My Stranded Bag

I’ve wanted to have a Bug Out Bag (B.O.B), aka a Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D) bag for a while now. I’ve even posted about it before, but I never really did it. Today I put it in my truck for real.

One of the keys to getting it done was deciding what I wanted it to do. I’m not preparing for the end of the world as we know it even though I am reading SurvivalBlog.com’s book How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It and listening to his novel Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. Actually one of the things I learned from reading those books is I’m probably better off hunkering down than try to walk somewhere unknown. Also learned this trying to evacuate for Rita.

What am I preparing for? Getting stranded.

There are two probable scenarios my bag is intended to help with. One is having my car break down and have to walk somewhere or stay with it. The other is getting stranded unexpectedly while traveling, for example on the day trip where I go to pick up or drop off my son in Austin. What if my truck broke down in some town in between and I had to stay overnight?

That clarifies a lot of stuff. So here is some of what I did, it is in the order I did things, not necessarily the order of importance. I had a list I’d been building in my head and Evernote. I realized when I woke up early I could get it done in just a few minutes if I just did it. I’d say it took 15 minutes tops to get things together and in the bag.

The Bag Itself.

It is a backpack that I used to use to carry my laptop back and forth to work. It is years old, but in great condition. When I bought it the guy who sold it to me at an outdoors store told me you could put a hose up to it and water would bearly trickle through. I don’t carry a laptop anymore, so it was just sitting on the floor of my office. I took out the laptop interior case and had a great back pack. I chose a backpack in case I have to walk somewhere with it.

A Complete Change of Clothes.

First question, what kind of clothes? Many preparedness people are focused on staying warm. Frankly in Houston that is rarely a problem (for instance it is 76 degrees in mid January), and if it is cold I will be wearing a coat, which is all I’ll need.

Which brings up another point I thought about. What will I already be carrying? There are some things I will almost assuredly be carrying, my gun (Springfield XD 45 Compact), my Leatherman Wave, and my flashlight. Also my truck already has a lightweight jacket for handling unexpected rain.

Back to clothes. I grabbed a pair of lightweight cargo pants from my closet. A change of socks and underwear, and a “used up” pair of running shoes. I run in a pair of shoes for about 300 miles, then they aren’t really good to run in, but they are still serviceable for walking and general wear. I had two pair sitting next to the door to be donated. Pulled a pair out and put them in the bottom of the bag with the socks stuffed in one and underwear stuffed in the other.

Then I went looking for a shirt. I was just going to throw in a T-shirt, but opened my running drawer and saw I had a bunch of “technical” running shirts. Which are made to keep you cool and dry in warm weather. So threw one of them in.

Food and Water

Clothes taken care of, my next thought was food and water. I grabbed a couple of South Beach Bars, each 180 balanced calories. They were good enough for my half marathon run, they would be good enough for sitting on the side of the road for a few hours.

I went out to our back up fridge to grab an unopened bottle of water and noticed I had a case of Gatorade G2. Gatorade has all the advantages of water and then some. It is made to help you not get dehydrated, so why carry just water? I ended up adding one of each. I put the water bottle inside and the Gatorade in a mesh bottle pocket on the outside. Didn’t want red Gatorade to leak all over my clothes if something went wrong. I might need water to clean a wound or something.

First Aid Kit

Speaking of wounds, the next thing on my list was a first aid kit. I remembered I had a little one in a red nylon bag. I found it and opened it to see what was in it. Turns out it was mostly a crushable cold pack, and that pack was broken and had leaked into the bag. All the bandages and medicines were discolored. So I ended up tossing everything in the bag and just keeping the bag. I’ll pack it from my home first aid kit when it dries from cleaning.

Ammo and Extra Mag

I also went to my range bag and pulled one of my loaded magazines for my XD. It is the long 13 round mag. I carry a 10 round shortened mag in the XD to make it more concealable. I also don’t carry an extra magazine on me because it’s bother to need ratio is too high for me. But having one in the truck is was botherless.

Knife

Even though I will probably be carrying my Leatherman, I wanted to put a knife in the bag. I went an found my old Kenshaw folder I used to carry and put it in.

Toiletries

Now I was adding smaller stuff and started thinking toiletries.

