Victim of meme

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

This was a departure from the usual. I don’t normally go for memes or things like that, but since ,Rawles was nice enough to put me in his list of websites to pass it on to, I figured I’d go along. There arent any websites that I’d tag to forward this to that he hasnt already mentioned so I’ll just answer the major component. “…(1) I must divulge seven things about myself, and then (2) pay the Stylish Blogger Award forward to fifteen other blogs.”

Seven, eh?

1) My feet are EEEEE width. Finding shoes and boots that fit is a tremendous pain in the ass. I am also very hard on footwear. If I can get a year out of a pair of shoes I feel fortunate. Zappos is pretty much my one-stop source.
2) “Atlas Shrugged” was the most influential piece of fiction Ive ever read. I may not necessarily agree with all of it, but it made me think (and changed the way I think), which is what a good piece of literature should do.
3) I think Im the most optimistic survivalist out there. I just dont see Peak Oil, the Rapture, 2012, Planet X, or any of those things plunging us into a worldwide Mad Max dystopia.
4) I dont smoke, drink or do drugs. Just never developed a taste or interest for it. However, this doesnt mean Im without slef-destructive or stupid habits…its just that those ain’t them.
5) I have friends who are gay survivalists. It just isn’t a Big Deal.
6) Two is one, one is none. I have an identical twin that I might be able to use for spare parts.
7) I met my wife on the internet back when such a thing was still considered a bit weird. What she sees in me, I have no idea.

I only have a handful of blogs that I follow that could be tagged by this thing, and most of them were already tagged by ,Rawles so I’m just gonna leave it at that.

Pack purchase and buckle problem

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

I was looking for a bag to replace the simple flyers bag I keep in the truck. Ideally, it would carry everything I needed in case I get stuck somewhere or just need to spend the night out in the truck. Originally I was going to use my Blackhawk Patrol Pack but I wanted something with a little more room so I could stuff a sleeping bag inside it, rather than attach it to the outside. Because I have no self-control, and they’ve been getting in some fascinating stuff, I wound up picking up one of these Italian military packs that was being mentioned on arfcom. The one I got was new with the detachable day pack, much like the CFP-90 in that regard. Quality seemed pretty good but for slightly less money I could get new in the wrapper latest-generation-framed MOLLE packs from this place. But, those are desert and while the great state of Montana certainly has its desert and desert-colored regions I was wanting something a little more subdued. Plus, I love checking out foreign military surp.

The pack is pretty nice..not as rugged, IMO, as the US one but Id say its as rugged as it needs to be. Like the MOLLE it has a plastic (‘polymer’, I suppose) frame. I was able to stuff a sleeping bag and all my other gear in there with room to spare. Score! But, there was a problem. The lid of the pack is secured by two fastex buckles…pretty much like every other pack. Trouble was, one buckles female end was not securing the male end of the buckle securely. A bit of a firm tug on the strap and the buckle would release. This wasnt good since ideally you wanted to be able to pull hard on those straps to cinch things down. Additionally, the male end of the buckle was threaded through a strap, as is the norm, but the female end was contained within a sewn-in loop of webbing. To replace the buckle would mean slitting that loop open, replaceing it, and then stitching it shut. What to do?

Well, they make fastex buckles (and a good bit of other materials) for just such an event. They are split at the top so you can slide the loop of webbing between them. Trouble is, while I knew such products existed (they come standard on my Kifaru gear) I had no idea where to buy them. Searching for fastex buckles on the interweb gave me zillions of useless results. Finally, on one of the military gear forums I found these guys. Turns out they had a package that replces the most common buckles on US military gear and I figured they’d probably work on the Italian pack. I was right. This package had what I needed ( the 1.5″ buckle set) and a few extras that will be handy to have. So, since TPIWWP, some side-by-side:

On left is the original buckle, on right the replacement and in the middle an unattached replacement showing the split bar used to thread the webbing loop. The iPhone washed the color out a bit…its nowhere near that bright. Just your regular coyote color (or as we used to call it, ‘brown’).

