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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Making Better Paracord Boot Laces

My boots eat laces, and I know I'm not the only one. Paracord is a great replacement, but it has a big weakness. This video shows you how to correct that weakness, as well as teaching a handy repair technique.








The heat gun I use can be found here, and the appropriate heat shrink tubing is here. It can be bought in a variety of colors and diameters, so pick whatever fits your project; I find that 3/16" is perfect for paracord.

Lokidude

Monday, February 27, 2017

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #132 - Weer'd Science


With Erin at MAG40, Weer'd brings the Sciency-ness.
  • Just when you thought it was safe for gun rights in Alabama, up pops some "Reasonable Gun Safety Measures™." Beth tells us about the Outcast Voters League.
  • What kind of people ram their car into, and then shoot at, a State Trooper trying to pull them over? Sean takes a look at their permanent record.
  • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
  • In the Main Topic, Sean and Weer'd discuss the recent 4th Circuit decision, Kolbe vs. Hogan.
  • It's Week One of MOVIE (TWO) WEEKS! This week Tiffany reviews that Three Gun Shoot-em Up Extravaganza, John Wick 2.
  • With Erin on assignment at MAG40, Weer'd steps in to tell us how fish medicine might be a valuable to preppers.
  • Oh NOES! Ghost Guns! Weer'd takes NBC's overdramatic "exposé" on 80% lower receivers and gives it the Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk™.
  • And our plug of the week is New Amsterdam Gin.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.

Read the show notes here.
Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:

Fish Antibiotics for Human Preppers

Hello Ponies, this is Erin Palette!

Oh wait, no, Erin’s out this week, so not only did she request I fill-in on hosting, but she had a topic she wanted to cover, but wasn’t an expert on the subject.

She’s read articles talking about how you can walk into pet stores, and allegedly get medicines for fish that might work if you ever found yourself in the need of life-saving medicines in a world without doctors or pharmacies.

So as many of you may know, I have a degree in Marine science, and worked as a marine Biologist for about 7 year. I also now have been working in biomedical research for the last 10 years. Further, my wife is a pharmaceutical chemist with a wide wealth of knowledge in the industry, and we looked over the information I found before I recorded this segment.

Okay, so what did I find?

I was a bit surprised, as fish biology (specifically saltwater fish, which is my expertise) is vastly different than mammalian biology. Generally the bugs that will make a cold-blooded fish living in a high-salt environment sick, won’t enjoy the warm-blooded lower-salt environment of a human, and vice versa.

Except I had forgotten what spectacular killers of bacteria drugs in the penicillin family are.

So doing a little research it turns out if your aquarium is getting nasty with bacteria, or your fish are getting ill from bacterial infections, you can indeed buy drugs like penicillin or amoxicillin to put into the water.

But is it the same stuff that a doctor might give you if you got an infection? Kinda.

So before I go further I must say that all of this advice is being given by an animal biologist, and really if it isn’t an apocalyptic scenario, go to your doctor, emergency room, or clinic and get professional medical assistance.

Okay, back to the topic: Is fish medicine the same as the people stuff? For Fish MOX and Fish Pen, these are indeed the same active ingredients as human Amoxicillin and Penicillin respectively, and unlike the stuff at your local pharmacy this stuff is sold right over the counter at your local pet store, or could be bought online.

Since it is the same active ingredient as the human stuff it’s required by law (at least in the United states, check your local laws if you live abroad) to have the same capsule coloration, and United States Pharmacopeia code.

You can cross-reference the code on the medication you bought online to verify the active ingredient, as well as the dosage strength of the medication you now have.

I don’t feel comfortable giving out dosing regimes for human medication on this podcast, given that I’m not a Physician, but I’ll just say there are a large number of medical websites, like the Mayo Clinic that will tell standard dosages for adults and children.

Also remember that most prescriptions recommend a 5-7 day dosage of drug, even tho most people will feel better after 2-3 days. The convention is that in some infections, the bacterial colony will be weakened by the drug, enough that symptoms may disappear, but they will still exist in large enough numbers that re-infection could occur, and since the surviving bacteria has been exposed to the drug, the chance of an antibiotic resistant infection is MUCH higher.

A resistant infection in a scenario with no medical assistance available is very likely a death sentence, so I can’t stress this enough, if you have access to doctors and medical facilities, USE THEM!

