Underwear Day

It’s not exactly a holiday, but today was Underwear Day. Every two years or so I throw out all my socks, all my underwear, and most of my t-shirts, and start over. Three dozen socks (all matching), three dozen boxer briefs, and three dozen black t-shirts. One pass through Costco and I’m pretty much done for the next two years. Are some socks still good after two years? Some, not many. My rather oversize feet tend to wear socks and shoes out pretty quickly. Same for my oversize genitalia and my underwear. And t-shirts, as comfy as they are, only last so long before the collars start shredding out. So…every two years I scrap the whole thing and start over. One benefit to this policy is that I don’t have to match socks. In fact, if I get a hole in one sock I can toss it, keep the good one, and just mix it in with the others….they’re all identical.

It’s a very guy way to buy clothes.

And, if you’re into making things easier on yourself, there’s plenty of videos on youTube showing you how to take a pair of underwear, socks, and a t-shirt, and roll them all up into a tiny cloth burrito that makes packing easier. I find it just makes my morning less hassle. Get up, grab a sock-shirt-underwear bundle from the bin, and there’s half my getting dressed right there.

I suppose there’s an economical benefit…after all, prices generally only go up. But then there’s the issue of opportunity cost. For me, I just like knowing that, for the next two years, I can cross one more thing off my list.  And, I suppose, if I have to leave in a hurry or something I can grab-n-go a lot faster that way.


And while at CostCo:

The desk lamp is still running although the battery indicator is now down to one bar. So thats, hmmm, about 96 hours so far of constant use. Assuming 8-hour use per night, thats 12 days worth of use.


A few posts back I mentioned that I had picked up a small battery jump-pack for charging my cellphone in a power outage. (I am amazed how many people are so short-sighted that they assume that because the cell towers may not be operating a functioning cell phone is useless.) The battery pack I picked up has a socket for 12v. ‘cigarette lighter’-plug devices.

A while back, as a project, I modified a desk lamp to run off a 12v power supply. I recommended such a setup to someone who recently had an extended power outage. I got curious about just how long that desk lamp would run, non-stop, before the battery pack lost its charge. Unfortunately, I’m having a heck of a time finding what capacity the battery in this thing actually is. Simple math then lets us calculate the length of time the thing will run. But I like empirical data…so I’ve hooked the thing up, parked it in the corner of the room, and am going to run it until the battery shuts itself off. Thus far, it’s been running since Tuesday night. It’s little battery meter is showing two out of three bars.

The batteries I picked up earlier this summer would equal about 76 amp/hours. Divide that into the draw of the lamp and, I think, that means I could run the thing for 114 hours (almost two weeks of 8-hour later night reading)  and draw the batteries down to 50%.

More interesting is that I could also daisy-chain those lovely Goal 0 lights to this thing and get a few days out of them as well.

While I do have a generator packed away for this sort of thing, I really don’t want to run it just for some area lighting. An arrangement like this battery/light combo seems to be a very neat way to get the lighting need taken care of without having to crank up the Honda.

I’ve ordered up some parts on Amazon to modify another lamp. When they get here I’ll document the process and those of you interested can follow along.

Edited to ad: I just realized that I’m leaving a lamp running to see how long it will run on the small supply of fuel/power. During Hanukah. Well, ’tis the season I suppose. Pretty confident it won’t last eight days though. Oy!

Mala suerte

Imagine, if you would, you have a bag filled with marbles. Half the marbles are black and half the marbles are white. Each time an event happens that has an even chance of outcomes, a marble is pulled from the bag. Black marble and things don’t go your way. White marble and you get the outcome you want. Seems fair, right? But what if you get three white marbles in a row? Now there are more black marbles than there are white marbles in the bag…the odds of you pulling a black marble have increased and the odds of you pulling a white marble have decreased.At some point, you’ll have used up all the white marbles and all that will be left are black ones.

This is my own highly suspect and bizarre interpretation of how ‘luck’ works.

Succinctly, there’s a balance….you have ten good things happen, you’re going to have ten bad things happen. When you tilt the odds in your favor, youre tilting the odds elsewhere against you. Now, you can tilt the odds in your favor…in our marble example you could look in the bag and pull out the white marbles. But, if you do that, you cannot change the fact that the remaining marbles will be the black ones. So, you may be able to get the positive result that you want, when you want, but at some point you’ll have to balance it out by having nothing but black marbles left to draw.

