Our guest Deviant Ollam can be found on twitter @deviantollam.
Our host Margaret Killjoy can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy, on instagram @margaretkilljoy, and on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/margaretkilljoy.
Some (but not all of the links) and such referenced in this show:
- Non-rightwing gun channels on YouTube include Forgotten Weapons and InRangeTV
- Keyed-alike key systems are available from Hooligan Keys and Ultimate Security Devices
- Deviant’s advice for people looking to get into the field is on his blog
the “Deviant Keyring” includes: FEO-K1, EK333, 222343, C415A, CH751, 16120, 1284X, plus Jiggler Tools
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host Margaret Killjoy. I use she and they pronouns. This week I’m talking to Deviant Ollam, who’s a security researcher—a hacker basically—only instead of just hacking computers, Deviant hacks his way into buildings as part of, doing physical pen testing of—basically breaking into buildings to see how it’s done. I’m excited to have Deviant on the podcast for a lot of reasons, and I think that you’ll get a lot out of what he has to say about how so many keys, you know, so many locks in this world all use the same keys and what those keys are, and learning how to let yourself in. And also a lot of this is really useful when you think about your own security, when you think about the ways in which people might be able to access you through your various means of physical security. This podcast is a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts. And here’s another podcast from the network. Well, it’s on another podcasts jingle. It’s like a little well teaser for another podcast on the network. Doo doo da doooo!
Kite Line is a weekly 30 minute radio program focusing on issues in the prison system. You’ll hear news along with stories from prisoners and former prisoners as well as their loved ones. You’ll learn what prison is, how it functions and how it impacts all of us. Behind the prison walls, a message is called a kite. Whispered words a note passed hand-to-hand, a request submitted to the guards for medical care. Illicit or not, sending a kite means trusting that other people will be farther along until it reaches its destination. Here on Kite Line we hope to share these words across the prison walls. You can hear us on the Channel Zero Network and find out more at kitelineradio.noblogs.org.
So this week I’m talking to Deviant Ollam, and if you could introduce yourself with your name, which I guess I just said, and your pronouns and any political or organizational affiliations—maybe what you do for a living might be relevant to this particular episode.
Sure, so thank you for having me on. I’m Deviant Ollam, I use he/him pronouns, and I show up a lot in odd places in the hacker world and on the internet. Most people who have ever come across me or my work probably know me for something relating to the physical security space that can stem from locks and lock picking where I am on the board of the Open Organization of Lock Pickers. TOOL is a nonprofit that has been teaching about locks and lock picking to people for decades now it seems. And we run the Lockpick Village at major events like DEFCON and a lot of smaller regional events as well. I own companies that work in this space. I am a consultant and covert entry technician. I’m a locksmith, I’m a safe technician. But the physical security world is pretty broad. So it gets into matters of, you know, maybe security on the road and security moving around in cities. I have plenty of affiliation, as do other people in my family, with people who are, we’ll say sometimes disadvantaged in the security side of things, either people who are housing insecure, or I do a ton of work with the Sex Workers Outreach Project—so SWOP and SWOP Behind Bars. I have lectured and talked to sex workers and other people in the communities that have to kind of move through cities in ways that either they are not noticed—so you don’t want to stand out—or they have to position themselves in environments that their security might not be 100%. So I have a whole talk, actually, that’s just called “From Street to Suite.” And it’s like, imagine, you know, a high rise building and there’s this room up in a nice high floor that seems safe. What are all of the steps from the curbside all the way up to that room and all the barriers that should protect you or inhibit someone from getting up there? And let’s walk through, like, knocking each one of them down. And that goes hand-in-hand with a lot of the work I’ve done that isn’t really lockpicking but has to do with lock bypassing or bypassing of access control systems. Things like key to like systems people have this famous key ring that they’ve been building now in the community. I gave this talk in South Dakota once and people like always freeze frame right at around the half hour markm like 30 minutes 30 seconds in, where there’s this list of keys that I always carry—it’s a small list, right? But now there’s—it started, like, eBay auctions which show up and it was calling it like Deviance Key Ring. And then there were on Amazon, like, frequently bought together. And now there’s just a locksmith in Portland, Oregon area who just runs hooligankeys.com and it’s a list of like my keys and other keys. I don’t make these keys, right, but I’m kind of popularized the idea of having a go kit with a certain set of keys in them, cuz why pick the locks when you can just operate them like an authorized user.
And we can get into the other side of the more kinetic physical security of firearms and the like. I’ve been a frequent participant in the firearm community for ages and ages. I think much of the gun culture is a dumpster fire. But friends of mine, like my buddy, Ian, who runs Forgotten Weapons, is just a very mellow, very happy, kind guy. My buddy Carl— Who runs In Range TV. Yeah, Gun Jesus and the sauerkraut? Absolutely. Yeah, Carl has always taken tons of incoming fire from a lot of the edge floor type gun community people because he speaks out very plainly and very loudly about Black Lives Matter, about fighting against racism and fascism. He’s the one who runs to gun matches where, like, furries will routinely show up. “Oh, hello, nice to see you again. You’re gonna run the whole course of fire in the first full suit? It’s pretty hot today.”
Gun Jesus. That’s the most 2020 shit I think I’ve heard all week. Yeah, I wanted to have you on the show because, you know, I was reaching out to one of our friends in common. And I was like, well, who does physical pen testing, you know, who does this stuff of basically figuring out how to get into places that either you’re not supposed to be or maybe have been abandoned? And, you know, and my friend said, “Oh, you need to talk to Deviant.” And I was like, okay, and so I looked you up and I was like, oh, this is literally the person that I’ve been watching the YouTube videos of for the past—you know, it’s not like—about once a year I guess I’ll watch a talk of you talking about how to spit your drink through doors to trigger motion sensors.
A lot of people have seen that opening the bank late at night.
With a glass of whiskey.
Yeah. So from a prepping point of view, you know, you said that you have these these keys on your go kit. Would you consider yourself a prepper?
So yeah, it’s one of those very loaded terms, where, if you if you use the phrase “prepper,” on paper that can just mean a certain set of skills—collecting certain skills, collecting certain tools. But if you use it in conversation, a lot of people attach a bunch of politics to that and a bunch of worldview to that. There’s some people who are, you know, if you hear someone’s a “prepper”, you might think, well, they’re planning for something they think is coming. As opposed to, if you tell someone, well, yeah, I mean, I learned first aid because I hike and, you know, I learned gun skills because personal security and maybe I’m going to go hunting, people attach different meaning to why are you learning these things. So on paper I could certainly be described as having a prepper’s mindset. My wife and I, for example, will toe in the water gently on this one, right? Every six months we do an evac drill from house, right? We live in a major metropolitan area. It’s relatively geologically stable—not like when I was in Montana, where nothing will ever hit Montana. But let’s say there was climatologically a really bad flood that were in a coastal area. If you just had to leave, fast. Well, you can do the run around your house like a nincompoop thing. Or what we have is we have a large bag with, like, plenty of, you know, clothes for a few days, you know, some medical supplies, duplicates of medicines, but we also have in the small guns safe—because like the bulk of the guns are all in the basement or in the cabin or somewhere else—like the bedroom gun safe contains within it some household valuables, the bedroom gun, and a list. And it’s just literally the comfort of: okay, you open the gun safe, there’s a backpack underneath it. Step one is if you have to—like if the house is on fire, throw everything from that little lockbox, which is about all the bits of precious in the house, and the gun in the backpack, get the hell out of the house. If you have another five minutes, well then you grab items like two and three, you know, you go—you step it down. The cats are like items two and three, basically. And, you know, then if you have another five minutes, well then there’s, you get some art off the walls. She’s created a lot of art over the years and I have, you know, I went on Amazon, I got $7 little zipper art sleeves. So within 20–30 minutes, the truck could be meaningfully loaded in a way that if we had to like leave the house and potentially never come back or not get back for six months to a year, we’d be okay. Like, better than if we ran out of the house with mismatched socks, one boot, and a magazine of ammo for gun we didn’t grab. Like, so just doing that every six months. And it’s a pain right? Like, it’s a pain to load all this heavy crap into the truck. Because the last things on the list tend to be, like—if you have five more minutes, just grab more ammo, grab more ammo and then drive, you know, grab a couple fuel cans and throw throw them on on the roof rack. Don’t even strap them down. So it’s a pain, but each time we do it, we iterate for better.
