Showing posts with label group. Show all posts
Showing posts with label group. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Shared Bug Out Location/ Retreat Ownership

This topic comes up from time to time. It is something that has personally came up as an option in my life recently so I have been thinking about it.

Before getting started I am not a lawyer, real estate agent or anything like that. Even if I was in any way qualified, which I am not, to give specific real estate advice it would only be accurate for the geographic area of my expertise. Real estate laws, zoning, etc vary such that a real estate specialist in Idaho may not know much about the specific laws in Texas. If you are seriously thinking of doing this consult a lawyer who does real estate in the area you are looking to buy in.

Personalities need to be considered as well. Do you have a personality which allows for the inevitable give and take that comes with sharing? Does the other person? If as family/ friend dynamics go can you two make it work together? If the opinionated person does more of the work and the easy going person is cool with tagging along it can work. Otherwise maybe not so much.

We will talk about the pro's and cons then have some discussion.

Pro- Pooling resources (money) This is definitely the first thing that comes to mind and I would say the primary reason people consider this sort of thing. Neither person has enough money so they pool together. At the low end this is often the difference between being able to buy into the market or not. At the higher end it is getting better quality and or a larger piece of land. Also potential for shared maintenance/ development costs (A 1/4 mile road split 2 ways is better than 1, etc) is promising.

Choosing your neighbors. I didn't think of this one right away but it came to me in time. Of course you can always take a look at the neighbors crappy meth shack compound and decide not to buy there. However in this case you get to CHOOSE your neighbors. That could have huge benefits in an emergency.

Bringing together strengths/ minimizing weaknesses. Say the rich city cousin Jill wants a place but is worried about leaving it alone. The less rich country cousin Tim is out in an area all the time and is good at building stuff but can't scrape up enough cash. Mutually beneficial arrangements can certainly exist here.


So many different issues. Any time you involve relationships and money things can get crazy in a hurry. Even removing the preparedness angle we all probably know some folks for whom the family beach house/ cabin turned into a nightmare. I don't mean to short change this but there are just so many possible ways for it to go wrong. Seriously major relationship ending problems can and often do come up.


Legal/ financial

I believe it is very important to have a clear written understanding of what the agreement is before deciding to enter into it. Ask the hard questions now before there are any issues.

What are both parties putting in and what are they getting. There are many ways to do this, especially if people bring different things to the table. I would just say to be very clear about what each person is going to put in and get out. If Tim builds Jill a cabin at cost is he now an owner and if so of what?

How will future decisions be made? What about future expenses? At a minimum this should be in writing, both people should sign it and have a copy. This way they both know what they agreed to and can refer to it in the future as needed. That being said unless it was cost prohibitive, $500 in legal agreements about a $1,500 piece of west Texas desert you are splitting with a buddy doesn't pass the common sense test, I would do this with a lawyer. They would likely bring some good points to the table and make sure everything was legal.

What if someone needs to cash out?

If at all possible I would look to legally sub divide the land/ retreat. Tom and Jane (relatives or whatever) decide to buy 10 acres. Tom gets the northern 5 and Jane gets the southern 5. They share the road that is in the middle. They legally divide it so their ownership, tax liability, etc is separate. If Tom decides to sell and Jane (or another relative) cannot buy the land he just sells it. Other than losing having a close neighbor Jane and her family are not affected. If sub dividing the land make sure both parties have water rights and necessary right of ways for access/ road use in place. That way if you stop getting along or they sell to a stranger nobody is up a creek without a paddle.

In some cases this is not possible. Zoning may prevent homes from being built on pieces of land smaller than a certain size. In some cases this can be skirted around by using tiny houses on flatbed trailers but it would likely really hurt resale (since a person could not build a traditional cabin/ home). This is something significant to consider and in my eyes would be a real negative for an area. In other cases the lay of the land would make a simple split difficult or inequitable due to a key feature (water comes to mind) being located where division would not make sense or terrain lending itself to one building site.

I think establishing Tim's land and Jane's land is important even if the way they actually do things is a lot less formal or even downright communal. This way they are both protected in some sort of a worst case situation but short of that they can do whatever they both agree to (though in some cases with real estate property rights/ ownership can be affected so check local laws, etc).

If legal division is possible you can really stop reading this.

If it is not possible/ practical then you really would need a solid agreement in place.

What if one party is supposed to pay half of the taxes and can't/ won't?

Also in general what is the plan for if a person plans to sell or dies? Does the whole place get sold or just their share? I don't know about you but I do not want to own half of a piece of land with a total stranger! Odds are they would have a hard time selling that way. In some cases agreements can be written the other party gets the first opportunity to buy the land. In others a sale might even need to be approved by specified parties.

Co Use

Are your goals similar or at least compatible? If Tim to have a raging party with a band every fall and Jane's family is trying to hunt for deer the same weekend there it's going to be problematic. Of course smaller spaces and non delineated property lines would compound this all and honestly that is not a situation I would be very comfortable with.

If people are sharing land who can do what there? If one person wants to grow corn and the other wants a mud bog to drive 4wd trucks in the same place that is an issue.

