Book – “Lucifer’s Hammer”

There are two books that I consider to be absolute classics in terms of ‘survival fiction’. The first is ‘Alas babylon’, the other is ‘Lucifers Hammer’. (LH)

LH is a very polished story, which is a change from most survivalist fiction where you can tell the writer really didn’t have much experience in writing (and editing). It’s reminiscent of ‘The Stand’ in terms of setting up layers of backstory before finally getting to the actual end-of-the-world. The cast of characters is fairly broad at the beginning of the book but, much like real life, the list narrows down as attrition takes it’s toll…and some characters just face into the background never to be heard from again.

The premise is one that you don’t see to often in this genre: a comet passes close to the earth and fragments strike the planet. Enormous tsunamis wipe out coastal regions, redraw continental maps, kick huge amounts of debris into the atmosphere, and generally turn the entire planet into a sodden, dark, cold mess.

The story follows the paths of people from a wide disparate group of lifestyles… a cop, secretary, senator, scientist, playboy, rancher, astronaut, criminal, etc, etc. Are the usual survivalist tropes present? Absolutely…but pretty much because this is the book that started those tropes. The cannibal armies, plucky survivors banding together, huge ‘final battle’, etc, etc….all there. LH is the source that is referred to when later survivalist fiction gets described as ‘derivative of’. (For example, the end of ‘One Second After’ and the end of LH are very, very similar.

People who are used to the fast-moving pace of some of the shorter survivalist-books may lose interest in the character development that takes up the first third of this rather lengthy book. If you can stick with it, the backstories enhance the rest of the book.

Are there things in the book that would make the average survivalist sit up and say “Hmm…I hadn’t thought of that?” I believe so. I would say that its as realistic a story as you can have on a topic that many people say would be very unrealistic.

LH is a book I recommend to people who enjoy the genre, but are not new to it. It’s a bit intimidating in terms of length, and a tad slow paced at the beginning, but I think if a person sticks to it and gets through to the actual disaster part of the book it becomes a wonderful read.

You can usually find a used copy in most used book stores. It’s an enjoyable read for people who want a more in-depth and well-rounded story than many of the ‘shallower’ stories that are out there. Nothing wrong with the ‘light reading’ survivalist fiction (cough*Ahern*cough) but sometimes you want something a little more than just shoot-em-ups and gear porn.

LH came out in 1977, which was right around the era of high inflation, expensive gas, and Soviet expansionism…and it shows in the book. But even if it is a little dated it is still a good read if you’re after a book that has a bit more substance.

Available from the usual sources.

Panic non-buying

The last thing the blogosphere (or any other sphere, for that matter) needs is another person espousing their opinions about the latest school shooting. So..I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to prattle about how this is the first time something like this has happened where I didnt feel the need to hock a kidney or lung so I could panic-buy more AR’s or magazines.

I’ve enough on-hand that my needs are, I think, met for a long while AND I have enough to make a hefty profit off the unprepared if they pass another magazine ban. So…no panic.

It’s been fourteen years since the Assault Weapons ban ended and we could once again have normal-capacity magazines. If you can’t remember what those dark days are like, lemme dial up the Wayback Machine for you…

Too many people think that because Trump is in office we have nothing to fear in terms of future prohibitions. People who think that are short-sighted, unrealistic idiots. But, if you’ve had fourteen years to get you magazine/gun needs taken care of and still haven’t…well… maybe you’re not really the kinda guy that needs to be reading preparedness blogs.

Moral of the story: being able to not stress about magazine/gun bans is a nice thing. And that peace of mind is only because I haven’t been sitting on my hands these last few years.

Rotate and replace – learn it, love it, live it

As I’ve posted before, about a zillion years ago there was a sale on oatmeal at the local Albertson’s. I went long on it and wound up with a five-gallon Gamma-sealed bucket full of vacuum-sealed packets of instant oatmeal. And there they sat. Quietly waiting. Until one day about ten years later when I decided to pull ’em out and get ’em into the rotation.