We have a huge stash of hotel supplied toiletries, so I grabbed a bar of soap and asked the Mrs about a toothbrush. She went and found a little kit from a airline gift. It included a toothbrush, toothpaste and comb. Dropped that in a pocket of the backpack. Strangely I didn’t drop one of the bazillion shampoos in there, need to do that.

Flashlight

I’m going to add another flashlight when I buy some more this weekend. I’ll post about my flashlight next week.

Money

Need to have some extra money in the bag as well, but I’m waiting till this weekend to do that.

Conclusion

The single most important thing I did was just do it. Even though it really isn’t finished, it is in my truck and if I get stranded on the side of the road tonight, I’ll be prepared.

Emergency By Neil Strauss Review

Last night I finished Neil Strauss’ new book Emergency so I thought I’d write a review.

The book was not what I expected.

Let me back up a second. As you know I greatly like Neil’s book The Game about the secret underground of Pick Up Artists. Most people say it is about how to pick up women. Really it isn’t. It’s about his experience living in the world of pickup artists and becoming one. But along the way you learn some of the basic structure and technique.

Emergency is to survivalism, what The Game is to pick up.

Despite the subtitle, “This book may save your life”, it is unlikely to…unless it inspires you to go on the same journey Neil did. There isn’t a lot of technique in it, probably less than in The Game. Most of the actual technique is in the comics between chapters. I do want to try using a soda can to unlock a Masterlock.

So if you don’t go into the book expecting a survival manual, is it a fun read?

Mmmm….that’s a tough one, but I think it would be a good read for a lot of people. But some won’t make it through the first section. Let me explain.

Turns out left wing wackos can become just as attracted to survivalism as right wing wackos. Basically the book starts with Neil becoming paranoid as a result of the Bush administration, and ends with a party in a foreign country because Obama was elected.

If America is becoming a totalitarian/oppressive/fascist/socialist country, – both sides of the political fence believe this is happening, just in different ways – then the obvious solution is to move to another country. But when I ask myself where to go I can’t find a good answer.

Neil searches for one and finds it. By applying for citizenship on the island of St Kitts, ultimately becoming a duel citizen.

You can see how many survivalism orient people would find this disturbing, myself included. Abandoning America for another country?

I’m not going to go more down this path because I don’t want you to think I’m negative just because of the Neil’s politics.

So after searching for another country to run to, Neil starts wanting to learn skills to survive here, and to me that was where the book started getting good. He ends up getting lots training in various places in everything from guns, to tracking, wilderness survival, urban evasion, to becoming an EMT.

This is where a survivalist can learn from this book.

Sometimes I think most survivalist start with guns, stockpiles, bugging out and end there. If you got 10,000 rounds of ammo for all 10 of your guns you’re ready to survive the apocalypse. Since Neil doesn’t come from gun culture, he takes a more practical approach we could all learn from.

One thing I want to do is go through the book and make a list of all the skills and training he ended up getting.

In The Game you learn that to some extent pickup is about personal development. A guy has to change and grow in order to become the kind of person who is interesting to women. Neil carries that into survivalism.

He becomes the kind of person who will survive.

That to me is the theme of the book. How he must change in order to become a survivor. And he ultimately learns that you aren’t going to survive on your own. More than that, once you become a survivor, you will become drawn to being a servant. Or to use survivalists favorite metaphor, you become a sheep dog.

If you can get past the politics, and there is a lot to learn about just how controlling our government has become in that section, Emergency is a good book about an interesting journey. Its not a survival manual by any stretch of the imagination, so do go in looking for that.

Emergency

I mentioned Neil Strauss’ new book Emergency in my last post, but I wanted to talk about why I was gung-ho about it and why I pre-ordered it. (In paper no less, not Kindle)

If you’ve read this blog for long you know I’ve got a lot of interests. Photography, guns, pretty girls, computers, filmmaking, writing, personal development, etc.

My wife says I have a tendency to cycle through them. I’ll get gung ho on guns for a few months, and then get into photography again. I think I’ve settled to doing a number of them at the same time now and just cycle through focus. And I’ve figured out how to combine them. Now business, photography, and pretty girls are combined in Glamour Apprentice for example.

But since I was a wee lad, I’ve been into what was called survivalism when I got into it in the late 70s and early 80s. I wasn’t dedicated enough to move out to the country and live off the land, but I had plans for when the Shit Hit The Fan (SHTF).