How will shared resources be used and by whom? If both families have a couple hunters and each want to bring some friends/ relatives there are going to be way too many hunters for their 10 acres. Ditto fishing, firewood collecting, etc all.

Shared structure? Is there going to be a shared structure on the land? This really complicates things, especially if the structure brings significant value to the place such that you can't give one person the structure and the other a couple more acres, or have them pay a bit less or whatever. Ending up sharing a structure really adds to the potential for complication. Now instead of sharing a field and both having camping spots you are sharing a house!

This really brings to mind all the family cabin horror stories we have heard. Everyone wants to use it labor day weekend and nobody wants to chip in for the new roof. Also what space belongs to whom and when? Are some part of the rooms each persons and they can use them whenever while others are communal? Or do the parties alternate exclusive use? Honestly in this situation (which I probably wouldn't get in) I would look hard at the timeshare model. Communal stuff like basic cook wear, etc would stay out and people would have lockers/ bins or something for their personal stuff that would stay there. Each party would be entitled to use the place so much based on their share or whatever. Still I would try not to do this.

In conclusion by being smart on the front end I think a lot of down sides can be mitigated. A situation where there are clear legal property boundaries with a legal agreement on maintaining the road or whatever has very little risk of hassle. A handshake agreement to buy a cabin between a couple people is a nightmare waiting to happen.

After writing this I realized that I primarily considered two parties who are very close friends or family. More people would make things way more complicated as would people who knew each other less well. As such I did not really feel like talking about either of those options.

Sure there is probably more. Depending on how my train of thought continues and the comments go there may be another post.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thoughts on Groups and Leadership

Leading people and being involved in groups are an interesting things. In no particular order I have some thoughts on the matter.

-Never order someone to do something you will not do yourself. Once my commander, a Major, cleaned up human feces with an e tool because he wouldn't order anyone else to do it.

-Following on the first point never give an order you do not think there is a good chance your people will follow. Either you seem out of touch or like a complete a hole for no reason, neither of which is good. Also when they inevitably fail to follow the order you knew they probably wouldn't follow the options are to punish them, which is stupid, or ignore, which makes you look weak are both bad.

-Delegation is an interesting thing. As a leader at almost any level you simply cannot personally do everything that must be done. That being said you can delegate authority but not responsibility. In plain language that means someone can act on your behalf to get something done but if they mess up it's still on you.

-My general belief on delegation is that people should focus on doing stuff they can do which others cannot. People should pass the things others can do onto those folks.

-Of course you need to figure out what people are capable of when handing out tasks. Even if they want to do the right thing (which they generally do) asking folks to do something they can't just doesn't work. If I was given the task to write a code for a computer or rebuild the engine on a vehicle I would almost surely fail, because those tasks are outside of my skill set. Furthermore leaders should, whenever possible, have people do things they are interested in. Even if it causes some shuffling of other things if you have folks do stuff they are interested in they will do better and everything goes well.

-The preparedness/ survivalism scene is full of people who want to be the leader but absent people who want to be led. Every yahoo wants to be the Chief but nobody wants to be an Indian.

-Leading people without a readily apparent extrinsic (money, etc all) motivator is a hassle. Honestly I don't envy 'leaders' in preparedness/ survivalism. Aside from the fact that they are herding cats, they have to figure out how to create intrinsic motivation in people to get them to do stuff. Leading a bunch of cats by consensus in an environment where you have no stock and an iffy carrot would suck.

-In a decent sized group peer pressure is a hell of a thing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pic Post

Under the contemporary rule that you can only poke fun at groups you are at least to some degree part of I can take a shot at our penchant for drinking and eating potatoes.

Our dogs, old dog is the black one and new dog is the tan one. For reference old dog weights about 85 pounds. Unsure exactly how much new dog weights but she is pretty solid.

This is absolutely true.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Max Velocity Coming To A Treeline Near You!

Yes the picture is Mad Max. I included it because it's a great iconic survivalist character. Max Velocity will probably not show up wearing leather, with a 12 gauge pistol and a dog. Then again he also probably won't drive around drunk or  go on racist anti Semitic sexist tirades or threaten his pregnant ex girlfriend so that's something.    
Max has opened up his schedule to doing courses outside of his WV home training site. This would be beneficial for a group in say Minnesota or Colorado as the cost of Max traveling to you would be lower than the cost of 8-12 of you traveling to Max. Add the benefits of Max doing a tactical assessment of our site and training on home ground and this has potential to really help some folks.

Do however beware that to replicate the type of training Max does, specifically the live fire portions there are some site demands. IIRC the surface danger zone for 5.56 is something like 2,000 yards. Figure on a live fire scenario with a fair range fan (say 180 deg) and that quickly becomes a lot of land. My informal assessment is that you're either going to need a fair bit of land with multiple back stops (gravel pit not wood pile) and not a lot around it, or a huge piece of empty space. A 5 acre ranchette surrounded by other 5 acre ranchettes ain't gonna cut it. With that disclaimer aside if you want to train with Max but getting your group to WV then by all means contact Max to set up a course.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Operational Cache Discussion Continued

After seeing some comments I didn't explain myself very well here in yesterday's post.

This overall plan serves multiple purposes. First it will give me some options in another location, specifically a pistol for CCW and a rifle well, just in case.

