Friday, April 19, 2013

Where will the Narrative lead us?

It appears, from news stories this morning, that the Boston situation has at least partially brought to a close. Granted, it was at the cost of another life, and a running gun battle in the streets to Boston and its suburbs, but suspects have been identified, the subsequently dispatched or pursued vigorously. This, in its course, is a dynamic situation in which the application of well armed police officers and armored vehicles is appropriate. Pity we have to deal with their peace time operations, though.

The next question, of course, is the why. I would hope that the remaining suspect at least has time to proclaim his intentions for the day before meeting with his doom. I would imagine he is none too keen in the prospect of capture; should he prefer death, I little doubt that the officers in pursuit shan't unnecessarily object to obliging him. It appears that there may be some ties to the Chechen rebels- if so, I am not aware of their similar operation on this soil prior. Even should the connection be proven, it leaves as many questions as answers. Foremost, the questions In my mind are 'Why now? (What has changed that led them to the act)', 'Why here? (Meaning the marathon in particular, but also why at all here? Their rebellion is with Russia, and we have a decreasing influence in the area)', and 'To what end? (I have not been able to derive a suitable advantage obtained from this act)'.

I may return to this line of inquiry later, but the more pressing question to me is what will be done with the situation on a domestic front. We have recently heard from at least one fringe position that it was hoped to be a rural white male bomber (thus reinforcing their stereotype), which could then be used to advance their cause in no small way. Although I am yet ignorant of the specifics, I have it on credible rumor and recent history that this act was hoped to be linked to the Tea Party (or could at least be unjuriously alleged). Now, the specifics (if they bear out) being what they are, the media will be put in a position to either report on a plot that does not seem to support their narrative or to investigate means to turn it to their advantage. Politicians will be in a similar quandary. No doubt there will those on the Right who will shortly renew their calls to closely regulate religion, and those on the Left will call for close regulation of any substance used in the construction of  these devices. Subsequent to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah bombing, agricultural applications of fertilizer were largely targeted for disruption by a concerned but ill informed public. It was widely asked where this man could obtain such huge quantities o a dangerous substance- at that very moment there was roughly 5 times the volume of both fertilizer and diesel fuel on hand at our farm, and my family operates a very small farm. I will not be surprised to hear a hue and cry for the careful control of even potential substances, nor will I be surprised by increased call for restrictions placed on people of similar background, religious beliefs, or ethnicity of the suspects.

The acts themselves highlight a growing concern that we are bound for difficult times. The facade of strength is worn, weaknesses are being exploited, and we as a nation and a culture are finding it difficult to react to the instability. While the positive feedback loop is rare in Nature, it is exceedingly common in Mankind. There are those poised to capitalize on our current weaknesses (there always are) and I do not doubt that they are encouraging more atrocities even as we speak, whether through direct means or tacit approval. We must be on our guard.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Prestige of the Office of the Presidency

The Manchin-Toomey bill was shot down by a slender but sufficient margin today, dealing a blow to the Administration's goal of passing anti-gun legislation. Good- while I do believe some of the rhetoric was a bit overstated, I am relieved to see the momentum of the Gun Control Lobby checked. This does, however, make me cognizant of a different danger. To wit, we have effectively dealt a serious blow to the agenda of a man who was elected President of the United States of America. In specific, I oppose nearly every aspect of the agenda laid out by this administration, but there is, as always, a danger in victory as surely as there is in defeat.

 Firstly, I am equally skeptical of the platforms and agendas of the Republican party as I am of the Democratic party. We should find ourselves in no less dire of circumstances if the Right should decide to suspend other civil liberties than the Left. Considering the activities of the Occupy movement of last year, one must certainly be concerned for the continued right to peaceably assemble. Remember, the rule of law does not discriminate by affiliation, and laws written by the Right to curb the assembly of the Left can be used against them in the same breath where the Left holds sway. Should we believe that Rahm Emmanuel would hesitate for an instant to turn loose the National guard on IGOLD if he had the chance? Would Mayor Bloomberg be disinclined to use force authorized by a Republican against conservatives in his city? Witness the swift movements of Janet Napolitano in redefing 'terrorist' to encompass those of our ilk so recently. The Attorney General has certainly shown no qualms in turning the PATRIOT act against the very people who supported it.

Secondly, we have proven a weakness in the highest elected office in the land, the very office that many, in a global front, consider to be the most powerful in the world. We would be fools to believe that others, more nefarious in chosen end, do not see the same weakness that we exploit. We cannot afford to simultaneously show the gap in our armor while championing its strength. In this we have won a march, but we must remain on guard against those who follow behind.

