Paratus – The holiday for, by, and of preparedness

I bounced this idea around in my head for a while and I think I’m just gonna run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.

You guys are familiar with Festivus? (“A Festivus for the rest of us!”) Its the holiday from Seinfeld that was invented when one of the characters got tired of all the Christmas hype. It has its own rules, its own traditions, and, apparently, it’s own adherents.

Made-up holidays aren’t anything new. Kwanzaa is an amalgam of ‘traditional African holidays and festivals’ cleaned up and marketed to empower black people. Presidents Day is a  holiday created by bumping Washingtons Birthday and Lincolns Birthday into a combined holiday. (To keep the number of federal holidays constant, thereby ‘freeing up’ a day For Martin King Day). So why not a fabricated holiday for those of us who believe in preparedness, and it’s virtues and lessons?

WIthout further ado:

The Paratus FAQ v1.0

What is Paratus?

Paratus (from the Latin ‘prepared’) is a one-day ‘holiday’ that basically exists to give an excuse for like-minded folks to exchange appropriate gifts, get together in a social setting, and, perhaps, share some ideas on the subject. It is intended to be a secular holiday but, reflecting the individualistic nature of it’s practitioners, can incorporate a religious element if the practitioner wants. However, the ‘true’ Paratus is strictly secular, non-denominational, genderless, mostly apolitical, and thus available to every demographic that wants to participate.

When is Paratus?

Third Friday of September. September, because there’s kind of a lack of holidays around that time, on Friday so you can have the weekend to play with your new gear, and the third Friday so you don’t have too close a followup to any 9/11 events.

Are there Paratus colors?

St. Patricks day got green, Christmas gets red and green, Halloween gets brown and orange…the colors of Paratus are subdued earth tones suitable for camouflage, as well as camouflage patterns themselves. Woodland, multicam, digicam, even that crappy ACU all count towards being the ‘Official Color Of Paratus’.

How does the gift giving work for Paratus?

Paratus closely follows the Christmas model – as Christmas traditionally dictates an empty stocking hung by the chimney with care for Santa Claus to fill with gifts, Paratus calls for an empty backpack to be left by the preferred primary exit of the dwelling. Your Paratus gifts are placed in the backpack by the giver. Or, if you prefer the ‘Santa Claus’-type mythos, the backpack will then be filled by the elite Paratus Long-Range Recon Gift Squad. It is advised to wait until a child is in their teens before breaking to them the harsh news that the Paratus Long-Range Recon Gift Squad is really just mom and dad filling their backpack with freeze-drieds once the kid has gone to bed.

Gift giving is not based on behavior (‘naughty or nice’) but based on either need, or revenge gift-giving obligation. Get your intended recipient either something they need or something that will force them to get you something equally as awesome. Win-win for everyone. All gifts should be able to pass the test of “if the world ended tomorrow, would this be really useful?” It is considered perfectly acceptable to leave cash, although in the spirit of preparedness precious metals are preferred over cash. Unreciprocated gift giving is acceptable if the recipient makes a tremendous expression of gratitude and makes a self-deprecating remark about their own lack of generosity. The giver then agrees with the recipient about their lack of generosity, injects a level of snark or good-natured mild condemnation, and the obligation is then discharged. Here’s an example:

A: Hey, man…thanks for the cool Swiss Army knife.
B: You’re welcome. So..uhm..where’s my gift?
A: Yeah…about that…things are a little tight but I promise I’ll get you something even more awesome next Paratus. Plus..Im cheap..I’m  so cheap I watch porn movies backwards because I like watching the hooker give the money back!
B: Yes. Yes you are. You’re so cheap you won’t even tip your hat! But…Happy Paratus anyway.

And everyone can still be friends!

What are the traditional Paratus foods?

Paratus is a gastronomically flexible holiday. You can either do a ‘real’ dinner with your fellow  celebrants where the cuisine is whatever you want – pizza, Chinese take-out, home-cooked turkey, whatever – but the more orthodox celebrants will enjoy meals that are exclusively comprised of long-term food and/or homegrown/harvested foods cooked using a non-grid-connected cooking device. Whereas Halloween has candy corn, St Patricks Day has corned beef and cabbage, and Thanksgiving has turkey as traditional food, Paratus supports the notion of ‘do what you can with what you have’. However, anything freeze dried would probably be considered a ‘traditional’ Paratus food. The little marshmallows in Lucky Charms do not count.

