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Thursday, February 23, 2017

News and information after TSHTF

After TSHTF, be it local or national, there will be a need for staying up to date on some news stories. Weather reports and forecasts will help you decide what to wear and whether or not travel is a good idea. Reports on road conditions and traffic can help you decide which routes are safest if you need to travel. Government activities like relief stations and the various restrictions put into effect for “safety” are good to be aware of. So how do you plan on getting the “news”?

I, for one, am reaching a point of saturation when it comes to “news”. When I was a kid we had the three main networks and the “news” came on at 6:00pm and 10:00pm every night. Radio stations gave highlights at the top of each hour, with a few AM stations providing news reports all day. In-depth news coverage was provided by daily newspapers that weren't 90% advertising.
With the invention of CNN in the 1980s we were given “news” coverage 24 hours a day, and the various other all-news channels now allow us to pick our form of bias in the “news” we get. Along comes the Internet and the Drudge Report and now we have “news” available whenever and wherever we go. Most of what is now reported falls short of being actual news and is mindless fluff, used to fill in the gaps between commercials. The worst are the commercials disguised as news shows. In disgust, I have stopped listening to most of it (especially during election seasons) and have narrowed my sources in the last few years.

How do you get news after TSHTF? For any large-scale crisis, I doubt the Internet will be available. Even in local emergencies, the electrical and phone/cable infrastructure can be damaged enough to shut down your access to the web. The Internet was designed to be resilient and will route data around damage, but it may not be able to get route it all of the way to your device. Local radio and TV stations will try to stay active, but they rely on outside sources for most of their content. Here are a few sources for you to think about:

As much as I hate rumor-mongers, they can be a source of information. It may be incomplete or incorrect, but it's information. Small towns and distinct neighborhoods still have a few people with nothing better to do than keep track of the folks who live around them. These local busy-bodies can be handy if you need to find someone or check on them, since they'll know quite a bit about local conditions. I have a standing policy of not passing on unverified rumors, but I make exceptions for disinformation purposes. Sometimes I want people to believe things that aren't true, for my own purposes.
Any gathering of people will provide an opportunity to gather information, especially if it is peaceful. Churches, water sources, and informal gatherings will likely provide better quality information than a press briefing or “stump speech” from a politician.

People will pick up news of their surroundings as they pass through, which means that sitting around a campfire swapping stories with folks who have come from or through an area you're interested in could be a good idea. Travelers may be able to trade information and current conditions of other locations for the things they need to keep moving towards their destination.
A subset of travelers would be someone on a route that passes by you. The mailman is going to see a lot of local conditions as he travels his route, as will food or fuel delivery drivers. Law enforcement and military will likely be under orders to keep their mouths shut, but medical and maintenance crews probably won't.

There are a lot of options for news available to anyone with a good short-wave receiver. I prefer digital tuning on mine, but the older analog tuners can be very good at picking up distant stations. Short-wave is Amplitude Modulated (AM) radio, so it will bounce and carry further than Frequency Modulated (FM) radio signals. Sources like the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) and Deutche Welle (DW, it means “German radio waves”) still broadcast world news in English on frequencies that bounce to the far corners of the world. They are also good practice at picking out the bias in any news source, since they have completely different views on events that happen here.
Blending with the travelers from above is Citizen Band (CB) radio. Truck drivers still have them in their trucks and they do still chat with each other as they wander about delivering things. Very short range if you stay within the legal boundaries, but there are places that sell amplifiers capable of boosting the power 100-fold or more. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frowns on boosted CB signals and has been known to track down stationary ones.
For local radio communications, the Family Radio Service (FRS)/ General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) bands are used by the little walkie-talkies that you can find in any electronics store. FRS/GMRS radios are very low power and short range, but they are cheap and easy to use.
If you want to be an active participant in the news system, amateur radio (Ham radio) is an option. We posted a guest article on the subject a few weeks ago, and there will be more to come. Trying to track down a testing location so I can start the process of getting my license is being a bit of a challenge. There are disadvantages to living in small-town America, but I have already found relay stations in my area that will allow better coverage around the hills. One more license to add to my collection of government-issued paperwork, but it shouldn't be too difficult to get.

