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

Why do I have a Gadsen flag? Because so far I haven’t found anything I can put on a flagpole that says “F*** you, leave me alone”.

Edited to add: Okay, thats not true. I could put a poiltician’s severed head on top of the flagpole but it wouldn’t wave as prettily in the breeze.

Overthinking & Occam’s Razor

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

There is a such thing as overthinking things. When I taught hunter safety to kids one of the topics we had to address was how to take care of yourself when (not ‘if’, guys..when) you got lost out in boonies. We would tell the kids that you have to have a survival kit and heres what you had to have in it..and we’d give them a list. More often, the kids already had their own ideas. During class we’d have a couple kids pull out their kits and we’d go over the contents. What was interesting was how many kids brought in a flint and steel. We’d go through their kit looking for any other means of firestarting and all the kid would have is the flint and steel. We’d gently suggest that while being able to start a fire with flint and steel was certainly a handy talent, and quite useful under the right conditions, it might be a bit more efficient and simple to have a couple match safes in their pocket and backpack with strike anywhere matches. Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, let me say that I carry around one of those flint/steel firestarter combos in my bag. But, its in addition to several packages of sealed waterproof matches. (And its always, always, always good policy to carry a small waterproof container of matches in your pack *and* in your pockets. Because you never know when youre going to get separated from your gear and all you’ll have its whats in your pockets.) When its 10 degrees out and my hands are cold I think Im going to be better served with getting a match struck than I am by scraping a piece of metal against a rock.

Similar story with food. Someone told me about their home canning operation where they would go to the farmers market, purchase ears of corn, cook them, cut the kernels off the cob, can the whole bunch and have the glass jars lined up neatly on the shelf for their food storage. That’s great, I can soup and stew every so often. But at the same time it seems to make a bit more sense to just head down to the Albertson’s on Tuesday Canned Good Sale Day and buy as many vacuum sealed cans of Green Giant corn as I want at fifty cents a can. Why reinvent the wheel if I don’t have to? Certainly, I want to know how to can items for the day I can’t head down to the supermarket and get them, but while I can get them at the supermarket cheaper, easier, and better packaged why wouldn’t I?

You might recall a post a while back about a buddy of mine who wanted a .30 caliber, semi-automatic rifle and wound up spending a chunk of money on a 1941 Johnson. (Disregarding the gun itself, there was still the issue of spare parts and accessories which only made a weird choice into a foolish one.) The Johnson was not his first foray in the .30 cal. Semiauto search. He previously had a Remington 7400 in .308 with a bunch of ten-round magazines. Again, re-inventing the wheel. He could have just bought an M1A or a PTR-91 or even a Garand for the money he spent and pretty much have been done with the whole thing cheaper and faster than the roundabout way he did things.

Theres a joke that goes something like this: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are out on a camping trip. It’s the middle of the night and Holmes wakes up Watson.
“Watson! Wake up, man!”
“Huh? What?”
“I just woke up and noticed the bright starry universe above me and do you know what I’ve deduced?”
”That we are all just minor players in a larger drama that we’ll never know the outcome of?”
“That the universe is too big and too grand for the human mind to ever fully comprehend?”
“No, no.”
“Well then…what have you deduced from looking at the starry sky above us, Holmes?”
“Its rather obvious, Watson – someone has stolen our tent.”

The point is that we sometimes see a problem and manufacture all sorts of complex and intricate answers when theres a simpler, and probably just as good, answer. And sometimes we engineer the problem to fit into our pre-conceived desire of what we want the answer to be…a far worse sin.

Occam’s Razor is the term for finding a solution that gives the same result as a more complex one. If you look it up, Occam’s razor has several meanings but they essentially come down to ‘a simple solution is better than a complex one’.

I mention all of this because often in the forums I read posts that ask questions and people come up with most complex and convoluted answers. More often than not there are simpler answers but sometimes we get so wrapped up in overthinking things that we disregard or dismiss the answer that isn’t ‘tacticool’ enough. There’s a story, untrue as it turns out but still instructive, that when the space program started there was a need to find a way to make pens work in zero gravity. Much money and time was spent developing a pen that would write upsidedown and in freezing temperatures. This technological marvel cost thousands and thousands to develop. The Russians simply used pencils.