I must also add that manufacture of drugs for humans is done under an entirely different oversight than drugs for animals, so while the drugs are similar, there may be some difference in quality and secondary ingredients.

Would I take these drugs if I was trapped someplace away from medical assistance and was concerned I was suffering from a debilitating or potentially deadly infection? Yes, but ONLY in this scenario, otherwise I’d go to the doctor’s and get the proper human drugs.

Okay, so now that you have decided to get some fish medicine to put in your bug-out bag, or in your just-in-case stash, now what?

Well, medication, like food has an expiration date, and for best practice, you should discard all unused medication that has past expiration, and replace it with fresh medication.

This stuff isn’t exactly cheap, and constant replacement costs will add up.

Is there a way to extend the shelf-life of a drug?

Well we must first consider the factors that make medications go bad: Light, Heat, Oxygen, and moisture.

All of these drugs are sold in sealed light-blocking packaging, but we must note that these packagings only need to prevent degradation for the shelf-life of the drug, so if YOU REALLY wanted to make some medication last longer, you could do this:
  1. Seal the factory packaging in a vacuum seal bag, along with a silica gel desiccant, and pump out as much of the air as possible. This should take care of oxygen and moisture. 
  2. Then wrap it in foil, preferably a Mylar vacuum seal-bag, to add an extra layer of protection, as well as light-blocking.
  3. Then toss it in your freezer, preferably the bottom of a non-defrosting chest freezer, as those get about as cold as anything you can get outside of industrial products.
Even after all of this I wouldn’t necessarily trust the drug a year past its expiration date, so it’s all up to you the prepper, if this is worth it as a precaution.

Also note that these factors affect ALL medications, so if you take medications for a condition, or keep a stash of over-the-counter medicines, you NEVER want them in a bright location with high heat and humidity.

So if you keep your medicine in the bathroom next to the shower you use, you might want to put them someplace different, that isn’t constantly experiencing warm humid air.

I’ll close by saying that this advice should not be confused with actual medical advice, but if you are careful this stuff COULD save a life if things ever went pear-shaped.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

News and information after TSHTF

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

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

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

Rumors
As much as I hate rumor-mongers, they can be a source of information. It may be incomplete or incorrect, but it's information. Small towns and distinct neighborhoods still have a few people with nothing better to do than keep track of the folks who live around them. These local busy-bodies can be handy if you need to find someone or check on them, since they'll know quite a bit about local conditions. I have a standing policy of not passing on unverified rumors, but I make exceptions for disinformation purposes. Sometimes I want people to believe things that aren't true, for my own purposes.

Any gathering of people will provide an opportunity to gather information, especially if it is peaceful. Churches, water sources, and informal gatherings will likely provide better quality information than a press briefing or “stump speech” from a politician.

Travelers
People will pick up news of their surroundings as they pass through, which means that sitting around a campfire swapping stories with folks who have come from or through an area you're interested in could be a good idea. Travelers may be able to trade information and current conditions of other locations for the things they need to keep moving towards their destination.

A subset of travelers would be someone on a route that passes by you. The mailman is going to see a lot of local conditions as he travels his route, as will food or fuel delivery drivers. Law enforcement and military will likely be under orders to keep their mouths shut, but medical and maintenance crews probably won't.

Radio
There are a lot of options for news available to anyone with a good short-wave receiver. I prefer digital tuning on mine, but the older analog tuners can be very good at picking up distant stations. Short-wave is Amplitude Modulated (AM) radio, so it will bounce and carry further than Frequency Modulated (FM) radio signals. Sources like the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) and Deutche Welle (DW, it means “German radio waves”) still broadcast world news in English on frequencies that bounce to the far corners of the world. They are also good practice at picking out the bias in any news source, since they have completely different views on events that happen here.

Blending with the travelers from above is Citizen Band (CB) radio. Truck drivers still have them in their trucks and they do still chat with each other as they wander about delivering things. Very short range if you stay within the legal boundaries, but there are places that sell amplifiers capable of boosting the power 100-fold or more. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) frowns on boosted CB signals and has been known to track down stationary ones.

For local radio communications, the Family Radio Service (FRS)/ General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) bands are used by the little walkie-talkies that you can find in any electronics store. FRS/GMRS radios are very low power and short range, but they are cheap and easy to use.

