Howdy. I'm Pat McLene. Welcome to my blog. I used to write a weekly column on about prepping - or as I prefer to call it - Self-Dependence. The purpose of this blog is to allow me to go deeper into self-dependence than I did at WND and to help those who are starting the journey along. Check out the About Me link to the right for more info on yours truly. And thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Somewhere a happy prepper...

Search ends for grenade launcher ammo lost in North Dakota

Well...Christmas comes in May.  I seriously doubt that those rounds will be located any time soon. Kind of makes you wonder about the explosive handling skills of the members of the N.D. national guard though. 

Now don't get me wrong. I highly recommend that who ever found those rounds do their patriotic duty and immediately return them forthwith to the proper authorities.  Do not - I say - do not pack them away in a few PVC pipe and cap cache tubes packed with desiccant and bury them at various places in the North Dakota badlands for potential future use.



Monday, May 7, 2018

Prepping versus Self-dependence

Pretty much like anyone who's been walking the path I've been on for many years will use the term prepper. A lot of times, you've got to use it simply because it's such a common means of identification. And while I use it often, that doesn't mean I particularly like it.

The biggest problem with the words prepper or prepping is that they're so poorly defined. Ask a bunch of people what prepping is and you're likely to get as many answers as the number of people that you ask. Some people (and actually given the times that we live in, that number is decreasing) will use words like: crazy, hoarders, survivalists, and nut jobs to describe preppers.  Others, who kind of get the point, will still miss the mark simply because each of them has an end-point with regards to a degree of preparedness. Some might consider a prepper to be someone who has a 72 hour emergency kit while others think in terms of an individual who stocks up for a year's worth of bad times. But no matter who you talk to, those who think prepper's are crazy or those who think preppers are prescient, each and every one of them is thinking in terms of the relationship between a person and the items they possess.

So while I may use the words prepper or prepping, I don't actually think of myself as either a prepper or being involved with prepping. If I forced to define myself at all, I think of myself as being on the never-ending path to self-dependence.  "Self-dependence" as a descriptor has a number of benefits. For one thing, while prepper can be used as a pejorative, only an idiot would find the concept of being ever-more capable of taking care of oneself to be a negative. Additionally, I have to admit that I'm not particularly preparing for anything. The Yellowstone caldera might pop tomorrow. Some terrorist organization or tinpot dictator might find a way to set off a nuclear weapon in New York City. Or maybe we'll just experience another 2008 economic kerfuffle. Sure as the rising sun, something damaging or even catastrophic will occur sooner or later because it always does.

But whatever comes my way, and assuming it doesn't send me to God's judgment, my family and I will weather the storm. Not just because we have a boatload of supplies but also because we've spent many years learning how to make our own. Marching toward self-dependence means being in a position to refill those barrels of wheat with grain that you've grown yourself. It means being able to get water out of that deep well when the power is out. It means having some trade or training that will be valuable to the community no matter what the economic conditions become. It means not simply having large amounts of freeze-dried beef stroganoff, but also having and knowing how to care for beef on the hoof.
Now of course I recognize there are some things - some vital things - that require equipment and skills beyond the abilities of most people. But while I can't manufacture a firearm from iron ore, I can make a crossbow. I may not be able to transplant a heart, but I can set a bone. I can't build an internal combustion engine, but I can melt iron and cast it. And it means having the necessary equipment and the training to be able to do all of that even if the only power that you have is the power of your own muscles.

I don't prep for a day, a month or year. I walk the path of self dependence for life. And every day of my life I become a bit more self-dependent. I hope to see you all on the road.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

When you shouldn't let your light shine

We had a power outage yesterday. We still don't know the reason why: the weather was fairly warm for this time of year and mild. No big windstorms that are the usual culprits in our outages. Sooner or later, someone will find out from someone else the cause of our  power loss. Still, we're prepared for such things, so it wasn't really a big deal.

But the power was out for around five or six hours just at the end of the day as the sun went down. And it remained out till just before midnight. It was a dark night, and it was fascinating to see what our little stretch of hinterlands looks like without the lights of any of our normally visible neighbors.

Except for one. There's a fairly new home that's been built on a mountainside about five or six miles away as the crow flies. It looks like a nice place, and all of the locals are pretty much in agreement that it was constructed to be a live-in bug out. So as I scanned my pretty-close-to-360° view during the power outage it was really interesting to see a bright light - the only light - coming from that new place.

Now anyone who's ever read any of my columns, knows that I am not a fanatic when it comes to the concept of OPSEC. The reality of it for any long-term prepper is that your neighbors (and the hardware store owner, FedEx delivery driver, post office worker, etc.) know that you're a prepper. That's why, in my opinion, the lone-wolf prepping scenario is inferior to developing a community. If people around you know that you're a prepper, then you're far better off if you turn those neighbors into allies rather than potential competitors.