When stocking up and gearing up it’s always a good idea to try and keep it as simple as possible. There is no shortage of really cool (and spendy) solutions to the issues we want to address, but theres probably many simpler alternatives as well. The final arbiter, in my opinion, is whether the solution proposed meets your pre-established criteria. (This, naturally, means you actually have to come up with some criteria for what you’re looking for…otherwise you’ll just snag the first shiny thing with cool packaging that gets in your way.)

The juggling act here is that balance of ‘simpler/cheaper’ versus ‘meets criteria’. For example…the neverending $95 Mosin Nagant vs. $1000 AR-15 flamewars. If your criteria is ‘send bullet downrange’ then your choice is probably going to be different than ‘engage multiple targets as rapidly as possible’. If your criteria is ‘not starve’ versus ‘continue existing dietary habits’ then your decision between a $20 50# bag of rice and a $300 case of freezedrieds may be simple to make.

I try to remain objective in these sorts of things and let the facts drive the answers, but sometimes it’s difficult. Most of the time, the simpler solutions seem to be the most appropriate (if not ‘best’) solutions. I suppose the trick is recognizing which solutions are because they are what we wanted to begin with versus solutions which were arrived at on their own.

The turkey that time forgot

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

A number of years ago, me and missus were strolling through the local ALbertson’s the day after Thanksgiving. I was looking for bargain turkeys but couldnt find any. I said to her “Its the day after Thanksgiving. Where are all the marked down turkeys?” An employee overheard me and steered me to an endcap freezer. Butterball turkeys for, I think , around twentyfive cents a pound or some ridiculously low price. (Seventeen cents is the number sticking in my head.) What had happened was that they had gotten a bunch of ‘fresh’ turkeys and someone had put them in the freezer. Apparently, to be labelled fresh, they cannot be frozen. So they had all these turkeys they needed to unload. Naturally, I went to the front of the store and grabbed a cart. We wallked outta there with something like 125# of frozen. I used them up as time went by but saved the last one…a big twenty-something pounder. But I never got around to using it. Mostly because the thawing process would have taken a few weeks. But, last week I dragged it outta the freezer and set it in the fridge. Just pulled it outta the oven a while ago and its juuuust fine. how long was it in the cryo-nap? by my math, about five years. No special treatment…this one didnt get vacuum sealed. But it seems to have turned out just right. Unless theres some ghastly ..ahem…’digestive complication’….I would say that five years didnt seem to do any harm to the frozen turkey. So! Turkey chili and turkey soup on the horizon and , of course, turkey sandiwiches.

But, more importantly, another empirical lesson that, if frozen properly, meats last a darn long time.

Gerber Omnivore

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

According to the statistics put out by the fish & game folks, my getting a deer this year was something of a statistical abnormality. Apparently the deer numbers are down, based on game check station statistics. The culprit? Who can say. I’m sure some will say its the result of increased wolf pressure but Im not sure I believe that…it would take alot of wolves to knock the deer population down that much. (Not that I have any love for wolves, I just dont think theyre the culprit here.) I suspect that the deer numbers are essentially unchanged and the numbers are skewed because of the number and ‘quality’ of hunters out there this season. Economy is tight…a guy who did a guided pack trip last year may only get out for one or two days this season because he’s trying to save money. As a result, he doesnt have the high-intensity hunting experience and maybe doesnt get a deer like he did last year. Now, I know theyre out there because I saw more than just the one Bambi that had the misfortune to walk into the muzzle of my PTR-91.
Thanksgiving approaches and I would imagine that for those who actually do ‘count their blessings’ there’s much to be thankful for…expecially if you have a job and aren’t eyeball-deep in debt. Im looking forward to the post-Thanksgiving turkey sales to restock the deep freeze. Turkey is a darn fine beasty on the plate. Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird and while his arguements were interesting I think it’s a little classier that our national bird isnt something we stuff into the oven with stuffing and yams every year.
So Gerber has a new flashlight out, appropriately called ‘Omnivore’. In a market that is already flooded with tacticool LED lights what can Gerber do differently? For the Omnivore, theyve got a little 1-battery light that takes AA, AAA or CR123 batteries. Clever. This was tried about five years ago when Energizer brought out a flashlight that could take AA, C and D batts but it wasnt anything close to looking tacticool. It was more like a flashlight for keeping in the junk drawer in the ktichen. Of course, when its pitch dark and the wind is howling who really cares if your flashlight looks like a Special Forces toy or something out of Romper Room as long as it works?

