The festival of meat

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

Today was the festival of meat. No, no..Im not talking about the wifeswap/swingers gathering at the strip joint across town (Thats on Thursdays anyway). Like all good stories, it requires a little backstory.

I was in the shop and had, sadly, finished the last Coke in the fridge. So I figured I’d head over to Albertson’s, grab a 12-pack and as long as Im there I would hit the meat counter and see if there was any remaindered meat to be had. I get to the meat counter and they’ve got 85/15 ground beef marked down to $1.99/#. Not great, but good enough to warrant parting with a $20 for 10# of the stuff. (Normally its something like $2.79 or $2.99 a pound.) I ask the girl why its on sale…after all, it wasnt mentioned in the sales circular at the front of the store. She said that they had ordered too much of the stuff and needed to get rid of it. Ah, she had me at “get rid of it”. Casually, I ask “So…you got any room to move on the price if I take more? Like 20# or so?” She says she’ll have to go ask her manager. She comes back and says if I take at least 25# they’ll knock it back to:

Buck and a half a pound? Yes, please!

Well, at that point the wheels started spinning in my head. Sure, I can get protein from beans and rice like a large part of the Third World, but why subject yourself to that if you dont have to? I’ll take 50# please. I get on the cellphone and call the wife. Tell her to gear up, we’ve got a date at Albertsons. Pick her up (the meat folks needed somet ime to package all that beed) and we head to the counter to pick it up. As we’re at the checkout line I anticipate the question from the checkout girl about why we have a case of Coke, a case of Mountain Dew and 50# of raw meat. Sure enough…”Wow. What are you going to do with all that meat?” and my wife, who has up to this point in our relationship been, shall we say, comedically challenged, deadpans “Atkins diet.” The checkout girl nods her head sagely saying something about having some relatives who were on that plan. Who knew?

So, back to base with our beef. (Not to be confused with beef base, which is a whole other thing.) Clear off the kitchen counter and grab the camera for a trophy picture:

Can *not* be reassembled to make a small cow.

Because Im an evil yuppie survivalist I happen to have an evil yuppie survivalist luxury/toy – a freezer. So all this meat is going to wind up in the freezer to be kept, used, and hoarded against…well, whatever it is that we’re expecting to rock our world. Trouble is, you take that meat, as packaged, and drop it into the freezer and youre going to have a buncha freezer burned cowflesh in very short order. It’ll be edible, but it wont be attractive. Plus, it really needs to be broken down into smaller portions to facilitate storage.

If youre like me (and, really, I hope you arent because, frankly, you can do better) you probably have a drawer or cabinet in your kitchen that is full of mismatched Tupperware-style food containers. I cleaned ours out last week of mismatched containers but saved one that seemed useful for the task before me. I discovered that if I use it as a mold, I can make bricks of ground beef that weigh about 1.5# each. A good size for my uses and, most importantly, it allows me to stack them in the freezer more efficiently. So, I grabbed a box of wax paper, my brick o’ meat mold, and a roll of vacuum sealer material and got busy.

Get comfortable…youre gonna be here a while.

So for the next several hours it was fill mold, empty mold onto sheet of wax paper, wrap meat in wax paper (to facilitate sliding it into the bag), slide it into the vacuum sealer bag, seal it, stuff it in the freezer behind me, repeat….

This would be the ultimate Wendy’s hamburger at 24 oz. ea.

It was a tedious job and when it was all done there were about 34 bricks of beef to be shuttled from the kitchen to the deep freeze in the basement. Once they firm up in the freezer I’ll take a marker to them and label them (“85/15″) and write the date on them for reference. They should last several years. Heres an idea of what the finished product looks like. Stacks neatly and ready for a trip to the freezer.

Bricks o’ beef, ready for the deep sleep in the freezer.

Coupled with the last few trips to the bargain meat bin, theres about 70# of just ground beef down there right now. Versatile enough for taco filling, spaghetti sauce, hamburgers, meatloaf, or any other yummy dish that springs to mind.

