Fiction – Boy Part 3

Part 2

The Boy started early, packing up and getting ready was coming more routine as he had begun to master the art of stacking the various components of his carrying system.

While plodding along, the Boy had a lot of time to think, and mostly he thought about was his woman back home. He was careful not to get distracted with these thoughts and spent time conducting listening halts, mental scenario planning, and other preventative tasks.

Because he skipped breakfast, he quickly became hungry and ate something suitable from his supplies. While they were dwindling, he was comfortable with their level – but he was keeping an eye out for more opportunities like the one yesterday to supplement them.

That afternoon, he came upon a small town that had a few stores lining the rural highway. On each side of the thoroughfare, running parallel to the main road, behind the businesses, there was a small street that held a few dozen houses.

Figuring the risk was worth it, he walked right into town, taking the main freeway.

There were a few people sitting in front of the businesses, various shotgun and hunting rifles leaned against the buildings where the people sat. The first group the Boy waved to – he did not receive a wave back, just a cold stare. Store after store had closed signs, and unwelcoming attendants, so he just kept walking through the town.

About a quarter-mile outside of the main street, the Boy saw an old, single story hotel. A flapping sheet that was tied to the vacancy/no vacancy sign caught his attention. Painted on the sheet were the words “I assure you, we are OPEN!”. He turned and walked toward the lobby.

Inside the lobby a middle-aged woman with a hibiscus print shirt sat in one of the waiting chairs. When the Boy walked in, she smiled, jumped up and said “welcome to the The Tiki Hut Hotel, my name is Joan, owner-operator, would you like a room?”

“Maybe, how much?”

“I’m sure you know the powers out, or else you would not be walking… The cash price is 20 a night and 40 charge or check. But know there is no running water or power. I also have breakfast available tomorrow morning for an additional 5 bucks – double for charge or check – consisting of a small box of cereal with no milk, a few day old muffin, a juice box, and a cup of coffee. Check-out is four hours after sunrise, more or less.”

The woman did not seem desperate or malicious in her quoting of the prices and services, but honest and matter-of-fact. She struck him as a woman running her business as best she could, despite the current situation. A night in a bed would be nice, and there could be supplies that he may be able to get here – she obviously had some food. “Sure, I’ll take a night, and breakfast tomorrow.” He handed her a credit card that she took an impression of using an old carbon receipt and manual machine.

Joan walked behind the lobby reception desk, retrieved a key attached to a bright plastic flower key-chain, and handed it to the Boy. “You are in room number 6, it’s just across the parking lot. In your room you will see two buckets of water, use them how you like – but I recommend you use one to flush the toilet, and the other to clean yourself up.” Wrinkling her nose a little, and offering a small smile, “you could use it.”

A little surprised, the boy asked “I though you said the water was out, where are you getting it for the buckets?”

“I said there was none running – I am draining the water heater for it. This place has a 120 gallon reserve unit that should last until they get the power back on… Speaking of which, where are you coming from? Traffic has died down to nothing, makes sense because only some of the older guys in town’s cars run, my dang Buick is dead – how far out is affected.”

“I’m not sure, but I came from the city,” the boy said, throwing a thumb over his shoulder in the direction he had been walking from.

“The city?!” Joan exclaimed “That’s like 50-60 miles, how did you get here so fast? Wait, your telling me the city is messed up too? That is not good.” She said, her voice dropping in volume a bit on the last part. She looked off in the distance for a while, and then said “Prices are doubled as of tomorrow, and cash only.”

The Boy smiled, knowing that she just got what he already knew “sure Joan, I’m going to relax for a bit – but do you need anything done around here? I was hoping to work something out to get a few extra of those breakfast items and other things for my journey.”

“Um… no… yea… come see me after you clean up.”

The Boy found his room, stripped down, and sparingly used some water to clean himself up with some wash rags and one of the buckets. He filled all his water containers, downed a complete quart, and filled it up again. After these tasks, he relieved himself in an honest-to-goodness toilet, and used the remaining water from the first bucket to flush his waste. He spent some time looking around the room for things he may want to ask Joan for.

Feeling better, he went back to the lobby to see Joan.

When she saw him she said “What were you thinking of needing for your trip? I’m sure we can work something out, as long as you have enough cash, and a strong back.”

The Boy loved the directness of this woman. “Well, at first thought I would like to get some travel soap, a blanket, a pillow case, some toilet paper, AA batteries, a few breakfast cereals, muffins, juice boxes, a silverware set, a shower curtain liner, spray paint, some bleach” the Boy continued on with his list, Joan eyes getting wider and wider as he spoke, blinking heavily as some of the more random items were requested.

“I don’t have all of that, and what the heck do you need a shower curtain liner for?”

“I need it to act like a tarp or poncho, I don’t have a tent and would like some shelter. What did I say that you don’t have?”

“Uhh… batteries, spray paint?”

“I’ll take the batteries out of the TV remotes, and what did you use for the sign outside?”

“You are one interesting young man” she said, “Sure, I’ll give you everything you asked for – I just need you to empty my old water softener of all the salt, clean it out, and fill it up – bucket by bucket – from the pond just up the road. That, and $300 bucks, cash.”

“How big is the water softener and how far is the pond?”

“I’m not sure, maybe 50, 70 gallons? About a five-ten minute walk.”