Admittedly, having a flashlight that runs on these common batteries has a lot of appeal. Any remote control becomes a food source for the flashlight. In that regard, it could prove to be quite useful. However, as I opined earlier, pretty much any battery can be made to work in a flashlight if youre creative enough and have some wire and electrical tape.

It seems like a handy product but, sadly, like many of Gerbers products as of late it is made in China which is kind of a turn off for me. Also, it seems to be getting some negative reviews in the places that specialize in this sort of thing.

Its a good example, though, of why battery standardization is important. Around this neck of the woods, our battery needs revolve around three sizes: AA, D and CR123. And, really, the only thing the D-batts are used for are the big MagLites.

Perhaps some other manufacturer will come out with another product with the ‘takes on all comers’ battery optimization. That’d be nice. Something like a Surefire that can run on CR123 or AA batts interchangeably would be just the ticket.

Starvation as a foreign concept and its affect on motivation to store food

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

Anyone remember seeing the movie “The Day After”? It was the usual product of the times, a movie about a Soviet attack on the US that showed nuclear devastation and full of doomist ‘peace at any cost would be preferable’ themes. It was a thoroughly forgettable movie but I do recall one or two scenes from it. The scene I recall most is where a woman hears a noise in her house, goes to investigate and finds a neighbor kid has broken into the house to steal food. He takes an empty jar of peanut butter and is hungrily scraping the insides of it with his fingers to try and get whatever remains. As I recall the woman is aghast at her formerly all-American mow-your-lawn-for-five-dollars neighbor kid being reduced to the feral state of stealing food. I wish I could recall what happens next…I think the kid takes off running but its also entirely possible a fight breaks out. Can’t recall and the movie was bad enough that I really have no interest in looking it up to see how it went.

In the convoluted, meandering and generally incomprehensible book, “The Road”, starvation is never far from the forefront of the main characters’ thoughts. In the book they go days without food, eating things that normally we wouldn’t feed to animals, and always worried about getting more. Other characters in the book take a more pro-active approach to food gathering and kill each other for cannibalistic meals.

The slightly better book, “One Second After”, details the effects of starvation on a hungry town after an EMP strike brings infrastructure to a halt. Ugly rationing, theft, ‘requisitioning’ and dog stew are the order of the day. Although I think the pace of the starvation was a bit fast compared to what might happen in real life, it seemed to convey the starkness of the situation pretty well.

Re-reading “Stalingrad” with its descriptions of the horrors visited upon unfortunate civilians and even more unfortunate trapped Germans also provides some glimpses into the barbaric and savage reality created by starvation. People eating the flour paste off of wallpaper, sawdust bread, skewered rat, rations taken from corpses, etc, etc. Powerful stuff.

I sincerely doubt most people, including myself, have ever been that hungry. Sure, sometimes we go a day or two without food for whatever reason but that isn’t quite the same thing. Some of us, maybe, might know people who actually have had experiences like that…grandparents from ‘the old country’ who survived Stalin’s famine, people who rode out the Great Depression, folks who escaped from behind the Iron Curtain, etc, etc. I’ve done a good bit of reading on the subject and one thing that stands out is that the episodes of starvation, hunger and the desperation they cause have such a tremendous impact on those who go through it that forty, fifty, sixty years later those people still carry bits of food with them wherever they go, keep enormous pantries, hide food in their houses, and never, ever throw away an uneaten meal. The specter of starvation makes a permanent mark on those who face it.

I think the concept of actually being so hungry that food is all you can think about is a fairly alien concept to almost all of us. After all, this is a country where you can reach into your pocket, pull out a cell phone and a credit card, and have a delicious meal come to your doorstep. Theres a fast food place, a diner, or a restaurant on almost every block. I would bet that there is a supermarket, convenience store or other food selling establishment within several blocks walking distance of pretty much everyone reading this. (Save, of course, those living out in the sticks.) If I walked out my door right now, theres a supermarket five blocks away, an all-you-can-eat pizza place one block away, an all-you-can-eat Chinese place across the street, and at least two convenience stores within five blocks.