I should mention that I never contacted the folks at Old Grouch about the problem with the buckle. If I had, Im sure they would have sent a replacement pack. It seemed silly to go through all that headache for a simple buckle replacement (and I had no idea if they had these kinds of replacement buckles, anyway) so it made more sense to sharpen the old Google-fu and find a solution. Glad I did, since it gives me a source for some excellent replacement parts as well as upgrading older systems.

In other news, I got one of those Wiggys insulated poncho liners. Details on that in a couple days.

Article – Man, 84, found alive in Ariz. desert after 5 days


PHOENIX – Henry Morello prayed to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. But as the 84-year-old spent a fifth night stuck in a ditch in the Arizona desert, he started to lose hope.

“My phone went dead, my battery went dead, and I went dead,” Morello said.

But Morello lived to tell his tale Tuesday at a Phoenix hospital, where the diabetic man was admitted in good condition despite drinking windshield wiper fluid to stay hydrated.

He didn’t have water, Morello said, so he broke open the wiper fluid container with a rock and filtered it with napkin to try to make it safe.


Well, he gets points for not really giving up. And for staying with the vehicle. On the other hand, if you live in a state thats famous for people dying of thirst and temperatures that can fry an egg on the sidewalk and you dont carry something as simple as water in your vehicle….well, perhaps natural selection shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. (And, seriously, the patron saint of lost things??? You know the catalog of Catholic saints enough to know which one to pray to regarding lost things but you dont know enough to throw a $6 case of bottled water in the back of your ‘Burban?)

Water, sleeping bag, reading material, some food, flashlight & batts. There’s your bare essentials list. Not rocket surgery. Add to it as you see fit, but those basics are pretty much enough to save the overwhelming majority of people who get stranded in their rigs.

Bottle carrier

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

Every now and then various pieces of gear will combine in a Voltron-like fashion to form a ‘perfect’ piece of kit. Of course, your mileage may vary when it comes to what the definition of ‘perfect’ is. What some might see as shortcomings, I may view as strengths (or be willing to ignore completely) and vice versa. Everyone has their own guidelines…Im as big a fan of lightweight gear as the next guy but it seems like often the tradeoff is durability…and if a piece of gear cant take abuse then what good is it, really? See, other folks might find lighter weight or cheaper price to be their criteria for ‘perfect’. Its all subjective. Having thrown that caveat out there, lets move on.

A year or so ago I picked up this. It’s basically a MOLLE-type pouch for the ubiquitous Nalgene bottle. The pouch itself has several redeeming features. First, it has no less than three different attachment methods to other gear – attachment points for a sling, webbing, and an HK-style snap hook. The pouch has thick padding for insulation, which can be handy in the winter. Slip a little chemical hand warmer in there next to the bottle and you shouldnt have any problems with stuff freezing all day long. Theres an attached compartment for accessories and thats what really makes this thing shine.

Although the standard Nalgene bottles are wonderful pieces of gear, I use a military surplus canteen with this thing. A few years ago I found a deal on these Swiss canteens with cup. The selling point, other than the usual Swiss quality, was that the caps were compatible with NBC drink tube systems. (A small detail, and one Ill probably never need, but nice to have anyway.) Various makers also offer a nested cup that will fit on the bottom of the Nalgene bottle in a similar fashion as the surplus canteen and cup that I use. I am especially enamored with this setup. The cup will fit on the base of a Nalgene bottle so it will nest inside the bottle carrier, and the lid can sit on the bottom inside of the carrier, with the Nalgene bottle resting on top. The advantage there is that the lid, which is flexible, won’t get dinged, warped or bent if the bottle carrier takes some hits. Not a fan of the price, but it looks to be almost exactly what Im looking for.

So….A canteen and cup go into this bottle carrier. What next? Well, an Esbit stove with fuel tabs and some matches leaves room to spare in the accessory pouch. A folded up sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil is always a good idea. Add a couple packets of instant coffee/soup/tea/cider/chocolate drink and you have an excellent, compact, contained and fairly complete ‘field kitchen’. This little package has everything you need to set up under a comfortable tree somewhere. fill your canteen cup, light the stove, boil some water and reconstitute freeze drieds or make a life-saving hot beverage.