Well, that means that what came out of long-term storage must be replaced, no? As I was flipping through Costco’s little sales flyer I see that they have 52-packs of oatmeal on sale for $5.99. That comes out to about twelve cents per package of oatmeal. Being the curious sort, I checked the scale and the packages do weight the same. However, and this surprised me, the apple flavor oatmeal packages contain almost 25% less product than the brown sugar or cinnamon flavor packets. Interesting.

But the point is that in the course of around 12 years, the sale price of the oatmeal products has remained virtually unchanged. Which I found rather interesting. It also nice to see that my food storage program has been going on long enough that even somewhat-long-term stuff hasstarted getting rotated and replaced on a regular basis. Go me!

Anyway, these things will get packed a dozen to a bag and sealed up for the Deep Sleep. Oatmeal isnt anyone’s favorite food, but it is very difficult to argue against it’s convenience. Some boiling water, freeze dried fruit to mix in, and you’ve pretty much got a decent breakfast. In the Venezuela-of-the-future you could have oatmeal, fruit, eggs, bacon, and orange drink all out of a can you put away twenty years ago. Kinda comforting, that. Speaking of Venezuela…this was too good to not share:

Privacy in the survivalist world

You know Joe Blow. One day, Joe Blow says “Hey, a buddy of yours from a while back called me looking for you. He said he was your roommate in college. I gave him your [number/address/email].”

Joe Blow has no idea if that guy was really your roommate or your girlfriend’s crazy ex-boyfriend. And he handed him your personal info.

Don’t be that guy.

From time to time, someone will ask me if I know someone who has a particular gun or similar item for sale. I’ll say yes and they’ll ask for that person’s contact info. I never give out anyone’s personal info. Instead, I’ll tell the person to give me their info and I’ll pass it along to the other person and they can make contact if they are interested. In this manner no one’s personal info is ever out of control. The buyer controls whether they pass on their info or not, the seller’s info is never out in the open unless the seller chooses to contact the buyer, and little ‘ol me is the cutout. You may notice, at this point, I have the contact info for both parties. True. But…I only have it because both parties willfully provided it to me.

Folks like you and I have a lot of reasons to be private. We have stashes of..well… lotsa stuff .. that makes us high-value targets for everyone ranging from neighborhoodlums to cops looking for a quick boost to their stats (or egos).  Unfortunately, ‘networking’ is tough to do when you have to worry about the risk of every potential new contact.This is why it is so hard to meet other like-minded individuals. It’s also why, in my experience, your most likely candidate for a new survivalist buddy is probably someone you already know.

I don’t hang around with anti-gun people, leftists, socialists, morons (“But I repeat myself” – M. Twain), statists, and that sort of ilk. So, whom I hang out with is, naturally, probably going to fall into that set of people who do share my interests. After that, it’s a Venn diagram of ‘likes guns, personal freedom, fiscally conservative, well-read, intelligent’ and a few other features. Point being, the choices you’ve made for the last several years (or decades) about who you hang out with have probably already naturally landed you in a pool of people that have a much higher than average likelihood of being like-minded individuals.

But all it takes is one mistake to undo a lot of plans. “Hey, you’re a survivalist? I am too! Show me your gun collection!” is not the smart way to do things. And it goes past that… maybe this person is exactly the sort of person who want to bring into your private world of freeze drieds and silver coins. But what about their friends? What about their spouse? What about their blabber mouth kids? Or their brother with the meth habit and need to sell other peoples expensive gear to fund it? What about the people who intersect their life?

It’s a challenge to try and juggle the need for security and avoidance of risk with the desire to expand your network a bit. Most of the time we humans are social critters and as much as we may like to think we don’t need other people, it is kinda nice to have someone you can talk to and do this sort of stuff with.

