Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag, some assy req'd

After a pretty serious amount of interest (at least on MY scale, Thanks Tam!) in my version of the ready bag (choose your favorite nickname! Heck, you can call it Flobert for all I care) I thought I'd put together a real post, pictures and everything! So here's my new Go-Bag.

Here's an overview of my ideal: I'm building a bag that I can have with me at basically all times. I need it to be well organized, convenient, and full of things that I will PROBABLY need. This last requirement is where I shift away from the traditional Bug Out Bag. I have noticed that there are people in the world that are building these Bug Out Bags that have absolutely no concept of how hard it is to carry an 80 lb pack. I HAVE carried an 80 lb pack, and it SUCKS! More to the point, it is nearly impossible, without serious training (yes, I'm looking at you, USMC) to 'grab' an 80 lb backpack and just walk away. Yes, I know the hardcore will excoriate me for not including 17 loaded 35 rd magazines for my M4gery, but I don't even have one of those, so it's a moot point.

What's NOT  moot point, is that this bag is not a 3 day zombie invasion bag. My battle rifle is at home (don't muck about, I am pretty good with stripper clips, and I'm pretty sure I can lay effective fire from the SMLE as fast as the next totally untrained random guy) and that's where I'm trying to get to. If you've waited until you have 8 minutes to duck out before the fall of man, a 3 day bag won't do you any good. So this is a 24 hour bag. It contains a junk-drawer cross section of all the things I think would come in handy if I were REALLY stranded, as well as a few things that I know come in handy on an irregular basis. You all know the chassis I chose (if not, click here) so this is a rundown of the stuff I put in it.

First stop, exterior. As you can see, my hatchet rides quit nicely on the MOLLE webbing that covers the face of the bag. This is just an ordinary hand axe from Gerber- lightweight, stays sharp, handy as all hell. I chose the long handle hatchet, but to suit other needs there is also a compact handle (about 7in) and a camp axe (about 24in) available.

Next, front interior pocket.

As you can see, this pocket has a lot of organizers, which I like.This one contains some of the various school standards, such as pens, pencils, scratch paper, and various patchcords for phones and music, etc. Nothing too exciting here. I have added small bottles of mouthwash, shampoo, and contact solution (and a spare contact case) for some basic hygiene.The first two forms of fire are here, a standard Bic lighter and some strike anywhere matches. I generally prefer to have at least 2 or more means of starting a fire on my person. Two is One and One is None; this applies to fire sources more than others, since they are relatively fragile.

Main Pocket.

This one, as you can well see, has A LOT of pockets. Remember, this is built as a tool bag, so each one of these pockets would hold a wrench, ratchet, or etc. This is great for organizing. Which is also great for me, because in this portion I have, in no particular order: A can of Stearno, roll of duct tape, 3 road flares, water purification tablets, a sewing kit, extra socks, work gloves, ziplock bags, batteries, a hunting knife, sharpening stone, rubber bands, zipties, a small roll of twine, wet-wipes, and two packages of tissues. Whew! Say that 5 times fast! I'm not going to go into the utility or reasoning behind these items, as I'm sure that most people can spot that pretty easily, but I'm going to mention one that most seem to leave off the list: dry socks. You know what the difference is between jungle rot and athlete's foot? You guessed it, dry socks. Also, one will notice that I have rather a lot of items included that are for sanitation. This is not a theoretical inclusion- wet wipes are in there from personal experience. Whether filthy from fire or flood extraction or from gutting a deer, wet wipes can make you feel like an entirely new person. Tissues, by the way, handily double as toilet paper, and there's a reason that fireline crews call that stuff 'mountain money.'

