Weird dreams

I don’t know what I ate last night that prompted it, but I had some majorly weird dreams.

The biggest catalyst was that I watched a couple DVR’d episodes of “Fear The Walking Dead”.  I swear, the mom on that show is making me root for the zombies. In fact, in my head I refer to her as ‘Andrea 2’, after the loathed character from TWD. My biggest complaint is that her and her family are living comfortably on the boat of the mysterious Mr. Strand, and he really has no duty or obligation to her or her family at this point, and yet she feels she can order him to ‘stop the damn boat’ every time she wants to pick up squalling refugees…risking her family, his boat, and everything else to satisfy her imagined moral superiority.


For the love of Crom, can we please kill this woman off? Please??

Rubén Blades as Daniel Salazar - Fear The Walking Dead _ Season 2, Episode 03 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman/AMC

But keep this guy..he’s, like, a dozen shades of cool. (Trivia: this man has a Harvard law degree)

Which, naturally, messed with my subconscious and I had a weird dream. I dreamt it was after some great disaster and I helped my neighbor. He was worried he and his family were going to starve and I gave him some food. When he remarked that he didnt want to put me at a disadvantage I said not to worry..I had plenty. And then he just magically assumed that he could have whatever he wanted…and started helping himself to my stores. For whatever reason, I didnt have a gun on me and after he helped himself to some food, a couple bicycles, and some other stuff, he left and I started worrying about if he was going to come back demanding more because, as he said, I ‘have so much’ and he had ‘ so little’. And I worried he was going to tell other people and I’d be overrun with demands for supplies. And then I thought “Well, if he comes back demanding more I’m just going to have to shoot him.” (Which is ungood because i really have no desire to shoot anybody..but I also have no desire to be stripped bare by locusts and left to starve. Grasshoppers are on their own.)

Definitely makes a case for ‘anonymous giving’,  but also makes an even stronger case for keeping your dang mouth shut. And a really strong case for having a secondary location set up. And, finally, it’s a good starting point for deep thinking about just how charitable (or uncharitable) you feel comfortable being.


This article was interesting to read. It posits that it isn’t enough for science to learn to predict catastrophic events, science also has to learn how to get that information to people in such a way that they actually do something about it.

This is a fair example of a term that we see pop up from time to time but no one ever really explains – normalcy bias. Wikipedia, naturally, defines it but the short version is this: you’re used to planes NOT hitting skyscrapers, you’re used to people NOT running into a bar and shooting the place up with AKs, you’re used to the earth NOT suddenly shaking and toppling buildings…and when an event like that does finally happen, many people’s brains, not being used to thinking about such things, kinda freeze up. That’s normalcy bias. That’s also why we wargame stuff…fire drills, for example.

Another buzzword that became popular and still pops up is ‘Black Swan’, as in “a Black Swan event”. Again, wikipedia helps us out. A Black Swan event is something that is so statistically rare and infrequently occurring that you can’t really predict it’s occurrence. It is important to note that a Black Swan event is NOT always negative…the development of the internet, for example. One of the criteria for something being a Black Swan event, as stated by the guy who brought the term into popular use, is that it is a complete surprise, it has a huge impact, and it is Monday Morning Quarterbacked afterwards. It is also subjective…whats a Black Swan to you may not be a Black Swan to someone else. An excellent example is this idiot. A power outage occurs, they suffer, and then they rationalize it…and add a dose of normalcy bias to justify their failure.

I was watching a really bad disaster show on SyFy last night. Typical midwestern farm town, huge black clouds ominously roll across the sky and the townspeople…walk out of their shops and stand in the middle of the street to watch. And they continue to stand there as it approaches, hurling debris and automobiles in their general direction. Why? Because they’re slack-jawed at never having seen such things before. You’d think someone would have the brains to turn around, run back in the building, get on the phone, warn their family, and then hustle to the basement. Normalcy bias.

While the Black Swan event is, by definition, unpredictable we can still prepare for consequences even if we can’t predict the event. We don’t know if it’s going to be a flood, tornado, earthquake, the return of Xenu, planet X, or Red Dawn….but we can be pretty sure of what the consequences will be – electrical failure, infrastructure issues, communication issues, etc, etc. And we can prepare for those. I think for most of us, we’re a bit past normalcy bias because we tend to think a good deal about ‘what if’ situations.

Preparing for the ‘Black Swan’ type of event reminds me of the ‘Tenth Man‘ response. In fact, go watch the video…the Mossad guy gives some very good examples of normalcy bias.

