Monday, September 9, 2013

Obsolesence vrs Functional Obsolescence

I've been having a conversation with friends on how to fill a need up here on the mountain. My security system makes it virtually impossible for anyone or anything to approach my buildings without my knowing it, and I've written in some detail about that system. There's no opsec issue I can see because the people who constitute a threat in this region don't sit around reading blogs. They're too busy moving or using drugs.

My problem is that my plans for what to do when the Morlocks actually step out of the tree line are somewhat light on substance.  I have a 10 year old night vision device, but no weapon mounted light system, no night sights, no nothing.  Just plain old rifles and shotguns.  As a larger element of this discussion, it's dawned on me that everything I own is largely obsolete.  My place is a Rod Serling Twilight Zone set for the 1980's and 1990's.

That's because I was building this place up, and outfitting myself, during that time period. Obsolete doesn't mean useless. People were still using T-34 tanks 60 years after the end of World War II. They weren't the best tanks but they did the job and were reliable and easy to maintain.

You could say the same thing about my vehicles, radios, reloading equipment, firearms, tools, and just about everything else. A friend recently asked me what kind of scanner might be a good addition to his equipment stores and I was taken aback. I quit reading Scanner magazine and Radio Communications magazine back years ago, when I knew enough to accomplish what I wanted. I have no idea what's out there now for the same purpose and my radios have long since been out of production.

Functional obsolescence is something all together different. That's when your equipment is so old and out of touch with current technology that it won't work at all.  My first computer was a Commodore VIC 20 that I bought in the Navy Exchance in Naples, Italy around 1982.  If  I still had that, (quite aside from it's collectors value) it would be functionally obsolescent because it wouldn't do any of the things I need a computer to do, like interface with the internet.

 I don't think any of my equipment is functionally obsolescent. Things that fit that category I have ruthlessly discarded over the years because there's no point in retaining items that have become boat anchors.

My truck is a 1988 Ford F250. It's a diesel, extended cab , long bed with saddle tanks for additional fuel storage. Old it is, and unsightly compared to todays sleek behemoths, but as a working truck it can hardly be beaten.
Obsolete, yes.  But not functionally obsolete.

Even if I can take some pride in the longevity of well maintained equipment,  I have to be able to recognize when I have a need for new technology.  I try to keep up to speed with developments in medical supplies so that my storeroom contains products that are useful and the best I can afford.  Less obvious needs tend to fall by the wayside in accordance with the Russian proverb I'm so fond of quoting, "The best is the enemy of good enough."  If my axe has a wooden handle, rather than the new fiber glass one, I consider that to be a relatively low priority for replacement.  In the case of this new equipment for night firing, I simply have no capability now. None.   It didn't matter when my son was living here, because I could work around it. He could hold the flood light and I could hold the weapon. But with him gone, I can't hold a flood light and operate a rifle or shotgun, so I am going to have to use technology to address that weakness. I suppose the trick to living way out in the woods and getting by is knowing when you have to break loose with a few shekels and when you can come up with a "work around."


  1. If you're looking for all the edge you can get then shelling out the 3K+ for some mounted gen3 nightscope would get you that edge certainly. However remember the extra expense of keeping it going long after the lights go out and batteries cannot be delivered along with the one is none analogy Matt mentioned.

    Gear is only obsolete when the enemy has better and about the only goblins we might face with better than what you have is a government one and that is an arms race none of us will ever win.

    Personally I am happy with hand held Gen1 monocular (and backup) that uses standard batteries I can recharge off my solar panels. I figure once I know they are there I have all the edge I can reasonably afford right now.

    1. PioneerPreppy, The Gen III PVS-14 runs on standard AA's. A couple sets of eneloop or similar AA's and a small solar setup will keep a NOD running indefinitely. Total cost is between $100 - 150 depending on your taste in charger.

      Sure if/ when some small part inside or whatever breaks the unit could be toast but we can go down that road with any complex piece of gear.

  2. I'm only going to buy a light and a laser at this point. I have the same type of monocular you have in terms of capability, and I want to hold costs to a minimum.

    Well, it sort of aggravates me that the new weapons have all these built in rails for gadgets and gizmos, and I don't think I own a single firearm that does, not even the "modern" ones I bought for personal protection rather than collecting.

    I accidentally deleted Matt's comment when I was trying to remove the marker for the one he deleted himself. I emailed him and asked him to repost it. This new blogger tries to do too much for you without you asking it to and I am finding it a big pain in the butt compared to the older, simpler one they had two years ago.

