Biking season approaches

Spring is, eventually, approaching. Montana has a few nice things going for it but short winters and early springs are not among them. We refer to spring as ‘mud season’ around here and with good reason. However, since we live in the ‘city’ here the problems arent mud as much as it is just the detritus of an entire winters worth of road sand and gravel. The point, though, is that it is rapidly approaching bicycle season. Bicycle season, by the way, may accelerate it’s arrival in direct proportion to the arrival of $4/gallon gasoline.

I’ve said it before, mountain bikes are a lovely way to move from point a to point z in a crisis. I’ll bet you a whole buncha yen that if you look at pictures from whats left of northeastern Japan theres far more bicycle traffic than private vehicle traffic. Even in the best of times, which these arent, bicycles give you a bit more mobility in a crowded environment. This isnt theory, you can see it proven if you live in a large city and have bicycle messengers. Sure, they ride with the same sense of self preservation as the typical Japanese Zero pilot, but the results speak for themselves.

For general preparedness, a decent mountain bike beats the crap out of walking. Can’t haul huge amounts of gear beyond a backpack or two, and if its raining or snowing youre probably going to be miserable, but when the gas pumps are locked up, the roads are jammed, and its time to head for greener pastures youre going to be glad you have one.

Like guns, you’ll need some reference manuals, tools, spare parts, and a small amount of mechanical knowledge. In my town, which is a college town, theres literally free bicycles if you scavenge around the dumpsters and such. Heck, the local police auction of lots of them from time to time…some cheap ones, but some good ones in there too.

I’ve been riding the same bike for a number of years now. I can be at my shop, from my house, in about six minutes if I really work at it. For a very long time all I had was a mountain bike and I never felt terribly inconvenienced by not having a vehicle. I wouldnt recommend having just a bicycle and no vehicle, Ill take internal combustion over infernal pedaling any day of the week.

I’ve been meaning to modify my bike and just havent gotten to it. More than anything else I want to strip the frame and have it powder coated a nice subdued color. Although, really, I could also just pick up a couple rolls of camouflage tape used for bows and guns and just wrap it around the frame when the need arises.

As it gets warmer perhaps me and the dog will head up some of the riding trails. Be good to tire him out and get some exercise.

Mountain House full of food

Its funny, youd think being freezedried and having virtually all the moisture removed would mean that these packages are lightweight. I guess they are, but not when you have a whole pickupload of them.

Pouches and the elusive #10 cans. Your envy….I feed on it. That and the lasagna.


(I apologize for the cell phone pic…too tired to get out the porn-quality Canon 7D)

The apocalypse approaches at a gallop, but we’re not worried………

The Diefenbunker, Glock, Exped Dreamwalker 250

Most folks are familiar with the Greenbrier…the superbunker built under a luxury hotel to house Washington VIPs in case of a nuclear attack. Various tours are available of the facility and if I ever find myself on that side of the country again I’d surely love a tour. However, uber bunkers like that aren’t just limited to First World countries. I’d read that over in Canuckistan they had the Diefenbunker…designed to protect the Canadian government from…uh..errr..well, I dunno what. Maybe they were worried the Quebecois might get the bomb or something. Anyway, I found that there is indeed a site for the facitlity. Most .gov bunkers have really cool names attached to them. I can only imagine what the codename was for the Canadian bunker…Fort Molson? Mooseheadquarters?

No doubt every nation, in some capacity, has such a facility. The Swiss are famous for their bunker-building exploits. The Germans uncover a new one everytime they extend a subway line. Former Soviet satellite states are dotted with them.

