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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Prudent Prepping: Quakehold! Wax Review

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

Last week marked the 2 year anniversary of the Napa, CA earthquake. There is a very good recap of the damage at the 2014 S. Napa Earthquake Wikipedia page, and I gave it a very brief mention in a post a week after it happened.

Last week also saw a terrible earthquake of similar magnitude hit Central Italy, but with very different results.

What seemed to make the difference was
  1. Very strict building codes in California, used to build and remodel older structures;
  2. Italian earthquake retrofit laws only coming into force since 1997, and 
  3. The difficulty in reinforcing 100-500 year old structures. 
California has very few buildings over 150 years old, and none of them are for residential use. The house I am in now is 50 years old, and while not up to current CA codes (in place since the mid 1980s), it is built and braced well enough to show no damage from the 1989 earthquake. I don't have any worries about this house falling down in anything less than a repeat of the 1902 San Andreas quake, estimated to be 100 to 200 times more powerful than the 1989 quake that destroyed a freeway and closed the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge!

I do however have a personal concern for things inside the house falling or breaking. I have anchored the mirror on my dresser to the wall and do not have anything else to hold steady, other than the monitor and mid-tower computer case on my desk. My landlord, on the other hand, has several cabinets that are strapped to the walls, but the contents are liable to be broken in an earthquake.

I have recommended to him some of this:

QuakeHold! Museum Wax
http://amzn.to/2bTwIRt

From the QuakeHold! website :

Depending on what types of items are to be secured, and on what kinds of surfaces they will be positioned, here are some recommendations as to which adhesive to choose. In the case of china, pottery, ceramic, or wooden items the putty is preferred. For crystal and glassware use the clear gel, and for anything being secured on a more permanent basis on wooden shelves the wax is a good option.



As the china cabinets hold family heirlooms and mementos that will be difficult to replace, securing everything to the shelves is important! I used several QuakeHold! products in the past and my parents are using it to secure my Mom's mementos.

Using all of these products is very simple:
  1. Clean the base of the object to be secured, and also the space where you are securing it.
  2. Scoop out a small portion of of the wax and roll in your hands to make it soft.
  3. Place it under the item(s) to be secured and press firmly to mold the wax to the shelf and item.

One Important Tip!
When mounting bowls, vases and other items with circular bottoms, several small dots of wax from pea to grape-sized are better than one large blob. Smaller amounts will show less and make dismounting things much, much easier.

The Takeaway
Don't forget the small things in your prepping plans. Grandma's cup and saucer won't keep you warm, but saving them may warm the heart of someone close.

The Recap
Recommended to my landlord: Several QuakeHold! items, particularly Museum Wax. $10.49 from Amazon with Prime.


Just a reminder: 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, August 30, 2016

Making a Clearing Barrel

The only sound louder than a gun going off in your home is the deafening silence afterward. A million thoughts go through your head, starting with "Did that really happen?" and rapidly traversing to "Oh shit, where did the round end up?"

Negligent discharges can happen to anyone. They can ususally be traced to inexperience or complacency, and even very careful folks slip up sometimes; I have a TV with a shattered screen and a .40 slug rattling around in a wall to attest to that.

While the ideal is to never have any negligent discharges, a simple backstop can provide an additional layer of safety. Thankfully, a clearing barrel or bucket is cheap and easy to make.

How it Works
  1. The barrel or bucket is filled with sand or some other loose, dense fill materials, but sand is cheap and available. 
  2. The sand absorbs energy very quickly, serving to trap any bullets fired into it. 
  3. Larger barrels can trap more powerful rounds, but require more space and cost more. 
  4. For most practical purposes, a five gallon bucket is plenty.
Assembly
To make a functioning clearing bucket, all you really need is a five gallon bucket and sand. However, adding a lid with a hole in the center makes things far cleaner. You'll need just about 50 pounds of sand for a five gallon bucket.
  1. Use whatever tool you like to cut a roughly 3" hole in the center of the lid
  2. Fill the bucket.
  3. Pop the lid on. 
For for a cost of roughly $10 and 10 minutes, you have a clearing bucket.

How to Use It
Use the bucket anytime you need to confirm an empty chamber, so keep it near any place you use to clean or maintain your guns. When you need to confirm your firearm is empty:
  1. Drop your magazine
  2. Cycle the action
  3. Aim the gun into the hole in the lid 
  4. Pull the trigger.
If you've done everything properly, nothing will happen. 

If a mistake was made somewhere along the line, the gun will go off, but the bucket will catch the bullet and prevent collateral damage. It'll be loud, but you won't have to worry about where your round ended up or if it hurt anyone.


You can't prevent all mistakes and accidents, but sometimes you can minimize the damage they cause.

Lokidude

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Blue Collar Prepping Teespring Store

Hey Erin, why didn't BCP have an article up on time on Monday?

I was busy all afternoon, evening, and a good chunk of the morning uploading designs to our Teespring storefront and getting merchandise ready for sale.

The picture on the right is the color version of our logo and it adorns all of our items. It took me a while to get the face a nice race-neutral complexion to go with the gender-neutral picture, and it took even longer to figure out how to add camouflage to line art. But I think it came out well.

All of our prices are quite fair (lower than what Teespring recommends, in fact) and I think they all came out looking quite nice. For example, here is a hoodie in forest green, for $35.00.
Please visit our store and buy BCP-branded merch. None of us earn a living from blogging, and so all sales will go into a fund that will maintain the operation of this site and, hopefully, allow the authors to attend various prepping-related events.