These videos are sort of along the lines of what I am looking at.

Secondly this plan gets some guns that do not really have a role at my primary residence out of there. This will be useful if we get robber or our house burns down.

The guns and majority of the stuff I plan to put into this are already on inventory. I may have to purchase some of the small stuff but the majority is a reallocation of stuff I have. This makes the project largely revenue neutral which is important. It would be a much larger muscle movement if I was going out to buy all the stuff today. So commentary on choosing this gun or that gun, while valuable for the overall conversation, is a moot point for me.

It is important to note this stuff is not vanishing. It is just going to a different place for a different purpose that increases my overall level of readiness. Think of it as taking $500 from checking to put it into an envelope in the safe. You still have the $500, it is just in a different place serving a slightly different purpose.

Many, if not most survivalists have the stuff to set up a little cache like this. A couple of guns that are not used regularly, some ammo, a knife,  etc. It doesn't have to be cool flashy stuff. Whatever you've got is better than nothing.

One of the biggest misconceptions about caches in my mind is that they have to be buried in the ground. Of course different types of caches have different advantages but the point is to spread out your proverbial eggs and have a capability in a location where you may need it some day.

Largely I think many survivalist's have a mental barrier against doing this sort of thing. We all like to look at the gun safe or cabinet and see a big ole pile o guns. This is something we must intentionally get past in order to be better prepared for whatever may come.

Sure a cache could get raided or whatever but your house could also be broken into or have a fire. There are inherent risks anywhere. Obviously if you choose a decent (not a crack house, etc) place the odds your stuff will sit until you need it again are pretty high.

Worst case part of the whole diversification idea is that if something happens at one location it doesn't affect the others. Say your house gets robbed, the guns you keep up at the cabin, at Uncle Bob's farm and buried up in the woods are all fine. The odds of something happening at multiple different locations is very low. Multiple locations, if not necessarily safer than the primary one decrease the odds of a 1 shot catastrophic loss.

Get past  problem admiration phase. You may never be able to afford to stash an FN-Fal and a Glock 9mm. You may never have a perfect cache location at a survivalist family member's isolated farm 100 miles away. Don't let those issues keep you waiting indefinitely. Take that old 20 gauge, .22, .243 or whatever that is gathering dust, toss some gear together and take it someplace beside the immediate vicinity of your primary residence. Just do it.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what I am doing and provokes some thought. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Group Internal Training

This weekend I am teaching some people land navigation. Sort of a terrain walk/ land nav instruction thing. I would call it the 'walk' phase.

The point that John Mosby brought up awhile back comes to mind. There is really no excuse for all your folks being cross trained in useful areas the others have capabilities in. If you have serious 3 gun guy then everybody should smoke gun handling/ shooting. An MMA guy can teach combatives. An EMT can teach medical stuff, you get the idea.

You do need to be realistic. Sometimes training has to be coordinated from outside the group.  The guy who spent 3 years in the national guard as a cook (bless their hearts) is not qualified to teach fire team and tactics or battle drills. If there is not a qualified individual in your group to teach this stuff then seek one out. You need realistic combat training.

The point is to get to training. Do whatever you can internally now. All it costs is time and maybe some anecdotal consumable supplies. For essential training you need it is important to find a qualified person and fill those needs.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Range Report: Glock Test Fire, Burris MTAC, Tula .223 and Commie Guns

The Glock 19 with steel guide rod and 3.5lb trigger connector was great. The lighter trigger connector really makes for a great shooting package. I do not think it's unsafe or anything, just a cleaner more crisp trigger. Wouldn't want to get some 1 pound gamer trigger or whatever but this setup is just fine IMO. I would guesstimate the increase in accuracy based on this modification is 30%. The PMC 115gr FMJ's I was shooting were great. The only sad point in this area is I only had 1x 50 round box to shoot. Along these lines I noticed Lucky Gunner has Glock 19 mags for $31 which is a good deal these days.

Brought the .22 Browning Buckmark along for the ride. I have no legitimate reason it has not been coming along more frequently. Anyway I brought it along today. The gun has been sitting well lubricated for probably 4 years, I just took it out, loaded a mag, started shooting. It was great, the odd dud but that is .22lr for ya. Being able to shoot a pistol until I get bored without consideration of the cost was big fun. I know .22 ammo is hard to come by these days though it is out there. I've stashed about 1,500 rounds of .22 during this whole mess without paying silly prices so it is out there.

The pistol shooting went better today than last time, pretty good for my current skill set/ level of practice. I credit the 3.5# connector and a half dozen mags of .22 to warm up.

I was updating some inventories yesterday. Glancing through them I found out we have a bit more than 2x the .22 ammo I thought put back. For whatever reason the number in my head was really wrong. Glad it was wrong short not long. Now I feel better about having the 3 inflation adjusted 333rd bricks of .22 ammo I got recently be range meat.

Speaking of range meat I shot that Tula 223. It functioned fine, no misfires or jams. At the risk of speaking without even semi scientific evidence I will give some impressions. It seemed to be slightly less accurate than Lake City or PMC. Sufficient for putting lead into targets but not what I would want to have loaded for the stereotypical movie shoot the guy behind the hostage scenario. If the price difference between Tula or Wolf steel cased .223 vs brass cased stuff was sufficient I would not hesitate to purchase it again.

