Article – Living in a steel box: are shipping containers really the future of housing?

It takes time to adjust to living inside a steel box. Timothy Ader did not, initially, like the idea of staying at Wenckehof, a student village in Amsterdam made up of 1,000 recycled shipping containers. But three years after moving in, he has no regrets.

“My first impression of the containers was, ‘It’s ghetto stuff – I’m not living there,’” recalls the 24-year-old. “But I started visiting a friend of mine living here and started to like the place. Then I moved in and I realised how good it was. I’m really comfortable in my container and I have a lot of space of my own. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world right now.”

The notion of living in a converted (or unconverted) storage container is nothing new…you drop into various preparedness forums and you’ll see posts that go way back on the topic. You’ll also see posts from folks who have made their own habitable/storage spaces out of used shipping containers.

The biggest contention on the issue of shipping containers as survivalist retreats is that it seems lotsa folks want to bury them, a’la Terminator 2, and they just ain’t built for that sort of thing. Sure, they stack, but thats because they sit on the corners which are built for just that sort of thing.

I live in a somewhat cold envrion…by the time you pad a shipping container with insulation and the other goodies necessary to handle -20 weather you’re probably better of building a ‘real’ structure. But…I think that fo their original purpose they are ideal. I could see dropping one on a couple concrete piers, and then building up a concrete or forced earth berm on three sides to conceal it and using it as storage at a retreat location. I often wonder if it would make sense to just crib it with lumber and encase the whole thing in a few inches of concrete and rebar, using the container, basically, as a form.

There’s a place down the road from here that sells ‘retired’ containers. They also have the short 20′ ones and those look terribly useful. A fella could probably, with the help of his buddies and a few jacks/winches, manhandle one of those wherever he needs it on his the barn under the hay, in the falling-apart garage under a tarp, or even out in the thick brush, concealed by netting, paint, and timber.

Someday, if I ever get a place in the stick, I’ll probably have a container or two tucked away in some hidden location where I can keep gear, a vehicle, etc. But, in the meantime, the developments in the ‘normal’ communities regarding the development of container-housing construction will come in handy later on. ‘Zon has no shortage of material on the subject….

But by the time you finish framing, cutting out metal, etc, etc, you’re pretty much where you would have been if you had started with a regular cabin built from scratch. Why re-invent the wheel? Check out the military CHU if you want to see what mass-production can do to make a container livable. As expected, Wikipedia has some info on the subject as well. As I read it, the huge amount of containers available is because we import more crap from overseas than we send out…so there are plenty of containers to go around. Since I don’t see that changing any time soon, it makes sense to think of them as a handy resource. If nothing else, they can build a hellaciously cool perimeter wall if you backfill them.

Link – Rental Range endurance of ARs

Forget about any military endurance testing of the AR/M16 platform, a rental range in Las Vegas has some extremely interesting findings when it comes to large round counts, sometimes in excess of 200,000 rounds through commercially available and full auto ARs. Granted, none of the grueling testing procedures in place from a military standpoint are there, but for sheer round count alone, it really tells a lot about what some companies can take and what others can’t when it comes to their rifles and products in general.

I love articles like these. Real-world numbers and experiences. It is interesting to note that the article does not look favorably at the piston ARs. I guess it makes a bit of sense that the direct impingement versions, which are going to have no reciprocating parts on the barrel (and less parts overall) are going to be a bit more durable than a piston version. On the other other hand, I’d be very curious to see the failure numbers on a designed-from-the-ground-up piston .223 like the Min-14 or AR-180.

In a similar vein, they had a similar article about the AK family as well.

Article – Selling Survival

Broker Theresa Mondale and her client stand in a clearing on the patch of mountain forest he wants to sell, making small talk about whether society is going to collapse. The topic, weighty in any context, might be anathema to other agents, whose business trades on the promise of better days. In real estate, amenities always mingle with aspiration: The house has space to grow into, the yard is big enough for a dog or the patio will entice neighbors to come by for barbecue.

