Tuesday, December 6, 2022

There's a certain logic to it


Found in multiple locations on social media:

I think most veterans will understand the thought!  Bonus points if you can identify the machine gun and the cat symbol etched on the front of the receiver.


The attacks on transformers in North Carolina reveal a major danger


Karl Denninger points out that the attacks highlight our lack of preparedness to deal with such issues.

Two substations taken out with (presumed) small-arms rifle fire (e.g. bog-standard hunting rifles) from what obviously were a very small group of people, perhaps one or two at each location pissed off about who-knows-what.

Question: Why couldn't this be immediately fixed?

Answer: They don't have spares for the parts that were damaged.

. . .

Why do they not have the spares?

Because we sent our supply lines overseas, we made no provisions to have spares, and the regulators at the state and federal level sat on their hands and played with themselves instead of requiring that providers of critical services, such as electricity, had a sufficient stock of spares to cover both routine failures and those caused by weather or low-grade assaults perpetrated by small numbers of people.

This is the gross incompetence we have throughout our society.  It is the manifestation of "oh nothing bad will ever happen so we don't have to be prepared for it" that has shown up in all manner of other places, such as the cars that are completed except for chips in their engine computers without which they will not run, and thus they're sitting in a field unsold.

. . .

What you should learn from this is that this sort of disruption is tiny compared to what even one hundred dedicated men, uncorrelated and thus unable to be interdicted in advance could do any time they decided to.

Further, while I'm sure they'll find the parts somewhere in the US and restore power, if the damage was to fifty counties instead of one the odds are high that said parts would not exist at all in the United States and might not be available in sufficient quantity to actually restore service to everyone for months or even longer.

There's more at the link.

Speaking about the same issue, an anonymous commenter at Raconteur Report noted:

Just in case you all are not aware of the reality of our power grid and the companies that maintain them. Regional depots have maybe 1 or at most 2 of those larger HV transformers sitting in a warehouse, these are the ubiquitous monsters about 10x10 ft that convert the high tension down to more usable voltages for local distribution in our towns and factories. The smaller pole mounted units, perhaps in the few hundreds per depot, seeing they are a more common failure point due to heat, leaks, lighting strikes, trees falling or wayward ordnance.

What this means is that if there is ever a real effort to damage our grid by enemies, foreign or domestic, there is not enough replacement equipment on the ground in the entire country to fix it quickly.

Now the cute kicker or as they say, "and now the rest of the story". Most of our grid maintenance parts come from, yep, the PRC. And guess who will conveniently have "issues" in ramping up production for the export market, especially when they themselves are using most of the factory output internally (remember those 5 new coal plants going live/week over there)? Yes good sirs, we are royally screwed if any untoward events suddenly ramp up.

As a former Civil Defense sector officer, trained in disaster planning and recovery, allow me to assure you, that commenter is absolutely correct.  His words apply to every country on the planet.  The electrical utilities simply can't afford to stockpile large quantities of replacement transformers.  The bigger and more expensive the transformer, the fewer they'll have on hand.  Even simple components such as the glass insulators used on high-tension electrical cables criss-crossing the country are only stocked in limited quantities.  If random individuals were to pause alongside rural roads and shoot out, say, a thousand of those insulators, there'd be the devil to pay to replace them all in the short term.  If they shot out ten thousand . . . forget about it.  There aren't enough power crews, let alone insulators, to repair that sort of damage in anything less than weeks, possibly months.

If we don't make parts locally, we're dependent on outsiders to supply them - if they feel like doing so, and if they have the capacity to supply them in a hurry, and if the supply chain problems we're already experiencing allow them to get here fast enough to be useful.  And, if electrical utilities can't afford to stockpile enough of them, that needs to be funded as a priority by state and federal governments (not that any of our legislators appear to be aware of the need - they'd rather spend that money on entitlement programs and other areas that might garner votes for their re-election).

Food for thought . . .


More about those jerrycans...


A few days ago, I posted an article referring to Commander Zero's blog and a discussion there about jerrycans for fuel storage.  It attracted quite a lot of comments and attention, and I thought some of them were worth sharing in a follow-up post.

First, a long-term cyberspace friend sent me a very long e-mail about how he stored his spare fuel.  He signs himself (for publication) "Your Friend From The Mountains".  With his permission, I'll republish what he had to say.

RE: Cmdr Zero's NATO can post. If I may.....

Get extra spouts. Lots of extra spouts, nothing else fits NATO cans. Get extra spout gaskets as well (Lexington Container has them, the ones from Amazon are Chinese and don't fit real​ NATO cans; do not be surprised if a little scalpel work is required on the LexCon gaskets to get a good gasket-to-spout fit). I find gaskets in regular use (about every 10 days) last about 2.5 years, which sounds like a lot but get them now while they're available.

