Showing posts with label minimalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label minimalism. Show all posts

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Voting and A Weeks Preps

The voting for my Fighting Load Contest has officially begun. Look just to the left of this and you will see the poll where you can vote for your favorite setup. Voting will run for a week with winners announced next Monday or Tuesday.

This last week sort of got away from me. A few good things still happened though. I caught up on some admin stuff here which isn't exciting but helps fund stuff that is. Went over my level 2.5 Backpack/ Get Home Bag/ Assault Pack to do my entry for the TEOTWAWKI Blog EDC Contest. Identified some issues that need to be addressed ASAP and others that can wait a bit.

Finally started reading The Creature from Jekyll Island about the Federal Reserve. It is not as dry as I feared it would be for such a heavy topic. Still not exactly a quick and easy read.

Signed up for an Appleseed Clinic later this summer. Very excited about that. Was looking and found one in my general neck of the woods. Got to get my 10/22 decked out pretty soon. It needs new sights and a USGI web sling. Thank goodness I do not need to try to find .22lr  in order to attend the class. Would be nice to find some but it is not essential. I have the ammo, heck I have the ammo allocated for training, but it'd be nice to set some of that away for just in case. All survivalist annoyance at digging into stocks aside it is a good cause and I will bring extra to spot folks who are short.

Crushed the gym which was cool. Also the transition to minimalist running is getting to the point where I can start doing it for more normal work out's.  Even went for a barefoot run this weekend. Yeah I am crazy like that.

In the near term I am looking at picking up a few things: A spare parts kit for a rifle, a British MOD Sheffield survival knife, a Marine ILBE ruck and some various doo dad's. Sort of got to prioritize, in the interim I think the knife and pack will be most useful but some part of me says to buy rifle parts now since knives and packs will not be involved in the next round for gun hysteria. In any case some purchases will likely be made this week. Along those lines I'm going to try and get off the fence and make a decision then potentially buy a bolt action rifle.

Still got to fill up the last 2 gas can's also.

So that is what I have been up to and what I'm trying to get done next week.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

War Drums and Random Thoughts

So our President wants to give Syria a spanking. Looks like President Obama wants Congress Mommy's approval before acting. Half the democrats are such doves they wouldn't vote to fight anybody, ever and the Republicans love them some war but wouldn't agree with President Obama that water is wet. So this should be fun to watch.

Playing with carry setups. Think the right answer for me is pocket at home and appendix when out. I've been a bit lazy so pocket has gotten more play then it probably should. Not having a good dedicated appendix holster is part of the problem.Looking at getting a Raven Vanguard to try fixing the hardware issue. They fit different sized Glocks without irritating extra space which is huge for me plus at that price point I'll take a chance. Meant to order one today but lost track of time.

Had an awesome lunch down in Lake Charles yesterday. Wonderfully cooked shrimp that were huge. Also had gumbo for the first time which was cool. I like the food down here.

Not having much stuff has been interesting. This has been a good reminder that if you pick the right stuff it's easy to get by without too much. When we get the rest of our stuff it will be time to go through everything again. Last move a lot of stuff was thrown away or donated. This time it will probably be less than last but  we can stand to get rid of some unnecessary stuff. Sort of along those lines I plan to organize some preparedness stuff. Probably look at caching some redundant stuff and using the rest to fill out useful systems. Looking at that as an opportunity to identify small holes in our preps which will be really good. Failing because you could not afford to buy a 5k whatever sucks but what can ya do on the other hand failing because you forgot a $20 cord/ cable/ widget would suck.

Things are looking good for the housing plan. It ain't over till it's over but there aren't many gates left to pass through. Living in a nice place we actually like will be really nice. Hopefully it all works out.

So far this weekend we have been busy. Yesterday we went to Lake Charles which was cool and then fished in the evening. Today we hit a flea market this morning. Some stuff was decent but half the vendors seemed to have stuff pulled from the trash put into piles that were covered with filth and dust at 4x fair market value. Not going back there any time soon. Got some fun plans for the rest of the weekend.