“I’ll do it for $200 plus the work, if I don’t finish to your satisfaction, I’ll give you $400.” This was a bit of a gamble, even though he carried an emergency supply of cash, it would basically deplete him of it all. Not to mention all the extra calories he will be using.

She eyed him for a little bit and then said “follow me, let’s get you started.”

Part 4 can be found HERE.

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Stage 1 Food Preps – Canned Food (With Recipe!)

Everyone wants to know “what is the first step in getting food preps?” They want to know freeze-dried or MRE’s? Dehydrated or Coast Guard Rations? This guy’s opinion: none of the above – get some canned food.

This is not a new idea, many others espouse the “buy double” at the supermarket approach, but I would like to expand on the idea a bit.

If someone is just getting into prepping, they will most likely not be in the position to jump into a multiple year-long-term food-storage solution. Because of this fact, the buy double and canned food ideas are a good stepping off point. Further, you and your family will be much more receptive to a can of steak stew instead of the freeze-dried variety.

Most incidents that will require a storage plan should last a short period of time. We are talking natural disasters, interpreted services, localized riots, and other like emergencies. You do not need a long-term solution for these type of incidents, you just need a good pantry.

Random Thoughts/Things To Consider
– You can calculate on how long your pantry will last by adding up the number of calories each can contains, and divide by 2,000 (the rough estimate on how much a person needs per day.) This way, of course, is a big pain in the ass. Alternately, I count how many items or cans I have, and divide by 2 (or 3 if you have big eaters.) This should give you a good idea on how many “person-days” of food storage you have. In an emergency, my family and I could definitely live off 2 or 3 cans of “stuff” per day.

– Have a few extra manual can openers around, this is obvious – but don’t rely on an electric opener or that all your stuff is “pop tops”.

– Make sure you have enough water stored, many things need water (such as pasta) to be cooked, and many canned items are high in salt which will increase your thirst.

– Have a plan on how you will cook your food. Know how long those things you have to cook your food will last. Quick story: when I was younger, I lived in a cheap studio apartment that did not have a kitchen. I liked to cook so I got some cheap Butane stoves (looked like this, just a cheaper version I got from a local Asian market) and a few cases of fuel. I cooked every meal with those little stoves, and each fuel canister lasted about a week.

– Canned food can be bland, store a selection of favorite spices to assist in flavor.

– Develop a FIFO (First In Fist Out) system that works for you. I have a basic system where I generally put my new cans behind older ones, bringing the oldest to the front. Then, every 6 months or so, I do a little status check/inventory to make sure everything is organized how I want and to get a good handle on whats coming up to its expiration date.

– Take it slow and buy things as you find them on sale, just be mindful of expiration dates, also those 99 cent stores are great, but be extra careful there for expired food.

– Most people are used to mixing canned items with fresh ingredients, try to develop some “pantry only” menu items that you and your family like. (I have a favorite recipe below.)

Quick List Of Suggested Canned Storage Items
Of course there are many other items you can get besides these listed, and always consider your families likes/dislikes and dietary needs.
– Corn
– Green Beans
– Tuna
– Spam
– Cored Beef
– Canned Chicken
– Tomatoes
– Pasta’s
– Pasta Sauce
– Canned Crab, Clams, And Other Seafood
– Rice a’ Roni
– Soups, Soup, and more soup
– Mac And Cheese Boxes
– Evaporated Milk (lots of mixes ask for milk, and this can substitute)
– Beans of Many Variety
– Mushrooms
– Hamburger Helper (I can my own ground beef, this makes a good quick meal)
– Mixed Selection of Fruits
– Cake Mix
– Pancake Mix (This stuff is awesome, I use it to thicken stews, make dumplings, biscuits, and sometimes – pancakes)
– Instant Mashed Potatoes

Three Can Mix

I realize that the ingredients are three cans and a box, but for whatever reason, this has come to be known as “three can” in my house. This is actually the base for many panty only meals, but with minor tweaks – such as changing the rice out for mashed potatoes, or adding mushrooms, or changing the corn for green beans (or just throwing them in.)

Ingredients
– Can of Corn
– Can of Chicken
– Can of Beans
– Box of Rice a’ Roni (any)

Make the rice as per the directions on the box, when ready, add in the other ingredients – done!

What are some of your favorite canned-food recipes?

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Fish Meds? – Really

Before reading this blog, please understand a few things:

– I am not a doctor, nurse, EMT, shaman, or any other medical professional (basically I have no real idea of what I’m talking about.)
– Take the following as educational or informational, not advice or recommended practices.
– I am not responsable for anything that happens because, for whatever stupid reason, you base your decision to use “Fish Meds” on this blog posting; seek real medical advice if you need help.
– Only consider using “Fish Meds” if you have no other choice, the only other option is death, and you are accepting full responsibility for the side effects. (There are some who claim that side effects, including blindness, death, and itchy rashes increase when using generic versions of antibiotics, how much more will they increase when designed for something with gills?)

Interesting Video On The Topic

Where To Get Fish Meds?
AMAZON! (There are other places, but that is where I got mine) prices seem to be best on the net, and they have a good selection. There are other pet-meds supply stores that are available as other options, but I’m only listing the Amazon option.

Some Things To Think About
– Look at the total amount in the bottle, as well as the mg of each pill to figure out the best price.
– Print out instructions/guidelines and put them in a plastic bag, put this bag in a plastic bag with the meds. Put all these figgin’ bags in the freezer for long-term storage.