What are the traditional Paratus activities?

Shooting, naturally. Anything that promotes the idea of preparedness. This can include, but is not limited to, watching traditional Paratus movies (“Red Dawn”, “The Omega Man”, “Threads”, zombie movies, or any other movie with a ‘survival’ theme), trading books on related subjects, going shooting, hunting, fishing, or just sitting around discussing current events and strategies against them.

What are the traditional Paratus greetings?

“Happy Paratus” seems to work best. “Joyous Paratus” sounds odd, “Merry Paratus” sounds like a Greek actress, and “Good Paratus” sounds like a medical diagnosis.

Is there a Paratus mascot?

Well, there are leprechauns for St Patty Day, witches and ghosts for Halloween, Santa Claus for Christmas, Cupid for Valentines day……the Paratus Development Committee is still on the fence about this one. A heavily armed, and slightly scarred, Felix the Cat is in the lead since the notion of “Whenever he gets into a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks” has some merit as well as cats having nine lives. However, at the moment, there is no official Paratus mascot.

Are there any Paratus carols or music?

Paratus is discouraged from having a specific musical theme in order to prevent people from playing it a month-and-a-half before the actual holiday. Additionally, retailers are discouraged from starting their “Paratus Season” sales more than 30 days before the holiday. However, after-Paratus sales are highly encouraged.

Again, reflecting the individualistic nature of adherents and participants of Paratus, some folks may concoct their own Paratus playlists. Commonly encountered tunes might be “Opening Theme” from the Red Dawn soundtrack, “Silent Running” by Mike + The Mechanics, “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams Jr., and similar arrangements.

Anything else to know about Paratus?

At the moment, no. Go forth, have a Happy Paratus, and be sheeple no more!

Friday of Color

Well, the Friday of Color sales I wanted to take advantage of turned out to be a bust. Of the few things I wanted, most had sold out virtually instantly. I suppose this is a good thing since it keeps me from spending money.


Or, at least, it was until I noted that silver dipped down to around $15.50 today. Time to call the Pimp. Speaking of the ‘Pimp, he came by the other day with a silver round for me that he said came from someone who reads the website. So, to that benefactor, I thank you sincerely. When the zombie hordes are finally decapitated into the dustbin of history I shall praise your memory as I barter the silver for lapdances from grateful-yet-still-hot survivors at the local stripclub-turned-impromptu-fortress.

Just because I didn’t get the things I was looking for this Friday doesn’t mean there arent bargains and great values out there. Go! Shop! Acquire! Since ‘Black Friday’ has all but become a holiday I figured it was time to add another synthetic holiday to the pantheon of reasons-to-buy-stuff. Thus, tomorrows post is all about Paratus, the holiday of survivalists.

ETA: Dammit. Almost made it out of Sportsmans Warehouse without getting Friday Of Color’ed. But..but…its M855 on stripper clips! $169.99! Its the ballistic equivalent of Doritos – you can’t just eat a few.


Admin – Status report and AAR

Its a middlin’-length sordid story, but for those who are interested, and for any bloggers who want to learn at my expense, here it is.

I originally started blogging on LiveJournal back around 2003. After a short time I decided to just get a website. My initial thought was to go with Yahoo since I figured they were huge enough that they’d be reliable and fast on their feet if there were problems. As it turns out, the opposite was true….big enough to not know what the other hand was doing, and big enough that there were layers and layers of “press 1 now” and “you are caller number…”.

For about ten years things were cool. The service was okay and the price was reasonable. Then there were a couple episodes this year that were just horrific. Most notably an unexplained and ill-defined problem that they took almost a month to track down. In that time the blog was virtually inaccessible. I don’t really make any money off the blog…I get a few bucks here and there from advertising, but it isn’t like having downtime puts a dent in my wallet. As a result, I was fairly willing to ride things out and wait for Yahoo to get their act together. But…while I don’t really make any coin off the blog I rather do like the interactions with people and being able to say the blog is one of the oldest preparedness blogs out there…so I did want to see things get straightened out quickly.