We’re like, oh, wow, why is number seven—that’s back upstairs. I should have grabbed that first. If I was running downstairs, I should just grabbed like her flight bag. She’s a pilot, you know? So grab her flight bag. Because if we ever need to rent an aircraft, get on a plane, leave. So iterating for better, it’s soothing to me. It’s very calming. Now, does that make me a prepper? Because I have done probably way more than most of the population for a disaster that I don’t think is ever coming.
I think we’re a very resilient region out here. We have a very strong municipal infrastructure, we have a very nice culture. People are pretty easygoing in the Pacific Northwest. And, yeah, do I think anything’s gonna really ever jump off horribly? No. But if that makes me a prepper, because I want to just know that I, you know, could leave if I had to? Sure. I’ll wear that label.
Yeah, I mean, that that actually, that’s one of the whole kind of points of the show is to—I don’t, I guess I’ll use the word “prepper,” a lot just as a shorthand, but then, you know, usually I pretty much just talking about individual and community preparedness, because I throw in the community in there, because otherwise I’m just talking about a different thing than people think that I might otherwise be talking about. But I really like this idea that your “toe in the water” about it, and you’re like, “Oh, I mean, don’t get me wrong, we have our list and the priorities written then we do drills.” That is more than I think that most people, even people who sort of would identify as preppers, or are being really into preparedness, bother doing.
Probably. Because I think that doesn’t cost me anything, right, two days out of the year? And it’s not like it’s a day-long activity, literally it’s a half hour fire drill.
Versus people who literally tie up a lot of their personal resources and space with stuff, Like this—a lot of people think of prepping as stockpiling with no skill-building and no community-building. In fact, that was really—I think it’s a profound statement about society and how the certain mindset is that when the pandemic hit a lot of people who were that kind of like Burt Gummer, in the movie Tremors, right, like that generation of prepper. They were preparing all their life for a disaster that didn’t come
The disaster wasn’t, you become a warlord up in the pines in the hills and have, what, a harem of like disaffected citizens who turn to you as a warlord god, and they bow down for your spare beans and guns. That wasn’t the that wasn’t the disaster we got, we got a disaster that basically said, you have to look out for your neighbors and watch out for one another and be kind.
And in community.
And it made a lot of people really frickin sore about that fact. Because they’re like, oh, that’s not the disaster I wanted.
So to shift into the—one of the things you mentioned is that, you know, things are key to, like, and this is something that I think I really lit up about. I mean, I’ve known how to lockpick for a while, like, I’m not, I’m no expert at it, but you know, occasionally it’s very nice to get into public restrooms or dumpsters or things like that. I would never obviously advocate anyone do those sorts of things. But um, but I was reading the story the other week about wildfire out west. And it was talking about how at one point in order to get emergency crews out of an area they had to use heavy equipment to push all the abandoned cars out of the road. And I was thinking about heavy equipment. And then I was, I knew I was going to be interviewing you, and I was thinking about how apparently most CAT equipment all uses the same key. Is that, is that true?
Oh yeah. That is very, very similar. Caterpillar, Kubota, like all these major brands, Genie Lifts, Sunbelt, a lot of them tend to have uniform keys—not even a key series of a small number, but like a key. And if you ever see a lot of equipment, the keys—we’re using key in a broad sense—a lot of them are barely more than safety interlock switches with a little widget that’s kind of a little fork of metal or something. The Caterpillar one looks more key-like than others.
But yeah, a lot of these devices, they just have—this really gets into a term that I love. And I’ve been meaning to do a video on this for ages. It was inspired by—every time someone posts like a clip on Twitter or on Instagram of like a fence. They’re like, “Oh, I’m going to my neighbor’s apartment building. Look at this fence, I can reach right over it and I can hit the latch from the other side.” There’s a concept that I wish society understood better, especially in the security world, which is that there can be security products, security, meaningful locks, and then there can be symbolic locks.
The fact that someone has a perimeter fence around their apartment complex, and yeah, like you could reach over the bar or they can reach through the bars and hit the thing on the other side. It’s not that no one can get past it, it might not even be that high a fence, right? It might be a five, six foot fence. The point is, it’s a demonstration of commitment. If you are discovered on the other side of that fence, you can’t pretend that it was an accident. You could go, “Oh, I just wandered through here. This isn’t the way to shop?” Like, you did that, you know you did that. So a symbolic lock, in many of these devices, it represents a moment of commitment, like, I’m going to operate this machine now. You didn’t just bump or flip a button, like no, you took a key and stuck it in a hole and turned it.
Right. And you were carrying it.
That’s, yeah, that’s what those, a lot of the heavy equipment really is. They’re safety interlocks and they are positive confirmation that you are asserting, “I am supposed to be doing what I’m doing,” even if you’re just asserting it to yourself or the ones around you. But that’s why these keys don’t have to be outrageously complex. And in fact, the customer service side of things would be a nightmare. They don’t want to have customers calling and saying, wait, I need to order another key. What’s your serial number? Well, it’s on a data plate that’s long been scraped away by gravel and rust.
Like, I don’t know, my serial number to my front end loader is you know, so yeah, a lot of these large pieces of equipment in our world are in fact all very, very keyed alike, and anyone who wants to poke about this some more, you can look on Amazon right now. Tornado is the vendor. Tornado makes the heavy equipment key set. And it comes in different iterations, different sizes of key set. The largest one is almost like 100-some keys. But it’s not an unattainable price, right, these aren’t complex keys. A lot of them are just stamped pieces of metal. So yeah, we have that in our bag on our covert entry jobs. And we’ve been able to—I’ve never taken like a boom lift and gotten on a roof just that way. There’s probably some OSHA violation involved if I do that. But I could. I’ve demonstrated to clients walking around job sites, I’m like, so if you want to turn this key you can. For liability I shouldn’t, but if you want to start trying to start that up, Oh, look at that it started up. Okay, turn that off. Turn that off. Turn the oil pressure off too. Okay. You know, but uh, yeah, like just having a giant tea set that opens a ton of stuff, that’s nice to have around.
What is the um, you know, so I’ve looked into this key set, and I’ve done literally the same thing where I googled, you know, “Deviant key ring,” and, you know, yeah, I found lots of spare keys here and there on Amazon with like, notes about sell only to locksmiths. And then eBay has like “pen tester key ring” where you can buy, you know, for pretty cheap you can buy like a whole bunch of elevator keys and RV keys and I don’t know whether the heavy equipment keys are on there, including some stuff that’s like, the Ford police cruisers, for example. And—
To be real, the reason I didn’t buy the key ring is because it had the Ford police cruisers on it and I, I think about my own threat modeling. And I personally think it is more likely that the police are going to be curious about the things that I own, then that I’m going to have an opportunity after the apocalypse to need to pilot a vehicle that is part of the Ford fleet series. But I’m curious if you know much about the legality of acquiring, owning, using keys like this.
Right, so the main part that can trip you up—so almost in any instance keys are not defined—now I’m not a lawyer—but in my readings of most statutes, keys are not defined in the same way that lockpicks are defined under the law.
