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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Preventative Maintenance Is Affordable Prepping

If you really want to be prepared, avoid some dangers, and save money, then you really need to take care of your stuff.

In this quick video I show you some things to look out for, as well as give some suggestions on where to spend your money to take care of the stuff you have!

Be good. Be safe. If you can't be safe, be good AND dangerous!

Happy viewing and I'll see you next week!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Avoiding Craigslist Scams

I've been thinking about buying an RV for quite a while, and I finally accumulated enough money in my savings account, so I started looking around to see what prices were like. I'm not looking for another bug-out vehicle; just something that I can load the wife into and do some travelling. It'd be nice to see friends who live in other parts of the country while maintaining control of my own security and being able to travel with things that would be difficult to take on an airplane. (Spam cans of ammo are heavy, firearms don't always make it to their destination via the airlines, and I trust the TSA about as far as I could throw one of them.) Having optional living quarters is also comforting when I start thinking about the various disasters that could keep me out of my house.

We have some well-established camper sales lots in my area, one of them having been in the same location for almost 60 years. I know people who work (or have worked) there, and I have dealt with a few of the companies over the years while repairing campers for friends. Buying a new camper is worse than buying a new car: the market is a lot smaller and there is less competition, so the sales-weasels will try to get you to buy way more than you'll need. I looked at some of the new prices -- I can buy a house in this area cheaper than some of the 5th-wheel trailers go for, and I'd have to buy a better truck to tow it with. The new Class A (self-contained and self-propelled) campers all start at more than I paid for my last two houses combined.

I'm getting close to retirement age, and most of my money is tied up in trying to get set to survive living without a daily job, so buying new is not an option. (Give me a few more years and the house will be paid off and I will be debt-free.) If you have a few tens of thousands of dollars laying around or don't mind taking out a loan (neither fits me), then a new camper, trailer, or motor home might be an option. For me, I knew I would be buying something used, probably needing repairs, and I needed to keep the price below $10,000. I started with Craigslist.

Craigslist is easy to navigate and a lot of people like it because it's free. Most listings have pictures (this is important) and a price in the title, and the search function on the left-hand side bar gives options like min/max price and distance from your location. There are warnings about scams at the bottom of the page, but those don't go far enough. The scammers are looking for three things; your money, your contact information, and your personal data. If they can just take your money, they will. If they can't do that, they'll be looking to steal your identity or at least add your contact information to the files of other thieves. Some people are too trusting, and there are always jackals out there looking for some way to get money without having to work for it. Here's what I ran into and how I learned to avoid the scammers.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nobody is going to sell a five-year-old RV for a couple of thousand dollars. Nobody is going to deliver an RV (more than a few miles) for free. One scammer told me they'd deliver an RV from 1200 miles away for just the cost of gas. That fails the smell test, since they'd be eating all of the lodging and meals for travel both ways.

Read the Ad Carefully
One of the warnings that Craigslist offers is “buy local”. If you are looking at an ad in a local Craigslist and it doesn't have at least a city listed, it's probably a scam. None of the sellers that I contacted who didn't have a location in the ad were local.

Compare Prices
Looking at other used RV selling sites will give you an idea of what RVs similar to the one you're looking at are selling for. There are so many brands, models, and options available that it is unlikely you'll find an exact duplicate, but you'll find something close. Rvtrader is a site with a lot of listings, so it is likely you'll find something similar to what you're looking at. RVT is another option with 100k listings for variety.

Look At the Pictures
If you see text over the picture that isn't advertising a dealership, it's probably a scam. I use a browser add-on called Tineye to reverse-search images that I find on the internet. If the same picture is being used for listings in multiple states, it's a scam. A lot of scammers grab pictures from legitimate RV dealerships and use them in their ads, so watch for other ads to pop up in the results. Google offers a reverse-search option for images that works, but isn't as convenient.

Sharpen Your Search Skills
There are a few online sources of average prices for used RVs, with NADA being the most respected. They are the “Blue Book” that you'll hear referred to in used vehicle ads.

If there is a phone number in the listing, look at the area code and see if it is local to the area. I'm in a fairly sparsely-populated state, so I only have to deal with a half-dozen area codes within 200 miles in any direction. A lot of larger cities have that many many area codes just within the city limits. Internet searches for phone numbers aren't very useful anymore, because they all want payment for any information and a few of the cell phone companies don't even release their data to the public.

Have a Good Spam Filter On Your Email
Craigslist offers an anonymous email option for contacting sellers; use it! Don't give out your actual email address until you have made some effort to make sure you're not dealing with a scammer. Spam filters and throw-away email addresses will give the spammers something to play with. Gmail actually does a good job of filtering out the idiots, and I've noticed that hotmail and yahoo are getting better.

Exchanging Money
Once the scammer has you hooked, they are going to try to get your money. Western Union, wire transfers, money orders, gift cards, and fake escrow companies are the options to look out for. They are all one-way transfers, which means that once you have sent it, the money is gone; none of these options give you any recourse if the deal falls through or the product isn't as advertised. PayPal may be an option, and offers some options for disputing a sale. Be aware that eBay does NOT offer an escrow service, regardless of what a seller may tell you! I've dealt with eBay for 20 years, three of them as a seller, and I know their services quite well. (Check their FAQ here.) A legitimate escrow service will charge a fee for their services, so if you use one you need to negotiate who is going to pay that fee.

I prefer cash, but that has its own problems. Carrying large sums of cash to a location of the seller's choice is probably not a good idea. Practice situational awareness, have someone else with you for security, and walk or drive away if anything looks wrong. Banks will ask a lot of questions if you try to get anything over $1000 out of your accounts, due to federal anti-drug laws. I have a 30-year relationship with my bank and my banker is used to me dealing in cash, but if I hit a different branch I have to answer questions before they'll give me my own money. I've only had to complain once in those 30 years and my banker took care of it for me.

Titles and Paperwork
The best bet is to get a “clear” title: no liens, not stolen, with all of the required signatures in the right places, and nothing erased or covered with white-out will make your visit to the DMV/county tax station a lot easier. Be sure to  check your state laws, since they vary so much, on the different types of titles -- here in Iowa we have regular, salvage, and “prior salvage” titles. Once a vehicle has been damaged to the point where repairs will cost 50%+ of the value, you can get a salvage title. With a salvage title, you can't get it registered (license plates) or drive it on the road legally. Once repaired and inspected by a state official, we can apply for a “prior salvage” title and get it plated. You will not be likely to get a loan on any vehicle with anything other than a clean, regular title.