Thank you!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #106 - Dr. Jill Stein Doesn't Understand Science

Tired of the toxic brain fallout that accompanies the gibbering and capering of anti-gun, anti-science, anti-logic morons? Join us in the GunBlog VarietyCast bunker and we'll weather the derpular winter together.
  • Beth interviews Liz Lazarus about her new book, Absence of Malice, a story of a self-defense shooting based on an event from the author's real life. 
  • It's the "mass murder" you haven't heard about: a man murders his wife and three children. It would have made national news IF the murdered were committed with a gun... but he used a hammer, so no one in the media cares.
  • Want to track down your misplaced car keys? Barron tells us how TrackR Bravo works, and if there are any security concerns you should have. 
  • Erin takes the reins of the Main Topic and interviews listener Robert about Dr. Jill Stein MD's absolutely silly "nuclear power plants = WMDs" tweets. Then the discussion shifts to Blue Collar Prepping as they discuss preparing for a far more plausible nuclear emergency. 
  • We're paying for it, so Weer'd does his Patented Audio Fisk™ on three anti-gunners ganging up on the president of USCCA on NPR's Diane Rehm Show.
  • And our Plug of the Week is Bob Mayne's Handgun World Episode 381, where he interviews fellow podcaster Paul Lathrop about his 6 month ordeal of being falsely charged. 
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 also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support. Go to www.FirearmsPolicy.org to join.

Be sure to donate to Erin's "Let's put Sean in purple pony shirts for the Gun Rights Policy Conference" fundraiser!


And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense at www.LawOfSelfDefense.com. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense Seminars:
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • October 15 - New York specific - Poughkeepsie, NY
  • October 22 - Iowa specific - Johnston, IA
  • October 23 - Iowa specific - Central City, IA
  • November 5 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • December 10 - Minnesota and Wisconsin specific - La Crosse, WI

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prepare Against False Charges

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
If you haven't heard the story of Paul Lathrop and you carry a firearm in your car, you owe it yourself to hear his story. It will make you consider what preparations you have against someone who files a false report with the police.

A brief summary for those folks who don't want to go to the link and listen:
  1. Paul is a truck driver and is accompanying a student on a trip. 
  2. During a stop to get gas, another truck driver gets belligerent with them and attempts entry into their truck. 
  3. Paul tells the driver that he has a gun. 
  4. Belligerent driver goes back to his truck. 
  5. Paul and his student leave, and several miles down the road they are stopped by the police. 
  6. Paul is arrested for "making terroristic threats" and "possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony" because the belligerent drive claims that Paul left the truck, waved a handgun at him and asked "Do you want to die?"
  7. The police do not seem to care that the diver reported Paul's gun as a revolver when he in fact had a semiauto Glock. 
  8. Paul fights the charges for 6 months, spending several thousands of dollars in his defense. 
  9. Paul's lawyer acquires a copy of the gas station's surveillance tapes, which prove he never left his truck and therefore did not threaten the other driver. 
  10. The charges are dropped when the other driver refuses to appear in court (and perjure himself). 
Using Paul's experience as a model, what can we learn and therefore do differently?

Have Insurance
There are many fine insurance companies that will provide you with bail money and a retained lawyer if you are ever arrested following the use (or in this case, non-use) of your firearm. I am a member of Second Call Defense, but other options such as Legal Shield, CCW Safe and the Armed Citizen's Legal Defense Network also exist. Find the plan that's right for you, pay your premiums on time, and keep their card in your wallet next to your driver's license and carry permit.

Record Interactions If Possible
While I am not saying that a dashboard camera would have kept Paul safe from arrest and prosecution, it might have helped support his side of the story with the arresting officers and at worst wouldn't have hurt him.

There are many options available to people seeking to employ dash cams. Barron B of the GunBlog VarietyCast recommends the Cobra CDR 80, but for those seeking other options there is an entire subreddit dedicated to issue. Alterately, you can turn your smartphone into a dash camera, but the apps likely will not run at the same time as a map program or music, which may be a dealbreaker for people (it is for me).

If you do go this route, be aware of the consent laws of whatever state you're in regarding video or voice recording. If you are in a one-party state, then there is no problem; you clearly have consented to record yourself. However, if you are in a two-party consent state, this may cause problems; however, be advised that consent does not mean "permission." If you simply state that "You're being recorded" and the person doesn't leave, they have effectively consented to you recording them from your car (but keep in mind that I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_district_court#/media/File:US_Court_of_Appeals_and_District_Court_map.svg
Whether or not you may record the police as they go about their business in public depends on which judicial district you're in. The 1st, 7th, 9th and 11th Circuits have ruled that recording the police is protected under the First Amendment, but the 3rd and 4th Circuits disagree. As always, be careful.

For a more detailed explanation of what is and is not legal by state, please download and read "Can We Tape? : A journalist’s guide to taping phone calls and in-person conversations in the 50 states and D.C."

Have Other Self-Defense Options
There has been some armchair quarterbacking regarding whether or not Paul could have used a self-defense spray, like Mace or Sabre, on the belligerent driver. I refuse to engage in such speculation. I will say, however, that having a non-lethal option is always a good idea, because it gives you flexibility of response instead of a choice of "lethal or nothing".

Stay Calm, De-escalate, Leave
The situation was not helped by Paul's student displaying his middle finger to the driver. Remember, if you carry a weapon, it is your responsibility to be the bigger person: do not give in to your temper, but instead leave immediately (which is what Paul did). Things would have been far worse for him had he actually left the truck.

Call 911
If you take nothing else away from Paul's story, make it this: be the first person to call the police. In a situation where you have to draw your gun, or even threaten to draw your gun, you need to make sure that your story is the first story that the police hear, because "He who calls first is believed first." Call the authorities, file a report with them, and give your side of the story,

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Update On the Nebo “Twyst” Flashlight

A little over a year ago I posted a product review of a new flashlight, the Nebo Twyst. I recently got a chance to give it a bit of a torture test and thought it would be a good idea to post an update with what I learned.

