Monday, September 01, 2014

What? No books? No bikes? No boom sticks?

Nope.  Tam of The View From The Porch has decided to call it quits as far as blogging goes.  She's fine, but fed up with some real world nonsense that revolved around that portion of her literary efforts.  Damn shame, because she was always worth reading.

Getting to be a little lonely in the old blogosphere these days.  Maybe some of those pundits are right, and maybe blogging is a dead end street in a dying neighborhood of the Internet.  Oh well, at least my house is paid off.  :-)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Merger? Hostile takeover?

If you're interested in the hard core of Second Amendment advocacy, then you keep up the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.  Founded by the late Aaron Zelman, this is a group that could make Gunowners of America look wishy-washy.

In between everything else going on in my life, I've been trying to keep up with what at first seemed to be a BS little story that the Second Amendment Foundation was going to, for lack of any better term, "buy" JFPO.  I have to admit I pretty much blew it off as someone's fevered imagination having a particularly bad night.

Turns out that I was wrong, and that this is really happening.  While I don't have as negative a view of SAF (or the NRA) as some folks, I am quite aware that they are not uncompromising in their positions.  Both have been, at times, a bit too ready to play politics with our inalienable rights.  Having been around for a while, I know that it's something that tends to come and go, right now more on the "come" at SAF and "go" at the NRA.  I also know that having groups like JPFO around helps keep them honest when the chips are down.

Claire Wolf, long a friend of JPFO, has probably the best information on her blog.  Right now, it seems that there is a group, perhaps a sizable group, that is trying to keep JPFO moving along the path its founder set for it.  I have to wish them well.

This is something to keep up with.  Seriously.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Real danger or "Wag the Dog"?

If your one of those who keeps an ear to the ground, listening for the rumble that would presage an event that means The End Really Is Near, I've been paying attention to ISIS or ISIL or whatever you'd care to call them.  Obviously, within their sphere of influence, they are well armed, quite dangerous and apparently exceeding blood thirsty.  The news media and our politicians have missed no opportunity to tell us in grim and excruciating detail just how dangerous and bloodthirsty they are, complete with stills and video.

Now, we're told that they are planning on taking out a major American city, and fingers point at Chicago.  (Apparently they decided no one would notice it they attacked Detroit. )  We're told that they may have slipped operatives over our porous borders.  Heck, they may have moved in right next door to us and we wouldn't even know it until it's too late.

While I have no real doubts about the existence and danger this current bunch of Islamic fascists pose, I'm not so sure that our politician on both sides of the aisle are not taking advantage of the situation to shore up their flagging fortunes.  Face it--we have an idiot of a President who would rather play golf than stay in the Oval Office and work, a Veep who could easily double for the village idiot and a Congress with the lowest approval rating since two days before dirt.  Even the sycophantic media has had to acknowledge that the American public is fed up and that those wicked L/libertarians are starting to get some traction with their nutter ideas.  That alone is enough to scare our professional political class into soiling themselves en masse.  A viable third (well, second) party cannot be allowed to come into existence!


 And so, forgive me if I wonder if, in time-honored tradition, we are not setting up another bogeyman.  With a son and daughter of prime draft age, I have skin in this game in a manner of speaking, and I do not want to see them die in some war brewed up to protect our political class.

As I age and see more and more of our government in action, I understand better and better just how naive and foolish I was in my younger years--even when those younger years were only a decade or so ago.  I understand better and better why the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to attempt to ensure that the central government was weak and the state governments strong, and why they attempted to restrict the franchise.  We have strayed from their wisdom, and we are daily paying the price.  Our children and grandchildren and great and great-great grandchildren will be paying it as well.

We need to stop making that price increase.  Before we attack another enemy, let's be sure they are really a threat to us--our country, to all of us--and not just to the interests of of some sub-group of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Where was Jack when the lights went out?

(As heard on the Survival Podcast)

Most often, the answer to that line is "In the dark!"  However, that doesn't necessarily need to be so--not even if you're facing a long-term power outage, or you're one of those fortunate folks who are able to move out back of beyond and live the prepper's dream lifestyle of self-reliance.

While the concept of wood gasification is hardly new, (in WWII the Germans used a lot of wood gasification, although coal gas was produced in even larger quantities), the folks at Tactical Wood Gas have developed some very high tech, high output wood gasifiers that you can use to power a small engine for a virtually unlimited time--well, at least until you run out of lubricants, spare parts for the the thing or it or the gasifier simply wears out.