As usual the MTAC was great. Have found it works better during the day with the illum turned off. The large heavy circle that surrounds the reticle lets you get onto target really fast, sort of like an Eotech. The only downside is I shot half the .223 I brought along at 200-400m without realizing I had the scope set at 1 power. Obviously I do better at distance with 4x magnification.

Since I was with some people the opportunity to shoot their guns came up. Played with an SKS a bit. We briefly touched on them in the Basic Guns series. The SKS is a classic import case of studs and duds. Some are awesome and others completely suck. The sucky ones could probably be fixed by a competent gunsmith familiar with the platform but it destroys the economic benefit of the SKS. Sort of like putting $ 5k into a car that once it is running will be worth $5,500 it probably isn't a great plan. The one I shot was great and had a pretty nice finish to boot. At the right price they are a decent rifle to have as an all around gun or a backup/ giveaway gun. This makes even more sense if you already have an AK and a bunch of ammo put back. Sort of like I said before my evaluation of the SKS as a rifle for $200ish is very different than for $500+.

Also got to shoot a Mosin Nagant carbine, think the guy said it was a Chinese Type 53. That gun was a hoot! Solid potential for accuracy despite very mediocre sights and reasonable scoping options are available if one wants to go that way. Best of all it's in a centerfire .30cal rifle cartridge that normal folks can afford to go shoot a hundred rounds on a semi regular basis. Aside from being a useful backup/ trade type gun it's a range toy at a reasonable range toy price. I really want one; maybe for my birthday.

Well that is what happened this morning at the range.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Today I got together with some people. A lady did a lesson on making then canning your own jelly. It was pretty easy. Actually doing it together with somebody experienced took a lot of the mystery out of it. Aside from jars there isn't really anything needed which isn't in a normally equipped kitchen. Best of all we all left with a recipe plus a small jar of strawberry jam.

Assuming you reuse the jars, which everybody does, then procure berries at sane prices it's very cost effective. Also it gets my foot into the door of a very useful skill set. If I can find jars then strawberries at sane prices I'll be making some jam pretty soon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Solar Cooking, Remington 870 vs Mossberg 500 and Other Stuff

Getting used to cooking on the Sun Oven is definitely a priority of mine. The weather here is very cooperative and not a lot was going on earlier today so I gave it another go. Cooked up some pinto beans with the usual spices and a bit of bacon. Used canned beans and normal bacon but you could easily do the same thing with canned dried pinto beans and canned bacon. Got the Sun Oven set up and it started heating up like crazy. In a couple minutes it was over 200 and in 20 minutes or so it was over 300. In 2 hours I figured the beans were probably done. They turned out really good.

The sun oven cooks sort of like a combination of a normal oven and a crock pot. The time is a bit closer to an oven because the temp is higher bit it retains moisture like a crock pot. The combination is pretty awesome actually. Getting it positioned so the sun is hitting as much of the inside as possible and slightly ahead of the sun (so it's going to be in the sun for awhile) takes a little bit of practice. Checking it every 30 minutes or so and adjusting about every other time seems to do the trick. I have heard of folks setting up an oven aimed to catch the mid day- afternoon heat then leaving for work to come home to a hot dinner. That seems like a pretty cool thing to be able to do. I am going to work on doing that  over the coming weeks. Cooking for free and building skills is pretty cool.

As we have been asking shotgun related questions and specifically talking Project 870 the other logical option the Mossberg 500 series has come up. Folks have mentioned them and it's time to discuss the Mossberg as well as some compare and contrast between the two. (Note I'm not going to talk the Mossberg 590 separately. They are really more of a nicer M500 variant than a new gun IMO. A fine gun but if we talked every variant of both guns this would be a 10k word post.)

Bottom line up front: Both are good guns so get whichever you prefer.

Remington 870 Positives:
-Probably the most common pump shotgun in circulation. Basically the same gun has been made since the 1950's. 
-Pretty much the standard shotgun for police and firearms professionals. This might be a marketing/ sales success thing, I don't know. In any case when the vast majority of serious users choose one option it is  worth paying attention to.
-Very adaptable with all manner of parts options including those by duty grade type makers.
-Excellent fit and smooth action.

Remington 870 Downsides:
Controls in less than ideal locations.
On the basic Express Model some issues can come up with the finish. (I will talk 870 variants another time)

Mossberg 500 Positves:
-Excellent controls with the safety and pump release (probablyy not the right technical term) in the right locations.
-Excellent value. Typically a Mossberg 500 will be $50-75 cheaper than a comparably set up Remington 870.

Mossberg 500 Downsides:
-Rougher fitting of parts.
-Limited availability of duty grade type accessories. Lots of folks make junk that can be bolted onto the Mossberg 500. Good stuff is harder to get than for an 870.