Any sale without a title is a problem. State laws vary, but to get a replacement title without a current registration in hand you're going to have to jump through some hoops. The DMV will have to do a title search, which gets tedious if they have to contact another state, and then determine that it wasn't reported stolen or totalled by an insurance company. Most states will try to contact the last owner to make sure it wasn't stolen. Then they will have to inspect it and issue a new title, which adds more delays. Unless you're buying an RV for parts, I'd avoid the hassles of buying one without a title.

I managed to find a motor home in my price range about an hour from home on Craigslist and will be writing more about it once I get it home. I need to get cash from the bank to pay for it, so it will be sometime this week before I drive it back and start working on it. It has some issues, but is mechanically sound and none of the damage is irrepairable.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Prudent Prepping: 6 Month Gear Check

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

My calendar alert went off, which means that now is the time to start looking at dates on my stored food and swapping out those things close to their sell by dates. After my food, I check everything that's kept in my GHB, my Buckets of Holding and my pantry shelves.

I do have a system that lets me see everything, but it does take a bit of time to go through all of it. I also have to set alarms before the regular 6 month check if I find items that will go past their dates, since all food I don't eat myself goes to the local Food Bank.

If my finances ever improve, some of my emergency food will rotate out and their freeze dried replacements will be at the top of my list. So far, I'm finished with the buckets, and the only things close to going out within two months are hot chocolate and canned chicken breast.

Canned Chicken Breast

The chicken I buy is Member's Mark Premium Chunk Chicken Breast from Sam's Club

From their web site:
  • ​Fully cooked chicken breast in water
  • Minimally processed
  • Contains only three ingredients, nothing artificial
  • 98% fat free
These are 12.5 oz cans packaged in a six pack, and I try to not buy more than one pack at a time to reduce the hit to my food budget. I really like the can size for because it gives me the option of eating the whole thing as a meal, or sharing it, or mixing it into other things.

Hot Chocolate

The other item that I originally purchased from Sam's Club is Land O'Lakes Cocoa Classics Variety Pack, unfortunately no longer stocked there. If I want to have an assortment of flavors, it appears I will have to order the same multi-pack from Amazon, and I really like the assorted flavors and pack count in the boxes.

From the Product Description:

  • 5 Delicious Flavors : Chocolate Supreme, French Vanilla, Arctic White, Mint and Caramel
  • Just add hot water!
  • Good Source of Calcium
  • Made The Old Fashioned Way, Like Mom Used To Do. We Put The Nonfat Dry Milk In So All You Do Is Add Hot Water
  • Total: 42 Servings, 5 Different Varieties, 6 Envelopes of Each Arctic White, French Vanilla and Caramel. 12 Envelopes of Chocolate Supreme and Mint
Since Mint is not a favorite flavor of chocolate, I leave it in the buckets and put another flavor in my GHB and on my pantry shelf.

There is some pasta, sauce, and a few other things being rotated out by the fall, so I've set alerts for this time every month up through November.
The Takeaway
  • Rotate food to keep things fresh.
  • Donate quantities that can't fit on my pantry shelves.
  • Keeping interesting flavors stocked for an emergency can reduce stress.

The Recap

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, July 18, 2017

Replace Your Lights With LEDs

I've recently begun converting the light bulbs in my house to LED. It's a quick, simple upgrade that any prepper could benefit from.

Why LED?
Just a few years ago, LED lighting was expensive, very niche, and tough to find. Even industry professionals were skeptical about LED for residential use, and for good reason, as manufacturers made huge claims that rarely came true.

Intervening years and economy of scale have since righted the course of residential LED lighting, and the cost of screw-in LED light fixtures has fallen almost to the level of a compact fluorescent light (CFL). Power consumption is roughly 10% of a traditional incandescent, or half of a CFL. In addition to the lower energy bills, many electric utilities are offering rebates and other incentives to convert to LED.

There are three other reasons that I am a fan of LED lighting.
  1. Heat: LEDs put out far less heat than the alternatives. This means less general heat in your home, but it also means less heat in your light fixtures and wiring boxes. Heat in these locations can cause damage to wires and fixtures, and sometimes even fire.
  2. Safer Construction: They usually use plastic instead of glass for the globe (something made possible by lower heat). They also don't contain toxic chemicals like mercury that can cause a health hazard when broken.
  3. Overall Quality of Light: Fluorescent lights have a pulsing strobe effect, which gets worse as they age. This is known to be a major headache trigger, even causing migraines in some people. In addition, it can negatively affect mood in people with certain mood or environmental disorders. LED lighting doesn't pulse and is just generally "cleaner."
Shopping for LEDs
There are two ways to convert to LED lighting. The first is to buy dedicated replacement fixtures, which are  painless to install and require little or no maintenance or work after installation. They are also quite a bit more expensive up front. From a prepper standpoint, it's best to look at these fixtures only if you have an existing fixture that needs replacement anyway, and if you have any doubt about your ability to replace a fixture, please call a qualified electrician.

The much easier way is to replace your light bulbs and fluorescent tubes with LED lights that install into your existing fixtures like any other lamp, and last an average of 8-10 years before needing replacement. Replacements are available for almost all lamps made in the past 30 years.

When purchasing LED replacement lamps, there are two unique things on the packaging to pay attention to. The first is if the package is marked as "dimmable." If you have or want a dimming switch in your room, you'll need dimmable lamps. Otherwise, they produce an undesirable flickering light.

The second unique packaging notation is the wattage. LED packaging usually shows two wattage ratings. One will be tiny, usually a single digit; this is the actual wattage that the light uses. The other will look more like the wattage you expect on an incandescent bulb and is called the "wattage equivalent", which is the size of incandescent bulb you would expect to replace and get the same amount of light. Swap these out like you would any other bulb and forget about them for a decade.

Save money, save effort, and possibly improve your health with LED lighting.