Well I'm bored of writing so it's time to wrap this up. Talk to you all later.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All Sorts of Things

Well it looks like the Colt ACE Conversion Kit has a buyer. A fellow got in contact with me about trading. After some discussion (it takes awhile to narrow down potential trades to stuff a person wants) we came to a deal. I will be getting a used Streamlight TLR-1 and a set of pretty nice soft body armor with a plate for the front. A pistol light was high on my list and the vest wasn't exactly in my plans but it is a good thing to have around. The great thing about trades is that nobody is out any money, which is tight everywhere, and both parties can trade stuff they are not using for stuff they can use.

I fired up the Coleman propane stove with one of the big canisters as a test run. For whatever reason it wouldn't work with one hose but after realizing we had multiple sets I just swapped it out. The In Laws probably had 3 of the sets that let you run a propane Coleman stove and lantern off a big refillable canister. The one that worked was put away with the stove in the box. More testing or research than I am willing to do would have to take place to really know but I suspect one of those BBQ sized propane bottles would run a Coleman stove for a really long time.

Continuing on our trek towards getting rid of all the unused and unneeded stuff in our lives called minimalism we have sold 2 strollers and a coffee table. Another stroller should get sold tomorrow. We started organizing all of Walkers old clothes. Some sentimental stuff as well as a small set of things in each size will be kept but the remainder (far more than our kid wore) will be sold. The money will go towards purchasing things we need or want for kiddo #2.

Yesterday I made some pretty good corn bread. It was the normal recipe plus a bit more than half a jalapeno and a 1/2 cup of cheese. It definitely brought some life to an otherwise average side dish. We will do it again.

Survival Blog mentioned that Walmart is going to be selling Savage pump shotguns for $169 on black Friday. I am a Remington/ Mossberg guy but if you need a shotgun this is a heck of a deal for a new shotgun in a viable defensive configuration.

Our friends at Camping Survival did a video on long term coffee storage.

Check out the 10 Most Memorable Fictional Survivalists.

Anyway that is what's going on here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Unpacking, Donating, Selling and Minimalism

The last few days we have been unpacking. Things are getting unpacked and coming together. We did some sorting and getting rid of unneeded stuff on the other end but definitely could have done more. On this end we are rather ruthlessly attacking the problem.

Our place here has more living space but less storage space. We are continuing to embrace a bit of minimalism. A lot of it to me is just about getting rid of stuff we do not use or need. That we move regularly definitely brings this issue to the forefront. If you have ever helped somebody who has lived in a large house for more than a decade move you know that people will fill the space they have.

Unpacking our entire household worth of stuff is a terrible hassle great opportunity to really go through what we have. The rather obvious categories for unpacking were keep, sell, donate and trash. Keep is self explanatory. Stuff to sell are things that should sell and bringing enough money to merit the time and energy that involves. Donate stuff are things that other people can use but may not sell easily or won't bring enough money to justify the hassle. This stuff will go to the good will. Trash is also self explanatory.

Of the stuff we choose not to keep most of it is going to donation or trash. Maybe this is because we tend to use things until (or arguably past) their optimal life. If you buy something used and keep it until that item is really used the resale is not great. Also that we are really tired of dealing with junk could be a factor.

Maybe saying that we are flirting with minimalism isn't quite accurate. It might be more correct to say that we are trying to get to a point where we only have things with a purpose that tend to be used regularly. Also we wanted to get rid of all sorts of junk and simplify our lives! We are most of the way unpacked and have gotten rid of approximately 30 cubic feet of stuff. That is clothes that haven't been worn in ages, books that do not get read and all kinds of junk.

We still have (and will keep) some redundancy in important stuff. Warm serviceable clothes, sleeping gear, blankets, tools, weapons and so forth. The significant distinction (and what I have been working on) is to store the right stuff instead of all sorts of junk. There is a significant difference between having several pair of fatigues and or sturdy work clothes put away and a bunch of too small/ worn out/ soiled clothes whose highest future is as shop rags.