Treat all information and news that you hear as questionable until you can verify it for yourself. Trusted sources should be designated now, before TSHTF, and even those may be compromised so take it all with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Monthly Roundup

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

What's Old
I had hoped to show the new hold-down brackets for my storage bin, but the project turned into more work than I expected. With the steady rain here in California (Yay!), plus no covered place to work, this will have to be postponed until there is a dry weekend.

What's New 

Kidde 10 B:C Rated Auto/Marine Fire Extinguisher
I purchased a fire extinguisher for the new car. I have kept one in every vehicle that was my primary car or truck since I received a drivers license. With a trunk offering more room and mounting points I bought a larger unit, one of the reasons for which is the unusual fuel mandated by the State of California which can deteriorate fuel lines and potentially cause (has caused, in my experience) fires.

A permanent mount for this is another work in progress, also delayed due to the weather.

From the Home Depot page:
The Kidde Auto-Marine 10-B:C rated Fire Extinguisher is ideal for use in watercraft and transportation regulations. This fire extinguisher is approved by the USCG and DOT, for use on flammable liquid and electrical fires. Store in your boat, car or truck for emergency situations on the water or with your automobile. Includes bracket.
  • Listed for B:C fire types for automotive and marine use 
  • Meets dot and USCG regulations 
  • Store with your boat or car 
  • Graphic instruction label 
  • Powder-coated cylinder resists corrosion 
  • Retention strap allows for mounting and easy access

    Ka-Bar BK5 Becker Knife & Tool Magnum Camp Knife
    I looked at a new large knife recommended in a post written by Garry Hamilton and shared to our Facebook Group.

    I have been shopping for a larger knife to add to my camping gear, to go along with (or replace?) an ancient 5" Buck fixed blade. I was really discouraged by what I was seeing from several online knife retailers; everything seemed either too expensive or too cheap, and since I like to touch and feel things before I buy, online wasn't looking too promising (buying from companies that have generous and easy returns still means re-boxing, shipping and then starting the search all over again). Referrals from friends always help me decide on how to spend my money, and the above article made my day.

    From the Amazon page:
    • High quality 8 inch 
    • Durable handle made from grivory 
    • Heavy-duty polyester sheath with front pocket 
    • 1095 cro-van steel blade 
    • Overall length 13-1/2 inch 
    • Becker knife design with high quality 8" blade
      The knife is very sharp right from the box, fits my hand well and the sheath has a pocket for a small sharpening stone. I did not try using the knife for my dinner prep, since boneless, skinless chicken breasts and most vegetables don't need something like this. Besides, I know it will do that job very well since Mr. Hamilton has already shown what the BK-5 is capable of. This knife is less expensive and has better reviews than several knives priced 50%-100% more. I'm very happy!

      Also added to my collection of useful cutting tools is a birthday gift from Erin: a very nice, very sharp and very handy Mora fishing knife just like this! I plan on giving this a proper T&E later in the year, after the rain stops and the lakes and rivers clear up. Stay tuned. 

      The Takeaway
      • Everything doesn't always go as planned, but things usually do work out. 
      • Staying under budget is easy with the help of friends.

        The Recap
        • Kidde Fire Extinguisher: $18.98 from Home Depot.
        • Becker BK-5 knife: $52.92 with Prime shipping from Amazon

          If you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

          If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

          NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

          Tuesday, February 21, 2017

          Shedding Light: Lanterns vs Flashlights

          Working in the dark is tough. The desire and even need for light is hard coded into the human psyche. We've talked some about flashlights, and even a little bit about lanterns, but we haven't touched on when each is appropriate. With lighting, as with everything else, there is definitely a "right tool for the job."


          Flashlights throw intense light in a single spot. They range in cost from "disposable" to more than one of my truck payments. They all accomplish roughly the same thing, though the expensive ones are usually more durable, and often brighter. They also use a wide range of batteries to get their power. While some of the less-common batteries provide more light output, they are much more expensive and harder to obtain.

          Lights are rated in lumens. More lumens means a brighter, more intense light. At the same time, a higher lumen rating generally means higher power consumption and shorter battery life. Unless you have need of an exceptionally bright light, 100-150 lumens gives a good balance between enough brightness to cut the dark and battery life that will keep you from constantly buying and changing batteries. I've reviewed some of my favorite flashlights here.


