Monday, September 10, 2012

Alternative Worlds

Every so often I feel as if there is an entire, more interesting, world just hanging out beyond my periphrial vision.  Every so often, when I turn my head unexpectedly I get a glimpse of this other world.

I think most of this odd alienation comes from having lived an entirely mobile lifestyle from early childhood.  I suppose that for many readers it would be akin to spending a week with gypsies or Travellers and discovering just how different their lives are from yours. Only, instead of a rare, epiphanic, event, its a regular occurance for me.

I do exaggerate slightly. I may spend up to half a decade in a single city.  I struggle desperately to put down roots, to find a home where I hope, one day, to feel as if I belong. Yet... even now, mere years after buying my first home, I feel as if I could have done better, chosen... better.

Not that it matters. I haven't seen my home in a full year, haven't actually lived there for almost a year and a half.

But I digress.

Shortly after my last post I stumbled, entirely by accident, upon the EDC movement.

What's that, you ask?

The Every-Day Carry movement. Movement may be somewhat too strong a word for it. Would we discuss the knitting movement?

Now, as a general rule, I have lived closely aligned with this group of fellows. Nine times out of ten were you to meet me on the street I would have a pocket knife on my person. This has been true since I was six or seven years old, though I do admit that I fell out of the habit during school years, eventually.  I was, once upon a time, a boyscout, and though I may have been an exceptionally poor example of the breed, I never forgot the motto "Be Prepared".

It is fascinating, to me, to uncover such gems of the cultural landscape. Doubly so when I am already of a like mind with the afficionados whose works I discover.  This reveals a hint of how other people, in that more interesting world, live and think.   These people should be my friends, my fellow travellers on the road of life.

Alas, I am not a joiner, and I find that pathetic begging for companionship results in the exact opposite effect, universally.  Those who know me well may understand that my default practice is the opposite, the gruff dismissal, the pained tolerance of those who harass me for company... in short I am not a people person.  And so I explain the joke to death, another notch for my belt.

As I revealed, obliquely, in my second post, one purpose of this blog is for my own edification, a sort of journal of my progress towards the Perfected Man.  I will never get there, of course. No one ever does, but I've been.... lagging.  And while any number of topics for blog posts spring to mind, were I to dump them all upon you at once I should find I have little left to speak of... so let us focus then on this one thing: EDC.

I find that when I do not have a knife on my person, someone inevitably calls for a knife.  But, why did I not have one?

Because I have not systemicized my carrying habits.  I am lazy and disorganized.  Normally I wouldn't think much of it, but the pained patting at my pockets from time to time reveals that I have been amiss.  This leads to my understanding of this EDC crowd: carry those things that you will not be able to do without when you actually do need them.  I may not unsheath a blade for weeks at a time, but not having it when I need it is inexcusable.

So that leads me to question: What should I have in my pockets, my precious?

A knife (currently carrying a Cold Steel folding 'tanto' I've had for 15 years)
Fire (currently carrying a bic lighter. Prefer matches, but my hands are tied).
A smartphone (utility: camera, emergency contact, internets. Currently not carrying anything)
A bundle of paracord (not on me, but within five minutes distance, will rectify)
A flashlight (Nada. Failure.)
Gloves of some sort (I have calfskin workgloves within five minutes, will rectify)
A multi-tool or some other 'tool' set.  (Five minutes? unknown...  I ususally either/or this with a single blade knife)
A watch
A good pen, preferrably steel tube construction (failure!)
A concealed carry pistol with spare mag (Currently impossible. Am aiming for one of those new Ruger M1911's I saw advertised. I own, but due to geographic concerns carry is out of the question).
A sturdy leather belt (own, not worn, will rectify)
A carabiner.
A bandana or other utility 'cloth'. (Nada, failure!)
Durable Foodstuffs/pocket munchies (nada. Failure. May not rectify for outside conditions)

I should explain the philosophy behind various items/choices.  I'll save that for another post, perhaps.  Likewise, this is mostly a spitballing list, so I may include additional items. 