Amoxicillin

Certain types of bacterial infections can be treated with amoxicillin. Uses of the antibiotic include the treatment of lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, strep throat, and gonorrhea. The medication is approved for use in both adults and children (including very young children). Some healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label uses of amoxicillin, such as for preventing infections instead of treating them.

Not all bacteria will respond to amoxicillin. Also, bacteria have different resistance patterns in different regions in the country. This means that some bacteria may be susceptible to amoxicillin in certain parts of the country but not in others. Amoxicillin is completely ineffective for treating viral illnesses (such as the common cold or the flu).

Do not use if you are allergic to amoxicillin or to any other penicillin antibiotic, such as ampicillin (Omnipen, Principen), dicloxacillin (Dycill, Dynapen), oxacillin (Bactocill), penicillin (Beepen-VK, Ledercillin VK, Pen-V, Pen-Vee K, Pfizerpen, V-Cillin K, Veetids), and others.

There is no “standard” amoxicillin dose that is recommended for all situations. Your healthcare provider will calculate the appropriate dose taking into account several factors, including your weight, the severity of the infection, the type of the infection, and the type of bacteria causing the infection.

HERE is a good list for use, I would suggest printing it and putting it in with the meds.

Amazon Link – One of many choices.
eMeds Info – This is where I found most of the above info, there is additional information as well.

Ciprofloxacin

Several bacterial infections can be treated with ciprofloxacin, such as bladder infections, pneumonia, and sinus infections. Off-label uses for ciprofloxacin include treating other types of infections caused by susceptible bacteria. This drug is not appropriate for all bacterial infections, and it will not treat viral infections. Children can use many of the ciprofloxacin products; however, they may have an increased risk for tendon problems.

Ciprofloxacin will not work to cure infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold, the flu, or viral conjunctivitis.

For Ciprofloxacin tablets, the usual dosage is between 250 mg and 750 mg every 12 hours, depending on the type of infection.

The length of treatment will very, depending on the type and severity of the infection. It may be as short as a single dose for treating certain gonorrhea infections or as long as the recommended 60 days for the treatment of anthrax exposure. Most people will likely take ciprofloxacin for 7 to 14 days.

Here is a screen shot from drugs.com (direct link to full-page) on dosage.

For questions on medical abbreviations: Wiki-page (q means every)

Amazon Link – One of many choices.
eMeds Info – This is where I found most of the above info, there is additional information as well.

Doxycycline

Common doxycycline uses include the treatment of acne, bacterial infections, anthrax infections, and the prevention of malaria. Doxycycline should not be used in children under the age of 8, because permanent discoloration and altered development of teeth may occur. Off-label doxycycline uses include the treatment of infections that are resistant to another antibiotic known as vancomycin.

The recommended doxycycline dosage for most types of bacterial infections in adults is 100 mg to 200 mg per day for 7 to 14 days. For chronic (long-term) or more serious infections, treatment can be carried out for a longer time.

In children ages eight or older, your healthcare provider will prescribe a doxycycline dosage based on a weight chart, usually about 1 to 2 mg per pound of body weight per day. The dose is divided and taken for 7 to 14 days. Children should generally be limited to 200 mg or less of doxycycline per day.

HERE is a good list of dosage instructions from Drugs.com

The recommended dose of doxycycline for preventing malaria is 100 mg daily for adults. For children, the dosage is 2 mg per kilogram of body weight (about 0.9 mg per pound), not to exceed 100 mg per day. Treatment should begin a day or two prior to travel, be taken with you throughout your stay in the area of concern, and continued for 28 days after you have left the noted area. Usage should not exceed four months.

Amazon Link – One of many choices.
eMeds Info – This is where I found most of the above info, there is additional information as well.

Azithromycin (AKA Zithromax)

Azithromycin is used to treat a number of common bacterial infections in both children and adults. Ear, skin, and respiratory infections are among the infections that azithromycin treats. The medicine is also used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. Off-label azithromycin uses include preventing heart infections and treating acne.

Azithromycin is not effective against any infection caused by a virus, such as the flu, stomach flu, or common cold.

The recommended dosage for most types of common bacterial infections is 250 mg or 500 mg once daily for three to five days. For chronic or more serious infections, your healthcare provider may continue azithromycin treatment for an extended period of time.

In children, the dosing can range (depending on body weight) from 5 mg to 20 mg per kilogram of body weight per day (mg/kg/day), once daily for three to five days.

HERE is a good list of dosage instructions from Drugs.com

Amazon Link – One of many choices.
eMeds Info – This is where I found most of the above info, there is additional information as well.

The above is a good starting point and selection of Fish Meds that are available. Please do your research and consult a prepper friendly doctor before using.

Posted in DIY, Medical | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Build A Complete AR For Under $600 Bucks

I am the resident “gun guy” at work/in my circle of friends, and I am asked all the time on how to get an AR for “really cheap”.

I normally try to dissuade people from going the cheap route when it comes to firearms, my viewpoint is that on things that are intended to save your life – you get quality. Just like you don’t want the budget parachute, you don’t want the cheap defensive weapon.

But there are some benefits to a lower cost weapon:

– Any malfunctions during training are a new training opportunity to fix those malfunctions.
– Any rife is better than no rifle, I would rather have a $600 AR over a free rock.
– Budget is not always crap, there are some good values out there.

So, as a personal test/mental exercise, I went about finding the best parts to build the least expensive AR I could, based on new components, that is not a pre-built kit.