The factory spouts - the ones for the cans at Cmdr Zero's link - have a limited life. The rubber "flexible accordion" section lasts about 18-24 months of use before flexing during use starts cracking up the rubber and they begin leaking. They, as delivered, are also too short to reach most gas fillers. Two solutions: Lowe's home center plumbing department has 1/2 inch gavanized nipples for tubing (they also have plastic and brass, no need to pay extra for the brass and the plastic ones will crack eventually). Insert the galvanized nipple into the rubber flex section on the spout and attach 5/8" ID / 3/4" OD clear plastic tubing to the other end of the nipple. I use 16 inch lengths of clear plastic tubing and have never found a gas filler on a car or truck that I cannot reach with it. I STRONGLY recommend using wire to secure the nipple into the flexible rubber section and the clear tubing onto the nipple - for many years I've used stainless safety wire on everything from racing karts to motorcycles to aircraft, so I always have a supply of various diameters on hand, and a 1-pound container of .041" is about $24 at Amazon and will last a lifetime .032" will work, too, but I would not go smaller and bigger is too hard to work with. Safety wire is very cheap insurance. The 3/4" tubing fits perfectly into the unleaded hole in gasoline fillers. BUT - if it ever comes loose from the flexible rubber section of the spout it WILL fall completely into the vehicle's filler neck. Good luck getting it back out without completely disassembling the entire filler neck assembly ( I had to do that once with a friend's truck - avoid it at all costs. An ounce of prevention is the watchword here, because not only is it a very large hassle taking the filler neck apart, it will always occur at exactly the worst possible time.).

Option #2 is remove the flexible rubber section of the spout completely and use a 16 inch length of 1" ID clear plastic tubing. Heat it a little with a hair dryer to make it flexible and slide it over the metal portion of the spout (when you remove the flexible rubber section you'll see a brass filter screen,  feel free to remove it if you want. I took all mine out). Safety wire tie the clear tubing to the metal spout to make sure it stays in place - if if ever slides off while you're filling a vehicle gasoline will go EVERYWHERE but into the tank. Lowe's plumbing dept also has galvanized adapters that are male threaded on one end and 3/4 inch ribbed on the other - the male threads are for 1 inch threaded connections, the ribbed nipples are 3/4" in diameter. The threaded portion goes into the 1 inch tubing, the 3/4" end fits perfectly into unleaded filler necks. Safety wire tie the threaded adapter into the clear tubing. This is the fastest emptying solution - I can pour 20 liters (5.3 US gallons) of gasoline into a tank in about 45-50 seconds. That's about 9 seconds per gallon which is another reason to take extra steps with safety wire to prevent the spouts from coming apart during use.

Whichever solution you use, the clear plastic tubing will start to yellow from use and become slightly less flexible. I've been using my modified spouts for 5 years now and they still work fine. I do have, however, several feet of clear tubing in both sizes vacuum sealed for long term storage (I use my Food Saver Vacuum Sealer a LOT to vacuum-package long term storage stuff).

I also suggest getting at least 2 extra 20-liter cans, beyond whatever you need for gasoline, to use for clean K-1 kerosene. Over the years I have procured several Aladdin lamps (OK, more than "several"....) and they will require kerosene, as will a couple backup heaters I have for the garage. When "dark" becomes the American standard (no or random electricity) having some light is necessary, and Aladdin lamps do that very well. So do "railroad" lanterns, not as brightly or efficiently, but better than candles. FYI, the railroad lanterns make excellent summertime low-intensity patio lights.  Don't forget spare parts, for Aladdins it's wicks, mantles (LOTS of mantles, they're very fragile once they're used), some glass chimneys. Aladdin makes wall-mounted versions that are very useful; FYI, a LOT of heat comes out the tall Aladdin glass chimney, so be careful how close to the ceiling you place a wall-mounted Aladdin lamp.

For the railroad-style lanterns, a roll or two of wicks and a glass globe or two is about all (it varies from brand and model to brand/model, but probably 3/4" or 7/8" wide wick is what you need. Cut to length, install, let it soak up kerosene for a while before lighting). The glass globes are make and model specific, so get them to match whatever lanterns you get. It's also handy to have a 1 gallon or 2.5 gallon NATO can to use for refilling lamps, lanterns, etc. with funnels. Trying to handle a 20 liter can and fill a lamp with it is a losing proposition. I put about a gallon of kerosene into a 2.5 gallon NATO can and fill lamps outdoors with a funnel that way. FYI, Deitz railroad-style lanterns, in whatever model, are the gold standard on quality.