Was it expensive to do this? Not really. We had about $50 left over from this months grocery budget and advanced the rest from next months budget…which is good because it means that ground beef is off the list for next months shopping. I bought my deep freeze in 1992 and actually split the cost with someone so I’ve gotten about 18 years of freezer usage for $150. Honestly, though, you can find used freezers all day long in Craigslist….theyre really quite affordable. The vacuum sealer has been a staple in my kitchen for almost as long and it has paid for itself many times over by allowing me to take advantage of deals like the one today. On paper, we saved about $75 on meat…and we would not have been able to take advantage of that without the freezer or the vacuum sealer. So, that $75 that was saved could be applied against their initial cost if you needed to justify their purchase.

All in all a productive day for food security.

Dog patch, gardening, newbs, internet kill switches

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

Morale patch for the bioweapons vest arrived today. The missus takes him out in the hills so he can get some exercise (and burn off some energy that would otherwise be spent tearing my house apart) and when he’s out running in the sticks I dont want him ‘mistaken’ for a coyote or other nuisance. So…reflective orange vest for puppy. We sent a picture of him wearing it to the manufacturer and they sent us another free vest and said they’d put his pic up on their website. Yes, my dog is doing endorsements. I think that, for all intents and purposes, puppytime is over and we should probably start getting more serious about his training. He’s a decent companion, when we’re not pulling shoes and socks out of his mouth, but I didnt sign on to this ride to have someone to talk to.

Speaking of things he eats, he ate half of one of my wool mittens yesterday. Fortunately I have about 20 more pairs but I was still a bit pissed off.
Its going to be time to start this years seeds soon. I didnt start them last year until around March and I think that might have been a little late. I think next week I’ll dig out the gear and get things set up. Last years efforts at growing in buckets was a resounding success … so much so that I think Im pretty much done digging holes in my yard. The buckets were easier to keep watered, to move around as lighting requirements demanded, and were just easier to deal with all around. This year, I think I’ll get a little more complex in how I do things. Someone sent me this link about using a pair of nested buckets. Looks interesting. Last years peppers did pretty well, although the tomatoes were hit-n-miss. I think a smaller bush-type tomato will be called for this year. Last year I didnt do very much with herbs so I think this year I’ll correct that.
A couple weeks back a fella from one of the neighboring businesses came by and chatted me up regarding preparedness. I gave him a few books and told him to read them. He came by today to say hello and we chitchatted some more. He said that I was a ’strange duck’, no doubt because of my own interests, but that he always learns something from me. I suppose Im not exactly ‘average’. In alot of ways I’m below average and in even more ways I’m neither above nor below average, just ‘different’. But, and this is improtant, I usually dont care. To paraphrase Popeye, I am what I am. You dont like it, thats cool..youre entitled to your opinion. You dont have to like me and I dont have to like you. Nothing wrong with that. I stopped caring about what people think about me a long time ago. I care what certain people, the people Im close to, think about me but theyve known me long enough, I hope, to figure that I’m generally an okay guy. Anyway, I gave the fella some more books and told him to come back to me when he was done with them and id be happy to talk end-of-the-world with him. He seems to be on track for becoming an ‘economics’ survivalist. That is to say, he sees economic issues and problems being more likely than a Mad Max we’re-all-eating-our-children future.
Egypt apparently activated their ‘internet kill switch’ to isolate itself from the internet. Dissension needing to be muzzled and all that. Note that the Obama folks have been wanting an internet kill switch as of late. Not sure I see any reason for such a thing. At least, no reason that sits right with me, anyway.

ATF shotgun importability study

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

Oh yeah, they want the Saiga and they want it bad……….

Note that they say, quite candidly, that IPSC and ‘practical’ shooting sports, if construed to be a ‘legitimate sport’, would make certain firearms exempt under the ’suitable for sporting use’ clause… they are refusing to say that IPSC and related events are actual sports.

That whistling sound you hear is the price of Saiga’s going up, up and away…………

The push for restrictions begins

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

Well, if you thought there was a bit of panic buying going on after that Arizona shooting you should expect it to increase now that it’s official: Obama is gonna dust off the gun control agenda.

But in the next two weeks, the White House will unveil a new gun-control effort in which it will urge Congress to strengthen current laws, which now allow some mentally unstable people, such as alleged Arizona shooter Jared Loughner, to obtain certain assault weapons, in some cases without even a background check.