Please be advised that I am referring to vendors below that I have no affiliation with, and have received no compensation from for this blog posting. I can only speak to the quality of the finished product of the DSA upper (seemed good, considering the price point) by a personal inspection (a work buddy purchased the upper listed below) but have not taken the items to the range, or have any live fire experience with these items. Please note that the upper is supposedly 100% american made, which is a big plus, in my book.

I could get everything from DSA arms minus the lower for $498.95, here is a screenshot of my shopping cart:

Links to exact products:
Upper
BCG
LPK
Stock
Charging Handle

All you need to get now is a lower to attach all your components to, you can get them for as little as $79.99 – HERE is an example from AIM Surplus. This cost plus the $498 from above, bring us under a $600 total. Yes, I realize that you still may have to pay shipping and transfer fees, but those can shift from state-to-state, so I did not include them.

There are a few guides online on how to assemble everything, it is not that hard. HERE is a good outline, found on AR15.com

I am sure one of you out there has done it for less, but I feel that the above is a good mix of quality and price.

What would your recommendation be for a good budget or value AR build?

LAST MINUTE ADD: I forgot rear irons! – $16 bucks from Amazon (we are still under $600!)

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Fiction – Boy Part 2

Part 1 can be found HERE.

The Boy awoke in the strange pre-dawn morning.

Enough light was available to see the clearing he was sleeping in, but dark enough to still see the dull glow of the coals from the previous evenings fire.

The towels and various other Route 66 items he acquired helped him sleep, but he was still chilly and the doubled up towels were a far cry from his normal bed.

The Boy rolled over onto his stomach and did a few lazy push-ups to get his blood moving, generate a little heat and get his joints working. Then he stood, went a little ways from his camp and did his morning business.

Methodically he packed his backpack and bags, strapping items on the outside to get the best use of the space and distribute weight. He left out a blueberry muffin which would be his breakfast as he walked.

The Boy started early, just as the fist sliver of the sun could be seen coming over the horizon. The rays were warm – a welcome feeling.

The day continued much like most of the previous, the boy walked, and there were not many people to be found. Around noon, he came upon a small creek, which is where he made his lunch; half of a bag of mixed nuts and a few gulps of water from the bottle he carried. He took the crushed water container from his backpack, and blew into it, “inflating” it back almost to its original size. He marked the top of this jug with a black X, using one of the pens, then he filled it up from the creek with water.

After a minutes rest, the boy donned his backpack, picked up his half full water bottle and full bottle with the X, and continued walking.

In the early evening, he saw another wreck on the side of the road. When he got closer, he could see the driver must have lost control, and hit the tree that is now firmly set into the front of the SUV. The driver was still there, broken body still sitting in his seat. Large, black birds hopped in and out of the missing front windshield, the Boy did not know if they were dining on the car’s contents – or occupants.

Before getting close enough to scare off the birds, the Boy picked up a golf-ball sized rock. When the time was right, he hefted the rock as fast and as accurately as he could.

THWACK! One of the birds was hit in the side, which caused it to fall off the hood of the car while it made strange bird-screaming sounds. The boy ran to it, the other birds flew away in fear. The injured bird was trying to stand up and flap its wings all at once, but was just moving in a disjointed circle. The Boy dropped a heavy boot onto the bird’s head, ending its suffering.

Inside of the dead man’s truck was a plastic supermarket bag with the handles looped around the stick shift, apparently as a car rubbish bag. The Boy took this, emptied it, and put the bird in the bag. He hooked the loops through his belt, and while wishing he could do more for the man, he started walking again.

The sun started going down, and the Boy decided it was time to make camp. Much like the day before, he set up his sleeping area and made a fire, which he used to start cooking his bird. He took some of the water from the jug marked with the X and cleaned his hubcap some more, letting it partially heat up on the fire, and using some sand to provide some scrubbing action.

After dinner, the Boy grabbed the edges of the hub-cap and stared pounding the center on a rounded rock he found. Soon, the hub-cap started getting more and more concave, and after working for a while, it became a very rough bowl. He cleaned off the remaining dirt, metal chips, and whatever else that was on the “bowel” and set it in the fire. He filled up the bowl with water from his X jug, and waited for it to boil. While waiting, the Boy finished the water from the half-empty jug he had been carrying.

After the water boiled for a bit, he used a few big sticks to work the bowl out of the fire, and off to the side. He let it cool, and filled back up his “drinking” jug, crumpled the empty X jug and tucked it away.

The Boy went to sleep thinking about how he did not see a single living person today, he figured that people were still sitting at home, “waiting for the government”.

Part 3 can be found HERE.

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Fiction – Boy Part 1

This story is the counter-part to the “Girl” story: HERE

The man stood outside a mid-grade hotel in a medium sized city somewhere in the Midwest. Over his shoulder was a strap connected to a simple black bag about the size of a large toaster. In one hand he carried a black laptop case/briefcase with the company he worked for’s logo embroidered on the side.

He was supposed to be picked up by another local manager about 15 minutes ago, according to the green digital watch he wore. He looked up, the sky had a bright gray quality to it – one could not tell if it was going to be sunny in a few hours, or if rain was on the horizon. Not being from the area, the boy had no idea on what to expect. He pressed one of the buttons on his large watch labeled “bard” to check the barometric pressure, hoping to gain some insight on the day. He was like that, he always wanted to know what was going on, and wanted to be ready for whatever it was. His Pathfinder watch allowed him to do this, in addition to the sensor he was currently using, it had numerous others to give him data; compass direction, altitude, and temperature to name a few.