This is probably the only nation on the planet where the phrase “Theres nothing to eat” is used when the cabinets are full of food. Everywhere else it means “There is nothing to eat”, in this country it means “There is nothing to eat that I feel like eating”. To most people “nothing to eat” means “lets go out to dinner”, everywhere else it means “we are in trouble”. For many of us, a ‘food crisis’ is realizing that we don’t have anything we want to eat in the house and the stores have closed for the holiday. We’ll have to make do for 24-hours with whatever is in the cabinets or refrigerator….the horror!

Now, is this a negative statement about the state of affairs in this country? Absolutely not. It should be celebrated. I remember reading somewhere that children of immigrants in this country tend to be overweight and fatter than all their previous generations that were in the old country. This was meant to be a condemnation of the American way of eating. May be. But I guarantee you that if someones grandmother who lived through a famine in Ireland, or a politically motivated famine in the Ukraine, or a starvation episode in post-war Germany saw their grandchild in the US with fat cheeks, a pudgy face and a ‘husky’ build they would weep great tears of joy at the sight. They’d hug that kid, smother them with kisses and praise whatever deity they believed in because to them it meant that all was well, the family was safe, there was food, they were going to be fine. Imagine that…the notion of your child being fat was your greatest hope for them.

So…it’s pretty easy to understand why something like food storage gets shoved on the back burner, so to speak. The notion that somehow, some way, some day we could wind up like ‘those people’ we see on the news or in history books, on soup lines and in relief camps, is just absurd and impossible. That couldn’t come to pass here, for that to happen here would require some sort of amazingly horrific circumstance. Right?


Short of some sort of asteroid strike, overwhelming nuclear attack or zombie apocalypse I don’t think you would ever see a nationwide, coast-to-coast, all-fifty-states starvation episode in this country. Even in the Great Depression there were plenty of people who weren’t starving or in desperate straits. So, if I think such an event is probably unlikely then why am I harping on it. Two reasons – first, ‘probably not’ is not the same as ‘definitely not’. Second, while it may be unlikely on a national level, it is far more likely on a local, personal level.

On a national level, it would look like an asteroid strike, nuclear war, global pandemic, global war, or some such infrequent or highly unlikely event. But on a local and personal level it looks like a job loss, a debilitating injury, a blizzard, a hurricane, a flood, a blackout, or any of a dozen smaller, more regional, more likely events. Now, to be fair, most of those smaller events are things that usually are cleared up within a week or so. I suppose someone could make the argument that since the nationwide disaster scenario is so unlikely, and local disasters are usually wrapped up within a few weeks at most, why do you need a years worth of food? I’m really not sure what the answer to that is. Personally, I want at least a years worth because if things go south to the point that we’re eating off of what we have stored, then I want as much as I can possibly have in reserve. Sort of like how the average armed confrontation involves something like 2.6 shots fired but I’ll carry the 17 in my Glock.

My original point, however, was that given the abundant and seemingly limitless amounts of food available to us on a daily basis its understandable to find that people often don’t take food storage very seriously. Starvation and hunger are things that we have almost no personal experience with and can find difficult to relate to. As a result, we may not place the emphasis on food that we should. If you’re up for some reading, check out the various online accounts from survivors of famines, purges, and sieges throughout history, esp. in the 20th century. Theyre very informative and may challenge or influence (or reinforce) your ideas about food.

Tungsten/gold fakes

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

,Rawles over at SurvivalBlog had a link to this interesting little article. It seems someone (and I’ll give you one guess who) has discovered that tungsten is close enough in density to gold that faked gold coins and bars might pass some inspection. I forwarded the link to a buddy, and he emailed me back with a link to an outfit that has a bit more detail (ahem) about the subject. I link it not because I want to encourage you to stock up on fake gold to rip folks off. (Passing off non-valuable tokens as having an intrinsic value is the .gov’s job.) I mentioned it because I think being aware of this stuff is the first step towards protecting oneself from this sort of predation. I’m not sure about the tinfoil hat statement in the previous article about how the US Mint has bars of this stuff in Fort Knox and is quite aware of its non-gold composition. On the one hand, I wouldn’t put anything past the .gov especially when it comes to giving the impression that Ft. Knox really is full of gold. On the other hand, that’s the sort of conspiracy that if proved would cause some serious head rolling at some pretty high levels.

Anyway, my point about all this is that, just like paper currency, theres some counterfeits out there and it may pay to be extra vigilant when you’re purchasing metals.

