“Its going to get bad, but not the way you think”

The City Prepping channel strikes me as a good one. Its not one of those ‘hair on fire’, run screaming out the door and shooting at everything that moves channels. Being all tactical and that. ‘Range Rider’ had a great comment: “You can’t do everything, but do what you can with what you have.” My thought was a good one, know Jesus as chances are good you’ll die, so don’t miss out on the ultimate prep. ‘Kris’ (the host) had a good point. God forbid we do face a severe crisis, much of it could be a physical challenge. Essentially he was saying that there are no fat survivalists. You better be in shape. This is going to be Darwin’s finest hour (that takes me out).

There are a handful of key items that without which, everything else falls apart. Linch pins if you will. Generator. Without electricity, your gas stove, gas water heater, gas furnace, none of it works. And refrigerator obviously. Garden. Gardens are great, but it won’t be up and running for 4 months. Security. Having a ton of ammo and being good with a gun is great, but what about when you have to leave home? Are you going to time it so someone is always home? Have neighbors on each side watch for burglars? Food & water. Obvious. Transportation. You can’t safely keep enough gas on hand to run your car for very long. But what about a moped? A bike with a good carrier?

Thinking back to the ‘Derecho‘ (severe wind storm) we experienced here 15 months ago, I was reminded how completely unprepared the city (and me) is for even a little disaster. Power was out. No gas stations. No grocery stores. No radio. No TV. No emergency broadcasts (how can a radio station not have a generator?). They had absolutely no plan to ensure any critical facilities were prepared to operate without city electricity. Nobody had a damn generator! The sum total of city preparedness was to take a generator to a park and let people charge their cell phones! I am not shitting you! A lot of people were without power for 5 days.

Remembering the Derecho last August helped solidify my thinking on a couple of fronts. 5 days is a good time frame to be prepared for absolutely no outside help. And when you’re trying to decide what size generator to buy, while a ‘whole house’ generator that would power central air, electric stoves and hairdryers would be nice ($2,000), a $750 dollar one will get you by. You can make do just powering your fans and a frig in the summertime. And if its winter and you have a gas furnace, its nothing to power a blower. Now if you have electric heat, that’s another thing.

It seemed like about everyone was without power for nearly a day. A lot for 3 days. And a few were out for 6. But a lot of the confusion was caused by not knowing who was open for critical needs (gas stations and grocery stores). There was no central information hub, and for a lot of people no electricity or internet to get there even if there was. Or radio station.

“If the L.A. riots taught me anything, it’s that the safest place to be is in a book store. I drove along Sunset Blvd. after the riots and all the stores around the local Crown Books had been looted, yet that store was intact. But apparently all night long, not one person wanted a book or knew anyone else who wanted one either.”

“We saw how people will react over toilet paper. Can you imagine when people get hungry?”

“Some will doubt what you say about who people will become. After 3 days of snow and no power or water, a normally rather pleasant neighbor came to our door crying, screaming, and cursing like an angry Marine. She demanded immediate assistance since our lights and heat ran on generator. A minor event made her crazy. I’m a believer.”

“In 1906, Alfred Henry Lewis stated, “There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy.”

Boom town

New Yorker profile on actor Mark Metcalf

The New Yorker’s politics might suck, but my gosh they know how to do a wonderful profile. Simply riveting. Like any boomer I knew Mark (without knowing his name) as ‘Neidermeyer‘ from the film Animal House (1978). Animal House was a fairly bad film which was hugely popular with us young guys (we got to see lots of boobs you don’t see in the TV version). He was a young guy back then, now he is old (sure glad that didn’t happen to me).

Later on in the 80’s he would reprise that role in a very popular ‘Twisted Sister’ video. He likely “made” the video, without him its just another ‘meh’. Then that was it. He kept busy the next 40 years, but nothing earth shaking. As he puts it in the video, “The year I die, when The Academy Awards does their in ‘memoriam’, I want my picture to be up there.” Classic.

But to the video (its a 16 minute short film really), the production values are incredible. They basically turn Mark loose with that really great voice of his, and let him explain the emotions of his life. The ‘edge’ is still there. Fading perhaps, but there. Reading between the lines, and knowing Hollywood, you wonder how much of an impact his drinking had on his career? You have to figure a talent such as his could have turned down the ‘Neidermeyer’ a little bit if he’d wanted to.