The pressure was going down, a sign that better weather was on it’s way. Now, the Casio told him his ride was 20 minutes late.

In 5 more minutes, the manager arrived – driving a newer sedan. He popped the trunk as he pulled up, and jumped out of the drivers seat almost before the car came to a complete stop.

“Morning Sir! We gotta hurry!” he said, as he took the man’s bag and case, throwing them in the trunk.

The boy said “yes we have to hurry, you should have been here a half hour ago.”

“No need placing blame, we can tell the clients that there was traffic.”

The boy snorted as he got in the passenger seat, he would address this later- now was not the time.

The manager drove, swerving in and out of traffic on the freeway, ten to fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit.

Just as the boy was going to tell the man to slow down, the driver exclaimed “what the hell!” and started turning the keys in the ignition. “The car just stopped man!” Distracted by this unusual situation, the driver stopped paying attention to the road, and the fact that he was going 75 miles per hour in traffic. The results of this attention loss were quite predictable; they slammed into another motorist, spun out of control, crashed into the center divider, and were in turn impaled in the back by an SUV.

The boy opened his eye, the other held a heavy gash above it that made moving his eyelid to something other than closed a painful proposition. He moved his arms and flexed his fingers; things hurt, a lot, but there did not seem to be any mechanical injury.

The same could not be said for his driver. The boy rolled his head towards the drivers seat, and examined the scene before him. The manager was looking at the boy with unmoving eyes from a head that rested on it’s owners chest, left ear to breast. The mans neck and spine must have been broken and twisted in the impact.

The boy looked away and out the spiderweb of windows around him. Cars were everywhere; broken, burning, twisted and stopped. Not just those in the accident he was in, but all cars he could see on the road.

Adrenaline surged into the boy, he had a good idea what could cause this. Pain and his driver forgotten, he undid his belt and after a bit of force got the car door open. Getting out, he saw the SUV that had smashed into their trunk – the front had flames coming from under the hood, the mangled remains of the back of the sedan he was in was tangled in with the truck and those flames. There was no getting to his bag or briefcase.

“Crap, no GHB.” His personal supply of gear, or Get Home Bag, would be in flames in short order.

Not to be one to just sit around idle, he started moving, seeing if he could confirm his fears for what caused this.

The boy climbed up the side of the embankment to the higher side of the freeway. At the top he looked around. For miles in both directions there was fire, smoke and damage. In the distance he saw a large commercial jet liner try to glide onto an assumed flat area of countryside. The fireball following the landing indicated the pilot’s success in the attempt.

“Damn, EMP for sure.” he said, with no one near him to listen.

He thought about his girl, and the ring in his pocket that he was going to present to her when he got home – hoping that she would accept and become his wife. Once again he spoke out loud, “please, please only be here, and if not – please let her find the notes!”

His watch beeped, indicating the passing of another hour, and the time he was supposed to meet his clients. The boy speculated for a bit, why was his watch working? Because he was inside the car that acted as a protective faraday cage? Were the circuits protected from the plastic housing? He did not know.

What he did know was that he needed to get some supplies, and he needed to start going west. He pressed the “comp” button on his watch, found east, and started walking.

Going cross country in business clothes is never advised, but the boy was not waring any standard attire. His shoes were actually polished boots, so under the slacks he wore they looked the part. His button up shirt was actually a sturdy long sleeve oxford marketed to undercover police. It had double stitching, internal pockets, and other upgrades that made it more suitable for one of his personality. His belt looked like a black dress belt, but it held internal pockets with a small amount of precious metal coinage and cash.

After an hour he started paralleling a small road, in that time he saw only one car pass, an old diesel Mercedes.

An hour later, that road crossed another, and the crossing had a small service station, convenience store, and gas station.

The man walked into the convenience store, a small brass bell rang as the screen door he pushed clanged against it. The store was dark, only being illuminated by what light could be let in by the windows.

The man that sat behind the counter spoke as the boy walked in “cash only, computers are down.”

“No problem mister”

The boy looked around, in addition to being the standard road side soda/candy shop, it held a small variety of tourist goods – all embossed with “historic route 66.”

The boy started picking out goods; a route 66 backpack, bag, a few bandannas, a sweat shirt, t-shirts, boxer shorts and three beach towels. He went to the store side and got beef jerky, trail mix, the healthiest packaged muffins they had, bags of nuts, some pull-top soups, water, gateraid, and other no-cook items. Continuing on to another section in the store he picked up a three pack of lighters, bungee cords, a local, state, and country map, super glue, electrical tape, tissues, a screwdriver, and a few more Nick-nacks.

The boy went up to the counter with all his stuff, and inquired “do you have any bleach, trash bags, or pocket knives?”

“Just what you see here pal.”

The boy nodded “ring me up”

The clerk wrote on an old carbon-copy receipt book, tallying up the cost. When he was done he told the boy the amount.

After paying, the boy went outside to arrange everything. He was able to stuff much if it into the backpack. He rolled the towels into tube shapes, placing what clothes he could in the center as they were rolled up. He strapped the tubes to the outside of the backpack with the bungee cords. Besides the roadmaps and two large bottles of water, what he couldn’t get into the pack, he got into a black handbag that had a ’55 Chevy embroidered on it, just under a big route 66 sign. He used the last of his cords to attach this bag to the center of the backpack.