Anyway, ‘normalcy bias’ and ‘Black Swan’ are two buzzwords that seem to appear more and more in various articles on the subject of preparedness and I thought it might be a good idea to explore them.


Cruising around the internet today, I got to thinking about the various survivalists I’ve known and met. In gaming, you have ‘casuals’ who are players who don’t take the game seriously. They play for fun, maybe with a few friends, but they don’t schedule hours-long ‘raids’, spend endless hours testing strategies, or basically immerse themselves up to their eyebrows in the game. On the other side, you have the hardcore gamers for whom the game is practically a second-job. They min/max, research game mechanics, learn exploits, and even buy (with real money) better gear to enable them to pwn noobs.

proud-noobMost of the survivalists I’ve met are somewhere between ‘casuals’ and ‘hardcore’. I have met some who felt preparedness was a lifestyle – every vehicle was a potential BOV, they never left home without their gear, and if you carefully analyzed their clothing from head to toe it was all ‘tactical’ or ‘operator’ brands.

But, I’ve also met some whose entire depth of preparedness didnt amount to much more than what FEMA recommends in their pamphlets. And..I’ve met some who are so far down the preparedness rabbit hole you’d only meet them when they make their bi-annual trip to CostCo.

I vacillate between ‘lifestyle’ and ‘hobby’. I suppose now that I’ve gotten most of the grunt work out of the way I could ease up off the gas a bit..and I think thats what I’ve done. I’ve got most of the things I think I’ll need (you can never have all the things you want), so at this point I’m mostly in a ‘maintenance mode’…making sure things are topped off, stuff is rotated, and even making plans for a future that doesn’t involve eating out of pouches while manning roadblocks to deter looters.

But, as we all know, it’s complacency that we have to worry about. It’s the day we leave the pistol at home, the day we don’t pack the rain gear, the time we don’t check the batteries in the flashlight, the day we don’t listen to the news…..that’s when we wind up stumbling into A Bad Situation.

It seems like every year something comes up that gets the crowds shouting that this is the year it happens. In my time as a survivalist I have gone through the heyday of the militia movement (which broadly coincides with the Clinton years), Y2k, Bird Flu, Peak Oil, 2012, and a host of other supposed apocalypses. Still here. In fact, other than running the generator a time or two, there hasn’t been anything that’s sent me into the Vast Prep Warehouse. Is that a bad thing? Hell no…I’ll die a happy survivalist if when I pass away I never needed any of the things I have. I want a life where the electricity is always on, the water is always hot, the fridge is always full, and the streets are quiet and peaceful. I have all this stuff because I know that those times aren’t guaranteed and it can happen like that <snaps fingers>.

But…I have slacked off a bit and need to start being more…mindful…of how things are. Like anything else you do day after day after day, you eventually start letting your guard down and thats when you get caught off-guard. Complacency, man…it’ll screw you over every chance it gets.


Sustainable Preparedness Expo – May 15, 2016

A buddy of mine brought this to my attention:

Whether your interest is in preparedness, homesteading, or sustainable living, you will find a wealth of information. Come learn valuable skills at many excellent training sessions, connect with preparedness-minded attendees, obtain hard to find equipment, supplies and advice you need from a wide variety of vendors present at their booths. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t want to miss! Our venue will be the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center, with its convenient location and ample free & easy parking.

I’ve never been to one of these events, but I think I might wind up going. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting to see all the cool stuff the vendors have to offer.


I get it….a musical performer has died and it’s noteworthy. Sure. But think of all the crazy crap that is going on in this world and then tell me that the passing of a musician shuld be the top story in the newscycle for several days running. Priorities, man…..

Patriots Day

To be fair, there is some confusion over whether it is Patriots Day, Patriot’s Day, or Patriots’ Day.

51862212Succinctly, its the anniversary of the opening salvos of what we call the Revolutionary War. (Remember – if  you strike at the .gov and win, it’s a revolution; if you lose it’s a civil war.)

The history is available at the usual sources.

In a sad commentary on the cynical nature of .gov, this day is also a ‘heightened alert’ day for many .gov, .mil, and LE agencies. Apparently those of us who remember days like this are considered a suspect group.

So what’s the great purpose of Patriots Day? Well, I think it’s one of those holidays open to personal interpretation. I think its an excellent excuse to head to the range and practice with a firearm. I also think it’s an excellent day to contemplate what patriotism is to  you, how it is manifested, what it’s qualities are, and what you’re willing to do and not do in the name of it. In short, it’s an excellent occasion to mull over your ideals and beliefs vis-a-vis government and individuality.