Monday, July 17, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #152 - Facepalm, Give a Sigh, Everybody Roll Their Eyes

This episode is brought to you by the letters W, T, and F, and the number 8.
  • It’s more than just a mom’s dilemma: What do you do when you’re too busy to get to the range for some recoil therapy? Beth gives us some advice.
  • What kind of person cuts, strangled and tries to rape a woman? Sean takes a closer look.
  • What happens when an insurance company decides that they’d like to “help” their customers by sending them information on a USB stick? Barron facepalms himself so hard that he gets a concussion, that’s what.
  • Miguel wanted a break from ranting, so he pulled some books from his book pile. This week, he’s recommending two: The Siege and Jim Cirillo’s Tales of the Stakeout Squad.
  • GunBlog VarietyCast Radio is proud to introduce Special Guest Charl van Wyk to our show. Mr. van Wyk was a member of the Saint James Church in Capetown, South Africa, when it was attacked by terrorists, and he was able to save the lives of many by returning fire with his pistol. In the second of a three-part interview series, Charl tells us how he went from being an ordinary young man to a responsibly armed citizen.
  • Tiffy’s back, back again. Tiffy's back, tell a friend. In this installment of The Bridge, Tiffany talks about that Dana Loesch video and what it means to her.
  • Following up on her segment on "proprioception", Erin explains how our brains think of loved ones as extensions of ourselves, and why losing them is like losing a limb. 
  • Protect Minnesota is against a new bill that would bring Stand Your Ground to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Weer’d is back with part three of his three-part series on their anti-self defense press conference.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for the Plugable Pro8 Docking Station.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and 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 -
To Our Brains, Loved Ones Are Limbs
In last week’s segment about proprioception, I asked the question “if an inanimate object can be considered part of someone’s body by the brain, then why not another living being?”

And the answer is “This already happens. We just don’t realize it as such.”

The classic example is a mother with a baby. The act of bonding with that child produces critical changes within the mother’s brain, re-wiring parts of it. While it can be joked that we now have definitive proof that having kids causes brain damage, these changes are in fact vital for the continuation of our species.

When you think about an infant in a clinical, objective sense, what you see is a helpless bundle of needs that feeds parasitically, consumes resources and deprives sleep, and generally acts as a detriment to the parent. Without these changes to the brain, humans would not love their children as themselves, and we would see a huge increase in infant death.

But the fact remains that parents love their children as their own flesh, because their proprioception, their body map, has extended into the child. We see this most strongly in mothers whose arms ache to hold their children. As those children grow, the body map slowly changes to accommodate the growth; the need to hold morphs into a need to have them on your lap, which evolves into the need to hold their hand. This is why parents will forever see their children as, well, children; there’s still a part of them that years to hold us and cuddle us in the same way that those of us who have pets still sometimes wish our dogs and cats were still puppies and kittens.

But this proprioception of another as ourselves doesn’t begin and end with children. It happens with those we love, as well. When you think about it, sex violates the desire of the body to keep its DNA and fluids to itself, but in order to reproduce, we need to bypass this isolationist urge. Seeing our lover as a partial extension of ourselves is how our brains trick our body into violating one of the key principles of our immune system.

This is why losing a loved one causes an aching sense of absence that is above and beyond emotional pain; we are, quite literally, experiencing a phantom limb pain, except the missing limb is the person we lost.

This also explains why so many people seek out rebound relationships: just as a mirror image of the missing limb was able to cure phantom limb pain, so too does finding another person to fill the void of the missing relationship.

So looping back to my first segment on the topic a month ago, losing someone is like losing a part of yourself, which causes anxiety, which activates the rage pathway in the brain.

Next week. I’ll talk more about PTSD and discuss ways to reprogram the “fire together, wire together” clusters which cause flashbacks. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

A little bit better every day

The whole point of prepping is to have a high quality of life, even in an emergency or after a disaster, but trying to maintain that level of preparation can be overwhelming.

In this week's video, I give a you a little advice on how you can stay prepared without making yourself crazy.

Be good. Be safe. If you can't be safe, be good and DANGEROUS!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Salt of the Earth?

On our Facebook page, someone asked Erin “What other inexpensive,yet hard to produce in the field, multi-purpose consumables should agood prepper stack deep in their pantry?” My reply was “Salt, unless you are near an ocean”. OkieRhio wrote a post about salt back in 2015, so I will try to avoid repeating what she said.

Salt is one of the most versatile commodities on the planet. It is used to preserve food, is a raw material for producing a bunch of other chemicals, and is essential for staying alive. Humans have harvested salt from the oceans for at least 6,000 years according to archaeological evidence, and it has been used as currency is several time periods (the “sal” in “salary” is Latin for salt - some Roman legions were paid in salt). Since there are about 35 grams of salt (1.2 ounces) in every liter (quart) of sea water, harvesting salt is merely a matter of collecting sea water and letting the sun and wind evaporate off the water. If you see gray or black pieces of salt, it is due to sediment (mud) formed during the evaporation of sea water. The dark pieces can be sorted out and discarded if you choose.

For Food
Common table salt is Sodium Chloride (NaCl) with traces of other chemicals that vary by location and method of processing. These trace elements may be called “pollutants” or “additives” by some writers, see my article on FUD for an explanation of that marketing method. The benefits or dangers of any additive is a specialized branch of medical research (toxicology) that I'm not going to dig into today. Just beware of paying too much for a cleverly marketed "miracle" salt that is 95-99% NaCl.

If you're buying salt for table use, get a brand that has Iodine (I) added to provide a source of that necessary mineral. Iodine helps regulate your thyroid gland and its hormone production, and is lacking in most common in-land foods. Seafood is a good source of Iodine, but not all of us live near the oceans (and seawater alone doesn't contain enough Iodine to meet your body's needs anyway). Consuming the eyeballs of wild game is about the only reliable source of Iodine that I'm aware of for land-locked survivors. I pick up an extra one-pound container of Iodized salt at the grocery store when I need to restock the pantry, as it's fairly cheap and has no shelf-life. Bulk forms of salt can be ground as fine as you want for table use, and are a lot cheaper.

If you're buying salt for livestock (they need it to function just like you), the ubiquitous saltblocks are still out there. I suggest buying them locally at a feed and grain store since the shipping cost on them is horrible. White blocks are pure salt; the colored ones are mineral blocks that provide a source of trace minerals (amounts and types will vary). Pure salt is the same as what you'd get in the round cardboard containers at the grocery store, so it is safe to use in your food. If 50 pounds of salt is too much, check the local pet supply stores for the roundblocks designed for rabbits. A 3 ounce “wheel” of salt is easy to store and use, plus it won't spill. Regardless of which size you get, it's easy to store bulk salt when it is in a solid block, and shaving or grinding an edge will get you what you need to season your food.