Testing Conditions
I work at a farmer's co-op, mainly in the grain elevator but I'll do whatever needs to be done to keep things moving. The location where I work is old; the original concrete bins were poured somewhere around 1919. This means that things have been modified, jury-rigged, repaired, replaced, and added onto for almost a hundred years. Some of the work wasn't very well done and a lot of pieces and parts are worn out, leading to leaks. Corn and soybeans, as well as dust, seep out of small cracks and holes, making a mess and providing plenty of food for vermin.

We recently changed management, and there is now an emphasis on housekeeping that didn't exist for the last twenty years or so. We're cleaning up big messes, and most of the cleaning is underneath grain storage and handling equipment, where access tunnels and “pits” for machinery had accumulated up to 6 feet of spilled grain, which was rotting. Cleaning is done with an industrial vacuum mounted on a modified semi-tractor and lots of water to sluice the mess into the 3 inch vacuum hose.

All of that is a description of a hot, wet, dirty, dusty, dark, rat-infested confined space. I spent three full working days underground, with half-hour breaks when the truck got full and had to go dump about twice a day. I had my Nebo Twyst with me and it got used (and slightly abused) but came out still working.


Notable Conditions and Issues

Water-Resistant Construction
I lost track of how many times the light got soaked by the high-pressure wash down hose, and it found its way into standing water a few times as well. I also washed it off every day and gave it a once-over to make sure it was still in good shape. I did have to unscrew the front bezel that holds the glass lens in place and reseat the o-ring there after the light fell once, but no moisture got through the seals. It may not work underwater, but rain or splashing water isn't going to hurt this light.
Rugged Construction
Several times it fell onto rough concrete from 3 to 5 feet above the floor. One of its fold-out legs got bent, but I was able to straighten it out with a hammer and metal bench. The light picked up some scars and dings, but everything still works.

Brightness
I really enjoyed how bright it is, especially since it was the only source of artificial light we had while 15-20 feet underground in a concrete box with a manhole on top. Most of the spaces we were working in did not have light fixtures, and the few light fixtures we did have were turned off for safety reasons (wash-down hoses and old electrical equipment don't mix). The boss was working with me and he was impressed with it, so there may be one in each company vehicle soon.

Battery Life
The manufacturer claims 4 hours at full power using the main light. I haven't changed batteries in a year, and we were using the main light for at least 5 hours each of the three days we worked (at least 15 hours of non-continuous use). Since this is normally my truck flashlight it gets used infrequently, this was a good chance to test the run-time. I am very impressed with the battery life.

Magnetic Base
Being able to stick the light onto a conveyor or piece of structural steel freed up our hands to work a bit more efficiently. However, neither rust nor thin sheet metal are suitable for holding a magnet, which is why the light sometimes fell.

Overall
All in all, this is one of the best flashlights I have ever owned. I've given a few of them away as gifts and they are greatly appreciated once the recipient actually uses it. I highly recommend this light for keeping in your vehicle or tool box, as it's still too heavy to be an EDC light. 

Given this performance, I may have to try out a few other unique lights that Nebo is making in the near future. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Prudent Prepping: Info Dump

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

Here is a heads-up on a sale from one of my favorite camping/outdoors stores! Yes, it is a sale at REI, a company with which I have a love/hate relationship due to missing out on bargains and close-outs.

REI Labor Day Sale
The sale starts August 26 and runs through September 5, with savings up to 30% and other ways to save more! By signing up for email alerts you get a 15% off coupon and early notification of all sales. For those with good credit, REI offers their branded credit card which earns 'cash back' from all purchases and a $100 gift card on issue.

Some of many things that jumped off the page at 25% off were all Lifestraw items, MSR liquid stoves and cooking items, plus all Petzl lights and climbing gear!

REI has changed their way to sell their closeouts and discontinued items. Now it is through the REI Garage, formerly The Outlet. What has changed is the ability to see items coming into The Garage before they are up for sale. I like the new setup and expect to shop the Previews every week for bargain additions to my gear.

New Purchases 
Last week I did say "no new purchases are planned", but things changed: while eating lunch at work, a friend found she had left her plastic knife and fork at home, leaving no way to cut her food. Usually there are plastic utensils available in the break room, but not this week. Since I had a sandwich to eat and this lady had made me lunch many times in the past, I gave her my Sea-to-Summit Knife and Spork set to keep and use. I really was happy to pass this on, because it was going into my camping gear, anyway as I was getting a bit tired of not having a real spoon. Several friends who like a spork seem to complain about the poor fork performance, but I have found a lack of spoonability to be what bothers me.

I replaced my set with this:

Sea-to-Summit Alpha Cutlery Set 
http://amzn.to/2buKn0S
From their website:

The Alpha Cutlery Set uses a durable aluminum which is hard anodized to add strength. This hardened shell also encapsulates the aluminum, to eliminate the risk of the alloy leaching into food. The Knife, Fork and Spoon of the Alpha Set all have a hexagonal hole (3mm, 4mm or 5mm) in the handle which can be used as a wrench for stove repair. Supplied with a mini-carabiner.

Product Details: 
  • Lightest metal cutlery on the market 
  • Ultra-light & strong aircraft aluminum alloy 
  • Conforms to FDA food safety standards 
  • Smooth matte finish 
  • Excellent-value utensil set which comes with a mini carabiner 
  • Note: the cleanser used in dishwashers will damage the anodization, so Alpha Cutlery should not be washed in a dishwasher
Also purchased was a find at my local discount grocery outlet: orange juice in a can. This is real, 100% orange juice from concentrate in a can, so no refrigeration is needed! I really like orange juice in the morning, and having the ability to carry some with me that is not damaged by heat is great! This particular product is in a 12 oz. can from Welch's, and appears to be discontinued. Priced at 2 for $1, I bought 12.