I started this post with an example of how many people betray other peoples privacy. Anytime you meet anyone, survivalist or not, you have to keep in mind that whatever information they choose to share with you is between the two of you unless explicitly stated otherwise. “Hey, can you give me Joe Blows phone number?”, “No, but if you give me yours I’ll ask him to call you.” That sort of thing. It’s a balancing act because you don’t want to be rude, and you don’t want to call the other person out on being nosy, but privacy matters.

I get this on the blog once in a while. Someone will email me and ask if I can give them someone’s email address or somesuch. No. Never. I’ll pass your contact info to them but that’s as far as it goes.

It isn’t always this awkward though. My friend whom I eventually figured out was on the same page eventually introduced me to his friend who also had the same inclinations we did. Since I trusted my friend, and my friend trusted his friend, there was already a high level of trust in place. (And this is, in fact, how it works in the mob when you want to meet someone.)

So the thought for today is that privacy is paramount. And trust comes slowly but when it does come it is worth maintaining. Sadly, the corollary to that is that once trust is broken you have to disengage and disconnect immediately and irrevocably. And that can be a major pain in the ass if you’ve trusted someone with the location of the Batcave. So…always protect your own privacy but be just as vigilant with the privacy of others. In this way we’ll all prosper and have better experiences with each other.

Meeting folks

The local two-year college here (what we used to politely call a vo-tech back in the day) has a class on building ‘sustainable’ housing and other greenie nonsense. One of their projects was building tool shed tiny house as a project and then auctioning it off. Here’s the link to the failed auction. And heres a link the school’s attempt to pimp it. So the thing is sitting on a trailer in the parking lot of the school, and since I have never really gotten a close look at on of these things, I hopped up on the trailer and started looking through the glass in the door. After a few minutes a guy came by and and started looking as well.

He said he was curious too, and we got to chatting. He was saying how it would be a nice place to drop out in the hills somewhere because it would ‘not be easily noticed’. Hmmmm. Okay, the survivalist version of gaydar starts tracking….We start talking about the the relative size of the place and I comment that by staying below a certain square footage, it falls below the threshold at which the local zoning nazis start throwing their weight around. And he says, “Yeah, its kinda like the 80% lower of houses.”

Radar lock.

And then the conversation turns a few degrees in the preparedness direction and the next thing you know we’re chatting about all the fun ways to put this thing on top of a buried cargo container and blah, bah, blah.

And that’s how it happens. No secret handshakes, no hanky code, no mumbled sacred phrases, no subtle hand signals…. just shooting the breeze, tossing out a casual comment, and seeing what the response is.

Or maybe he just noticed the pop can thermos in my hand that said “Cmdr. 0” on it. (In my defense, someone gave me that…it’s not the sorta thing I’d have done on my own.)

By the way, the school seems to think that someone would have bid $30 grand for that gussied up tool shed. You could stuff it with hookers and cocaine and it still wouldn’t be worth thirty large. I’d give you five grand and you can keep the trailer. For thirty grand you couuld probably build a real cabin where you’re not crapping in composting toilet like some sort of overgrown tabby squatting in a litter box.

Snowshoe bindings

I’d mentioned earlier that after years of wanting, I finally caved and got a pair (well, two actually) of the surplus magnesium snowshoes that never seem to run out of inventory at the various surplus dealers.

The bindings that come with them are, to put it mildly, challenging. Oh, if you get good instructions you can suss it out and get them the way you want them but isn’t there a better way?

Might be.

Some research showed that these bindings were recommended for this sort of thing so I went ahead and ordered a set. The instructions were NOT terribly clear, but between YouTube and some comments in the reviews on Amazon, I got it figured out.

 

Bottom line: You will want to use different screws. I used 1.5″ 10-24 with nylon locking bolts and a couple washers on either side. About $1 at most hardware stores. The guy in the video cut away some of the wires that were in the way and then cable clamped the loose ends. Maybe that works for him, I dont like the idea of cutting anything. I used some safety wire to pull the webbing wires apart where I needed more space.