For Chemicals
For chemical production, you can look for suppliers that can provide any quantity you need in a variety of forms and packages; 50 pound bags are common and cost less than $10.00. Most bulk salt is sold as a de-icer and may have additives, so read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and look for pure salt. De-icing salt that is advertised to work below 5° F is not pure salt.

Another source of bulk salt is your local grocery or hardware store (in most of the US). Look for softener salt, used to regenerate the resin beds of home water softeners. Solar salt crystals are usually the cheapest and are more pure than the varieties with chemical additives designed to protect a water softener. Rock salt is another name for solar salt; it depends on your regional dialect. A 40 pound bag of crystal or flake salt normally costs $5.00 or less here in the Midwest, but be warned, the pelletized forms usually have unwanted additives.

Do not consume anything that has “System saver” or “Resin Clean” on the label. The manufacturers have proprietary blends of additives that are trade secrets, so you have no idea of what they've added to the salt. In fact, I do not recommend using salt with additives for any food use, and any chemical uses would have to take the “adulterants” into consideration. At best you may end up with sludge in the bottom of your equipment, but at worst they may create explosive gasses. Do your research for potentially dangerous reactions.

Storing salt is about as simple as it gets. Since most of the salt sold in the US is mined from underground deposits, it should be obvious that it has an indefinite shelf-life. Those deposits were laid down a couple of thousand years ago (at least), so it's safe to let it sit on your shelf for a few more years. Keep it dry, since any water added to salt makes for a corrosive solution, but heat and cold - at least at the levels found in normal storage conditions - won't have any effect on it. You'd have to get it up to about 1500° F to melt it, so short of a house fire it will handle any heat you can give it.

Salt is cheap, easy to store, and is something that everyone physically needs to survive. Why wouldn't you have a stockpile set aside if you have the room for it?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Seeing Clearly

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

My job takes me to a different Big Box store every day, and if you pay attention, the only thing well stocked in every department is dust. With the many movements of pallets stacked high with concrete, units of drywall and other bulk materials, let alone sawdust from the lumber department, the potential of getting something in my eyes is there every day. Fortunately for me, I've never had to resort to one of the eyewash stations located around the stores, but I have washed my eyes out in the Men's Room on occasion.

I wear glasses, not contacts, so I do have some protection from things flying or rebounding into my eyes but dust is another matter. Moving boxes from upper shelves and 'diving' between displays to retrieve fallen product stirs up enough crud to coat my glasses quickly. I've neglected to add something for soothing my eyes to my EDC and GHB First Aid kits for a long time, but no longer.


From the website:
  • Offers the relief you need to help get you through your day
  • Delivers soothing comfort so your eyes feel moist and refreshed longer
  • Uses the original formulation that made the SYSTANE Family of Products the #1 Doctor Recommended brand for dry eye relief
I use these when my eyes get irritated, even if Dry Eye is not a problem I deal with. I also have to plan for the potential need to use these in a real disaster, to clear my (or others') eyes.

What I really like is the drops are in single-use tubes, so there is little chance of the product evaporating out of a bottle or becoming contaminated all at once.

Lack of preservatives is another thing that is not high on my list, since I don't use this regularly or wear contacts. One point in my favor is the fact that the tubes make it very easy to put the drops in, because I have always been very sensitive with anything or anyone getting close to my eyes. (I'm so bad it takes the Optometrist 3-4 tries to get a good glaucoma reading.)

What's more, these tubes take up very little space in my EDC first aid kit. I've mentioned that I have a bad habit of packing too much and carrying too much gear. With the small size of the tubes, 4 or 5 take up no more room than several alcohol wipe packets or a stack of band-aids.

The Takeaway
  • Personal Protection equipment won't keep all things out of my eyes.
  • I need to be prepared for getting crud out of my eyes on the job, as well in an emergency.

The Recap

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, July 11, 2017

Puppy Go Bag

We got a puppy over the Independence Day weekend, and now we're learning a whole new type of prepping. We're starting with the Puppy Go Bag.

Items mentioned in the video:


Monday, July 10, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #151 - The Bacardi Episode

I drink a rum in the mornin' (yeah)
I drink a rum at night (gonna drink a rum at night)
I drink a rum in the afternoon (why?)
It makes me feel alright
I drink a rum in times of peace
and two in times of war (make love not war)
I drink a rum before I drink a rum
and then I drink some more (hey hey hey)
-- The Pyrates Royale, "Drink a Rum", 1999

  • After her recent visit to Washington D.C. with the D.C. Project, Beth reached out to offer firearms training to the representatives in her home state of Alabama. Will anyone take her up on the offer?
  • For Felons Behaving Badly,  Sean takes a closer look at a man arrested for a November shooting.
  • Barron’s back again, this time with a segment about ransomware that isn’t and friends who remind you why you don’t click on unsolicited attachments.
  • For those who have gotten the vapors about Dana Loesch’s nearly three-month-old video about fighting the violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth, Miguel has a simple question for you: Where have you been?
  • GunBlog VarietyCast Radio is proud to introduce Special Guest Charl van Wyk to our show. Mr. van Wyk was a member of the Saint James Church in Capetown, South Africa, when it was attacked by terrorists, and he was able to save the lives of many by returning fire with his pistol. In the first of a three-part interview series, we talk about the church massacre and its aftermath.
  • Tiffany is still on assignment.
  • What is "proprioception?" Erin not only explains it, she pronounces it!
  • Protect Minnesota is against a new bill that would bring Stand Your Ground to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Weer’d is back with part two of his three-part series on their anti-self defense press conference.
  • And our Plug of the Week is for Aiming for Zero.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and 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 -
Proprioception and Phantom Limbs
I hope that you’ve all been enjoying my segue into into physiological and psychological effects of survival. I realize that this is more abstract than what I usually do for Blue Collar Prepping, but I feel -- and I hope you do as well -- that understanding why we do things will help us prepare for, and ultimately cope with, our reactions when terrible things happen. This segment is really going to dive deeply into those waters, and I hope you’ll stick with me through all the science because there is absolutely a payoff at the end.

Today’s five dollar word is “Proprioception”, and it means “The sense of the position of parts of the body, relative to other neighbouring parts of the body.” If you want a demonstration of this, close your eyes and stick one of your hands out at a random angle. Then, with your eyes still closed, bring your other hand to it.

You didn’t have any trouble finding your hand without seeing it, did you? You knew where your hand was in space and found it immediately. That’s proprioception.