For those who don’t know, and TOOL, the 501C3 has actually done legal research. Our lawyers have pulled the lock picking laws and all states. So most states have a burglary tools statute and that is, you know, tools or implements that could be used to commit burglarious offenses and things like that, and felonious entry, and it’s very flowery language that’s often outdated to our ears today. Most states will have an intent clause for any type of multi-purpose item. So for example, burglary tools aren’t just lockpicks. A crowbar can be a burglary tool. A pipe wrench can be a burglary tool. But those, you know, they sell those at Home Depot. People own those and don’t go to jail. How is this possible? Because intent. If the circumstances of the situation demonstrate that you may have criminal intent, you’re facing different legal ramifications for owning that crowbar.
Now lockpicks, specifically, we start to get into items that aren’t necessarily multipurpose items. They’re not multi-use. Lockpicks kind of only have one real use. So again, in many burglary tools statutes, lockpicks are called out specifically as greater scrutiny. And there’s a handful of states, the most famous for would be Virginia, Mississippi, Nevada, and oh, it’s killing me here. Is it? Is it Ohio? Oh my god. There’s one other state that has uh… Yeah, there’s one other state where it is prima facie evidence—on its face this is evidence of your ill-intent because these tools, hey, come on now, this is not a crowbar that can do many things.
You know, this is obviously criminal. Now, keys on the other hand, keys are on the other side of the coin. Keys are much more likely to have a legitimate purpose than they are to have an illegitimate purpose. And if you can demonstrate any kind, you could say no, like, I have a product that this key opens, you know, this is my key. It’s one of the funny things about—do you know, this is another key to like fact. I know we’re jumping around but the listeners are tracking hopefully. When properties are abandoned and they fall into the control of HUD or a number of other agencies that have to do foreclosure work. If a property is semi-derelict, or at the very least, if a contractor is brought in to assess the condition of a property before a bank sale, most of those properties get rekeyed. They get rekeyed to a set of standard lock and keys. So a standard set of Quick Set locks, a standard set of padlock key—there’s one padlock key is literally—I did a video about this on my channel—it is the most common Master Lock key in the world. Because there’s just oodles and oodles and oodles and oodles of locks with this one key because all across this country properties that are abandoned have padlocks on gates and other entrances. They’re all the same key. Now, if you own that key, and only the key, that’s a bit of a noodle scratcher. Someone might say, you know, why do you have this key? What are you doing with this? But remember, I said it’s also the most common frickin lock.
Because they’re vendors on—if you look on Amazon I found these locks for $1. Because they have to sell tons of them to contractors. Well, if you own the lock and the key, then it’s a lot more plausible why you own that key. Well, this is the key to my lock. So the idea of a police cruiser, you know, key. And this, we’re talking about the Ford Motor Company, as most automotive manufacturers, they have what’s called fleet keying is an option for many—if you want to buy a bunch of models of car from one vendor, they say, “Can you keep them all alike?” A vendor can do that. And they have a key series, like the 1284X, the most common one, is just the first entry in that key series, the 1294X the I think C101 C102. But if you own no Ford vehicles and you’ve never even worked for a company that drove Ford vehicles, again, someone might say, “Well, why do you have this one particular key?”
If however, someone had ever in the course of their employment been a taxi driver, been any kind of delivery, any kind of vehicle driver where you might have used a key because that was the key—if you had a fleet keyed vehicle, that’s a person who might have a plausible explanation as to why they have that key. So everyone’s life is different. And everyone as you point, everyone’s kind of risk profile is different for what questions they may have to answer based on the things they own.
Yeah, yeah, I sometimes—it’s kind of awful, but sometimes I see people with really cool lockpick earrings and I think to myself, “You don’t interact with police very often.”
And maybe that’s unfair.
And custodial—oh, yeah, and custodial detention is a special animal under the law. Again, not a criminal lawyer. But I do know that there are certain things like duty to inform where if you have keys or lockpicks or anything on you, or possession of a handcuff key—there was a famous case—famous for the lockpicking world—just some poor unhoused person who was getting rousted about by the police. I think he was known to the area he was, they were just one of these people that just get targeted and harassed routinely, right? And the cops had them in their cruiser again, but he had a piece of jewelry. He had like a necklace that included odd stuff on it. One of them was a handcuff key.
Well, that was considered evidence of attempted escape from police custody, the mere possession of the key.
Without informing them, and how quickly was he arrested? How quickly was he processed and detained and then left alone? Did he even have an opportunity to say, “Hey, I have this key on me”? That’s unknown. Right? That’s interesting. I only know about duty to inform on like, you know, in North Carolina where I live I have a duty to inform officers that I’m armed as a concealed carry holder.
And the idea of having a duty—I mean, you know, it changes my, again, it changes my threat assessment. I’m like, am I more likely to be in a situation in which I need to tell a cop that I’m armed and therefore see a potential escalation in that entire encounter? Or do I, you know, it makes me wonder whether I should carry a gun on a given day as someone who carries a gun for self-defense. And so that’s interesting to see that applied to locks and these—you know, because in some ways I want to say, like, these pen testing key rings seem like brilliant Bug Out Bag items, right? Like just—now of course you have, you figured out the best deal of all, which is that your job is that you get hired—correct me if I’m wrong—your job is that companies come and say, “Hey, can anyone break into our servers, including physically?” And your job is to break into their server rooms. And in which case owning all of this stuff is actually like, I mean, you get to write the stuff off on your taxes, like I, I assume it’s kind of just chill for you. For the most part, and also I’m not at all blind to the fact that I just walked through the world in a much, much more of a friction-free state because I, the way I present, like I have a very frictionless interaction with most parts of society. I have a lot of privilege. But even if I didn’t have that, having the job—as you point out—having the job, being a locksmith, being a safe technician, having things that are just, well, it’s the same reason that a chef might have chef’s knives on them. Like, why are you carrying a bunch of knives? Oh, that they’re a chef. Okay. I guess so. Why not?
So what do you carry in your like, in your day-to-day?
Sure. So we’ll start with the sort of most minimal. I have a smartphone, right? And I started adding—there’s a little, like a little pouch. It’s not one of those fold-open wallets that holds my phone. But there’s just stuck adhesive stuck to the back of my phone case, there’s a little pouch that contains one credit card and my passport card. And this is the thing, like, if I grab my smartphone and just leave the house I can meaningfully have an entire day out and about because I have one piece of ID—and it’s my favorite piece of ID, by the way. Whenever I get a new passport I always get the passport card as well because it is, like, it’s the most ironclad government ID. It’s a passport, literally, but it has no address on it. So you know it’s your it’s your passport, it’s just here’s your passport number and here’s you. So it says yes, I am an American, this is my age, this is this is my name, and then you can—I can say “fuck right off” if you want to know anything else. You know, I don’t want a bar that I’m going into to know where I live, I don’t want, it’s not their business, right? If I were to ever interact with an authority figure in a state that requires you to show ID after, you know, Bellevue, Nevada, like, here’s my ID. I have identified myself and that is all.
But that phone which I said is in a phone case, inside of my phone case, if I peel the phone case open, I have a couple more things. I have some very thin bypass and decoding tools that can be used to work on—there’s a very popular style padlock, this little multi-wheel brass-colored padlock that Masterlock makes—a billion people have clone this padlock at this point. But that, you can just bypass those, you can pop them open. And, for example, when I lived in Montana there was a gun range that I had, I was able to go shoot at this gun range. And that was what their gate was always locked with. Well, every now and then they would change the combination. And they were not always great about communicating that combination change and it was a rusty old lock it didn’t work well, I didn’t like run—and it’s cold. It’s frickin Montana—bringing gloves off. But I could bypass the lock faster than I could try to fiddle with the combination,
Right. What is the bypass—
So go ahead.
