Article – A Marine explains which state would win if the US declared war on itself

These are the accounts of the Second American Civil War, also known as the Wars of Reunification and the American Warring States Period.

After the breakup many wondered which states would come out in control of the power void created by the dissolution of the United States. There were many with little chance against several of the larger more powerful states.

The last time a buncha folks tried to leave the Union we wound up with the War Of Northern Aggression War Of Southern Overconfidence. But the notion of the US fracturing and balkanizing is something of a staple in much of the apocalyptic fiction out there (Johnstone’s ‘Ashes’ series springs to mind, as well as season 2 of ‘Jericho’, and several other works.)
It’s an interesting read and would certainly make excellent fodder for some more ‘realistic’ post-apocalyptic fiction. Although I highly doubt that, as presented in the article, Mexicans would flood the border to head back to Mexico. Even fractured and at war this country is still probably a better place to be than Mexico.
De facto, the US is already a balkanized state. Don’t think so? Compare New England with, say, the South….they may as well be different countries given the politics, demographics, economy, and political structures. California is a country all by itself. This region I’m in may as well be a separate country as well. And, man, don’t think that sometimes I don’t think it would be nice to have a wall around it to keep everyone else out. But..walls also keep people in and I could never be okay with that.

Silver<$15

I’ve been meaning to point out that silver has been below $15 for the last week. Gold actually dipped below $100 as well…something I was fairly confident I wouldn’t see.

So..when silver is limp call the Pimp.

Apparently premiums are up a bit since delivery times are pushed out. However, I’m a pretty simple guy…while I appreciate a Silver Maple or Silver Eagle, both of those lovely coins have just as much silver as a regular generic round and usually at a much lower premium.

Betcha the guy with a stash of fractional gold and silver in Greece right now is suddenly very popular.

Canned stuff musings

Another glorious day here in paradise. My local Albertson’s is having a sale on canned goods and I picked up a couple of flats of canned tomatoes and corn. Funny thing is, I had just gone to CostCo earlier in the week and bought some canned tomatoes…and they were more expensive than this sale. So the moral of the story is – you can’t always assume the warehouse store will be cheaper. Now, arguably, they’re not the same product….CostCo’s offering was ‘organic diced tomatoes’ and we all know ‘oganic’ means virtually nothing except a higher price. (And the only reason I picked them up was because CostCo didnt have any other kind of canned diced tomatoes.)

Speaking of CostCo, after a hiatus of a few months they appear to have the canned  Kirkland Roast Beef back in stock. Normally, I turn my nose up at canned meats….they all look and smell like cat food once the can opener punctures the can…but the Kirkland roast beef, once you toss it in a pan for a few minutes, turns out to be darn good. So, why wouldn’t I grab a few of them to put on the shelf?

When it comes to storing all this canned stuff, I usually go with steel wire shelving (also available at CostCo).

IMG_0520

I tlooks good, handles the weight, and is configurable to allow me to have it follow walls and corners. Yeah, it runs about $100 for a six-shelf unit, but pick up a bag of S-hooks and you increase the versatility and get better value out of your existing sets of shelves.

I like these little can organizers from Shelf Reliance. They’re plastic and link/stack together so you can just run ’em along the length of shelving. If you’re truly hardcore, or have a huge enough family that #10 cans a re a mainstay, they also make a similar product for #10 cans. Thats when you konw you’ve arrived.

Of course, any goober with some plywood, a saw, and a screwgun can fab up a similar product on his won but I’m kinda lazy and rather enjoy the consumer experience…so I just buy this sort of stuff.

The sale at Albertsons is for another few days so I’ll see if I can scrape up another few bucks to get some more flats. I’m very painfully aware that food I buy now may someday be all thats standing between me and being hungry.

Article – Police probing death in LA find 1,200 guns, 2 tons ammo

I feel like this is someone we know or should have known………

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police investigating the death of a Los Angeles man uncovered an arsenal inside his home and garage — more than 1,200 guns and about two tons of ammunition, authorities said Monday.

Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith called the number of rifles, pistols and shotguns staggering. Many had never been fired and some were still wrapped in boxes, with price tags still attached.

“Our truck couldn’t carry it all,” Smith told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1HFAKVn). “We had to go back and make another trip.”

I wonder how many of these will ‘go missing’ as the people assigned to handle the case round out their own collections.

This is why you need buddies who, upon news of your death, will keep your stuff safe from the state.

Article – Greek banks reopen but cash limits remain; taxes soar

An article about how things in Greece are nowadays since they signed up for another austerity plan. Here’s an interesting paragraph:

Ready cash is something Greeks will need as new taxes also came into effect on a wide array of goods and services Monday.

Sales taxes have risen from 13 percent to 23 percent on many basic goods — including some meats, cooking oils, coffee, tea, cocoa, vinegar, salt, flowers, firewood, fertilizer, insecticides, sanitary towels and condoms.

Most European countries already have a VAT on things, but a haircut of 23 percent on something as essential as meat….well, thats a tough pill to swallow. How do you adjust your budget to suddenly accommodate this sudden redirection of your spending power?

Well, if you’re smart, you either have connections or networks to allow you to buy things without paying the tax. (Which, really, has been part of Greece’s problem all along…tax-evasion and avoidance is something of a national pastime there.) This is why cash is awesome….so you restrict cash and limit people to the use of debit cards or other instruments that leave a trail of paper. That trail of paper means that you can’t really evade those pesky taxes. So the winners here will be the folks that have lotsa cash (or cash-like instruments such as gold or silver), folks with heavy stockpiles of goods, and folks who can get those two groups together for a little piece of the action.

Look at that list of things that these new taxes affect….mostly things that are pretty easy to store for the long term. interesting, that.