But then that’s kind of the point of the film, did he want to?

What’s with all the trees?

Ames Municipal Cemetery at east 9th and Maxwell

When I walked through the cemetery this morning at East 9th and Maxwell (in Ames), I couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of new trees being planted there right now. I confirmed when I got home that spring is the time to plant trees, not late fall. Then I wondered why a cemetery would plant so many trees, as one tree would take out a minimum of 4 potential grave sites? Assuming they realize they’re a cemetery and not a forest. Then I wondered, who authorized the purchase? Does someone in city government have a spouse with a tree farm? Or did the trees come from the State Forest Nursery? The timing and amount of trees seems suspect to me. 

It just reminded me of when the taxpayers built Ada Hayden so Friedrich could sell lakefront homes. I’ll always wonder who’s getting what money from where. (Do you have any idea how much home prices go up when you put “lakefront” in front of it?) Trees don’t grow on – well, you know what I mean.

Not to mention once you reach a certain point with tree density, grass won’t grow. Further exacerbating the erosion problem they’re already experiencing on the east boundary. Frankly, I think they forgot they’re a cemetery. They’re supposed to plant bodies not trees. By planting the ridiculous number of trees they have, they’ve eliminated hundreds of grave sites.

[Young trees can easily cost $200 – $500 apiece.]

Harlem Globetrotters

Great times they were. I remember them from the 70’s. They even had a Saturday morning cartoon, and a pinball machine! They were on a lot of times on Saturday afternoons on ABC’s Wide World of Sports whupping up on the Washington Generals. Meadowlark Lemon would pull the shorts down of the General at the free throw line, and Curly Neal would steal the ball and run down for a layup!

Gosh that was fun stuff. One of them would get in a pretend tiff with another Globetrotter, he’d grab the bucket of water that was for some reason beside the bench, run after him, the one being chased would duck and the confetti would fly into the audience! The crowd would be relieved. Then 30 minutes later it would happen again. The crowd where the bucket was about to thrown would think okay here comes the confetti, then this time it would be a real bucket of water!

Their basketball skills were incredible. “The Harlem Globetrotters is an American exhibition basketball team. They combine athleticism, theater, and comedy in their style of play. They have played more than 26,000 exhibition games in 124 countries and territories. The team’s signature song is Brother Bones’ whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown.” – Wkipedia (founded 1926)

The lineup from around the time I remember was: Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal, Hubert Ausbie, Marques Haynes, Goose Tatum, Louis Dunbar, Twiggy Sanders. Apologies for not finding all the names from the right period. Data is actually hard to find for specific periods. I imagine the act is a bit harder to put on today with the political correctness requirement.

An interesting note from their history was they played real basketball on a “barnstorming circuit” up through the 1950’s, then when the NBA started to take in black players they had to put more of the focus on the comedy routine and play for fun. “In 2000 the team returned to competitive play with a series of exhibition games against top collegiate teams.” That would have been fun to see.

The Globetrotters came to mind recently with the current political happenings in Washington. Rush a few years back started using the analogy of the Republicans as the Washington Generals, the Globetrotters hapless opponent. The GOP always loses and the Democrats make them look stupid along the way. Its a perfect analogy.

The great experiment

Rock Island Armory 1911 GI Standard FS, Semi-automatic, 9mm, 5" Barrel,  10+1 Rounds - 721952, Semi-Automatic at Sportsman's Guide
Rock Island 1911 in 9mm

A week ago rifle primers appeared on a store’s website I go to, Brownell’s. I’d heard you could use small rifle primers in place of small pistol. So I tried it. The gun blew up and my dog died! No just kidding. They worked great. The industry just won’t come out and give any guidance on the idea, so you’re reduced to chat boards on gun forums. The best I could pick up is that the primer ‘cup’ was slightly thicker on rifle primers to withstand the greater pressures. It wasn’t really clear if rifle primers had more “explosive” agent in them or not. There was a lot of talk about “backing off your load“. That seems rather silly to me as I don’t see how a primer is going to change X amount of powder and the force it delivers.