What is a bypass for a combination lock?
So that particular lock, the multi-wheel lock, the original of which was called the Sesame lock, like “open sesame.” And then Master cloned it and other people have cloned the design. That would be called either the Sesame Lock Bypass or the Master 175 Bypass. That’s the model of Master makes. It is just inserting this thin blade into the body of the lock next to one of the wheels and rocking it, you’re trying to rock a little plate of metal on the inside and springs a lock right open.
So it’s like carving a door kind of.
Almost, almost. You’re triggering a release in a way. That same little mini tool, that same thin blade of metal, can be used to decode many, many multi-wheel locks. So if you’ve ever seen properties that have locked boxes outside—very popular is a, probably again, the most market penetration you’re going to see is Masterlock and they’re competing clones that are this sort of gray and black, vaguely trapezoidal, pear shaped lump that’s either mounted to a wall or it has a little horseshoe on top, you know, a shackles, it’s mounted to like a doorknob or a handle, as the Master 5400 series key box. That and all of its clones, by sticking a blade of metal in next to the wheels I can run the wheels and you can feel where they catch and you can pop key boxes open. So again, I’ve gone to air bnbs for—I’ve been traveling and the host didn’t send the check in email, or you know, I love being way out the middle of nowhere so I’ll get cabin with Tara or something. You drive out, it’s late at night, the host has long since gone to bed, no cell service. And you’re like, ah shit I didn’t get the combination for that. But it’s one of those dumbass key boxes. So I’m like, alright, well, I could decode this. And then get inside the cabin. And now there’s WiFi, great. Oh, now I can get the connection. Oh, well, that was the combination that I found. So I have tools like that under my phone case. I have a little piece of, you know, soda can metal, like the soda can padlock shame, right? I have a couple—
Is that something that goes in between the—it goes, like, into where the, what the shackle, the U at the top of a lock?
Is that what that is?
Yeah, so slipping a piece of metal—and people have talked about this online and you can google “beer can padlock shim” and you’ll see people doing this. It’s putting a piece of metal, a thin piece of metal, in just the right spot next to the shackle and jamming it down into the lock body will—as you analogized, it’s like credit carding a door—you can slip the latch on the lock to spring the catch open. Okay, now, what I’ll do is I don’t always walk around with a multi-tool with scissors on it. But I don’t need scissors if I’ve already cut the metal. So I’ll pre-cut the metal, a couple of them, and leave them under my phone case and I haven’t folded them into shapes. So they’re nice and flat, they take up no space. So I have a variety of little tools like that under my phone case. I have, you know, SIM card, tool, and some other stuff.
So that’s my most basic, at my most basic, every everyday carry because I always have a phone on me. And those basic tools are in my phone case. Now if we were to move it into my pockets, I always have a very tiny lockpick set. In fact, my buddy of mine, lockpicking lawyer, and he’s done a lot of multi-wheel lock decoding, it’s one of his specialties that he’ll scramble the wheels on camera and then flip the lock back over and decode it rapidly with or without bypass tools.
He’s done a little pocket set video that he has. I’ve got a similar pocket-sized set. It’s basically chopped down lockpicks. And there are, there are some other folding pocket sets that are popular for people to have. Mine just happened to be a set that I’d evolved over the years.
I can—my one thing I can brag about having picked a lock once in my life, I mean, I was ah, I was living in this squat in the South Bronx and someone booked a show. But all the PA was locked in his room. And then he was late to the show and the show wasn’t gonna be able to start. And so I walked around and looked in the gutter until I found a street cleaner bristle that wasn’t old and rusty.
I bent into a tension wrench and then use a safety pin as a pick.
And I picked the padlock and saved the show. And it was like, of all of the locks I’ve picked in my life, which is not a ton, right? I was like, this is it. It was all worth it. I did something good. He was really mad when he came home and then I broke into his room. But I feel perfectly justified.
Absolutely. I think that’s a win in my book. That goes really well. Because this person had an obligation to others and, you know, that people, friends got to step in and make sure the show must go on.
Yeah. Okay, so you carry the tiny chopped down lockpick set.
And so of course lockpick set you need like all of the different weird things, right? It needs to be at least like, like 15 or different lockpicks, right?
It’s pretty minimal. It’s just a couple of rakes, a little, a little hook and a little diamond. And a variety of turner tools. I have more turner tools jammed into that than I have pick tools. Because, again, most situations that—these are expedient situations where, like, maybe I’ll throw this at the situation, see what happens. And if it doesn’t work in a few minutes, I’m probably going to pivot to try something else, either go get proper tools or what have you. And this—it’s funny, this loops back around to sort of that other prepper thing where I said a lot of preppers are just collectors of stuff. Where, like, this is my go bag and you start putting more and more crap in it so you can’t even carry it around.
Then like, how useful is it? So yeah, I’ve tried to keep my stuff that’s on me as minimal as possible.
I’ve taken things off of my everyday carry key ring in the past, as opposed to trying to add to it with every new whiz bang fun thing. And that everyday carry key ring is the one that shows up—uh, it’s shown up in a few talks. But the one that everyone shares is this talk I gave called “I’ll Let Myself In.” It’s about halfway through that talk that you see this set of keys, which we can talk about now. I can rattle them off by memory.
Yeah, if you want to talk about what they open too. I found that that’s kind of, is the most handy of these talks, you know, because if you just—I think people like these talks because they like to imagine, like, the power that access grants them, you know?
So, so sure, what’s on your everyday carry key ring?
Sure, so there is—and this is the one that I would use the least, I actually have just demonstrated it so often that I carry it with me—there’s an elevator key called the FEOK1. This is, if anyone has seen a lot of talks about elevator hacking, this comes up a lot. Most elevators, much like heavy equipment, have industry default keys. Each brand of elevator will have their unique set of keys that their fixtures just tend to be key alike. Well, the FEOK1 was meant to be a superseding standard that across brands of elevator, this would be the emergency fire service operation key. This was pushed as a standard in the past and has later been walked back because people realize it’s a huge security risk. But being able to demonstrate to clients rapidly, hey, this key probably puts your elevators in fire service mode, you got a good chance of it, here to want to try it? That key—which also, this is another interesting thing about moving around buildings. Elevators, if you’re in an area that has by code adopted the FEOK1, well, it costs money to rekey your elevator, and you have to recertify it if you start tinkering with it, you know, the panel, right? So it’s a solution that many buildings—and you start noticing this, I’ll say this and then people listeners will be like, oh, oh, man, I think I’ve seen that, and they’re gonna start seeing it more. Let’s say you own a building, and you have Otis elevators—big name in the industry, right? Well, your default Otis elevators going to have a fire key that’s going to be the UTF key, that’s Otis’s fire key. And maybe you’ve got eight elevators in a bank and you’ve got another elevator down in the parking garage. You don’t want to rekey all these elevators, that’s big bucks.
But you’ve got to comply with that FEOK1 thing. Well, you can call up supplier like Vader Products are Adams or some other company that supplies the elevator industry and get a little red box and mount that in your lobby. And if you start walking into big buildings and offices and hotels, you might start seeing these little red boxes on the wall. That box can be keyed to FEOK1. And inside that box is your building’s fire key and a lot of times other stuff. The elevator equipment room key, the key to the roof, the key to the sprinkler valves, and a lot of stuff just winds up in those red boxes. So on penetration jobs, I have my elevator key but I’ve never had to futz with the elevator that’s, you know, a thing we don’t do without special permission. But if I could pop that red box on the wall, suddenly I’ve got half the keys to the building.