Anyway, I bring it up because I always find it interesting to see these things and observe how they design for various contingencies. Plus, theyre just so darn cool.
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After a hiatus of a few years, the missus has decided to get back into IDPA shooting. Previously she used a G17 that she tweaked out after taking a Glock armorers class. Now she’s deciding she wants to compete with the .40 cal. Turns out that the finger grooves on the 3rd gen Glocks wind up forcing her hand into an unnatural grip, so we had to hunt down a used 2nd gen .40 that didnt have the finger grooves. Zanders has a bunch of Detroit PD trade-ins so we got her one. First time I’ve had a Glock fail the slide-return-to-battery-while-pointed-at-the-ceiling test. Now, admittedly, this ‘test’ is not without some controversy as to whether it actually has any merit. However, none of my other used Glocks have ever failed it, so perhaps there is something going on here. Regardless, we were planning to swap out all the springs anyway. A few interesting things…the Detroit gun has DPD in the serial number, all the mags are marked DPD, the slide is marked PROPERTY OF DETROIT POLICE DEPARTMENT and theres one of those hideous NY trigger modules in there. First Glock Ive ever seen with actual police markings on it. I’ll detail strip and clean the thing tonight, replace the springs, and we have a competition trigger group on the way. For the money, a good platform to build up a competition-styled gun. Wish they had some 9mm trade-in Glocks, but most of those seem to have dried up.
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So, to date, I’ve tried the Kifaru Wooby and the Wiggy’s Insulated Poncho. Both have their good and bad points. Between the two, I liked the Kifaru better but its a bit more money than the Wiggy’s. Well, there’s now a third contender in this race. And, as Im starting to notice, as I get closer and closer to exactly what I want the price goes up exponentially. At $225 theres no way in hell Im getting one of these but Im liking the design. Exped Dreamwalker 250 – wearable as a poncho, has a drawstring hood, zips together to form a sleeping bag, highly compressible, down filled. Except for the amzingly hideous color it looks like it would be a virtually ideal candidate for something to stuff in a daypack for those ‘just in case’ moments.

Link – Badass of the Week: Hideaki Akaiwa

On the afternoon of Friday, March 11th, Hideaki Akaiwa was at his job, dully trudging out the final bitter minutes of his work week in his office just outside the port city of Ishinomaki in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture. What this guy’s day job actually is, I honestly have no idea, but based on the extremely limited information I have on the guy I can only presume that his daily nine-to-five routine probably falls somewhere between the motorcycle chase scenes from the movie Akira and John Rambo’s antics in the book version of First Blood on the ridiculousness/badassitude scale. But that’s only speculation.

I’m sure the real story behind this isnt as cool sounding but its nice to think that in a major disaster some folks first response isn’t “Where’s the Red Cross” but rather “Screw this crap, I’m gonna fix this.”

Link – Fiocchi Canned Heat: Long Term Ammunition Storage For the Survivalist

From The Firearms Blog –


Fiocchi’s new line of Canned Heat ammunition has been designed for long term storage. The ammunition is sealed in metal can with an oxygen-free nitrogen gas atmosphere to prevent deterioration. The cans themselves have an enamel coating inside and out to insulate them to and prevent corrosion.

Smart. Go where the market is. Now, while this is a smart move on Fiocchi’s part, catering to an unserved market, its also something most hardcore preparedness freaks arent going to get too worked up about. Why? Well, when it comes to long term storage of ammo most of us are DIY-types. After all, surplus ammo cans are still available and it isnt too hard to pack ‘em up, wrap ‘em up, and put ‘em up. The suspenders-and-belt types will go a few steps further and vacuum seal or polymer coat the whole can.

Still, its nice to see ‘off the shelf’ solutions to the ammo storage issue.

Article – In Japan, the Mormon network gathers the flock

No doubt, the world comes to an end the most prepared and cohesive group is gonna be the Mormons.
If it weren’t for that whole beleiveing in god thing I’d join just for the networking opportunities. Sadly, no affiliate memberships are available.


The only thing that rivals the Mormon church’s ability to spread the word is its ability to cope with emergencies.
Within 36 hours of the earthquake striking off the coast of Sendai on March 11, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that all 638 of its missionaries in the country — 342 Americans, 216 Japanese and 80 from other nations – were safe.
Within a few days, the church also had accounted for all but about 1,000 of its 125,000 members in Japan.
“Whether it is Haiti or Japan,” said David Evans, a senior leader in the church who serves in the missionary department. “This is how it works everywhere.”
Chalk it up to a culture of discipline and emergency preparedness. The church has a detailed hierarchy and network that works in ordinary times to maintain cohesion among followers, and in disaster to locate them.

Dean Ing wrote a series of books that take place in a post-nuke America. The premise was that after the bombs fell, the most prepared would inevitably rise to power since they would be the ones most able to come out of the disaster in a position to rebuild as they saw fit. In the book, the US has become a Mormon theocracy and, like all theocracies, it deviates a bit from the ideal and becomes a bit sinister. I’d say its a virtual certainty, though, that if there is one demographic or social group that is most likely to come out of an apocalypse better than any other its probably gonna be them.

Anyway, good article. If you still havent taken advantage of your local Mormon cannery to assist you in stocking up, you may want to pursue that avenue.

Link – Whats a Japanese bugout bag look like?

The widespread devastation caused by Japan’s earthquake and resulting tsunami has been a reminder that even a country well-prepared for such disasters cannot always avoid the brutal blows of nature.