Conclusion: It is worth mentioning I did not discuss reliability or durability intentionally. That is because both of these guns are about as reliable and bomb proof as a gun can get. The damn things just last forever and don't break. They both have positives and negatives so folks have to think about what matters the most to them. Right now we only own the 870 series but that is more about parts/ accessories commonality than anything else. If a good deal on a Mossberg 500 came up I would snap it up. Hopefully this gives you some insight into how I look at these two shotguns. At the end of the day I believe either gun will serve you well.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Door Knockers and Strap Hangers

Teotwawki Blog brought up The Doorstep Problem and it is worth discussing. In fact it is probably on the quarterly fundamentals rehashing list. So here we go.

There are a few fundamental questions to consider:

1) Do I/ we want to help this person? If you have been wanting to yell at somebody and maybe point a gun at them for years then the decision is simple.

2) Can I/ we afford to help this person? This is a question of how much food (or whatever stuff) you have, how many people it needs to feed and the suspected length of the situation at hand. I could feed the whole neighborhood for a 3 day power outage and a bunch of folks for a month to ride out a natural disaster. On the other hand if we are talking about 6 months or a year or maybe more the division gets bad in a hurry.

3) Under what conditions am I/ we willing to help this person?

Now to some discussion.

I think it is reasonable to keep your preparations from acquaintances and casual office buddies. It's easy enough to avoid those discussions with these folks. Worst case for casual acquaintances who say "I'm coming to your house" the response of "No you are not, I have a gun and know how to use it" is probably sufficient.

However close friends and family will know to some degree that you are prepared and we tend to like them a lot more. Maybe it will be because keeping things from these folks is harder as we are closer to them or that they are around more and will eventually see a stash of canned essentials or a few boxes of freeze dried food. So we are going to focus primarily on more than casual acquaintances.

The old adage that you can get murdered alone or starve to death together bears some consideration. There is a balancing act here. On one hand any decent security setup is probably going to involve several or ideally more like a dozen plus healthy military age (broadly 16-60ish) adults which probably means at least 2 or more likely 3 times that number of people with kids, elders and the infirm. However at some point the math just doesn't work. Most folks have a hard enough time trying to make bills, save and get prepared for their immediate family, let alone a 40 person extended clan. If you do not have enough food in the short term and the space and stuff to produce food in the long term it's just not going to work.

I think conditions under which you might be willing to help a particular person are worth giving serious consideration. Are you willing to let them camp in the back 40, use whatever shelter they bring and eat their own food? Will you provide them with some food, tell them you cannot spare more later and send them home? Are they going to sleep in the den and basically be treated as family? Can they bring 4 poorly behaved pit bulls? What about granny?

[People often lack any sort of realistic shelter plan for those who are coming over to ride things out. Travel trailers are a fine idea. Slapping up a couple basic rooms with bunk beds in the basement is a fine idea. Turning an old shed into a bunk house is a fine idea. The point is to have a realistic plan of some sort.]

There are not really clean cut answers here but it is worth figuring out the answers for your situation. I think it's worth mentioning that the time to talk about this stuff is BEFORE something happens. That gives folks a legitimate opportunity to meet your conditions or find an alternative plan. Also it puts you on as solid ground as you can be when your cousin who was told he can camp in the back 40 and eat his own food shows up empty handed.

I think strap hanging family are probably the most underestimated problem for your Rawlesian type pre planned survivalist group. When the chips are down many folks realize that blood actually matters a lot. Most people simply will not turn away their parents or siblings. At least with a more natural group of some family and close friends there is a bit of overlap and you know each other. On the other hand if your 'group' is 6 random families all with their own relatives and close friends the numbers get out of control in a hurry. Depending on peoples family situation and proximity the issue may be pressing. Again the answer is thinking about these problems and coming up with a realistic plan before you need it.

I do not have all the answers. Close family and friends we would help as much as possible, more distant relatives and  casual buddies would probably get some help and other folks would get told to kick rocks. My answers might not be right for you but it's where I stand on the thing.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Meeting Like Minded People

Commander Zero once compared being a survivalist to 'alternative lifestyles'. For the more prudish folks they have to get past their prejudices (just for a second) and actually thing about this. It is something you do not really want out there for most folks but to meet people with similar interests occasionally you have to put yourself out here. There is a 'survivalist radar' that is sort of like a 'gaydar' that you can sometimes peg folks who are like you. However at some point you or the other person have to go out on a limb and talk about it for things to progress. In any case moving on.

I put myself out there recently. This was a big thing for me. To say that I am paranoid and have significant trust issues is probably an understatement. However to improve my situation this has to happen. My current 'tribe' has some pluses and some minuses. One of the biggest minuses is that until I change jobs (no plan to do that anytime soon) they are very far away.

Sometimes the answer to improving your situation is that you need to get out and make some new friends with similar interests. Where it will go I am not sure. Honestly don't know what my goals from the whole thing anyway. I would like to learn useful things I do not know and help others learn what I know. Also maybe leverage numbers to make some group purchases at 'bulk' prices. Could even progress into some sort of mutual assistance type thing.

Anyway the point I am trying to get to is that many of us (myself included) would benefit from developing relationships and training with like minded individuals. Obviously we need to pay some attention to OPSEC and limit the amount of info we let folks know about us but otherwise the benefits outweigh the negatives. However if the only reason you aren't willing to meet new people is that it means leaving your comfort zone then put on your big boy(or girl) pants and do the smart thing.