It is my extreme concern that our actions have caused an irreparable blow to the image of our nation in our enemies' estimation. Be wary, therefore, of increased and emboldened attacks on our nation on an international front. Iran and North Korea rattle their sabres while we scramble to fund our military. We have shown, through this latest vote, that the words of the President are not necessarily predictive, and what he has vowed to do can be defeated. Do not be surprised, then, to find that his word to commit the force of government against foreign threats has lessened in its worth; we ourselves have shown that he can be defeated.

Be on guard against evil acts, in the coming time, even more than before. Ours are not the only eyes to see that Caesar is mortal.

Monday, April 15, 2013

To do what you can, while you can

Another blow to a reeling nation- another dark cloud decends, and madness unleashed with no reason other than murder and mayhem.

It will play out in the news, and be seized upon for political gain for this group or that; that isn't what I am here to discuss.

Right now, I want to draw focus to one particular group of people. When explosions rocked the ground in Boston, they were there; screams of anguish and pain rent the air, and they were there. In the medical tent, they were there, in the street and in the buildings, in the ambulances and in the hospitals. With no warning given, no questions asked, no goal that lasted beyond the next scant moments, they ran to the wounded, the bleeding and damaged. They stanched wounds and held hands, guided the shaken to safety. They ran to the sound, not away. A doctor running the marathon who left to go straight to his hospital to receive patients. A paramedic, also a runner, who rushed in to do whatever he could. A medic in the tent, one minute treating exhaustion, the next treating wounded, never expecting to see a triage area blossom there.

Whenever I see these things happening, these are the ones that stand out to me. These are the ones to honor and to emulate. Without thinking, they throw themselves into battle to do what the can, while they can. Some had just run a marathon; surely there were few that expected them to answer the call. They did anyway.

In times of madness, always look for the ones running to help. It won't lessen the hollow act, but at least they give some hope.

Bent but not Broken, AC does Tax Day

I don't do many Quote of the Day bits, because the 9 people that read this daily have probably already seen this, but this is too good not to reference.
Think to yourself “I’m still standing bitches!”  Then howl at the moon like the last free citizen in a land of subjects.  Don’t worry about the neighbors.  If you’ve been living properly they’re either used to it or you don’t have neighbors at all.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Long Term Preps

When it comes to preps, this is the meaty one. These are the preps that turn families into cultures, clans into nations. Long term preps, in my eyes, are the ones that last forever.

Granted, forever is a very long time- considering that, with proper storage and care, even medium term preps can last years. But for the sake of a nebulous definition, long term preps are the ones that take effect after the first year goes by without help arriving.

The thing about long term, of course, is the cost; it's remarkably small, because most of the things I consider long term are skills, not supplies. Skills such as gardening and farming will never wear out, though the tools eventually will. Having a good, solid shed that will last years is a commodity; knowing how to fell trees and build your own is a legacy skill. Medium term is having a good chainsaw and a supply of fuel and oil, but long term is having a two man crosscut saw and a good axe. A rifle has a very long span of usefulness, but knowing how to select a proper branch and craft a bow is a permanent skill, and one that can be taught to generations.

With the industrial revolution came an ever increasing amount of specialization. These days, few outside of our little community of preppers and rugged individualists maintain the skills that were common in this country even one hundred years ago. Even more concerning is the level of skill loss in the last two generations. Skills that our parents and grandparents took for granted, some as mundane as cooking and vehicle maintenance, are lost on our contemporaries, and the next generation is abjectly unaware that these things ever existed. Food comes from the store, electricity comes from the plug, and if something goes wrong you can always hire someone to fix it. Specialization works well for us, in an ever increasingly technical and complicated system. It does, however, come at a cost; skills that were once common become rare, and skills that are supplanted by advancements in technology are lost. I refer to these, quite often, as Legacy Skills.

Of  all the various legacy skills I have tried to accumulate, none is so critical as food supply. Gardening, drying, canning, and preserving are skills that will certainly outlast even the longest stock of MREs and canned foods.  That is why I've taken to gardening with such fervor since my little family moved here to Oregon. Do I grow enough food to sustain my family on only that which I raise myself? Of course not- it would take a great deal more garden space than I maintain to do that. However, the plants are not the only thing being cultivated. The skill is cultivated, as well; like the garden itself, skill must be maintained, fertilized, and tended, lest it lose ground to weeds and disarray. This is why medium term preps are important- they get you through until you can stand on your own. A good supply of food is the bridge between a supply disruption and the next planting season. Without the knowledge of gardening and farming, you will surely reach the end of your supply someday.