The only concern I had as I was loading them last night was what it might do to the flash hole (the hole into the case where the primer sits). But from checking spent factory cases and comparing them to the 20 test cases I’d fired with rifle primers, there was absolutely no difference in size or condition of the flash hole. So it looks like I’m good to go and didn’t waste my money buying a 1,000. The obvious question is why would you do it? Well when I haven’t seen a primer in 18 months, and you have no idea when you might see them again, you do things. Luckily this one worked out. In fact I don’t know when I’ve shot a smoother 9mm load. 3.5 grains of 244 Ball under a 124 gr FMJ for 940 fps.

Until these primers showed up at Brownell’s and Midway, I was seriously thinking of taking a gamble and ordering those Argentinian primers (Servicios) from Zinc Point outside of Houston, and paying $200 dollars for $100 dollars worth of primers. And not knowing if you would even get them! I was embarrassed for buying the amount I did. But considering you don’t know what the future holds, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea. I’ve been in an ammo line outside a store before the doors open. Its not fun. Its not fun having to spend all that time making your own, but its a hell of a lot better than not having any at all. We have no idea what the situation is going to be 5 years from now. The several thousand primers I bought in 2012 after the last shortage, is what got me through this shortage. They sat on a shelf just fine for 9 years.

And the funniest thing about all this! Canada is swimming in primers! They’ll never SELL all the primers they have! What happened to all that free trade? Why aren’t they selling them to us? You know – NAFTA

[On a side note, the 9mm 115 gr FMJ, the ‘loaf of bread’ of ammo seems to have stabilized at $31.6 cents a round on Ammo Seek. Which is exactly double what best price was this time 2 years ago.]

THAT close!

Last week (for the first time in 18 months), primers were for sale. I immediately order some. I miss on the first go around because by the time I get my address changed they were no longer in my ‘cart’, they were sold out. I wait a couple of days and bam! I order them! Well hold on, when I changed my address Brownells changed my ‘shipping’ address, but not my ‘billing’ address. Well that should still work right? They got the shipping address?

Well when delivery was attempted Saturday, Brownells hadn’t bothered to tell me that “adult signature required“. I wasn’t home! First primers in a year and a half, they’re at my doorstep and they’re not delivered?? How was I supposed to know a signature was required?? If that’s standard procedure, why don’t you tell people?

Then I got to thinking, if they attempted delivery at “10:39 am”, why wasn’t there a notice on my door? Did they actually attempt delivery at the old address? Of course you can’t just call the local Fed Ex office, you have to call a 1-800 number! The local office won’t be open till 9 am Monday. The first primers in a year and a half and I can’t get them! You took my money without a hitch, you figured out how to do that, you just can’t figure out how to give me my damn primers! And all this is for damn small rifle primers, of course you don’t have the coveted small pistol primers. So I have to pay ungodly sums, for the wrong thing, and I can’t even get them delivered!

[10/4 update: The primers were left on the doorstep Monday afternoon. I don’t think Brownells got what they/me were paying for when they shipped though Fed Ex. If it required an “adult signature” on Saturday, why wasn’t an adult signature required on Monday? They just left it then. And if they brought the package to Ames Saturday, why wasn’t it left at the Ames office? Why would you take it back 50 minutes to Grimes? And who attempts a package and doesn’t leave a notice? I don’t think it was brought to Ames on Saturday. Oh, and the very day after I order the small rifle primers to make do with them, small pistol primers are on their site.]

The 5%

See the source image
Maybe the best primers out there

To the best of my figuring, only about 5% of American men are afflicted with ‘shooters disease’. Which the past 18 months has made rather tough. I sent a note to Winchester (Olin) the other day. I said: “If you’re not going to make ammo, at least sell us primers so we can make our own.”

Winchester among other things makes powder, primers and ammunition. I’ve never seen the stranglehold two corporations have on the Second Amendment. Winchester and Vista Outdoor (Federal, CCI, Blazer, Remington) have to control 90% of the U.S. market.

Organizations that are supposed to be looking out for the Second Amendment like the NRA, don’t seem to grasp that. Never has the right to bear arms been so tenuous. Or rather the ability to put something in those arms. It doesn’t matter that brass, powder and bullets are available, without primers nothing works.