Getting in and out of these bindings is a breeze. Highly recommend. If the weather would just cooperate, I’ll take these things for a hike up in the hills but right now we’ve got rain and virtually zero snow on the ground. But, February us usually our winteriest month, so who knows.

Ruger – Whats old is new again

As you may have noticed in some earlier posts, I am quite excited by Rugers introduction of a 9mm carbine that takes pistol magazines. The carbine comes with a magwell adapter to take Glock mags, but as-is the thing is made to take the mags from Rugers American series and their Security-9 gun.

Wait..Security what?

Waaaaay back in the day, Ruger made a k-frame-style pistol under a few different names – Police-six, Speed-Six, Security-Six. They were no-frills six-shot revolvers marketed towards police and security markets. A reasonable strategy in the day when only the most forward thinking groups equipped their guys with automatics.

As the revolver faded from duty holsters, Ruger tried to capture the market with their very good, very affordable, and very ignored P-series of automatic pistols. Their extremely low price would make them attractive to buyers who needed to equip agencies/departments on a budget. Sadly, the P-series never really caught on and it was quietly discontinued a few years ago. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the P95 series (Specifically the P95DC) and I can usually pick up a couple each year on Gunbroker for less than $200.

When Ruger came out with their PC9 carbine, the plan was that it would be a police carbine that would use the same mags as the pistol the officer carried. A couple problems with that concept was that a) cops that carried longarms usually went with M4s or 870’s, and b) virtually no department issued the P series as a standard sidearm. The Ruger 9mm carbine was discontinued about ten years or so ago and they command stupid prices on Gunbroker. But..that’ll change now because really the only market for the PC9 will be guys like me who have a mountain of P-series pistols. But….

Ruger has, it seems, decided to get into the budget wondernine market again with the Security-9 series. The most interesting thing is that dealer cost on these things is…$260~. Yeah, that’s not a typo. So you get, basically, Ruger’s version of the Glock 19 for only a hundred bucks more than a HiPoint. (Or, put another way, for the same money you get twice as much capacity, half as many guns,and  three times the respect of a HiPoint.)

The Security-9 is getting some reviews at the usual places, and I’m sorta curious about them simply because I still have the inexplicable attraction of a carbine and pistol taking the same mags. However, since the Ruger carbine will accept Glock mags there’s no need for me to get a couple (or five) of the Security-9’s to go with the carbine. But, considering their low dealer price, if they turn out to be a quality gun, at least on par with the P-series, then there might be some interest there. There are some differences…the P-series are hamer fired versus the concealed hammer, DA/SA, and have second-strike capability. The Security-9 offers…well..not much that I can see except perhaps slightly better ergos and a rail. I’d be very curious to see if theyre as durable as the tank-like P’s.

I’ll probably wind up getting one just to try out and if I like it, who knows…maybe I’ll retire the P-series to Gunbroker and restock with the Security-9’s.

Anyway, I find it interesting that Ruger has gone back to trying to get the ‘budget’ market for autopistols again. I suspect that these things will replace the P-series as the most common ‘big name’ autoloader in police evidence bins.

 

Food… it’s whats for dinner

The usual scene: me carefully scrutinizing the meat department at my local Albertsons for remaindered meat. Annnnnnnnnd….pork tenderloin:So, the pork tenderloin was marked down from $10.99 to $5.00 each. Not bad…but not good enough for my tastes. Fortunately, they were marked down to 30% off because today was the last day to Sell By:

I head over to the meat counter.

“You’ve got nine of those pork tenderloins marked down 30%. I’ll take ’em all and empty out your bin if you’ll markk ’em down to 50%.”

“Okay.”

Thusly:

And thats how you wind up with receipt that says “You saved: 77%”. Or, put another way, dang near $99 at regular price but in my freezer for $22.50.

So…that’s a nice little score to go into the deep freeze. And it frees up a chunk of cash to buy silver today since it took a bit of a tumble and dropped down to a low of $16.55 before bouncing back. I caught it at $16.75 but still feel good about it.