Today I had two happy incidences of good luck. First, I got a check from Wells Fargo saying ‘sorry we opened a credit card account in your name without your permission’. Yay..grocery money for the month. Second, when buying groceries I found remaindered meat that was also buy-one-get-one-free, which meant that the large amount of chicken and fajita fixings I bought was not %50 off, but rather %75 off in the end.

I am now terrified that something truly crappy is waiting in the wings to balance all this out.

On the other hand, this could be the other side of the balance and this is the reaction to any of the hideous bad luck I’ve had lately.

However, I’m a pessimist and pragmatist…so…yeah, I need to keep both eyes open for the next couple days.

‘Tis the season

Festivus season is nearly upon us. Have you picked up your aluminum pole? Are you ready for the Feats of Strength? Have you catalogued all the ways the people closest to you have disappointed you for the “Airing of Grievances”? If not, you may not be ready for Festivus.

My plans for the holiday are pretty simple – take advantage of the lull to get caught up on a zillion things I’ve been letting fall by the side lately due to time constraints. But, the apocalypse is an unforgiving wench, and “I didnt have time” will NOT be accepted as an excuse for being underprepared when the wheels fly off things.

Things I need to do? Well, I have, literally, a pile of various packs, vests, pouches, and other gear about two feet high. It’s piled in a corner waiting for me to get it put away to the proper place. I’m sure there are some things in that stack that I should pull aside, take pictures of, and post about. Perhaps thats what I’ll do on the various holidays.

What does Commander Zero want for Festivus? Hmm. Well, I want a couple things that money can’t buy, but when it comes to things money can buy I wouldnt mind a couple cases of .223 or 7.62×39, a lovely Ruger 22/45 Tactical, or just a metric buttload of Amazon gift cards. What about you? What’s at the top of your “What I Want For [Hanukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Christmas/VoodooDay]”? Is it a gun? A vehicle? A knife? A supermodel with low self-esteem and poor judgement?

I need to figure out what sorts gifts to get the LMI. For Paratus I passed out 10/22 mags to everyone on my Paratus list (hey, I had plenty of them to go around so why not). It’d be tacky to give more of the same so I need to think about this a bit. Maybe PMags or some freeze drieds.

Crisis cellphone charging

Our Friend Of The Blog over at Self Sufficient Mountain Living has a post up about the aftermath of what was an unusually heavy snowfall in his neck of the woods. He had a problem with his generator and was unable to charge his cellphone. I mentioned that I kept one of those battery jump-packs around exclusively for that purpose and he said he wasn’t familiar with them. I may have not described it as accurately as I could have, so that might have led to some confusion. But…as long as the topic is timely…I’ll cover that.

I bought this at CostCo earlier this year.

I couldn’t find a link on CostCo’s website so I grabbed one from Amazon. Note that the thing is about $40 cheaper at CostCo last time I checked.

Anyway, its one of those little portable jump-starters that uses an internal battery. It also has an inverter and outlet to run small household devices, a 12-v ‘cigarette lighter’ outlet, and, most importantly, a USB outlet to charge devices. It’s this last feature that made me buy it. I leave it plugged all the time so it’s always on standby. I tested it out earlier this year by hooking up a 12v desk light to it. I plugged it in, turned it on, and left it to see how long the light would keep going before the battery crapped out. After two days I got bored and figured that was plenty for my needs. I should get quite a few cellphone recharges out of it before it needs recharging.

As I said, I keep it around specifically for recharging USB devices in case of an outage but it also works for the thing it was marketed for – jump starting a vehicle. I’ve used it a couple times for that and it worked as advertised.

Anyway, I mention this because while you can recharge your cellphone off you generator, it’s a wildly inefficient way to do things and if your generator doesn’t work, for whatever reason, you’ll still have an option for cellphone charging.

