Plumbing, shrink ray, wok

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

Plumbing backed up today. Managed to track it from the kitchen sink, down 20′ of pipe crossing my basement and locate it just a foot or two shy of where it meets the main sewer pipe. The good: it was only three feet downhill from the clean-out plug. The bad: there was 20′ of wastewater stacked above the clean-out plug. The ugly: I lost my grip on the clean-out plug.

I have an awesome picture of me covered in what is essentially sewage. But, I got the situation resolved. Or did I? I thought I got it but, no, turns out I hadn’t. Back to the clean out plug and this time I think I got it. I better have, because I am not taking a fourth shower today.

Moral? Twenty feet of waster water in a stack is under a bit of pressure. Snakes need to be at least 25′. Wear goggles. Bleach the frak outta everything. Pour a few buckets of water down the clean-out plug to make sure you got the damn clog.

On the bright side, I think I saved about a hundred bucks from calling in a pro.
After showering for the third time I went grocery shopping. The spaghetti sauce I stockpile was on sale so I picked up a case. (And, yeah, I can make a dynamite sauce from scratch but when I can buy a jar of sauce for one dollar it makes doing it from scratch kinda pointless.) My eye caught something and, sure enough, the magic shrinking ray has been busy.

Right side is a jar purchased November ‘10. (Yes, I datestamp the food that goes into storage.) On the left, a jar purchased today. 23.9 vs. 26 ounces. Or, put another way, about 10% less. This stuff was on sale for $0.99….or was it? With a 10% reduction in size, compared to the previous size, this jar costs $1.10…ten percent more than the larger jar. Hidden inflation. I would say “coming to a supermarket near you” but, actually, its already there.
I was going to play with my birthday wok yesterday but the plumbing fiasco screwed it up. I wasn’t going to do a bunch of cooking and then not be able to wash the dishes and have dishes stacked up in the sink for a few days. (At which point the wife points out that leaving dirty dishes in the sink for several days has never been a problem for me before…..) So now that I’m pretty sure I got the thing unclogged (and it bloody well better be) I can fire up the stove and get cooking. Tonight will, ideally, be sliced up pork loin, red & green peppers, onions and a spciy chili sauce served over rice. Ideally. We’ll see.

Wok like a man

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

A pleasant surprise when I showed up at the shop this morning. A note from UPS saying theyd left a package for me with a neighbor. Hmmm..not expecting anything, but you never know. A box from Amazon! That can only mean one thing – wish list gifties!

And, indeed, it was something off my wish list. A Lodge cast iron wok. Why a cast iron wok? Because when you dump a pound of room temperature (or chilled) chicken into the average cooking vessel the temperature drops considerably. The cast iron, though, has the thermal mass to bounce back in a hurry and keep me on my merry stir-frying way. I like the cast iron for that reason, and also it really is disaster cookware…I can cook on open flame, hot colas, gas range, propane burner, etc, etc.

What do I stir fry? Well, I like stir frying because I love rice and need something to throw on top of it. Stir frying lets me scrounge through the fridge and pull out a few vegetables or fruit, throw in some chopped animal protein, figure out a sauce, and -zap- dinner is served. Here’s what has become my favorite recipe:

This is for stir fry. Five steps:

1) Pick about 3/4 to 1# of your favorite protein. I went with chicken. Thinly sliced. I guess you can use tofu, but if you do, youre a wuss.

2) marinate. Whisk 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Toss with the protein, cover, chill for an hour.

3) 3 cups of vegetables. You pick. Carrots, celery, bell peppers, scallions, onions, mushrooms, bok choy, cabbage, leeks, snow peas, asparagus, plum tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, peas….I went with red & green peppers and onions. Slice em up.

4) Choose a sauce:

Clear Sauce, Sweet/Sour Sauce, Brown Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Spicy Sauce

I went with spicy:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons ea: soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese rice wine/sherry
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce

5) Stir-fry it

Heat 3/4″ peanut oil over medium heat. Add protein, slowly stir until opaque. Transfer to plate, discard oil, wipe pan.
Heat pan over high heat, 1-2 min. Add two tablespoons oil, 4 clove minced garlic (2 if using other sauce than spicy), 2 tablespoons minced ginger, 2 minced scallions, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Stir fry about thirty seconds. Add vegetables, starting with ones that take longest to cook. Stirfry until tender-crisp.
Add protein and sauce and stir until sauce is thick and veggies/protein cooked through. (about three minutes) Thin with broth if needed. Garnish with sliced scallions, peanuts, sesame seeds or cilantro.