Fun fact: The principle is of “hand finds hand” is why the UZI was designed with a magazine that feeds through the pistol grip. This is why it’s so much more intuitive to load your pistol than it is to load your rifle -- unless, of course, your hand is gripping the magazine well.

This principle of your brain having a map of your body also explains the concept known as “phantom limb”, which is when a missing body part, such as an amputated hand, still feel present. This sensation is often uncomfortable -- sometimes it feels like there’s an itch which needs scratching, or the muscles are cramping -- but the end result is that brain insists the limb is still there and it requires stimulation of sort. Yes, this is another example of “All pain is in our brain” which I detailed last week.

But our brains can also be fooled, and this is the cure for phantom limb pain as well as other symptoms of loss. In 1998, V.S. Ramachandran - a neuroscientist at UC San Diego - conducted a series of experiments where people suffering phantom limb pain from missing hands or arms placed their functioning limb upon a table and then looked at a mirror reflection of that limb. By moving their healthy limb while looking at the mirror image, an illusion of moving the missing limb was created.

6 out of 10 patients said they could actually feel the movement coming from the missing limb! 4 of those could then use that visual feedback to relieve phantom limb pain by stretching, unclenching or otherwise doing whatever action the missing limb craved.

What’s more, you don’t even need to have a missing limb to experience this effect. There’s a trick called The Rubber Hand Illusion whereby participants have their real hand hidden from view and a rubber hand poised in nearly the same position. Both hands, real and rubber, are stroked in exactly the same way at the same time. Eventually the participants began to feel that the rubber hand was their own hand, so that when they were asked to touch their “missing” hand with the working hand, many of them indicated the rubber hand.

In effect, their nervous systems “grew” into the rubber hand, adopting it as their own. This adoption was so strong that when the rubber hand was struck with a hammer, threatened with a burning cigarette, or stabbed with a needle, the subjects actually reacted with fear and pain!

This neatly explains why frequently used objects - be they tools or weapons or even vehicles like cars and aircraft - can feel like part of the user’s body. This is because, to a certain extent, they are. Through constant use and identification of the item as an extension of the user’s will, the nervous system integrates them into its own proprioceptive “body map”.

This raises an interesting question: if an inanimate object can be considered part of someone’s body by the brain, then why not another living being? And in fact, this is exactly what happens with people we are physically close with. That loss, and coping with it, will be addressed in next week’s segment.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Firearm Safety Friday!!

Our regularly scheduled post has been preempted by something very important, and that's firearm safety!

First, a little video:

So let me tell you the story...

A friend recently moved back to the area, and as enthusiasts often do, we were going through his gun collection. He had a neat little double action only .380 semiauto.

Right before my eyes, the little handgun was removed from its place in the safe. Then the magazine was removed and the slide was worked vigorously, twice. Took aim at the pillow, just see how the trigger stacked, and BOOM! Dead Pillow.

Okay, it really wasn't much of a boom, but it was attention grabbing for sure.

So what happened? The best we can figure is that extractor did not pick out the cartridge in the chamber. It was an old round that had been in there for a while.

Negligent discharges happen. Guns fail in ways that can make them more dangerous than they inherently are. But regardless of the handgun's malfunction, or of the failure to tactilely inspect the chamber, further disaster was averted by following the simple rule Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

Now before you ballistic rangers and keyboard commandos start talking about how negligent discharges "never happen" or "you've never had one", my response is this: either you don't use firearms very often (like never) or you're a liar. NowI am no Clint Smith or Rob Pincus, but I have been an instructor for almost 2 decades and instructed thousands of people. I have seen more NDs than I can count, and I have had a few over the years myself.

Simply following that most important safety rule of gun handling, always point the gun in a safe direction, has helped avert disaster in each of those negligent discharges.

Be safe. Be smart. Don't be stupid.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Teaching and Learning

A lot of what we write about here is done as a form of education. We're trying to show you what has worked for us (or others) in order to give you a reference point or starting point for your own response to a crisis. We do some product reviews and report our honest feelings about the results of our testing. We recount personal and historical events as a demonstration of what could and/or did go right and/or wrong. We're here to teach, and I assume you're here to learn.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know everything. I'm a generalist with a good understanding of a wide variety of things, but detailed knowledge of only a few. None of us here are “experts”; we've never claimed to be and likely never will. We're playing the role of “teachers”. I use the term “playing” because none of us are actual educators by trade, nor do we have the baggage that comes with a typical student/teacher relationship. We won't talk down to you and we're open to comments and (polite) criticism. If we're ever wrong about something, show us the error and we'll correct it. We have experience in certain fields, mostly job-related, that we want to share because we realize that no one person can do everything. We've all enjoyed camping, shooting, and other outdoor activities so we all have some common experiences, but we're all a bit different:
  • Erin is our editrix, mainly because she started this blog and she has the best grasp of grammar and composition. She also has the dubious pleasure of cleaning up some of the word salads that the other writers can produce.
  • Firehand is a good metal-smith and has experience gained through years of practice that most of us don't have the time to duplicate. No reason to re-invent the wheel if you can learn about it from someone who has already done it.
  • David is well versed in “starting over” due to his life experiences.  He's also a good generalist with regards to life skills. 
  • Lokidude has been prepping in one way or another his entire life, it's just part of him now. He has more "outdoors" skills than most of the rest of us.
  • The Discerning Shootist is fairly new here, but his levels of expertise is certain fields will become evident as time goes on. 
  • My training is in the sciences and math, with a healthy dose of growing up working on farms (the two are not mutually exclusive - I use more math, biology, chemistry, and physics every day than most people would think). 
  • Once in a while we get guest authors  who have specialist knowledge that they would like to pass along, and we're always open to new guest articles (without guaranteeing that they will be used).