Expect the usual suspects – VPC, HCI, Chuckie Schumer, Feinstein, Boxer, and the other useful idiots – to start jockeying to become the face of the new initiative. Especially Chuckie Schumer, who can be mighty dangerous if you come between him and a camera.

I expect the usual price increases, from the usual vendors, on the usual items. Of course, youve already got all the stuff you need…right? Right? Bueller? Bueller?

Article – Local man dies of hypothermia

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

Sad case in the local paper today. An old guy disappeared after dropping off someone at the airport. A few days later they found him. Specualtion is that he took a few wrong turns, wound up in the sticks, got his GMC stuck in the snow and when he exited the vehicle, presumably to check his situation, the doors locked behind him and he died of hypothermia. Rough story. Im guessing he either didnt appreciate the severity of his situation or he didnt have the strength necessary to bust one of the windows and get back in the vehicle. I’d feel like an idiot driving back to town with a broken window and having to fork out a couple hundred bucks for repair, but its cheaper than a funeral.

Of course, thats just the preliminary take on things. The guy was on oxygen and had a few other infirmities as well so perhaps those factored in as well. If theres a lesson to be learned here it is that if youve got a vehicle that aoutomatically locks the doors when you leave, you might wanna have a Plan B. Im a fan of a spare hidden key but your mileage may vary.

Article – The Myth of Homegrown Islamic Terrorism in the U.S.

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

Here’s an article from Time’s website:
The Myth of Homegrown Islamic Terrorism in the U.S.
A lovely little hit piece that says the bigger problem in America isn’t homegrown jihadists, but rather the easy availability of guns.
One little gem is this line:

Though acts of violent extremism by U.S. Muslims appear to have grown, their potency has not.

Or, to rephrase it, yes we have more incidents of violent extremism but thats okay because theyre largely ineffectual. Doesnt it seem to you that that is not the same as homegrown Islamic terrorism being a myth? This is like saying domestic violence isnt really on the upswing because even though we’re getting slapped around more its leaving less bruising.
The true threat, as the last paragraph tells us, is…well…you and me:

The U.S. faces far bigger and immediate challenges to the welfare and security of its citizens, not least from the ease with which unstable individuals can legally obtain and use deadly firearms. Addressing that danger will do more to protect Americans than obsessing about the phantom threat of homegrown terrorism ever will.

Amazing stuff, isn’t it? Theres a smoking crater in downtown Manhattan and for ten years we’ve had people running around third-world deserts but what we should have been doing, apparently, is worrying about whackjobs buying guns.

Theres a myth in that article but it isnt about terrorists.


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

Theres a little bit of discussion swirling around the blogosphere about Mountain House and the availability of #10 cans. This has been, as of late, pretty cyclical. About every year and a half some announcement goes up that MH is ‘restricting’ sales of their #10 cans of freeze drieds and all sortsa theories start flying around. Most of them revolve around the company’s entire production being bought up by the government (ours or someone elses) and it is thus a sign of the Great Impending Doom(tm).

Mountain House is s division of Oregon Freeze Drieds (OFD). OFD makes freeze dried (FD) food and sells it under several names, one of them being Mountain House. In addition, OFD also sells freeze dried ingredients to other manufacturers. The chicken in that little cup o’ soup packet? The apples in your instant oatmeal? The strawberries in your breakfast cereal? The blueberries in your granola mix? Yeah, its like that.

They do sell, of course, to the government as well. Probably guys like you and me, preparedness folks, are the smallest portion of the customer base. When production capacity becomes tight who do you think is going to be the guy who gets put on the waiting list? The company that buys $300,000 in freeze dried strawberries every year or the guy who buys $300 of camping food?

This is a bit similar to the magazine situation, though. I can count at least three similar bottlenecks from MH in the last several years. The lesson to be learned? Once the bottleneck is gone, buy what you need so that youre not standing in line with everyone else. I genuinely think about 40% of the people who are complaining about this current bottleneck are people who didnt decide to buy the stuff until they read about the delays. A case of “Huh..I better buy it now since its becoming hard to get” which is definitely not the time to go shopping…for anything.