We will probably talk more about this.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Walking Dead: Zombie Prison Fun

Warning Spoiler Alert. If you haven't seen last weeks episode and this weeks one I recommend not reading further.

For whatever reason I didn't end up talking about last weeks episode. Things started off with the crew hitting a house to scavenge. Clearly they have gained some experience and developed some SOP's. Things between Lori and Rick are not going so well. They could probably use a counselor or something. Also they seem better armed probably with a couple more pistols and a new under folder AK. They got to the prison and started clearing it out. Things were going well until Hershel got bit in the lower leg by a Walker. They were in the midst of amputating his leg with a hatchet when the camera flashed to a group of decisively not Zombie prisoners. Taking the one guy with serious medical skills out to go Zombie killing was probably a mistake but hindsight is 20/20.

Today I am going to write free form whatever thoughts come to my mind while watching the show.

Onto the new episode. The standoff between the prisoners and Rick's group ended quickly when they took Hershel and left. Rick's crew have more guns (but are not doing to great on ammo) but the other group are all healthy youngish men and have been at the prison for awhile. This could get interesting.

 Rick's group catching the prisoners up on the last several months was pretty interesting. Also it was a very good ruse to get them out of the cell block where the rest of their group was.

The negotiations between the two groups were interesting. As always negotiating from a position of strength was beneficial. The decision was made that they would split the remaining food and Rick's group would help the prisoners clear out their own cell block.

I am not sure how the two groups coexisting will go. In a Zombie Apocalypse more people, especially healthy men is better. On the other hand you have got to be able to trust the folks you are sharing a foxhole with. There is a nasty part of me that says it would be better to fight on my own terms than risk a fight when the odds are less in my favor.

Carl went off alone and found the infirmary to get supplies for Hershel and the upcoming child birth.  He boasted about killing two walkers. Is anybody ever going to watch that kid? The answer seems to be no.

One of the prisoners gets scratched by a Walker. In the midst of the debate on what to do their groups leader kills him. It is a plus that he realizes the seriousness of the situation but he may be trouble. On the bright side for Rick's group he seems to have gone through 3 of the presumably 5 rounds in that little S&W snubby. A couple minutes later he tries to kill Rick who gets saved by Daryl. Rick then puts a machete into the dudes head. Seems that he will no longer be a problem. Rick then chased one of the prisoners into the not cleared cell block and ended up locking him in a courtyard full of Walkers to, judging by the screams, be eaten. Unfortunate as it was the whole Shane thing seems to have hardened Rick's heart which probably isn't a bad thing.

The remaining two prisoners were put into their cell block as agreed upon. One of them is either a really good actor or an easy going guy and the other could be a problem. This relationship between the two groups probably isn't going to end well.

Carol seems to be coming into her own and her relationship with Daryl may be about to turn a corner. I suppose one of the plus sides about a relatively large cast is that characters can grow and replace those who die. Not really a consideration on the usual sitcom but in shows like The Walking Dead, Lost, The Soprano's or Sons of Anarchy it is a big plus.

The episode finished with Rick and Lori talking and trying to get to a decent place. This is good as for better or worse they are stuck together.

Not sure if I will make this a regular feature. Sort of depends if it interests you all so please let me know either way.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts on Ammo

I have been thinking a bit about ammunition. Stocking up on ammo for stuff you have is obviously the first thing to do. If you have a 12 gauge shotgun get some buckshot, stock .45 acp for your 1911 or whatever, you get the idea. Before trying to do anything fancy or creative buy plenty of ammo, whatever that means to you, for the guns you own. I have talked about the amounts of ammo that make me comfortable, yours may vary and that is reasonable.

Next I pay attention to the calibers that my family and friends own. Particularly the family and friends whose ammo cans are not exactly as stocked as they probably should be. For me the real common ground is .22, .38/.357mag and 12 gauge. I suspect .22 and 12 gauge would be good ones to stock deeper than you need for most folks. There are a lot of heirloom .22's and duck guns that only have a box or two of ammo to feed them. This is of course a much easier sell if the calibers they own are ones you also have weapons in.Talking to folks and helping them make good and common choices helps also here.

As I keep around enough .22 and 12 gauge for it to not be an issue the only one I have had to pay some extra attention to is .38 special. I stock it deeper than .357 because it is cheaper and also because .38's will go into a .357mag but not visa versa.

Some folks suggest stocking common calibers in case you need to resupply a friend or trade or whatever. I wouldn't put a lot of money into calibers I do not have weapons in but can see some merit in the idea. If buying a couple hundred rounds or a half case of 7.62x39 or .308 or whatever common caliber(s) you do not own makes you feel good that seems fine. Personally when I wish I had kept 250 rounds and a couple mags when I sold the Glock .40. It is a common round and I have 3-4 friends with them so it wouldn't be bad to have just in case. If/when I sell the 1911 I will keep some ammo and a couple mags though I do not see myself getting back into the platform/ caliber.