For gasoline I use PRI-G for long term storage. Cmdr Zero reported good results with it so I tried it, stored 10 gallons of non-ethanol gasoline for 3 years with PRI-G in NATO cans, used it in a mower, a generator and a vehicle, and the gas was fine; the gas was stored in an insulated shed where the summer temperature never went above 88-90F.  FYI, 10 ml of PRI-G per 20 liters is the right ratio. I use a 10 ml "baby medicine measure" and long-term store only non-ethanol gas. I will store some ethanol gas - my local supermarket has their own gas pumps and provides "gas points" when you buy groceries as a sales advertising gimmick. Last month I bought enough on-sale food items to earn 30 cents/gallon discount, so I used it to fill four 20-liter cans with ethanol unleaded, which I will use over the next month and since I will use it quickly there's no point in putting PRI-G in it.

. . .

You want to carry enough gas in NATO cans to refill your tanks once if you have to bug out - may I suggest a trailer hitch-mounted carry basket for that.

I have one for my truck - most require a 2" square hitch, which is common except for the hitches on smaller cars which are 1.5" - and mine is 60" wide so it will hold 4 NATO cans laying flat OR 9 cans laying on their backs (except for one end can - it can be at either end - which needs to be on its front face to fit)  (A NATO can is 18.5" tall, 14" wide and 6.5" thick). This does 2 things - it keeps gasoline OUTSIDE the vehicle and makes the gas cans more readily accessible. They will need to be covered with something to hide them from view. I have never carried full cans in it but I have tested it with empty cans. I have a 15 ft length of plastic coated security cable (Lowe's, Home Depot or Amazon) and a large, heavy high-security Master padlock (keep spare keys in several places) to secure the cans to the carrier but if they cannot be seen it reduces the "conflict potential." During a bug-out I'm sure any truck with a carrier mounted will attract attention.  I will still cover them (dark colored waterproof tarp) and wrap a "spider-type" bungee over the tarp to hide them from view.

RE: spouts. Take one extra spout and test it for fit, then carry it in the vehicle's tool kit, in addition to however many other spouts you have.  Nothing else wil lfit a NATO can and if something happens to your spouts having X gallons of gas but no way to get it into the tank can be a catastrophe. Home Depot does Black Friday sales on Milwaukee headlamps, I buy a couple every year when they do, and put them in strategic places were I think I might need hands-free light. I wrap one around that "emergency spare" NATO can spout in the tool kit. Just in case. I also made a "universal adapter" with some 1/2" EMT electrical tubing (fits through the unleaded gas port in fillers), some 1/2" thin-wall PVC, and the necessary fittings to adapt a piece of 4" PVC on top as a makeshift funnel. The EMT is easily bendable (I have both a 1/2 and a 3/4 EMT manual bender) so I bent it and put it together to exactly fit my truck and sit on the edge of the outer gas door so I can use both hands to pour from a container; I left the bottom end of the EMT long so, worst case, if someone can hold the "funnel gizmo" I can pour into almost any tank from almost any fuel can.

Thanks, buddy.  Useful information and good ideas.  Like my correspondent, I use PRI-G as a fuel stabilizer to preserve my gasoline in storage, and I only store non-ethanol gasoline.  The reason for the latter is twofold:  it stores longer and "cleaner" than ethanol-added gas, and it works much better in small engines (lawnmowers, chainsaws, generators, etc.) than ethanol gas.  There are a couple of gas stations around my area that sell it, for about $1.00-$1.50 per gallon more than regular ethanol-added gas, and there's also an airfield where one can buy aviation-friendly automotive gasoline.  I think it's worth the effort to drive to wherever non-ethanol gas is available, and pay a premium to fill my jerrycans with it.

As for jerrycan spouts, I'm in two minds about them.  Yes, they work well for their intended purpose;  but one can achieve equally good results with a simple funnel, costing a lot less (often no more than a fifth the price of a spout).  Also, spouts may not fit other fuel openings in small tools, etc.  Generally, I prefer funnels.  YMMV, of course.  Gaskets are very important, more so than spouts, IMHO, because they provide the airtight and leakproof seal between a jerrycan's cap and its neck.  A poor-condition gasket means that the gasoline fumes will escape and pollute the air, as well as create a fire hazard.  If you've ever traveled in a vehicle with leaking gas fumes seeping into the passenger compartment, you'll know that this is VERY BAD NEWS.  Get more gaskets (I suggest at least one spare for every two jerrycans you own, if not one apiece, plus a few extras), and every time you open or close the can's cap, inspect the seal to make sure it's in good condition and seals properly.  If there's any doubt at all, replace it.