But Mondale’s big, cheerful voice doesn’t waver. This is her bread and butter. She has been following the latest buzz online predicting a “global reset” in September and wants to know if the client is worried.

“If something like that were coming I would feel it, because I’m a pretty intuitive person,” says Seth Pogue, a bald man with weathered skin, strong arms and an intense manner that seems to contradict his tie-dye shirt.

The local lefty fishwrapper has an article about a local real estate seler who is quietly specializing in properties that would appeal to those of us who share our rarefied interest. I’d heard some of the commercials, and seen some of the print ads, that were put out for this gal and I recall thinking that she might be on the same page as me.

The article, which isn’t too terrible for a lefty publication, goes on to mention Friend Of The Blog ,Rawles  and his coining of the ‘redoubt’ moniker as an appelation for the region.

In my years here I’ve seen more than a few properties that had odd little quirks and features that could not be explained away as anything other than ‘survivalist’-themed. But out here, those features are not necessarily considered to be odd or strange.

If I had the money, I’d be getting myself a nice acreage out in the middle of nowhere to build my quiet little concrete home and ride out what’s left of my life in quiet and security.

Anyway…interesting article and worth the read. I’d be curious to know if her business takes off or suffers because of the spotlight being shined on her particular niche.

Article – How to Survive Societal Collapse in Suburbia

Came across this article from a few years ago and tohught I’d link to it since I don’t think too many people saw it. It’s interestingbecause while there is a bit in there about preparedness there is a bit more information on the preparedness industry/market.

On a clear morning in May, Ron Douglas left his home in exurban Denver, eased into his Toyota pickup truck and drove to a business meeting at a Starbucks. Douglas, a bearded bear of a man, ordered a venti double-chocolate-chip Frappuccino — “the girliest drink ever,” he called it — and then sat down to discuss the future of the growing survivalist industry.

Many so-called survivalists would take pride in keeping far away from places that sell espresso drinks. But Douglas, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and founder of one of the largest preparedness expos in the country, isn’t your typical prepper.

At that morning’s meeting, a strategy session with two new colleagues, Douglas made it clear that he doesn’t even like the word “survivalist.” He believes the word is ruined, evoking “the nut job who lives out in the mountains by himself on the retreat.” Instead, he prefers “self-reliance.”

When prompted by his colleagues to define the term, Douglas leaned forward in his chair. “I’m glad you asked,” he replied. “Take notes. This is good.”

An interesting sidebar to the article: Let’s Put Hundreds of Things on Your Front Lawn, O.K.? A spectacular example of privacy-fail.

The guy is ‘in the industry’ so it’s worth it, from a business standpoint, to get all the PR hits but he’s gonna be on someone’s list somewhere now. Of course, I suppose its possible the house and supplies were all a decoy and his real house, with his real stash, is elsewhere…but I doubt it.

Article – Not my apocalypse: a black woman reads a white-guy prepper magazine

Apparently, those darn prepper magazines are a hotbed of coded racial injustices. I am especially WTF’ed by this jewel:

It’s important to note that, despite the robbery, the reader is starting from a place of privilege – even after being robbed, he has a single-family home with attached garage and the “usual personal belongings,” including two cars with full tanks of gas, tools, three mobile phones, a second secret stash of a food and water (one man removed his from behind the bathroom drywall), and a loaded gun, which was apparently of no help in the confrontation with the gunmen. (And was apparently of no interest to them anyway.)

Because, apparently, in this womyn’s world, having gear that you worked hard to acquire is privilege. As if someone just dropped a gold Cabela’s card in your lap and said ‘go forth and prep’. But, this chick is no doubt of the mindset that whenever you have more than her (or people who look like her, have the same plumbing as her, or the same economic mobility as her) that is an ‘injustice’ or ‘inequality’.