Pretty soon the choices were clear – migrate or perish. A blog migration can be either a piece of cake or it can be the internet equivalent of the Alamo. Whats involved? Well, three big things have to line up correctly: backup files from old website, establish new location and install those files there, repoint the domain name so that it goes from old.nameserver to new.nameserver.

Sounds easy, right? Well, I suppose it can be if you are disciplined enough to keep regular backups, remember registrar passwords, and generally keep a clean house. Sadly…that is not me.

For you bloggers, here’s how it went:

Install in my WordPress blog the Updraft plugin as my automatic backup system. Use it to create a backup of everything. Then, head over to Bluehost, sign up, install WP, and install Updraft plugin. Go into Updraft and upload the backup files to the new WP install. Run restore option. Discover that Updraft realizes that this is, in fact, not a restore at all but rather a migration. Demand $30 for migration software add on. Fork over $30. Run add on and start migration. Chew nails and watch status bar as you pray to science that this thing works and doesn’t start spewing error messages. “Migration Succesful!” Really? I dont believe it. ..:::look:::..hmmm….:::look:::…okay, that was worth $30. Then head over to the folks who handled my domain name and change nameservers. Wait for that to propagate. Get busy making finishing touches.

Soup to nuts, the migration, including software and contract with new host, came to about a hundred bucks. Honestly, I’d have paid more to not lose any more than has already been lost.

A new broom sweeps clean, but I will say that thus far I have been pleased with Bluehost. All the options and extra features are overwhelming (in a good way), but the customer support was good (and not based outta Calcutta…unless theres a Calcutta, Utah), and the rates, eventually, will be cheaper than what I was paying at Yahoo. Knock on wood but so far its looking promising.

If you run a WordPress blog I cannot emphasize to you enough how good Updraft is. I have it set to automatically backup everything once a week and dump the files to Dropbox. And I tested it thoroughly to make sure it does exactly that. And if you do wind up having to migrate your WP blog somewhere the migration addon really is worth the thirty bucks to get. this. crap. over. with.

Finally, I also have a plugin that crossposts to LiveJournal which is sort of a backup-of-last-resort and poor-mans-mirror. So if you ever come to and the place looks like a train wreck, go hit and see if I posted about whats going on.

Barring any surprises, the website should be sitting here for the forseeable future. I still have to go figure out the emails, but it looks like for now you can go ahead and bookmark me and expect me to be there when you click it.

Oh…and skip Yahoo hosting if you can avoid it.

Admin – Is this thing done spinning yet?

Crom as my witness, when the revolution gets here the asshats at Yahoo! web services/hosting/customer service are going to be the second group of mofos up against the wall.


Dumped Yahoo! web hosting like a clingy girlfriend. Moved over to Bluehost. The migration was not as seamless as I would have hoped but I figured if I did it over the holidays maybe folks wouldnt notice.

I’ll have a much more detailed post about this nonsense later. Right now I have my fingers crossed that things are somewhat normalized around here. Loading issues should be greatly reduced or eliminated, and hopefully most folks won’t have any problems. I’m probably going to be quiet for a day or two as I climb around in here checking for leaks and whatnot.

FYI – this blog is kinda-sorta mirrored at …. If you come here and its a train wreck, check over there for a post regarding whats going on.

Stripped lower deals

Well, the Black Friday deals are coming in. As tempted as I am to buy, I figure the really good deals will come on actual Black Friday. So far, the most interesting one I’ve come across is one of my vendors offering stripped AR lowers for $35 in bulk. Personally, while I feel that having stripped AR lowers is a form of insurance against future restrictions on AR’s, they are not a cost effective way to put a gun together…in my opinion. Parts kit, stock, complete upper receiver, and youre pretty much into the cost of a quality-name AR (at dealer price). Im sure someone will chime in and say “Yeah, but I can get a lower parts kit from Steves Plumbing and Gun Parts for $25, a made-in-China stock and buffer for $40, a complete upper for $300 from, and I can put it all together on my table using a video I found on YouTube.” May be, but I think I’d feel more comfortable with a gun put together by the guys at Stag or S&W for $699 versus a gun put together by someone in their kitchen for $599. But thats me.
To me, the attraction to the stripped lowers is similar to the value addition stripped machine gun receivers got back in ’86.
Other deals I’m kinda looking for will be complete lowers at bargain prices. Last year one of my vendors (I can’t remember who) had complete lowers with stocks for around $140. That was a great deal.