If you want to be an active participant in the news system, amateur radio (Ham radio) is an option. We posted a guest article on the subject a few weeks ago, and there will be more to come. Trying to track down a testing location so I can start the process of getting my license is being a bit of a challenge. There are disadvantages to living in small-town America, but I have already found relay stations in my area that will allow better coverage around the hills. One more license to add to my collection of government-issued paperwork, but it shouldn't be too difficult to get.


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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Monthly Roundup

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

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

What's New 

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

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

From the Home Depot page:

http://tinyurl.com/pu3geyc
The Kidde Auto-Marine 10-B:C rated Fire Extinguisher is ideal for use in watercraft and transportation regulations. This fire extinguisher is approved by the USCG and DOT, for use on flammable liquid and electrical fires. Store in your boat, car or truck for emergency situations on the water or with your automobile. Includes bracket.
  • Listed for B:C fire types for automotive and marine use 
  • Meets dot and USCG regulations 
  • Store with your boat or car 
  • Graphic instruction label 
  • Powder-coated cylinder resists corrosion 
  • Retention strap allows for mounting and easy access

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



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

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

      http://amzn.to/2mgk6W6

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




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

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

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

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

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

          Tuesday, February 21, 2017

          Shedding Light: Lanterns vs Flashlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

          Lokidude

          Monday, February 20, 2017

          Editor on Vacation

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

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

          See you when I get back!

          Sunday, February 19, 2017

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

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

          Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


          Legal Heat:
          CCW - Concealed Carry 50 State ($1.99):
          Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms - https://www.nraila.org/articles/20150101/guide-to-the-interstate-transportation

          GunVault NV200 NanoVault - http://amzn.to/2kDldyb

          Flying With a Gun - http://lurkingrhythmically.blogspot.com/2014/05/monday-gunday-travelling-with-gun.html

          Knife Laws by State - http://www.knifeup.com/knife-laws/

          Knife Rights LegalBlade ($1.99):

          Friday, February 17, 2017

          Cheap Char Rope

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

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

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

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



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

          Thursday, February 16, 2017

          Egg Storage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

          Wednesday, February 15, 2017

          Prudent Prepping: Blue Skies and Emergencies

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

          Everyone has heard about the overfull reservoir here in California by now, right? Did the people interviewed sound like anyone you know?

          Emergencies Are Not Required to Have Clouds
          As a Californian, I expect to be hit with earthquakes or wildfires. Floods are not on that list, given that we have had five years of severe drought. People living near rivers in other parts of the US have floods, levee breaks and the like; California never has too much water.

          Here is a news clip from a local television station explaining what happened to the dam. Looking back through the station's page will show many, many people lining up to buy gas, clogging the roads trying to get out of the towns in the evacuation zone, and talking about how they left with just a pillow, blanket and their pets. The Sacramento Bee newspaper reported people at temporary shelters being without prescriptions, and how there are no early warning systems in place to alert many communities of expected disasters like tsunami on the coast or fires in inland forested areas.

          I am not an engineer or a politician, so I will leave any discussion of reconstruction, blame and funding any fixes to others. What I do want to mention are fixes to the obvious, personal failings of many of the almost 200,000 people forced to leave their homes.

          What Went Wrong
          The people controlling the dam unwisely chose to limit outflow. Again, this is out of our control as citizens. But here is what Californians could have controlled, but didn't:
          • No (or very little) gas in their cars. Evacuation centers were set up in two areas, one as little as 50 miles away, but lines to enter gas stations were blocks long and contributed to the horrible traffic leaving the town of Oroville. 
          • No plan for leaving their homes on short notice. 
          • No system for meeting separated family members after evacuating.

          What Went Right
          • The Dept. of Water Resources increased the outflow on the damaged main spillway, reducing the threat of a collapsing emergency spillway. Again, out of our hands. 
          • The various communities enforced mandatory evacuations, with almost 100% compliance.
          • No one died during the evacuations. 
          • The reported arrests for looting are less than five. 
          • The Red Cross, FEMA, and local groups all came together to provide food, blankets, cots and assistance to those needing help filling prescriptions. 
          • Even with the mandatory evacuation being lifted, many people are afraid to move back into their homes, in fear of leaving again if the rains return. 