Once household stuff gets figured out in the next couple days gear/ tools/ survivalist junk will begin to get organized. This stuff doesn't need the keep/sell/donate/toss treatment so much. It is just in dire need of organization and inventories. Going through everything, putting it into like groups and useful systems and the like. We will talk more about this later.

Anyway that is what's going on here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Buy Once Cry Once?

I have heard this saying for a long time. Heck I have even said it a few times myself. It really came up in the recent discussion of night vision. I found that phrase coming up and got to thinking about it.

Generally speaking I like the idea. Buying something good that will last for a long time (or indefinitely) appeals to my frugal nature. Also it appeals to my survivalist tendencies. If things are moving along like normal and a tool or piece of equipment fails you go pick up a new one. However if things are not normal you have a problem. This also suits my minimalist nature. Aside from some key redundancy (don't like relying on a single anything) I am generally willing to have less stuff if I know it will not break. Instead of a whole box of $5 junk folders I can have a couple good backups.

The question of when this applies is what I have been thinking about the most. I suppose it comes down to three main questions:

-What is the price difference between the right answer and the more affordable (or convenient or whatever) alternative?

If it is a matter of a small amount of money like 10-25% to me the answer is easy. On the other hand if the difference between the two is more like 50-100% or even more (like night vision) the question is more complicated.

For example once I got a .22 rifle. The Remington 597 was a little bit cheaper than a Ruger 10/22. Being stupid I bought that piece of junk instead of saving another $40 or whatever. I ended up giving away the 597 and getting a 10/22 down the road but that is another story. The point is that I should have been smart and bought the much better but slightly more expensive tool and been done with it.

 -How urgently do you need the item?

If you are moving to Alaska and it is November you need a really warm coat right now. In this case you need to buy an old milsurp parka or something as you obviously cannot wait until you can afford the coolest big name outdoor parka. If Jimmy Crowbar is after you then saving up for a few months to buy a Glock is a bad idea. Instead you should scrape up enough cash to get a used S&W .38 today. On the other hand if you are upgrading a tool set or a firearms there really is not any sort of urgency. A nicer set of box end wrenches would be great but you are getting along fine now.

Project Upgrade AR falls into this category. I already have a functional long gun so there is no reason things must be rushed into buying less than what I want. I want to do it right and not have to mess with it again. If the right part(s) mean saving for an extra month that is not a huge deal.

-Does this item fit well with where you are in life?

 The whole debate is pointless if you cannot afford it. An XX dollar difference might be a deal maker for one guy and not an issue for another.  Should those dollars be put into savings or divided into a variety of areas?

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. 





Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gun Safe Find- Colt Ace II .22 Conversion Slide


So I was looking for something or another and stumbled into a cloth wrapped package in the corner of the gun safe. It was a .22 conversion kit for the .45. I really didn't know exactly what I had. It was given to me and was promptly put away then forgotten. I was not sure exactly what it was worth so I hopped onto the internet and did some looking. It turns out that these Colt conversion slides/ kits are fairly rare and sought after. It was pleasant to find out that the thing is worth some dough.

As I do not have a .45 any more the conversion kit is unnecessary so I want to sell the thing. My tentative price for this conversion kit is $300 unless I find out some new information. (If I am way off on value either way here please let me know.) The proceeds will finish of the new M4 fund if need be or ideally go for a little hide out pistol or a .22 conversion kit for an AR.If by chance anybody is interested shoot me an email @ theotherryan@yahoo.com.

That was today's cool find while going through my stuff. Hopefully I have a few more cool expensive things waiting around to find in the near future. Not holding my breath but selling off stuff I do not need is probably going to fund a few projects in the near future.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Hard Right Over the Easy Wrong- 1911 Sold

1911 gone and a few hundred dollar bills in hand. I have been planning this for awhile. We discussed selling guns in general (specifically the Garand) before and it is worth revisiting. I have mixed feelings about this. Really liked that gun. Just so cool looking and historic. While not a collectible model it is a cool period piece.