You, as a reader, are playing the role of student. You're here to learn something new or maybe a new way to do something. Take notes, interact with the teachers, ask questions, maybe join our Facebook group and meet others like yourself.
  • I say "take notes" because most of the emergencies that we are all trying to prepare for are going to involve a lack of internet. Having notes on paper or stored on a local device ensures that you will be able to access the information even if you can't pull up the website.
  • Interact with us. We like getting comments because it's one of the few ways we have of knowing that anyone is reading our stuff. The admins have access to some analytical tools, but they're not a convenient way of getting feedback. We're human and like to be acknowledged once in a while.
  • If any of us are unclear on something, please ask for clarification. We're not going to belittle anyone who has an honest question (conspiracy theories don't count) and someone will try to answer your question. Different people learn in different ways, so we're flexible in how we present information.
  • The FB group has rules, but they're not draconian. The rules are actually a lot like the ones we have imposed upon ourselves here at the blog. No politics, little to no advertising (the few ads we have along the right side of the page don't pay much), no spam, and no promoting other sites are the main rules. We do our best to weed out the 'bots and spammers before allowing them into the group, the few who make it through the vetting process get booted quickly. Having a half-dozen moderators that check the page several times a day means we can stomp on the spammers efficiently. Some of us enjoy that part of the job (a few enjoy it a bit too much).

Basically, our goal at this blog is to give you more than a helping of free ice cream. We want to share knowledge with you, knowing that doing so is often a two-way street. We'll keep doing our best to provide our readers a fresh, non-political, maybe even unique, article every weekday while hoping to learn a few things ourselves.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Fighting a Cold When It's Hot Outside

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

Getting sick any time of year is not fun, but getting sick during the summer is even less fun. Let me explain why.

The Summer Cold
When I catch a cold in the winter, it seems to last about a week and a half, maybe a little longer. I can feel the start of the usual symptoms sneaking up on me: runny nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat and maybe a cough. When any of those things start, I'm prepared with vitamins, minerals and a special anti-viral that I take which knocks a cold down in four days, every time. 

During the Summer, things are a lot more complicated because I have allergies through most of the spring and summer, with short breaks between whatever is blooming, pollinating or spreading spores. My allergies start out with all the same indications as a cold: runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat and sometimes a cough. The only difference between the two is that my allergies produce clear nasal drips and not so clear for colds. And I caught a cold a little over two weeks ago. I was late in figuring out that this was an actual cold until it was very, very obviously not allergies. (I won't go into details, but I'm sure you all can imagine.)

Cold Fighters
When I know I'm fighting a cold, I add one of these packets to a bottle of water, let it fizz up, shake it a bit and drink. I didn't put Emergen-C vitamin packs in my lunch box during summer, even though there are some in my GHB; this is something I fixed last week.
  • Supports your immune system, enhances energy naturally and replaces electrolytes post-workout
  • Available in delicious super orange, raspberry and tangerine
  • Just add to water and feel good with no crash

The last part of my cold fighting supplies is is a No Joke, Over-The-Counter anti-viral that works: Ecological Formulas Black Elderberry Extract 8 oz
This is exactly what it says on the bottle: Black Elderberry Extract, with some honey added to smooth out the somewhat tangy, sharp taste of natural, unsweetened Elderberries.

When I know I'm catching a cold, I start with Emergen-C and one oz of the  black elderberry extract four times a day for four days. This means I have to keep two bottles on hand at all times which, this being Summer, I didn't have. I had to go to a real vitamin store (not a body building supplement store) to get the fancy label national brand at (of course) a higher price.

Since I didn't realize I had a cold until symptoms were well developed, taking everything like I normally do didn't knock things down quite as fast as I'd like. I had to go back for a third bottle and double the dose to kill my cold, which took two weeks to finally go away.

But now my allergies are kicking up and my nose has a slow drip, like a bad faucet. I can't seem to win.

Hand Sanitizer
Of course, the best way to fight a cold is never catch one to begin with. Hand sanitizer is part of my work gear, carried in my jacket pocket, next to a pocket pack of kleenex in the same pocket. From where I work, keeping my hands washed can be a problem, so the sanitizer gets a real workout. 

The hand sanitizer I used to buy had unscented Jojoba oil in it. Unfortunately it was discontinued in favor of a lavender scented product that smelled like cheap perfume. My workaround to this was making my own unscented, Jojoba oil product!
What I did is buy a large bottle of sanitizer, refill my two small bottles and add my own oil, using Sam's Club Member's Mark Hand Sanitizer as a base.
  • Kills 99.99% of common germs and bacteria
  • Contains moisturizing vitamin E
  • Large pump bottle for easy dispensing and refilling
  • Perfect for high-traffic areas
  • Great for businesses, retail shops, schools and daycares

    Even though it says 'contains vitamin E', there is not enough to keep my hands from drying out and splitting and cracking from the constant use I make of this stuff. I have to add extra oil and what I use is Trader Joe's 100% Pure Jojoba Oil.

    From the Amazon listing:
    • Trader Joe's Spa 100% Pure Jojoba Oil
    • Pure and natural plant extract
    • Pure Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed oil.
    • Produced without an animal testing or animal by-products.
    I have had a bottle of this in my lunch box for years that I've used after washing my hands. It is thicker than any olive oil I've seen, and a very small amount rubbed on my hands goes a long way!

    I put 5-6 pumps of the large jug into my 2 oz squeeze bottle, add 3-4 drops of oil, shake well and I have a reasonable replica of what I used to buy!

    The Takeaway
    • I must make sure I've got ALL necessary supplies on hand, even if I don't see an immediate need or use for them.
    • Making your own supplies can be easier and much cheaper that first imagined.
    • Buying supplies at the last minute and when in desperate need, costs.

    The Recap

    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, July 4, 2017

    On Independence

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
    As this post goes live, it is Tuesday, July 4, 2017. It is also Independence Day. On this day 241 years ago, 56 men risked everything they had to ratify a document declaring that they would no longer be subjects to the ruler of a distant land.

    Liberty, and everything that comes with it, was dear enough that men were willing to risk everything to obtain it. Failure meant certain death, as well as a permanent stain on their families and progeny.

    In the modern day, we celebrate the success of their daring venture. The parades date back to young men (and some old men) marching off to war with a grand farewell. The fireworks are an analog of the artillery fire that has cleared the way for those brave men since the dawn of our nation.

    Don't feel guilty if you barbecue, or go to car shows, or go camping or boating or whatever with your family for this holiday. Blood and treasure has been shed for two and a half centuries to secure your right to spend time with the people that matter to you. If patriotic displays or quiet remembrance are more your speed, that's perfectly appropriate, too; the memories of the lives spent in service are worth keeping.

    Lives have been pledged to the ideals of this nation since before the Declaration of Independence was even ratified, a tradition which has continued uninterrupted. While at times our military was much smaller, we have always had a core of professional officers and specialists that recruits could rally around. As warfare became more complex and involved, a cadre of true professional soldiers has arisen to fill that role. The stunning part is that all of these professionals are volunteers. We haven't had conscript soldiers in my entire lifetime, and for nearly a decade before.