Which I happen to have some recent experience with. Midway USA this week has had some large pistol primers available from CCI. Through some stroke of dumb luck I stumbled upon the Midway site Monday and nabbed a 1,000. Midway did a good job of limiting purchases to 1 per person per week (they still have some as of Thursday – and by Friday they were gone).

Brownells got some CCI small rifle primers. The best I can figure is that they have one-way interchangeability. Rifle can work in pistol, but pistol can’t work in rifle. We’re about to test that out. I nabbed a 1,000 of them (why get 2,000 until I know for sure they’ll work in pistol?).

So I nabbed 2,000 of the first primers I’ve seen in 18 months. Which is important as I’ve made a vow not to buy ammo from these domestic shysters and their contrived shortage. Its a pain having to “roll your own“, but its worth it to be somewhat in control of your own destiny.

I’m old enough to remember when you could walk into a store and buy anything you wanted. That was old America. I recently ran into a clerk who interacts with Federal. He was told by the Federal rep that they thought they were 5 years out on catching up with their orders.

5 years essentially without a Second Amendment. On top of that you have the shipping container shortage cutting off our main supplier China, along with the backlog at the Port of Los Angeles. A key shortage is copper. Its the material used to provide a ‘jacket’ around the lead bullet. Its also a component of the ‘brass’ used to hold the powder and the bullet.

Is the copper shortage legitimate? Maybe. Its like the chip shortage for automobiles, I assume its legitimate. Store shelves are mostly bare except for your NATO cartridges 5.56 and 9 mm. There’s a smattering of .40 S&W, .45 ACP and some rifle cartridges, but there is still a lot of bare shelves.

Lead styphnate is the primary explosive in modern primers, while barium nitrate is the oxidizer that adds oxygen to the explosive. Tetrazene is a sensitizer that makes the primer easier to detonate. The remaining elements are fuels. The specific ingredients in primer compounds vary from one make to another” – none of those elements explains to me why there is a primer shortage. Its not like they’re as rare as printer ink.

The thing I cannot get past is how within a year a necessity that is used by 100% of the people, toilet paper, was back to normal supply. And yet a recreational item used by only 5% of the people is still in short supply?

And why does global trade exist for everything but ammo?

[10/1/21 update: Brownells of Grinnell, Iowa had CCI large pistol primers Friday. This is on top of their CCI small rifle primers they had on Wednesday. CCI is also the brand I ordered from Midway on Monday. CCI seems to be trying at least. Now I feel bad when I sent them an email asking, “Canada’s got primers, why don’t we?” In the spring I saw a guy on Facebook saying he’d been on Midway’s “notify me” list for 18 months with nothing. You have to check their sites every day twice a day. They’re not sending out any emails.]

Ain’t no arrow shortage

traditional archery

My gosh that’s fun! Archery’s changed a bit in 50 years. Commie compound bows were just coming onto the scene when I left. With sights, the ‘let off’, tuned bows, balanced arrows, you can be a pretty darn good shot with a compound. And frankly, that would probably be best to kill animals as humanely as possible.

But for just dinking around, traditional is a hoot and a holler. I can now (again) hit a 15 inch cube target at 30 yards (probably longer actually. I still don’t know how I aim. I think they call it “instinctual” shooting. Once you figure out a few things, like your screw in point can’t be any larger in diameter than your arrow (if you want to be able to pull it out of the backstop).

And that you should skip the target that if you miss it goes over an 80 foot ravine. And that yes you need the forearm guard. Yeah once you get a couple a kinks worked out, there’s not much more fun you can have then that. And as I was alluding to, there ain’t no damn arrow shortage! And you don’t have to clean your bow every time you shoot! And you get to reuse your arrows over, and over, and over! Screw you Remington, Winchester and Federal!

ZHANTYI Archery 100 Grain Points Screw-in Practices Tips Removable Arrowhead for Target Arrows Compatible for Compound Recurve Bow (12)
A more blunt target point vs a too sharp ‘field’ point that buries itself in the backstop

Oh, and they always tell you, “Don’t get too heavy of a draw weight!” What’s bad advice about that, is that within a couple of weeks your muscles get used to the motion, and you’ve already outgrown your brand new bow! Better to grow into one than grow out of it.