  3. Harry, don't sweat it. It happens. Yesterday, I ended up posting the same comment 4 different times on some fellow's blog because of Blogger's crappy upgrades.


    I liked Ryan's last comment best, if you have the money to pull it off. But the with the 2 is 1 and 1 is none concept, are you willing to buy two sets of equipment?

    It would be pretty cool to have a setup with a no jerry-rigging this and that to make it work.

  4. I can't spring two complete units of issue right now. Mainly because I have to buy a saddle and other tack for my daughter who has a birthday this month, and just pre paid for a Nintendo Whatever the Hell the New Machine is for my son's august birthday. As a result my disposable income levels have to recharge for a bit.
    I plan to start off with a light and laser combination for my Winchester pump with the extension tube on it.

    However, if the forest service finds my bullet riddled body in the weeds weeks after I go off the air, we will know that everyone who said lighting yourself up in that situation was ok miss the mark. I have a list of people to haunt if that happens.

    This blogger version stinks. Just like that spam trap that was taking away legitimate comments, it seems like it is set up to make decisions for you and when I want a computer to make decisions about anything for me, Google will be the first to know. Right now, I'd rather have the old version.

    My Night Owl uses lithium batteries and I haven't had any trouble storing those, so keeping lithium batteries for a light and a laser shouldn't be an issue I don't believe.

  5. Harry, There is certainly a fine balance between sticking your head in the sand and refusing to upgrade to new, vastly superior gear that is available and constantly chasing the newest coolest thing.

    As to the concept of obsolete vs functionally obsolete I would tweek the functionally obselete definition to something along the lines of 'puts the user at a significant disadvantage when compared to a modern equivalent'. Example, one could choose a single action black powder 1847 Walker Colt knock off as their primary handgun. After all they were good enough for a long time. However any modern handgun will perform in a much superior fashion by any measure except use as a bludgeon.

    Also it is worth noting that when looking at 'good enough' we need to really figure out the 'for what' that inevitably follows. A man with a Walker Colt fighting guys with spears and tomahawks is big magic but in a world full of S&W, Sig and Glock's he isn't doing well.

    To me like most things it's easy enough to toss out the extremes (totally outdated and chasing the newest thing) while the middle ground is hardest. Often I find the answer to be "when this item wears out, fails, is lost I will get a newer one."

    1. Makes sense to me. I actually have a Colt Army black powder pistol on the wall, but don't even know how to load it as I never considered it a viable option. Yet, if a fellow was out of ammo for a modern gun and had lead and black powder, it beats a sharp stick. I see your point.

      Because I know next to nothing about lasers and lights, my thought is to buy one "good" set, learn to use it, and through experience reach a point where the next time I buy a set I can make a more fact based purchase. That's in line with your last sentence.

  6. Ive held off commenting in the hopes my idea would refine itself in my mind but it hasnt.
    What about hanging, on each side of your cabin, 2 or more "flood lights?"
    These could be more dim than flood. But the idea would be to have them away from the house and aimed in such a way as to back light any goblins.
    You could have 1 switch for all and/or switches for each sector.
    Another idea Id consider would be having 1 or 2 very bright, blindingly so, lights mounted @ about 4' or less pointed out, just in case.
    My .02.

    1. Using white lights has some advantages and some disadvantages. I go to great lengths to preserve my night vision. When I go to bed, I switch off every light inside the house except a number of red lights. So when I go outside to see what's going on, my night vision is already adjusted and I don't spend that 10 to 15 seconds where your eyeballs are switching from rods to cones and you can't really see.

      The white lights create such a "burn" on my monocular that my night vision device doesn't work. The red lights enhance it's performance.

      My meadow stretches between me and the tree line. If I back lit the treeline, I'd be shining the lights directly at myself.

      On the other hand, there's no doubt that if I had bright white lights pointed at the tree line, I could see further into it. Not much, though. You'd really have to see the woods here to get a feel for how deep and thick they are. Not only are there masses of pine trees, but there are thickets of laurel that are virtually impenetrable. That's why I think the only way to reach my place is by the vehicle access trail or the trail going down to the creek.

      I appreciate the thoughts, and there's merit to your suggestions. It's kind of a one or the other thing though, because the two lighting schemes are practically impossible to employ simultaneously.