Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Important: Watch For Movement

From Pete at WRSA.

In a related note.

So there I was on my C-PAP machine at three o'clock this morning sleeping soundly when the power goes out and I wake up trying to catch my breath. Rosey and I fumble about for flashlights ("Batteries dead.") and candles ("Where in hell are the matches?").

Talk about not practicing what I preach.

Finally found some matches in the back of a drawer that hasn't been visited in months.

(Feeble defense: Female children, when home, use up matches for scented candles and read at night by flashlight and then leave them on. Supply exhausted, female children go back to college. Out of sight, out of mind, low on cash, not a priority. Yes, your honor, I know I'm still guilty.)

Go to phone to call in outage. Nothing, nada. Deader than Kelsey's nuts. First time THAT'S happened. (Who knew? Converting phone line to broadband puts it at mercy of power outages. When the juice goes down, the phone no longer works as it used to on the regular land line.) Forget to look at my watch which might have reassured me. Outside everything silent, black. No traffic on the road. Dog howls in distance. Thought passes instantly -- EMP?

(Unrelated. There had been an apparent drive-by of four rapid .22LR pistol shots earlier about 200 meters down street. Sheriff cars prowled, locking barn door after horse. Nothing found, they went back to their cooping down at the Waffle House. Memo to self: I've got to get us out of this rapidly declining neighborhood.)

Rose finds cell phone. Not dead. Sigh of relief. Another thought wells up. What if? Neighborhood, once familiar, now mostly inhabited by aliens of other cultures and nations. The 2 to 30 illegals who float with unpredictable fluctuation in and out of the house next door are my politest neighbors these days.

(NOTE: After a little difference of opinion on Uno de Mayo, 2006 -- the national strike day when our undocumented friends stayed home from work -- about the county noise ordinance was solved by the public field stripping, cleaning and reassembling of Hannah's M-4gery on the back deck within full view of the rowdy displays of machismo next door. I never even glanced at them. Muzzle remained pointed, when it was pointed, at my broken, overgrown swimming pool. Music volume dropped precipitously. Party went inside. Quiet as church mice ever since.)

So, I thought, if I have to defend in place, what with? True, I still have friends in the neighborhood, but few others I know enough to trust. Electronics (radios, field telephones, switchboards) packed in Faraday Cage containers. Some food (mostly rice and beans). Enough weapons and ammo to shoot house intruders but neighborhood defense is a different breed of cat. Everything else in caches around northern Alabama. Down to one vehicle (Toyota sedan and it EMP vulnerable). Another beat up 1999 Jimmy with the girls at college. It too is EMP vulnerable.

Have friends elsewhere in the state and in Georgia. Know where I want to go, but how, without plugs and points do I get there? What about the girls? Utter word meaning excrement.

Bad scare. I didn't go back to sleep, thinking. The power came back on within an hour.

Folks, like Pete says, you'd better see to your knitting right now. You never know when the zombies might arrive.

As for me, it is back to the editing process. May God grant me the extra time to offset that I have wasted with writer's block and intervening issues. If the book makes enough money, I'm OUTTA HERE.



Anonymous said...

Get the damn book done and we'll buy it!

Bob Katt

pdxr13 said...

Even better, we'll buy a ton of books directly from you (signed, natch') and re-sell them as contraband of the future. When will pre-order Postal Money Orders (hate PayPal) or concealed pre-1956 silver coin be accepted?

POTS (plain old telephone service, now "land line") is the most reliable comm system ever invented (esp.in the gold-plated pre-1984 era). Have at least one corded plug-in-the-wall telephone, preferably marked "Made in USA by Western Electric" so that it can work when the power goes out. Cellular is a good backup, for a few days until the cell sites run out of fuel and batteries go dead. After a couple weeks, it's Children's Band and Shortwave running on batteries and gensets conserving stashed fuel. There will be Emergency Broadcasting ("everything's gonna be alright", "report as directed", weather, etc.) and some irregular patriot radio, but not much news-as-we-know-it. Internet? Ha!

Gasoline cars with points and non-electronic ignitions are getting pretty old and a little rare as regular non-collectables. Mechanical injection Diesel cars/PU's are not quite so rare. I just bought a 1983 Mercedes 240D (w/ automatic following 67 horsepower: super-slow!) in good shape for $900, and it has nothing subject to EMP (the Pioneer SuperTunerD radio doesn't work). EMP will kill a lot of portable generators of recent make, like the wonderful Honda/Yamaha inverter-style fuel-saving generators. Loud old guzzlers with flywheel or point ignition will work.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a no-knock rehearsal.

String and cans full of bolts are cheap.

ParaPacem said...

Well, I learned a lesson from this post, so I traded all my ammo to some local Mexican guys for matches and batteries!

Actually, when I next see you, I have another duffel bag for you, some of the contents will address some of your specific dilemmas. Or dillemae. Whatever it takes.

Anonymous said...

PDXR13, I completely screwed myself with that once. I bought a corded landline phone and tossed it in the garage, brand new unopened.

When an earthquake knocked out power, I pulled it out of the box, unwrapped it, plugged it in, and -- nada. Not a blessed thing! I'd bought a bad unit, and because I didn't bother testing it, I could've been hurting bad - not to mention I was out the $5 I spent on it.


Anonymous said...

Read an article recently where cars were tested for EMP resistance. The newest would die when exposed but would restart. Older (10+ years) wouldn't even miss a lick. I wouldn't worry about not having transportation. The threat is greatly overblown. Oh, I'm in for a few copies if you'll finish the book.