I blame Robert Heinlein, and I do for a lot of my philosophical early development. As a teen I read Solider of Fortune and Survive magazines. Books like Lucifer’s Hammer, Farnham’s Freehold, and The Out Of The Ashes‘ series were fodder for my imagination.

So naturally when I read the prologue to Neil’s book I was hooked. This paragraph in particular hooked me.

But that wouldn’t happen anymore. Today I can draw a holstered pistol in 1.5 seconds, aim at a target seven yards away, and shoot it twice in the heart. I can start a fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together. I can identify seven hundred types of footprints when tracking animals and humans. I can survive in the wild with nothing but a knife and the clothes on my back. I can find water in the desert, extract drinkable fluids from the ocean, deliver a baby, fly a plane, pick locks, hotwire cars, build homes, set traps, evade bounty hunters, suture a bullet wound, kill a man with my bare hands, and escape across the border with documents identifying me as the citizen of a small island republic.

I thought. “That’s cool I want to be able to do all that.”

I’ve bolded the ones I can already do competently. Those I’ve at least done and/or trained for.

It reminded me a Heinlein quote, which I had to search for.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Again I’ve bolded the ones I can already do competently. Those I’ve at least done and/or trained for.

Now Heinlein’s quote is by a fictitious science fiction character, but I still find it somewhat unrealistic. Or at least fuzzy and I’m not sure why I need to know how to write a sonnet. And do I have to be able to do it well? We learned sonnets in High School, but I’m not poet. I’ve never pitched manure, but really is it a “skill” I need to learn? Or is he talking about the mindset that will do what needs to be done.

Now I’m curious, and we’ll start a little meme here. Write a blog post with these two lists of survival traits with those you can do bolded. Then trackback ping this post, or comment with a link to your post below.

Pepper Spray is Not Magic

Video of a cop getting shot after pepper spraying someone.

A crazy and disturbing video. The cop finally stops a car after a chase, gets out and casually walks up the driver’s window and sprays a can a pepper spray. And then as if that had rendered the guy unconscious or something, turns and walks away. Of course the spray didn’t stop the driver from pulling out a gun and shooting 7 times. Then he ran over the officer.

Some how someone else got the officer’s gun and shot the driver.

I don’t know what to say.

In Defense of Jericho

I’ve had this post in my head for a long time. I’m a fan of the CBS show Jericho, about a small Kansas town after a limited nuclear attack on the US, including an EMP.

I read Survival Blog and learn a lot from it, but there have been a couple of posts critical of Jericho, which rubbed me a little wrong.

I don’t think all the critism has come directly from Mr Rawles, so I’m going to refer to the posters as they.

First they’ve be critical of the women wearing cosmetics even weeks into the show. My first thought was: “Its a TV show. Makeup is never realistic in a TV show.” Also how long will cosmetics last? I asked the Mrs how long she could go with out having to buy cosmetics. She estimated over a month, and even then it wouldn’t me all cosmetics. You’d run out of base faster than mascara for instance. Also Jericho had at least one store that carried cosmetics, so women could have stocked up. And how many Mary Kay consultants are there in a small town with a years supply of makeup? Same goes for men shaving. I could go at least 3 months without having to resupply with blades or shaving cream. And I don’t need hot water to shave.

The second thing they were critical of was no one went around openly armed. My first thought was most people, even in small town Kansas, won’t feel the need for open carry right away. This is related to my next point, so I won’t go in depth into why. Also Jericho’s government and police force didn’t disappear right after the blasts. They had excellent leadership that helped them stay calm, or at least calmed them down quickly. While us gun nuts might like to open carry, it isn’t a requirement. I’d feel just as safe concealed as not in my own home town where I know most of the people. Many people would see open carry as provocation, so why not keep it a secret.

Third criticism, was the people kept wasting gas and other precious supplies even weeks after the blast and EMP. “Their behavior is irrational and rational begins when the power goes out and the food starts to rot in the fridge, which is when the EMPs hit.” The question here is how long does it take for someone to switch to a survival mindset. Most of us live with an expectation that things aren’t as bad as they seem. People think something will come along and fix things, probably because that’s what parents do. So it takes a while for people to realize things have really and truly changed and won’t get any better in the foreseeable future. I don’t think that happens as soon as an EMP hits. Most people don’t even know what an EMP is and would think it was temporary. I mean you computer breaks down, the power goes out, and it eventually comes back on.

