Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

What scares you more? A perspective on stuff vs. everything else

September 16, 2014

Wow, I thought being unemployed was crazy. Now the headlines seem worse than ever. We’ve seen civil unrest sparked by a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri… the worst ebola virus outbreak in more than a dozen years… the rise of ISIL in the Middle East… heck, even in my home town of Albuquerque, the Department of Justice had to wade in and weigh in on police use of force. And God only knows what’s been going on that mainstream, media hasn’t covered and spit up for us. These are crazy, evening frightening, days.


So, folks… what scares you more? What sorts of emergencies and situations do you think are more likely where you live? And are they the same things… those things that scare you, versus the things that are most likely?








It may be sexy and cool to prepare for a zombie attack, but is it really likely? In the face of a pandemic, will the ammunition you stockpiled protect you from infection as effectively as an N95 mask? And will any amount of guns, or personal protective equipment protect you if you don’t have it when you need it? Or what if you don’t see the emergency developing around you and don’t have time to save yourself or your family? I’ll write more soon about likelihood vs. impact… and about what sorts of situations we’ve found ourselves in over the last few months…


But in the meantime… ask yourself… what scares you? And how can you be prepared for it?



Image from


Home defense, or zombie hunting…?

December 24, 2010

Okay, I think we may have established that we’re not an anti-gun household. For the record, we’re not gun nuts either.  A gun is a tool. Like a 9/16″ wrench, if it’s the tool you need for the job, nothing else will do.  Okay gear heads, I hear your mumblings. For the 9/16″ wrench there may be a Metric near-equivalent, but you know what I meant. If a home defense shotgun is part of your preparedness plan, then a home defense shotgun is part of your plan. The question is, “Which one?”

Well, that’s always the question.  But there are a number of others as well. What gauge (10, 12, 20, .410)? What style (single barrel, side-by-side, over-and-under, pump, semi-auto)? Barrel length (influenced to some extent by the answer to the previous question)? But which one? Do we want or need accessories for it? Below are the answers we’ve come to, along with how we got there.

We know we want 12 gauge  ̶  for ammo variety. No other size of shotgun offers the variety in available ammunition that the 12 gauge does. 20 comes close. But for sheer off the shelf variety  ̶  from low recoil practice loads to heavy magnum loads for hunting larger game   ̶   you’re not going to beat the 12 gauge.  The wide variety of manufacturers and volume of it available also seem to make it cheaper, relatively speaking. 

We know we want 12 gauge  ̶  for power. So, why not a 10 gauge? It’s overkill. 12 gauge is plenty.  Back in April of 2009, a user on  – someone called “Montana Bound” – posted a truly awesome article on the penetration and ballistic qualities of a number of off-the-shelf shotgun loads for the 12 gauge. It is perhaps the most comprehensive article I have ever seen on the subject. It is replete with photos of the effects of the various loads on a standard depth and density of ballistic gelatin.  You can access the article here:   

We know we want a pump action shotgun. For one, it is relatively easy to operate.  The loading is intuitive. Chambering a round is intuitive. Also the sound of the pump itself can be a serious auditory deterrent.  Everyone  ̶  and I mean everyone   ̶  knows THAT sound.  The only time I ever needed to use a shotgun against an intruder, all that was necessary was to chamber a round.  The guy dropped everything he had in his arms and ran shrieking away. Auditory deterrent.

We know we want  a barrel length of 18 – 20″ to be faster, lighter and adequately maneuverable in tight spaces  ̶  like my house.  My house is old. My walls are thick. I don’t have a cookie cutter floor plan with predictable squares and turns. I have nearly square angles and tight turns and narrow doorways. Shorter, faster, lighter and more maneuverable are good.

Now, if you’re like most, you’ve already chosen one of the two following shotguns: the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500  ̶  or one of their variants   ̶    and you’re probably thinking we’ll do the same. Heaven knows they’re both available in different colors and finishes to match every taste or school of thought. Both companies even make “marine” versions  ̶ not the Semper Fi kind of Marine, but the gonna-be-exposed-to-salt-spray kind.  Some say these make it easier to acquire a good sight picture in low light conditions because of the brighter metal. But I digress.  If you chose either of these guns, you wouldn’t go wrong. But we’re choosing neither.  

Huh? That’s right. We’re choosing a different gun entirely. Because we have a special consideration that often gets overlooked when buying weapons in a world of right-handers. That’s right. We have both right- AND left-handed shooters in our house. Both the Mossberg and the Remington are right-side eject. What this means is that left-handed shooters will get “tinked” in the face by spent shells and will be forced to reacquire their sight picture every time. So we’re choosing a shotgun that solves our problems: the Browning BPS High Capacity. Manufactured in Belgium. Forged and machined steel receiver. BOTTOM eject. Spent shells drop at your feet instead of hitting you in the face. Magic. Basic black. Nothing fancy.

