Monday, May 4, 2015

Listening to the ham radio operators and other minutiae of a retired life.

I have been listening to the amateur radio operators bands, just to get an unfiltered feel for what's going on these days.  Sunday night I picked up a conversation between four of them about Baltimore. I don't know where they were transmitting from, but one of them did say they should go "up" to Baltimore so presumably they, or some of them, were in the South.

We shouldn't feel like the Lone Ranger, those of us who have been writing from a conservative standpoint about the ridiculous behavior of the people involved in the Baltimore lunacy. There appear to be a lot of others out there who feel the same way.  You can't trust the media, because they have an agenda and they distort the news to advance it. Shortwave is from "the horses mouth" , it's not filtered, and it can be very informative.

The new Backwoods Home Magazine is out. I found a good article on making rock walls that will be of use to me. My old railroad tie retaining walls are deteriorating, and I've been trying to decide how to replace them. The "Gabion" walls in the article might be just the ticket. The original gabions were developed for use in siege work, but the idea is excellent for retaining walls as well.

There was an article about building a chicken plucker that would be useful for those that raise and eat their own chickens, and if you are a gardener or a cook there are some things in there that could be of value to you.

I wish I got the paper edition, because the Kindle edition just has the articles, and no adds. The adds were the best part of the magazine.

The new Off Grid is out. There are some changes to the magazine now.  First, it's no longer a quarterly, circulation has been so good that the editors are going to a bi-monthly edition. Second, it's available as a digitial publication on Kindle.  A year of the digitial version costs only $15.00. I went ahead and subscribed to it.  On the other hand, a years subscription to the paper edition is almost $50.00.  I would subscribe, but the people who publish Recoil are the same people who publish Off Grid. You know I've complained before about them just sticking a ten dollar magazine in the mail, with no plastic cover or paper cover. You get your expensive magazine all torn to hell by the post office when it finally hits your mailbox. So, I'll just keep buying the magazine off the newsstand.

This issue had an excellent analysis of "Survival Groups."  I used to look down on that idea, and plan on going it alone, with just my immediate family.  But as I got older, and my preparations got more involved, I lost faith in the "Lone Wolf" philosophy.  So for years I looked for a group to join, doing a lot of traveling and meeting all kinds of people. It never worked out, so I set up my own group . This particular article was useful because it gave me some new ideas on the subject, and generally validated the previous planning we already implemented here . That's always nice since it gives you confidence you are getting most of it right.

There are also some interesting scenarios involving an economic collapse and the ramifications of that. Three individuals wrote fictional stories to show case their thoughts on the way it might go, and those were worth reading.

I bought a case of low recoil buckshot for my 20 gauge shotguns.  You might hear it called "managed recoil" as it is here in the photo, but the bottom line is that it's easier for women or small men to use. I keep some 20 gauge shotguns specifically for the use of women, and I've got a lot of buckshot stored away, but I thought this would be a useful addition.  Particularly since one of the women who would be coming here in a serious event is very petite.  Prior planning prevents p*ss poor performance.

The accursed carpenter bees are out in force.  They are the bane of my existence, since all my buildings are made of cedar wood and the bees seem to love it. I usually kill them with hornet spray, but sometimes they bore holes in the wood before I can find them. If anyone knows of some kind of traps for them , I'd appreciate hearing about it. I can't use poison because there are too many other naturally occurring species out there I don't want to kill because they are harmless. But I hate carpenter bees.

Fox News - Note to Jihadists. In America, we shoot back.

(link to an interesting turn of events)



  1. Nothing gives you a crash course in group dynamics and sociology like trying to make heads or tails out of someone's survival group. You're a Marine, you konw that the cohesiveness of a unit is kinda important when it comes to keep the red stuff inside need people you can trust and count on to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done.

    It's just an opinion, but I would think that family is the first choice since there's several different 'threads' connecting everyone..chared experience, shared history, etc. Next up would be close friends with similar military experience. After that it would be close friends. 'Recruiting' strangers, or trying to get inot someone elses already established group, sounds like walking into a prom dance and expecting to find Miss Perfect just standing there waiting to smile in your direction.

    Im a little more social than you, I think, so I get out a bit more and have a few friends I've known many years...that gave me plenty of time to see if theyre people I'd let into my basement. I get the impression that you don't have a lot of folks you hang out or go to the range with, so your opportunities to meet folks casually and evaluate them surreptitiously over time are pretty few.