The significance of this is huge.  In a bad situation, those with a high-wattage source of electricity are going to be far ahead of those without.  In my recent brush with darkness, having just a 2 kilowatt generator meant that we kept the refrigerator and freezer cold (irony alert, in the middle of an ice storm), the blower on the wood stove going so that the entire house remained toasty warm (rather than just a room or two) and we had TV and movies to keep folks entertained (and if you don't think that's important, try making your family do without it sometime).  We could also have ran lights, a hot plate, power tools, computers or any of the other goodies of modern life if we had needed to.  Try doing that with AA batteries recharged with solar panels.

Tactical Wood Gas's Big Dragon unit can run a 6.5 HP engine--in the Honda EU generator line, that's roughly an EU3000, one size up from mine.  Are your mental wheels starting to turn yet?  If you do some prior planning, you can do a lot with 3000 watts.  Considering an EU generator is quiet to start with, a little "sound engineering work" will allow you to quiet one down to a whisper--very important if things happen to go all Mad Max on us.

While the $1000 price tag may seem a bit steep, with all the engineering done for you, all the parts tracked down and supplied, I suspect most of us would be hard pressed to duplicate it and have as efficient a unit for that price.  Just looking at the size holes that need to be cut, a decent set of metal cutting hole saws will set you back a substantial part of that sum.

Looking at it from another angle, try to buy 3000 watts of solar panels, mounts, inverter, batteries and so on for that price.  Don't think it will happen any time soon.

While it isn't going to be for everyone (for example, if you live in a high desert environment, this wouldn't be worth much since you'd have no wood to gasify), for a lot of the prepping class, this would make a lot of sense at a certain point in their career.  It's worth the bookmark, just in case.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Going back--w-a-a-ay back

You can live in a place all your life and fail to know everything about it.  A few years ago I came into the knowledge that the area of North Carolina where I grew up and live in today, known as the Piedmont, was once home to a rather large number of celebrated gunsmiths who made long rifles.  I had never heard of that.  I knew about a lot of historical things from this area, like the Battle of Guilford Court House, but long rifle makers?

That makes the piece in today's Salisbury Post on long rifle makers of the Rowan school just that much better.  That one's pretty much in my back yard.  How cool is that?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Economic geekery

John Mauldin makes a point that Gross Output may be a better indicator of economic growth than Gross Domestic Product.  And no, we really aren't discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin here.  While a bit dense for those without an interest in economics, this is Pretty Important Stuff, because these are the things by which economic policies are set.  Seeing as how governments aren't too good at that sort of thing  these sorts of discussions are important.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Book Review: Prepare For Anything Survival Manual

If you're looking for that one book that will tell you everything you need to know in order to "survive", then this book will be a disappointment to you.  Then again, so will every other book ever written on the subject, because there is no such thing.  There can't be; the breadth of knowledge required is too broad.  I have roughly enough books to fill a bookshelf 3 feet wide and 7 feet tall on various survival subjects, and that honestly is probably inadequate to cover everything one could possibly need in a worst case scenario.

However, this book does one thing quite well.  It catalogs all of the major subject areas that you would need to know about in order to survive most survival scenarios, including long-term grid down scenarios.  In its 338 short articles (nothing is longer than a page, making this a perfect bathroom book), author Tim MacWelch covers all the areas you would need to know about--food, shelter, medical needs, defense and so on.  As a sort of bonus, a number of those 338 articles are indeed stand-alone nuggets of knowledge, with the ones on using a pressure canner to distill water and the recipe for hard tack standing out in my memory.

I would think of this book as a sort of "executive summary" on survival topics.    The tone definitely doesn't wear camouflage, eat MREs and live in a bunker while waiting for The End Of The World As We Know It.  It would make an excellent gift for friends or family who are curious and receptive to information on what can be an off-putting subject.  You could loan this book to coworkers who have questions, curious neighbors or skeptical family.  Anyone in those audiences could take this book and begin their own journey to a prepared, resilient lifestyle.

(Prepare For Anything Survival Manual, Tim MacWelch and the editors of Outdoor Life Magazine, ISBN 13: 978-1-61628-839-6  Hardback, $31.95)