The origin of “Roof Korean”

I was staggering through the internet a few weeks back and saw that the folks at Violent Little Machine Shop, maker of some of my favorite ‘morale’ patches, had this little number:

What, you may ask, is a ‘Roof Korean’? Well, it was 25 years ago so it’s entirely possible that a generation of survivalists may have not even been around when the Roof Koreans (and Ground Koreans) were workin’ their mojo.

You know how in survivalist fiction there’s always those gun battles on Main Street with the townies and local shopkeepers swapping bullets with the bad guys like all the rules have been called off? Well, that actually happened.

Roof Koreans operating operationally.

The year was 1992 and a handful of white cops had beat a black motorist so badly that his parents must have felt it. The difference between this episode and the LA police departments other beatdowns was that this one was caught on tape and widely distributed. The cops went to trial on charges of police brutality. When the jury returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ against the cops, a disgruntled demographic decided to politely protest the verdict by setting fires, looting, and committing violence against people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where were the cops? Well…that’s a good question. The official story is that the cops were outnumbered, too busy, stretched thin, etc. The prevailing opinion, however, is that they decided to let the mobs ‘get it out of their system’ and things would cam down. The Koreans just happened to be the target of choice for the mobs to use to let off some steam.

The Korean connection is that there has always been some bad blood between the black community and the Korean shopkeepers. Korean grocery stores are often targeted in these sorts of events because the black community, rightly or wrongly, views the Koreans as people who are just making a buck off them and care nothing about, and contribute nothing to, the black community. Against this backdrop of the 1992 LA Riots, some Korean businesses were targetted for violence.

Koreans are an interesting bunch. The ones I’ve met tend to be quite industrious and hard working. The Korean grocer in my neighborhood in Brooklyn was, as we’d say, a real mensch. He was the kinda grocer who, if money was tight, would let you get groceries and pay later.  His wife and little girl worked in that shop and you can bet that he took care of that store because it took care of his family. Solid guy.

And….guys like that don’t take kindly to someone threatening to burn down the business that they’ve worked so hard to build. And a surprising number of Koreans have had military training in the old country. South Korea, being technically at war for the last 60 years, does not fool around with it’s military preparedness and training.

So…take a demographic that is highly-motivated to protect their livelihoods, have a strong sense of community, have some military training (or leadership that does), a surprising amount of weapons, put them in an urban cage match where the referees (the police) have decided to stay home and you get… Roof Koreans.

Rook Koreans were the symbol of the Korean shopkeeper protecting his store and his neighborhood. Even the unorganized mobs that were bent on an orgy of ‘payback’ and ‘justice’ decided to give these guys a wide berth. And when they didn’t…it became a bullet party.

The LA Riots of ’92 were interesting to watch and had some wide ranging impact. Police policy changed and, more importantly, the notion of the recording of police activities by bystanders entered the mainstream. This new level of accountability, which was beyond police control, still causes headlines…it seems like every recent high-profile shooting is caught on video these days.

I don’t know anyone who was there with the Koreans, Ground Or Roof version, but I would imagine that the whole incident left a strong impression and that if it happens again there will be significant upgrade to the firepower. Standing guard all night behind barricades of bundled recycled cardboard definitely makes one think that perhaps a Mini-14 might be a better choice than a Ruger Red Label.

Given the nature of politics and media these days, it isn’t hard to think that there’s going to be more events like these in the future. Best we can do is avoid it if possible and be prepared for the times we can’t.

Reminder – get the winter gear into the vehicle

Looks like winter is really here…the temperatures have been dipping into the low teens and that means int’s time to break out the winter gear. Last year I wrote several posts about the gear I keep in the vehicle during winter months. Well, it’s time to wheel that Pelican case outta storage and toss it in the back of the vehicle.

So, if you havent already done it, it’s time to put the winter gear into the vehicles, guys. Don’t be That Guy we read about on the news who gets hospitalized after getting stranded and winds up missing a few toes and fingers. You know better!


The Luckiest And/Or Unluckiest Man In History

Twenty degrees last night. You might say there’s a nip in the air.

And they definitely said that 76 years ago.

And that little foray by Japan into staggering overconfidence led to the US’ foray into nuclear weapons development….and..well….it didn’t end particularly well for the Japanese.

