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gear comments
Riding The Storm Out
Wednesday, 4 March 2009
found a new knife vendor on ebay



Very friendly to deal with.  If you need a knife, check out what he has first.

Posted by outlands at 10:06 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 4 March 2009 10:09 AM EST
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Confessions epiphany
Mood:  don't ask
It is said "confession is good for the soul" - and I agree.  After getting something off my chest last night, I feel like a huge weight has been pulled off me.  The part I didn't think about, though, was that in doing so, I added extra weight to someone else who is already in a difficult situation and who now has to figure out how to respond and/or deal with me.

I think whoever penned that original adage should have written it more like this:
"Confession is good for your soul - but may well burden the soul to whom you confess."

So, if you ever happen to read this, thank you for listening and burdening you was something I didn't think about at the time.  Just one more thing in my mess to apologize to you for.

Posted by outlands at 10:25 AM EST
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
the origins
Mood:  rushed

Folks, the name of the blog originated from a "family memo" I started earlier this year.  I liked both the name and the diary-style, so I kept both.  I thought you might enjoy reading the original "essay" that started the whole ball of wax...





Fuel prices are going up - radically.  I watched gasoline prices jump from $3.29 to $3.39 effectively overnight.  Diesel is hovering at $3.99 a gallon.  Our government is pushing us to ethanol-based fuel blends, so fewere farmers are planting food crops.  Food is becoming more expensive, due to rising input costs (fertilizer, fuel for tractors & transport, etc), and reduced supply.

Internationally, our dollar's value is dropping against foreign currencies, making it more expensive to buy things from overseas.  The good part - foreigners are starting to see the USA as a good place to spend their money.  The bad thing - we don't make anything for them to buy!

Energy prices continue to go up as the costs of making the energy go up.  Ammo prices are rising as our Mid-East "adventure" drags on.

As we move to Wxxxxx to consolidate our surroundings, we have to face the issues of everything going up when it is even available.  By relocating, we are closer to relatives who have skills - primarily medical and mechanical - and resources (land, buildings, tools, vehicles) which can be marshalled to maintain the community.

The title is a misnomer - the storm is changing the landscape.  It won't blow over and let things go back to "the way they were."  Fuel is over $3.60 for gas and is pushing $4.50 for diesel.  We need to be gathering waste oils...

5-22 - $3.69-$3.74/gal
6-16 - $3.86/gal, down from $3.93


fencing supplies:
    dog-pen to move dogs off our place
    goat-yard wire
    chickenyard wire

put rabbits in old dog yard
put large brooder in with rabbits
    buy plenty of chicks
build solid coop
?build goat shed?
    use 4 panels to build coop and other 8 for goat pen/barn
    play shepherd daily until browse-pasture is done

As food prices rise, it seems to follow that people will grow desperate to feed their families.  They may become desperate enough to steal food from otheres.  To prevent this, the community needs to secure its foodstuffs from 2-legged thieves as well as from encroaching varmits of the more natural variety.
    good fencing
    natural deterrents (predator odors, etc)
    perimeter alarms

This further implies adequate stocks of weapons and ammo.
    ammo for everything
    good sights for everything

In addition to perimeter alarms, aggressive patrolling may become necessary.  All patrolling members need weapon, ammo, combat kit, radio, and ammo.  Standardized weapons would be good.

As fuel costs go up, this also pushes up the cost of electricity.  In addition, the rising cost of copper may encourage thieves to vandalize infrastructure.  Power avaiibility could go "third world," leaving us with unreliable, spotty access to transmission-line power.  On-site generation is the obvious answer.
    wind - marginal for our area
    solar - only generates on sunny days
    micro-gennie - needs fuel
    micro-hydro - no source of naturally running water onsite

Given this, we need to reduce as much as possible the amount of power we use.  Appliances designed to run on 12vdc are the first choice, followed by highly energy-efficient AC models.  Other approaches:
    improved insulation
    LED lighting
    non-electric approaches


We continue to prepare, improve, convert, and watch.  The price of gasoline has meandered about unitl - as of yesterday - it settled to $3.69/gal in most places.  Articles are beginning to crop up which mention "demand destruction" in the USA for petroleum products.  R. pointed out a major reduction in styrofoam egg cartons - most are now cardboard/pulp.

Georgia finally made a move on its breakaway regions - South Ossetia and another.  Russia quickly responded - as expected - by invading S-O with "peacekeepers."  Fighting was reported to be heavy.  British Petroleum has two major pipelines running through Georgia - one was already shut down due to "terrorist attack" upstream (in Turkey) and the other was shut down as a result of the invasion.  These pipelines are reported to be major sources of oil to Europe.  Appears Russia may be capable of controlling oil flow to Europe.