So that FEOK1 is always with me. Available online, if you ever search for it online and you see a lot of different vendors selling it, you’re not sure who’s who. I’ll tell you this, I don’t work for them. Ultimate Security Devices is this sort of scandal of the industry. This is the real—here’s the tea, let’s dish out the scandal of the gossip world, right? Ultimate Security Devices is Northeast Lock. Northeast Lock, huge vendor, huge vendor and supplier—aboveboard vendor and supplier in the elevator industry. Ultimate Security Devices is them selling stuff out the back door. It’s literally like the owner’s wife who started an eBay account and then started a website, and the industry gives them a ton of shit for it.
And every now and then their site kind of like went away and then it comes back. They move a lot of product out the back door to not anybody, they’ll sell to anybody. Okay, so that’s your FEOK1. There are two keys that I always have for access control boxes. One is a company called Linear. The Linear company has a lot of press—these are like the sort of telephony boxes that, were there like an intercom system and you usually dial through a directory and they’re, they’re popular on, like, multi-tenant buildings, either apartments or office buildings.
Linear. The official key to all the Linear boxes is the 222343 key, which, again, if we dig into my talk, it’s not always sold into that name. It’s sold under older obscure names, but Linear has one key and if you get it that opens a lot of Linear boxes. But the big one for these telephony boxes that people, again, like if they see my talks, they’ve seen some slides. You can spot them a mile away. Doorking systems.
Doorking is this vendor that has a very distinctive feature. On their boxes they have these three big buttons, the A, Z, and call. They have these scrolling, you know, to dial through the directory buttons, these big round silver buttons. And you start spotting those, you know, from your bike just going down the block. You can look and be like oh, Doorking, Doorking, another Doorking. All Doorkings from the factory since I think the 90s have been keyed to the 16-120 key. That is the Doorking key. They have more keys in the series. There’s a young kid who got in touch with me, his name is Austin, Austin Tipo. He reached out and he’s like, hey, look, there’s all these other keys. There’s the 16-122, the 16-123. And he found, you know, he ordered them from a supplier, we were comparing the bidding on them. Like, fascinating, there’s a whole key series. Never in my f-ing life have I seen anything else used except the first one in the key series.
So I have that on me. And then the real other last couple of winners are what we’ll call cabinet keys. If I’m doing jobs and server rooms and technical spaces, the EK333 key, the MK333 key, is just a very popular server rack key. It opens a ton of stuff in data centers and servers, which is useful if I want to look like I belong there. If I’ve broken in or there’s some other technician doing something, I can just turn to any direction to a big rack of stuff and start shoving this key and it’s probably gonna open it. And I just look like I’m servicing something and they’re like, “That guy must work here.”
“Is he with Verizon, what does that guy? Johnson Controls?” So yeah, the EK333. Um, C415A is an older key. I’ve started to drop it from some of my key rings. But that used to be, it would just open a lot of dumb wafer locks, it would open cabinets and locked panels. But the big one, the end-all-be-all, is the CH751. The CH751 key. And there’s a whole like subreddit just for CH751 people sharing photos of where it works. That is the everything key in North America. Every rinky dink wafer lock, which is a type of very cheap cabinet-style lock. Every rinky dink lock that’s just holding shut everything from toilet paper storage in the bathroom to, like, the phone cabinet over here, to this little locked panel on the outside of a, you know, building that has the water control for the faucet. It’s a good chance that it might be CH751. It’s the most overused key in America. Say again?
A lot of RVs also, right?
Oh god. Yeah, the default key for RV is not for the ignition typically. But for all the panels, all the outside panels and doors and patches.
Yeah, so that’s my default loadout.
Yes. So a lot of your work it seems like one of the things that you’re trying to do is be invisible in the various places that you go, you know, you’re talking about how like, as soon as you start opening, opening things with keys, everyone just assumes you’re supposed to be there. I suppose that’s the, the idea is that rather than walking around with a crowbar, which probably doesn’t look as good to bystanders?
Yeah. But yeah, there’s something that comes from having the confidence of someone who just looks like they belong there. Someone who looks cool as a cucumber. And I have the—it’s like rock climbing if you’re free climbing versus rock climbing on a belay rake, right? If you know you’re not going to die, you might make that very perilous leap to get another handhold because you’re emboldened by the sense that no harm can befall you.
The fact that on jobs I know I’m not going to get in trouble, I’m literally supposed to be there even though I’m doing things that would otherwise be illegal. It allows me to present this air of—like, even when security guards interface with me.
They say, “What are you doing here?” And time—there was a job that again—we’ve told this story on some other show long ago, my buddy Rob and I were literally breaking in—like we’re using bypass tools. We had just set off an alarm and we’re trying to get through another door. And these security guards kind of come into this big warehouse space. And Rob just thinks we are roasted. As security guards like, “Oh, well could you put that stuff down?” These big under door bypass tools. “What do you guys doing here?” And I just looked at him I was like, “Well what does it look like we’re doing here?” That was just like—I just clap back with, “What does it look like we’re doing?” And it broke his brain because we didn’t try to run. We didn’t Thumper and offer like, “Oh, well you see my sister sick and I got—” we just, we could not be arsed to care. Which is what your average, like, you know, Verizon guy or Comcast technician would do if you caught caught him on the job like, “Hey, what are we doing that wiring boxes?” “What do you need me for? Is this your wiring box? Get on my way,” you know?
So being nonchalant is a form of invisibility.
And this is, you know, if you’re in a bar, and someone next to you is acting all shifty and touching their pockets and looking at you and looking away, you’d be like, what did this person put something in my drink?
But if the person next to you in the bar is staring off into the middle distance, half the cigarette is ash because they’re stuck in their own brain and they’re not caring about whatever you’re doing. That’s the person that drops your threat radar usually, like well, they clearly don’t look like a threat there. They don’t care about me. I shouldn’t care about them. So yeah, being able to look like you’re just preoccupied with whatever mundane task you’re doing, it makes other people more dismissive of you.
Yeah. No that makes sense. It also it—I’m glad you brought up the fact that, like, it’s probably a lot easier for you to be cool as a cucumber when you know that at the end of the day you’re not going to jail because you’ve, you know, been hired to break into this place. But I bet it’s still probably good training, good practice, to learn how to interface with folks.
One of the things that I—
Lie. Lie all the time for no reason because it’s just practice.
One of the things that we used to always do is, you know, I—for a while I would make my living as a busker. I would play accordion on the street. And it’s really good cover. You know, if my friends are hanging a banner down the street and they need someone to look out, you just—two crusty kids sitting by the side of the road, they get ignored by—I mean, they don’t get ignored by cops. But cops aren’t coming up being like, “You all are involved with this direct action that’s happening,” you know, they’re just gonna harass you about anything else. It’s kind of awful but like, there’s just so many different ways to sort of be part of the landscape in people’s minds.
It feels especially insidious to—it almost feels like appropriating a space that’s not ours. But we have absolutely done sort of stakeouts of target buildings wanting to see like when employees come and go, wanting to see when their guards are there when—maybe they don’t guards at night—and adopting either that sort of posture or, not all of our team are musically inclined, right? But adopting the posture of someone who’s unhoused.
We’ve had somebody just—because you actually, especially—look how many of our clients, as you point out, are tech firms, right? The biggest invisibility shield imaginable is being an unhoused person, a distressed person in San Francisco.
Because, quote unquote, we’ll call it “respectable society,” goes out of their way to not notice you.
And yeah, we’ve had teammates just kind of sit there under like a ratty blanket with a Starbucks cup with a couple coins in it. And they’re mentally, like, literally on the back of a pizza box. One girl, she was just taking notes. This woman was taking notes of like, guard patterns on the back of this pizza box. And the front of the pizza box was, you know, “Came out to parents, kicked me out, anything helps, god bless.”