          What Can Be Done To Improve
          For most of us here on Blue Collar Prepping, there probably isn't much to do. For friends, family and co-workers, though, there's possibly a lot that could be done.
          1. Ask if they have seen the Oroville reporting
          2. Ask if they have a plan to leave their homes quickly. 
          3. Ask them what is the meet-up point where everyone will be expected to go after leaving.
          4. Talk to them about your plans.
          The last point is a bit of a sticky one for me. I don't share much personal information with my friends and even less about my preps, including my involvement with Blue Collar Prepping. I have had the conversation that many of you have related -- "Oh wow! Do you have an underground bunker, armored car and machine guns like that TV show??"  -- followed by laughter and not much listening when the discussion gets to buying extra rice and beans stored in a metal trash can or food-grade 5 gallon pails. I get tired of this reaction, so I am picky about with whom I talk  about prepping. Too picky, I'm sure, for their own good.

          The Recap
          • Use your local or national news as an icebreaker to start the prepping conversation. Even if you aren't comfortable with starting it like I am, do it anyway. 
          • Bunkers or not, what we don't do now can come back to hurt those around us.
          • Good luck, and be safe.


          If you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!
          If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

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

          Tuesday, February 14, 2017

          Multimeter 101

          I promised a crash course in multimeters last week. I hope you find this video instructive.

          Editor's Note: The loop at the top is an amp clamp, and it opens like a claw by pressing the protrusion on the right side of the device. This allows the user to test the strength of current running through a wire without having to unplug things and stick probes in the ends.




          Lokidude

          Monday, February 13, 2017

          My Candle Burns At Both Ends, It Will Not Last the Night

          Not actually Erin.
          & is used with permission.
          For those of you who pay attention to such things, Blue Collar Prepping has been around for over three years now, having written about 915 posts and many, many words about being prepared on a budget.

          This is, as you can imagine, a lot of work. I don't know how many hours my co-bloggers spend on writing their articles, but I know I spend several hours on mine. What many people may not realize is that I basically write two prepping articles a week: a written post here and a Blue Collar Prepping segment for the GunBlogVarietyCast. All told, between writing, proofreading, formatting, and fixing links for other articles, I spend between 10 to 12 hours a week working on this blog.

          Please note that this is not a complaint, nor a "poor pitiful me" ploy. I'm going somewhere with this, and I feel that I need to show my math here.

          In addition to Blue Collar Prepping, I have a personal blog and a freelance writing job, both of which I cannot neglect because they help pay my bills. Furthermore, now that Operation Blazing Sword is a 501c3 charity and gaining in popularity, I am being asked to do interviews and make speaking appearances, which also reduce the amount of time I have to write. In short, something has to give because I can't be everywhere at once.

          At this time, I feel I cannot manage writing two prepping articles a week along with all of my other duties and responsibilities. I've felt this was coming for a while now, which explains why I've been trying to get another full-time contributor, but I haven't had any success with that. I tried filling the missing contributor spot with guest posts, but that didn't work well because 1) I wasn't getting enough of them to fill my schedule and 2) it actually takes longer to edit guests than it does regular contributors (because I can teach them my preferred format).

          Ultimately, this means that my podcast will have to become my weekly contributor spot, because at this time I feel like I'm burning my candle at both ends. Should we be so fortunate as to acquire another full-time contributor, I will gladly let them have my slot and move the podcast back to Sundays, but until then I'm afraid that this is the only way I can give our readers Monday to Friday content.

          To summarize:
          • I am not leaving this blog. 
          • I will continue my duties as Editrix-in-Chief.
          • I will continue to write the Blue Collar Prepping podcast segment. 
          • The podcast will serve as my weekly article instead of a Monday post. 
          • If I have time to write other articles, I will of course share them here. 
          • If we gain another contributor, I will let them have my slot. 
          Hopefully that explains what is going on. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. 