          Lanterns cast light in a generalized area. While they're usually less intense than a flashlight, they're great for lighting a work area. They're designed to be set in place while work is being done, instead of being held in the hand. Traditional lanterns burn candles, oil, or other fuels. These still have a purpose, as their fuel is usually more shelf-stable than batteries, and can be easier to find or fabricate in an emergency. We've done a few articles on these kind of lanterns.

          More modern lantern designs are battery operated, with some of the better ones incorporating LED technology. They offer respectable battery life, while providing a bright working glow. They're also extremely simple to operate, and don't involve flammable fuels or hazardous fumes.

          One of my favorites is this model. It is compact and fairly light, taking up roughly as much space as my 800 ml backpacking pot set when collapsed, and weighing only 3/4 pound.

          Related to lanterns, work lights combine the intensity and directed light of a flashlight with the area illumination and freestanding nature of a lantern. Some are powered by a wall plug, but more and more work lights are battery operated and very portable. Be careful when using work lights, as many of them get very hot and can cause severe burns or even start fires.

          There's no need to thrash about in the darkness. Pick the right light for the job and shed a bit of light on the situation.


          Monday, February 20, 2017

          Editor on Vacation

          & is used with permission.
          This is just a quick post to let you know that the Editor (me) will be leaving tomorrow to attend a MAG40 class and that I won't be back until the weekend.

          This is partly a heads-up regarding "Hey, if things are wonky, this is why; I'll fix them when I can" and partly a "I'm doing a cool thing and I'll review it when I'm back."

          See you when I get back!

          Sunday, February 19, 2017

          Gun Blog Variety Podcast #131 - Loaded Conversations with Sanford Man

          For once, Florida Man had the day off.
          • Beth is on assignment -- at Gunsite Academy! But she stops shooting long enough to send us a report.
          • Happily for Florida, the Sanford Man who shot someone to death is from Sanford, NC and not Sanford, FL. Sean tells us more about him.
          • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
          • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin discuss why Conservatives are from Mars and Liberals are from Venus. Or why their love languages are different. Or something like that.
          • Minorities with guns!!!eleventy!.. but Tiffany says to calm down. Actually, she says a lot of things, but mainly she says that this is a good thing.
          • Do you have to carry a gun out of state? Erin tells you what you need to know
          • Weer'd takes some audio clips from the first three "Loaded Live" podcasts to show you how much these anti-gunners hate you.
          • And our plugs of the week are for our state level gun rights organizations.
          Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
          Listen to the podcast here.
          Read the show notes here.
          Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

          Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:

          Preparing to Carry Out of State
          As I mentioned in the introduction, next month I am visiting Maryland, which doesn’t recognize my concealed carry permit. Because of that, I’m not going to be carrying a firearm during my visit, and it’s a testament to my commitment to the cause that I’m willing to break my rule of never visiting a state that doesn't respect my right to armed self-defense.

          But this got me to thinking about all the rules needed to transport carry pistols between states, and because each state’s laws are slightly different, preppers with guns need to be ready for them.

          The easiest, most convenient method I’ve found to keep on top of each state’s legal hurdles are through smartphone apps. Legal Heat, available from both iTunes and the Google Play store, is my favorite because it has a very clean, very quick interface that shows me at a glance what the gun laws are in each state -- be they concealed carry, open carry, restricted areas, if signs have legal weight, that kind of thing.

          If you’re an Android user, I absolutely recommend it; but if you’re an Apple user, I can’t; what used to be a 99 cent app (and still is on Google Play) is now a yearly subscription for 2 dollars.

          If you want a more robust app -- or if you have an iPhone but don’t want to pay a subscription -- I recommend “CCW Concealed Carry 50 State”. It too is $1.99, but it’s a one-time payment instead of a subcription, It has a lot more information, such as a map of which states recognize your permit, if a state has a Duty to Inform law, and a location button which uses your phone’s GPS to find shooting ranges, gun stores, and so forth.