    I'm guessing you've tried to fold in the kids and immediate family into your plans, but Im guessing some of them arent on the same page or just roll their eyes at dads craziness and arent really committed.

    Its one of the classic survivalists dilemmas - how do you maintain security and privacy without cutting off the chance to meet and form useful relationships with new people. My answer to that is time...years of going shooting with folks, having them over for lunch, etc, etc. Unfortunately time is something that may not be long in stock at the moment.

    1. I'm the first to admit that I entertain a certain reticence about things that effect operational security. That doesn't keep me from making blunders on the blog that have to be corrected, as you well know, but it does make me cautious about what I say.

      I'm not social at all, so my contacts with people are limited. However, from my working days I have some trusted people who would be assets, and they mainly comprise the group here. I have specifically recruited only two people, both on the recommendation of others in the group and both for their very specific skills and character traits. I made opportunities for them to meet me, and some others, to make sure there were no personality conflicts. One of them, an ER nurse, is particularly valuable because none of the rest of us have true medical skills, other than basic first aid.

      My kids are on the list, but in all honesty, should something big happen it's more likely they will head North to Kymber and J than South to us. It's further to Canada, but in virtually any kind of event they'd be worlds safer up in the Canadian outback than here. I am painfully aware that there are major threats 45 miles to the South and 180 miles or so to the Southwest. This county was once the perfect retreat location, but changing demographics and the construction of new four lane highways have considerably lessened my locations desirability in that respect.

      I am even starting to give some consideration to a bug out plan. I have not had one before, because I know leaving here would involve the loss of most of the huge cache of supplies and equipment I have built up over more than 30 years. But the day may come when it's either flee or do the Alamo routine, and that didn't end well for the good guys. Personally, I'd be willing to take my chances here against whatever odds, as I have no desire to be "on the road" at my age. But some of the others are younger and have no attachment to the area, so it seems wise to at least do the planning.

      My kids are conscious of the potential for trouble, but they don't think much about it. They are adequately equipped to get out of the city, and to make it either back home or to Canada. They have their passports and other necessities to hand, They take it seriously, but like a lot of people in their late twenties they have to expend most of their energy just making a living in todays economy.

      It's interesting you mention having people over. The truth is, other than the man who drives the gas truck, the individuals in my group, and the firemen who had to come put out the chimney fire two years ago, nobody comes up here. I always meet people in a nearby town, usually at a restaurant favored by the local population. Some years ago, when I had the old blog, one fellow wrote out of the blue and told me he was coming to spend the summer with me. He planned to pull his trailer up here (which is physically impossible anyway due to the access issue). When I tried to politely decline and offered to meet him in a nearby town, he went ballistic. Haven't heard from him since, which is ok with me.

    2. When I got married I had to have a conversation with the wife where I explained that a) we do not tell people where we live and b) no one comes into the house who is not approved by both of us. In her line of work, it wasnt *that* weird to keep where you sleep a secret. If I'm going shooting or having lunch with a casual acquaintance or customer, I usually tell them to meet me at my shop and we leave from there.

      As the years have gone by I've let a few more people into the house, but all of them have been coworkers of the wife and theyre all people I've been socializing with for a few years before letting 'em in.

      Once in a very rare while, someone will get into a conversation with me and in the course of it they'll trot out that classic "When the apocalypse comes I'm heading to your place! Ha ha ha!" which sorta reinforces my faith in being secretive.

      One day me and the missus were walking the dog and we met this strange woman walking in the alley we were walking through. She engaged us in conversation and tols us she lived in one of the houses that faced the alley. She asked where we live and I poiltely said "Oh, a couple blocks that way"..and a few minutes later she asked again. I said "Down that way a bit". Third time she asked we both stopped being polite, gave a total bullshit answer and walked off. There is no need for anyone to know that sorta info.

      I've been musing about splitting up a buncha my stuff and socking it away at a few offsite locations. Not necessarily for fears of being overrun, but more out of a concern of being robbed, or having a house fire or flood. (And, to a lesser degree, getting jackbooted by some alphabet agency that thinks blogging about the end of the world is a greater threat than a porous border and absurd fiscal policy.)

      I'm tellin' ya, man...I know you can just stand on your back porch and shoot to your heart;s content, but maybe you should head to the local range once in a while and maybe meet some folks...maybe just some folks that like old military surplus.