Sharp pointy cutty things

I hate knife sharpening. I mean, I hate it with a passion. You have to remove material (which you can never put back) from your favorite  knife and keep the right angles on the blade and still produce a good edge. I swear, every time I sharpen my own stuff I cringe when I have to go cut something because all I can think is ‘geez, now I’m going to have to sharpen this thing again’.

Obviously, some metals are better for knives than others. Stainless steel has the edge, so to speak, for maintenance but carbon steels win for holding an edge. Unfortunately, given the nature of the world that you and I are preparing against,. stainless blades tend to dominate. Sure it would be nice to have everything made out of that nice blend of carbon steels so that they cut wonderfully and sharpen easily…but the future is going to be full of days where being able to wipe down your metal tools with an oily rage at the end of the day is just not gonna be in the cards.

Lansky makes one of those sharpening tools that keeps the blade at the same angle every time and I know quite a few folks who love that setup. I’ve only fiddled with them and for a guy who grew up using the old-timey methods it was a bit…difficult. What I use nowadays is one of those three-stone deals. Lansky and Smith both make them, I use the Smith simply because thats the brand of stone I’ve used since I was old enough to start accidentally slicing myself with dull knives.

See, it’s the dull knives that cut you. You use a dull knife, you start to use more effort than normal to make the cut, something slips or gives way and -whammo- QuickClot and a trip to the ER for some mattress stitches. If something is supposed to be sharp, keep it sharp…it’s actually safer than using a dull tool.

YouTube is full of knife sharpening how-to videos and if any three of them agree on the technique and materials…well..I haven’t seen ’em. I put some oil on the softest stone, spread it around, and start like Im trying to slice off long strips of the stone…one side, then the other, repeated a buncha times….then switch to the next hardness of stone and lather, rinse, repeat. Some folks like to finish up with ceramic sticks or a strop…I don’t usually go that far. The test that I’ve read about to determine if the edge is good is to pull the blade across a fingernail..if it just slides across, thats bad. If it bites and drags into the nail, thats good…means you’ve got the microscopic little ‘teeth’ just the way you want ’em.

Someday they’re going to have adamantium knives that will never need sharpening but until then…ugh…shhhhhhk, shhhhhhk,shhhhhhk,shhhhhhk, over and over, as you slide the blade across the stone.

Video – Adam Savage’s Land Cruiser

You guys remember Adam Savage from Mythbusters? I’ve always kinda thought he was a closet survivalist. Anyway, years ago, he took a picture of his Toyota Land Cruiser and posted it online. He was unaware about the tags in the pictures data and wound up accidentally giving away his home address to the responsible, decent, unabusive people who populate the internet. Here’s an article about it.

BASICS-1-popupTurns out, Savage has a regular podcast series on YouTube where he talks about mostly ‘maker’ stuff but there are some excellent episodes about tools and techniques that would be useful to folks like us. The video I want to share with you is this one where he talks about how he’s fallen back in love with his Land Cruiser. He lists a few interesting mods he’s made to it.

I’ve always thought that one of the things, with a little tweaking here and there, would be a wonderful vehicle for those days when the zombies are uppity. You’re not gonna pass anything on the highway but you’ll climb hills that would freak a yak. And his is a diesel, too…how cool is that.

If I ever wind up making anything out of my life and getting some money put away, I’ll get one of these.

Article – The Really Big One

When the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck Tohoku, Japan, Chris Goldfinger was two hundred miles away, in the city of Kashiwa, at an international meeting on seismology. As the shaking started, everyone in the room began to laugh. Earthquakes are common in Japan—that one was the third of the week—and the participants were, after all, at a seismology conference. Then everyone in the room checked the time.

Fascinating, albeit a tad dry, article about how and why the Pacific Northwest is due/overdue for big earthquake. The science is fascinating, but if you can get past that and examine the potential infrastructure, property, and economic damage, you’ll feel the urge to go strap your hot water heaters to the wall and check your supply of freeze drieds.

Followup – Wife stranded in desert was prepared to die next to husband

A followup to this post/article about a couple that got stranded in California.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A woman stranded in her car for two weeks in the Southern California desert in May said she forgave her husband for making a wrong turn and was prepared to die with him.

“I told him, ‘Honey, we all make mistakes. We all make wrong choices.’ That’s all that was,” Dianna Bedwell said Friday after the memorial service for Cecil “Paul” Knutson, who died a week into the ordeal. “We had 29 wonderful years together. If we make it out, fine. If we don’t make it out, fine.”

Touching. Eight pounds of oranges must last a while, but I can’t imagine being diabetic and having nothing to eat but oranges and pie….thats like having a choice to either starve or eat radioactive cheeseburgers.

There’s a couple lessons in this story, and they’re really the same as in most of the other ones: let people know where you’re goin, your route, and pack some supplies.

Article – The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

An interesting tale about a man who ran off into the woods and didnt come out for almost thre decades. What makes it interesting isnt so much the psychological exploration (which is interesting) but rather the techniques and strategies used to avoid detection for 27 years. Camouflage, it seems, is paramount.

The hermit set out of camp at midnight, carrying his backpack and his bag of break-in tools, and threaded through the forest, rock to root to rock, every step memorized. Not a boot print left behind. It was cold and nearly moonless, a fine night for a raid, so he hiked about an hour to the Pine Tree summer camp, a few dozen cabins spread along the shoreline of North Pond in central Maine. With an expert twist of a screwdriver, he popped open a door of the dining hall and slipped inside, scanning the pantry shelves with his penlight.

I can relate to wanting to just disappear, but when i fantasize about it it doesn’t involve never being seen again…its more along the lines of new location, new name, and new life.