There’s actually a much more sinister implication here. This womyn, who is ‘of color’, seems to imply that the ‘prepper culture’ caters mostly to white males. If thats the case, and there is indeed a lack of ‘preppers of color’, is that an indictment of a publishing and marketing industry that is racist or  does it show that the notion of self-reliance, taking care of ones self, being responsible for your own well-being,  and independence from government support is a mindset not supported by the ‘of color’ community. Or, to put it in a very racially charged, but much simpler context, are white people more inclined to resist being in a state of dependency on others and .gov than non-whites? Now that’s a tack the writer should have taken. Rather than ask ‘why is the demographic for this magazine mostly white males’ perhaps she should be asking ‘why aren’t more non-whites interested in this’.

From a devils advocate point of view, I suppose you could make the argument that in our society the ‘marginalized’ segments (the people of color, the ‘econmically unprivileged’, etc.) simply cannot afford to spare the money, time, and other resources since they are already at a deficit on those resources compared to the white population. Or, put another way, if most other racial and ethnic groups are earning less, then they have less time and effort to put towards this sort of thing…they’re too busy just trying to catch up.

Honestly, I know absolutely zero non-white survivalists. In fact, from a strict racial standpoint, I’m the only one I know (I’m 50% ‘other’ ingredients.) But part of that, no doubt, is because I wound up living in a place where the population tends to be rather homogenous. Still, as I diddybop across the blogosphere I find very few survivalist or prepper blogs that aren’t being done by someone not ‘of color’. Oh, there are some exceptions…the ones I have found tend to be less about survivalism and more about ‘urban homesteading’, ‘organic gardening‘, and that sort of thing, which does kinda come into the preparedness Venn diagram. In fact, the only black person I’ve ever even read about who comes close is this fellow. (And I had to dig back over seven years to even find that.) Wiki.

As a commenter to the article said, the outrage the author shows about the overwhelming white maleness of the prepper magazines must be how he feels when he flips through Jet and notes a decided lack of not-of-color people. Face it, some things target a niche or demographic that tends to be very homogenous. And there’s nothing wrong with that if that homogenous nature is due to a simple lack of interest from others and not a result of exclusionary policy.

I’ve met dozens of people over the years who are into preparedness in some form or another…some religious, some not. Some male, some female, Some gay, most straight. Most rightist, some leftist. Most race-indifferent, some rather race-conscious. But everyone across the board was some shade of white person.

Do I think that the prepper magazines out there are full of images of white people and absolutely vacant of positive images of non-white people? Somewhat, yes. Do I think it’s because of a racist mindset? Uh, no..I think it’s because when you’re trying to sell magazines you sell to the market you think exists for that magazine.

As an interesting project, if anyone can find me some preparedness-themed blogs that are run by ‘people of color’, I’d like the links so I can go check ’em out.

Link – Silencerco offering NFA trusts

There’s a line of thinking that says an ‘NFA Trust’ is a good way to go when purchasing your expensive (and tightly regulated) supercool toys like suppressors and full-autos.

Several places on the internet sell kits to let you set up your own trust. I caught this over at Jerking The Trigger:

I am automatically skeptical of most of the NFA trusts that are sold online. A trust is a legal document/entity that, while not rocket surgery to build, is going to be the legal means of holding some of your most highly regulated and expensive possessions. I want to know its going to be right. Thankfully, Silencerco has stepping into the fray with their NFA EasyTrust offering.

The EasyTrust is a properly prepared gun trust offered by Silencerco, a company who knows a thing our two about NFA items. “It enables the use of NFA-regulated firearms and accessories among trustees, protects against potential future regulatory restrictions, and provides for the orderly transition of ownership upon death. It also tends to speed up the process for obtaining NFA items, eliminating the need for a Chief Law Enforcement Officer’s signature, fingerprints cards, etc. ”

The EasyTrust is 50-state legal and costs $129.99 which is more than some DIY trust options but less expensive than going to a lawyer who knows something about firearm specific trusts. It is quite affordable and very easy.

One major appeal of this, to me, is that by having the silencers in a trust, and me and the missus being in that trust, then we can use each others silencers without the other person having to be around. As I understand it, if I wanna pull her Evolution-9 outta the safe and take it somewhere, I can’t do that without her being there. Ditto if she wants to take my Sparrow to the range to play with.