Yeah, it—by all means, I never thought of the busking idea, too, because that is kind of—it’s almost the societal equivalent of that whistling, like, whistling nonchalantly so as to not be thought of as a threat.
Like whistling Row Row Your Boat or something.
Yeah, what you do is you get one person playing the instrument and then the other person is just like, sitting next to them with a radio, you know, but they’re just like, just sitting there. And they’re the one keeping track of what’s going on. And I, you know, I used to make a couple euros, whatever, to do that in Amsterdam.
And yeah, actually, I was listening to this—I tried listening to an actual, like, a proper prepper podcast the other day while I was driving and it was this guy who had infiltrated Antifa. And the Proud Boys were good people but the Antifa in Portland, they would have killed him if they’d known who he was—and all this like just fucking bullshit. And I’m like, how do people take preparation advice from people who are so afraid of their neighbors? Because that’s—anyway. But the way that he infiltrated the the Portland protests, this right wing journalist, this like right wing war correspondent guy, he dressed up, uh, you know, as a unhoused person. And what’s funny is that he wasn’t invisible to the protesters. The protesters were like, offering him like things and trying to talk to him and like, hey, this might not be a good space for you to be in right now but how are you doing? And of course, you know, he then goes on to demonize all of them. I didn’t actually even make it all the way through it but I just thought—
He’s not that dickbag who did like, “I wardrove and I got all these sim, you know, IMEI,” he’s not that guy is he?
No, although that person who was lying—
Just got doxxed today.
I saw. None of that held water like, what they’re claiming didn’t make sense. And I’m not a real ones and zeros techno-head, but I was like, well that’s bullshit.
Yeah, I was caught up in all that. And they were like, trying to claim I’m a leader of Portland Antifa which is really interesting because I’m in southern Appalachia. And also, they claim they got it by wardriving. But my last name is spelled with one “L” on Facebook and nowhere else. And they doxxed me with one “L” and by doxx I mean my name is on a list. Like, sorry. Um, it makes me I mean—I don’t know, I don’t want to like—I need to knock on wood about some of this. But you know, they like to—I mean, they’re fucking LARPing. They’re trying to act like they’re, like, super elite doing all this amazing stuff. And it was just like some guy in fucking North Carolina who sat at his day job and, like, you know, trolled people social media. Anyway, what would you—Oh, I actually have a question about a specific tool that I got really excited about but I’ve never had a chance to use. It’s these eight-way keys, these like wrenches that are not really keys. It’s like triangle wrenches and shit. And they’re meant to open like gas lines and water lines. Have you seen these? They’re like the little like cigar-shaped?
Are they? Are they what they’re cracked up to be?
Yes, they are really useful. In fact, I believe Silcox or Cel-Celox? Silox? That is one of the types of those, it’s like the little square or triangle one. There is an eight way—It almost looks like a little ninja star.
There’s an eight way, like, adapter that’s the best one. It’s again like cheap on Amazon. It’s actually two cross-shaped ones that fit together. And they—because if you had eight points that close together be hard to get a lot them to stick into holes.
But yeah, that’s the perfect kind of thing—we have one of those in our grab it and get out of the, you know, get out of the house—in that bag kind of tool. Because again, like you there’s plenty of places where you go to a rest area and for no reason, like, the water fountain is turned off or the water faucet is turned off. And not because it’s like cold in the winter, just because, well we—I don’t know. Who knows. People might get free water, that would be terrible. But yeah, those kind of things. Those, I know hikers who carry them a lot.
Because they’re in the middle of nowhere. They just want to refill their water and for some reason the water valve is turned off somewhere like with one of those non-handle, you have to stick a thing in a hole.
So I’ve known trail hikers who have those on them.
Okay, yeah, because those are, you know, if I’m too nervous to walk around with a bunch of keys that operate heavy machinery when they clearly look like I’m up to no good. I do feel like something like that in a go bag, to me is just like—I mean, one of the reasons I think what having it is, yeah, turn on water, Or even like, turn off the gas lines in your building if you’re leaving because of an earthquake or whatever, you know. And apparently they open maybe subway doors or something I’m not, I’m not sure.
Like the cars, the subway cars?
You know, they claim this and I’m imagining more like maybe the—like windows or something I don’t know, you know, the ones that have—
It might be the emergency—so a lot of like mechanical doors—door operators on subway car and things, there’s an interlock, right? When there’s no power the gears are statically stuck, they’re like a screw cog gear, right? So if you can pop an interlock, then the door becomes free sliding. There might be something like that. I’ve never looked that closely but now it makes me curious if mass transit type doors have a little, a little hole next to them, that would make sense. And again, it’s that little slightly extra level of commitment, where it’s not just a thumb turn where any, any like 12-year-old kid waiting for like the trolley to start moving could just turn it and then bone the door. But these are the kind of keys that like every emergency vehicle has a little set of Silcox keys in it, you know, so that kind of makes sense to me.
Yeah, the symbolic locks, I think about like, a lot of people who live on land will have gates, right and you know, a gate that has no camera on it or whatever, like anyone can get past them, a lot of them aren’t even locked. But a lot of them are pretty much there just for the like, the security of like, you put up a no trespassing sign and a gate and even if the gate is unlocked—it depends. I think there’s a state-by-state—the police can’t come in without a warrant. Or if they do, you can say leave, you know. And so it’s not about, no one can get past this gate, how would anyone ever figure out how to like drive around the gate or something, right? But it’s still a useful thing. And it’s funny to me because I don’t love a world of like, locks and fences and gates and stuff. But, you know, while we live in this world, it seems to make sense to figure out how to keep ourselves safe.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Barriers demarcate as much as they deny or delay entry.
And it’s—as you point out the insidiousness—it’s almost like copyright law. Like companies have to be dicks.
If they don’t protect their patents and trademarks, they lose them. They’re like, “Well, you didn’t try to protect that.” So they have to send all these cease and desist crap.
As you point out with your property, there’s different protections under the Fourth Amendment for open fields versus curtilage. And curtilage is defined only by the boundaries that are, you know, enclosing it and a properly designate-able, like, this type of fence—and this was a very clear cut—not even like a barbed wire fence. But as a proper picket, you know, like you have a fence that limits visibility. These are all things that play into the factor of what level of privacy is someone trying to set for themselves. And that actually informs under the law what expectation of privacy or invasion of privacy is occurring under the Fourth Amendment?
Okay. That shit’s so wild. When you do your work or when you would imagine leaving and needing to be able to move through the world in a—where law looks very different—do you consider, like, most of what you do seems to be like non-destructive methods of entry, right? Do you also do destructive methods of entry like, you know, crowbars and bolt cutters and things like that?
Yes. When authorized. We have definitely done that on different jobs. And sometimes, like it’s—I just did a job on an army base last week where somebody—there was a GSA safe, like, wasn’t operating correctly, I had to, as the sanitized language in our industry is, I had to “neutralize” the container. And it was very destructive, it was very loud in the middle of this like, you know, unit, I was just going to town with power tools.
But outside—perimeter fence, we have definitely done some destructive work on perimeter fence when authorized. It’s also really fun to trench under fences quietly or climb them. There are tools that are just known as “fence climbers,” they look like these, oh, they’re kind of J hook-looking tools where you can slip them through the fence on a chain link fence.
And it just turns into a ladder instantly. It’s, yeah, if you look up like, you know, “fence climbers” as a tool, you’ll see that they’re are these little folding feet that you can go boop, boop, boop, and then up over the fence, and boop, boop, boop, pull them out the other side.
I miss being small enough that like, I remember when I suddenly was like, too large to just magically be able to climb chain link fences. You know?