The Walking Dead…finally some nice guns

Man, I dunno where the guys in the gun wrangling department at The Walking Dead are getting their ideas from, but I gotta say it was interesting to see one of these whipped out of a holster:

I could be wrong about that, but S&W only has a couple light-rail revolvers out there in this barrel length.
Trivia: The idea behind ‘hi-cap’ revolver with a light rail came from the NYPD. They had guys who would lead the raiding party carrying ballistic shields. Problem was, they would reach around the shield with their gun arm to hold their pistol in front of the shield so they could fire. The slides on the Glocks would strike the shield during the cycling process, creating problems. So they dreamed up a ‘high capacity’ revolver with an accessory rail for the shield guys to carry.
I must say, the guys at The Walking Dead have been getting much nicer guns.
I remember in the first season you hardly saw an AR or AK…now everyone has them.
The one real peeve I have in this show is the way Rick holds his revolver with that ‘broken wrist’ stance….he holds his gun arm out at eye-height and then extends his wrist downward. I mean, I know he’s British so he probably thinks guns are ‘icky’ but you’d think if he can nail down his accent enough to call his son “coral’, he’d be able to master holding a handgun properly..

Unexpected packages

A surprise in the mail today….Station Eleven: A novel … My first thought was that it was an advance copy from some author or his/her publisher. No, turned out someone liked it and thought I might like it as well. So…to that benefactor, thanks muchly and I promise to read it soon and post about it.


Its pretty hard to find good post-apocalyptic fiction so I’m always eager to try something new.

Fun with eggs

Have you ever actually eaten powdered eggs? I know theres all sortsa stories from military folk talking about the horrors of such tings, but those stories are also usually pretty dated. Food preservation (and fabrication) technology has changed a bit.

Being an unapologetic bargain hunter, I always peruse the ‘marked down’ shopping carts in the back of the store where my local supermarket dumps the stuff it wants to sell now. Usually it’s things no one wants like sugar-free cake frosting, squirrel-flavored olive oil, dill pickle flavored barbecue sauce, and other ‘food’ items that are obviously not moving and taking up valuable shelf real estate.

So, the other day as I was sifting through the cart I found this:


My history with powdered eggs is a long one. I originally wanted some back in the late ’90s but had no idea for a source. I found this particular brand, Deb El, but found out they did not offer any larger quantity of them than these cans and some industrial-sized 50# bags that I was in no position to repackage. A few years later I discovered ‘Wakefield’ powdered eggs (an excellent product) but its availability was spotty since it was basically manufacturer overruns from .gov contracts (they can sometimes be found through REI). Finally, I found that Mountain House offered #10 cans of eggs and I picked up a few cases of that. Later on I found that Augason Farms offers whole eggs in the far more convenient #2 size cans…and scrambled egg mix in the larger #10 cans. I got a buncha those as well.



The first time I used powdered eggs I was extremely skeptical… the powder, when mixed with water, made this foul-smelling, orange-colored, pancake-batter-consistency mix that looked amazingly unappetizing. but, after a couple minutes in a frying pan with some butter it was like some sort of culinary magic trick – the orange turned into that lovely scrambled-egg-yellow that we all know and love, the smell was just like regular scrambled eggs, and the texture, while quite uniform, was also very similar. In fact, the giveaway that fresh eggs were not used came from the even coloring of the eggs….’real’ scrambled eggs have random flecks of white among the yellow. These were an even yellow across the board. But….absolutely delicious and indistinguishable, taste wise, from fresh eggs.