Plus, if push came to shove, the Hi-Cap could be used to take small game, or spook varmints. It wouldn’t be the greatest shotugn for hunting as it sits, but in a pinch, you could make it work. Plus, Browning makes a variety of replacement barrels. It would be a simple matter to swap out the original barrel for  “bird barrel” with adjustable chokes. That is, if we suddenly developed a taste for duck. Still, multi-use is good.


We don’t much think we’ll be shelling out cash for all those “tactical accessories.”  We sort of figure that simple is good.  Some people are fond of  “the look” of a black shotgun that’s weighed down by tactical flashlights, slings, shells carriers, folding stocks, pistol grips and all sorts of doo-dads that look great on film in the hands of zombie hunters…  or Milla Jovavich.

Too many bolted-on gee-gaws  and a tool becomes useless.  Like most things, we figure that any tool’s functionality is more a matter of technique than gadgetry.  And gadgetry won’t overcome poor technique. It’s like a sensei of mine once said, “You can’t speed up bad code.” In the future, once we’ve bought the gun, brought it home and played with it a while, we’ll be able to tell you what we wish we had on it, or what we’re glad we didn’t buy… and then we’ll write about that, too.

So, the Browning High Capacity is our choice. When we get it, we’ll take it out for a spin and post pix.

As always, thanks for reading. You’re the best. Happy holidays.

~ L.


Browning logo and BPS Hi-Cap image ©  2010 Browning. Morgan, Utah.

“Resident Evil” © 2006 Constantin Film Produktion

Zombie Hunter patch image   ©

But I digress…

December 10, 2010

I have been asked if I am a survivalist. I usually respond, “I’m not sure.” defines “survivalist” this way: “One who has personal or group survival as a primary goal in the face of difficulty, opposition, and especially the threat of natural catastrophe, nuclear war, or societal collapse” (Cassano, 2010).

While I am loathe to quote Wikipedia on anything, I know that lots of people turn to it for information.  So, here’s what Wiki has to say about survivalism: “Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists) who are actively preparing for future possible disruptions in local, regional, national, or international social or political order. Survivalists often prepare for this anticipated disruption by having emergency medical training, stockpiling food and water, preparing for self-defense and self-sufficiency, and/or building structures that will help them to survive or “disappear”  (Wikipedia, 2010).

After these two definitions, my answer is still, “You know, I’m still not sure.”  We are actively preparing for things. We are stockpiling some supplies. “Stockpiling” may be a little strong a term for what we’re doing. We like to think of it as “putting away a little extra” food, water and medical supplies. We are reading and taking classes and learning important survival/thriving skills [more to come on these later]. But, somehow, I still don’t think of myself as a survivalist… I think of myself as a realist who’d like to be more self-reliant.

For myself,  certainly I would want to be prepared in case society collapses. In the meantime,  before society calls it quits, I’m thinking that it’s much more likely that I’ll have some other situations to deal  with:  fire in the bosque (the tree line is a mere hundred  yards from my home); flood (yep, the muddy Rio Grande is only 200 yards and one ancient levee from my house); winter storm (a few years ago, we were snowed in for five days); chemical spill (six miles from my home – as the crow flies – an ammonia spill caused the overnight evacuation of a neighborhood). So, you see, it’s not that I think that “the system” can’t  collapse – ’cause I kinda think that it’s inevitable – BUT, I think it’s more likely that I’ll have other things to deal with before things get around to grinding to a halt.

In his books and seminars, Cody Lundin frequently points out that there are different type of survival skills. While he can be a goofball, hippy dude, he makes some excellent points about skill sets and about things like maintaining your core temp, staying hydrated and getting a fire going – and he makes a living teaching those skills to people like us who don’t have them. If I can swing it, I want to take one of his classes. But I digress.

There are several types of survival skills. There’s the kind of survival you need to get you through a bad snow storm when you’re stuck at home (with all your clothes and blankets and a fully stocked pantry) and the power goes out. There’s the kind of survival skills you need when your neighborhood is evacuated because of a chemical spill, fire, or impending flood and you find yourself on the road or in a shelter. Then there’s the kind of survival skills you need when you’re driving through the desert in the summer (or the mountains in the winter) and your car breaks down. Then there’s the kind of survival skills you need when you’re hiking in the middle of nowhere and something bad happens to you (like an injury) or you get lost and can’t find your way back.

In this blog, we’ll be exploring some of those survival skills. But we’ll also explore some skills for self-reliance and thriving. Look for upcoming posts on the new chicken coop project, the garden, and the “loom room.” Look for upcoming posts on solar water heating (we’re thinking about this for the barn/garage) and other skills, goods & services related to being just a little more self-reliant.

As always, thanks for reading. ~ L.  