Another useful tip:  if your hand, arm or upper body strength and/or mobility is limited, consider getting a cheap stool of a height that's close to the gas cap of your vehicle (something like this one, for example).  You can balance the jerrycan on the stool while pouring the fuel into the funnel, thus taking most of the weight off your body.  Given my back injury and lifting limitations, that's a very useful thing to have - and you can take it with you if you have to "bug out", to make handing fuel containers in the small hours of the morning (and possibly very uncomfortable temperatures) a lot easier.

I'm in two minds about trailer-hitch-mounted cargo carriers for carrying gasoline.  I think there are a number of obvious drawbacks:

  1. It's relatively easy to steal gasoline containers from them, no matter how well you try to secure them.  A bolt-cutter will make short work of even a padlock and chain.
  2. There's the collision risk.  What happens if someone rear-ends your vehicle?  The gas cans will almost certainly rupture and spill their contents.  If a spark happens along, that could be fatal.
  3. A loaded hitch carrier can interfere with the opening of the back door of a SUV or hatchback.
  4. There's also the weight and balance issue.  Full 5-gallon jerrycans weigh 35-40 pounds apiece.  In a lighter vehicle (e.g. a small car or SUV), having a couple hundred pounds hanging off the back may affect center of gravity, handling, etc. in unpredictable ways (although larger vehicles are unlikely to be affected as much).
Those issues may or may not be important to you.  At present, because of them, I don't use a trailer hitch carrier for gasoline;  instead, I would rather move other baggage to the hitch carrier to make room in the vehicle's cargo area for the cans of fuel (because jerrycans, properly maintained and used, won't leak gasoline fumes, so they're safe to carry inside a vehicle).  I certainly would not recommend carrying them on the roof of the vehicle, even if a roof rack or carrier is available, because that has many of the disadvantages of trailer hitch carry (and, in a rollover, there's the obvious danger to the occupants).

Commenters on the original post also made some good points.

  • Dov Sar:  "Another thought for those who drive a diesel; many people use home heating oil, and that can be used in an emergency for diesel. Most tanks are 275 gallons;; that is a lot of spare fuel for an emergency."
  • Nick Flandrey:  "I keep a lot of propane on hand too, and have shifted most of my 'first line' fueled preps to use 1 pound bottles of propane. Stove, lantern, heaters, hot water, and now generator. (The gennie uses a BBQ bottle, not a small one.)  Switching to propane gives me a much more stable storage situation, makes it easy to start up my gennie on short notice, and saves my gasoline as a backup (for my bigger gennie) and for transportation.  And for a real world anecdote, during Ike, I ran my generac 4800 gas gennie for 14 days while we were 'grid down'. 10 gallons a day, if run 24hours. Which you don't do, because at night it attracts very unwanted attention. That experience led to adding the inverter based honda, it isn't as capable, but it is very quiet compared to just about any other gennie ... Oh, have some extra empty gas cans so that if gas is available, you can easily get some. During Ike I had spare empties with me whenever I went out, and if I found gas that didn't have a line, I filled them. Never had to stress about finding enough gas."
  • Xoph:  "Don't forget things like bar oil, fuel oil for your chain saw, spare chain, spare bar. Also spare oil, etc. for your generator. Might even want to have a full overhaul kit available.  Get some battery operated freezer monitors and alarms. That way you can run your gen only when needed.  A solar panel, a car battery and an inverter can add extra life to your fuel storage (can't plan on sunshine, but it's quiet and can give peace of mind over night. Also while powering the freezer you can recharge the battery).  Propane is good, not as energy dense as gas, but simpler maintenance wise."
  • Jonathan H.:  "As mentioned above, don't forget about thermal exposure - store gas in as cool a place as possible.  Out here in the desert, the garage get REALLY hot in the summer so stored gas, even with stabil, doesn't last long."
  • Hightecrebel:  "Just so people know, Stabil is for short-term storage - think storing something for a season or two. It's not designed for truly long-term storage.  For that you need something like Pri-G (gasoline) or Pri-D (diesel). There are other brands that are similar.  I've stored gasoline (no ethanol) with Pri-G in surplus Jerry cans for three years, in an insulated shed, with temps the shed ranging from -10F to 118F. And all this about 800 yards from the Atlantic ocean, so plenty of salt in the air. I've seen diesel stored for six years in similar conditions used in vehicles and heaters without issue as well. I wouldn't normally recommend storing it that long, but it can be done if you forget to rotate a can or have so much stuff stored in the way you can't get to it."

Thanks to all of you for your input.


Monday, December 5, 2022

When bureaucrats defy logic and reason


This news is about a year old, but I only recently came across it.  I can still hardly believe the institutionalized stupidity it represents.