This, of course, has reawakened fears of nuclear exchange.  Other than several bottles of KI, we are pretty weak on the NBC side of the house, not counting -company- assets stored at dad's.  With that in mind, I located and purchased a set of 4 dosimeters and charger.  I have a bid in on a second charger, as well, in case someone (like me) is caught away from home.  Will be looking into other survey meters as a complement, also.

(date change?)
Our commo gear slowly continues to be improved.  I bought a pair of GE handheld CB's a while back.  Testing on the pipeline gave me slim hopes for them as bought - they were good for maybe 1000m LOS.  The bloody GMRS units do better than that!  I bought a pair of adapters to allow them to use coax-mounted antennas.  Hopefully, I'll grab a pair of antennas this weekend so we can test them.  I also found plans on making an antenna from standard coax.  This would, I think, be far better for portable use than the 3' whips!  If that works out well, the whips would go - as designed - onto vehicles.

I also located plans for making GMRS antennas.  This is not legal on FRS units, though.  Not a problem, as the higher channels work better than FRS.  Remains to be seen if I can decipher and apply the directions.  I plan to add the Motorola GMRS base unit to our kit, to replace the 12v FRS unit currently in use.  Figure in an external antenna for that, as well as the CB base.  Need to get the TV tower from Cxxxxx for all this!  Comm-shack might get mounted to the "piano wall" in kitchen to be close to the antenna tower.  Wow - once I get antennas this weekend, I *could* put one on the the TV pole and set up the Royce!  Wonder how well that would work...
(update: xXx says it will work, but be less than optimal.)

(date change?)
Due to indecision and waffling on dad's part, we still have no area for goats on his place yet.  R. is now working to refurbish the old chicken yard at Paw's house.  She says the wire appears to be in overall good shape, with cedar posts still standing securely.  Primary needs are to clean all of fence row, refasten wire to posts, and add T-posts inbetween.  I don't know if she's evaluated the back fence yet.  There is a lot of debris in that place!  Chunks of vehicles, glass jars, various metal scrap...we need a roll-off box, I think!

Nobody has done crap about -aunt's dog- yet.  This has been "gonna happen" for 8 months now.  Means rabbits have no place to go yet.

Picked up 6 young chickens from Cxxxxx in exchange for R. tending their chickens.  Once we figure out where she wants to put them, we'll build a coop and more chickens down.

Be interesting to see which banks fail today after close of business...


Posted by outlands at 9:16 PM EDT
Monday, 22 September 2008
Emergency Space Blankets
Mood:  lazy
Topic: gear comments

Yes, I'm talking those ultra-thin mylar sheets that are packed down into a cigarette-sized bundle in their package but that mere mortals can't fold smaller than a paperback book!

 I have one in my kit, partially based on so many kit-lists having them.  I've never tried to sleep under one.I have, however, used it as a signal panel.  We were on a large pipeline right-of-way (at least four large-diameter lines) testing out radios over roughly a two-mile distance.  Team One was dropped off on top of a hill and Team Two proceeded to the next road crossing.  From two miles away, Team Two could see us when we moved around and let ourselves be outlined against the sky.  Once we relocated forward, that problem vanished.

 Since I had my patrol-pack with us, I decided to try out the blanket!  We unfurled the flimsy mylar and held it up by its corners.  With a light breeze at our backs, it billowed out like a sail.  The radio immediately popped to life.  "I don't know what you just did, but I can sure see it!"


Posted by outlands at 9:21 AM EDT
Friday, 19 September 2008
Tapco's 20-round SKS mag
Mood:  happy
Finally got around to putting the Tapco 20-round mag on one of the SKS's today and went out on the 25m range.  We've had issues with another 20-rnd metal mag (fixed, not a detatchable) - only holding 19 rounds and being a little weak at the bottom-end of the mag, not loading the last couple into the chamber - and I was interested in seeing how this one would act.

First up, it makes a good-feeling point for "European-grip" fans, with a decent shape to hold onto, even if you are using a wood stock.

Second - loading from stripper clips is a touch problematic.  Not sure if maybe I'm just doing something wrong or what, but it is not nearly as fast to reload this mag by stripper-clip as the standard mag.  Since it was made to be a detatchable mag, this isn't a problem - carry several pre-loaded!

I did some mag-change drills with my single mag and it seemed to go fairly smoothly.  Like anything, it would get better with practice.  Fit and lock-up during my drills were both very good.