Dueal Wielding

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

I cannot resist passing this along. One thing I love about Third World and Central/South American police is how there is utterly no uniformity in their firearms. There are at least six guns in this pic and no two are alike. And whats Mr. AK doing with all those pistol mag pouches?

Ganked from TSLRF.

Hunting, Stone Soup

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

By the way, one of the things I was wondering about this hunting season was whether the last six months of CrossFit would make a difference in my performance (actual or perceived) during this hunting season. The answer is ‘yes it did’. I got less winded and when I did get winded it didn’t bring me to a halt..I simply sucked it up and kept going because I knew from previous experience at CrossFit that I could. And while dragging animals across non-snowy terrain is never a walk in the park it seemed less taxing this time around. So, yes, the CrossFit experience helped. I was thinking to myself as I was dragging the deer that, based on performance at CrossFit, I know I could throw it over my shoulders and cover one mile with it in about fifteen minutes. But…I would much rather drag it, thank you very much.
This deer, and I have lost count, is yet another one in a string of “Less than 75 yard” kills. I’ve shot exactly one deer at around 125 yards. Every other deer has been at about 75 yards or less. This is a combination of factors…sometimes I’m just sitting quietly and when I look behind me theres Bambi staring at me, other times I crest a ridge and theres a couple right at the top where they couldn’t see me until I was on top of them, and other times…well…I think theyre just stupid. My point is that while I love the notion of long-range shooting and I have a deep appreciation for the belted magnums and good optics, the naked truth is that my entire hunting career in Montana could quite easily have been handled with an open sighted .30-30. However, since theres no guarantee that the next deer isn’t going to be 250 yards away, I’ll take the advantage that my scoped .308 gives me.

By the by, many folks think that for Montana hunting you need either super flat shooters like .257 Weatherby, .25-06, .270, 7 Mag or .300 Magnums or you need big thumpers like .338 Winchester, .35 Whelen, .375 H&H, or .45-70’s. For eastern Montana, with its flat rolling plains and antelope, yeah, the flat shooters are handy. And in mountainous and timbered western Montana its nice to have the big boomers for elk and bear. But..in my personal opinion, a middle-of-the-road caliber is ideal. Nothing smaller than 7mm and nothing bigger than 9.3mm. The .30-06 is always called the ‘all-around cartridge’ and it probably really would be that versatile in it’s utility. If I had the inclination to add one more cartridge to my logistics table and think of it as ideal for Montana it would be the venerable 7×57 Mauser. Sure, the 7-08 will do the same in a short action, and the .280 will beat it in a standard action, but I’m a bit nostalgic and would like a lovely Mauser in 7×57. I’d use 175 gr. Bullets for the elk and bear and drop down to the 145 gr. For the deer. Pleasant to shoot and plenty powerful. Nothing wrong with the other cartridges, we all have our preferences, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for the old 7×57.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the official unemployment figures topped 10% for the first time in quite a while. Note that is the official figure, unofficial figures are almost certain to be higher. The official figures do not count people who lost their jobs and then simply gave up looking or moved off of unemployment benefits. Its like tracking homeless people by counting how many show up on the soup line…theres obviously a percentage who don’t show up and are thus uncounted. Same with unemployment. What is the ‘real’ number of unemployed? I have no idea. I see people throwing around figures that are about half again as much, some higher. The term ‘jobless’ recovery is starting to crop up. How can you have a recovery without jobs? Pretty easily, I’d imagine…businesses simply learn to run ‘leaner’ and do more with less. But I don’t think that’s the case here. I think whats going on is simply that people are worried the economy is going to get worse, so they hold off on hiring, purchasing, acquisitions, etc. in order to preserve capital ‘just in case’ and that inactivity makes things worse. Self-fulfilling prophecy. How can .gov break that? Interestingly, I think an out-and-out Orwellian media campaign. Keep talking about ‘recovery’ and ‘growth’ long enough and loud enough and people will start to believe it and, again, you get a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You guys all know the ‘stone soup’ story, right? Buncha soldiers come into a besieged town and decide to cook a meal. They have no food and the locals are in no way inclined to share whatever they have. One of the soldiers sets up a big kettle of water and makes as if he’s about to prepare a huge pot of soup. A curious villager asks what he’s going to make. “Stone soup.”, he replies, dropping a couple large round rocks into the pot. “Its delicious. The tastiest soup you’ve ever had.” The villager, and the others that have started to come around, are, naturally, skeptical. But the soldiers make the motions, bring the huge kettle to a boil, and put in some large rocks…stirring and commenting amongst themselves about how good the soup will be. By now a crowd of villagers has gathered to watch this absurdity. One of the soldiers says that the soup, while good, would be superlative if only it had a little bit of onion. One of the villagers says she might have an onion or two, and comes back with a sack of onions. Into the pot they go. More stirring, more murmuring. The crowd is starting to wonder if maybe there isn’t something to this as the smell of onions wafts from the kettle. After a while another soldier says “It’s a shame we don’t have some potatoes to put in. Those would make this soup truly memorable.” Another villager says he might know where to get some potatoes and comes back with a few pounds. Into the pot. This goes on for a while, every so often a villager returns with something to put in the pot. Hours later the kettle is simmering with onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, meat, spices and all the other ingredients the villagers have added. The soldiers finally pronounce the soup done, pull out the rocks and discard them, and everyone has some of the ‘stone soup’.