          Both apps have information on how to transport firearms across a restricted state in a vehicle, which can be reduced to 6 key points:
          1. You must be travelling FROM a place where you can lawfully possess the firearm TO a place where you can lawfully possess it. 
          2. It must be unloaded. 
          3. Ammunition must be stored separate container from the firearm -- in other words, don’t just drop the magazine and put it next to the firearm. You might be okay with keeping the ammunition in the box you bought it in, but I wouldn’t risk that; I would actually keep the ammunition in an entirely separate and secured container. More on that later. 
          4. Both the ammunition and the firearm cannot be readily accessible from the passenger compartment -- so if you can, keep them in the trunk. If not…
          5. … LOCK the firearm in a hard-sided case and place it as far from you as possible. Please note that the glove compartment or center console does not count as a hard-sided case in this regard. For pistols, I recommend the NV200 Nanovault, a lockable metal box that will hold a full-sized 1911 and only costs $35 on Amazon. For long guns, get a hard case and lock them with a padlock.
          6. Your transport through the state must be continuous and uninterrupted. In other words, “Don’t be a tourist”. It’s unclear to me if stopping to eat is all right, but I sure wouldn’t risk it.*
          Post-podcast addendum from my friend Benjamin M. Blatt, Attorney at Law:
          Okay, so a few things here.

          First the law, the 1986 FOPA, is mostly relevant when used as an affirmative defense. In other words, in states like NJ, NY. or IL, you ARE likely to be arrested, regardless of compliance.

          One way to avoid that is to have, in addition to compliant storage, a copy of the 922 sections enacted by the 1986 FOPA, your valid issued carry license/ permit, and where and when applicable, a copy of any registration paperwork.

          In general, the federal case law has held that stops incidental to the trip ARE covered by FOPA. - Gas, picking up or dropping off passengers, stopping to eat (briefly - I'd advise against stopping for a 4-course meal just because you're near a 5-star restaurant on your journey), are all considered incidental and are generally protected, though the question may not be answered until you've already been charged.That said, stops NOT incidental ARE not covered. - Swinging by an old friend's house or visiting a girlfriend for a few days, or even getting off the interstate to check out a local brewery, are all outside the FOPA protection.

          Now, on to the really sticky one - overnights - The issue of overnights has never firmly been decided upon to a sufficient extent at any higher court level. As such, it is usually a question determined by a state trial or appellate court interpreting federal law as applied to their state's own laws, or by a federal district judge, based on the nature of the criminal charges against you.

          If you MUST stay overnight as part of a journey, be prepared to strongly demonstrate that the reason for the stay was to rest in order to be sufficiently alert to travel the next day. Included in that argument for better or worse, is probably going to be some explanation for why you could not power through to cross the border in a non-ban state, because FOPA aside, in many states, so long as the firearm remains secured mere possession by an out of state resident who is not sufficiently permitted is still going to be acceptable. It's states and areas like IL, NJ, NY, and D.C. where non-stop becomes the serious concern.

          Staying with family or friends simply because they're in the area is probably not going to be a strong enough argument before a judge on such a contentiously determined issue.

          And in any case, make your overnight stay as brief as possible - don't extend it to a morning tourist excursion. - sleep, shower, use the head, grab a light breakfast and vamoose.

          Finally, I didn't really mention CA because it would be next to impossible to have a FOPA transit reason through that state, and it's also worth noting that many of the hard ban states, such as MA, NJ, and NY also have strict local municipality statutes to worry about as well as state and local ammunition type and magazine restrictions, the latter two of which are generally applied regardless of FOPA compliance. In other words, even if otherwise travelling under FOPA to the letter. Check the state and local laws on your trip map, and leave the standard capacity and extended magazines, and maybe even hollow point rounds, behind.
          If you’re curious about transporting a firearm on an airline flight, I refer you to a post I wrote back in 2014 titled “Travelling With a Gun”, linked in the show notes. There are lots of good pictures in that post.

          Also, remember that even if you can’t carry a concealed pistol you may be able to carry a knife. has a list of knife laws by state, and there’s even a knife law app you can get -- $1.99 for Android or Apple -- which breaks down knife laws by state and sometimes even by city.

          Finally, remember that apps are not considered legal advice, so consult a lawyer if you have any doubts or encounters with the police.