    3. I'm just not a very good conversation maker. Then there's the fact that I don't take a lot to get angry, though I am better about that now than when I was younger. The bottom line is that in the end, the leopard can't change his spots. I used to shoot at the range until the people like me got shunted aside for the hoighty toity crowd. I didn't like them and they didn't like me overly much. Like you say, I have my own range up here anyway.

  2. I have often considered the idea of a group of like-minded people to become involved with. However, I have yet to find anyone in my building, my neighborhood or even those I know in my town, who are on the same page as I am. Even within my family, there is division as to whether or not a person needs to prepare. Two are of the opinion that life will just continue on as it is, so there is no need to stockpile anything. Another understands that life as we know it can and probably will change, but is just too busy and has yet to completely convince himself that bad things can and will happen, to take steps to really prepare for whatever is down the road. The last on is on board and helps me do what I feel I need to do. So as far as I can tell, should events turn sour, it will probably be just two of us and possibly one or two of his friends, if they can get here. For here is where the food is. And because of that, along with other reasons, here is where I will stay.

    I hear of others who are frustrated when friends and family - mostly family - choose to ignore the insanity all around us. I am not a doom and gloom person. I don't spend time getting my knickers in a twist over events that I can not control. But sometimes I want to just grab them by the shoulders and give them a good shake, and tell them to open their eyes and take a good, hard look around. It isn't pretty and it WILL come to their back yards soon enough. And they had better be ready when it does.

    Sorry for the long-winded comment. Probably should have said this in a blog post. :)

    1. It's not a long winded comment and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      I looked for many years for a group to join. I traveled widely in Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina among other places. At the time I had a contact who was conversant with quite a diverse selection of survivalists and he introduced me to many different "communities." Some were too religious for me. Some were primarily concerned with para-military activities, which is fine but too sharply focused on only one aspect of survivalism in my view. Some were very nearly cults and I was not comfortable with that. Then again, some of the "tribes" were pretty well organized, well thought out, and viable but they had leadership that was supreme in every respect. I didn't want to be told what to do at every step.

      Some, I just didn't like the people. The most recent bunch I met with were too rustic and too loud. They knew the local area, and their skill set was excellent. They just talked too damned loudly and too much. I wouldn't have fit in. A week or so after I met with them some guy I never saw before in my life walked up to me at my table where I was having lunch and said genially "hey, you're one of them survivalist fella's ain't you?"

      I have pretty much decided to go with the people I know, even if there are not many of us and we might be too few when the fewmets hit the windmill. Time will tell.

      I suspect a lot of people , family and otherwise, will show up at your door if things go sour. If they know you have food, and they can't get any otherwise, that's the logical thing to do. It's not fair to you though. I have always eschewed cruises, changing vehicles every few years, and other such expenditures of disposable income in favor of preparations. For someone to come here proposing to share my supplies who spent his money on cruises and sleek new cars would place me in a very awkward situation.

      There's an old military saying to the effect that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy. I suppose a similar version could be promulgated for survivalists and preppers. We don't really know what's going to happen, and so we don't know what we will have to deal with. We'll just have to stay flexible and field the ball when it comes our way.

  3. I looked up Gabion Walls. We'll have to replace a wall soonish. I hate that job! If anyone asks you can find that type of wall here:

    I hope the bees go on their merry little way!

    1. Alissa, I'll never build another wall out of anything that will rot. Even railroad ties don't last forever. But these wire basket walls seem like they might fit the bill. Thanks for the link!

      The hideous carpenter bees will never go away. Either I kill them or they eat my house and outbuildings. : - (

    2. I always thought those to be bumble bees. We have them around here but they don't seem to bother the house. Some of them live in my firewood stack behind the garage. I once disturbed a nest in the soil while digging for some plantings, kind of caught me of guard.
      As you can tell from my recent pictures we are kind of in the the thick of things and quite exposed, so in a SHTF scenario we would be SOL. In addition to the ridiculously high taxes and the predominant pin headed political mindset around here, It is one of the motivators in finding a more remote location.

    3. If you found a nest in the ground those probably were bumblebees. Carpenter bees make perfectly round holes in wood, just like someone drilled it, and lay their eggs at the end of a tunnel bored into the wood.

      Yeah, I can tell from your photos you live in a built up area. I hope you can get out to the woods eventually. Until then at least you can fly around in a Decathelon. Few can say that.

