Political advertising

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

I’m not sure I even care what this chicks politics are. Whatever she’s sellin’, I’m buyin’.

And here’s another one. Its a little ‘out there’ but ya gotta admire the historical angle:

Its going to be a political season like no other, these coming elections. Vote early, vote often.

Surplus goodies from SG:HQ

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

The new Sportsmans Guide HQ catalog showed up the other day. The HQ catalog is different from the regular SG catalog in that it is almost exclusively military-surplus and related stuff. In short, a very cool catalog. SG has been hit or miss in terms of order accuracy and value for many people but I’ve had pretty good experiences with them. What I find interesting in this catalog may not ring your bell, but heres some highlights that I think are worth pointing out:

German Sniper Sleeping Bag – #FXM-158691 – $29.97

I got a couple of these and theyre either new or like-new. Theyre a quilted bag with an outer vinyl cover. I have no idea if they really are ‘sniper’ sleeping bags but if you had to sit out in the cold somewhere for a period of time these would be nice. I could easily see myself in one of these while on a high point overwatching a small valley or ravine waiting for Bambi to show up. Definitely a good choice for those days duck hunting where its hours of sitting still in the cold. Whats cool is that in addition to sleeves, theres a zipper across the waist allowing you to keep your lower half outside the bag, so you wear it like a parka or as a sleeping bag. For thirty bucks, a fun piece of gear to play with. Good for tossing in the truck ‘just in case’.

800m Swiss Military Phone Wire – #FXM-182432 – $49.97

Ive a stash of TA-312s and this would go very nicely with them. Also great for running wire to your seismic sentry probes or impromptu ….devices. Often when you find surplus wire its been used which means it is tangled, knotted, spliced and probably not going to carry a current for its entire length. New wire is great because it lays out easily. A half mile of wire can be a handy thing.

10 New US Military Lashing Straps – #FXM-177549 – $19.97

Ten straps to use on rolled up blankets, ponchos, tarps, etc. Cant go wrong there.

US Military 120mm Cylinder Container – #FXM-183933 – $29.97

If you can afford the shipping for this thing, they are, hands down, the best firearms container ever. Better than the Pelican case. Many guns will need their pistol grips removed to fit inside, but these things are as bombproof as you can imagine. The perfect container for storing a rifle/shotgun, some ammo and a few essentials. If youre the type who likes to cache stuff around this thing is exactly what you need. They can even be padlocked shut. I have one of these that I picked up locally and I wish I had a dozen more. Airtight, watertight, crushproof, capacious, and perfect for housing important gear in inhospitable conditions. You could make something similar, I suppose, from PVC pipe or somesuch but no way will it take the raw, brutal abuse that this thing will. Cannot recommend these highly enough. Major drawback: heavy and expensive to ship. Try to find locally first.

Used Austrain Military Glock Bayonet – #FXM-175397 – $62.97

This is a case where SG drops the ball. A used Glock knife for $62? WTF? I have a vendor selling brand new ones right now for $21. This is why you should always shop around folks. The Glock knives are great general purpose field knives and are cheap enough to buy ‘em by the bunch. They are of excellent quality but are remarkably affordable – a rare treat in this world. This deal is so absurd it makes my teeth hurt. I point it out not to encourage you to buy, but to encourage you to keep your eyes open…everything that glitters and all that jazz.

2 New US Military Canteens w/ Covers – #FXM-148181 – $19.97

Ive switched over to Nalgene for ‘soft canteens’ and for hard ones I prefer the Nalgene bottles, but these have a lot to recommend to them. For me, theyre a secondary or tertiary level item – good for use as backup, loaners, stashing or expendable. Good for a day of gopher shooting or fishing, the major attraction is the cover with its sling.

Theres plenty of interesting stuff in the catalog, I just hit the stuff that looks like it fills a need. Its very easy to see stuff that looks cool and then fabricate up a need. Bad move. You’ll go broke in a hurry that way.

Rotating fuel

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

Went to Helena yesterday. Its about 150 miles in each direction and I figured that since I was having to make the trip this would be a good opportunity to use up and rotate some stored gasoline. Of course, once you use up the stored gasoline you need to replace it, yes?