          Legal Heat:
          CCW - Concealed Carry 50 State ($1.99):
          Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms -

          GunVault NV200 NanoVault -

          Flying With a Gun -

          Knife Laws by State -

          Knife Rights LegalBlade ($1.99):

          Friday, February 17, 2017

          Cheap Char Rope

          Not actually Erin.
          & is used with permission.
          I received February's Apocabox yesterday, and while I don't have time for a full review or an unboxing video (that will come later), I wanted to point out something from the box that most preppers would find interesting.

          We've talked about char cloth before, but who's heard of char rope? (If you've been watching my unboxing videos, you should have raised your hand; a year ago, there was an Apocabox that featured a length of jute rope that had been charred).

          But this month's Apocabox featured a very interesting piece of char rope, not only for its size (1" thick) but also for where it was found (Hobby Lobby, $1.29/yard). 

          Here's a video of it in action (jump to the 28 second mark if you're feeling impatient). used with flint and steel. 

          This is the kind of thing I like from an Apocabox: that moment of "Oh, cool! I never even thought about that!"

          Thursday, February 16, 2017

          Egg Storage

          The other day, one of my friends asked me if eggs needed to be refrigerated or not.

          One of the many odd or weird jobs that I have done over the years was working on a small poultry farm -- and by "small" I mean "We only had 5,000 hens laying eggs." My main job was the mixing and moving of the feed for that many chickens, but I got to help load the truck that came to pick up eggs once a week. 5,000 hens put out about 30,000 eggs a week -- that’s 2,500 dozen, or about 80 cases of 30 dozen (one standard case of eggs).

          My friend asked about keeping eggs in the refrigerator because he had seen an article which stated that fresh eggs didn’t need to be refrigerated until they had been chilled for shipping. According to the article, commercial eggs needed to be refrigerated to keep them fresh but farm-fresh eggs didn’t. Like most things on the internet, the article was right about some things and wrong about others.

          If You Raise Chickens
          Chickens are like most birds in that they only have one opening for wastes and eggs, so there is a strong possibility of eggs coming into contact with fecal matter. Keeping the nesting boxes clean and wiping the eggs with a dry cloth is usually enough to clean them for storage. Always let your eggs cool to room temperature before trying to prepare them for storage, but do not wash them!

          Do Not Wash Them
          Washed eggs won’t store long without refrigeration. The FDA requires all poultry farms with over 3000 laying hens to wash and refrigerate the eggs they produce, but the European Union forbids the washing of eggs before sale. The FDA claims it is preventing about 30 deaths a year from Salmonella by requiring the washing, but washing the eggs strips off a protective layer of the shell and exposes the (now-open) pores of the shell to bacteria. It’s the washing that is the problem, and is why eggs in the US are sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

          Storage Methods
          Eggs store well if you use the right methods. Here is an older but scientific test of some of them.

          Water Glass
          Sodium Silicate is sold as a sealant for concrete and an adhesive for firebrick, but it has also been used for years as a way to store eggs. I dug out my copy of Traditional American Farming Techniques, originally published in 1916, and it gives the same recipe as the Lehman’s link:
          1. Wash out a stoneware jar (often known as a crock)
          2. Place the eggs in the jar
          3. Cover them with a solution of water glass. 
          Eggs put away in May will be available for cooking the next winter (7 to 9 month shelf-life).

          Oil or Vaseline
          Dipping eggs in oil or rubbing them with a coating of Vaseline seals the pores of the shell and prevents oxidation as well as bacterial contamination. Kept in a cool, dry place, oiled eggs will keep for 6 to 8 months. Wax, varnish, or any other sealant will work as well.

          Packing your eggs in salt, making sure the eggs don’t touch each other or the sides of the jar, then putting in a cool, dry place will allow you to store them for up to a year. Wood ashes will also work, but tend to impart their smoky smell to the eggs.

          Whether you’re trying to stockpile eggs purchased at a good price, trying to set some aside for the time your hens stop laying, or just want to play with your food, these methods should give you a starting point. I hate to see food go to waste, so knowing how to store any surplus is a good thing in my book.

          The Fine Print

          This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

          Creative Commons License

          Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to