          Sunday, February 12, 2017

          Gun Blog Variety Podcast #130 - Tribalism and Happy Endings


          Our #1 advice for a happy ending: Don't get a barbed wire tattoo. Those never end well.
          • Beth shares some advice for avoiding tragedy when you have children and guns in the same house
          • Everyone likes a happy ending. Sean tells us about our favorite happy ending, where a home invader is encouraged to lie down and stop moving... permanently.
          • Barron is on assignment and will return soon.
          • In the Main Topic, Sean and Erin tell you why Trump is not your hope and change.
          • Tiffany talks about last week's main topic from the other side: How she and her friends see it when conservatives lump them in with violent protesters.
          • Do you like seemingly contradictory advice? Erin tells you to form a tribe, but don't fall prey to tribalism.
          • This week Weer'd dips into his secret stash of anti-gun nuttery to bring us two golden nuggets of hoplophobia.
          • And our plug of the week is The American Warrior Podcast.
          Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
          Listen to the podcast here.
          Read the show notes here.
          Thanks to LuckyGunner and Remington for their sponsorship, and a special thanks to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

          Blue Collar Prepping Transcript:
          Tribe vs. Tribalism
          I’ve talked about what the concept of “Tribe” means in previous prepping segments, but I haven’t yet touched on “tribalism”.

          Now anyone who’s been paying attention to current events has noticed that Americans are a fractious bunch, ready to divide themselves into an “us” and a “them” and go at each other’s throats. The good news here is that it isn’t just Americans who do this; we just happen to have a country that’s larger than all of Europe and a media that is keen to highlight our differences and our squabbles in pursuit of ratings, so we seem more divided than other countries and cultures. 


          But the fact of the matter is that humans are inherently tribal, so we divide ourselves into groups so easily that it’s just accepted as part of our culture. As an example, consider sports teams: when we play a game of baseball, we divide ourselves into two groups, “us” and “them”, despite the fact that prior to this we were one group. Then, based on this arbitrary grouping, we try to defeat people who up until this point were our friends, by engaging in ritual warfare. And other groups of people pick a side to support while cheering for the defeat of the other. 

          Humans are just inherently tribal, which means they are inherently prejudicial. Now before you leap to conclusions, let me explain what I mean! I am not saying that humans are inherently racist, sexist, or anything like that; those are learned behaviors. What I am saying is that humans like to pre-judge things -- that’s what prejudice means, judging things without analysis, based only on first impressions -- and all the learned behaviors make for easy lines of prejudice. 

          But why are humans prejudicial? Believe it or not, it’s a survival tool from prehistory. If a plant looked funny, a caveman wouldn’t eat it, and over time that would reduce the amount of fatalities from eating poisonous plants and fruit. Similarly, if a stranger looked funny, it likely meant that he wasn’t from your tribe but from the next tribe over, which meant that you were in direct competition with him for food, shelter, and other resources. 

          This ties in nicely with the concept of the Monkeysphere that I talked about in Episode 84: human brains can only support a certain number of relationships, and everyone else gets put into the “other” category. Unfortunately, we are wired to see “the other” as competition for resources and we react aggressively. 

          So what we are seeing today, with the Berkeley riots and the increasing political schism within our country, is that our culture has reached a point where we now view political viewpoints not as people who disagree with us but as actual threats to our tribe.

          How does one prepare for this? Two ways.
          1. First, don’t have an echo chamber. Make a point to surround yourself with viewpoints that challenge you. Not only will he prevent the self-reinforcing “Everyone I know agrees with me, therefore I must be right” attitude which is also self-defeating, but it will help humanize “the others” who disagree with you. It’s very, VERY easy to to devolve to “All liberals hate us, so we must destroy them before they destroy us” if that’s all you hear. Conversely, if you are actual friends with a liberal -- Hi, Tiffany! -- you won’t want to lump your friend into that “other” category and you begin to see those who disagree with you not as threats to your existence, but as people. 
          2. Secondly, form a tribe of your own. While that may seem counter to all my previous advice, what I mean by this is “forge friendships with people who aren’t specifically family.” If you’ve taken my advice about becoming friends with people who challenge your beliefs, invite those people into your tribe. The more diverse your tribe is, the less susceptible you are to the prejudicial “othering” mentality.
          So in effect, my advice is “Have a tribe, but don’t be tribal.” I know this is asking a lot, as we’re fighting millions of years of psychology, but the first step to making a change is being aware of what you’re doing wrong.

          Don’t push away potential allies because you perceive them as “other”. Don’t turn disagreements into wars. This is something every one of us, including me, needs to work on.

          Friday, February 10, 2017

          Number One with a Bullet: Keeping It All Straight with Bullet Journals

          There's been a bit of discussion among members of our Facebook group about keeping things organized and in rotation with preps. There are countless apps to help you "organize your life and up your productivity."