To be sure, there are several sinister implications and interpretations to this story but I could see it being a parable for what the .gov thinks is needed for recovery. “This recovery is going to be awesome, but what would really put us on top would be if interest rates were changed.” And a few weeks later “Smell that? This is going to be an excellent recovery. I wish we had some tax changes to add to it. That would make a wonderful addition”. A few weeks later “This is turning into a fantastic recovery. Best we’ve ever had. An extension of the home-purchase credit plan would make it perfect!” And the next thing you know – ‘stone soup’ recovery.

I think you could argue that any economic event is instigated by perception as much as by economic theory. The bank run scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a great example of that. Bailey’s was, in fact, unsound at the time the townies came in clamoring for their deposits. However, by convincing people that it was sound kept it from being blown away, never mind that it really was unsound. To carry the movie analogies even further, perhaps this will be a ‘Field Of Dreams’ recovery – build up the hype that the economy is roaring back to health and the consumer confidence will come.

Regardless, I don’t believe we’re out of the woods yet economically. There are way too many variables and indicators that no one really believes we’re on the train back to Fat City. Sure, there’ll be a recovery…how could there not? But when and what it will look like are still up for grabs.

My opinion, for what its worth, is to stay the course…be careful with your resources, hold off another year on the jet ski, and be prepared to have a ‘deep personal financial crisis’.

Reflecting on the internet and preparedness

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

Back in ye olden days when I first started developing an interest in what we now call ‘preparedness’ (and back then called ‘survivalism’) it was often a crapshoot when it came to finding information and reading materials. Sure, there were Tappan’s books and a slew of Long and Benson how-to guides but other than a self-addressed-stamped-envelope to the guys at Paladin Press you were pretty much on your own when it came to finding informative reading.

There were no shortage of books on firearms and self-defense, and to many at the time that was the whole crux of the ‘movement’. But if you wanted information on the less sexy aspects of survivalism like composting toilets, non-electric wells, DIY medicine, alternative energy, food preservation and that sort of thing you were pretty much relegated to back issues of Mother Earth News or wandering the stacks at the local library…inconvenient and often unproductive.

The interweb, Crom bless it, has changed that on so many levels that I genuinely think a ‘survivalist’ from 1985 would just be slackjawed at the incredible potential offered by the internet. In the old days if you wanted to find a blast map of projected US targets with the anticipated fallout paths so you could plan your retreat location accordingly you had to cruise through stacks of all sorts of .gov and non-.gov documents. Now you can Google it and even get recent satellite imagery of the area to show you what the scenery looks like. Recent economic trends? Alcohol conversions for engines? Installing non-electric well pumps? All there. Heck, even YouTube all by itself offers more preparedness resources in one place than we ever saw when I was a kid. You trundle over to YouTube and they have videos on sealing buckets, storing grain, making smoke bombs, installing solar panels, cooking with Dutch ovens, etc, etc, etc.