The fellow that built that house up on the hill is a lot more interested in the castle-defense system as opposed to the community defense-in-depth model that I prefer. Well and good, that's his choice and I'm all in favor of people being able to do what they want to do with their own land. But despite the extensive building he's done, the one thing that he hasn't done is to build a relationship with the community around them. So firing up a bright light at night during a power failure simply isn't a good idea - not if you don't want to keep constantly reminding your neighbors that you're there, and apparently have the means to light the night when everyone else is in darkness.

There's a biblical admonition Matthew 5: 15 and 16 that says:

15: Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16:  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

But in this particular case, I think I'd recommend that the owner of that house should invest in a bushel basket or at least some blackout curtains.

Monday, April 30, 2018

End of an Era

Today I stopped writing for I just spent the last two years writing a weekly column there. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't the easiest thing in the world to do. First off, it usually took me about a half a day to write each column. As a prepper and a homesteader, a half a day is a lot of time to spend in front of a desk when there's chores that need doing. I think this is going to work out a lot better. For one thing, I gone high tech - at least for me - and I'm using Dragon Speak (for those who don't know, that's a voice to text software product).

But while I'll now be writing shorter pieces a lot more often, my intentions remain the same. I'm going to talk about prepping, self-dependence and country living, leavened by my own political persuasions.

Should anyone get around to reading this, I'll be delighted to take your opinions under advisement. But I still intend to preach my prepping with practicality in mind. It's entirely possible that at some point in the future I'll attempt to monetize this blog. But mylar bag manufacturers need not apply.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

 I was listening to the radio today while working in the shop. It being Saturday, there wasn't really a whole lot on so by default I was tuned into one of those home repair shows that seem to dominate weekend radio. The home fix-it radio guy was broadcasting from the home fix-it radio guy national convention, or something like that. In my mind, I could see a whole line of radio home fix-it guys all broadcasting from their own booths, with another line of hardware salesman moving from booth to booth every few minutes to pitch their wares. Anyway, the home fix-it guy I was listening to was chewing the fat with a rep from a big plumbing company and the rep was there to pitch one of their new products; Wi-Fi plumbing.

Apparently the radio guy had already installed some of this company's new equipment in his own home, and was really excited about how it worked. He said something like, "Yeah, I can get up in the morning, and tell Alexa that I want her to fire up the shower at 102°, and she does!". Then he went on to describe how he told Alexa to prepare two quarts of water at 92° (I have no idea why he wanted two quarts of water at 92°.). And she did!

The radio host and the dealer rep continued to chat for a while when the radio fix-it guy made a prediction. He said that he was pretty sure that within 10 years there would be no more manual light switches in any new residential construction.

That prediction threw me for a loop. This isn't just some guy talking on the radio, he's one of the big names in his business and I take his predictive ability seriously.

Which brings me to this. Recent news has been chock full of stories about social media sites that are developing artificial intelligence to review posts and to determine whether the authors of those posts are engaged in "hate speech". Since the algorithms that will drive those artificial intelligence systems will be created by leftists and progressives, my guess - driven by experience - is that hate speech will be defined as anything those progressive leftists think is hateful, meaning anything that would imply those same libs are yammerheads.

I know a number of people who have been temporarily or permanently banned from such social media sites as Twitter and Facebook for expressing opinions that do not square with the beliefs of those who run the social media sites. And when your twitter or Facebook account is closed there's little you can do about it, since social media sites are privately owned enterprises. So this brings up the question, if Alexa is listening to you talk at all times in your home, then what's to keep Alexa from determining that you are a hateful person as defined by it's creators. Further, if Alexa has made such a determination, what's to keep Alexa from taking some kind of corrective or punitive actions.

Just suppose, for example, the previous evening, safe in your domicile, you were venting about the Democratic numbskulls on Capitol Hill or the problems of illegal immigration. The next day you went off to work at your patriarchal sweatshop and when you return home after a long day of beating your employees, you discover that the front door won't open for you. To make matters worse, when you finally get in by cracking a window, none of the lights will come on, your electric heat pump won't run, your toilets won't flush, and all the food in your refrigerator is spoiling. Who are you going to complain to? After all, Alexa doesn't work for you, she works for Apple. And Apple has determined scientifically that you're a jerk.

Folks, part of self dependence must include not having to depend on technology. We have a brave New World coming very very soon. And for the ease of convenience we are paying others to limit our own autonomy.