          Well that's great, but when was the last time you used whichever ones you have? And no, using them right now just because I reminded you that you have them most certainly doesn't count.

          I hate to tell you this, but if you aren't using these apps to keep your non-prep stuff straight as well, then they aren't going to work for your preps.

          I've been experimenting with a system called bullet journaling for use with keeping track of my preps. It's an old-fashioned, hand-written, pen/pencil and paper analog system. There are a couple of reasons for this.

          Hand-Written Notes are Better
          Don't believe me? Check out these links:
          1. A Learning Secret: Don't Take Notes with a Laptop
          2. Take Notes By Hand for Better Long Term Comprehension
          "But Evie, those are for college kids. We're adults." Yes, adults that are getting older. And what happens with our memories as we get older, ladies and gents?

          I do horribly with trying to keep track of things on anything electronic. I forget what I named my notes, where I put them, and even which electronic devices they're on. Some of our preppers in the Facebook group use Excel; more power to you, guys. This is for those of us trying to reduce our headaches.

          They're SHTF-Proof
          How many of you have complained about yourself, your loved ones, or your kids being too attached to technology? Hmm? Ah ah, no fibbing!

          They're Easy
          Once you get the hang of the system, you literally spend ten minutes while drinking your preferred hot beverage of civilized behavior inducement.

          I've been doing this since December, and have decided that I will be bullet journaling for a long time.
          However, the spreads for keeping track of preps are still an ongoing process of experimentation -- I still haven't found a method that I like best. I'll keep plugging away on it, though, as I do think it's worth the time and effort.

          For those of you curious about the bullet journal and would like to learn more:

          Thursday, February 9, 2017

          Crowds

          I don’t like crowds. They make me anxious, cause headaches, and tend to make me more than a bit “on edge”. My wife has to drag me out of the house to go Christmas shopping, because I can’t stand being in crowded stores, but I usually get to quit shopping about the time I start making inappropriate remarks about mass casualty events and “thinning the herd”. Ol’ Remus has stated for years that the best advice is to “stay away from crowds”, since nothing good comes from them.

          Crowds can be dangerous just because they exist and without any ulterior motive or bad intentions. Just by having large numbers of people in a small area, hazards are created. Here are a few of those hazards, along with advice on how to recognize them and how to minimize them if you’re in charge.

          Density
          If people are packed into an area, you need to look at how tightly packed they are. A normal human body has a “footprint” of about 2 square feet (roughly a foot deep and two feet wide), so if you have more than four people per square yard or square meter, they're going to be touching each other. That’s when the dangers start to appear, because people can’t turn or move without involving another person. This is often a precursor level to more serious densities once the doors open or someone shouts “Fire”. 

          At six people per square yard, the individual can no longer move freely and the crowd will take on more fluid motions, where force at one point in such a crowd can travel like a ripple through a pond. If a person were to fall down at this density level, they’d knock down several others which would cause a domino effect (“crowd collapse” is the technical term). This is the point where managers need to start thinking about waist-high barriers to act as tidal breaks; such barriers won’t stop a crowd, but can stop the worst of the transmission of forces through it. 

          At between seven and eight per square yard, you don’t have to worry about falling and being crushed because you can’t fall over. The bad news is that overheating from the bodies packed around you will cause some to faint, but the only way to get them to help is to lift them overhead and “crowd-surf” them to the edges. 

          At nine people per square yard it becomes hard to breathe, since bodies are pressed tight together and the effect is like being buried in sand or grain: exhalation is easy, but once chest volume reduces it becomes a serious struggle to inhale and push against the material/bodies that have moved to fill in the space. At this point, it’s too late to do anything but get out anyway you can. Crowds at this level have lifted and crushed horses sent in to help disperse the crowd, in addition to causing thousands of deaths and injuries in a single incident. This PDF, from a company that specializes in crowd control, has an impressive list of crowd incidents.

          Space
          Look at the space you’re in and where the flow of people leads. Wide pathways that lead to limited entrances or exits is a bad sign.

          Doorways have to open out, away from the building, according to most fire codes. This is to prevent a crowd from slamming into closed doors and being unable to open them. This works when the crowd is inside looking to get out, but if traffic is flowing the other way it could create a dam for the flood of bodies to jam up against. Doors that swing both directions and are sized for the expected crowds are becoming more common, but older buildings may not have been updated. 