I once heard on Survivalblog that it is a good idea to also get a few boxes each of the most common 4-5 hunting calibers in your area. Of course assuming all your other ducks are in a row buying a few boxes each of 30-30 Winchester, 30'06, .270, 7mm mag and 300 Win mag (that was just me guessing but I bet it is close) might not be a bad idea. I suspect a lot of hunters are in the one box of ammo club. Personally I would like my well intentioned neighbor's rifle to be loaded!

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monsters of Anarchy

Stumbled onto this randomly today on Youtube. Excluding the intro and closing the narrator is reading I am Your Worst Nightmare by Jeff Traskel posted on Survival Blog. In any case the audio plus pictures makes a powerful message even stronger.

Tuesday Group Discussion

I stumbled onto a new (to me anyway) blog called Preparing Your Family. They seem like good folks.

A recent discussion of groups (1, 2) got me to thinking about group dynamics. Specifically the whole "retreat" host and guest thing. I had a nice post mostly put together then realized I wrote it awhile back in response to Bayuo Renaissance Man's discussion of hosting a bunch of people displaced by Katrina. So I guess if you aren't up on what we have been talking about then read the links.

Anyway that is all I have for now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Groups: An Open Discussion

-People have been living in groups for as long as there have been people. Groups are much stronger than individuals. Also they allow for support when you get sick or injured or whatever.

-In the context of survivalism you could arguably break groups down into naturally occuring and intentional. The naturally occuring groups come from families, churches, groups of friends, etc that for whatever reason are spurred to become survivalists. The intentional groups are survivalists who in whatever way find eachother and seek to form groups with like minded individuals.

-It seems like both type of groups have advantages and disadvantages.

-Naturally occuring groups have the benefit of being made up of people you know and trust. This is huge to me. Maybe I have trust issues. However some folks seem to have shared information and trusted their lives based on relationships that to me are not sufficient for somebody to borrow my car, let alone watch Walker.

-On the downside in naturally occuring groups you have to deal with varied levels of motivation, skills and logistical stockpiles (or lack theiron) of folks you know. Getting somebody to take the leap from planning to come together in a bad scenario to implimenting a vigerous PT program, regularly conducting intentional training, building skills and stockpiling beans, bullets and bandaids is hard.

-Intentional groups of folks without a long background have the advantage that you can pick and choose. Find a mechanic if you need one or whatever. Also motivation and getting folks acting should be less of an issue than with naturally occuring groups.

-On the downside there is the trust issue. I talked about this a long time ago, beware there are dirty words that may offend some peoples fragile feelings. Also I seriously wonder about folks who plan to abandon their family and friends to throw in with a bunch of strangers. This sort of plan vastly underestimates the bonds and obligations that people have to family and good friends. Unless everybody involved is an orphan or their family lives thousands of miles away I suspect strap hanging family will be a serious issue for this sort of group. [ Any sort of group will need to have brutally harsh conversations about how to deal with this issue. Figuring out if you can/ how to feed and shelter people we love that can't or more realistically won't prepare for theirselves is a complicated topic. They would also be an issue for naturally occuring groups but since they tend to be family and friends anyway at least you are dealing with fewer families.]

-As to leadership and such I think naturally occuring groups have an advantage. Maybe there is already a Patriarch and things are simple or in other cases previously existing relationships have largely sorted theirselves out. Intentional groups seem inherantly full of chiefs and short of indians.

Anyway I am interested in what has worked well or poorly for you. Please let me know in the comments section.

Groups, Beginning Survivalism and My Generation

Lizard Farmer wrote a post called The Wave: Bugging Out? Some Things To Think About that I definitely recommend reading. Sometimes when I see something particularly interesting on another blog and or my thoughts would be a lengthy or complicated post I do a post on it. This is one of those times. To me the post breaks into two distinct areas, groups and beginning survivalism both in general and for young people.

On the topic of groups my thoughts that apply here are prety simple. There are two broad ways you can expect to get invited into a group: if you have something to offer or have a close connection with the group. Close connections like family or long term friends are typically something you have or don't.

An intentional survivalist group is not going to be interested just in your sparkling personality. They will want folks who bring something to the table. Typically if they are a group worth joining, they will want people with at least some basic skills, equipment and stuff.  What is desirable to a given group will vary widely based on the group. A group that is formed around a bunch of ex Army buddies probably doesn't need shooters but might need a medic or somebody with legit food production skills. A group with 2 doctors and 4 nurses doesn't need an EMT but may really need somebody who could organize their security and lead individual as well as team/ squad training. A group that is really squared away logistically might be more able to sacrifice on your individual 'stuff' to get a healthy able bodied person with some decent but not amazing individual skills. I was in a situation like this for awhile. A friend was very logistically squared away but getting older and aweful short on 'group'. For any chance at security they needed more shooters and for any chance at primative living they needed healthy younger folks. We would have obviously brought everything we could but showing up with just the clothes on our backs would have increased their chances for survival.

As to beginning survivalism. My observation is that age (assuming you are over 21 and thus able to buy guns, etc) is not the biggest factor or even on the list. Time one has been seriously preparing (we could make this a matter of degree but lets keep it simple) and discretionary income available are what matters. A 26 year old who has been seriously into survivalism for 5 years with X discretionary income will be better prepared than a 50 year old who has been into it for 2 years with a disposable income of 1/2X.