All I can say is that at a minimum, you tell the building contractor of your next new home that you want working light switches and an "Alexa" manual override on every "smart" application. Don't surrender your freedom to some busybot. Fortunately for me, I live in such a way that no AI can shut off my water or cripple my wood stove.

As I frequently say in my WND column, this is one of the reasons that we prep.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ticking Clock

Being someone with a prepper mindset, I'm always interested in people predicting the end of the world. Today, we have those concerned scientists from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists who have moved their "Doomsday Clock" from 2 1/2 minutes to midnight to two minutes to midnight. The clock was originally published in 1947, and at that time the clock was set to seven minutes before midnight. In all of these many years since, the clock has never fallen below 17 minutes before the end of the world. In 2017, the Doomsday Clock was set to 2 1/2 minutes before midnight because…well because...Donald Trump. Today, those merry clock setting atomic scientists (I love saying "atomic scientist". It's so Buck Roger-ish.") bumped it up another 30 seconds because…well because...Donald Trump.

I'm always interested in the organizations that are fronted by powerful names like the "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" (Heh) So I went to their webpage and checked out just what kind of atomic scientists were on the staff of the publication.

What a surprise. So far as I can tell from the staff bios, not a single one of them is an atomic scientist. In point of fact, any of the physical sciences seem to be missing from the curriculum vitaes' of the people behind the Bulletin.

The president and CEO of the BAS, Rachel Bronson,  served for eight years at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs She taught "Global Energy" as an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management. She was a senior fellow and director of Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Earlier positions include a senior fellowship for international security affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  Dr.(?) Bronson also has "hundreds of publications" under her belt, appearing in such prestigious scientific tomes as " The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and The Chicago Tribune" and apparently Teen Vogue. And let's not forget her public appearances on important educational outlets such as " CNN, al Jazerra, the Yomiuri Shimbun, "PBS NewsHour," "The Charlie Rose Show," and "The Daily Show."

I won't get into the other staff members by name, but the Editor-in-Chief is a recipient of the prestigious Sidney Hillman award for reporting on social justice issues, the Senior Editor began his journalism career in Taiwan where he reported for a business magazine, the Deputy Editor has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a Masters in science writing from New York University. The the rest of the staff are media experts, reporters, and social activists. So far as I can tell not a single one of them could define Planck's constant on a bet.

For my own reasons, I won't delve too deeply into my own educational background. But my college experience make me more of an atomic scientist than anyone on the staff of Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the doomsday clock. In point of fact - in my humble opinion - The world's safety has recently been enhanced by replacing the poodle in the national doghouse with a pit bull.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Public Interest

So last week, a three-judge panel of the US Fifth Circuit Court upheld a federal law that prohibited the sales of handguns to out-of-state residents. The main justification for their decision - after getting past all the legal gobbledygook - was that the federal law remains in the best interest of the public.

It's always depressing when our federal courts make decisions based on their own whims of what is or is not in the public interest rater than the clear limitations delineated by the Constitution.  Humans can be very moody beasts and a judicial stomach ache caused by "an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato." will often result in the production of copious amounts of "public interest".

I suppose part of the court's justification could be that while the Constitution protects the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, it doesn't say diddly-squat about being able to buy them. Of course to be fair, it also doesn't say anything about being able to shoot them either, so I suppose you can have them and you can carry them but in the public interest you can't use them, purchase them, or sell them.

More often than not "public interest" is just another aphorism for "bovine excrement". But no matter which phrase you use, if it doesn't square with the laws of nature's God or the governmental limits of the Constitution, it has no place in jurisprudence.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Alternate Tool Ideas

One of the axioms of being a prepared prepper is the rule of three. That rule goes: "Three is two, two is one, one is none." Basically what that means is that you should always have or try to have three of any one tool in case one or more breaks, and it can also mean you should have at least three different ways to do the same job or perform the same function.

For example, to light a fire, the experienced prepper would have available as needed: a propane lighter, a Zippo lighter equipped with fluid and spare flints, matches, flint and steel, and maybe even a magnifying glass. All of these tools can be used to strike a spark or ignite tinder.

Just as you should have multiple ways to light a fire, you should also have multiple ways to cut firewood. I've been heating my home, either primarily or completely, with firewood for over 20 years. I own multiple gas-powered chainsaws, a two-person buck saw, and various axes and mauls -- all of which are suitable for turning logs into firewood.

I also own another tool I've used pretty much exclusively in the last three years for cutting rounds when the time comes to harvest my winter's wood supply. And at the risk of having to turn in my Man Card, I'd like to suggest you consider getting one of these tools to take a place in your prepper toolbox. I'm talking about an electric chainsaw.

