Craigslist wishful thinking

Someday Im gonna have one of these.

1972 Toyota FJ 40 Landcruiser , orig. 6 cyl. , 3 speed manual trans. , new leaf springs and shocks with grease-able shackles front and rear , power steering , Warn hubs , new water pump , new thermostat , new master cyl. , rebuilt radiator , newer soft top in excellent condition ! Original toolkit and jack , new wheels with BFG All Terrain tires and spare , custom heavy duty front and rear bumpers , this is a very clean FJ 40 ! Also comes with a 4 speed manual trans. , orig. steering wheel , Summer top and a few other parts . Come and take a look , you wont be disappointed ! $ 13,500 obo – call

Article – Missing sisters survive 2 weeks in woods on Girl Scout Cookies, cheese puffs

LUCE COUNTY, MI — Two sisters who were missing for nearly two weeks in a remote area of the Upper Peninsula survived on Girl Scout Cookies and cheese puffs.

Lee Wright, 56, and Leslie Roy, 52, were weak but otherwise seemed to be in good condition when a state police helicopter rescued them Friday from a two-track road in northern Luce County where their Ford Explorer became stuck in deep snow on April 11. The women stayed with the vehicle, which had died earlier this week.

Stayed with the vehicle and survived. This is almost, but not always, the case.  However, it is the outcome often enough that staying with the vehicle should be the preferred choice.

Simple lighting project

This post on arfcom caught my eye. Rather than buy a 12v lamp for use with a battery, this fella converted a regular household AC lamp to run an LED ‘bulb’ off his 12v battery.

This sort of thing intrigued me and I decided to try it. While we have several options for lighting around here, I’d like to have something that doesn’t look like the kind emergency lighting youd find in a stairwell. Something very subtle and ‘normal looking’.

A quick trip to Amazon for the necessary parts:

The next step was to pick up a lamp to experiment on. As it turns out, I found a lamp that already ran on DC (it used a transformer to run off AC house current) and was LED. Since that was 2/3 of the battle right there, I figured I’d start with that.

20150419_164135Reading the details on the made-in-China transformer said, if they can be believed, that power draw was something like .33 amps. 20150419_164052Conveniently, they labeled the wires as to +/-. Simple matter to cut the transformer off and connect the wires for the cigarette plug to the lamp wires…keeping the polarity the same.



Once the transformer had been removed and replaced with the 12v plug, I plugged it into my old ConSci battery pack to test.



20150420_224627Unsurprisingly, it works. I’ll tuck it away with the battery box and leave it for the next time I need lighting when there’s no available electricity.

Of course, the bigger plan is to use it in conjunction with the larger battery backup system I’m planning. Nothing fancy..a couple big deep cycle batteries, a smart charger, and a bunch of outlets and wiring to allow me to run emergency lighting and communications for a week or so on battery power. Thats the bigger post Im working on. Gonna be a little while on it, though, since it’s going to take a while to scratch up the cash for the batteries. But…when it’s moved from ‘theory’ to ‘in progress’ there’ll be plenty of posting on it.




Generator run day

Nice day outside. Time to set out the generator and run it for a while to make sure everything is working for when we need it.

20150419_145545I keep a copy of the startup/shutdown instructions attached to the generator so there’s no doubt about doing things the right way. Sure, I commit as much of it to memory as I can but you never know when someone else may be needed to start/stop it and this way they can have all the proper info right there.

In a crisis the only thing I really need the generator for is to keep the freezer/fridge cool and maybe run the furnace blower. In the winter any food can simply go outside and the generator will be mostly for just running the blower and charging batteries.

Household emergency lighting will be mostly LED lights run off a couple deep-cycle batteries. Thats a project I’m kinda working on at the moment.


Canned meats

Canned meats are something that, no matter how objective I try to be, always elicit a shudder and a mental “Ewwww”. I mean, just about every form of canned meat, when opened, whether it is Spam, chicken, beef, hash, whatever, smells and looks like cat food.

It was only with great trepidation and great surprise that I was willing to try the CostCo canned roast beef and discover that, once you fry it up, it’s really quite good. In fact, it was so good we have added it as a regular inventory item to our spreadsheet of stored food.

Up until now, most canned meats are pretty basic: canned chicken, canned pork, canned salmon, etc. But things are starting to get a little more ‘niche’. An example was this that I found in WalMart:

Canned beef fajita strips and canned meatballs. Part of me was quite curious about this stuff and another part of me was slightly nauseous contemplating how badly these things could turn out. Yes, I was a coward and took a pass on these…mostly on the strength of WalMart being known for ‘low prices’ and me not wanting to know where the corners were cut on these cuts of meat. BUT…it is interesting to to think that with some stored pasta, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a couple cans of meatballs, you could have a hearty comfort-food meal with a shelf life measured by election cycles.

Interesting the things you see when you start mindlessly examining everything on the ‘canned meats’ shelf at WallyWorld.

Re-watching Jericho

The wife wound up signing back up for Netflix after a long hiatus. (We find Amazon pretty much had everything we wanted so we wound up with them for most of our video entertainment needs.) One thing Netflix had that ‘Zon didnt was ‘Jericho’ available for free.

It’s been almost ten years since the program came out. I rewatched the first few episodes last night and it holds up really quite well. Lennie James, most recently of “The Walking Dead” fame plays, wait for it, a post-apocalyptic hardcore survivor-type. Poor guy..he just can’t catch a break.

A lot of people took issue with the character driven nature of the show. Too much relationship stuff and not enough gun battles with looters. That’s unfirtunate because the real end-of-the-world is going to be all about relationships…people you trust, people you distrust, people you care or, people you fear, etc, etc. Next time you’re in line at the grocery store, imagine having to make it through the zombie apocalypse with the three people in line in front of you….suddenly relationships will  be pretty important.

Anyway, the show holds up quite well although there are a few anachronistic touches. (When was the last time you saw an answering machine that used tape cassettes?) As we all know, the second season was abbreviated and very different than the first…not necessarily better or worse, just different.

Watching it still makes you wargame events in your head, play “what if…”, and still makes me wanna head to the basement and admire all my stuff. In that regard, it’s still a timely show.

I cannot help but think how different it would have been had it been done on cable, like The Walking Dead, rather than network television. Certainly more profanity, graphic violence, and those such would be present and probably add a greater dimension of realism.

As of late, the post-apocalyptic genre has drifted solidly into the zombie themes and I can sort of see why. With post 9/11 ‘sensitivities’, a zombie apocalypse lets you explore the post-apoc world but in a manner that clearly keeps it in the realm of ‘it cant happen here’. The majority of the violence is directed against fantasy creatures that don’t exist, in a world that can’t exist, suffering through a crisis that cant exist. By keeping it obviously a ‘fantasy/fictional’ scenario, no one gets their psyche bent out of shape.

Personally, I’d rather see a few more ‘realistic’ apocalyptic movies or shows. Supposedly the EMP-fest “One Second After” is being made into a movie. While the book borrowed heavily from “Lucifers Hammer”, I’d still go see it. Also, before I forget, “Lights Out” is apparently getting the same treatment. Here’s a ‘concept’ trailer featuring some of the folks who played extras in The Walking Dead. In the meantime, it’s fun to sit back and re-watch ‘Jericho’ and try to imagine that Lennie James’ character is basically the same unfortunate guy who  later shows up in The Walking Dead.


Article – Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True

Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.

If you havent read it, Stephen Hunter (of “Point Of Impact” fame) wrote a terrific book, The Day Before Midnight, about some guys busting into a launch facility to do a little DIY WW3. It was a really great book and would make an awesome movie. It’s my favorite book of his, narrowly edging out POI. And, yeah, it’s a little derivative of “Twilight’s Last Gleaming.

Anyway, the gist of the article is that despite the protestations of the military and the government, there have been times when the ability to launch nukes on one’s own has been possible. I suppose in Cold War planning that made sense – if command-n-control is knocked out there has to be a way for weapons to be used without authorization from the smoldering radioactive ruins of DC.

I mention this because it’s a fascinating little bit of history that sort of segues into preparedness. For those of us who grew up in the world of first strike, second strike, MADD, and Minuteman missiles its rather interesting.

The article is also  interesting because it details how the .gov tried to balance a very complicated equation – nukes had to be tightly controlled so no one could go off-kilter and start WW3 on their own, BUT there had to be mechanisms in place to allow an individual command to launch independently if higher authorities were disabled/destroyed. The solution (if you want to call it that) was two-man rules, no-lone-zones, layers of verification, split codes, and a few other ‘team’ requirements. Basically, it was a lot like having two names on a checking account…without both people signing off, nothing happens. (At least, thats the plan anyway.)

And, to segue to a slightly less on-topic matter, it’s interesting to note that while it supposedly takes more than one person to launch a nuclear attack, it has historically taken only one to prevent it.

Although there is the premise of the rogue individual starting WW3,  most folks are unaware of the rogue individual who prevented WW3. There are at least two Soviet officers (here and here) who, when given the opportunity to allow a some fissionable matter to do its thing, said nyet and prevented what might have been the start of WW3.

Interestingly, once you start looking into these sorts of matters you discover there have been quite a few times that we’ve been just a phone call and a button press away from having a nuclear exchange. Nowdays I suspect the incidence of nuclear war is fairly low but the risk of nuclear attack is unchanged or perhaps a bit higher. Somewhere there is a cargo container with a couple nuclear artillery shells in it just waiting to go through the Port of Seattle or somewhere similar. I mean, you look at the numbers and you realize there is a huge amount of smaller, less dramatic nuclear devices out there…man-portable stuff that some zealot can stuff in the back of a Cessna 182 and detonate over pretty much anywhere. There’s a lot of those little nukes out there..artillery shells, torpedoes, ‘special weapons’, demolition packages, etc, etc….stuff that fits into a 55-gallon drum or smaller.

Anyway, an interesting article for those of us who have an interest in control (or lack thereof) of these sorts of things.



Uzi vs. Evo

I rather like my Uzi. It’s a proven, battle-tested design with a decent supply of spare parts and magazines on the market. The drawbacks are that finding another one is usually a $1100-1500 project, and its a bit heavy at almost 8# unloaded. Additionally, while I’ve been wanting an Uzi for the wife, I figured she’d be better served with the Mini-Uzi which is a bit smaller and lighter but still would give us magazine commonality. Problem there is that they are even more expensive at around $1400-1900 each.

Although there is some debate about the merits of the pistol caliber carbine, I believe they have a utility that segues into my anticipated needs. As of late, there are two newcomers on the market that may prove to be more economical – the SIG MPX and the CZ Evo. The Evo’s are 3# lighter than the Uzi, already have rails, better sights, and CZ is saying theyre going to bring in folding stocks for folks that want to SBR them. Best part is that dealer price on them is $700~…which means for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get two of these things. However….it is a somewhat new platform without the long track record of the Uzi, magazines are pretty proprietary, spare parts aren’t as readily available, etc, etc.


CZ Evo….time to sell the Uzi and get a pair of these?

But….for the price of one Mini-Uzi I could get the Evo, SBR it, have several hundred dollars worth of mags, and still be below the price of a newish Mini-Uzi. Decisions, decisions.


Other than that lovely full-auto selector, SBR’ing the Evo would gimme this little jewel.

I’ve got enough stuff in the gun safe that I could probably sell off a few things and get a couple of these, but I’d like to wait and see some feedback from real-world users. On the other hand, my big concerns are a) a change to importabliity putting this thing into the same sort of no-more-allowed-in category as my Uzi and b) logistics (mag/parts availability).

Sure looks sweet  though and the pricing seems reasonable.

The dream is always the same….

Had one of those end-of-the-world dreams last night. Something, not sure what, was going on in California and the news media were saying how people should be prepared to evacuate and not go near..whatever it was. I was in some supermarket pushing a cart as I watched people blindly knock stuff over in a mad dash to fill their carts. I finally gave up and left when I suddenly realized “Hey, I’ve got a years worth of food already. I dont have to be here.” I returned to the house and the wife was telling me how the lines at the bank were out the door and around the block. We started loading stuff up to leave, stacking up guns and ammo, when suddenly two people (looters, I think) burst in with drum-fed full-auto AK’s and started hosing the place down.

Thats when my phone rang and I woke up.

First dream like that I have had in a while. Scary stuff until you wake up. Nice to see that in the dream I was vindicated about some things, though.

My experience has been that these sorts of dreams usually come in three flavors: the end of the world and Im way undergunned, end of the world and no one seems to react when Ii shoot them, and this most recent one – end of the world and Im hurriedly trying to last-minute shop for stuff.

I’m blaming the Mexican food for this dream.