This worked really well. Its the first Chinese style dish ive ever cooked that when done looked and tasted like it came out of a take-home carton.

I wouldnt have spent twenty minutes transcribing this if I didnt think it was mighty good, so theres the bona fides.

Annnnnnnd….a big thank-you to DG!


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

The Hi-Lift jack arrived today. (A birthday gift from the missus.) This may be one of the few times I have underestimated the size and mass of a piece of gear. I went with the 60″ over the 48″ because I figured the longer one could do everything the shorter one could do, but not vice versa. And that is, I think, a fairly valid argument. What I didnt really think through was just how big this thing is.

Although it would certainly excel at lifting a vehicle to change a tire, that isnt the primary reason I wanted one. My primary reason was for it’s other features – using as a comealong, being able to clamp objects together, to pry objects apart (“jaws of life” style), and that sort of thing. Someday, the ability to move a very heavy obstacle a few feet to the side, lift fallen tree branches, spread apart a door jamb, or otherwise move something that would normally take ten men to move, will be very handy and useful.

I need to thoroughly read the instructions and watch some videos for this thing. I am told that if you arent careful about how you position yourself in relation to the handle, it can snap back and tear your jaw off. That would be ungood.

Hardigg medchest

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

Unfortunately, I discovered $25 too late that Sportsmans Guide had this on sale cheaper than the place I had orignally sourced it from. Que sera sera. What is it? Military medical chest. Well, heres the description for it from Hardigg/Pelican. Used but in great shape which is probably why it was about $500 cheaper than a new one.

Purpose? Well, it’s one of the few pieces of military kit that is actually going to be used for what it was intended for – I have a buncha first aid gear in storage needs to be in a man-portable, watertight, airtight, easily movable container. This baby has handles on all four sides and has wheels so you can roll it along like a piece of luggage. Exactly what I wanted. Could I have done it cheaper? I suppose. These containers appear to be the modern replacement for the older metal medical chests, so Im not sure how much longer the older ones will continue to be avaialble. I suppose I could have just found an older case and done this cheaper but I like the Pelican/Hardigg style cases and have much more faith in their seals and structural/atmospheric integrity than some metal case thats been knocking around since the first Gulf War.

Is it overkill to pack such materials in this thing? Probably. But you never know whats going to happen. The circumstances under which I’d need to crack open these supplies would be pretty dire, and dire situations usually happen in wet, dusty, dirty, stormy, filthy environs. It’s nice to know that when the rain is pouring down, theres slush in the back of the truck, and the forecast is for a fast twenty mile ride on a muddy bumpy road to safety I can throw this thing in the bed of the truck, tie it down, and not have to worry about the contents being safe.

Link – Felonious Munk on the debt

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

I usually don’t warn people about links that contain ‘adult language’ because if you break out in a sweat everytime someone uses a four-letter word you’re probably not going to manage the end of the world very well when things are going to be even more disturbing. In fact, the superstitious hypocrites over at Frugal Squirrels are famous for scrapping links people post if someone at the linked website uses ‘bad language’. However, since some of you may be at work, I warn you that theres ‘adult language’ (whatever the frak that means). Anyway, submitted for your amusement:

It appears that more and more people, from all sorts of backgrounds and groups, are starting to feel the disillusionment. It’s starting to look like the one thing Obama may have unified the country on is their disdain for his ineptitude. Nice job!

I think it’ll be fishing this weekend

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

Theyre forecasting a hot one this weekend. Theyre probably right this time. However, I can think of no occupation where you can be wrong so consistently and still keep your job except for being a weatherman here in Montana. Or an Obama economic advisor.

Its gonna be a scorcher, so I plan to hop on my mountain bike, pedal my butt out along the trails, find myself a shady spot, wade up to my nads in the river and go drown worms for a few hours. Here’s a pic from last time.

Calorically, fishing is a great way to starve to death. It is, however, also a great way to spend an afternoon outside.
Speaking of pleasant, I checked the PO box and found a birthday card in there from one of the viewing audience. Much thanks!

Sealer, HiLift rescue tool, suspicious individuals

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

I was chatting with someone the other day and they were talking about all the game meat they were planning on putting in the freezer this year. I asked them if the had a vacuum sealer yet and they replied that they did not. Folks, if there is one single item I have purchased in the name of preparedness that has been the most brilliant and pays-for-itself purchase it is the vacuum sealer.