Im sure you already know it, but I’ll go into it here….the procedure for filling fuel cans has changed in the last decade. Seems that folks were filling up gas cans in the bed of their trucks and, disastrously, bursting into flames. What was the problem? Well it seems that there was a couple things. First, the cans need to be grounded and sitting them in the back of a pickup truck on a plastic/polymer bed liner wasn’t doing the trick. The approved and recommended method now is to set the container on the ground and fill it as it sits on the ground. Also, the nozzle is supposed to be in contact with the mouth of the container to prevent a static electricity issue. At least, that’s as I read it. I suppose it makes sense…you’ve got a metal fuel can, static builds up as the fuel flows through the nozzle, the nozzle touches the edge of the can, a spark  and –presto- instant Bad Day.

So, nowadays I pull the fuel can from the truck, place it on the concrete, make sure the nozzle stays in contact with the inside of the mouth of the can and fill ‘er up.

Of course, since this is fuel for long-term it gets treated with preservative. A few years ago the girlfriend gifted me with a large jug of PRI-G and Ive been using it exclusively for treating our fuel. Sta-Bil is good stuff, but PRI-G seems to be a little better. I usually try to mix the stored fuel with fresh fuel. Half a tank of fresh fuel, half a tank of stored fuel…that sort of thing. Ive never noticed any difference in vehicle performance between stored gas and fresh gas. (For the record, I usually try not to let gas go more than a year but sometimes a can or two can be as much as two years old.)

The drive to Helena was nice and, other than one oncoming vehicle drifting into my lane and causing me to do some awesome reflex moves, uneventful. It’s awfully pretty country along the way and its easy to get lost daydreaming about a nice place to live out in the hills there.

The gas cans, by the way, are the NATO/Euro-style metal cans. Century Arms had them on sale for about $12 each a few years ago. Since shipping was free on orders of over $500 I ordered a pile of these things, sold a bunch, and kept a dozen for my own use. They’ve worked out very well and I find them superior to the Blitz cans. Ive never found a fuel can, Blitz or Euro, that really seemed to pour well from a nozzle. I paracord an automotive funnel to each fuel can and I find it to be a much more convenient and handier way to fill the tank. Once consideration is that you need to either keep the funnel in a protective container or you need to wipe it out before you use it so you don’t wash dust, dirt and grime into the tank along with the gas…sure, that’s what a fuel filter for by why tempt fate?

There are plenty of plastic fuel cans on the market, but I have not yet found one that I like. I’ve found them to leak, vent fumes, and generally be more trouble than they are worth. I don’t have any experience with the military fuel cans (MFC) but I have heard mixed things…essentially, if you are going to go with a plastic can theyre the one to go with. Maybe they really are that good, but I’ll stick to the metal cans I have now.

For day-to-day use I leave one can in the back of the truck. I use a bicycle cable lock to keep it from walking away. By the by, when it comes to locking up essential gear I almost always prefer a combination lock over a keyed lock. It is far easier to carry a few numbers around in my head than it is to hope that I’ll always have the correct key on hand in a crisis.

AZ, homeless

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

Here is something I don’t understand. If the .fedgov is suing Arizona over their new law against illegal aliens under the argument that enforcement of borders is the federal governments domain, then aren’t all those other things that law enforcement cover for the feds also as equally exclusive to the feds? What I mean is, if the feds say that the Arizona cops should not be enforcing immigration law then couldn’t you say that they shouldn’t be enforcing federal gun laws either? Or any other law that is federal? If that’s the case, AZ should shrug and say they wont enforce immigration law or any other federal law…see what happens then..


For better or worse, theres a fairly substantial amount of homeless people in this town. Homeless, transients, bums, whatever….what it amounts to is a large group of unwashed, smelly people who are, 9 times out of 10, soaked in alcohol and their own urine. I lost my compassion for the majority of these people a long time ago. I know that the proper and correct attitude is to believe that every human being is a special and unique precious snowflake just as deserving of our love and compassion as any other special snowflake…but the simple fact is that, like it or not, some human beings are more valuable and more worthy than other human beings. If you disagree ask yourself which one you would give one of your kidneys to…your son or daughter or some homeless guy that drinks whiskey for breakfast. (Someone will, Im sure, say that theyd do both since their kid is one of those homeless wretches.)

You see that 9 outta ten number I threw around back there? In the summertime here in Montana theres a small influx of what might be termed ‘functional transients’ or even ‘recreational homeless’. These are people who, for whatever reason, have their poop in a group – they stay sober, travel smartly, make the most of their gear, and if you gave them a half hour to clean up could pass themselves off as productive humans. For lack of a better term, theyre sort of 21st century hippies but without the tie-dye pattern VW minibus. Theyre usually young, in their twenties, and seem to have decent gear and do a good job of keeping themselves fairly clean. They don’t pass out drunk on sidewalks, splayed out in puddles of their own urine, or seem to get in too much trouble. They just travel, for whatever reason, and move from town to town.