One Japanese, however, had the exceptional bad luck to be nuked twice and the unprecedented good luck to have lived to tell about it.

In January 2009, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was the first person to be officially recognized as a double atomic bomb survivor. He is one of 165 presumed double bomb victims, though he’s the only official one. How’d this all happen? Of course, there’s a pretty good story that goes along with it…

I don’t know what the Japanese phrase is for “Enormous, radioactive, brass balls” but getting nuked twice and living to tell about it has got to be the Japanese equivalent of being composed of 50% Clint Eastwood DNA, 50% Chuck Norris DNA, and 50% Toshiro Mifune DNA.

However, on a more somber note, this is always a good day to remember that your world (and in this case, everyone elses) can change just like that >fingersnap<.


Ruger’s new 8-shot .357

Okay, it’s old news that Ruger introduced an 8-shot Redhawk .357 earlier this year in a stupefying 2.75″ barrel. I said that when they came out with a 5″ or 6″ barrel I’d get one.

Well bloody hell…they went and did pretty much exactly that.

Model Number: 5059

Model Number: 5060

I really want one (or more of these). I like the .357 cartridge and the big “N-frame”-style revolver should be an ideal platform for it. Not sure if it is cut for moon clips or not, but even if it isn’t…

I’m a Smith and Wesson fan but when it comes to wading through the apocalypse, the Ruger revolvers will take the abuse and neglect, in my opinion, much better than the Smith (or anyone elses revolver for that matter). I have always liked the L-frame Smith and have wanted a 681 for years. But…Ruger’s GP100 is about the same size. And I have a big ‘ol Smith Highway Patrolman in the safe but the Ruger will be just as big and bulky but with 33% more capacity and a more robust manufacture.

Ruger has done some stupid things in the past but you have to give them credit for bringing out new stuff pretty often.


Remington introduces mag-fed 870

Well this is just absolutely fascinating:

You’ve heard the old saying “everything old is new again”. Well, that applies to the tried and true Remington 870 shotgun. The 870 is probably the most popular police shotgun ever. Remington has given the 870 a facelift with several new magazine fed models which would serve just about any shotgunners needs.

There have been various aftermarket attempts to make the 870 (and the Mossberg 500) into mag-fed firearms. Those attempts have met with mixed results and the fact that you may not have even heard of those conversions should tell you how widely accepted they’ve been.*

And then the Russkies came out with the 12-ga AK-pattern guns and all of a sudden everyone started taking another look at the mag-fed pellet-heaver. Problem is, even if you get past the fact that there are ALOT of variations in shotgun shells that make a one-size-fits-all method of semi-auto functioning a challenge, the shotgun shell itself is a challenge.

Ask anyone who owns a Vepr or Saiga or other mag-fed shotty and they’ll tell you that one of the problems is that the plastic shotgun shells, when under the pressure of several others in the magazine, or pushed up against a closed bolt, will start to deform. That nice round profile becomes oblong or squared on one side and feeding issues arise. Sure, the easy solution around that is to store the gun with bolt open on a loaded mag, or switch to brass shotgun shells (which is what the military did way back when.)

If Remington drops this conversion into their 1100 platform I’d be very curious to see how it works. Is it something I’d buy? Well…no. For my needs, I just don’t see it. Pumpguns have two things going for them: a) ability to use funky ammo like rubber buck, blanks, slugs, flares, etc. and b) sheer brutality. I cannot think of many occasions where a mag-fed shotgun is going to be a better choice than my mag-fed rifle…more power, more range, more capacity, more compact ammo, etc.

However…sometimes you want to send a message or make a statement and when it’s time to go to the matresses the shotgun gives your message that bold, heavy underlining.

No doubt, if these things take off, MagPul will wind up being everyone’s mag choice, and someone will come out with a drum. But, for me, a regular 870 with an extended tube will probably serve for most of my post-apocalypse needs. (Although I’m seriously jonesing to get my hands on Mossberg’s 930-series tactical autoloader to try out.)

Anyway, I hope Remington manages to crank these things out with better quality than..well..pretty much anything theyve cranked out lately.


* = Yes, there have been a few factory-made mag-feds in the last few decades (The Franchi, Atchison, Daewoo, and a few others spring to mind.)