Irony has been declared many times in this pandemic but now, from Covid-riddled Germany comes the final proof: you can’t kill yourself now unless you’ve been vaccinated. As European countries battle to limit the spread of the virus, Verein Sterbehilfe – the German Euthanasia Association – has issued a new directive, declaring it will now only help those who have been vaccinated or recovered from the disease. In a statement, the association said:

"Euthanasia and the preparatory examination of the voluntary responsibility of our members willing to die require human closeness. Human closeness, however, is a prerequisite and breeding ground for coronavirus transmission. As of today, the 2G rule applies in our association, supplemented by situation-related measures, such as quick tests before encounters in closed rooms."

‘Close encounters in closed rooms’ – what a fabulous German euphemism for assisted suicide. The term ‘2G’ meanwhile refers to a system which only allows free movement for leisure activities for the geimpft oder genese – ‘vaccinated or recovered.’ God forbid that a person without the jab should try to end it all – talk about a vaccine passport to the afterlife…

It makes the Babylon Bee's recent satirical article about entering Heaven seem rather less satirical and more prescient:

Pope Francis said today that God has informed him of a new requirement to enter Heaven: everyone must now receive the COVID-19 vaccine before entering the pearly gates.

. . .

Pope Francis also stated that receiving both doses of the trustworthy vaccine will "immediately release your deceased relatives from purgatory" and "could even cut your time there in half." To drive his point home, he has commanded the Catholic church to deny communion to any unvaccinated members. 

At publishing time Pope Francis had received an initial dose of the vaccine and had to be strapped down in a bed for an exorcism before the second dose.

There's more at the link.

What will the bureaucrats demand next?  Will death row inmates in the USA be required to have received COVID-19 vaccinations before they can be given their lethal injections?

Ye Gods and little fishes . . .


Yet again, propaganda and lies are flooding news and social media


It's been informative - and highly amusing - to watch the concerted, organized, carefully coordinated attacks from left-aligned journalists and public figures against Elon Musk, for his (entirely factual and demonstrable) revelation of the old Twitter's willing self-enslavement to the Biden administration's propaganda.  The Daily Mail reports:

Left-wing journalists have unsurprisingly rushed to smear reporter Matt Taibbi for releasing Elon Musk's explosive 'Twitter Files'.

Taibbi, a podcaster and former Rolling Stone correspondent, came under heavy criticism from top journalists at NBC News, MSNBC, the Daily Beast, and elsewhere, who accused him of doing 'PR work' and committing journalistic malfeasance.

'Matt Taibbi...what sad, disgraceful downfall. I swear, kids, he did good work back in the day,' tweeted Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali.

'Should be a cautionary tale for everyone. Selling your soul for the richest white nationalist on Earth. Well, he'll eat well for the rest of his life I guess. But is it worth it?,' he added.

NBC News Senior Reporter Ben Collins wrote: 'Imagine throwing it all away to do PR work for the richest person in the world. Humiliating s**t.' 

Mehdi Hasan, the MSNBC host, had a similar criticism, tweeting: 'Imagine volunteering to do online PR work for the world's richest man on a Friday night, in service of nakedly and cynically right-wing narratives, and then pretending you're speaking truth to power.'

There's more at the link.

However, that article doesn't adequately illustrate how widespread is the campaign against Mr. Musk.  Consider this image (clickit to biggit), circulating on social media at present.

That's an awful lot of duplicated words and phrases, isn't it?  If you wanted a clearer pattern of orchestrated propaganda, I don't think you'll find one.  (That also, of course, utterly discredits every single person who parroted that propaganda.  Once they're exposed as mere puppets of the machine, why believe them about anything, ever again?)

Voltaire is incorrectly credited with the saying, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize".  Despite that historical inaccuracy, the saying is nevertheless meaningful.  In a truly free society, one can criticize anything and anyone - provided, of course, that one accepts the consequences of free speech, and is willing to be called to account in the courts for any lies or misrepresentations.  In a not-free society, such expressions are censored, if possible before they're uttered.  If not, then their distribution is restricted as much as possible;  and if that doesn't work, open vilification of the originator and those who disseminate his words is the next step.  The final stage is arrest and punishment for daring to say anything that's not officially approved.

I wonder how many of those parroting the "PR outlet for the world's richest man" talking point would be willing to take the next step, and condone (if not actively participate in) the physical silencing of those they criticize?  Sadly, I fear many of them would.  They've "drunk the leftist Kool-Aid", and it's poisoned them.  They've lost sight of the fact that silencing some speech necessarily implies that all speech can, and probably will, be silenced as and when deemed appropriate by those who control it.