So taking weeks to realize this to me isn’t that crazy. And it doesn’t happen at the same rate for everyone, just like on Jericho. The mayor’s election turned out the be about this, the do it nows verses those who wanted to wait.

Fourth thing that got under my skin was:

Come on! America has just been nuked back to 19th Century technology and population levels, yet they seem oh-so concerned with who is dating who.

This was the most ridiculous criticism I’ve heard. In the worst of human experiences, humans still cared a great deal about mating. Jericho is not in the worst of condition. Those broken relationships in the show, the ones that existed before the show started and weren’t that big of a deal, suddenly are put into perspective after the fall of civilization. Cheating on your wife in modern America is emotionally painful and may cause some problems. Cheating on your wife in a survival situation can be fatal for someone.

Stuff I Agree With Him On

One thing I think Jericho reinforces that Rawlings teaches is geographical isolation. Jericho is in the middle of no where and therefore has avoided the worst of mauraders and refugees. They’ve only had organized bandits once in the form of the Ravenwood mercenaries and they wouldn’t have even had that if they hadn’t led them there.

I’d also like to know where they are getting water. Without electrical power to run pumps, how do they get water to their water tower. They seem to have a river of some kind – there’s a bridge over it.

Jericho’s Real Strength

In survivalism circles there is a real focus on individual and small group survival. You, your family, maybe a few friends. Jericho is about a small town trying to make it. More than trying to make it, trying to maintain civilization. Survivalist assume the collapse of civilization and plan for maintaining safety through force. They aren’t concerned with keeping a community in a form that will make it so people won’t steal from each other and that killing your neighbor isn’t OK. That’s what Jericho is about.

I’m looking forward to seeing how you rebuild civilization after an EMP knocks modern technology back 150 years. We have the knowledge to do lots of things, how long does it take us to get the basics taken care of so people can start working on rebuilding infrastructure? How long before they are ready to rebuild a power grid? Start manufacturing medicine, ammo, fuel? Can they do that in the middle of Kansas?

That’s going to be fascinating stuff.

What If You Had To Walk Home

I stumbled across the novel Lights Out (PDF Download) today and I’m three pages in and already had an interesting thought.

The book is about the US after an EMP blast, and starts with two characters at work. They realize quickly that their cars don’t work because of the pulse (I wonder if my no frills F-150 would stop working?).

What if that were me? No car and no means of communication. That means I need to walk home. How far is home? Takes me about 30 minutes to drive to work. Quick trip to yahoo maps and I find I work 20 miles from home. At least by highway.

I might be able to cut some of that off if I went cross country, but I’m not sure that would be wise. You could get yourself in to situations where you couldn’t continue, or where people don’t want you walking.

When I walk near home it takes about 45 minutes to go 2 miles. So the trip home would take 7 and a half hours to get home. Wow, something to think about.

That distance is almost a marathon.

How long would it take you to walk home from work? What about water on that trip?

Is Black Gear A Good Idea?

If you are shopping for gun or survival gear most of it is black. Is that a good idea? I thought about it the first time I dropped my black pocket knife at night. Black is hard to see in the day on a dark background, and its neigh impossible at night.

So as I’ve bought gear I’ve tended to buy what I can in a color that is easy to see.

There is a drawback to gear that is easy to see. It is easy for other people to see as well.

In the very good Tactical Pistol Marksmanship book I’m reading he says your gun should be black because the bad guy can see you if not. But he doesn’t consider you might drop the gun and then not be able to find it. I guess you have to decide which is more likely.

I’m considering trading my Walther P99 9mm for a P99 QA in 40. When I do I have the option of the getting the olive drab version instead of the black and I think that may be a good idea. On one hand the black looks cooler, but the olive would be easier to find if you dropped it, without being to obvious when you are holding it. But it won’t match my clothes. You know black matches everything I wear. 🙂

Something to think about next time you are buying gear you plan on using in a survival situation. Or even in a non-survival situation. How likely are you to have to find this item in the dark? How easy will that be?