FD’s may be disparaged as ‘yuppie survivalist food’ but it’s a lot more appetizing most of the time than ramen or rice/beans. Of course, the smart person would buy a little bit of everything and have a mix of FD, retort pouch, rice/bean/grain, and canned foods. Although you could certainly buy a years supply of food that was exclusively FD you’d be laying out a staggering amount of coin. However, if you can afford it, go for it. Canned tomatoes, FD vegetables, retort chicken, stored rice and youd have an excellent meal that covers the major food storage subgroups. Its all about infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Previous posts on the subject:
3/11/2010 –
6/26/2009 –
9/12/2008 –
11/20/2007 –

State bunkruptcies?

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

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Wow. And that’s an understatement.

I was listening to someone talk about public employees pensions and the current state of the economy the other day. As I was listening I had a vision appear in my head. Imagine, if you will, a gallon bucket. Fill it with a gallon of water and lets call that water “general funds” or something similar. Now, get an ice pick and punch a hole in one side of the bucket near the bottom. Call that hole “pensions”. Punch a few more holes and give each one a name..”bonds”, “social services”, “schools”, and that sort of thing. Now, as the water goes out of those holes the level in the bucket is dropping, right? Okay, you have two choices – plug some of the holes or add more water. Lately it seems like no one plugs the holes, they just add more water. Head to the faucet (lets call it “taxes”) and get more water. As long as you can keep putting water in the bucket faster than its leaking out of those holes youre okay. But, as we are seeing, theres a bit of a drought going on..when you turn on the tap not as much water is coming out and its getting harder keep putting water into that bucket fast enough. So, you plug a few holes or pinch them off a bit. But unless you either find more water to put in that bucket, or you plug up some of those holes, or you do a combination of both….youve got a problem.

You saw that Camden NJ laid off 1/3 of its public employees, including the cops? Yeah…its like that.

i suppose its worth pointing out that some of the people getting water out of the holes in that bucket will not take kindly to someone plugging those holes up..

Bioweapon update

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

Ah, they grow up so fast.

Cute li’l bugger, ain’t he? Of course, what youre not seeing is the entire bottle of Febreeze he made us go through, whats left of my shoes, the countless hours I slept on the floor with him, all the sleep I’ll never get back, the scars I have from his puppy teeth,etc, etc.

“Yeah, yeah…stop talking to me about the labor pain. Show me the baby.”

Ok, three times the size and begining his appetite for destruction:

(Well, he is for personal protection, after all.)

Nowadays? He’s probably north of 50# and he’s still got at least half that much more to gain. His adult teeth are mostly in and he can snap a rawhide bone in half with them like you or I snap a pencil between our fingers. Fingers. Fingers can go missing if he’s of the mind to not be gentle. With great power comes great responsibility and so it is with the battlepuppy. He loves running around here in the Montana snow. Here’s one of him looking like something from a Jack London book. This is probably the last thing a snowshoe hare would see barreling at it:

And fast? He’s fast on his feet, no doubt, but he also has some pretty darn quick reflexes. Once in a while the ‘herd’ part of shepherd comes into play and he’ll nip me in the butt. I’ll reflexively swat at him but I may as well be moving in slow motion. He is fast. Here’s one of him recently haulin’ fur across the tundra:

Now that he’s done teething he has become far more manageable. He’s been given a bit more free reign around the house. At night, rather than sleep in his crate, he can have the run of the house. He usually sleeps on the floor of the living room, which is good since it puts him in a central location to monitor things. My goal was never to have him sleep in his crate..that would be useless. One of his functions is to be an early warning system. If someone rattles the doorknob at 3am I wanna know about it. Thats where Mister Furman comes in… He’s pretty good at staying on top of that sort of thing. He’s also a good set of eyes and ears when we’re out at night. It can be deathly quiet and still, not a sound, and he’ll suddenly stop walking and stare intently down the street. You or I wouldnt see anything but then, blocks away, we’ll suddnely see someone walking down the street or quietly talking on a porch somewhere. Puppy has some excellent situational awareness. The big thing I need to get him started on is defensive behavior. Essentially, if the missus is walking him down the street and someone approaches in a less-than-friendly manner she can give the dog a cue and he does the whole bark-n-lunge thing to scare off whomever. We have a zillion dog books and videos, and theres a local schutzhund group here so I dont think were going to have trouble getting the right kind of training.