Next up, Blowout Kit(s)

I say multiple kits because I keep a handful of these around at all times. The main portion of my kit in this bag is not actually included, but attached to the outside. That is the small, camerabag looking 'Husky' item that you can see clipped to the waist strap (shown on far right). I keep it thusly because I firmly believe that Blowout kits should be something one does not have to dig for. If you need it, you generally need it when every second counts. Inside that kit, I have the usual bandages, wipes, tweezers, tape, etc. but I also have added an Isreali Battle Dressing, a packet of Celox styptic powder (don't be stupid with this stuff) and a small tube of Super Glue (see previous disclaimer). My booster kit (shown to center) contains extras of several items, including tape, ointment, gauze, and another IBD. This booster kit occupies its own dedicated pocket, which will shortly have a First Aid label applied to it.

A last note on things I haven't added yet. There are a few items that I still have to add to this particular Go-Bag, but they are redundancy items, for the most part. I am going to add a permanent resident flashlight, (two is one and one is none) as well as a spare Leatherman tool (to supplement the one that lives on my side full-time). Some paracord will be added shortly (it's around, just not in the kit yet). The last item is one that I'll have to chase down; a solar/dynamo radio, with USB plugs for charging electronics. Just think how far we have come that I'm trying to figure out how to power my cell phone with a hand crank...

Anyhow, there you have it. That's my Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag. Handy, ever present, and weighing in at a current 13 lbs. After all, if the first rule of gun fights is to have your gun with you, then the first rule of survival is to have your tools with you. An 80lb 3 day pack does you no good if it's safe, at home, cause the damn thing's to heavy to move around.  Stay safe!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Clausewitz- A book review in at least two parts...

OK, through book one and now for some actual review-y type things.

First off, this guy really seems to know his stuff.  The version that I purchased was compiled by several historians (although none of them particularly military) and they included, in the introduction, a timeline of his life. The man served in at least 3 different armies, fought both alongside and against Napoleon Bonaparte, and was an officer for most of his 53 years. He joined the army of Prussia at the age of 12. So, yeah, experience is a big 'check.'

In point of fact, I am also not a military man. There was a time when I strongly considered service, but in the end, I went a different direction. Many of my friends and family members, however, have undertaken military service, so I do have their experience to draw from.That being said, most of the military people I know are/were enlisted men, not officers and certainly not commanders, so much of the wisdom Clausewitz imparts I have little context for. This is not to say it is not valuable information, and indeed his wisdom has given me a curiously different insight on the current prosecution of our various wars.

I have finished Book One, which was the most thoroughly reviewed and edited book the author was able to produce. It is clear from the various introductions, and from the author's notes, that he intended to continue to revise the later works, as well, but his life and career were ended by illness at what we could consider (even for the time) a rather young age. Book One explores the Idea of War; that is to say Why we go to war, What its use and purpose is, and What it means to fight a war. He begins to lay out his theories regarding the major purposes of war and of what traits make a good, or even great, commander. His comments regarding the 'Friction' of war were of particular interest to me, as he makes it quite clear that it would be folly to disregard the individuals that make up your command. This struck me as distinct, especially given the propensity for historians to regard wars as games of chess, or statistical features.

Cross-application- This one can be a little hazy, but I believe many of the concepts he espouses, although he prefaces them as features of war and combat, can also apply to business and personal life. The portions regarding the relationship between both allies and enemies is particularly of interest in the business world. While a large part of the book thus far deals with features found in war that are not found elsewhere, there remain many worthwhile concepts here to explore.

In Conclusion, Carl von Clausewitz begins to lay out the foundations of his epic work- Why and how war is prosecuted and what it takes to win one.

So far, going very well- stylewise, this is not a fast read, as many of the comments and ideas require one to stop and ruminate. Take extra time to read it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag

is my version of the Bug Out Bag. Don't get me wrong, I'm as paranoid/crazy about things as the next right wing blogger survivalist gun nut (ok, well that depends on who the NEXT one is). But I don't see a lot of utility in prepping a bag to scram before the Feds get there. What I DO see a lot of utility in is having a bag, generally at one's disposal at any given time, with emergency necessities in it.