Victor Davis Hanson has some trenchant thoughts on modern news media and journalism in general.  He begins:

The current “media”—loosely defined as the old major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post, the network news channels, MSNBC and CNN, PBS and NPR, the online news aggregators like Google, Apple, and Yahoo, and the social media giants like the old Twitter and Facebook—are corrupt.

They have adopted in their news coverage a utilitarian view that noble progressive ends justify almost any unethical means to obtain them. The media is unapologetically fused with the Democratic Party, the bicoastal liberal elite, and the progressive agenda. 

The result is that the public cannot trust that the news it hears or reads is either accurate or true. The news as presented by these outlets has been carefully filtered to suppress narratives deemed inconvenient or antithetical to the political objectives of these entities, while inflating themes deemed useful. 

This bias now accompanies increasing (and increasingly obvious) journalistic incompetence. Lax standards reflect weaponized journalism schools and woke ideology that short prior basic requisites of writing and ethical protocols of quoting and sourcing. In sum, a corrupt media that is ignorant, arrogant, and ideological explains why few now trust what it delivers.

Again, more at the link.

Go read the whole thing.  It's a concise summary of much of the evidence against the media over the past few years.  Also, for a different perspective, see Barbara Wegner's Substack post "Fake Journalists and Presstitutes".  Highly recommended.


Memes that made me laugh 136


Gathered from around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Sunday morning music


Let's go down a music rabbit-hole this morning.  A few weeks ago, I came across this video titled "A dombra performance by Marzhan Kapsamat of Nursultan, Kazakhstan".  The dombra is a traditional Kazakh stringed instrument similar to a lute, played in guitar-like fashion.

Intrigued, I looked for more dombra music on YouTube.  I found this compendium of solo and accompanied performances.

Looking further, I came across this performance by The Orchestra of Kazakh Folk Instruments of Kazakh Conservatory, delivered in Shanghai, China in 2016.  It's quite something!

So, a chance encounter with an instrument and musical tradition with which I'm entirely unfamiliar has led to a new interest.  The Internet is great that way, isn't it?  A YouTube search reveals much more of it for your listening enjoyment.


Saturday, December 3, 2022

Saturday Snippet: Listening to the quiet


We've met the late Pentecostal preacher Jamie Buckingham in these pages before.  He wrote in a simple yet profound way, and was able to encapsulate many of the problems of modern life into short, often humorous lessons that drove home his point clearly, but without belaboring the issue.

Here's another from his collection of columns, "The Last Word".

This one's titled "Listen to the Quiet".

Henry Ford once said he didn’t want executives who had to work all the time. He insisted that the man who was always in the fevered flurry of activity was not doing his best work. He added that he wanted his executives to clear off their desks, prop their feet on them, and dream some fresh dreams.

His philosophy was: only he who has the luxury of time can originate a creative thought.

An American writer, Bill Emmerson, once said: “Time is too precious to crowd.” This is an axiom. To be creative one has to deal directly with the problem, then retreat from it long enough to allow the yeasting of the mind to operate. In a quiet mood it breaks forth in splendor from its imprisonment.

Great thinkers—those who create worthwhile ideas—are men who take time. Thoreau wandered through the woods of New England, or spent time sitting on the bank of Walden Pond. But that’s the difference between spending time—and being wasted by it.

You don’t kill time, you know. It kills you, by forcing you to do things you don’t want to do.

The Apostle Paul knew nothing of the speeding luxuries of automobiles and jet planes. He took long walks down dusty paths—sometimes walking as much as a hundred miles at a time. He went sailing. When he was shipwrecked he saw it as an opportunity to create with his mind rather than as a delay in his schedule. (After all, he was on his way to his own execution.) And his times in prison, without benefit of watch or calendar, were used to bless the entire world.

Some people are adept at making on-the-spot decisions, but very few can be creative under imposed pressure. Creativity does not come by force-feeding, super-intensity, and lots of motion. Nor is it necessarily brought about by deadlines. (Editors, take note!)

I often differentiate between what the world looks upon as the successful man—the go-getter type—and the man of God who goes after nothing, but waits for God to capture him.

Creativity takes time. Occasionally I will find myself stomping around the house complaining about the lack of privacy that every writer needs to accomplish his work. My wife will reply by saying, “Well, you have twenty minutes before you leave for the airport. Why not sit down and write?” If she only knew that there are times I withdraw into my studio, close the door, and sit for hours without ever touching the keys of my typewriter—just praying, thinking, and waiting for the Holy Spirit to break through my crust with an idea.

One of life’s most sure principles is that when you stop smelling the flowers, get out of your hammock and race to a meeting, or rush to catch a departing vehicle—you do the wrong thing. In most cases the celebration of life means being late for something unimportant.

