for a cause they cant be certain they’ll win. At this point, I’d say that money and media will change government faster and more effectively than any armed insurrection will.

So will it all come to a head by December as this fella opined? Maybe, but not in the form of revolution or armed uprising. Maybe in December the bottom will fall out of the stock market and we enter a depression, maybe we all get hamthrax and die, maybe an earthquake turns Nevada into oceanfront property. What I will guarantee will not happen is a parade of armed citizenry marching down the boulevards banging drums and waving banners urging people to enlist and ‘take back’ their country by force.

I think by December youre just going to see more of the same of whats going on right now…political shenanigans, economic gloom, unemployment and blame games.

Channellock and Stanley rescue tools

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

Well. This looks interesting. The cutter head is advertised as being great for cutting cables but I wonder how it does on softer materials like seat belts. If it’ll cut through a seatbelt okay then this might be an excellent little rescue multitool to keep around the truck and home. I like the gas shutoff wrench feature, thats kind of handy. The folks at Stanley make their FuBar which I thought was pretty handy. What I did not know was that Stanley makes an ‘entry tool’ version of the FuBar that has some cool features including gas shutoff, hydrant wrench, and a few other features that might make it handy next time your world is crumbling down (literally) around you.

I can see where these things could come in quite handy. A gas shutoff wrench is always a nice idea, and the 30″ version of that Fubar looks like just the ticket for punching your way in/out/through a building or vehicle.