The Takeaway
  • Keep an eye open for sales and bargains wherever you shop. 
  • Take care of your friends, especially those who return the favor with great food!

    The Recap
    • One Sea to Summit Alpha Cutlery Set: $18.95 from REI, also $18.95 from Amazon with Prime. 
    • 12 cans of Orange juice: $6 from a discount grocery outlet. 

      Just a reminder: 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, August 23, 2016

      Mini Survival Kits: The Covert Kit

      Last week, we I put together the Spare Parts survival kit, which is suited to a purse, backpack, or other bag. I promised something more pocketable and this week, with the caveat that it wouldn't be an Altoids can. With that said, let's look at the Covert Kit.

      The first thing to address is why I chose to not go with the classic Altoids can: quite simply, everyone wants a mint. They see a mint tin, and they're bound to ask. The same goes for hard gum containers; I have a Mentos gum canister on my cart at work that is full of screws, and about once a week, I hear a cry of disappointment when someone finds out that it contains nothing that is either nutritious or delicious. (We have a fairly open munchies policy among friend, so if it's in the open, you're usually sharing.)

      So, in the name of security, we need a solid container that contains something most folks won't want to share. The unlikely yet perfect solution is a chewing tobacco tin. I don't advocate tobacco use, because it's not great for you; but if you chew, get some extra use from your chew cans, and if you don't, it's quite likely you know someone who does, and you can generally have their discarded cans simply by asking. The cans you're looking for are either metal and plastic or all metal; cardboard chew cans don't hold up enough to be much use.


      Snus cans are the holy grail for this exercise. They're a bit bigger than dip cans, with a much handier shape. They're also all-metal, with a nearly watertight lid. Close observers will note there is a hole in the top of my snus can; that's because I used my char cloth tin for this demonstration. Whatever can you use, be sure to wash it out first, or else all your gear ends up smelling like tobacco.

      The contents of the can.

      In one snus can, I was able to fit all of the following, with a bit of room to spare:
      • 50' of 6# test fishing line
      • 3 1/8oz jigs
      • 10 strike-anywhere matches
      • a small pocketknife
      • a ferro/magnesium rod and striker
      • a handful of jute fibers
      If I'd had any handy, I'd have added some large-ish sewing needles. (I have no clue about the proper sizing, but ones with eyes large enough to thread 6# fishing line.)

      Fishing line is handy general-use cordage, in addition to being handy for catching fish.

      I chose jigs instead of bare hooks so that I don't need to carry separate weights. This saves space and prevents loss of parts.

      The knife is just a little thing I've had around forever. It holds a decent edge and fits very nicely in the tin.

      The fire supplies are something I've gone over several times. I carry a couple methods at any given time, and jute is well-known as my favorite tinder. I could fit a lighter in in lieu of one of the methods in the can, but I keep a Bic in my pocket as a general EDC thing, so I'd rather have a different option in the can.

      Everything fit in the can, with room to spare.

      The most important part of any mini kit is to tailor it to you. Plan it around your environment, your needs, and your priorities. If very little of your time is spent outside of town, fishing gear is likely to be wasted, but first aid gear could be very commonly needed.

      I'd really like to see what the readers can come up with. What unique containers do you use? What interesting bits do you carry in your kits? How have you grown and changed your particular kit?

      Lokidude

      Monday, August 22, 2016

      Making a Screw-Modifying Tool

      Once you start modifying or maintaining your own gear, sooner or later you'll need to make a bolt or screw shorter because you can't buy one that's just the right length. Or you've got one that's just right, but the end is a bit buggered, and needs to be cleaned up; no big deal, except that with smaller screws, holding onto them can be a problem.

      Longer ago than I care to remember, I saw a picture of a gadget designed just to make this easier, and a few years back I made one*.  This knowledge might come in handy for preppers, so here's how to do it.

      You know that steel strap they use to hold bundles of brick and such together? You need some of that (you can often find some being thrown away at home improvement stores, or where someone's building a house).  

      This piece is 7" long. (Yes, the strap is a bit rusty; it's trying to rain outside, so pulling the buffer & wire brush out of the shed wasn't happening.)

      Break or cut it in two.

      Find a screw and nut of suitable size

      You can use a pop rivet if you have the tool for it. I like the screw and nut better.

      Drill a hole through both pieces near one end, just large enough for the screw to fit through.  Put the screw in and snug the nut down; only needs to be tight enough to give smooth movement when you pivot the arms.  Then cut the screw off so it sticks out just a bit from the nut.

      Now take a hammer -- a ball peen is best, but any will do -- and peen the end of the screw down, especially at the edge. That will spread the end out, and keep the nut from ever being able to come off.












       And it's almost done.








      Here I have a screw, just an ordinary screw picked at random. Find a drill bit that'll make a hole just big enough for the screw to slip through.









      Drill a hole in one arm of your tool.

      Slip the screw through the hole so that the other arm, when rotated over, traps the head.

      You can hold it by hand, or you can clamp the ends in a vise as you cut or grind the screw to length, and then file or sand the end smooth.  You won't burn your fingers trying to hold it as it gets hot, and you don't have to worry about that moment it slips from your fingers and vanishes into the ether, never to be seen again.**


      *Not long after that someone told me just where I'd seen it: the Brownell's catalog. So if you'd rather buy it than screw with making your own, they have them. And lots of other stuff, too; they're a good company to do business with.

      **A bunch of screws vanished from my ken are probably hiding in a corner of  Schrödinger's Box, where the cat is playing with them as he waits for someone to open the damn thing.