While sipping from one of his waters, He unfolded the largest of the maps, and started laying out his journey. Using his fingers for measurement and consulting the scale legend he figured out how long his walk was going to take. “Crap, over a month” he said to himself.

The boy picked up the cobbled-together carrier, and swung it onto his back. It was heavy, but the weight was less than his ruck sack in the military or even his bug out bag at home. It felt a little awkward but manageable. He chugged all the contents of the open water, crushed the empty bottle, and hooked it to the side under one of the bungees.

Picking up the second jug, and setting a brisk pace, the boy started on his journey.

The day went quickly, and the boy put as many miles as he could behind him. He happened upon a small wreck after walking for a few hours; a red, few year old inexpensive imported sedan was in the ditch on the side of the road.

The owner was sitting on the trunk and called to the boy when he saw him.

“Hey, hey!” he yelled, waving, and jumping off the damaged car. “Do you have a phone? Mine not working, it must have been damaged in the accident.”

“No, sorry” the boy said, looking past the man down to the verity of debris that was strewn about.

The man must have assumed the boy was looking at the wreck, wondering how it happened. “It was the strangest thing – I was rolling along, listening to some tunes, when bam!” the man clapped his hands together for emphasis, “my car cut off, I tried to keep control, but the power steering was out and the dang thing swerved into the ditch.”

The boy turned to the man, “are you ok, did you hurt anything?”

“I’m fine, got some bumps, but that’s all.”

“If you want, when I get to the next town, I’ll find a service station and ask them to send out a tow truck.”

“Naaaa, don’t worry about it, I’m sure someone will drive past sooner or later who will have a phone.”

The boy walked past the driver, went into the ditch and picked up a metal hub cap. After some fidgeting, he was able to add it to the strange collection on his back. “Good luck mister,” the boy stated, continuing on down the road.

The driver started mumbling protest, but realized that it wasn’t his hub cap, and if it was, what would it matter?

Later in the day, the boy guessed he had about an hour or so until it would be dark, so he started looking for a place to set up camp.

Going off the main road, the boy found a small copse of trees that he found suitable for protection from the elements. He set down his bag, and started getting his camp in order. After setting down some of the towels to act as sleeping pads, starting a small fire and warming a can of soup, the boy began cleaning the metal hubcap he picked up.

After a while, the long day and warm meal caught up with him. Pulling the last towel over his body as best he could, the boy fell asleep, thinking of the girl.

Part 2 can be found HERE.

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on “Group Standard”

What is Group Standard? GS is the practice of getting those in your group, MAG, or like-minded friends similar enough equipment so that there is redundancy built into your collective preps.

Most want to set a group standard (recommended items to acquire,) for those items that can break, have a consumable component, will require matching components to function, or are so important that their complete loss will create an unbearable hardship.

GS is a very location specific and personal thing – what works for one group or person will not work for another. What follows are just my ideas on the subject, hopefully you can get some ideas and develop your own GS.

Understandably each person has their own specific resources that will allow them to acquire a different level of supplies. A GS may require FN FAL’s, but a member has a very limited income, and at some point purchased an old CETME. Does this mean they should throw their hands up and quit, sell off everything they own and go into debt to meet the standard? Of course not, work with what you have and always work towards a good GS goal – but on your terms.

Firearms
I think firearms are the easiest to understand the need for a GS, mostly for obvious reasons. If everyone has the same pattern firearm there is redundancy in parts for breakage, common caliber ammunition that is consumable and therefore can be shared. Plus all take the same magazines – which in itself is a component prone to breakage and loss.

At a minimum: Weapons that take a common caliber ammunition, such as SKS’s, AK’s, and Mini-30’s (7.62×39)

Perfect world: I am of the camp that believe a good survival battery of firearms include a center fire, semi-automatic rifle, a .22 rifle (or pistol), a defensive pistol, and a shotgun. Each member should have an identical set of these weapons, and sufficient magazines and ammo to feed them.

What we did: Well, many of us are ex-soldiers and gun-guys so to have a group standard was more like picking one type of weapon that we all happen to already own. We started of saying AR’s, Glock 22’s, Shotgun of any variety, and any 22. But many of us live in California, which has a host of just absolutely super gun laws that are dropping all crime to negative statistics – except drive-by huggings. So we changed to M1a’s for those in the state. Then, one of the members got a great deal on multiple AK’s… so we decided to make AK’s our secondary standard at the BOL for anyone that we may have to arm when SHTF (like approved family/friends, or perhaps members that make it to the BOL with just the shirt on their back.)

Communications
If you don’t have commo, you don’t have crap. Communications is one of those easy force-multipliers that is not that interesting, and slightly technical – therefore turning people away, or at least put on the back burner. You have a ton of choices when it comes to just the type of communications platform, the hands-down king of civilian commo is HAM radio. With HAM you can reach virtually anywhere in the world… but it is technical, requires special licenses, and a variety of equipment. You also have CB radio, FMS, GMRS, MURS, Marine Radio, Scanners and tons of others. This is not going to be a lesson about each of the different types, but I may explore them in later blogs.

Think about having tactical capabilities (short-range, secure as possible), intelligence gathering capabilities (scanners + long-range radio), and regional capabilities (the town, ranches near you, etc.)