Every so often I get the urge to study these critters. They are, after all, living what we might term a post-apocalyptic lifestyle. They live off of scavenged and begged food, sleep wherever they can set up a camp, travel on foot ( or bike for the smart ones), live out of their gear, and face the weather and seasons with whatever they have. They say that the only thing to survive a nuclear war will be cockroaches , but I think the ‘functional’ homeless will probably be there too. Theyre already used to living that kind of existence…its just another day for them.

I noticed the other day that the drunken homeless tend to use a lot of military surplus gear…BDU pants, field jackets, ALICE packs, sleeping bags, etc. The functional homeless seem to use more commercial gear…not necessarily high-speed-low-drag stuff, but good commercial packs, hats, pants, etc. I suppose in some ways they aren’t much different than the American college kids that grab a backpack and decide to bum around Europe for a summer.

One major difference between these people and the post-apocalyptic archetype is that right now these folks derive a good bit of their existence from the generosity of others. Once things get weird in a major way that degree of charity and benevolence will come to a screeching halt as folks stop giving away resources theyre going to need for themselves.

Still, its interesting to note how these people survive (although not necessarily thrive) without the gear that we think of as being absolutely necessary…guys wrapped up in wool blankets and blue polytarps versus you or I wrapped up in Holofill and GoreTex, that sort of thing. They live a refugee lifestyle and while it doesn’t look too comfortable or glamourous it does seem to work in its most basic requirement – it keeps them from dying (usually).

To go off on a tangent for a moment, yes I know that not all homeless people are alcohol-soaked, lice-ridden, greasy-haired wretches of humanity. I fully realize there are folks living out of their cars who get up every day, shower and shave in the local gym, go to work or look for a job, and struggle along as best they can in a bad situation. Bully for them. I’ll be the first one to give ‘em five bucks if they ask for it. When I say ‘homeless’ I am specifically referring to the useless sacks of flesh that have given up trying to better themselves or their situation and exist as nothing more than social detritus that accost pedestrians for change, urinate in peoples doorways and look like they brushed their teeth with a hammer.

The season to reseason

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

I took advantage of the fairly nice weather the other day to reseason my cast iron cookware. Simply put, you heat the cookware up, slather the insides with Crisco, and then heat the stuff up so that it bakes on, forming a non-stick (usually) coating on the cookware. As you can imagine, if you do this in your oven at home it can be a bit funky and smoky. I usually dump a bag of charcoal in the barbecue, let things heat up nicely, and then go do my cast iron seasoning outdoors. A lot less muss n’ fuss that way. For the love of Crom be careful…that cast iron gets hot. I mean, really hot. I use a pair of channel lock pliers and oven mitts to handle the cookware in the reseasoning process and that is *not* being overly cautious. The cast iron stays hot enough to be dangerous for quite a while afterwards, so when you pull it off the grill and put it somewhere to cool make sure everyone knows to stay the hell away from it. Burns are nasty business.

I like the cast iron for its ability to hold heat, distribute it fairly evenly, durability, and utility. The classic Dutch ovens are wonderfully useful pieces of cookware that lend themselves to cooking in less-than-opportune venues. That is to say, whether it is on top of a gas burner or on top of a fire made from salvaged 2×4s the cast iron cookware handles things with equal aplomb. Another very nice thing is that with the cast iron I can use all my metal utensils without concern, unlike with some other types of cookware.

I’m a snob, so I usually go for Lodge brand cookware when I go for the ‘uncoated’ stuff. I love the ceramic coated cast iron (Le Crueset, for example) for stovetop use but it’s a bit delicate, in my opinion, for rough-n-tumble outdoor usage. It is also tremendously expensive but it sure is a joy to cook with. There are other brands of cast iron cookware, to be sure, but I stick with Lodge mostly out of familiarity and a staunch refusal to buy Chinese products whenever I can. (Theres tons of cheap cast iron cookware out there from China but I don’t mind spending a few bucks more for the American made stuff. I feel the quality is better and therefore the value is better. Additionally, with the Chinese, who the hell knows if its really cast iron or just the melted down slag from a recycled nuclear reactor?)