I sold it for two reasons. The first is that it let me eliminate a pistol caliber. Now we have pistols in 9mm and .38/.357 magnum (well and .22lr but that is not an issue). This greatly streamlining our logistics. Also more importantly it fits all of our needs. I have 9mm for carry and if need be tactical use and .357 for a woods gun. I would feel pretty happy with a big fast .357 round for anything in the lower 48. Secondly I just didn't use the .45 very much. I enjoy the compact nature and round count of the Glock 19, if I had to have just 1 pistol it would be a G19. For a woods gun I like revolvers. No huge reason for this, maybe just because it helps me justify keeping them around.

A third benefit is that Wifey is now capable of using every handgun we own. (She likes the .38 but admits she shoots a Glock better). This really wasn't an issue as the 1911 wasn't a gun that was key in our defensive plans but it is an added benefit.

[I am not saying my 1911 was a bad gun or anything. The Springfield Mil Spec I had performed like a service pistol should with solid reliability and good combat functional accuracy. I cleaned it and didn't shoot the cheapest junk reloads available but did not baby it or anything. Simply put the gun did what it was supposed to. Just that I didn't need to own it any more for the reasons discussed above. ]

Also the Garand might have a potential buyer. As we have talked this and it is not a done deal I see no need to rehash.

I am kinda going crazy on this whole minimalist thing and tentatively looking to unload 2-3 more guns. Times are getting hard for guns in the safe that do not have a purpose. It might not be entirely accurate to say that I am going all minimalist. We could sell half our guns and still have a solid collection by most peoples standards. The goal is to have the right quality weapons, as well as tools, equipment and other stuff but they are other discussions, to fit our needs. This means over time I will continue selling things that do not fit the bill, even if they are close, and replacing some of them with the right stuff until things are where they should be.

So back to the pertinent question of what do I plan on doing with said cash. Things are still up in the air. I think the imminent purchase of rifle plates is sufficiently funded but will wait to be sure that is good. A Bravo Company upper and a bolt to match are likely candidates with a lower to follow. There is some little stuff that is necessary and on the short list but that is easier to pick up piecemeal. Also an AR-15 .22 conversion kit is on the horizon.

Anyway that is what happened today.




Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The One Tool Option

This topic comes up fairly often. The idea that one rifle/pistol/knife/whatever will fill all of a person's needs is admittedly appealing. As a concept it is not a bad idea. Everybody likes more capabilities plain and simple. Some folks are in a situation (boat, RV, or whatever) where they are going to have to be really selective in the tools/equipment/gear they acquire and use. Many of these folks have limited space and as such need to fill it with the right stuff. For other folks money is really tight; a guy who is looking to purchase that will, at least for awhile, be his only whatever needs to be a lot more picky than one with a closet full of whatever.

Folks who want (or need) an item to do a lot of things really have to look at what they need. Note that I said NEED not WANT. Going this route often means you have to bend, if not outright give up on some capabilities that you may want. Almost invariably, and for sure if you are really specific about stuff or have diverse goals, there will not be an item that does everything you want well. Maybe finding one that can do the stuff you need at least tolerably and comes in at an OK price point is doable.

The key phrase here is "trade off". Nothing comes without a price. Lighter stuff is easier to carry but heavier stuff is often more durable, if just because of physical mass. Very often more expensive items often have better quality and design or at least fit and finish but well, they are more expensive.

I suppose the trade off really boils down to where you are most comfortable taking risk and by default where you are least comfortable taking risk. A guy who wants a pistol to carry concealed, practice and compete with that occasionally goes into the great outdoors might buy a Glock 19. He wants a gun that is realistic to CCW and he can afford to shoot but accepts some risk that the 9mm (and let's not start a flame war here) isn't exactly the best dangerous game round out there. On the other hand a guy who spends a lot of time outdoors that likes to plink regularly and occasionally carries concealed might buy a 4" .357 or .44 Magnum. He is seriously worried about dangerous game and is willing to dress in a way to conceal a fairly big gun when he wants to CCW.