At a minimum: All have handheld devices that are on the same platform and take the same batteries. A way to get some local communications and intelligence (CB with SSB)

In a perfect world: Central communications hub/specialist with scan/transmit on all types of platforms/frequencies. Suitable power supply, equipment, and repeaters to support hand-held units. Handhelds with good programming to allow for tactical communications as well as communications back to the hub. Local hard-wire communications (i.e. TA-312 field phones) to supplement handhelds.

What we did: As much as I started this section on a soap-box, we are lacking (in my opinion) in communications. We are testing some TriSquare eXRS radios for local tactical communications (Amazon listing), have CB radio’s in our vehicles for emergency use, and I am working on getting my technical license (the entry-level) in HAM.

Vehicles
Vehicles may or may not play an important part in your preps and therefore GS. Depending on your situation and what you are prepping for will dictate what you would like as a standard – are you concerned about EMP threats? Do you need the vehicle to double as a ranch or farming tool?

At a minimum: All take the same fuel source (i.e. Gasoline).

In a perfect world: Exact same vehicles, with the same modifications/aftermarket parts, with a matching load list.

What we did: Not a damn thing. Unfortunately we do not have the means or personal requirements to all get the same vehicle, and do not view this as a required prep for our situation.

Medical Supplies
Medical supplies should be streamlined as to facilitate group training and performance under stress. While one person my like/acquire Israeli bandages, someone else may prefer gauze and tape. In addition to having a GS on supplies, markings and placement should also be discussed (i.e. all personal medical supplies in vehicles should be in a red case, in the rearmost portion of the vehicle, on the passenger side.) PS: Tourniquets are your friends.

At a minimum: Every person should have a first aid kit available with all the basic supplies, as well as a BOK (Blow-Out-Kit; gunshot) attached to any load-bearing equipment.

In a perfect word: Complete first aid and advanced aid supplies, surgical tools, a selection of OTC drugs, antibiotics, IV supplies, and a few well trained personnel on the above.

What we did: We have a good selection of medical supplies at the BOL, including sutures, surgical instruments, OTC meds and fish antibiotics (yes, fish meds – I have read everything under the sun from they will kill you in a second to they are better than what the pharmacy can get you. My feeling is this, I can get these, they don’t cost much, if I have to choose between dying of infection, or taking a chance… well it’s obvious what decision I’ve made.) Each person has a BOK and IFAK on their load-bearing equipment, and we are mostly trained in basic life-saving skills, some advanced.

Food Storage
In my mind, GS only applies to food storage as to the minimum quantity – normally quantified in person-years. You may also want to set a standard as to what constitutes food storage, such as “food items specifically set aside for emergency use, will have a minimum of 5 year shelf life, and be rotated as appropriate.” I think that a 1 year minimum for each person the member is responsible for is a good starting point.

BOL / Retreat Access
In a SHTF environment this can be a sticky situation, and should be discussed in advance. This is basically “if the worst happens, who will be allowed to stay.” I think there should be a long list and a short list, as well as a process for approving someone who is not on the list.

Long list means the list of people who are allowed access in a minor local event, such as an earthquake – basically if the event will not last long, and there is a good chance you will be able to resupply and reoutfit the BOL after the crisis has passed. It is called long list because this list will be much longer than the short list (we at Freedom Hold are not that smart…) A good starting point could be: The member, immediate + extended family, and 6 other listed individuals.

Short list is where possibly life and death decisions must be made. Each person that is not a member must either be really important to you, or possess skills that outweigh their mouth (and gut.) The short list is for when it has truly SHTF, where resupply is not a forseeable option, and you are on your own. A good starting point is: The member, immediate family, and 2 other listed individuals.

There are other things that could be brought into a GS discussion, and should be covered in your MAG rules/guidelines. I hope that I have at least pointed out a few things for you to talk about amongst your associates.

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Retreat Storage – Shipping Containers

If you are lucky enough to have a retreat or BOL, you should have a way to secure and protect your supplies.

You can build a structure, get a shed, get a trailer, bury it in a hole, leave it outside, hang it in a tree, or – as we did – get a shipping container.

Containers are relatively cheap (we paid 2K for ours, plus 300 to get it dropped off in the middle of nowhere,) wind/water/pest proof, and pretty secure.

How To Get One:
Getting a storage container is not hard, the most difficult portion is finding someone to haul it and drop it off, especially if you’re in the middle of nowhere. I checked Craigslist for storage containers under the for sale section, and found a vendor in the closest town to my BOL. I also called other local vendors found on Google to get a good idea on prices for my area. This is important because prices can differ greatly depending on distance to a port, local taxes, and supply/demand. Just because you can find one on the East Coast for 2K doesn’t mean you could find one for the same price in Montana.

Armed with knowledge, I negotiated with my supplier for 2K for a slightly used 20′ container. This was pretty good considering they normally go for $2600 or so. I selected the 20′ one because a 40-footer would require a larger truck and trailer, and I was not sure it could make it on the curvy dirt roads on the way to my property.

Most of these vendors have delivery service, but most service ends when paved roads do… not very helpful for someone in my situation. The point being, check with the seller if they deliver – you may be able to skip finding a delivery service if you do.