I grew up in a town that had no public clocks. The only signal of time was the blowing of the fire whistle (which was positioned on top of the town water tower) at noon. That meant it was time to go to lunch. Everyone was always late for everything—for each other’s sakes. People got up at “dawn” rather than 6:05 a.m. They went to bed “after sunset.” Ask a man when he’d be there and he’d answer “Directly,” which in the South does not mean at once; rather, it means after a while. And lunch was eaten when the fire whistle announced it was noon. Yankees called us “lazy.” But we only had one town doctor and didn’t need him very much. Nobody ever got divorced. And a lot of people had time to write, paint, and love.

When I forget what time it is, I always discover I have better moments. I still remember my first camping trip into the Sinai. We were to be gone for ten days, taking a four-wheel-drive vehicle into the heart of the desert and then hiking and climbing mountains. Our guide insisted we leave our watches at the hotel in Jerusalem. “If you want to hear God as Moses did,” she said seriously, “you have to leave your watches behind.” For three days I felt naked. Then I felt free.

The ideas that make most people famous are not original. The truth or insight really breaks upon them from the outside. (Even this concept was stimulated by a thought from Henry Ford.) The pressure of time is the greatest barrier to creativity and originality. God is constantly desiring to pour His truth into us—but if we are busy moving it is often like trying to pour milk into your child’s glass, when he has that glass in his hand and is sneezing at the same time.

Yet once the idea takes hold, it sets up chain reactions which become original until the creative person is almost seized by the entire concept. No longer does the idea belong to Henry Ford. Now it is mine. And when you finish reading this—it will be yours.

Maybe we should listen to the wisdom of quietness if we are pressed by crowded social calendars, impossible timetables, overburdened appointment books or mountains of correspondence on our desks.

Yet, to find a place to be alone on this crowded planet is almost impossible. Cocktail parties may help a person kill time (that is, if time is so meaningless that you live your life in boredom), but crowded rooms seldom spawn great flashes of inspiration. There is too much small talk, idle chatter, and wasted words. Insight and inspiration usually come in the alone hours, after cleansing our minds through prayer and refilling them with the Word of God. There, sans telephones and chattering friends, God can speak.

For a number of years I wanted a room in our house where I could go alone to pray. A room devoid of desk, kitchen cabinets, or telephone. Then we bought a large house in the country and discovered the former owner had built a “happy hour room” next to the den. We took out the bar, installed an altar, and turned it into a chapel and prayer room. Some of my greatest moments of insight into my own personal problems, or the problems faced by my friends and family, come when I enter this small, wood-paneled room, shut the doors and kneel at the little altar. I’m sure the former owner would shake his head in dismay, but I don’t think he knew how close to the truth he was when he called it a “happy hour room.”

It is reported that St. Francis said these words: “Human nature is like a pool of water, my Lord. Cast a stone therein, it goes rough and broken; stir it, it becomes foul; give it peace, let it rest, and it will reflect the face of the heavens which lie over it.”

Words of wisdom, particularly in a time so frenetic and frantic and frazzled as ours.


Friday, December 2, 2022

Gas cans, and how much fuel to store


Commander Zero recently linked to a source for reasonably-priced jerrycans (note that I said "reasonably priced", not "cheap"!  Ain't no such thing as a cheap new jerrycan these days . . . )  In a subsequent post, he discussed why it was a good idea to have some of those containers on hand, and how much fuel he felt he needed to store.

I entirely agree with him about the need for high-quality gas cans, and have a number of jerrycans in my own reserves.  Sadly, I paid higher than he did for 8 new jerrycans earlier this year - I got mine from Deutsche Optik;  high-quality, but a price to match (I paid less than they're asking now, though).

As to how much fuel to store, ask yourself how many of your vehicles and appliances need fuel, and how much;  then figure out how often and/or how long you'll need to use them in the absence of regular gas-station fuel (due to natural emergencies, shortages, or whatever).  I have a number of calculations I use.

  • I want enough to fill my vehicles' fuel tanks to the brim, plus have another tankful apiece that I can load into their cargo space.  That way, if we have to evacuate for any reason, we can go a fair distance without having to worry about refilling at gas stations that may already be swamped with other evacuees, and/or may have run out of fuel.
  • Over and above that, I want enough to run my generator two to three times a day, for about two hours each time, for a minimum of two weeks.  That's enough to keep my freezers cold, charge essential items like laptop computers and cellphones, and do anything else for which I'm likely to need power.
  • I may need gas for emergency tools like chainsaws, etc.  That's not a high priority for me in this area, but if you live in a heavily wooded area where trees might come down in a disaster, plan for it.
  • I may need gas for friends who need help.  I can't store enough for big needs, but the ability to spare them a couple of gallons here or there might be very useful.
  • I'm not worried about lawnmowers or garden appliances.  In a disaster where fuel isn't available, a neat, tidy garden is likely to be the least of my worries!
You'll have to make your own calculations about the amount you'll need, based on similar considerations.