This, of course, opens up a whole other question: do you want to get your name on ‘the list’ by purchasing such items to begin with. Honestly, I figure my name has been on ‘the list’ for so long I may as well give up hope of being overlooked and just start buying all the high-profile toys I can afford while I still can.

Link – 100 Amazing How-To sites

So this has been sitting in my browser tabs for a while:

Man’s primary tool of survival is his mind, we are told. Makes sense to me. No reason not to keep learning. The A-Team and McGyver didn’t succeed on strength of arms, but rather on ingenuity.

Heinlein’s famous quote about “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.” comes to mind.

This is, apparently, a literary device….the ‘competent man‘….if you’re old enough to remember Aherns uber-survivalist, J. Rourke, you pretty much know what a ‘competent man’ in the literary sense is.

While we may not have our gear with us or about us all the time, we usually take our brain everywhere we go so we may as well stock it with useful stuff.

Link – The Post-Apocalyptic World Sucks Balls

It is an interesting thing to contemplate a post-apocalyptic existence but , as this link tells us, if you really wanna try and live in a Mad Max world you can do it easily today with just a plane ticket to pretty much anywhere else on the planet…and you may discover that it isn’t the fun-in-the-sun-with-a-gun festival that you might have thought it was.

Question: If you really want to live in the post-apocalyptic world then why don’t you just move to Pakistan?

Answer: Cuz It sucks balls there.

With 5000 “friends” on Facebook I see all sorts of “tough guy” nonsense flash across my news feed every day. Lately I’ve been seeing this “would you survive the post-apocalyptic world?” Q&A tests where you answer some mind-numbing multiple choice questions and, BAM, you can proclaim that you and Robert Neville will rule the wastelands.

This is of course followed by “Fuck Yeah bro, I’ll be shooting and looting in the post-apocalyptic world. It’s gonna’ be awesome” by whoever took this test. Next comes a legion of other people also saying something to the effect of “I can’t wait for this to happen” to “it is only a matter of time before it collapses and it can’t come sooner” in the comments below.

I have no desire to live in a Third World country. Heck, even a Second World country. I rather like flushing my toilet with water that is cleaner than what 90% of the people on this planet drink, I like having electricity available 24/7, and I love being able to walk into a supermarket  and buy Hostess cupcakes and a copy of Hustler at 2am. I am in no hurry to lose that cushy lifestyle. But, it can happen at any time and thats why we prepare.

Interesting article and I suggest you read it if you think living in the apocalypse will be a fun and liberating experience.

MH, AlertUSA, Apocalypse vehicles

The first part of the Mountain House group buy order showed up today.I’m figuring the rest of it should be here over the next few days. There will be a few cans left over so if anyone wants to add or if you missed out and want to get something, there’ll be that opportunity.
Someone on my friends list had a post about this service. In a nutshell, when Something Happens you get a message texted to your phone or pager. This is actually something I was curious about a couple years ago. I was flying to the east coast and when my flight approached the airport the pilot came on and said that we were going to be circling for a little while and he wasn’t sure why, simply that he’d been told to circle. My thought was that something 9/11-ey must have happened. (Never did find out what the story was, btw.) But if I had this service I could have surreptitiously turned on my cell phone and checked the text messages and see if thered been some sort of notification. This is admittedly much easier with a Blackberry-type device – just browse your way to a newswire and check the latest headlines. But, some of us are Luddites and only have cell phones.

By the by, I read somewhere that in times of emergency the odds are good that cell phones systems will be so overwhelmed that getting calls in/out may be tough but text messages may get through since they use, presumably, much less bandwidth. Maybe theyre routed differently as well, who knows? Worth investigating though.
Whats the best rig for getting to Point A from Point Z when Points B-Y are smoking rubble? Find out here with “Ten Vehicles For The Apocalypse”. I think most of their choices are absurd but this one resonates with me:

Its a diesel motorcycle that’ll run on diesel, biodiesel or vegetable oil. Now thats handy.
My dream vehicle for the apocalypse. No secret. .