  4. Some folks like a target (Low powered as a rule) air pistol for carpenter bees. Daisy 777 or something of the sort. Good practice.
    I think about "people" a lot. Most of my connections in the area where I live are family. Some will be helpful, some will not be. Few listen to me at all over any sort of preparing. But it is too hard to meet new folks you could trust your life with... And other than long association, how do you know if you can really trust anyone?
    21st century probems.

    1. I used to shoot carpenter bees with a BBC gun. They would disintegrate and little pieces would come spiraling down. But now I can't see well enough to do that.
      I think family members and people you have known for a long time are best. Sometimes, to get the right skills, you might have to take the opinion of someone you trust as gospel. I did that with our newest member and have been delighted with her.

  5. We have lived here 20 years and I don't know anybody I would like to be in a group with. Guess we are just on a different page than everyone else around here. Oh sure, they are all conservatives, but not like us. Hard to explain.
    I see where Oregon is about to pass the same type of gun registration bill as Washington. (sigh). Of course it is unenforceable and we would not comply, anyway. This state is getting waaaaaaay to liberal to suit us.

    1. Well, at least you are in the high desert where the idiots in Portland can't reach you. You are right to refuse registration. Once the thugocracy has your name on their list, you can go the way of Australia and Britain any time.

  6. Hey Harry,

    I'll be looking for this new addition of Backwoods when I head out to town next time. As for the OffGrid Mag, when I go into town for the Backwoods I'll pull the OffGrid off the rack, and find a chair at the bookstore to skim through and see if there's articles of interest to us before buying it. If there's nothing, no worries I'll just put it back up on the rack. This saves me money a ton of money!

    We have good old military friends, known them for years.....we would pair up with them if the SHTF majorly.

    Was the "We Shoot Back" comment noted because occurred in Texas?

    1. Hey, Sandy.

      OffGrid costs a lot, and it has a lot of reviews of equipment and products that are interesting even if normal mortals could not afford to buy them. I love the bug out vehicles they showcase, even if I don't have a hundred thousand to lay out for buying one!

      Backwoods costs more than I can really justify for the paper edition, so I get the digital version which isn't as good, but better than nothing.

      I liked the Shoot Back comment because of all places in the country to think you could go on a shooting rampage, Texas has got to be the worst. Even if Walker Texas Ranger doesn't magically appear and do the bad guys unto death, the locals can usually take care of such issues quite handily.

      People who you have known for years, know really well, are the best alongside family members. The only people I really came into contact with regularly was when I was still working, and accountants usually don't come across as very useful in wild and woolly situations, but I did make a few acquaintances I can trust.

  7. We've been destroying 15+ carpenter bees a day with a badminton racket, but we're losing the war. We're having our wood sided buildings cleaned and re-stained this year and are following the painter's recommendation to use a relatively inexpensive oil-based additive from Sherwin Williams that is supposedly effective against carpenter bees. Yes, it's toxic, but mainly they HATE it. We'll see.

    1. I spray a preservative on my logs every few years, but the wretched carpenter bees seem to dote on it. Spraying them seems to work best for me, I can get to just about any place on the buildings with a 20 foot spray range and a ladder. But sometimes the stuff floats back down on me before I can get out from under it, which is nasty.

  8. Hey Harry,


    I am looking at the Ranger RCI2950 10 meter radio. I am interested in Ten meter radio as well as regular CB and this radio will do both along with some other stuff.

    I am going against some advice from others and looking at the 'Bazooka Antenna" instead of a traditional antenna. I have this problem with wind, salt and corrosion where I live.
    If any has any advice on the antenna part. Please throw your two cents in worth.
    or anything else on 10 meter radio's, I am all ears.

    On other news.

    The Mexicans brothers that live behind me got into some 'baby daddy drama' with an ex-wife, girlfriend or whataever she was and vandalized her car recently causing thousands of dollars of damage. The girlfriend lives with her grandfather and other relatives up the street from me.

    The best way to describe the idiot that lives behind me is the guy's a 25 year old version of "Tuco" from Breaking Bad and Better Call Sual.

    Now before anyone freaks out about my safety. I have been living behind this 'Tuco" wannabe for 10 years and they leave me alone and I leave them alone. I lived on the border with Mexico for most of my life. I am used to it. I know how the Bozo's think and one thing I can say. I don't mess with them nor do I get involved with them and they leave me alone.

