Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Little False Hope - Or Maybe A Life Saver - The Gas Mask

Several years back, I obtained a gas mask. It came with 3 filters. The filters have long since expired and so too has the gas mask, though I would think the mask probably good for years to come since it was never used and stored under moderate conditions. With it came a complete chemical resistant suit, the thing about the suit was that it did not fit me, it was way too small. Don't ask - that is just the way it was and I will not give details.

I have often wondered if the gas mask, without the suit (or even with it) was something that could save my life in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear attack (or in the even of an industrial catastrophe). I have also wondered if having one was just so much false hope. Then I would think to myself, 'Well the Israelis give them out not only to their armed forces personnel and to their government workers and also to the general public. If they do that, there must be something to them and anyway - folks wear them all the time in dangerous industrial situations'. The thought about not having them if needed also crossed my mind, pretty often, ever since 9/11 and it was accompanied by another thought. That other thought was of all the people who would survive whatever it was that those without gas masks would not survive. I was dead serious about all those thoughts at one time or another, also just amused by them at times. They came sort of intermittently depending on what was going on in the world and most were also intermittently forgotten then resurrected again only to be forgotten again seemingly ad infinitum.

I always sort of fantasized figured I would get myself and each person in my immediate family a gas mask. I just never did it. Yet, the thought of having a need for them kept popping up now and again. I have sort of a survival mentality, I would rather win the gunfight than lose it sort of a thing, even if I get shot, so I can get to see another day. I guess that is why the idea of buying some gas masks has persisted ever since 9/11. of course, I don't know if I want to still really be alive in a post apocalyptic world the likes of that seen in Road Warrior or Book of Eli, but I don't want to suffer the alternative either - as in getting killed off because I was not prepared to survive. It does not have to be something apocalyptic either, I would not want to suffer the consequences of something much more commonplace than the end of the world as we know it - such as an industrial explosion at a chemical plant or a nuclear reactor spewing forth radioactive material into the atmosphere or maybe just a run of the mill local area terrorist attack.

There was another reason though that I did not run right out and buy 4 gas masks. Gas masks are expensive, for good ones of current or even recent manufacture, the filters that go with them are also expensive. Yes my family is worth the expense but to tell you the truth I would need the money at hand to be able to buy them and not take other things away from the wife and kids. Of course I tend to be a procrastinator when it comes to buying stuff like that, especially more expensive stuff. Not that I won't spend the money, just that I hem and haw and check this and that and it takes me forever. I do buy what I have decided upon but only after I have definitely decided upon something and once I have saved up the money (it took me a couple to a few years to decide on my first computer and then spent between a couple to a few thousand on it). Back to gas masks. Recently, I saw an advertisement for some clearance items, one of which was a very well made gas mask without filters at $20 apiece! Thing is they were sold out when I checked at the store - it is a local store - I had waited too long and checked this and that too much and lost an opportunity. Well, I was about to leave the store when the clerk asked me if I wanted to buy another brand, also well made by a reputable company or so they said. I declined though at the time since knew little about the particular model (there I went procrastinating again and I was already there with money in hand ready to buy the brand that had sold out). I went home, did some checking, then got realized I had better act fast or lose another great deal. Sometimes I can overcome the procrastination bug. So I got right onto the store's website and ordered 4 of them. I also ordered another manufacturer's mask in size small since the 4 of the other brand I ordered were only available in large. My daughter probably will need to use the smaller sized one. The 4 large sized ones were just under $25 apiece and the small one was $20. I made the order.

I guess they arrived yesterday, I found them in my vestibule today. It is a rare day when someone in my house tells me a package has arrived for me! What a surprise when, I found out that the 4 I had ordered, North model 54401, also came with CBN (chemical, biological and nuclear) filters. I found that out when I opened the box tonight but I had been thinking I would need to order filters somewhere else. That was a big money saver right there. Normally those filters go for about $40 each. I checked them to see if they had expired, it would be my luck and I was again happily surprised. The filters are marked with what I believe to be an expiration date of 06/2015 ; I plan to confirm that with the manufacturer. If that is correct, they are good for over 4 years! Such a deal, I should buy more of them.

I was also a bit surprised, this time not so happily, to see the order had gotten somewhat screwed up. They sent me 4 North gas masks alright, but only 3 large, the other was a small. I would never have ordered the other brand, a small Forsheda, had I known they had an available North mask in small; their site only showed them in large when I ordered. Had I known, I would have gotten 4 large and 1 small - all North. I am hopeful they will make an exchange, the small Forsheda for a large North (I will pay the difference). Although they did say all sales are final on clearance items - they screwed up the order so I am hopeful an exchange will be amenable to them. If they want my continued business they will do the right thing and I am a decent if not good customer of theirs. Anyway, if they will not make an exchange it will be no great loss for me and I will try to sell the Forsheda. All I needed was 4 masks anyhow, I bought 5 because I wanted an extra North size large but can do without the extra one if they ran out. If they did not run out, I may buy a few more.