I have not been able to do so unaided for a while. I remember like, you know—
I mean, when I was like a little kid. And yeah, your feet fit inside the link.
Yeah. Your sneakers, you toes would be right in there, it was perfect.
Yeah. Okay, yeah, because one of the reasons I asked about like, you know, people used to sort of laugh about it with dumpstering. I mean, most of the way that people get into dumpsters is usually sort of bypassing locks and things where you can like pull the hinge out of the back of the, you know, if it’s locked in the front you just pull the hinge out, and then you pop it open the other way. Or, like, if it’s a plastic lid, you can kind of just like, sometimes just jump on it, and it bends enough that it—
Goes through. But then you know, some people would be like, okay, we’re gonna pick this lock. And then someone’s like, well, it’s a lot faster to just cut the lock. And now obviously you’re changing your relationship with that particular grocery store when you cut the lock. But I just I think of like, I don’t know, sometimes the expediency of destructive methods of entry seem um—okay, well, like another example of this: The first time I really hung out with locksmiths was when I was a squatter in Amsterdam and there would be—and squatting was legal. But it was only legal—so it’s kind of similar to what you’re talking about but like a hair more dangerous in that it’s illegal to break into a building, even if it’s empty, unless you successfully break in before the police stop you, and put a bed, table, and chair inside. And you can do all of that while the cops are outside trying to stop you as long as there’s enough like people preventing the cops from getting to you. It was this weird game. It ended in about 2011 or so when they legalized squatting again.
Oh, man, I never knew that.
And so you’d have these teams of squatters who were mostly professional locksmiths. But it was interesting because they never picked locks. They would go the night before, they would check it out, and they would come back with crowbars and wedges. And they would break open the door because they have to do it in like 30 seconds while cops are trying to arrest them for doing exactly what they’re doing, It’s very… It’s very weird. But so I grew up with that—I grew up? I was an adult—but like, you know, that—I came up into understanding physical security from this more destructive angle. I don’t know, I was curious whether you had work with this kind of stuff.
That’s why—no, I mean, I’m not usually one to wish that any kind of destructive means was employed. I really do like the bypassing element because it splits those two worlds.
It’s—bypassing can be as rapid as something destructive, but as light touch as a non-destructive entry, as a manipulation attack.
No that makes sense. So you’re not gonna throw a crowbar in your go bag?
Probably not. I do in the truck. Like, in our truck we have, you know, bolt cutters and big pry bars and things. That’s just because there’s a job box in the back of the truck that has a bunch of different tools in it. And if you’re in a situation where something is badly, you know, if literally, someone says hey, I need to get in this thing. I have no other way in. Well, okay, take out the bolt cutters with big cheater bars on them I guess.
Yeah. Okay, so we’re coming up on an hour. And so I guess I kind of wanted to ask whether you have any last thoughts or things about individual community preparedness or about physical security penetration. Including like, if someone’s interested in knowing more about this or even getting into it professionally, do you have any advice for them?
Sure, the real key word and that you’ve used there, and it’s so very, very often absent from these discussions, is the word community.
You know, any kind of preparedness—it’s like that whole, well, alright, I’ve got my gun with my magazine of ammo in it. Well, when you exhaust that magazine of ammo, either you better have really, really neutralized and like, prosecute every single threat in the vicinity. Because if you’re out, you’ve just called a ton of attention to yourself and now all eyes on you. Like, what are you doing? You need to have your next move planned. The same thing holds true for any kind of preparedness, where, you know, much of what I said from the very beginning—Tara I, like, our plan is not, hey, let’s get everything in the car and then what, like live in the car up front of the house? No, the whole idea is to get to the next place, get to the next page. Either get out to the cabin, get over to this person’s house or that person’s house. So having a community of people that expect, you that you say, if you ever picked up a phone and said something is bad, I’m coming, we would say, “Yeah, the guest room is ready, I’ll pull down the Murphy bed.” Or Likewise, if we call them and say, “Wow, it’s no good here. Can we come out there?” They say, “Yeah, you know, we’ve got the whole separate property, you can take the tiny house on the east side of the property.”
So anyone who thinks that—and I think this is really the failing of that old generation of like, kind of 80s prepper, right?
That was a person who was in it for themselves. I don’t want to paint any community with a broad brush like that. But a lot of that mindset was, “Well, I need to be ready. So I can withstand so that I can come out on top.” Is really that—if you boil it down that’s what a lot of I think the old mindset was.
And I really think that’s dumber than shit.
Because it has to be: What do we do together?
Like, what tools do I have that you don’t have? What skills do you have that I don’t have? And having a network of people that you can turn to. If I encounter any—if I encounter a weird firearm I’ve never seen and I’m trying to figure out how to make it run right, I will call Carl is better than that at me—than me at that. Like he’s just better. If someone else has, you know, dropped a deer, I can clean it, gut it, get prepared. But I say well, what else can I do with this deer? Well, Rich, you’ve been hunting deer since you are way younger than I ever have. What do I do with this deer? Having more people that you can turn to and having more skills—our brains can only learn so much so fast.
But someone else who knows music, someone else who knows medicine, that’s how we—What’s this? It’s, um, hang on, I can check my notes… Oh, society! That’s right. We’ve been doing this for a while. It’s called fuckin society.
Yeah. It’s actually really good idea.
Yeah. That’s the part that gets lost in a lot of these weird Mad Max fantasy, “I’m the lone survivor” plans that people have. I don’t get it.
Yeah. I’ve talked a lot about how people and relationships are sort of the best resource that one could possibly have for almost every crisis situation.
And, yeah. Yeah, the bunker mentality is kind of what I usually end up calling it and it.
Yeah, it’s a good phrase.
It’s what turned me off of any of this stuff. But then at some point, I just was like, well, you know, I like being prepared for things. And, you know, a couple years ago a friend of mine, who I’m hoping to have on the show, is an environmental land use engineer. And she studies how food moves around the country and its environmental impact. And, you know, a couple years ago, like, she called me and she’s like always the person that kind of calm me down for most of my, like, random political rants. But she was like, there’s a decent chance that there’s going to be interruptions in the food supply. And I was like, okay, like, at that point, you know, the thing that—that’s when I started buying buckets of beans and rice. And I don’t like, I haven’t, like, filled, you know, sheds and sheds with them. But I’m like, “Well, I would like to be able to feed 10 people for six months in the worst case scenario,” you know? And everyone’s going to have different things that they’re going to want to prepare with, but that’s one that made sense to me. So.
Yeah, were you speaking to her around like last March or April I guess?
No, it was actually, it was about two years ago. It was a—well, maybe even a little bit longer than that, maybe three years ago. And it didn’t come to pass but it was some stuff around drought that was happening a couple years ago that basically like, you know, and she called me back to be like, you know—okay, I don’t think that that is actually happening this year. It wasn’t like sound the alarm, you know? But yeah, no, it, it definitely—the sort of joke that I keep making is we’re all preppers now, you know, and that, like, most people need to have at least three weeks of food at home now if they can afford it and have a good enough home to keep three weeks of food, you know?
Yeah. And at the very beginning of the pandemic, when it was still—god I don’t want to—I’m not dismissing this at all, but it was quirky fun to some people, like people called it “the breadmaking phase.”
How many people were reaching out to—some people had starter for sourdough and some people didn’t. And some people were sewing a lot more because they had a sewing machine and some people didn’t. I personally was, like we had, we had plenty of yeast because Tara ordered it. We do have a sewing machine, but other people were borrowing it. And I was Johnny Ammo Seed around parts of Seattle because nobody could buy ammo. I was just giving away 556 to anybody. Like, just take these two mags and keep them around. Okay, get me back later. Get me back later. Yeah, I I share what I have and this is what I got.