Most of the places I go, I carry my hunting lumbar pack. It's basically a gigantic fanny pack with a shoulder harness, a couple of small pockets on each hip, and a couple of water bottle pockets. It goes to the beach, to the farmers market, on walks with the dog, and generally is seen on my shoulders if I'm out doing something recreational (ie, more than 90 seconds from the car). My Lovely Wife calls it my purse, although nowhere as cavernous or crowded as her own. It generally has a few dog treats, bags for picking up the dog poo, a FAK, some fire, and a knife. During hunting season, it gets a few more goodies, and has served me well.

My other bag is the one I refer to as my Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag. Yeah, it's a little bulkier to say, but it makes a difference in explaining to underenlightened persons. It contains many of the same things as my small pack, but it larger quantity, with a few extras like gloves, batteries, extra flashlight, larger knife and sharpening stone, etc. It rides in the truck with me and is, basically, my kit should some tragedy or emergency befall me. I have just recently purchased a new chassis for its construction.

The new bag is made by AWP (they make tool belts) and listed as their Tread Bottom Tool Backpack. It has about a gazillion organizing pockets inside, a laptop sized divider, a cavernous center section, and the outside is covered in MOLLE webbing. It also has a rubberized tire tread pattern base (namesake, I believe), well padded straps and a padded and ventilated back. In short, its got all the things that I was looking for in the various 'tactical' backpacks, but at roughly a third of the price. I'll let you know how it holds up, but I think it's going to fit the bill nicely.

As a short disclaimer: Nobody paid me to say this. I think I may like this thing; if I don't, I'll say that, too. I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Lowe's or AWP. So there; neener neener neener.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Clausewitz- a Book Review in as many parts necessary- 1

I'm barely into Carl von Clausewitz' seminal work 'On War' and already I am fascinated.

Incidentally, I was originally made aware of his work via Borepatch's link (via Isegoria) to THIS.

Thus far, it's an interesting departure from Sun Tzu's 'The Art of War,' which is much more a practical guide, with specific strategies and tactics. Granted, there is a LOT left of the book itself, which was a labor of more than half of von Clauswitz' life (he died of cholera at 53, having joined the military at age 12). However, where Sun Tzu can be read as a handbook on the practical application of War, 'On War' is a collection of wisdom regarding the theory of War itself; it's causes, limitations, and factors. Although I have finished a mere 30ish pages of it, its application to a wider range of subjects is already apparent. The civilization we live in would be much better served, in my opinion, if more people were exposed to Clausewitz and less to Machiavelli.

So far, strongly recommended.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pratchett of the (Insert Random Measure of Time)

And he was not certain, not certain at all, what he'd do if the prisoner gave him any lip or tried to be smart. Beating people up in little rooms... he knew where that led. And if you did it for a good reason, you'd do it for a bad one. You couldn't say "we're the good guys" and do bad-guy things.

- Thud, p 256, after the bit with the dwarfs in the basement, when the mine was cracked open and the bodies were found, but before they went off to... oh just read the whole thing. Its worth it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Long Gaps...

Life has been very busy. I'm working full days on the largest commercial construction project in the US, building handrails and platforms and paths, saving lives every day, etc etc. No seriously, I've been very busy.

This means all nine people who read this blog have been mildly disappointed, and therefore are reading someone ELSE'S blog (I can recommend some good ones, check the sidebar) instead.

So this is me, taking yet another large break from blogging. I have the rest of my holster building series written up, waiting for pictures to be formatted, and I'm hoping to get it stuck out there soon. I just started reading 'On War' by Carl von Clausewitz, so I'm hoping to get some fodder from that. I've also been kicking around a 'Pratchett of the (insert random time measurement)' series, so I'm compiling a few quotes there. For those of you that have not had the pleasure- go forth, and read you some Terry Pratchett. It's good stuff, and quite insightful for a satirist.

Other than that, please continue to talk amongst yourselves- blogging will resume when time permits.