In olden day, there used to be Liberty Trees or Liberty Poles…these were features that served as rallying points on days like this.

liberty-poleNowadays rallys tend to be held at places like the federal courthouse or other building, which seems a little counter-intuitive to me. It’s using ‘the other guys’ features as your own rallying point. However, I was in Kalispell last weekend and saw a bunch of armed, Gadsen-waving folks with signs at the war memorial up there…so perhaps that has become the new de facto ‘liberty pole’. Although, really, I like the notion of a huge sprawling liberty tree that people can gather under and around…have rallies or simple picnics on Independence Day..that sort of thing.

Regardless…it’s a holiday today, and it’s not a bad idea to head to the range and punctuate the day with gunfire.

Cold weather gun reliability thoughts

Although it is spring here in Montana, winter is never more than an hour away at any given moment. Folks don’tbelieve me, but we had the “Fourth of July Blizzard” way back in the 80’s. The short version is, no matter what time of year it is…in this state if the sun isn’t out, and youre in the high country, and Mom Nature has been drinking….well, it can get downright cold. Middle of the night temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s in August aren’t unheard of. Anyway, my point is that it can get cold here any time. So, I really found this video about cold weather and it’s affects on our favorite boomtoys to be quite interesting.

The AR did pretty fair…but 50k psi will probably move even the most frozen bolt carrier. I would have liked to see the test done on the .308 rifles like the FAL, HK, and M1A but Im sure the results would have been similar. I’ve gone hunting a bunch of times with the PTR-91 in winter and never had any problems.The most likely scenario for a rifle getting enough moisture in it to freeze is when you come into a warm building after being out in the cold all day. Condensation occurs and the rifle ‘sweats’. Grab the rifle and run out the door and that condensation freezes. It’s my understanding that in the north countries they avoid this by simply leaving the guns outside.

One problem I have experienced has been with a couple SKS rifles that, no matter how much I cleaned and soaked them, still have bits of cosmoline or grease that would solidify in the cold and cause problems. Most notably sluggish firing pin strikes. Clearly there was still residue on the firing pins and in the firing pin channels. Colossal pain in the ass to get it all.

Some people go the extra step of degreasing their guns for the winter and applying a ‘dry’ lube. That’s great for dealing with the congealed lubricant problem, but youre still going to have issues if snow/ice gets in the gun, melts, and refreezes. (And, hey, sleet/snow/rain getting in the bore, freezing, and causing an obstruction is always a major concern. Play it safe, get some gun rubbers, and use them! And while we’re on the subject, I usually use muzzle covers like these for guns that are in storage. Keeps spiders and other crap from getting in the bore and creating problems. And even then, when taking guns outta storage always check the bores before shooting.)

Handguns, interestingly, haven’t had the same problems in my experience. The Glock (naturally) works just fine in the zero-degree weather since lubrication is a ‘nice to have’ with the Glock rather than a ‘must have’. While I have never had parts break from the cold, I have seen a few plastic magazines break when dropped at the range when it was really cold. Something to think about there.

And finally, cold weather puts a heck of a whammy on batteries. If you’re using a piece of gear that uses batteries, swap those batteries out for lithiums. More expensive, but much better for cold weather use.

By the by, ‘cold’ in Montana isn’t the same as ‘cold’ in, say, North Carolina. When I say ‘cold’, I’m talking about anything around 0 degrees.


Sidebar: Welcome back from hiatus Self Sufficient Mountain Living.

Zombie burnout

I’m rapidly losing interest in ‘The Walking Dead’. It seems that the writers have gotten lazy and any time they need to come up with a tension-filled episode they resort to the cheap and easy plot device of someone being taken hostage. *yawn*

However, since TWD is over for the season, the companion series, ‘Fear The Walking Dead’, has resumed. Whereas TWD was starting to bore me, FTWD continues to enrage me. The ‘we have to help them!’ mentality, coupled with a stunning failure to grasp the severity of the situation, drives me nuts. In fact the only reason I’m bothering to watch it is for the excellent, subdued, performance by Ruben Blades. His ‘seen it all’ demeanor and weary acceptance of the new way of life is compelling, and his character is played very well by him. Other than that….I’ll be thrilled when some of the main cast members start getting killed off.

At the moment, I should probably be worrying about other things than television programs…it’s an election year with a truly grim outlook. Although election day seems a long way off, you and I both know that the real panic buying starts much earlier. It seems like every election we say ‘this is the most important election ever’..and it is – until the next one comes along.