Other than gardening, there are many legacy skills in food preparation. Hunting and fishing skills come to mind here, which can become very important in a long term situation. A couple of notes here- I'm a lousy fisherman. My presence alone seems to cure all fish in the area of any nascent hunger, and thus my attempts at learning to fish have not born out well. This is, of course, good for the fish, but not for the fisherman. At hunting, I have some success; hunting, however, is a skill that requires time, patience, and dedication to apply. Much as with the Bug Out Bag concept (some of you may have read my Bad Things Happen to Good People Bag post) I note a certain tendency of people to believe that they, without any prior experience, will remove themselves to the wild with their 80 lb duffel bag and live by hunting and gathering. I wish them all the luck, of course, but I find it suitably apt to TRY these sorts of things prior to surviving on them alone. Even successful hunters have legacy skills to pursue, however. Once you have killed your prized food source, there may be no butcher to take your haul to, no freezer to place your meat in. Dressing, skinning, butchering, salting, curing and drying are all skills with a certain learning curve, and I experiment with them both for enjoyment and practice.

Food is only one aspect of true long term prep, of course, but it illustrates the concept. Medium term preps are a vital part of surviving a critical situation, but they are still an exhaustable resource. Long term preps and legacy skills can be passed along to children, shared with friends and neighbors, and used to recover a suitable standard of living even in a loss of services that lasts for years. Not only that, but they are often a sustainable solution- with only a little more effort, one can utilize long term preps in a medium term situation and greatly extend the length of one's provisions. Long term preps are the skills and tools to rebuild the very foundations of our way of life- they are the tools we used to build these United States. With a little preparation, they can sustain one in relative comfort and prosperity through trials that will break the very bonds of our culture. They are the form of preps that are not lessened by their use, only honed and increased.

Friday, April 12, 2013


The post on Long Term Prep is about half done, and someday I'll finish my Holster Making series. For now, a philosophical question.

People that get really excited about plug-in electric cars tend to be against (in no special order)- coal, oil drilling, natural gas extraction, nuclear power plants, and hydroelectric dams. The question is, are they underinformed or just stupid?

I'll leave you to ponder that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Medium Term Prep

I thought about calling this post 'mid-term prep' but that brings back memories of school, and I didn't feel like going there.

In my thought process, medium term prep is for situations lasting from days to months. Of course, many medium term preps can spill over into both long and short term- especially regarding durable tools. This is the focus of the largest majority of people with 'prepper' tendencies (again, by my observation).  Categories of medium term prep include many food items, fuel and equipment, anything involving firearms, and trade and barter goods.

There are many others with many different schools of thought on this subject, and I'm not entirely certain I need to reiterate every point. For one, it would take too long to cover every aspect (indeed, considering how many subjects there are to be covered it could very well be endless); for two there are as many disagreements as agreements on this subject to even attempt an omnibus article. The salient point I have to make is this- anything that requires fuel or upkeep, anything that can be saved or stashed away is medium term prep. MREs may last many years on the shelf, and one may have a full years supply of three squares a day, but without the ability to restock, they will run out. Ammunition is the same story- reloading can greatly increase the time limit of your ammunition, but powder, primers and bullets (cases, too, although on a much longer time scale) are commodities to be used, and the supply will eventually run out. The key, in my mind, to medium term prep is to make them last as long as possible.

There are many doomsday style situations in which we can envision our preps being used, from terrorist caused grid-down to nuclear war, economic collapse to civil war, earthquakes and winter storms. The priority of each prep should be balanced by the severity of need and the likelihood of occurrence. For example- while preps for civil or foreign war on our soil are, indeed, very important, the likelihood of a winter storm that disrupts power is far more likely, and I would balance my preps towards the latter until I felt comfortable with my situation, then deepen my preps to my lower-likelihood situations. A walled compound with a moat and drawbridge, but without a backup generator is a little ridiculous. See to the necessary items first, then see to their security.

One thing that ties medium and short term preps together is access. Medium term preps are, by their nature, mostly stationary. Few people have the wherewithal to carry months worth of food and water with them every day. While it would, ostensibly, be possible, it would mean that pretty much everywhere one ventured would be in a large camper; this would get ridiculously expensive in a short amount of time, using money that would be better spent on supplies. This means that at least a portion of short term prep is geared towards getting back to the place where the medium term supplies are stored, and re-evaluating the situation once that security is regained. Conversely, long term preps tie over into medium term as well. I won't cover my long term preps at this time, but much of it is centered around food supply- decreased access to fresh food is a hallmark of any service disruption. Preparations made for long term, redundant, renewable food supplies can play a key part in making your medium term preps far outlast the length of time you would be able to survive on them alone.