In some ways I’m envious of the people who just recently came to this party. They have more resources available to them than I ever imagined twenty years ago. At the same time, though, theres so much information, good and bad, out there that it can also seem pretty overwhelming. But, I do think that the amazing amount of information out there on the internet makes todays survivalists potentially far more prepared than their compatriots twenty years ago. Heck, just the networking options alone are astounding. Back in the day you pretty much either ran a personal ad in SOF or ASG and opened yourself up to all sortsa whackos or you closeted yourself and hoped to someday just run into a fellow Like-Minded Individual. Nowadays you can lurk unobtrusively and fairly anonymously on various forums and strike up conversations with people without ever leaving yourself vulnerable.

Certainly one wonderful convenience of the internet has been its ability to make purchasing of obscure and hard-to-find items as simple as ordering a pizza. Used to be if you wanted to purchase, say, freeze dried foods you would mail the company for a catalog, review the catalog, possibly find a local distributor to get in touch with (since many companies don’t deal direct), send off your check, and have yours tuff shipped. Nowadays you can price shop on the internet, type in a credit card number and your stuff is on the way within a day or two. And for really obscure stuff and oddball military surplus, eBay has been mighty reliable. One of my favorite things about the internet is the ease and convenience of finding books that I want. No thousand-page publishers catalogs to weed through any more…I just type ‘off-grid living cabin’ and I get a list of all sortsa books that fit the bill. A couple clicks and theyre on the way. How utterly awesome is that?

Even gun purchases are more efficient and easier with the internet. Used to be that you only found a bargain if you hit the gun shows and maybe the out-of-the-way gun shops. Now you hop over to Gunbroker or AuctionArms and hunt around for exactly what you want. And spare parts? Never been easier. Used to be that getting parts for a gun was a tedious experience thumbing through the Gun Parts catalog and hoping they had what you want. Nowadays some fast Google-fu and you can have all the spare parts you want on their way in 24 hours.

Amazing resource, that interweb…..

Conspiracy vs. cockup

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

When you’re interested in the sorts of things that you and I are interested in you invariably run into people who take things a wee bit too seriously. Case in point, a comment I received a few posts back saying that the CA mail-order ammo ban is part of a New World Order plan to disarm and depopulate the world for the corporations and bankers.

I don’t know where to start with this. Does someone really believe there is a board meeting at Nabisco and Wells Fargo with executives saying “Yes, profits are up and we anticipate some negative growth in the next quarter but, more importantly, hows our plan to depopulate Australia coming along?”

The latest rage is believing that the H1N1 vaccine is actually a .gov plan to depopulate the US and bring populations down to sustainable levels. Right…because .gov doesn’t already have a hundred different ways to do that? “But..but..but that’s why they exempted the drug manufacturers from liability! So when the ‘surplus population’ is killed they won’t be liable!” Right…sure it is. For every one of these theories there’s an equally plausible (albeit not always sensible) alternative. I may think the vaccine was not given as rigorous and thorough testing and development as previous vaccines but that isn’t the same as thinking its some sort of human pesticide.

Does that mean there aren’t conspiracies out there? Of course not. But heres the thing, I look around me and see dozens more empty storefronts than I did last year, employment is at 10%, gold is hitting record highs, I still have a hard time getting ammo, winter is coming, the terrorists are still terrorizing and somehow all that is less real than the notion that some Bilderberger Illuminati TriLateral New World Order of ‘banksters’ and UN globalists is out to control the planet? Seriously?

“Cockup vs. conspiracy” – never attribute to conspiracy what is more likey to be attributable to a simple screw up. You run over a nail and your front tire blows. This is a case of:
a) simple bad luck
b) a multinational global conspiracy by ‘Big Tire’ to increase sales and create a corporate oligarchy for the Firestone dynasty that the puppet US-.gov is complicit in.

Most of us, I would hope, will answer “a”.

Do I believe the Obama administration may have plans to roll out new gun control? Sure. Do I think its because he’s the mouthpiece of a backroom cabal of international corporate and political interests intent on disarming America so their troops can seize American resources and enslave us all with microchips implanted in our hands –or- do I think its because gun control is historically a plank in the Democratic platform? Wow..tough call…tough call.

To be sure, there are conspiracies out there. But, really, some of these more outlandish ones do nothing but detract from the ‘real’ (or ‘more real’) threats and problems we face. I suspect I’d be better served preparing for extended economic malaise, or pandemic-related infrastructure failure than I would be by preparing to repel masses of Nepalese Ghurkas in UN berets marching down Main St. to the strains of “L’Internationale”.