    Knowing that our men and women in uniform all raised their hand of their own free will makes the final line of the Declaration even more poignant:
    "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."
    Honor those who have purchased liberty, in whatever way you see fit. That is the nature of freedom, and that is what they have secured for us all.


    Sunday, July 2, 2017

    Gun Blog Variety Podcast #150 - Let's You and Him Fight

    It's called "rooting for injuries", and it's what the anti-gunners are doing.
    • Beth wrote a textbook called "Women's Handgun and Self-Defense Fundamentals", and she tells us all about it.
    • A $1M bond for man accused of kidnapping a family and forcing them to... shop at Target? Sean looks a little deeper into the story.
    • Barron’s back with more on the expected second wave of ransomware.
    • Miguel is fired up today. He's irritated at those members of the pro-civil rights community who are blindly doing exactly what the anti-gunners are telling them to do.
    • We welcome Special Guest Ali Slocum, who tells us about her journey from anti-gunner to gun student with instructor Jenna Meeks at Carry On Colorado.
    • Tiffany is still on assignment.
    • Pain? Anger? Sadness? It's all in your head, but Erin tells you why that's neither a dismissal nor a bad thing.
    • Protect Minnesota is against a new bill that would bring Stand Your Ground to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Weer’d starts a three-part series on their anti-self defense press conference.
    • And Barron brings us our Plug of the Week for the Mission Critical baby carrier.
    Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and 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 -
    It’s All In Our Heads, But That's Okay
    About two weeks ago, I received an email from one or our listeners in reaction to my segment on PTSD. I won’t go into great detail on what the letter said, because it’s personal and not my story to tell - but I can say that the listener thanked me for the segment and said it had great applicability to his situation, because he was about to observe the anniversaries of the deaths of two of his children.

    So I hope my segment helped you, dear listener. And thank you for writing, because it brings up a worthwhile topic for discussion: why does loss of a loved one hurt us like a physical injury? The answer again comes from Lawrence Gonzales’ book Surviving Survival, and it’s very simple: the brain is the organ that interprets what is and isn’t pain.

    It doesn’t matter to the brain if you’re upset because you’ve stubbed your toe or if you’re upset because you’ve lost a loved one. All it knows is that you’re upset and showing the physiological signs of it -- increased heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing, crying, yelling or screaming or cursing, etcetera -- and so the brain dutifully interprets this as pain.

    There are two effects going on here. The first is that the brain doesn’t differentiate between emotional pain and physical pain, because to the brain there is no difference. Pain, anxiety, arousal; all of these are interpreted by the brain from nerve signals that the body is sending out. So when someone looks at you and says that your pain is “all in your head”, you go ahead and give them the stink eye, because duh, where else would it be?

    What’s more, because the body sends signals to the brain, and the brain loves to notice and remember patterns -- recall the phrase “Fire together, wire together” -- this means that your posture can influence how you feel. If you adopt a posture of grief -- shoulders hunched, head forward of your hips, face in your hands -- you will start to feel sad even if you have nothing to feel sad about. Similarly, if you smile, the neurons that fire when you smile go “He’s smiling! Therefore, he must be happy! So we’ll feel happy!”

    This gives us some effective strategies for coping with grief. First, realize that something “being in your head” doesn’t make what you are feeling any less real. Everything you sense and feel is by definition all in your head, so just stop with that self-defeating line of thought. You feel what you feel, and your feelings are valid.

    Next, adopt a posture that your brain doesn’t associate with sadness, and you will start to feel better. (Incidentally, this is why exercise is also good for helping overcome grief and depression -- your brain associates other mental and emotional states with those postures, as well as the endorphin release that comes from exercise).

    If at all possible, adopt a posture of a desired emotional state. For example, putting a pencil between your teeth uses many of the same muscles as smiling, so -- fire together, wire together -- you start to feel better because your brain thinks you're smiling and therefore happy.

    Finally, understand that your desire to lash out in anger is completely understandable. I thought I was just a jerk with a hair trigger temper because every time I stubbed my toe I had an instant, white-hot desire to hurt, maim, kill and destroy whatever object I’d bumped into. Well, as it turns out, this is actually a reflex that’s been hardwired deep into mammalian brains as a survival mechanism.

    If the brain senses pain from the body, its first assumption is that we are being eaten by a predator, and so our immediate reflex is to kill whatever is hurting us before it kills us. The fact that you’ve been able to think “Why would I want to murder a doorjamb? That’s a ridiculous overreaction” isn’t something to be ashamed of; instead, feel relief that your mind was able to realize you weren’t being eaten and was able to reign in that impulse before you did something drastic, like hurt your hand punching the door.

    Don’t ever feel ashamed of your feelings. What you feel isn’t your choice, but how you react to those feelings is.

    Friday, June 30, 2017

    Forgetful Frugal Friday: Paper Waste

    For a "paperless" society, I sure do get an awful lot of paper waste: flyers, junk mail, weekly circulars, and local "news" papers... not to to mention my kids' homework. Despite our best intentions, it isn't going away anytime soon, and if you don't have curbside recycling, it's a pain and a mess to deal with. So what do we do with it?

    So in this week's rendition of Forgetful Frugal Friday, I'll show you a handy gadget that will help repurpose all that junk mail into many different uses.

    Thursday, June 29, 2017

    Lifeboat Supplies

    While doing my reviews/testing on the five different brands of emergency rations, I noticed that most of them were “USCG approved”. This lead me to research what the requirements are for this approval, and that led me down a rabbit hole of specifications for life boats and the gear that they are supposed to have in them. The United States Coast Guard doesn't actually test items; they just set out the requirements and let independent labs do the testing.

    After various disasters at sea, the US Coast Guard developed rules and regulations for the maritime industries. These regulations have changed over the years, and they are codified in 46 CFR 199.175 - Survival Craft and Rescue Boat Equipment. For those of you who are not conversant with government regulations, that gibberish translates as “Code of Federal Regulations number 46, Part 199, Subsection 175”. I've dealt with various regulations most of my adult life, so navigating through them is second nature to me, but I know they can be daunting at first glance. They are also a sure cure for insomnia.