In the past, just for giggles, Ive used the Dutch oven to cook chicken and rice on top of my kerosene heater in the winter. I’ve also used it in the past in conjunction with my Volcano cookstove, which works out quite well The cast iron cookware lends itself very well to disaster-scenario cooking. I have a couple Dutch ovens and a few covered frying pans but the one cast iron piece of cookware I am currently drooling over is a cast iron wok. That baby, once brought up to temp, should be the bee’s knees when it comes to stir frying. Pound of chopped meat, some assorted vegetables, some peanut oil, and a bunch of spices should do pretty well in a blazing hot cast iron wok. My birthday is coming in August so perhaps the fates will smile.

Preparedness coming into its own

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

I think its interesting to note how preparedness has gone mainstream. Right off the bat, the fact that the poisoned term ‘survivalism’ has been rebranded as ‘preparedness’ says a lot. Although you and I know that there is no difference between the two, in the eyes of the public survivalists are confederate-flag waving, gun-toting, misanthropic racists who wear combat boots everywhere they go while preparedness conjures up images of a kinder, gentler Martha Stewart style of survivalism. To the general public, preparedness is survivalism without the guns and camo.

I generally go with ‘preparedness’ just because, for better or worse, its less inflammatory. I cannot, however, bring myself to use the term ‘preppers’. Don’t know why, it just sounds so….I dunno. Geeky? Dimunitive? Dorky? I do, however, have no problem with ‘prepping’ to describe the activity of becoming prepared.

Prior to my own interest in the subject (which I’ll put at around 1980 when I was 13) I’d never met anyone (at least, not that I was aware of) who was a survivalist. I did have a distant relative who, I think, dabbled in it a small bit but other than that I never met anyone I’d consider a survivalist. In retrospect, I had one neighbor when I was a kid who was very handy with tools, did all his own automotive work, grew a small garden and that sort of thing. I doubt he was a genuine survivalist as we came to think of them back in the 80’s but he was probably the closest thing I knew to one. It is interesting to note that he retired to the great survivalist dream – a nice place on a piece of property out in the sticks where he could take care of himself as he saw fit.

Moving to Montana, those many years ago, changed all that. Being something of a hardcore gun crank, I eventually wound up meeting and befriending other Ballistic-Americans and through those connections discovered that many people who take their firearms seriously are of the same mind as myself when it came to notions of preparedness. I’ve met ‘casual survivalists’ and some pretty hardcore ones. I’ve probably met many more that were simply so low profile I didn’t know they were survivalists.

Back then, being a survivalist was like being a member of some sort of slightly-illegal and very ridiculed club. To some degree it’s still that way. But nowadays it’s become far more accepted to be prepared as long as you don’t go too far and start doing things that are ‘out there’…like buying guns or precious metals. That remains the line-in-the-sand separating the ‘Security Moms’ (remember that term?) from the tinfoil-hat-wearers like myself.

The ‘Golden Age’ of survivalism was probably the late 70’s and early 80’s. (Although some might argue the real Golden Age was the bomb-shelter and Civil Defense movements in the 50’s and 60’s) As we all know, it waxed and waned until coming back with a very brief vengeance in the pre-Y2K hoopla. When that fizzled it seemed headed back into obscurity until the 9/11 attacks took place. When that happened it came back with a slightly new twist to it – there was a much greater sense of urgency and reality. The Cold War survivalists were, classically, preparing for the big Soviet-US nuclear missile exchange but that seemed very abstract…mostly because no one had nuked anybody since WW2. But this, the 9/11 events, was real. There really were people who wanted to pull off violence on a grand scale and here it was happening live on TV…reality, not theory….it was really happening and could happen again. And the face of survivalism changed. People still laughed and rolled their eyes at the topic of survivalism but more and more people started thinking about it a little more carefully. After Hurricane Katrina the pendulum had swung firmly into the camp of those who thought that maybe being cautious and taking a few steps to prepare might not be a bad idea. Survivalism became preparedness and even the .gov jumped on the bandwagon with it’s lame ‘ready.gov’ program.

That brings us to today, stuck in one of the biggest economic messes since the Carter administration. People are again thinking about what they need to do to be safe in troubled times. Those of us who came to this party early are, by and large, quietly sitting back and watching things unfold.