Frankie baby!

Frankie Valli (Francesco Stephen Castelluccio) and the Four Seasons

And Patti Austin! She is a key part of it and most of the time gets overlooked. 1975, what a time to be alive. Disco was raging, as evidenced by the beat of this song. Just love it. It was the time of the Columbia Record Club; “get 13 albums for a penny!” I actually got mine in 8-track tape. Which of course would be dead in 5 years. In just a few years he and Frankie Avalon would have great singing parts in the movie Grease.

Thinking back I suppose it was a little odd I’d get The Best of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons as a teenager. Maybe not if it was ’65, but in ’75 it was kind of odd. But that’s the thing, its impossible to describe, but something just clicks with some people with certain singers. That Jersey voice, such a beautiful nasally sound, loved the guy for 50 years. On this particular song Our Day Will Come, as I say you have Patti Austin’s wonderful voice that frankly, it would not be the song it is without it. And the incredible horn section that the 70’s were great for. Just a masterpiece.

A few years ago I heard an interview with Terri Gross with a key writer for the Four Seasons back then by the name of Bob Gaudio. He had some really great stories from the groups early days. One of them was from the song Rag Doll. It made me choke up. He said he was driving through NYC in like ’58, when he came across this 9 yr old street urchin at an intersection. Even back then they were doing the ‘wash your windshield for a dime’ bit (a couple of years ago it was a buck I bet its a fiver now). She was clearly in desperate straits with her thinness and the rags she was wearing.

She washed Bob’s window and held out her hand, expecting a nickel or a dime (back then a quarter was a big deal, it would buy a loaf of bread). He put a $20 dollar bill in her hand and this big ol’ tear came down her cheek. A twenty in 1958 would buy several paper bags of groceries. And that’s where the song Rag Doll came from. She’d be 72 today.

Where’d ya go Duke?

John Wayne in ‘Stagecoach’ (1939)

A subject I thought I’d be exploring till the day I died was: “Where did all the legends go?” That period of the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood from 1935 – 1965. When they operated under the “oppressive” Motion Picture Production Code. Once they were passed being oppressed, they’ve barely managed to turn out a handful of films of note. Unequivocally movies were better then. Just no way around it. Now I think I have the answer to that question.

It was in an article on Eric Wayne’s blog: “The Fraud of Contemporary Art“, a book by art critic Avelina Lesper. Its the idea that the art world has been turned over to the businessman. He talks about how in an art show now the artist might not even be mentioned, its all about the curator. As if none of this would have happened without the curator’s wonderfulness: “In the brochures of the exhibitions the artists are no longer mentioned. Now the name of the curator is put first and it is specified that it is a project under the guidance of such and such an expert.”

The lethal blow was: “The curators refuse to exhibit great art, because such works do not need them.” I can see how this also applies to the world of film. The artist and the actor are now irrelevant, its whoever fits the suit (Johnny Bravo). I didn’t realize but I was asking the same question in my August 14 post: “Where Did All the Music Go?” That came out 5 days after Eric’s post The Fraud of Contemporary Art. Eric’s answer to the death of the music industry was telling, his theory was that it also had been turned over to the accountants. That the musical artists there were also no longer relevant.

I can definitely see a pattern now with music, art and film. Regrettably I also have to bring politics into it. Just as those who control the artistic world fear real talent, the independent, the mono-party fears the ‘rogue operator’. Someone who is not part of the system (Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Donald Trump, Marjorie Taylor-Greene…). Their phrase NWO was not by accident, they intend to have just that. They want nice round pegs, not surprises.

Even someone like me who is completely unfamiliar with the contemporary art world can remember “legends” from 50 years ago that I just don’t see on the horizon today: Andy Warhol and LeRoy Neiman. I also did this theme from the world of sports, name me today who is the heavyweight boxing champion? 50 years ago everybody knew who Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali were. I don’t have the full answer yet. I think a lot of it is that the ‘powers that be’ want to put a stake in the heart of individualism.

[Gore Vidal once described Andy Warhol as “The only genius I’ve ever known with an IQ of 60”.]