The powdered eggs are a bit more orange-y colored that fresh eggs, but in the half-light of your average apocalypse-induced power failure you probably won’t notice the difference. However, here’s a comparison of the powdered egs [first photo] cooking versus the fresh eggs cooking [second photo]:

IMG_1927 IMG_1930

Takes about two  minutes to cook. Powdered:

IMG_1928Fresh: IMG_1931

Side by side on a plate you can see the color difference. (Too be fair, I used much more butter with the powdered eggs and virtually none with the fresh, so that may contribute to the color difference.) However texture is identical:


The powdered eggs come out looking not as good as the bright-yellow fresh eggs, but they have a far greater shelf life and lend themselves to mass feeding. Ever go to a hotel that has a breakfast bar and you can get all the omelettes you want? Notice the cook often has a juice bottle or container full of egg mix he pours or dips from? Yeah. Thats powdered egg (or liquid egg mix from powder) that he’s using.

So what good is this stuff? Well, for starters, if your breakfast includes scrambled eggs, french toast, or anything that requires an egg….well, heres your egg. No refrigeration necessary (although refrigerating eggs is, I am told, a mostly American notion. In Europe eggs are left at room temperature.) When Hurricane Sandy knocks out the power and the morning promises a long day of grunt work it’d be nice to be able to have scrambled eggs to go with the canned bacon, canned hash, or other breakfast fare. (According to my research, a post apocalyptic breakfast can be pretty impressive – scrambled eggs, hash, bacon, breakfast cereal with milk, oatmeal, canned fruit, orange drink, and coffee….a better breakfast than I have now.) And, of course, anything that requires egg like pasta dough, breaded foods, etc, etc, are going to be needing this stuff as well.

So…for those of you who may be curious about powdered eggs but don’t feel like cracking open a $40 #10 can of them for an experiment…well, I risked $4 to show you what to expect:

My suggestion to you? Buy the long term eggs in the smaller cans (because once you open a can of powdered eggs it’ll start drawing moisture and if you dont use it soon it’ll cake solid). Don’t expect it to taste/look exactly like fresh eggs, but don’t be terrified about it either. Its about the same quality as fastfood/breakfast bar/college cafeteria eggs.


That long, quiet nap that guns take…………

There was a time in my life when I had very few guns to my name. I can recall some money-tight college days where my personal collection was whittled down to three or four guns. Nowadays, its a different story. I’m not going to say how many because telling folks how many guns you own is a lot like bragging about the size of your johnson – unless youre ready to show it off to disbelievers, shut up.

Anyway, I’ve hit the point where I’m getting too much gun clutter around the house. Quite a few of these guns are ‘just in case’ guns. Tertiary-(or more)-level copies of things I already have. As such, there is the very high likelihood that once they get an initial once-over and range trip to verify function they will probably not be handled again for many years. So, really, it’s time to put some of these things away in deep storage.

My usual choice fo packing away things long term are Hardigg and Pelican cases. For handguns, I rather like the Pelican 1170 case for holding a handgun and a couple magazines. Theyre about $40 and worth every penny. But if you’re going to salt away a large quantity of handguns, it can add up in a hurry. As I was diddybopping around the internet, I found this..pre-cut foam inserts that turn a .30 or .50 caliber ammo can into a gun case. Since ammo cans are still pretty reasonable, this shaves the cost down and they stack nicely.

Here’s a couple of reviews and here.

For my intended purpose, which is sealing up a pistol, some mags, and maybe a little ammo, sticking it on a shelf in my basement and forgetting about it for a decade….this should be perfect. For those of us who may need to sock away a pistol for some long term planning, these may be a good choice.



Update on space blanket from earlier post

So, a couple posts back i was commenting that while I liked the space blanket I was critical of its lack of certain features. Well, I guess I need to look harder next time because the company that makes it also makes a version more conducive to what i was doing the other day. A hooded version with pockets for your hands to help keep it wrapped around you. And, naturally, conveniently available offa Amazon. (Space Brand Sportsman’s Hooded Blanket/Poncho: Olive, Box)

Guess I’ll take the ones I already have and bump them down to secondary/backup status and replace them with this handoer version. (“Handier”…see what I did there?)

I should also point out that 9 times out of ten, when Im out in the sticks the one thing I use these sorts of tings for more than anything else is….to keep my but dry when I sit on a log or on the ground. I usually just take the folded product out, unfold it enough to be about the size of a phone book, and park it under my butt so I I can sit on wet/snowy ground. Hey, multi-taskers for the win!