In the almost thirty years I’ve been following this interest I would say now is the time when survivalism has become most accepted. Also, it the best time I’ve seen in terms of availability of gear and information. The internet has made a huge, incalculable difference. A million years ago the only way you met other like-minded individuals was through personal ads in sketchy magazines. Nowadays theres dozens of forums, thousands of websites, and even YouTube channels. Exotic gear that normally was impossible to locate is moments away on Ebay or GunBroker. Its practically a renaissance.

I’ve mentioned that when the dust finally settles from this economic crisis that people will probably, for a very long time, have their behavior changed in regards to spending and saving money. I think this will also have the affect of making more and more people ‘come around’ to the basic ideas of preparedness – being prepared for a crisis, including economic ones.

The Doomstead

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

Talking about preparedness is like talking about sex – you either embellish and exaggerate because you want to impress, or youre into some pretty wild and bizarre stuff and you downplay it to try to sound average.

I mention it because every so often I’ll be talking to someone and they’ll mention their friend of a friends cousin who has a neighbor who knew a guy who….has an underground concrete missile silo, a garage full of armored cars, a railroad car full of food, a key to the National Guard armory and his own gas well on the property. Someone, mighta been Jeff Cooper, said that when someone tells you about how big the crocodile that almost killed them was you get the real size by dividing the reported size by two and adding three feet. I suspect preparedness is a bit like that. Divide the divulged quantity of [food/ammo/fuel/acreage/group size] by three and add three to come up with a more realistic number. Crazy Louie’s 24 month food supply? 11 month. Gino’s 100k of ammo? 36k. Donna’s 150 acre homestead? 53 acres.

I mention it because I had such an encounter yesterday with a customer who was telling me about how he’s working with a buddy of his on his buddy’s aunt’s acreage. The aunt, he says, is ‘Mommy Warbucks’ in terms of having a good bit of money. She’s building an ‘off grid’ house. I said great, more power to her. He said it doesn’t stop there. According to him, she has a 1000 gallon underground propane tank, took delivery of a truckload of buckets of food, has ‘plenty of ammo’, a couple 2500 gallon cisterns, etc, etc, and is gearing up for a projected core group of twelve family members. He calls it her ‘Doomstead’. (Get it? It’s a homestead for doomsday – Doomstead.) I didn’t want to get into specifics but I think her particular flavor of apocalypse was Yellowstone caldera.

Overlooking for a moment the extremely catchy term of ‘doomstead’, it sounded like quite the operation…if it were true. I’ve met folks who talked a great lifestyle but didn’t have much more than a couple cases of ammo and some bags of rice, and Ive met some people who youd never guess were ‘into the scene’ but had some hellaciously well squared-away preps. And, yes, a few with genuine honest-to-Crom concrete underground bunkers. (One cleverly disguised with a brick barbecue to conceal the ventilation.) I know, with absolute certainty, that there are folks out there with awesome concrete houses, capacious basements, mini-hydro systems, racks of rifles, and industrial shelves stacked to the ceiling with freeze drieds. I like to think that this woman really does have her ‘Doomstead’ as my customer described…more likely its something far less ambitious though. But, so what? Even the lowliest van-down-by-the-river survivalist is still ahead of the curve if for no other reason than because even if he doesn’t have the goods, he has the attitude.

I’m sure theres folks that would jump on the ‘yuppie survivalist’-bashing bandwagon if this Doomstead story were actually as it was related to me. (‘Yuppie survivalist’ being code for ‘makes more money than I do, dammit’.) Hey man, if I had the money I’d have my very own heavily-armored and tastefully-appointed doomstead out in the sticks. When The Day comes there won’t be any commendations handed out to the guy that made it through with the least amount of gear…I got no problem spending money for what I think is a good and important cause – continued safety and security.

Back to our friend at the Doomstead, I told him that if Mommy Warbucks was in need of some gear or freezedrieds to let me know and Im sure we could work something out. Who knows, it might turn out that there really is some matriarch out there feathering her nest with concrete and concertina while dispensing copious amounts of cash. If it isn’t true, it’d be nice to think it is.

NYT Article – Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being Ready

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

An article from the NYT about the folks that believe in Peak Oil.

Imagining Life Without Oil, and Being Ready

Located somewhere between the environmental movement and the bunkered survivalists, the peak oil crowd is small but growing, reaching from health food stores to Congress, where a Democrat and a Republican formed a Congressional Peak Oil Caucus.

Wow, I know exactly where I am on that environmentalist-to-bunkered-survivalists spectrum.