    Now the bozo's behind me has already had several scrapes with the law and he was stabbed (shanked) eight times and almost bled out in a parking lot about six years ago. Unfourtunetly the paramedics were too good and he survived to do more harm years later.

    Sooner or later this bozo will 'dig his own grave somehow' and mess with a bigger bad ass or get sloppy and get hauled away at my taxpayers expense for graduate training in a state or federal facility.

    I don't call the police. The police are damn near worthless in my area. It does not help that the DA (District Attorney) is also a lazy bastard (I keep voting against him in elections but he keeps coming back, kinda like the Herpes virus)

    Thanks to the wonderful 'Second Amendment. I am on the same playing field than 'Tuco" behind me. In fact, he is outgunned, inexperienced, aggressive and fails to think ahead before he makes his next move.

    I am being pragmatic like 'Mike" on Breaking Bad and Bette Call Saul. I have no choice to move so the best thing to do is 'lay low' and not get involved in their business and stay quiet.
    If Tuco behind me trys something stupid or trys to break into my house (which seriously doubt he would do) There will be no 'Half Measures" I always have a firearm nearby.
    Now I do have really good security (that I wont give out any details on the net) and a group of neighbors on this street that we watch each others houses.

    Like I said before. Tuco and his friends and brothers will get stupid and things will come around and bite him in the ass somehow. It always happens in time.

    1. If this guy is really like Tuco, that's bad news. As I recall, Tuco was a complete psychopath. Maybe you need to settle the problem like Walt's brother in law did. But keep the grill, gold is selling at a high price.

      Remember how Mike ended up!

      Seriously, that really reeks. I feel for you and for Michael up in Maine, with the assortment of bad actors and nut jobs you have for neighbors. Maybe you need to bail and go get that land in West Texas. You could be like the old guy whose blog I read, all out there on his lonesome. Then again, you couldn't surf.

      I used a 20 foot whip on my house at Emerald Isle for more than a year, not more than 300 meters from the sea on one side and the intercoastal on the other. I never had corrosion problems with the whip itself, though I did have to replace the coax once.

  9. My husband's boss has a chicken plucker, my husband did some welding on it for him. It works very well and does not beat up the chicken since there are rubber fingers inside. We will have to make one when we start raising and processing meat birds. We have a bug out bag in addition to my husband's ham radio go box. It has some essentials (non food) that we keep only in that bag even if we would have to leave temporarily for a disaster. What I do not have is a duplicate in my car in case I was caught away from the property with no ability to return. I have heard you have about a 3 day window to get out of town if something big happens. With my knees and increasing arthritis, I don't think I'm up to backpacking it out so would probably stay put but fortunately I am also outside the city itself. Are you going to study for your ham ticket? I started Hamtest Online and need to get back to it,

    1. Kathy, I will probably just stick with listening to the Hams. I hardly ever talk on my CB, mostly I just listen, and I doubt I would be very loquacious on the Ham bands.

      I'm not sure about a three day window to get out of a city. It sounds reasonable in some cases, say a pandemic. But if something like a dirty bomb happened, I think it would be full on panic and the roads would be jammed instantly. We have routes North and South out of the city where the kids live which use secondary roads and don't pass through high danger areas, but it took a lot of work to get that done.

      I think, from what I have seen of your location on your blog, that you are pretty well fixed up right where you are. It's relatively rural and you have friends and family around, so you would probably be ok in most instances. I have a dread of being "on the road" because a person is so vulnerable. I'll do about anything to avoid getting into that situation.

      When we were kids my parents had chickens, and I had to pluck them by hand and after my dad cleaned them we scalded the plucked chickens in a big kettle of boiling water. I have never heard of anybody else doing this but that's how my dad did it as a kid in Florida. It didn't bother him to chop off their heads but I never did that. He would hand me the dead chicken, I would take it from there. Never enjoyed it though.

  10. With our log home we do carpenter bee battles as well, and also try to avoid chemicals. I use a labor force at ten cents a bee. THe kids use butterfly nets to catch them and then step on them. Cort caught 20 yesterday and I had to dig up $2. I may be broke by the end of the summer.
    Paul is pretty handy and built the retaining walls around our place and our chicken plucker! He did have a buddy help with the engine work on the chicken plucker.
    My grandfather had a lot of ham radio equipment. He really enjoyed it. I don't know much about it though.