To be honest I am not a fan of this concept because the trade offs made are often so significant. Far more often than not you just cannot do everything with a single item. What if we extend the concept of minimalism (or maybe just getting what  you need) a bit from a single item fixation to having a small collection of whatever's? A collection that meet all needs and most want's that is probably a lot more realistic than a single item. Awhile back we did the hypothetical exercises of choosing 5 guns and 5 knives. It isn't that any fixed number of whatever's is reasonable and more is bad. Your overall situation will dictate what makes sense and what you can get away with.

Anyway I might just be spewing pseudo philosophical minimalist gibberish or reacting to yahoos in forum's with totally unrealistic expectations. It has been a long day. 






Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stuff: Maybe I am Becoming a Minimalist and How it Relates to Guns

I sort of touched on this topic before but it seems to be worth revisiting. We shipped off our household goods recently so the place is empty. Right now we are living out of 4 big duffels/ suitcases, 2 carry on sized suitcases and 2 backpacks. It will be this way for a couple months. We put some thought into the stuff we kept and to be honest we don't really need anything else. Of course kitchen stuff, furniture and preps are not part of the equation here. I am mostly talking about normal day to day living. It is truly astounding the amount of stuff we have in relation to what we actually use, let alone need. We have clothes for a week in summer or fall weather, entertainment via computers, kindles, books and toys for kiddo.

During the prelim to shipping our stuff we dropped off 3 big garbage bags of clothes at the thrift store. We also threw away 2 big bags of stuff that was in fairly bad shape.

Wifey and I got to talking and if all of our stuff was gone (like the boat it is on goes down or something) we would probably replace half or a third of it. Our goal is to cut out even more stuff on the other end when we move in and get settled. Maybe we are becoming minimalists or at least slowing down our pack rat tendencies.

As to how this relates to survivalism. At the risk of rehashing the last post. It isn't so much that I am against stocking stuff deep. Just that I am for stocking the right stuff deep AND getting rid of unnecessary stuff in our life. Case in point. I donated 2 sweaters and a quilted long sleeved t shirt thing. I hadn't worn 1 in forever or the other two that were gifts well, ever. I kept both of my wool sweaters even though I haven't worn them in years because well wool sweaters are a good thing to have around.

This got me to thinking about how this all relates to guns. The first question would be how many  guns does a person really need. I guess the logical reply would be "to do what?" A guy who hunts big game, varmit and birds, shoots high power, 3 gun, skeet, trap, IDPA and Cowboy action that also wants to equip his family of 8 for Red Dawn style warfare would have to own a whole bunch of guns.

However most people's goals are a lot simpler. I laid out a strategy for (re) building a basic battery awhile back. Basically I would get a pistol, shotgun or rifle, then a rifle if I went shotty first, a bolt gun then another pistol and rifle. Somewhere in the middle I would get a .22 pistol and a .22 rifle or conversion kit for an AR. That would leave me with 2 Glocks, 2 AK/AR's (I said AK in the older post but it is 6 of 1 and a half dozen of the other), a shotgun and a bolt gun. I can't see any gaping holes  though a toy size subcompact pistol would be nice. Honestly if I woke up tomorrow and this was my setup I would be fine with that. Honestly I could do just about everything I really want to. Sure 4 more of each weapon listed and a few more random guns would be nice but that would really just be icing on the cake. When the kid's get close to old enough I will get another rifle and pistol each. Which brings us to the other end of the gun spectrum.

After discussing how many guns is enough to be getting by you wonder how many is too many, if there is such a thing. It might come as a shock to you but I don't think you can have too many guns, at least not exactly. You can however spend too much money on guns at the expense of other things. If you have 8 AR's and do not have night vision, body armor, a serious food storage plan and a decent emergency fund then I would argue you are in fact doing yourself a disservice. It is mostly about being proportionate in all areas.