There's also a legal aspect to consider.  Many towns and cities have fire regulations forbidding the storage of more than a certain quantity of fuel in domestic premises, and they usually require it to be stored away from the residence (i.e. in a detached garage, a garden shed, under a tarpaulin in the back yard, whatever - but not in the same building where people live!).  That's a very important consideration.  Such regulations exist for a reason, and we'd be very unwise to disregard them.

So, there's a foundation for your own calculations.  Work out how much you need and where you can safely store it, then buy the necessary containers to hold it.  If you can afford them, I very highly recommend jerrycans - they've been a world standard since World War II, and for good reason.  If you can't, the plastic containers sold at supermarkets and auto spares shops are a short-term solution, but they're nowhere near as robust, and aren't safe to carry in your vehicle, because the fumes can leak out.  A jerrycan doesn't have that problem.


Cookie-cutter cars...

I'm obliged to Phil at Bustednuckles for posting this image (clickit to biggit).

They all look just about the same, don't they?  That's the result of centralized government dictates about vehicle weight, fuel consumption, safety features, etc.  When the laws and regulations outline requirements to such nit-picking detail, designers at the auto companies have no choice but to design to meet them - and that means everything looks very, very similar.  It's gotten so bad that while driving, I no longer even bother to try to distinguish between the various makes and models.  They all look so alike that it's pointless.

I'd love to see an honest car advertisement where the manufacturer acknowledges, "Sure, we use a cookie-cutter design, just like everyone else in the industry.  Our engines are similar, their power and torque outputs are similar, the cars are similar dimensions.  Our only difference is half-a-second here or there in the acceleration parameters, and a different badge on the hood or trunk."  They wouldn't get anywhere, of course, and would probably go bankrupt . . . but it's the truth, isn't it?

I miss the old days, when cars were visually distinct and you could tell the make and model almost a mile away.  I guess that makes me an old fart, motoringly speaking.

Now to get into my own cookie-cutter SUV and go shopping . . .



The dilemma of Afghans left behind by the USA


I was struck by this article at Task And Purpose yesterday.  It's an aspect of the illegal migration problem of which I hadn't been aware.

Two brothers stand across from each other at the Val Verde Correctional Facility in this border city, speaking reverently through the fixed telephones. They are separated by the visiting room’s thick glass partition, too energized to sit.

One brother, Abdul Wasi Safi, wears an inmate’s bright orange uniform. The other brother, Sami-ullah Safi, wears a blue blazer, jeans and a look of determination to bring his brother home safely.

About 18 months ago, Abdul Wasi Safi, whose family calls him Wasi, was a newly minted officer in Afghanistan’s special forces, working alongside U.S. troops to combat the Taliban in the longest U.S. military engagement in its history.

Just three months later, the U.S. abruptly exited the country. The Taliban — an Islamic fundamentalist group — took control of the country and began hunting down those who had helped the Americans.

Over the course of the conflict there, the U.S. issued special visas to more than 34,000 Afghans who qualified for various reasons — including Sami, who in 2015 moved to Houston. Sami, 29, had been working side by side with the U.S. military as an interpreter for special forces in Afghanistan. For years, he traveled between the two countries and in July 2021 was granted full U.S. citizenship.

But thousands like Wasi, 26, who had helped U.S. forces — but were not paid by the U.S. government — were left behind with few options to escape. With a Taliban target on their backs, many went into hiding as reports of revenge killings grew.

When it was clear Wasi could not get a visa, he went into hiding with his parents and eight other siblings before setting out on a harrowing journey halfway around the world that led to a jail cell more than 12,000 miles from his home.

“It was unfair, unjust, for the U.S. military to leave all the people who put their lives on the line working for the military and in the end leaving them to be slaughtered by the Taliban and closing their eyes on them,” Sami said. “Pretending nothing happened. People have done so much.”

There's more at the link.

How many other cases like this are there?  Former allies, working with US forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere, who were abandoned when this country unceremoniously cut its ties and pulled out, leaving its allies and friends to the mercy of the enemy?

How many other cases like this are there in the "illegal alien" pipeline?

Why has the Biden administration done nothing to provide for these people?

I can only presume it's because the administration wants no reminders of its cowardly, incompetent withdrawal from Afghanistan to remind the American public of its failure.  After all, they left up to 9,000 US citizens behind, not to mention almost 80,000 Afghan allies - all abandoned to the "mercy" of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, those who deserve our help have to do without.