Proof's in the pudding!  I loaded up 20 rounds and hit the range with a slightly sporterized rifle (no bayo lug or cleaning rod guide and a wild paint job, but otherwise a stock rifle) to shoot at Fred's Redcoats targets.  No misfeeds with steel-cased laquered Russian "cheep-n-deep" ammo.  The "Euro-grip" fet a tad odd without a pistol-grip at the back, but it was definitely functional.  No misfeeds.

So, I came in and swapped rifles to use it on one with a pistol-grip, in this case a Choate side-folder.  Sweetness in a bottle!!  This time, I would only load 4 rounds so as to test out the area we normally have problems on our rifles - the last few rounds in the mag.  No problems whatsoever!

There are a few drawbacks, though.

#1 - What the heck will they fit into pouch-wise??  That "duck-bill" creates a size issue that we need to find a way around if this is to be a practical enhancement.  If you have any suggestions, PLEASE pass them on!

#2 - The bolt has to be open to insert or remove a mag.  I understand there is a simple handyman's-fix for this and I plan to implement it for all the rifles that we so equip.  If you know how to do this, PLEASE pass it on!  (pics would be good)

#3 - It adds another totally separate type of reloading drill to train on.

Posted by outlands at 8:57 PM EDT
Brit troops fire on US troops in the ME
Mood:  irritated



Oh wait...the article failed to mention how they shot at our guys as part of how their "quick reaction force and road convoy ... help[ed] American officials at the site."

How do I know this happened? Well, I have a son-in-law WHO WAS THERE! He just called to let his wife (my DD, who spent the night with us) know he was ok, in the event she'd heard it on the news and was worried about him.

Geez, two of my folks under fire in two weeks - first walked into a "gang-banger" event in South Louisiana after curfew (he is Air Guard, was there in uniform as humanitarian support) and one ganger pulled a gun. Now, my SIL responds on a rescue mission and is taken under fire by friendlies!! My bunch is rapidly gaining experience in being shot at and returning fire.

Posted by outlands at 11:26 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
IKE Debris
Mood:  chatty

Ike brought us a lot more wind and some more rain.  We ended up losing power for some 18 hrs Saturday/Sunday.  Sleeping with no air circulation is an unwelcome proposition, especially when you can hear all that wind hitting the house from the east...and you have one single east-facing window!  That will change, as will the lack of 12v fans.


I thought our place was pretty remote and generally untravelled. I thought unusual traffic would be easily noticed.

Looks like I was wrong.

My dad has a rather large hobby - he collects antique trucks. The big-rig kind. They are all gas-burners, by and large, and most are not exactly in running condition. He has a few diesel-users, though - particularly the wrecker/boom-truck and the main show-hauler. He doesn't keep much fuel in them, preferring to fuel up just before starting out on an "expedition," but there's usually a bit of fuel left to make it to the station.

Well, turns out in the last couple of weeks, someone showed up and helped themselves to some diesel - about 40 gal's or so, basically what was left in the tank. So, dad discovered this sad fact this past Sunday when he started trying to move his trucks around.

He had originally not been too keen on my idea of having some Great Pyrs or other LGD-types "on the hill" with our livestock, as there are already too many dogs loose (3 - with 3 more just being brought home *sigh*). Perhaps it might be time to revisit that idea with him.

I also think perhaps more limited access to his place and better security monitoring might be in order. Of course, training people to actually look to see what the dog is barking at might be too tall an order...

Posted by outlands at 12:51 PM EDT
Thursday, 4 September 2008
your opinions sought!
I'm looking for input from people who have actually interacted with - preferably used - the Midland XT511 GMRS "basecamp"-style radio.  I want something like this to have scattered about in the various houses that comprise our family's holdings so that we can talk to each other easily should everything else go out.  Reviews of it on amazon.com avg out to 2.5 of 5, but I don't know those people.  So, if anyone has any sort of experience, please sound off.  Thanks!

Posted by outlands at 1:43 PM EDT
normalcy restored!
Mood:  happy

Water came back on around midnight.  My son and I were up looking at Star Wars goodies on ebay and heard the antique ice-maker in the freezer dump a load of ice.  We just stared at each other for long seconds before huge grins erupted.  It was all we could do to not cheer!


Overall, we've had very little storm damage in our immediate area.  Mostly we have dead limbs down and little limb-tips scattered all over our yard.  Once you start working outward, oak trees have been uprooted and pine and sweet-gum trees have been snapped off.  I haven't heard about anyone suffering any structural damage in the family, for which we know we are very blessed.


Rebecca and I have been discussing things and we are working on a list of "lessons learned" that I plan to share, so stay tuned.

Posted by outlands at 9:21 AM EDT
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
evening check-in
Mood:  happy

Power is back!!  Water, however, is not...


Now I just need to label the breakers, since we now know what several of them *are*!

Posted by outlands at 10:43 PM EDT

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