What you see in the image is:

    Liter canteen with NBC cap and cup
    Matches (usually I use strike anywhere matches stored in a small poly ziploc bag)
    Sugar, creamer, coffee, tea, oatmeal
    Esbit stove with six fuel tablets
    Folded sheet of aluminum foil for windbreak/cup lid

Pretty much everything you need to setup a comfy little field lunch under a poncho shelter or a convenient sheltering tree. And, yeah, it all packs into the attached accessory pocket on the bottle carrier.

Although I normally use a hydration bladder system when Im out in the sticks I do carry this package in case I need extra water, want to make a ‘field lunch’ of soup or cup-o-ramen, or during the winter have the option of a hot drink. The MOLLE attachment points make it nice for attaching to whatever gear Im using, and the options it affords me are definitely nice to have. I’ll probably phase out the military canteen and cup for the Nalgene bottle and Snow Peak cup kit. So, all in all, a good piece of kit and highly recommended.

Article – NY Releases Doomsday Manual for Possible Apocalyptic Event

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

How should judges, lawyers, and public health officials respond to a chemical weapon attack? What happens if a mass terrorist attack forces a quarantine, large-scale evacuations, or the slaughter of private animals? Those are the questions that a new doomsday manual put out by the New York state court system and the state bar association hopes to answer.

I would imagine that should NYC suffer some sort of devastating incident the last thing on the minds of the judges, court reporters and attorneys will be “How can I safely stay here and continue this hearing?”. More likely they’ll be thinking “How fast can I get off this freaking island?”

Signs of the times

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

The Worst Hyperinflation Situations of All Time

An interesting little slideshow showcasing some of the lesser known episodes of hyperinflation. Whats interesting is the brief explanation they give behind each case explaining why it happened. Many times it had to do with wars, but theres a good bit of government bungling in there.

Relatedly, the headline from Drudge today is: Debt Now Equals Entire Economy

Interesting stuff.

Dog day afternoon

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

Took the bioweapon to the vet today to get him weighed. I’d figured he’d have to be pretty close to about 60# or so. Nope….the ‘little’ furball weighed in at an even 70#. Thats at the tender age of seven months. I think a 90# dog may be in the works.

Took him for a stroll out into one of the recreation areas outside of town. In town, the law is that dogs must be leashed. This is, in my opinion, a sensible law although many people flout it regularly. However, I care about what happens to my dog so I do not allow him to run around off-leash in the city except under very tightly controlled circumstances. (For example, there is a fenced-in schoolyard near here that we sometimes use for exercising him and since it is fenced in we can take him off leash without worry.) The rec area is a no-leash area and many people take their dogs there. So, we packed up and took Nuke for a romp through the snowy hills. It got to an amazing 51 degrees today. Short sleeve weather! I packed my Kifaru bag with a few incidentals and therein is the meat of todays post.

Montana is a lovely place but the unfortunate truth is that you can go from sunny and summery to deadly cold and wet in less time than it takes to type about it. This state, in fact, holds the record for extreme temperature variation within its borders..187 degree spread between 117 and -70. Some places are hotter, some are colder, but none have as great a distance between the two as the Treasure State. So, even for a short sojourn of low-impact hiking within eyesight range of a fairly large population center it is still a good idea to pack a few things.

Since I only wanted to grab a few things, I took the Kifaru Scout pack that I got for my birthday last year. I originally got it as a small pack for hunting but it really seems to fit into the role of being used for short outdoor day trips…hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. Since I had only a few things to throw in it, I left the waistbelt at home. I threw in my down vest (which compresses nicely, a major plus), a pair of wool mitts, a hat, and an UnderArmor poly turtleneck just in case the weather turned. I wore a longsleeve shirt, my Filson vest, and a ranger cap for the initial hiking and as things warmed up I packed the vest and hat away. I also brought along a couple bottles of water, a sheath knife, and a .357.

What I should have brought with me, and I’m kicking myself for this because I know better, was a poncho. If theres one piece of kit that should always be tucked into your gear, its a poncho. Yes, for the love of Crom, pack firestarting and a solid-quality knife but a good poncho is right there on that list. Why did we need it this trip? Well, once we hiked a good bit it would have been nice to sit down and take in the view for a while. Problem was, theres a foot of snow everywhere. We managed to find a tree with a good bed of pine leaves underneath and hang out there for a while, enjoying the day, but if Id remembered to bring the poncho we could have spread it out, pretty much anywhere, and sat around and been dry.