          Does the flow of bodies change directions? Corners and stairs are dangerous because people will find that the outside of a corner is larger than the inside, causing pressure when they hit the straight portion and have to sort out who goes where. Stairways have the potential for people falling over hand rails, since that is the only free space that they can fall into.
            Dynamics
            Is the crowd moving or static? 
            • Static crowds are uncomfortable, and don’t normally become dangerous until they start to move.
            • Moving crowds are okay if they have a short path to room to spread out.
            Look at the layout of movie theaters and how they disperse people exiting a show: they tend to dump them into open areas (or outside) after a short walk. Compare that to a sports dome that has tens of thousands of people, all trying to get out at the same time through tunnels and ramps that lead to the exits. They’ve gotten better over the years, but I doubt I’ll ever step foot in a major arena during an event. There are too many bodies and too few doors for my comfort. 

            Is the crowd worked up or angry? If either, get away as fast as possible. It doesn’t take a riot to get people crushed in a crowd; the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia (not a poor area) has caused some of the worst crowd incidents and killing thousands. Fervor -- whether religious, political, or tribal -- can turn a peaceful assembly into a mess in a heartbeat, and once the “leaders” show up and start working the crowd, it’s time to be elsewhere. If the “vibe” is positive and folks are in a good mood it may be safe to stick to the edges, within sight of the exits. 

            Once the crowd density reaches a certain point (exactly which point is in dispute), it stops being a collection of individuals and starts to behave like a simple organism. Communications between parts is vital to the organism moving well and reacting properly to forces acting on it; otherwise, it becomes a collection of smaller organisms that are working against each other.


            All in all, I prefer to avoid gatherings of people if it is going to involve more than a few dozen bodies. Gun shows, small-venue concerts, and such are about my limit. Major industry conventions in the past were uncomfortable, and as much as I enjoyed Las Vegas I doubt I’d ever go back at my own expense. I live in an area renowned for its politeness and hospitality, but I’ve seen too many groups turn ugly in a short period of time for me to be totally relaxed around people I don’t know.

            Wednesday, February 8, 2017

            Prudent Prepping: Final Trunk III

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

            The large and expensive part of the Trunk fix is here. What's left to do? You'll be amazed at what how simple it is!

            At the start of my search for a way to keep things neat in my car, our esteemed and resourceful Editrix sent me a link to a Honda-designed storage system. It was originally for the Honda Pilot, but it will fit into the trunk of many different Honda cars -- and from looking at the measurements, just about any mid-size foreign or domestic car too!

            Honda 08U20-S9V-101 
            Cargo Organizer

            Notice the short sides and how they will fold in
            If you look at the lower corner, there is a barely visible strap and buckle. This is to attach to hold- downs already in Honda's SUV models. Since I do not have an SUV, there will have to be brackets of some kind mounted in my car to keep things from moving around.





            What's really cool about the bin are the snaps holding the dividers in place. If the time comes that all my trunk space is needed, I can undo four snaps and the dividers move up and over. The short sides fold in accordion-style and the whole thing collapses to a one inch-thick package. Since it takes up almost no room collapsed, there will be no reason to ever remove it from the trunk!

            The plastic bin originally mounted in the right corner is still there. My GHB is also where I'm planning to keep it, without any of the proposed mounts mentioned last week.

            In the rightmost pocket is an overstuffed regular grocery bag; the middle pocket has a medium bag; and the left pocket contains my Goretex jacket. 

            Three full-size bags will easily fit into the three spaces, which is all that I normally bring home from the store anyway. My lunchbox fits nicely into the biggest pocket, leaving plenty of room to carry other stuff, like a larger first aid kit and a fire extinguisher that won't be in the organizer (since the size I'm looking at is too long to fit into the pockets, even if placed diagonally). 

            The overall size is big enough to carry what I take with me every day without presenting me with so much room that I'm tempted to overload things. I am very pleased with how everything is falling in place!

            The Takeaway
            • Once again, friends come through with useful information and resources 

            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, February 7, 2017

            Battery Failure Assessment

            Last week, I had a very inconvenient failure of the battery in my truck.  I don't often expect things to fail -- my maintenance routine isn't perfect, but it's fairly solid -- so when they do, it's an unpleasant surprise.