A few years ago, after my gas-powered chainsaw bit the dust, I started looking around for alternatives. It wasn't that I didn't need a gas-powered chainsaw, heck, everybody needs a gas-powered chainsaw. It was just that at that time finances were a little tight, and as anyone can tell you a good chainsaw is expensive. I'd heard about electric chainsaws, but like pretty much everyone around me out here in the hinterland, I assumed they were not much more than a toy. Nevertheless, after checking them out, I decided to take a leap of faith and bought a Worx electric chainsaw.

And I've never looked back. I cut maybe six cords of firewood a year to keep my house warm. Because of my location, I don't have a whole lot of opportunity to get some of the better-quality firewood varieties like oak or locust. No, where I live the best available firewood is tamarack or red fir. Sometimes I can get a fair amount of the wood I need for the year out of my woodlot. But other times, I take advantage of a good friend who brings me in a logging truck-load of fir or tamarack acquired from salvage sales. Because he can not only deliver, but can also offload those logs, I have the opportunity to have them placed quite close to my shop. With a heavy-duty 100-foot extension cord and my Worx chainsaw, I'm able to easily cut those logs into the firewood I require.

My particular model runs on 15 amps and has an 18-inch bar. Having used a gas-powered chainsaw for 17 years, I can tell you the Worx chainsaw is similar in power to a gas saw. It also has certain advantages (and disadvantages, will get to those in a bit) over a gas-powered chainsaw.

Obviously, the first advantage is it uses no gas. This has certain other ancillary benefits like not buying gas, no more mixing oil and gas, no more spills, and a therefore a definite savings in operations cost. The electric chainsaw does use bar oil, and it uses it at a quicker rate than the equivalent gas-powered model. It also seems to me that it works better with a thinner oil than the usual bar oil you pick up at the store. I found cheap off-brand motor oil works very well in the electric saw, and I've even occasionally used old motor oil effectively.

Another advantage of an electric chainsaw is the issue of safety. When you release the trigger of an electric chainsaw, that's it. The saw isn't idling, it's off. All of the Worx chainsaws I've used are equipped with the same type of anti-kickback breaking device found on gas-powered saws. But I've also found another use for that anti-kickback device in that when engaged by hand, you have effectively flipped a circuit-breaker and you can't accidentally start the saw until you disengage the the brake.

Yet another advantage of an electric chainsaw is that it's so darn quiet. It makes more noise in cutting the wood than it does running. Finally, it's also lighter than an equivalently powerful gas saw.

All of these things are pretty good, but they don't negate the need to own a gas-powered chainsaw. For one thing your range is fairly limited. The Worx chainsaw manufacturers recommend you do not use an appropriately-sized electric cord longer than 100 feet because of the potential damage the drop in voltage over a greater distance can do to the saw. Also, you can't ignore the fact that you are indeed tethered to an electric outlet, which means you have to keep an eye on where the extension cord is lest you find yourself with no power and a cut cord.

Still, if like me, you can arrange for delivered firewood as logs or can yard the logs that you take from your own property wherever you like, I'd recommend you consider the idea of owning an electric chainsaw. Think of it this way. I also own a very nice Stihl saw. It's great: dependable, powerful, and mobile. It also cost me just a bit over $400. In the last three years, I've purchased two Worx electric chainsaws at roughly $100 apiece. That's pretty good economics in my book.

Now you might be thinking, "Sure Pat. But what happens if the power goes out?" Well, I could reply by asking, What happens if gas is no longer available? ...but I won't. That's why you never depend on only one way to get a job done. Besides, if you own a generator, your electric saw might still be valuable...and portable. Or, if like me, you have a generator that fits on the PTO of your diesel tractor, you then have in effect a diesel-powered electric chainsaw that can go practically anywhere.

So consider buying an electric chainsaw. It Worx for me.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Just when you thought...

From the just when you thought it couldn't get loopier category, this just in from Yahoo news.

More texts turned over from FBI agent taken off Mueller team

Sounds good doesn't it? I mean, this is one of the main players in the get Donald Trump at all costs passion play.

But buried in the article is this little ditty:

"...according to the letter, the FBI told the department that its system for retaining text messages sent and received on bureau phones had failed to preserve communications between Strzok and Page over a five-month period between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. May 17 was the date that Mueller was appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation."

I mean what are the odds? The day that Mueller gets appointed to terrorize the incoming administration in some sort of never-ending O.J. Simpson "searching for the real killer" scheme, some well-meaning but fumble-fingered FBI employee clicked the wrong button and deleted perhaps the most important five months of communication between Strzok and his work honey Page.

If I were Donald Trump, I'd be seeing my doctor about now with concerns about chest pains. Trump should find out who it was that "accidentally" deleted these messages and congratulate that individual on his new forward observer position in Kabul.