However as to my generation they have had less adult time to prepare than older folks due to age and typically their incomes, and correspondingly discretionary income, are lower than older folks. The answer on how to get going is simple though.

Figure out what you can afford and buy something you need at regular intervals. TEOTWAWKI Blog is running a $40 a week series that would fit this situation well. Almost all 20 somethings have some flexibility. Most can cut their lifestyle a little bit or figure out how to earn a little more money without doing anything extreme.

While getting your gear together work on skills. Make a list of skills you might need and look at the ones you have then work to close the gap between the two. Find a group or take a class or give somebody you know a call. Start Geocaching or going on day hikes. Join a backpacking group or attend an Appleseed. Learn to build and fix things.

As you do these things look at your area's vulnerabilities as well as what is worrying you. Start to come up with plans for probable events like a Hurricane on the gulf coast or an earth quake in California. As you get further along pay some attention to the Black Swan's like an EMP or whatever.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. Yours are of course welcome.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Some weeks you end up buying a bunch of stuff and this was sure one of them. Prices seemed right so we bought silver and gold. I got a bunch of stuff to finish off the get home bag which I am pretty psyched about. I ordered a Nalgene bottle  with matching steel cup, another knife sharpener, some more water purification tablets, one of those heavy duty emergency blankets, too much stuff to remember or list. I will probably talk about it at some point once things arrive.

Also  we seem to be fiddling some with alternative transportation. I got a bike, though sadly not a sweet Harley. Also I found a small wagon, like to pull the kid around in. It is pretty cool. It has little seats and a place for him to put a sippy cup. We took it out this weekend and he really liked it. Being able to move him and a bit of stuff in a way that he is happy with is significant. Also the wagon led to a slew of Oregon Trails jokes which was big fun. These little steps may just take us somewhere.

Anyway that is what we were up to this week. I hope you all did some good stuff. Remember it isn't just about buying things. Exercise, learn and practice new skills, network and build relationships, work on your tribe. Just do something that makes you more prepared than you were last week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lessons Learned- Katrina Bug Out Host

While catching up on my favorite anarcho liberterian Claire Wolfe's blog I saw a real gem. Bayou Renaissance Man lived through the general disorder in the Gulf during Katrina and Rita and more significantly hosted some folks who bugged out from the coast and New Orleans. I strongly suggest that you read it.

My thoughts and or things I want to emphasize in no particular order, are as follows:

1. If you are in a place where you could end up hosting folks bugging out from a natural disaster, riot or whatever I would be absolutely crystal clear about what you can/ will offer. Can you take the Tom Smith nuclear family, the nuclear family plus Granny or host an entire Smith reunion. Same for pets, if you can take the cat and dog but not their 7 draft horses then make that clear. Also it would be good to tell them what you can offer in terms of accomodations and resources so they can make appropriate plans.

As a potential visitor I would plan on being able to be as self sufficient/ able to contribute as possible. I would also want to be sure that whatever people/ animals/ etc I am bringing are fine with my host. Coasting into the farm on fumes to find out that they aren't cool with Granny or your draft horses would be quite bad. I would also want to know if there were any particular things that it would be especially helpful for me to bring, either in general or if possible by talking to my host before leaving. Coordination is a good thing. If they have 30 cords of wood cut I probably don't need to cram any into my vehicle and that space might be more useful for dried goods or fuel or ammo or tools or whatever which the farm is a bit light on. I would also plan to help out in a variety of ways while I was there and at least offer and be ready to compensate for any supplies I used.

2. Have physical cash on hand. I typically suggest a month's worth of cash living expenses which is probably sufficient. It is worth considering that your friends/ family/ the folks whose place you go to might not have been prudent enough to keep cash on hand. For a loan of a couple hundred bucks you could really help out somebody close and gain some favor. That is a much easier decision if it isn't taking proverbial food off of your table. In other words you might want to stash some extra to share.

3. Priority of packing vehicles would vary for a short term disaster or something more serious. Off the top of my head: people and pets, bug out type bags, personal defensive weapons (at least a pistol per adult, a defensive rifle, maybe a shotgun and or a second rifle) with ancillary stuff, emergency food, small momento's like a couple photo albums and the family bible or whatever, cash and precious metals, essential documents, additional food and camping equipment, high value compact items like guns and then entertainment stuff and whatever you want to take and still have space for.

4. Plan for entertainment, particularly for small children. Stuff that doesn't require batteries like books, toys, coloring books, etc.

5. Google maps lets you select to avoid freeways and bridges. Most other services seem to have similar options. If the one you use has the politically incorrect "avoid ghetto" option use it also.

6. While it is not nice or sensitive to say I would recommend that you do not live in a place with a large disenfranchized welfare population.

7. Even if the place you are in allows open carry I would plan on concealing my handgun while out and about. Some idiot LEO might think that all of a sudden the laws don't apply and it is just not worth dealing with. So no I would not be rolling around wearing body armor and a chest rig carrying an M4 and rocking a drop holster. Lets be honest, if things are really that bad I don't plan to be walking around anyway. A concealed pistol is discrete which is a good thing.
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