With more than half a million people living in temporary shelters and panic-buying leaving stores empty of supplies, people are being reminded of the importance of government advice, which tells them to have a survival “grab bag” permanently at the ready.

Griswold, the new paradigm, the government line

I was tossing out some trash at the shop and when Ii flipped open the lid on the dumpster I saw that, other than two items, the dumpster was empty. Item one was a broken picture frame, item two was a cast iron skillet. Hey, I like cooking with cast iron. Lets see who made it. Flipped it over and, surprise, its a late Griswold 11.5″. Hmmm. Okay, thats going home with me. Sprayed the whole thing with oven cleaner until it was covered in foam, shoved it in a plastic bag, and let it sit for a couple of days. Took it out, ran it under hot water and about 60% of the layers of seasoning washed right off. Excellent. Lather, rinse, repeat. Next week I’ll do the fine detail with some dental tools and steel wool and then reseason it a few times. Cast iron cookware is excellent stuff for cooking in disasters…its at home on a fire of salvaged 2×4′s or on the neighbors barbecue that didnt get swept away. Free cast iron is even better. And free Griswold is even better than that.
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The news about Japan continues to be virtually devoid of anything hopeful. I used to say that Katrina would be the paradigm for disaster planning for quite some time…well, it looks like Japan will surpass that. From here on out this event will be the benchmark that emergency management, rescue, governments and individuals use to proof their plans and gear. “Yeah, thats a great emergency rescue tool…how would it have worked in Japan?”, “Nice cotraflow traffic plan, Steve…would it have helped in Japan?”, “Donna, I want a PowerPoint presentation ready for the county commissioners by Monday about how we’d handle a nuclear accident like in Japan.”

Once the shock wears off and the demand dies down the folks that make nuclear survey gear, like the Nuk-Alert, are pretty much going to have some awesome sales figures over the next year or two.
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The survival/preparedness blogosphere is full of “If you were in Japan, what would you do” type posts. Lotsa Monday morning quarterbacking. Its only natural, I suppose. Certainly, many people are revisiting their ideas on disaster preparedness after this. I’m sure theres a smaller, superstitious faction that are sagely nodding their tinfoil-hatted heads and murmuring that it is all prophecy and that [2012/Rapture/Planet X/whatever] is surely not too far behind.

You know, sometimes all the bad crap just happens at once. No rhyme, no reason. It just does. About the only thing that could make this worse for the Japanese is Godzilla coming outta the surf with a mean look in his eye. Poor slobs.

One huge lesson that I think everyone can take away from this is that, apparently, Japanese government news and updates may be a little, shall we say, “unhelpful”. Or, more accurately, worthless. It appears that .gov has been downplaying, covering up, and otherwise diluting the news. This is further proof that in a crisis you cant afford to trust the official government story. The government isnt concerned about you as an individual, theyre concerned about you as a large population group. That is to say, the Japanese government may care about the population affected by the disaster, but they may not care about your grandmother who is caught up in it. In short, take the government reports with a grain of salt and cultivate other sources of info.

Detection

Man, I would bet that you could name your price on a plane ticket outta Japan right now and probably get it.

So far the images and stories generated from this disaster are pretty much what you expect…empty shelves, footage of people walking along highways, rubble everywhere, and that sort of things. The pictures of folks running around with nuke survey gear is a new one though.

In his excellent book, Nuclear War Survival Skills , Kearny gives info on how to make your own fallout monitoring device from household goods. Apparently, it works but there are other alternatives.

The Nuk-Alert keychain device has always interested me but not enough to drop the money for one. It is listed as being sensitive to gamma and x-ray radiation but, and I think Im probably off on this one, I was under the impression that most nuclear accidents involved alpha and beta radiation which is, as far as radiation goes, fairly tame stuff. Hmmm…I need to drag out my nuclear war references and double check that. I suspect that once this ‘blows over’ (!) and things quiet down Im going to have to go ahead and pick up a Nuk-Alert or two. The true do-it-yourselfer may simply whip up a scintillator and hope it’s for the right wavelength.

The various surplussed Civil Defense meters that are available (and, amazingly, still in use in some municipalities), would probably work for detecting increased levels of radiation but they need to be calibrated and that is not something that you can do at home with your meter and a broken smoke detector.

:::sigh::: I’ve actually got a pretty good library at home regarding this sort of thing…I just havent read it in quite a while since the likelihood of needing the information seemed to have dwindled. If nothing else, I should go re-read the parts about different types of radiation, decay rates, absorption and lethal dosages just so I can understand the news better.