In this manner, medium term preps are a bridge. Things like generators and stored food are put away as a stop-gap, between the immediate emergency and either the restoration of services or the establishment of long term solutions. Medium term security solutions (which deserve their own post) are intended to protect you and your belongings in a period of unrest. They are the difference between ease and hardship, whether the storm to be weathered is of man or of nature. Short term preps are for emergency survival; medium term preps are for surviving after the emergency. As has been seen in the vicious storms in the Northeast over the last couple years, services are not guaranteed within hours of a storm; every hour, every day, that one can fend for themselves, without requiring input from emergency services, frees up those services to help the less prepared, and can help immensely to shorten the overall length of the catastrophe. In the event of a total failure, on the other hand, medium term preps will buy the time needed to fully establish a long-term survival plan. It is vital to have these preps in place- after all, every bandage in your First Aid kit, every fire extinguisher in your home canno carry you through a power outage or a food shortage.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Short Term Prep

An observation on something I've noticed: there's a lot more to prepping than stocking up on rice and ammo.

I look at my preps in stages- Short, Medium, and Long term. These vary greatly in application and type, but a well balanced approach is my goal (while admitting that I am trying to improve some drastic deficiencies in all categories). I define my time ranges a bit differently than some, so I'll sketch them out as I go.

Short- for these purposes, short term prep is my term for for time spans lasting from seconds to hours. Many people consider this the Emergency Preparedness portion of our discussion. These are things like blow-out kits, heat sources, and survival gear. Emergencies don't call ahead- I keep these with me or in my vicinity at all times. Not every emergent situation is a life-threatening emergency, of course- this why most first aid or blow-out kits rapidly run out of Band-Aids but the sterile gauze packs are all faded and old.


The Big City where I live has a Saturday Market downtown, which is mostly an artists market, with food stands and craft brewers, street performers and panhandlers. From a situational awareness standpoint, it's a mess, but its quite a bit of fun, all the same. Our last sojourn to this land of hipsters, ne'erdowells and bums was an outing with My Lovely Wife's parents, and my Father-in-law managed to very slightly injure his hand while using, most unfortunately, a portable toilet. Of all the injuries I've sustained in my life, those while using the bathroom facilities are the most awkward; one is quite embarrassed to tell of it, yet they are of great concern to prevent infection. Perish the thought of what nasty little germs are living in the porta-Johns of the Saturday market. Despite his mild protestations (it really was fairly minor, though bleeding freely at the time) we adjourned to the nearest flat surface, and his cut was shortly disinfected and a small bandage applied. Time involved: less than 45 seconds. Life threatening probably not (although we will never know what infection may have occurred without cleaning). Having a blow-out kit in my pack meant more time to enjoy the day and quickly erased a minor inconvenience.

The next example involves my own parents, and happened this past weekend. Four years ago, approximately, my mother very badly broke her ankle, which resulted in some surgery and a lot of therapy. Since that time, she has had trouble with blood pooling in her foot and ankle; circulation problems, coupled with scar tissue and half a junk drawer worth of hardware in her ankle, has forced some veins to run very shallow in her lower calf. This past weekend, she sustained a cut that, for some reason, bled in a most disturbingly profuse manner. Within a matter of moments, my home kit was produced, pressure dressing was applied, and the situation was soon remedied. Scary? Yes. But soon fixed, and no harm done.

While both these examples deal with minor medical issues, the same level of instant readiness applies to other situations. A minor fire, left unchecked in the absence of a fire extinguisher, can be the difference between the loss of a meal and a few minutes of clean-up or the loss of your home, most of your worldly possessions, and very possibly your life or your loved ones. In cold winters, it takes remarkably little time to die of exposure. The presence of a warm coat and good boots in your car, and a small shovel to dig out with, can be life, with a few minutes lost to extraction or death, either waiting for help that doesn't arrive in time or foolishly trying to walk out, in gear not fit for the situation.

Short term prep means being ready for life to arrive at a moment's notice. Short term prep is having the skill and supplies to turn a life-threatening situation into a momentary inconvenience. It turns an emergency into a nuisance, and a nuisance into nearly nothing. After all, all the year's rice will not avail you if you freeze in your car, bleed to death on a hike, or fail to extinguish an out of control candle.