Im sure the Matt Foley survivalists would dismiss them as yuppie toys and proclaim that they can achieve similar or better results with a ziploc baggie and a straw. Not a chance. Spend the $200 and get yourself a quality (which usually means the Tilia Foodsaver brand) unit and a few rolls of bag material. It is the best investment in preparedness you can make. I’m not going to go on any further about it, do a search in the previous posts here and you can find all the details you want about the various uses and cost savings that can be achieved.
Speaking of gear, I have a new Hi-Lift jack on the way. But, what I did not know is that the guys at Hi-Lift are making a special ‘rescue tool’ model with some nice features. Costs over twice as much as the regular jack but it does some mighty cool stuff. Really, though, if you look closely, the thing that makes the difference isnt the jack itself but rather the base/stand that it is equipped with. Nevertheless, the video showing its use is pretty impressive. What I find quite interesting it the ability to be used by attaching the base to chains or straps rather than being forced to have the stand resting on a flat surface. Definitely one of those tools that you’d never need to use very often but when you do…. Of course, when it isnt lifting concrete slabs off of people Im sure it can be used for the more mundane things you’d use your jack for.
According to this website, if buy bipods for your rifles or MRE’s at a military surplus store and demand ‘privacy’ youre the kind of guy the FBI says fits the description of a potential terrorist. Really, if you think about it, every single human being on the planet is a potential terrorist. I know several businesses that are very big on customer privacy…they sell metals, long-term food,etc, etc….in fact, the customer who doesn’t care about their privacy is the suspicious one. The genius at the FBI that came up with those guidelines should be sent off to the Aleutian field office to count seals or something.


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

So this showed up in email:

I’m currently casting for a pilot television show about preppers/survivalists. I think you may be a great resource for finding well prepared people, who would be open to appearing on camera. I’m wondering if you would be willing to post this info on your blog or website, or just pass this info along to anyone you think would be interested.

The gist:
It’s a 30 minute show, and we will feature two stories. We are mostly interested in seeing what the person has prepared or prepped, and right now we’re specifically looking for someone with a stocked bunker or extensive prep. The idea is to meet the person and see what they’ve prepared, then bring in a survivalist expert to evaluate how long you could actually live for if a catastrophe were to happen.

The purpose of the show is not to exploit beliefs, we actually want to cast people who the viewers will be able to relate to. We also want to feature someone who has prepped extensively, either in the home, or in a bunker. We really want something visually stunning.

This has been extremely hard to cast because of the secretive nature of the people who are preparing–which is completely understandable. I am contacting you because I think it’s important to get the word out about survivalists/preppers–that they aren’t all crazy people, that most of them are smart, well-informed people who we could take a lesson from. And I am hoping you will be able to pass this info along if you know someone who may be interested in participating.

We can provide full anonymity, and compensation is $1000 for the person who is chosen.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time!

Michelle Reindal | producer | screaming flea productions |

I get a couple of these a year, it seems. Who really signs up for this? People who never saw that episode of The Twilight Zone? But there’ll be someone out there who just feels the need to show off. Always is.

Dude, first rule of Bunker Club is … dont show it off to a television audience!


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

See, I’m never clear on this….the rioting thats going on in that rioting in Britain, rioting in England, rioting in the UK or all of the above?

Regardless, it’s nice to know that when you feel like looting department stores, burning businesses and generally checking out of civilized society you can do so with relative impunity because the cops arent armed and the business owners won’t brandish a shotgun if you cross them.

In this country, rioting and looting is usually the exact circumstance for which short barreled shotguns were added to our gun safes. Its grisly, but true…mob violence tapers down considerably when you start shooting into the mob.

Remember the first rule of preparedness? When disaster strikes, don’t be there. I live in a small enough town that the largest possible riot that could be mustered would still be outmanned by gun toting guys like myself. (What if it’s guys like myself who are rioting? Guys like me don’t riot. Indiscriminate destruction of innocent third-party’’s property is NOT my forte.)

These riots will be spun as the result of ‘austerity measures’ and cuts in social welfare systems. To me, when you have to pay someone or else they burn your downtown that is called ‘extortion’. No mistake, the economy is tough everywhere…and its probably going to hurt everyone, poor and not poor. But I think what were seeing in London is going to be seen around the world, to varying degrees, and may even wind up happening in some of our larger cities. If you live in those areas you may want to start making plans for what to do when that happens.

Link – Fiction reading list

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

I like ’survivalist fiction’. Usually, it has an agenda (superstitious/religious, political, environmental, etc) but if you can get past that there are some entertaining reads out there. Recommended reading lists turn up from time to time. Here’s one I came across today. I’ve read many of the books on there already, but found some I hadnt heard of. I’ll bump a copy into my iPhone and take it with me to the used bookstore at some point.