Anyway I have got to wrap this up. Remember, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

Junk, Minimalism, What We Really Need and Survivalism

One of the interesting aspects of military life is that we move, a lot. We have moved 4 times in the last 4 years, one of them was across the country and another was across the world. One of the benefits of this lifestyle is that at least in theory you have a pretty good reason to toss stuff that is not important every so often. Also a very legitimate argument could be made that if you do not unpack stuff at one place it is not something you actually need and thus should not go to the next place. Since we are moving fairly soon it is only natural that I have been thinking a lot about stuff lately. How much of it we have, what it does, how often we use it and how it does and does not work with survivalism.

I recently spent a year in Afghanistan.  I brought an assault pack, a rucksack and two duffel bags with me. One of the duffels was filled with stuff I was issued but never used. So basically I lived out of a small daypack, a ruck and a duffel bag worth of stuff for a year. I wasn't really short on anything or lacking stuff. I had all the various tactical stuff, 4 sets of clothes, about 8 t shirts and pair of socks, spare boots, workout gear, plenty of warm clothes, a knife and a multi tool, a couple of books, my kindle and laptop (with external HD, muy importante), a wooby and a sleep system. I wasn't really hurting for anything in terms of clothing, gear or whatever. It would be reasonable to say that I could live with roughly that amount of stuff indefinitely. [I wasn't cooking and had the benefit of some other infrastructure such as showers, latrines, etc. My point is just to illustrate the relative amount of clothes, gear, bedding, etc one can get by with. I should also note that my experiences were not in any way abnormal and I am not griping about them. Some folks have it worse and others have it better.]

At home we rather obviously have a lot more stuff than that. Probably way too much stuff. What we (and particularly I) actually use is a reasonably small percentage of the stuff we actually have. Probably around 30-40% if I had to guess. This is spread across the board, clothes that are not work, kitchen tools not used, etc all. Honestly this is part of my nature. I tend to hold onto anything that may be useful in the future. I (and somewhat we) have been working on that recently.

For no particular reason clothes came first. I made two piles, one to throw away and another to donate. The junk was easy. I don't really need stained white t shirts or stuff with a lot of holes in it. The donate pile was a bit more complicated. Things I do not wear or see myself wearing went into there. I definitely could have been more aggressive here.  The best I can say is that it was probably the first of a few cuts.


Today we went through our storage area and tossed a whole bunch of stuff. Most of it has just sat for 3 years so with few exceptions (like our 110 toaster) it went to the dumpster. Pieces of old furniture and all kinds of junk. The bad stuff went into the dumpster and the good stuff went beside it for folks to grab if they wanted it. I almost surely threw away some stuff we could potentially use in the future and likely we will need to replace a thing or two. Really don't care at all, it was worth it to get rid of all of that junk.

Wifey is less of a pack rat than I am but is still helping with the effort. She went through a bunch of cabinets and tossed out the junk. I probably made 10 trips to the dumpster today and we have a couple big garbage bags of stuff to donate set aside. 

We still aren't done. I am going to put some work in over the next few weekends to get things trimmed down to a closer representation of what we really use.

The part that has thrown me off about the whole thing is how this desire to rid myself of clutter relates to survivalism. By the nature of emergency situations disrupting the normal supply chain and our desire for redundancy we tend to stock pretty much everything deep. We don't have a knife, we have 10 knives, etc.

After a lot of consideration I have an answer that makes sense, if just to me. Planned stocking useful stuff in an organized manner to support a plan against eventual need makes sense. The three important phrases there are planned, useful stuff, and organized. Without a plan you are just flapping in the wind which is never good. Useful stuff is pretty obvious, if I need say a cutting edge stashing an extra Buck 110, Buck 119, Ka Bar or whatever else suits your fancy makes sense, keeping every old rusty Walmart steak knife that crosses your path would not make sense. Wifey pointed out that organization is also huge. It doesn't matter if you own a spare knife to replace the one which was lost if you do not know that you have it and where it is. What it boils down to is that having a plan to get the right stuff and keeping it organized makes sense and the further away from that you go the less it makes sense.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. Input is welcome.








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