Thursday, June 25, 2009

Z Mail (Z Kit)

A few questions from my readers!

Do you carry a mora?

I actually had to Google this to find what a Mora is. I assume you mean the knife? I hadn't even heard of one of these before, which is pretty odd, since apparently it's world-famous and favored by knife enthusiasts everywhere. Is it really that good? If so, I'll need to look into getting one.

What's your take on the value of those 'emergency rations' buckets from chain stores?
You mean like this?

I generally view with disdain anything that is "pre-made" because a large portion of the cost is the convenience of having someone do it for you. I think you'd be far better off assembling your own survival pantry using cans of tuna, jars of peanut butter, etc, and you'll be happier with the results. The only reason I could think of recommending this product is its 10-20 year shelf life,
so if you want to buy this for the peace of mind of not having to worry about emergency supplies for the next decade, then go for it. To be fair, though, there's really no reason I can think of for properly sealed canned food to go bad within a reasonable amount of time (2 years or so), and if you speak to anyone who's been in the military, they will tell you that food prepped for long-term storage usually tastes like reconstituted shit.

Here in Florida, we usually stock up on supplies at the beginning of hurricane season (June 1 - November 30) and then use the oldest stuff first. If you think of it as an annual chore, like putting up storm windows or cleaning gutters, then it becomes a dependable routine and you won't go OMG TEH STORM IS COMING and panic-purchase water and batteries.

I've only ever seen them advertised or sold in America and can't tell if they're a handy back up plan or something to keep the populace calm whilst the politicians evacuate :-/

It's fairer to attribute this to gross capitalism and humanity's basic desire to be lazy. "Here, buy this so you won't have to work/worry/think about it!" It's the same reason people buy fast food when it's cheaper and healthier to eat at home.

But there is a substantial "survival subculture" here in the USA (I expect there's one in any country with large wilderness areas) and it bivouacs upon a seductive, slippery slope. It's one thing to stock up on supplies, just in case. It's another to make it a full-time obsession, which is what many of these people do. It's rather like the difference between "I own a gun for self defense. I know how to use it. I keep it cleaned and within easy reach in case there is an intruder in the house" and "I have a gun in every room of the house and I can shoulder-roll to all of them. I have lines of fire clearly marked off and I know which pieces of furniture I can shelter behind. Sometimes I practice, in the dark, so that I'm ready for when the BATF comes to take my guns."

Like this.

I realize I sound a bit like a hypocrite here, but the purpose of my Z Kit is to 1) be a fun hobby and 2) pack the most useful stuff I can think of in an easy to carry container. Nowhere in that mission statement is "I will live in fear" or "I will pay huge amounts of money in order to survive at all costs." At that point it ceases to be practical and becomes a very expensive neurosis.

You may find it interesting in that I don't have a very strong survival instinct. Due to my personal belief system, I don't have any particular fear of death. What I do seek to avoid, however, is discomfort. If I'm the first to die in a disaster, fine by me (as long as I don't suffer). But dammit, I refuse to die of starvation or exposure, because those are miserable and painful.

Hopefully, my Z Kit reflects this belief.


  1. The mora (basically just a brand of the classic scandinavian style utilityknife, there is a virtually identical finnish variant) is a good utility knife for gutting, cutting or woodworking. In an emergency you can use it to cut down trees as well (By pounding it into the tree and then wrenching it).

    However you'll probably want an axe as well if you're going with a mora.
    Or a machete. Or a "sami" knife (a large almost sword-like single edged knife used by the scandinavian "native" population, about equivalent to a machete except that there wasn't any jungle)

    Note however that the mora is primarily popular because the basic knife has better quality steel (that is to say, it has any quality at all. That they managed to make a decent cheap stainless steel blade is amazing) than most cheap competitors.

    The original variant of the scandi knife is what they now call their "laminated steel" knives, and is what the finnish call "a proper puukko" ("puukko" is the finnish name for the scandinavian style utility/survival knife).

    P.S: Cheap quality knives is actually why it's called the mora knife at all. The knife used to look the same (except no red handle) with a birchwood or leather handle. In 1891 Erik Frost founded a knifemaking factory in Mora, using modern technique (and the high-quality steel that made Dalarna famous) to producing cheap but good knives.

  2. Hey, I was just traveling this week and on the way back read an interesting book, "Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life," by Neil Strauss. I had read one of his previous ghost-writer escapades (How To Make Love Like A Porn Star, with Jenna Jameson) and I was in the airport and desperate for more reading.

    It's good - it's not a survival guide, it's an account of his descent into survivalism. It's an easy read and an entertaining look at "what if I do want to take this to the next step, what with the BATF coming for me and all." Check it out!


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