Yeah, no, it makes sense. It actually, it’s funny, at the beginning of it all I was looking at my like, 400 rounds of 556. And I was like, well, ammo prices are up and 400 rounds is enough. Now I’m like, “Oh, god, I should have bought it when it was like only 50 cents a round.”
Yeah, that’s perpetually—I mean, we all look back on what firearms used to cost and things that you could have bought them. That’s a losing game in my mind to play. You fool yourself into thinking what we could have done. But thankfully—I’ve been divesting more and more of my ammo. I have been letting other people who go to the range with me—because up here in Seattle, in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me from communities that aren’t necessarily at home in the gun world. In fact, I just was on a podcast talking about this recently—Liberal Gun Club has a podcast—where I was talking about like a bunch of traditionally, like BIPOC people or LGBTQIA people have reached out like on DMs and said, “Hey, I’m interested in guns. I hate all the Trump bullshit at gun ranges, but you seem safe to talk to, can you tell me about guns.” So a few of us will go to arrange us together. And these were folks who are just getting into shooting during the pandemic. And I was like, “Well, here, just, here’s 50—box of 50 of 9 mil, like just use it and don’t buy the $2 a round. Don’t do that, please.”
I’d much rather it be purposed for this right now because I will always get some more later. And that same sort of mentality of, if I really get through two or three ammo, like a couple magazines with a pistol, you got to be on the next page. Because that’s not a sustainable solution solving problems that way, right? Okay. Something’s wrong if you haven’t transitioned to the rifle or gotten the fuck out of dodge.
Totally. No, that’s actually—I really like that as a practical example of like, one of the things I talk about a lot in this show is that the reason to get the stuff while you can get it is so that you can get it to the people who need it when it’s no longer available. And, you know, if nothing else, like, walking around a demo early on in the uprising handing out KN95 masks to people, you know, because it was like, well, I’m sitting on 100 of these and this is where they belong, and it just felt—I was like, ah! Cuz I had a hard time connecting, what do you do as like, when you’re the person who thinks about preparedness, and it’s hard to get your community to think about preparedness? Like, I remember at one point recently I was talking to my landmates and I was like, look like, if nothing else we have all that food. And my landmate was like, what, but did you stockpile salt? I’m like, yeah, of course, I have a giant can salt up—oh, you’re making fun of me. And like, of course, I have a giant can of salt. I’m annoyed that I don’t have like giant cans of coconut oil, you know? But that goes bad.
But yeah no, so I really like that you been doing that. And I’ve had the same experience with firearms where people who I know from, like, you know, pretty strong liberal backgrounds are just like, well, I’m queer and don’t want to die. What do I need? And then they hate that my answer is an AR 15. They hate it. But I explain why and then they think about it and they either do or don’t, you know? Yeah.
That’s literally the the one-hour sort of talk that I give on a privately open/semi open sort of Zoom maybe once every month or so now. It’s just people who are in that position where they’re like, this isn’t my community but I want this knowledge. I don’t want to look foolish and waste money. What do I do?
And I have this whole little rundown of a talk.
There’s a billion talks out there that are like, “Intro to Fire Arms.”
That’s fine. That’s out there. I have what I call—it feels like, for many of us who weren’t the popular kid because I certainly wasn’t—it’s like going to a new school, and you’re in the lunchroom for the first time. And you’re like, where do I sit? Am I gonna be an idiot? Am I gonna? Am I gonna have no friends? Am I gonna make a bad impression? It’s little questions like 223 versus 556. Are they the same?
And I walk people through. I’m like, well, clearly they’re not because they have different names.
But the technical answer is they effectively are except for small minutia.
And then the very technical answer is, but that small minutia means a whole lot to a few very serious people. And here’s the details.
Yeah. Oh god, yeah. And all that stuff, like turns people off anyway, I think, when you’re just like, have to like, know, all of this super specialized vocabulary when it’s like—but then it’s funny, because then I, you know, I started off being like, “Oh, fuck all the super specialized vocabulary.” And then the more I dive into it, the more I’m like, “Oh, that’s actually kind of interesting,” you know. But it’s the same with all prepping shit. I’m like, mostly I just want people to fucking buy extras when they can of their food and like, have some plans and start talking to their friends and neighbors about what to do in terms of times of crisis, you know?
Well, I think I’ve probably stolen enough of your time. How can people who want to see more of these talks or—how can people find you online?
Well, I am at davianollam, the unpronounceable, unspellable, you know, get it wrong easily name: D-E-V-I-A-N-T-O-L-L-A-M, or probably down in show notes or something. I am that on many platforms. I am on YouTube. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Instagram, I mostly just a professional swear word sayer on the internet. But I did have this blog post that I’ll throw you a link to, it’s kind of the—people often email me, I regularly get people who reach out and say, “Hey, you know, I really, thank you for this material. It’s been really enlightening. But what you do is so cool. How do I get into that field? I think I might be able to do this.” And I have a whole answer, it’s like a very long answer that I’ve been tweaking and adding to over the years. And it’s mostly sort of my own story of the path I took and everyone’s path is different, but it’s hopefully full of some guidance that people might have. And I’m happy to share that link to anyone who wants, and the industry is always growing. The tech community and the hacker world are nothing if not expanding and welcoming, I hop—if you talk to the right people. There’s a few fashion hustle hackers, but fortunately, no one pays attention to them anymore. Yeah, this is a great community to be involved in. Don’t be afraid to reach out, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think the hacker community is really defined as welcoming to those who come with a thirst for knowledge, not a pretense of “Oh I’m the biggest badass in the room.” You’re not gonna get traction with that. But, “Hey, what you’re working on, it looks cool. Can you tell me about it?” Is a great way to start with a lot of people.
Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much.
Thank you for having me. This is wonderful.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, please tell people about it, please post about it and tell people in person and stuff like that. Word has been going out about the show and that makes it kind of all feel worthwhile to me, because the goal of doing this is for people to hear it. And if you tell algorithms, the algorithms will tell other people that what you listen to is worth them listening to. So it’s why liking and sharing and subscribing and rating and reviewing and all that bullshit has a really disproportionate impact in terms of, you know, the amount of time it takes to do those things—which is actually really fucked up and I feel really dirty every single time I advocate that people do all those things. But that’s the way of it, at least right now. If you want to support the podcast more directly, you can do so by supporting me on Patreon. my Patreon is patreon.com/margaretkilljoy. And I put up a lot of scenes, although I’m pretty far behind on that because I’ve been focused so much on the podcast. But there’s still like almost 40 I think scenes at this point they can go back through and read if you want and so put up different music from my various projects and things like that. And if you make less money than if you live off of less money than I make on Patreon, just messaged me and I’ll get you everything I do for free because that’s the direction that money should go in as much as money should exist. But in particular, I would like to thank Chris and Nora and Haas the dog, Kirk, Willow, Natalie, Sam, Christopher, Shane and the Compound for making this podcast possible. And I’m particularly excited for all the support I’ve been getting because now I’m able to hire transcriptions—a transcriptionist? Transcriber? I haven’t actually asked her what her job title is. But I’ve been able to hire someone to transcribe the episodes and I hope that that makes it more accessible to more people. And I, you know, it’s a lot of work to do that. And I’m really appreciative of the transcriber who’s listening to me right now typing this—well, not literally right now, but will be listening to this later and typing it. So it’s really funny to be typing about yourself, isn’t it transcriber? (Transcriber note: yes it is.) Anyway, I hope everyone listening has a really great time in the near future, stays safe. Thanksgiving was always shit. It’s never been anything but shit. And it’s extra shit this year. And everyone has their own opinions about that. And the dark is coming for us, but then the sun will return.