Next, I'll have to work on chemical resistant suits, gloves and boots. With the way things are going in Egypt, with China building up its military and getting testy with us, with North Korea attacking the South over and over again, with Iran being oh so much closer to nukes than we had thought, with the frequency of industrial accidents, with the way the Mexican cartels are going berserk, with the unchecked frequency at which terrorism just keeps rearing its ugly head, I figure that maybe a gas mask just might come in handy someday and if not, then so what.

Now, if any of this survivalist thinking sounds crazy or paranoid to you then stop to think for a moment about the motto of the Boy Scouts of America - "Be Prepared". Then give some few minutes thought to the Bhopal Disaster in India, to the Chernobyl meltdown in Russia, or to Three Mile Island here in the USA or just read the papers everyday about terrorism everywhere. Then think solemnly about those people who died or who were terribly injured but who may have fared better had they been better prepared while living in the shadow of the dragon. I have no fantasies of being a dragon slayer, just some hope of maybe surviving the dragon's rampage to see another sunrise and to see its rays shining down on my wife and kids standing beside me, them with hope in their eyes that we will make it to yet another day. Of course, I don't really know if making it, through whatever might happen, will be worth it but the only way to find out is by being alive to find out first hand.

All the best,
Glenn B

President Obama Announces a New Form of Government in the United States of America?

I listened to about half of President Obama's state of the union address earlier this week. It mostly seemed just to be political fluff as usual. A lot of hollow but puffed up rhetoric full of sweet sounding promises with little substance, a lot like cotton candy. Looks good, tastes good, does not fill you up or supply nutrients and in the end rots your teeth.

There was one thing though, that the president said, that I just cannot get out of my head. I just keep thinking of him saying it and I think of it over and over again. The reason I keep thinking of it is because he seemingly announced that the United States of America has a new form of government now (because of the elections last November) that the new year has begun. I have listened to the news reviews of his speech, I have looked to the blogs and read about the address on several of them, and have seen little mention of him announcing our new form of government.


Oh, wait a minute, what am I yelling about - of course you know that we have always had this type of government. I just again thought of the quote in question. What he was actually talking about was probably only a new form of government that was worthy of note in his own mind. I mean, after all, our form of government has been a republic for over 200 years and in all that time, at least for the majority of it, we have in essence had a 2 party political system governing us. So, I suppose when the president said: "...governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties..." he was only admitting his own ignorance and or his arrogance in that he had apparently believed it had not been that way during the first 2 years of his term (heck maybe he thought it was always run in some way other way - more like a an oligarchy or more like a dictatorship).

Did everyone miss that quote or just ignore it? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill? I don't think that said statement was inconsequential nor that it was not extremely telling on the part of the president. He was (and probably remains), in my opinion, the most smug president in my lifetime. One of the reasons for his continued arrogance must certainly have been the fact that not only was he elected to the office under a seeming shroud of secrecy about his past but that he had a Congress, in both houses, made up of mostly democrats, ultra liberal ones at that. It is not so any longer - is it! So is it that he now needs to make it appear as if he is bowing down a bit to the legislature of our own nation, or at least to the opposing political party. Was it not so much to say sorry for America as he did when he bowed to leaders of other nations, but to say sorry for his own bad behavior in his first 2 years in office? No of course not, but probably trying to make everyone believe he is now willing to work with the opposing political party certainly helps him when he is trying to hoodwink the American people into believing that he is a swell sort of a guy who is worthy of reelection in 2012. The thing is though, he was, as is apparent by this statement, not willing to work with the other party while his party was in control. I mean, why did he never say before now that governing was a shared responsibility? Of course it was not due to ignorance, he could not be that stupid being a natural born U.S. Citizen and a community organizer and all - so it must have been due to arrogance or so I would think. Despite any talk to the opposite, he obviously never wanted to work with Republicans during the first two years of his administration, as far as I can tell. That is evident to me by this statement and by almost every piece of legislation he tried to get through Congress and by the smug attitude he had while doing so. The only thing surprising about any of this is that he would, in essence, admit as much by making this statement. Can you actually believe he said it, that he thinks our government's responsibility will NOW be a shared one between parties! Amazing however you look at it.

What next - will he realize that the American people have rights under the Constitution or that he should try to keep our nation's foreign policy strong or maybe that he should actually cut back on government spending or stop borrowing from China? Anything he says seems to me to be all so much lip service from a man who seemingly believed that before his state of the Union address, and the November elections, government was not a shared responsibility between parties!

If you have not realized it, allow me to clarify, the above is my personal opinion.

All the best,
Glenn B