Anonymous said...


Talks about real world testing showing cars are not in much danger to EMP damage. Look to lower third of article.

III more than them said...

Mike. You don't need to go with points and condensers. The HEI (High Energy Ignition) system on 702 GM products was a great little system. The electronic ignition is about $20, fits under the coil on top of the distributor cap. I had an old Skyhawk with that setup, and I can tell you from personal experience, that field replacement is a breeze.

Those vehicles are rather inexpensive these days.

Something to consider.

Dr.D said...

Mike get a UPS from your computer geek, (or the fanboy next door)and plug your broadband telephone device in to it. Make sure as some one else mentioned that it works before hand.
If the battery in it is dead it's usually only about $15-20 for a replacement if it's one of the smaller units.

Have you considered moving to Tn.? We'd love to have you...


Loren said...

EMP threat is somewhat overblown--consider who is getting research or consultant money.

If an old UPS(universal power supply) isn't available at one of your thrift stores, or isn't up enough to be worth even that much, then any anyone who knows enough about electronics to be worth his salt can rig one from a deep draw battery and a bit of electronics.

Keep an eye out at gun shows. Strike anywhere matches are now hazmat, that's why they're difficult to find, but gun shows are one place where they can fetch the money to pay for shipping.

Curtis said...

I had one of those sudden power outages a couple of months ago ... the kind that goes "pop" when the lights go out. My heart was in the right place ... I knew where my guns are and I made a bee-line for them. Only problem ... when you can't see your hand in front of you face with the palm of your hand touching your nose ... well ... crash bang ouch ... I have flashlights in every room now.

I also occasionally ... now ... practice going through the house at night with the lights off and the shades closed.

As for my 77 Wagoneer. I stripped the junk yards. Extra distributor, alternator, Carb...

For those with newer vehicles and concerned with EMP ... disconnect your battery cables ... both ... then hold the pos and neg cables together to discharge the residual electricity and you'll be okay. BUT ... every time you hook it all up and start ... your PCM will have to go through a relearn for the first few miles.

Dedicated_Dad said...


Your cable-modem/broadband phone **SHOULD** still work in a power outage, though there are exceptions.

The "phone-modem" - if a separate unit - or the cable/phone device (if a single, as most "package plan" devices are) should have a backup battery installed. Mine has proven to be good for a couple of hours of power outage.

Adding a relatively-inexpensive "ups" device (~$100 or so) can extend this time by another several hours depending on the size of the battery. I've enjoyed Internet and phone through all but the longest power-outages. Spend a little more on one that's capable of filtering and you add a lot of protection for the connected device(s) as well.

Several years ago I spotted a SPECTACULAR deal on some "850" units by APC and bought a dozen or so. Each computer in the house is connected to one. Another powers our "cordless phone" base-station/answering machine.

One in each bedroom ensures the clocks keep working, and a larger one both protects the "entertainment center" from surges/brownouts and prevents all the clocks from blinking "12:00" for eternity...

Still, you're dependent on your cable-provider to have practiced similar diligence on all their repeater-stations between your home and their data/comms center. If there's a powered repeater/amp/whatever down the road with no backup power, it will break your connection even though your "modem" and the provider's data center may still be "up."

It's prudent to maintain a POTS line, but becoming ever less cost-effective to do so. The "breaking point" for me was when our "telco" told me it would be YET ANOTHER 10 days before they could get a tech back out to fix our line following our THIRD OUTAGE IN A MONTH. Wait 10 days for restoration of service is bad. When you fix it in the morning THEN BREAK IT AGAIN HOURS LATER - that's worse. Telling me I have to wait ANOTHER 10 days is PATHETIC.

But - all that said - when you break it, make me wait 10 days, fix it and break it again on the same day then make me wait 10 more, then REPEAT THE FIX/BREAK/WAIT 10 DAYS **AGAIN**??

I'm done!

Especially when the cable-co promises 24-hour service and comes THE NEXT DAY to handle my install.



Uncle Al said...

When the time comes, I'll be glad to purchase a few handfuls of books. Please post requested price in junk silver. I have a lot of metallic cameos of that bastard FDR, but the metal is 90% silver! (-:

irishdutchuncle said...

the C-PAP should be able to operate on a 12v. battery power supply, assuming it isn't destroyed by the power surge/EMP. (instruction book strongly recommends having a dedicated surge protector for the unit) your medical supply store would be happy to sell you the cord...(special order) with your doctors prescription.

a deep cycle marine/RV battery is reccomended.

skybill said...

Hi Mike,
It don't take much, was that an "EMP" or just some bushytail that shorted out the transformer?? 'Was at the "gun Show" an some dude had this box of really cute little LED 4"x1" (3)ea. AAA cell anodized alum. flashlights. Got em' stashed everywhere for just such an emergency. As for "Stash" for tradin' 1/2 pints of whiskey and tobacco!! While yer at it, over at Wallyworld they have Red Rider 650 rnd. "Assault" BB Guns for 25 buckeroos. Save the gunpowder and lead for big game. BTW what's the ETA for the "Book??"

Anonymous said...

Get a few of those glow-stick lights and keep them handy for power outages. They're cheap, easy to use, non-flammable and greatly assist in finding the blasted matches.

I concur: Get the book done so we can buy it... and help shamelessly promote it by posting info everywhere.