Cassano, Eric. “Survivalist.” Survivalist Information. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia. “Survivalism.” Retrieved from

“Day of the Survivalist” poster Copyright 1986, Marathon Video.


Please participate in our first survey!

December 8, 2010

Because we’re relatively new to the survival/preparedness field, we’re always asking questions. Tonight is no exception. What we want to know tonight is how prepared you think you are and how you see yourself in the scheme of things when it comes to preparedness. So, please indulge us and take just a few very quick minutes to complete our short survey. It would mean a lot to us.

Thanks in advance for your time and participation. And, as always, thanks for reading. ~L.

Why I’ll take the scan… #@%* it.

December 6, 2010


You have to know that I HATE to fly. I hated to fly before 9/11. Post-9/11, with the advent of all the new security procedures, the inanity of the nine ounce toiletry limit, the insanity of having a minimum-wage-earning-ex-full-time-video-gamer check my shoes for explosives, and the gonzo-grope-fest pat down…? Now, I’ll only fly if I have to. And, if I have to, I’m taking the scan. I’m taking the scan because it limits the amount of time and the extent of my interactions with the TSA agents. The less I have to interact with them one-on-one, the better.

You see, a  few years back, I had a series of interactions with TSA agents that have left a foul taste in my mouth. This post is the story of one of those interactions.

On one occasion, I had just donated my hair (for wigs for cancer patients) and was essentially sporting a #2 blade crew cut. When I checked in for my flight, I was informed by a smiling clerk that I had been selected for special security screening. I was ushered to a holding area where I stood with: three African-American gentleman in suits who looked like football players; two women wearing colorful saris; one elderly Hispanic man in a wheelchair; and a half dozen or so men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. In all fairness, I was headed out to the west coast for one of those “let-your-hair-down” sorts of weekends. I was traveling with only a small carry-on and was wearing ragged jeans, all-leather combat boots and a black t-shirt from a men’s bar in Washington. With the crew cut, I’m sure I looked like trouble to the TSA. I was standing there in the corral (I refuse to call it a queue) and the tallest of the African-American gentleman spoke to me, “I get it why they stuck my ass is in here, but how did you get selected?”

I looked at him. He was a human mountain, tall and broad, and powerful-looking. I grinned, “I think I’m here so they can tell you that they’re not practicing racial profiling.”

His brow furrowed, “Those mother fuckers. That’s just wrong. I bet you’re right though. Those mother fuckers.” He and his friends returned to their conversation – whose topic had shifted to the quality of the airport security. I returned to my book. In the distance, I could hear a TSA agent shouting at someone, “Sir? Excuse me, Sir? SIR!” I found myself wondering if the person she was speaking to was deaf. Gotta love the cultural literacy around here, I thought. Suddenly the screaming woman was in my face, shoving my book away from my face, “SIR, I NEED YOU TO – ” and then she stopped and stood staring at my breasts. I looked at her and realized that she had, given my short hair, had figured me for a man when she’d seen me from behind. All this time, she was screaming at me – and I’d had no idea. I could see several large, burly-looking TSA agents heading my way, tucking their ID’s into their pockets. Shit, I thought, this could get bad.

“Sir,” she said one more time.

“I am not a sir, ” I replied flatly. She was still staring at my breasts. Evidently, her brain could not process the short hair on a woman. I was escorted to a glassed-in area, in full view of anyone who cared to watch, and was patted down by the woman who had mistaken my gender. The pat down was witnessed by a half-dozen or so male TSA agents – who were never more than four feet away from her during my pat down. It was really intimidating. The woman’s hands were shaking during the pat down. I wanted to shout “Boo!” when she was  checking my waistband – but figured that might get me arrested, or something worse.

During the pat down, one of the male agents took my ID and my ticket. While I was being patted down, another male agent took my carryon bag and rifled through its contents. They called another agent over and had him swab my bag. When it was clear of any objectionable substances, the agent who’d called the swabber over made him swab it again – and again. It was as if they just knew I was up to something and couldn’t believe that I wasn’t transporting… something illegal… something illicit… surely, I had something… surely, I was bad news, just look at me… but I had nothing. And it was pissing them off. After I had been patted down, I was informed that I could have my bag (I had to re-pack it). The big agent with my ID and ticket almost walked off with them. I had to ask him for them twice.

So, if I have to fly, I’ll take the scan. If my options are taking the scan, or getting blown up – I’ll take the scan. If my options are taking the scan, or getting groped and physically abused by the TSA – I’ll take the scan. Do I think the scan is a good idea? No, I don’t. I absolutely hate the idea. I liked the “sniffers” better – while expensive, I’m given to understand that they are far more accurate and far more telling than any visual scan or grope-down can ever hope to be. It’s probably why they aren’t using them.

Thanks for reading.

L. ~

TSA body scan imagery Copyright 2010, CBS news