However, this philosophy can be, and is, extensible outwards.  Let me call the 'in my pockets' the 'Level 1' carry.  SInce I was a 'yout' I've always carried a backpack of some sort. What I've got now is a sturdy 'blackhawk' bag, which was called a '3-day ruck' that I've owned for only a few years less than the knife at the head of the list.  This would make a good 'bug-out' bag, I suppose, but then it would be harder to lug around on a nearly daily basis.  What should go in my 'leve 2' bag?
To avoid wasting time, I'll point out this is all failure on my part.

Some sort of First Aid kit
Pocket survival kit (Fish-hooks and line, etc)
A liter of water and additional food
A bigger flashlight
Spare ammo
A change of socks or two (never, ever go anywhere far from home without socks! Unless you are a sockless sunofabitch)
An emergency blanket/reflector
A small prybar (12")
Assorted tools (wire snips, screwdrivers... whatever you need to support your pocket carry first)
A spool of sturdy twine
Duct Tape

I dunno. There's got to be a crossover between utility and portability.  Plus, you do need to be aware of your environment. I mean, I'm tempted to put on a 'survival hatchet', but then, I would be carrying my bag mostly in the city and, at that point, its pretty much excess baggage.  On the other hand, if I were out in the wilderness, I'd probably ditch the prybar and tools in favor of said hatchet.  If I get around to refining this list here in the blogosphere I'll probably try to do it as a series of deeper posts for each 'level'.

Level 3 would be the stuff you keep in your car or on your bike.  Stuff you wouldn't want to lug around personally, but might not be able to 'go home' to collect.  This list is really more notional than even the level 2 list at the moment.

Long-arm or shotgun
Ammo for carry pistol and long-arm
Hammer, nails, screws screwdriver and assorted hand tools (saws, etc)
Blanket(s). I keep surplus wool blankets in my car, I may keep a survival sleeping bag in the future.
I do like the IDEA of keeping a few pieces of 4 foot 2X4 in the trunk, but that isn't always feasible
An emergency medical kit (bigger and more extensive than the carry first aid kit). This is such a big one that many car makers are including them as extras when you buy a new car.
A fire extinguisher

Level 4, should it come to that is the 'bug-out bag', which for me means stuff you have packed and ready to go for when the fecal matter impacts the air occilator.  I don't actually have one of those yet, but I can imagine that when I do assemble one it will include 'non-spark emergency tools (Ax, sledge, shovel), air filters/oxy-masks, full camping gear and so forth.  Where I live the purely environmental issues are floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruption... though my actual house is well situated for two out of the three, at least (top of the hill, away from the most likely route of pyroclaustic flow... not as 'away' as I'd like, but we're talking hot-ash falls, not buried in lava, so its do-able).  Hopefully it will never come up, but I betcha the folks living on Mount Saint Helens said the same thing for years...

I should point out that when I said 'floods' I mean full on Tsunami floods are predicted some time in the next, oh, decade or so. I'm not quite far enough inland to ignore that, but far enough to feel confident I can weather the storm. On the other hand, more usual snowmelt floods seem to happen annually in my...neighborhood is too intimate a word here... region.

Do I sound paranoid?

Not really. Paranoia would be dwelling constantly upon the possibilities.  This is a rational, quiet moment 'risk-assessement'.  I feel I should point out that almost one year ago I told my wife to buy a small generator for the house, which she reluctantly did. Within a month and a half our neighborhood lost power in a horrible storm for a full week.  Except, of course, my house, which was powered by a generator my wife had bought based on my own casual risk assesment, made from halfway around the world.

The question then becomes: Do I set up my 'level 4' system to be entirely 'grab and go', or do I stage it so that if I remain in place, should the worst occur, I will be better prepared?

Well, I suppose it won't really matter in the next few months. I've got time to prognosticate.

Listening Too: Shakespear's Sister

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