In the meantime, he hangs out at the house with us and I take him to the shop with me. More than one person has stopped us on the street and commented on what a great looking dog he is. I guess they dont see a lot of purebred German Shepherds. So, he’s about six months old now and Im finally feeling like the worst part of it is over. I mean, I hope it is. In the meantime, its hard to believe that this enormous sack of fur (who is still growing) looked like this only a few months ago:

UnderArmor, subway stranding

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

I was talking to someone the other day about preparedness and he asked what my version of TEOTWAWKI looked like. See, everyone has their own flavor of apocalypse. Religious/superstitious prophecy, nuclear war, invasion, pandemic, economic collapse, Red Lectroids, zombies, whatever…. put ten survivalists in a room and eventually you’ll hear someone yelling “Yes, but the real threat is….” every couple minutes.

I used to fall into the ‘terrorist attack that plunges the US into chaos’ school of thought…dirty bombs, suitcase nukes, etc, etc. Tom Clancy kind of stuff. I think I started re-thinking that around 2003 or so. I havent really discarded any of the likely scenarios but I did re-rank them. Terrorism-related scenarios dropped to the #2 or #3 position and economic turmoil took the #1 slot. Looks like I may have been prescient on that one. Is what we’re going through now part of that scenario? Well, certainly the symptoms are. I never really gave any thought as to what the cause of an economic malaise would be, I just figured one would happen. Even a broken calendar is right once a year, it seems.

This doesnt discount the possibility of a cargo container passing through some US-Canadian port with a stolen nuclear artillery shell tucked inside it. That sort of thing could very well happen. But I think the current situation validates my concerns when I re-prioritized.

But, you know what? Whether its Black Helicopters or Helicopter Ben the fallout (so to speak) is pretty much the same – you still need food, you still need fuel, you still need a roof, you still need money. Even if your particular ragnarok du jour is different than most other folks’ it is still a fairly safe bet that preparing for it gives you a head start on being prepared for all the other harbringers of doom.

I suppose it could be summed up as “It doesn’t matter what apocalypse youre preparing for as long as you prepare”.
Did I mention that it was numbingly cold here last week. I was sifting through the closet looking for something warm and pulled out an UnderArmor turtleneck cold weather undershirt. Wow…spendy piece of gear but holy Drokk does it work. Just that and a heavy cotton shirt and I could go walk the dog in five-degree weather. Yeah, its got a certain tacticool stigma about it but the darn thing actually works. I might have to pick up a few extras. Keeping one vacuum sealed away in my bag would be very handy if I get caught somewhere when the weather changes or I’ve underdressed. Not cheap, none of their gear is, but I’ve had plenty of times where I was cold enough to think “You know, maybe $45 isnt alot to pay for a shirt”.
Speaking of stranded, how the heck do you get stranded in one of the most populous cities on the planet. I read an article about the snowmageddon in NYC and that some poor slobs on a subway train were stuck on the rails, immobile, for around nine hours. In the cold. I’d imagine that lighting and heating may not have worked the whole time. Amazingly, although not surprisingly, the train folks would not let the passengers disembark. Not safe. If the train isnt in the station theyre not gonna let you off. Third rail and all that. Passengers did say they could see the station from the train, which must have been maddening. Normally Im a big fan of ’stay with the vehicle’ but I think I’d’ve jumped from between cars and hoofed it to the nearest station. Staying in the train car was probably tedious and uncomfortable for the passengers. If it had been me, and I had my usual everyday bag with me I’d probably have been able to ride it out in much better comfort than the rest of the crowd. At least until it turned into Lord Of The Flies. Most likely I’d pull out my cold weather gear, suit up, jump to the tracks and start walking to the station. The point, though, is that even in the middle of a place like NYC it isnt necessarily a bad idea to carry some of the more useful essentials like a flashlight, a bottle of water (or two), and some compact spare warm clothes. Proper mindset helps too. Although I cant imagine that it takes a special frame of mind to think “Why am I sitting here in a dark, cold subway car with fifty strangers when I can jump down to the tracks and walk to the station from here?”