    Now, I live in a landlocked state (rivers don't count) so I'm not likely to ever be on a ship big enough to require life boats, but that doesn't mean that some of you won't be. If taking a cruise on one of the monster liners that wander around the Caribbean appeals to you, it might be nice to know what emergency preparations they have made for you in case an errant iceberg decides to rip a hole in the side of the ship. (Personally, I feel that the idea of being trapped in a floating city with three or four thousand tourists is one of the outer circles of Hell. After about two days, I'd be wishing for an iceberg.)

    Working a merchant vessel is an option for some folks, and it has been used as a plot device in books and movies as an alternative to buying a ticket on a passenger ship, which is something to consider if you're looking for optional ways to get back home. Knowing what you can expect to find in a lifeboat might set your mind at ease about traveling over water, and it may also give you a starting point if you're building you own “lifeboat” for emergencies. Most of the items on the list below are generally useful in any emergency, and would make a good addition to a bugout vehicle. When you think about it, a life boat is the bugout vehicle of the seas.

    Here's a list of what you should find in a standard lifeboat, with the USCG requirements listed first and the International Maritime Organization requirements for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in parenthesis. I won't describe the specific requirements (caution: deep rabbit hole), but will elaborate some of the terms that may not be familiar.
    1. Bailer 1 (1) – a cup on a string for dipping water out to the bottom of the boat.
    2. Bilge pump 1 (0) – a pump connected to the lowest part of the boat (the bilge), used to pump out any water that may have gotten in the boat.
    3. Boat-hook 2 (0) – a long stick with a hook on the end of it, used to manually push or pull a boat around other things.
    4. Bucket 2 (0)
    5. Can opener 3 (3) – a lot of the supplies will be packed in steel cans to protect them.
    6. Compass 1 (0)
    7. Dipper 1 (0)
    8. Drinking cup 1 (1)
    9. Fire extinguisher 1 (0) – specifically a type B-C (dry chemical) extinguisher.
    10. First Aid kit 1 (1) – they specify a very simple kit.
    11. Fishing kit 1 (1)
    12. Flashlight 1 (1) – with spare batteries and bulbs.
    13. Hatchet 2 (0) – one on each end of the boat, attached with a lanyard.
    14. Heaving line 2 (1) – a piece of rope with a floating weight on the end, used by throwing one end of the line (heaving) to a person in the water or another boat.
    15. Instruction card 0 (1)
    16. Interior light 1 (1)
    17. Jackknife 1 (0)
    18. Knife 0 (1)
    19. Ladder 1 (0) - helpful for getting into the boat from the water
    20. Signal Mirror 1 (1)
    21. Oars 1 (0) –  oars lock into the sides of a boat.
    22. Paddles 0 (2) –  paddles are held in the hand.
    23. Painter (free floating link) 2 (1) –  a tow line attached to the front (bow) of a small boat.
    24. Provisions/rations per person 1 (1) –  roughly 2400 Calories per person.
    25. Radar reflector 1 (1)
    26. Rainwater collector (or Reverse Osmosis desalinator) 1 (0)
    27. Sea anchor 1 (2) –  a small parachute that drags in the water, slowing the drift of a boat.
    28. Searchlight 1 (0)
    29. Seasickness kit per person 1 (1)
    30. Smoke signal 2 (2)
    31. Hand flare signal 6 (6)
    32. Parachute flare signal 4 (4)
    33. Skates and fenders 1 (0) –  plastic or wooden “bumpers” that help reduce damage while launching or recovering a small boat.
    34. Sponge 0 (2)
    35. Survival instructions 1 (1)
    36. Table of lifesaving signals 1 (1)
    37. Thermal protective aids 10% of occupancy –  blankets
    38. Tool kit 1 (0)
    39. Towline 1 (0)
    40. Water (liters per person) 3 (1.5)
    41. Whistle 1 (1)
    All of the small items have to be stored (stowed, in naval-speak) in the lifeboat in such a manner as to prevent loss or damage, which mean that they should stay with the boat even if it capsizes. Containers and racks for this equipment must be marked with international symbols designating the contents.

    Lifeboats have to be inspected and overhauled every year, with perishable goods replaced as they reach their expiration dates.

    While most people choose to cross oceans by airplane these days, there are still passenger ships working some of the less-travelled routes. Having looked at the supplies available in a standard lifeboat, I'd have to say that the Robinson Crusoe of today would have a pretty good head start on staying alive until he was found.

    Wednesday, June 28, 2017

    Prudent Prepping: In With the New

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

    As I mentioned in last week's post, the pre-cooked rice from Trader Joe's that was a favorite of mine is now discontinued. I was seriously disappointed when time came to replace it and none was on the shelf. After the post was up, two of our Loyal Readers (thanks, Randy and Russell!)  mentioned is this, found at Walmart:

    Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Whole Grain Brown
    From the Uncle Ben's website:
    • Excellent Source of Folic Acid
    • Good source of iron
    • 0 g Trans Fats & No Saturated Fat
    I like the fact the rice can be microwaved in the pouch or taken out and added to other things. As an added benefit, there are other rice and flavor choices available.

    I've been out of rice for a week and just got back from the store with 5 bags. One is going into my GHB right now. If some of the other flavors contained a bit less sodium, I will buy extras to rotate into my bag. If I ever need to use my Get Home Bag as intended, I want to be drinking my water because I'm thirsty and not from all the added salt in my food.

    Another addition to my GHB, and especially to my lunch box, is a neat little item from Sam's Club.

    Pacific Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
    8oz Soup Boxes!
    From the Sam's Club page:
    Grown in the sun and harvested at peak flavor, Pacific's favorite red peppers are slow roasted to bring out their natural sweetness. Vine-ripened tomatoes, organic milk, and a warm blend of spices round out the flavor for a soup that tastes like summer but can be enjoyed any time of the year.
    I didn't buy this for the trendy organic contents; I bought it because I like tomato soup and the fact it is a perfect addition to my lunch box. At 8 oz., I can microwave this in my coffee cup instead of needing to pack a microwave safe bowl when I bring something else like a sandwich or leftovers.

    The box has a spout very much like a quart juice carton or water bottle, with the safety seal breaking when you unscrew the top. Since it is a rectangular shape, the box stacks nicely in the corner of my lunchbox and on my pantry shelves. The flavor is very good, with a better taste than the 'just tomato soup' brands. I may buy an additional case soon and throw a couple into each of my Buckets of Holding.

    The Takeaway
    • There is always someone around who knows more than I do. Asking for help and information is not weakness, but knowing what you don't know.

    The Recap

    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.

    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