      Sunday, August 21, 2016

      Gun Blog Variety Podcast #105 - Purple Ponies at the Gun Rights Policy Conference

      Erin "Voodoo Princess Daintyhooves" continues her nefarious plot to turn everyone in the gunblog world into ponies. This time, it's Sean "Unicorn Rampant Sable" Sorrentino who has fallen into her hoofy clutches!
      • The GunBlog VarietyCast is now a proud member of The Self Defense Radio Network.
      • Beth gives us some good pointers for on how to take a date to the range.
      • Why does he do it? No, not the "NC Teen who's been arrested dozens of times before being charged with murder;" why does Sean do the "Felons Behaving Badly" segment? We're glad you asked.
      • It sounds like a science fiction movie, but it's actually evil website design. Barron tells us all about "Dark Patterns."
      • In our main topic, Sean and Erin talk about the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Tampa, and Erin talks Sean into doing something he'll regret. Want to see Sean in a Purple Pony tee-shirt? Go to the GunBlog VarietyCast page and click "Make a One Time Donation" in the right sidebar" to contribute to Sean's ponification!
      Cunning likeness, wouldn't you agree?
       I'm thinking about calling him Purple Brash.
      This is a work in progress of Sean's ponysona, one of three shirts I'm going to make him wear (yes, a pony shirt for each day of the conference).

      Would you like to embarrass Sean?
      Send donations to the following link:




      • Did you know that Erin has a YouTube channel? She does Apocabox unboxing videos. What's an Apocabox? Erin explains.
      • Weer'd didn't want to leave out all the other anti-gun nuts at the Massachusetts AG press conference. It's their turn getting a Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
      • And our Plug of the Week is for NBC's TV show Aquarius.
      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 also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support. Go to www.FirearmsPolicy.org to join.

      And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense at www.LawOfSelfDefense.com Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

      Upcoming Law of Self Defense Seminars:
      • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
      • September 17 - Minnesota & Wisconsin specific - La Crosse, WI
      • October 1 - Pennsylvania & New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
      • October 15 - New York specific - Poughkeepsie, NY
      • October 22 - Iowa specific - Johnston, IA
      • October 23 - Iowa specific - Central City, IA
      • November 5 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR

      Friday, August 19, 2016

      Apocabox Unboxing #13 (August 2016)

      Not actually Erin.
      & is used with permission.
      Once again, the curse of the Apocabox strikes. (This post is backdated to Friday the 19th, but I'm actually publishing it on Sunday the 21st.)

      That's the bad news. The good news is that I've gotten the hang of my video editing software and I've cut out the transitions between items, which means the video is shorter while still having the same amount of good stuff in it. Now if I can just remember to keep my hands in the center of the frame...

      Anyway. enjoy the video. This box, the Blackout Edition, was a box of extremes: there were some things that fell flat, but the good parts were really REALLY good, so it all evens out.

      Thursday, August 18, 2016

      Guests when TSHTF

      Whether it's due to hurricane, fire, flood, or economic disaster, it's worth planning for the problem of how to deal with house guests. When TSHTF, not everyone is going to be prepared or able to bug-in, and some will be caught flat-footed with no plan. If they are strangers knocking on your door, you should have a defensive plan in place. If they are family or tribe, they may end up staying with you for a while, and that can create a set of problems that needs to be prepared for.

      Family is a mixed bag. Some families get along well and help each other out on a regular basis; other family dynamics more closely resemble the Cold War theory of MutuallyAssured Destruction. You need to look at your family members now, before TSHTF, and decide how much aid you're willing to give each of them them. Personally, I've seen:
      • Families move in with parents after losing their house in a fire.
      • Family members move in with a sick sibling to take care of the house/kids until the illness was eliminated.
      • A father adopt his grandson when his daughter proved to be unable to care for him (medical bills and treatment).
      • Another father adopt both of his grand-kids after his daughter was found to be unfit to raise children.
      • Adult children moving in with their parents after losing jobs. This is becoming quite common.
      • Adult children moving in with their parents after a divorce. This is also becoming quite common, since divorces usually mean the loss of the house to one or both parties.
      • Parents moving in with an adult child due to medical issues.
      • Families bouncing from relative to relative, looking for a place to stay after losing their house in a flood. This can be a sign of inflexibility or incompatibility on the part of the migrant family members.
      • Adult siblings living together for a week or two following a nasty blizzard. Blocked roads and downed power lines can make it difficult to get to and from work.

      Family dynamics can be a can of worms. There are college-level courses covering the subject, but here are some highlights that I have witnessed.
      • Most parents have a difficult time accepting their children as adults, no matter how old the children are. Grandchildren help alleviate this to a small degree.
      • In-laws can be easier to deal with than blood relatives. Less history in the relationship means fewer opportunities for problems.
      • Siblings tend to treat each other the same way they did in high school (some folks never progress beyond their teenage years).
      • Some family members are emotionally toxic and not worth sharing a home with. Pay to put them up in a cheap hotel before you let them destroy your life. A tent in the back yard is also an option.
      • “My house, my rules” becomes a cudgel to some families.
      • Unresolved issues will come up. They only have to be unresolved on one side to become a problem.

      Tribe is a bit better than family, because we get to choose who is a member of our tribe, and this ensures a minimum of shared interests and goals. For many folks, it is easier to get along with a roommate than it is a sibling; this makes it much easier to accept a tribe member as a house guest. I have tribe members that have offered me a place to live (not just stay) if I ever need it, and I have made to same offer to several of them. Some I've known for a few years, others a few decades, and one I've known most of my life. These are the people I trust with my life, and living with them would be pleasant. 

      If there is a chance you may have family or tribe living with you after a disaster, be it natural or man-made, there are a few things to consider when making plans.
      • Have a clear set of rules that apply to everyone. Nothing fosters animosity quicker than preferential treatment. If lights-out (or quiet time) is 10:00 PM, then it has to apply to everyone. Little Debbie doesn't get to stay up watching TV until midnight, just because she wants to.
      • Depending on circumstances, share and expect everyone else to share food, funds, chores, and materials. After a fire or flood they may not have much more than the clothes on their backs, but they can still help out around the house.
      • Set an end date or conditions as soon as you can discuss it. Unless you're dealing with TEOTWAWKI, house guests will eventually leave. Make sure that is agreed upon as soon as possible.
      • Compatibility of pets might be an issue. If your sister brings four St. Bernard dogs to live with you and your three Pekingese, someone is likely to get sat upon. Exotic pets (snakes, fancy rats, etc.) may be seen as food to your pets, so plan accordingly.
      • Sleeping arrangements. Spare beds, couches, and inflatable mattresses are all good options for guests. Try to provide as much privacy as possible for your guests; it will be appreciated.
      • Make sure your expectations are clear. If you expect your guests to do their own laundry, they need to know that.
      • Good guests will try to avoid being a burden but some may have trouble making the shift from “head of the household” to “guest”. Major decisions are up to you to make, not your guests. Remember, they will leave eventually.
      • Don't be a doormat just because they're family, you need to keep your household running and they may not always see or do things your way. This is another good reason for privacy and separate sleeping (and living) quarters when possible. Keep reminding yourself, they will leave eventually.

      With the flooding in Baton Rouge, the riots that seem to pop up every week or two, and the various personal disasters that can strike out of the blue, we all should be willing to help out those we love and trust. Planning now will make things go a lot smoother later, which is one of the tenets of prepping.

      Wednesday, August 17, 2016

      Prudent Prepping: Bugging Out

      The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

      My weekend camping trip has been pushed back yet again, due to another wildfire* near the lake and campground where my friends and I were going to stay.

      With this fire, and the flooding in Baton Rouge, it seemed a good time to go over my Bug Out plans.

      Bugging Out: Are You Ready?
      I've written about bugging out in this post, with several links to my co-bloggers embedded in it. I feel quite lucky that I live in the suburbs and in a very mild, semi-arid area. I don't have to worry much about flooding in a normal year -- or even in a heavy rainfall year. My part of California averages not quite 17 inches of rain a year, with the one-day record of almost 7". I know, I know, several of you can see 17 inches in a week, so this is why I put the information up: I'm not going to float away any time soon. I just don't see any difference in what needs to be done in the face of a flood compared to what needs to be done in the face of a fire.

      FIRE!
      Unlike flooding, fire is a possibility for me. This post has a link to the Oakland/Berkeley Hills fire of 1991 and suggestions on suburban safety. I've continued to keep gutters clear of leaves and trimmed bushes as much as possible but this is not my house, so I can't do as much as I'd like to keep debris away.

      Since the Failed Trip of Summer has been pushed back so often, my gear has been gone over several times in preparation to leaving one Friday afternoon. As this keeps happening, my gear gets fiddled with, changed and moved around waiting for good weather and no smoky air. Since we're driving to the campground (in theory), this seems like a good time to see whether I can get things into my truck as if it is Bug Out time.

      In a dry run last Friday, all my camping gear, a water jug, bucket of food and other supplies were easily grabbed and stacked by the front door in less than 5 minutes. I feel confident everything on my Prepping Gear list can be moved out in under 15 minutes. If I happen to be at work, the Master Chief has keys and knows where the supplies (and "stuff and things") are located and can move all of it to a safe place until I get home.

      Practicing and reviewing your plans with your family, friends and your circle is required, no matter where you live. It could be what saves you and your friend's lives.


      * There has been an arrest in the continuing arson fires in the area we want to camp! This may also be the same person who set the large fires over the last two years!
       


      The Takeaway
      • Practice what we all preach: get ready, be ready, and tell your friends to do the same. 
      • Plan your plan, but don't be afraid to modify it if necessary. 
      • Store your gear where it is safe , but is also easy to grab and move in an emergency. 

      The Recap
      Nothing was purchased this week, and nothing is planned for next week. I have found some food items in my stores that are close to their artificially short 'Sell By' dates that will be removed and donated to the local food bank. What could possibly be better than helping others and yourself?


      Just a reminder: 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, August 16, 2016

      Mini Survival Kits - Part 1

      The Altoids survival kit is a bit of a legend among prepper circles, and it's actually easy to see why: a small, pocket-sized kit with a fairly wide variety of gear carries a pretty healthy appeal. The appeal is strong enough, in fact, that folks are selling them in various online outlets for $15-30 and up. I'm as capitalist as the next guy, and I applaud the hustle that this shows, but I hate spending money when I don't have to, and even $15 is a pretty steep figure for an Altoids kit.

      This week, we'll look at the kit I keep in my "tactical manbag." It's not really pocketable, I admit, but that's not its intent. This kit is for the purse, fanny pack, backpack, or whatever your bag of choice is. This kit was also assembled, quite literally, from stuff I had lying around the house.


      This is the box that holds everything. To be entirely honest, the specifics of your particular box are irrelevant, so long as it is solid enough to protect your supplies. My particular box was from some promotional item or another, and measures 5"x3.5"x2". The black elastics hold it closed because the latch on this box is less than awesome, but that's its only real failing.


      The view when you open the box. Of note are the pair of single edge razor blades, still in their sleeves, taped to the lid. (This is of note mostly because I didn't want to un-tape them for other pictures.)


      With the large bandages and 5' of paracord removed, the other contents become visible.


      The firemaking supplies in the box consist of a couple pieces of Wetfire tinder, a mini lighter, a ferro rod and striker, and a pill bottle with tinder and a handful of strike-anywhere matches.


      For a compact tool and knife, a Leatherman Micra is hard to beat. I also keep a carbide tool bit in the box. (Effectively, it's a Speedy Sharp, just a bit more compact. It's something I picked up in my tool salesman days.)


      I can also tuck a little bit of first aid in the box. It holds a half-dozen alcohol swabs, a half dozen 1"x 3" bandages, and a pair of large bandages, roughly 3"x 5". I also carry a small sleeve of ibuprofen and a tube of lip balm. The bandages and swabs were extra supplies from when I built a first aid kit; lip balm is just something we keep on hand; and ibuprofen is a lifesaver when you're broken-down and high mileage like me.

      You'll note that there are certain things that I don't carry in this kit. It doesn't have a flashlight, because I keep one in the bag. It doesn't have fishing gear, because this kit and bag aren't something that generally leaves town, and I'd rather budget that space for material I'm more likely to use. The beauty of a box this size is that it lends itself to even more customization than the traditional tin, so you can add and subtract as you feel it necessary.

      So there you have the Spare Parts mini survival kit. Next week, I'll show you its pocket-sized little brother. (Spoiler alert: it's not in an Altoids can!)

      Lokidude

      Monday, August 15, 2016

      An Old Barrel-Cleaning Tool


      This handly little device has been around in various forms for as long as there've been firearms that have a barrel where you could access both ends. It's often found at gun shows and surplus stores.

      You'll generally find a pull-through looking like this:






      If you take that loop of cord that goes through that slot and unwind it, you'll notice a seam in the brass rod. Unscrew the two pieces...





      ...and one end becomes a weight you can drop down a barrel, and the other has a slot where you can fit a patch to carry oil or bore cleaner.


      But wait! There's more!

      Look at the end of the slotted piece, and you'll find that the thread is 8-32. This means you can use any commercially-available bore brush or swab with it. Just screw it in, and pull it through.




      The British version for the Enfield rifles looked like this*.

      http://www.ima-usa.com/british-pull-through-double-mk-ib.html

      You put your patch through the loop to pull it through.

      On a personal level, the only cleaning rod I grew up with was the .22 caliber one I was given for my birthday; for everything else, from rifles to shotguns, I used a strong string with a loop on one end and something heavy enough on the other(small fishing weight worked well). Fancy it is not, but it worked.

      Caution!
      Two things to watch for, if you go for a pull-through:
      1. Some of them were made from steel. I much prefer brass, as that much less likely to ding the rifling, scrath the barrel, or otherwise cause damage. .
      2. You'll probably have to replace the string. The line has deteriorated over time for many of these and will break under any real stress. Something in a strong nylon works well.

      Sunday, August 14, 2016

      Gun Blog Variety Podcast #104 - Fun With Warning Shots

      This week, the cast of the GunBlog VarietyCast lobs a shot across your bow! Heave to and prepare to be boarded by a great episode!
      • The Beths are squared as Beth Alcazar invites Beth Vaughn to discuss why women need to be involved in the firearms industry.
      • Sean combines his Felons Behaving Badly segment with Adam's old Fun With Headlines segment and gets twice the stupidity when we take a closer look at the story "Distraught man shot and wounded by Greensboro officers."
      • Barron is still "On Assignment", but will return next week.
      • In the Main Topic segment, Sean and Erin discuss the idea of "warning shots," and talk about a story that happened in Raleigh, NC recently.
      • In The Bridge, Tiffany talks about Donald Trump and "Second Amendment People."
      • In her Blue Collar Prepping segment, Erin explores prepping against burglary.
      • And Weer'd puts Hillary's Fox News interview under the microscope.
      • Our plug of the week is for Street Kitchen North Indian Butter Chicken
      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 Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

      And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

      Upcoming Law of Self Defense Seminars:
      • August 20 - Tennessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
      • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
      • September 17 - Minnesota and Wisconsin specific - La Crosse, WI
      • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
      • October 15 - New York specific - Poughkeepsie, NY
      • October 22 - Iowa specific - Johnston, IA

      Friday, August 12, 2016

      Guest Post: The Care and Feeding of Chainsaws

      by Scott Bascom
      Scott Bascom is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

      Author's Disclaimer: this article has nothing to do with summer camps, teenagers, or campfire stories. Well, not unless you decide to make it so, but that would be none of my business... even if I do recommend a good hockey mask.

      There are three major types of chainsaws: Electric, Gasoline, and
      Battery-powered. Of these types, the most popular is gasoline powered, which typically use a two-stroke oil mixture.

      Advantages of Each

      Electric
      These require less maintenance, do not require you to store any fuel, and do not have a motor that can easily go bad from having fuel sit in it. That said, they still require all of the maintenance on the chain and the blade that any other chainsaw does, and they require a power source, such as a generator or working electricity. They are also limited by extension cords.

      Gasoline
      The most common type, these have several disadvantages as well as advantages over electric chainsaws.

      Disadvantages
      • If left stored with fuel in them for long periods of time, they tend to clog up as the fuel goes bad. This means that when you pick them up to use them they are not necessarily usable, and they are much more finicky about the maintenance on the engine. 
      • They require all of the maintenance of the electric chainsaw, as far as the bar and chain go. 
      • They are more expensive than electric. 
      Advantages
      • They can have more power than electric chainsaws. 
      • They tend to be more portable.
      • There is a wider selection available. 
      • Most people are  familiar with this type.

      Battery-Powered 
      These types have an honorable mention here. I don't generally recommend them, but in some very specific cases they are exactly the right thing to have. For example, if you are in a situation where you have electricity but not consistently, or if you cannot get gasoline consistently, or have to use a chainsaw up a tree and have plenty electricity but cannot handle having power cords, the battery-powered chainsaw is for you. It has most of the advantages of an electric chainsaw, such as lack of maintenance on an engine, but it has many of the disadvantages of a gas chainsaw, such as expense, and it has its own problems in battery life.

      Picking a Chainsaw
      My rules on picking a chainsaw are fairly simple: I decide what I am using it for, and then look for a name brand (Stihl, Husqvarna etc.) that has one that will fit my needs. I understand that not everyone can afford an expensive chainsaw, but I have learned to avoid house brands. Usually you can pick up a Poulan Pro or a Remington for around $150 that will do most jobs.

      There is nothing wrong with a used chainsaw off of Craigslist; just make sure that it works when you buy it. Sometimes small engine shops will have one that was left by a customer, and will sell it for the cost of the repair.

      If you buy used, make sure you can get the manual online. It will save you much grief.

      Care
      Most of this section will be focused on care of a gasoline chainsaw. That said, all chainsaws have several things in common:
      1. All chainsaws must have the chains sharpened on a regular basis when you use them. You will usually find the sharpening interval listed in the owner's manual. 
      2. Chainsaws require regular addition of bar oil, which is used to lubricate the chain as it rubs against the bar and you cut through things. You will usually find the maintenance interval for bar oil listed in the manual as well. 
      Sharpening
      Note: I am assuming you have a sharpening kit on hand. If you do not, you will, at minimum, need a round file to do this. Just do your best, and take it in for a professional sharpening later if you must.
      1. Turn off the chain saw. Unplug it, take out the battery, etc. I know this is a hassle, but  trust me, it's preferable to hideous injury. 
      2. Set the chainsaw down on a firm surface. If you have one, a workbench with a clamp is best, but not everyone has one on hand. A patch of sidewalk or driveway will do in a pinch.
      3. Place the circular file in the chain guide. Both of these items should come in your sharpening kit.
      4. Firmly hold the saw. Do not touch the chain itself, just the base with the handle and trigger.
      5. Engage the chain brake. This will be different on every saw, but is often a lever or button that you twist.
      6. Lay the circular file in the chain guide on the forward facing cutting grooves. 
      7. Going from near the front tip to the handle of the file, use firm even strokes to sharpen. Usually you will only need 2-3 strokes to get to shiny metal, and that is usually enough; if there are deep gouges, it may be time to change out the chain.
      8. Move back along the chain, repeating the sharpening of each cutting groove. 
      9.  Unlock the chain brake as needed, and rotate the chain forward. Lock the chain brake again, and sharpen until all of the forward facing grooves are sharpened.
      10. When you have done all the forward facing teeth, do the ones facing backwards, if your chain is so equipped.
      Accessories
      I highly recommend a carrying case with a sharpening kit, the owners manual, and if needed either a spare charger, a spare bottle of premix oil, or power cables. I also recommend a spare fuel can specifically dedicated to premixed 2-stroke fuel if you have a chainsaw that uses it. If you do this, I highly recommend that you use a fuel stabilizer that is rated for small engine use, as that will help to maintain the stability of your fuel and longevity of your tools.

      If you are feeling especially rich, I also recommend a spare chain and bar. They come in very useful if you are using your chainsaw heavily during an emergency.

      Storage
      Remember, use common sense. Put this out of the way of small children, teenage boys, and people in hockey masks. Also, I highly recommend that you have a dedicated container for any accessories with this chainsaw.

      Operation
      The first thing to keep in mind with any chainsaw is that, just like any powerful tool, you need to use common sense when using it. Chainsaws are designed to cut into things, and if you're not careful this can include your limbs. Some basic safety tips:

      Always wear eye protection. I know it's not all that appealing to have to remember to put on glasses every time you were use the chainsaw, but it can and will throw things into your eyes unexpectedly. The last thing you need is to have in a medical emergency while you're dealing with another disaster.

      Always wear hearing protection. Even when using a chainsaw for a short period of time, remember that things can fly into your ears. Especially if you, like me, have ever accidentally cut into a wasp nest. (Running around with a wasp sting in your ear canal is one of the most unpleasant experiences during a disaster).

      A good combination of eye and ear protection is a hard hat with integrated earmuffs and face shield. Not only is it all-in-one, but it also protects your head from falling debris and your face from kickbacks. 

      Always wear gloves. Gloves, aside from the armoring safety factor, will actually help to maintain a grip on the chainsaw when you are working for long hours and are very sweaty. I highly recommend a mechanic-style glove instead of a work-style glove, because they fit your hands better and tend to provide equivalent protection when using a chainsaw, while still allowing great flexibility and dexterity.

      Always wear chainsaw chapsThere is a reason chainsaws are the weapon of choice in so many slasher movies: nothing that will do more damage faster to the human body than a chainsaw. Chainsaw Chaps are designed to clog and stop the saw before even a complete revolution of the chain, preventing damage to the leg underneath. You'll have a heck of a bruise and feel like you were kicked by a horse, but that's better than losing your leg or your life.

      Remember to cut starting with the base of the blade, unless it is a specific blade, chain and saw setup designed to cut with the tip. Otherwise the it can kick and buck backwards and hit you, and that is absolutely no fun.

      (As a side note, several major chainsaw brands have wonderful safety features on their saws, so that if you accidentally put your hand on it, it is far more likely to stop than to cut into you. Unfortunately, these brands are typically fairly expensive, and out of the price range of most blue-collar preppers.)

      Remember to stop every 15 minutes to half an hour to check on bar oil level and the general health of the saw. If you have an inexpensive saw, you will probably need to tension it every 5 to 10 minutes of heavy use. If you tension it before you start, you should be able to go up to 15 minutes without problem, but remember that inexpensive saws have more slippage in them. There is nothing wrong with this; you just have to remember it. The bar tensioner is typically located at the back of the saw, and can usually be adjusted by hand without tools.

      Finally, remember that in order for a tool to be really useful, you should practice with it before it's an emergency. I highly recommend that you go out and cut firewood or similar before you have to do so in an emergency.

      Good luck, and have fun picking out a hockey mask!

      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 amazon.com.