Nonetheless, it was a nice little excursion. The missus took a bunch of pics and heres a good one of me and the BattlePup:

Wiggy’s insulated poncho/liner

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

A year or so ago I got one of the Kifaru Woobies as a birthday gift. I’d wanted something similar to a poncho liner but with a bit more insulative oomph than the standard GI liner. A few companies make variations on the poncho liner using Thinsulate but Id read some reviews of the Kifaru product, and Ive always liked their gear, so when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday thats what I went with. As I planned, the Woobie ties in to the standard GI poncho and gives you the versatility to configure your pocnho/liner combination as an impromptu sleeping bag, as well as a throw blanket. I know theres at least one kit on the market to allow you to cut a hole in the middle of a poncho liner so you can actually wear it under your poncho. As I was perusing Wiggy’s website yesterday, I spied this little number. Its a quilted, insulated poncho. Not a liner, necessarily, but a poncho. Im assuming it ties in to your regular GI poncho but allows you to wear them both at the same time. This seems to be more useful than the usual liners which do not permit you to wear them in conjunction with the poncho. I think Im going to have to get one of these and try it out. As expected, it isnt cheap but, interestingly, it’s cheaper than the Kifaru Woobie. I may need to get one of these and try it out. If it works well, and compresses nicely, it could wind up becoming a staple of my hunting/outdoor pack.

For the win!

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

Its a wintery day here in western Montana. The snow is coming down thicker, heavier, and faster than I have seen it do in a while. The roads are rather treacherous…so much so that I have no intention of leaving the house. But..guess what? We have ample(!) amounts of beverages, food, fuel and entertainment so we can sit this out like it isnt even going on. Preparedness FTW!

The Meatrix, Reloaded

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

Another opportunistic adventure in evil yuppie survivalism. A coworker of the missus normally gets a 1/4 of a beef every year but this year she decided she still hadnt finished off last years bovine. She’d already committed to purchase it, so would we be interested in buying out her share? Well, thats a pretty big amount of dead animal but I called a fellow yuppie survivalist (and by yuppie survivalist, I mean he makes more than minimum wage) and he said he’d be interested in going halvsies. (Or halfsies, I guess.)

So we drove out to where the rendezvous point was…a parking lot near one of the interstate exits. Must have been about fifteen cars just sitting there with their engines idling. A few minutes later a big Ford dually pulls in towing a trailer. Everyone gets out of their cars and gathers ’round for the distribution…it was like some sort of beefy version of Catholic communion.

So we got about 207# of beef, some scraps for the battlepup, and went home to divvy it up. Half to us, half to my buddy. We got some awesome roasts that are about the size and thickness of a phonebook. Plenty of steaks and yet more ground beef. All the roasts and steaks were indivisually vacuum sealed so that saved a huge amount of time. I’ve filled the freezer. Unless there is some special cut that we need for a recipe down the line I think we’re pretty much done buying meat for 2011.

You know how some people have a policy about not letting the tank of their car go below half full? The policy Im instituting is that we dont go below 50# ea. of chicken and beef. As it stands right now theres easily 100# pounds of beef in the freezer and about another 70# of chicken. Careful management and menu planning could make that last a looooong time…without resorting to rice/beans and TVP.

So, Im crossing “fill freezer with meat” off of my list. I really do need to invest in a small generator to keep things on an even keel in case we get an extended power outage but in the 25 years Ive been here we’ve never had an outage that lasted more than eight or nine hours. Still, every good yuppie survivalist should have an EU2000 (or two) floating around. On the other hand, as all this meat freezes solid, the thermal mass should keep it quite safe and frozen for at least a day or two should the power cut out.

When the apocalypse gets here (or finishes getting here, depending on your point of view) we’re gonna be eating just fine.

Bonus: Unrelated picture of the battlepup starting his day. When you have a long day of chewing shoes and barking at strangerts in front of you, you want a double shot of that latte.