Once again I checked Craigslist for a delivery service. I use CL because I live 400 or so miles from my BOL, can not check things out locally for myself, and find people more willing to negotiate rates. (I actually traded gold eagles once for a guy to cut a driveway and level a pad on the property.) CL was getting no results, so I posted an ad in the temp work section, and quickly had a few responses that I could work with. When getting any outside services to assist on work at your BOL, always remember OPSEC and trust your gut – you may get a good deal on some work, but it will be all for naught if he comes back and steals all your crap.

I selected a driver, and had him meet me at the shipping container vendor’s place of business. I paid for the container, and the vendor loaded the container on my drivers trailer with a forklift.

The driver followed me out to the property, got it off-loaded (chaining the container to a tree and slowly driving off) and got paid.

Setting It Up
You can set up your container however you like. As long as you don’t mess up the structural integrity, they are dry and keep out all sorts of pests. I have seen some really cool cabins built using these containers as a base.

This was our first structure on the property, and was set up as a camping supply and support building. We lightly insulated it with this foil-bubble wrap stuff because it works ok and space is at a premium (it’s thin.) You can see it in the pic below towards the back, this was before we finished all the walls. In our area, this is enough insulation – temps rarely get outside of 60-80 degrees.

I had to level mine out a little bit, so I got a car jack and some bricks. Each corner has a “foot” that is perfectly sized for two standard bricks sitting next to each other. One corner took a stack three high, another two, one took one, and the back right corner took none. Now, I know there are better ways of doing this – but this was a cheap, easy solution that lifted the majority of the container a few inches off the ground, which I figure could help with rust and water from the random summer monsoons we get.

As you can see in the picture, I set it up to hold various supplies. The front counter is my “kitchen” with a water filter and stove tops. I got some cheap roll-out carpets to place over the treated wood floors (those floors have so many dang splinters, something had to be done.)

As time goes on, more of these containers are getting dropped on the property. I think of each one as a two-part building unit – meaning you could put a divider down the center, and create two 8×10 rooms. So, one could be a living room and bedroom, the other a kitchen and supply room.

Now, go buy your own container and drop it off in the middle of nowhere.

Posted in Budget, Shelter | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Using Podcasts For Survival Training

I, like most Americans have a daily commute that must be endured in order to maintain my employment.

I average a 30-min drive in, with an hour drive to get home, thanks to traffic.

Radio is great, but I felt it was mindless noise, and audio books are awesome – but the price makes them too expensive as a day-to-day option. So, some time ago, I started listening to Podcasts to help the time go by.

You can find any topic you want in Podcast form, mostly free. I have leaned about gardens, firearms, tools, solar power, HAM radios, and numerous other topics… All on my daily drive.

I recommend that you check out some Podcasts that interest you, in subjects you find interesting.

Some of the most interesting/valuable that I have found are:

– The Chip Monk Family Survival Podcast
– Reloading Podcast
– Reloading Radio
– Handgun World Show
– Self sufficient Homestead
– Today’s Survival Show

Who else uses Podcasts to enhance the most important prep there is? (Skills)

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Painting Your Firearm – The Cheap Ass Way

M1a - Fully Painted

Most firearms start their life out either as evil black or in red neck wood – and like the story of the butterfly or ugly duckling, they must be transformed into a more aesthetic version.

We must do it for the children if not for any other reason!

I am a tinkerer/modifier at heart, and must always “upgrade” things in my life (with varying degrees of success.) Painting my firearms is just another one of those upgrades I have done myself – mainly by reading others most excellent outlines. The following is just how I did it on my M1a Scout.

Now, you can go the expensive route and get a custom Dura-coat or other like “hardened finishes” coating – either by a professional or at home kits. These can run you from over a hundred bucks for a kit to the cost of a used Glock 22 for a pro. Personally, I’m a cheap ass, and prefer to cover my thousand dollar guns in 10 bucks worth of Krylon spray paint.

Krylon has additional benefits beyond just the price, including:
– Don’t like what you did? It all comes off with paint stripper/break cleaner.
– It has this weird powdery-stickyness that I like (some folks don’t share my appreciation, so YMMV) it adds some grip enhancement.
– Over time it rubs off, enhancing the cool-guy, “been there, done that” aspect of the weapon.
– You can brag on how awesome you are for doing it yourself.

The Host Weapon:

What You Need:
1. Krylon “camouflage” series in the colors you want (in this case tan, brown, and green.)
2. Painters tape.
3. Cleaner/degreaser.

The Steps:
1. Use a good cleaner/degreaser, and following the manufactures instructions – clean/strip all the grease, lubricants, and grime off your host weapon.
2. Realize you most likely don’t want Krylon inside your firearm, so use some blue painters tape to mask off openings like your barrel and parts of your receiver. Also, tape any optics glass and small numbers that you don’t want covered – like range markings on iron sights.
3. Paint the whole thing your base color, it is best to use the lightest color first, so the following colors can be seen. take your time, multiple lite coats are better than one heavy coating.

4. Wait for the base coat to dry – not long if you were not heavy-handed with the base coat.
5. Rip 3″-8″ strips of the painters tape in half, so you have long strips of jagged-edged tape.
6. Put the tape on the weapon, with two jagged-edges facing each other. The space between these strips will become your next color.

7. Add tape to the back-side of the tape strips – giving you a paint splash guard area. (see picture to account for my horrible description.)

8. Carefully, paint your next color between the torn strips.

9. After a drying period, remove tape.

10. Repeat as many times as you like with each color needed.


11. Enjoy!

Posted in DIY, Firearms | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment