Harder Homes & Gardens – Volume I: Harry Bennett’s castle and cabins

Sure anyone can build a home out of concrete to keep the zombies at bay. What really throws you into Omega Man territory are the little personal touches that give the homeowner the advantage and gives the bad guys a Very Bad Day. One such fellow was Harry Bennett.

Bennett was a longtime high-level employee at Ford in Michigan. He had absolutely no background in engineering, automobiles, business, or finance. What he did have experience in, however, was boxing, guns, slavish devotion to Ford, and moral flexibility. Hired on a handshake from Ford himself, Bennett put together the Ford Service Division….a division of Ford that did absolutely nothing to fix cars but did everything to fix union problems. Mr. Bennett, for all intents and purposes, was Ford’s top union-busting goon. Given the green light to build what was essentially a private army, Bennett employed “football players, boxers, wrestlers and even Detroit river gang members as Service Department employees”.

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Harry Bennett conducting a business meeting with union representatives in his usual style.

With a history of fights, brawls, and machine gun exchanges with union organizers, Mr. Bennett, as you might well imagine, made some enemies. To keep himself whole and intact, Bennett built himself a ‘castle’ in Ypsilanti, MI. He also built a weekend cabin, also out of concrete, with features similar to what he did at his castle.

Here’s a video tour of the castle as it stands today:

Gun ports? Yes. Trick staircases? Absolutely. Hidden tunnels? Naturally? Tunnels patrolled by fearsome jungle cats? Of course! Bennett spared no effort, or aggregate, to build structures he thought would keep him safe. (Yet, he still managed to get shot in his own living room.)

His weekend cottage was similarly designed with staircases with steps of random height to trip pursuers, escape tunnels to a dock and getaway boat, airfield, pillboxes on the roof, a moat with sharpened stakes, and a bridge over said moat rigged with dynamite. Bennett was full Burt Gummer before his time. The lodge, like the castle, still stands today and is owned by the Boy Scouts of America. Here’s a fascinating photo gallery of a tour that shows off the many hardened features.

Bennett’s buildings had quite a few features that we would find highly desirable for our own needs. I am most impressed by the stairs with steps of differing heights. This plays on an observed oddity:

Bennett would, as the story goes, practice running up and down the uneven stairs so he’d have an advantage over pursuers who would, presumably, go tumbling down the stairs as they encountered the uneven steps. It’s little details like that that separate the good from the great.

If you read all the links above, you’ll see Bennett had the usual assortment of hidden stairwells, secret gun compartments, false bookshelves, and other gimmicks we come to expect. He’s also the only person I’ve read about, in somewhat modern times, who actually incorporated a moat into his bunker plans. (Being ready to dynamite the bridge over the moat on a moments notice? Thats a baller touch.)

So there you have it, a brawling union-buster from the Prohibition-era could show us a trick or two when it comes to building our fortified homes. Note that it’s dang near 80-some-odd years later and those concrete homes are still standing and still in good enough repair to be occupied. Here to stay, built to last.

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(“Harder Homes and Gardens” is a neologism that is attributable to ,Rawles in one of his books. I’m clever, but not that clever.)

Patriot(s, s’,’s) Day.. or is it?

There’s only a handful of holidays I get worked up over…Independence Day, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, Paratus, and one or two others. And then there’s Patriot’s Day…the moveable feast of the political right.

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Maybe someone really said this. Maybe not. But the sentiment certainly seems apropos.

First, there’s a bit of ambiguity about the name..is it Patriot’s Day, Patriots Day, or Patriots’ Day? I go with Patriot’s Day. You can figure out which punctuation rings your (liberty) bell. It most certainly is notPatriot Day‘ which is, I think, a holiday in poor taste since  we already have a holiday with that name and ‘re-using’ it is patently disrespectful to the original holiday.

Then there’s the date. To me, Patriot’s Day is April 19. Why? Because that’s when the shooting started. The notion of making it the third Monday of April, regardless of date, for the purpose of creating a three day weekend is abhorrent to me. You make a holiday to remember and act upon a historical event. You don’t make it for the sake of getting a three-day weekend. *

Folks are calling today Patriot’s Day but I’m going to be a stickler….orthodox, if you will…and say that Patriot’s Day is April 19. Period.

* = Having said that, yes, Paratus is a moveable holiday. BUT..Paratus was designed from the get-go to be held on a Friday so you could have a weekend to play with your Paratus gifts. I do not find this inconsistent with my attitude about re-arranging historical holidays to fit modern demands for three-day weekends.

 

Article – Getting ready: Pentagon to protect electric grid from massive attack

Amid warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber attack or atmospheric nuclear blast, the Pentagon is taking steps to both protect the nation’s communications and power lifeline.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has charged BAE Systems to map a system that can detect a cyber attack and gin up an alternative communications network for military and civilian use if the grid is fried, according to Defense Systems, the online newsletter.

Interesting article. A lot of people forget that the internet was originally envisioned for exactly this sort of scenario – a resilient communications system that could operate even with chunks of it destroyed. It’s decentralized nature increased survivability and resiliency.

I find it interesting that the focus is on the East Coast which has gotta be a lot tougher for the NorKs than getting a warhead to the West Coast. But, here in Montana we’d be relatively insulated from either coast getting whomped on.

War on the horizon? Nope. I’m putting it right up there with the return of Xenu or Planet X. But, remember, there doesn’t have to be a war to screw up your plans…all that has to happen is for enough people to believe that there’s one on the way and it becomes virtually self-fulfilling. Don’t be surprised if gas prices go up and the metals market does some weird shimmying.

I liked the emphasis on EMP in the article. It’s something that has still never really been done, as far as I know, on any researchable large scale….kinda hard to set off a high altitude nuke these days without someone getting their panties in a twist. I think EMP is a tad overrated in terms of potential damage. Fiction would have us believe that planes will fall from the sky and even your Casio G-Shock will stop working. I suspect that smaller, simpler, electrical systems will probably work just fine. The planes? Mmmmm…(waggles hand).

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, but I think this is such a non-event that I’m not really doing anything special…but then again, life is always a “DOUBLE TAKE” around here anyway.

The stuff that dreams are made of

20170412_152810Yup…one kilogram of fine gold. There is very little in my or anyone elses life that this will not fix, or go a long way towards fixing. It is not even as big as a PopTart, yet it’s enough to buy a brand new truck, put a down payment on a house, buy five Barrett M82A1s, or get you the best night of your life in Vegas.

Really, what you’re looking at is the most concentrated form of energy that doesn’t require lead shielding to use.

Being a survivalist, your day-to-day is a Venn diagram of gun dealers, precious metals dealers, tradesmen, and a few other colorful folks…and they often have cool stuff. In this case, a kilogram of gold. What didn’t fit in my hand was the 100 gold 1oz. rounds that were sitting next to it.

Kinda looks like something out of Kelly’s heroes, doesn’t it?

Survivalism: introducing you to new experiences since…always.

Tilting Cabins

I was trolling through Craigslist and found this interesting tidbit. It’s one of those forehead-slapping moments where you think “Why didn’t that ever occur to me?”. Here’s a link to a manufacturer: https://www.tiltcabins.com/design

Floorspace is necessarily small, but I love the vertical element. It has a sort of fire-watch-tower look to it. I couldnt see living in one full time, or for any long length of time really, but it would make a nice weekend cabin for fishing and hunting. I suppose the floorspace is limited by how big a load you figure you can get on the road. Since you’re hauling the thing in a horizontal position, the width of your widest wall will be determined by what you can get away with in terms of a ‘wide load’ on the road. Hmmm.

I do find ‘tiny houses’ interesting from a technical and logistics standpoint, but I could never live in one full time. The only way i could do that is to have it sitting on top of the access stairs to my cavernous underground bunker.

Nonetheless, I really do admire the ‘out of the box’ thinking. I doubt ccargo containers are designed to be stood up vertically, but that was the first thing I thought about when I saw these.

Flare for the dramatic

,Rawles mentioned the a supplier for 26.5mm flares the other day.

Years back, Sportsmans Guide had a deal on genuine HK21A flare guns. As I recall, they were something like thirtyfive bucks or so and I bought a few. At the time there was a goodly amount of 26.5mm Czech flares on the market (26mm will work also). I wound up with quite a variety of projectiles and smoke. Hey, why not? They were cheap(ish) and definitely fun to play with.

Practical? Mmmmm….not sure. But..here’s where they shine – 26.5mm flares are far more…substantial..for your perimeter tripflare warning systems than those rinkydink 12 ga. Olin flares. A quick trip through the plumbing section of Home Depot gets you pretty much everything you need to build a tripflare warning system.

For the more DIY minded, I recall reading a how-to somewhere on the internet about nailing a rat trap to stake, and then attaching the pull chain off some of those Skyblazer flares to the trap bar. Set the trap, it gets triggered, bar snaps down pulling the chain and igniting the flare. Clever.

Of course, thinking about that sort of thing led me down the rabbit hole to how to make other perimeter warning devices using mousetraps. Interesting stuff.


Remember: primers are dangerous and they might ignite things you didn’t want to ignite that were in close proximity to them. So..be careful. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Video – Target practice

Found this elsewhere in the blogosphere and it really was too good to not share:

Reminds me…at some point I need to go shooting. The weather is getting nice and it might not be a bad idea to get in some range time.

As an aside, theres a gun show here in town this weekend so that’ll be interesting.

 

ETA: No one seems to notice that at the end of the ad, he’s getting ready to shoot from his hotel window. The implication is that he’s an assassin or hitman.

Link – Glock Pistols- What Breaks and How to Fix It

Worth reading. Note that the parts that break most are parts that are only a few dollars to replace and they do not render the gun inoperable. I’ve seen the issue with the trigger springs firsthand. I don’t shoot as much ammo through my guns as a competitive shooter (or gunwriter) but for $20 I can have a lifetime of spare parts. Good read.

OK…let me get this out of the way right off the bat.  I carry a Glock pistol during about 95% of my waking hours.  My police duty gun is a Glock 21 in .45acp.  A  Glock 26 or a Glock 19 in 9mm are constant companions in my off-duty hours.  I like Glock pistols.  But are they perfect?  Not a chance.

 

I’ve broken almost every Glock I’ve ever owned.  No manufacturer is immune from this reality: If you shoot the gun enough, it will break.  A gun is a mechanical device and it can fail at any time.  I liken it to a car.  Even if you buy the best car in the world, eventually it will break down.