            At about 5:40 in the morning, I went out to start my truck and go to work like I do any other weekday. When I turned the key, I was rewarded with the rapid click of a low battery that couldn't spin my starter. I roused my wife and got a ride to work, but I was left scrambling to arrange transportation home and deal with a truck that needed attention.

            The immediate fix for a dead battery is either a jump start or time on a battery charger. The way we park our trucks isn't exactly conducive to a jump start, and I didn't have the time for it that morning, so I plugged in the charger and hooked it up when I got home. An hour or so later the truck would start, but I still had a root problem to track down.

            A dead battery is usually the result of some kind of a drain. The most common cause is a light or a stereo left on at a drive-in double feature. When I started the truck, nothing appeared to have been left on, so that got ruled out.

            Old batteries can develop problems with holding a charge. Lead-acid car batteries average 3-5 years, depending on environmental and usage conditions. I replaced my battery sometime around Labor Day, so I could rule that out as well.

            Diagnosing the Problem
            That left just a few possible causes. Sorting those out is pretty straightforward, but requires a couple tools:
            1. Start with a check of the battery itself (I explained how to do this in an earlier post). As I said before, my battery is new. The posts are clean, the water is full, and the clamps are tight.
            2. After making sure everything is physically good, check to make sure that your battery is holding a charge and that your alternator is actually charging the battery. You'll need a multimeter for this; I use this one at work, and an older variant of this one at home. 
              • While the Milwaukee is simple and quick, the Amprobe is half the price and will do anything you could want a meter to do. 
              • A multimeter is a wonderful tool investment on the whole, as it will help with any number of projects around the house.
              • For those of you who are a bit scared or confused using a multimeter, next week I'll go through the basic functions of a meter and how they work. Stick with me on this, you'll do just fine.
            3. Following the instructions for your meter, set it to test 12 volt DC power. 
              • With the car off, check the voltage stored in your battery by touching one test lead to each post. 
              • If your battery is holding a good charge, you should see 12-12.5 volts. 
              • Anything below 11 volts indicates a serious problem.
            4. Now, start the car, and repeat the voltage test with the engine running. 
              • If your alternator is charging properly, you should get a reading of about 14.5 volts. 
              • Any reading more than a volt off of that indicates a problem you'll need to have addressed. 
              • My battery gave readings of 12.4 and 14.5 volts, so the system is working properly.
            If I'd gotten low readings on the battery, I'd have taken it to an auto parts store and had them charge it and test it. If the alternator had given odd readings, I'd have pulled it and had it tested at the parts store, and replaced anything that testing showed as defective.

            Why did my truck not start?
            With all of my tests coming up negative, the question remains, what happened? The answer is twofold, and one of those folds is entirely my fault.
            1. The weather had been brutally cold for several days leading up to this failure. Cold does bad things to battery output, and I hadn't started my truck for a few days to keep it charged. 
            2. When I bought that new battery a few months ago, I gambled and bought one that was a bit lighter duty than I normally get, and this is the failure that I have to own. Car batteries are rated by Cold Cranking Amps, with more amps indicating a stronger battery. I normally buy 700-800 CCA batteries for my big trucks, but this time bought one in the mid-500s. 95% of the time I don't even notice, but when combined with the single-digit and sub-zero temperatures, the lighter battery just didn't have the gusto it needed. I learned a valuable lesson in false economy, and may look at buying a larger battery in the not-too distant future and swapping this one into my wife's smaller truck.

            Lokidude

            Monday, February 6, 2017

            Palette's Product Review: PMC .223 Battle Pack

            Not actually Erin.
            & is used with permission.
            FTC Disclaimer: This product was provided to me for review purposes by Widener's Reloading & Shooting Supply. I was not paid for a good review.

            I'm never entirely certain what to say when I am asked to review ammunition. One the one hand, free ammo is always welcome; on the other hand, what can I say other than "It did or didn't go bang"?

            If I were a more skilled shooter with a dialed-in rifle, I could review match-grade ammunition by giving you ballistic data regarding how the ammo performed in comparison to what I usually shoot. If I were reviewing defensive rounds and I had access to ballistic gel and a high-speed camera, I could show you video of the gel bouncing and a post-mortem of the wound cavity.

            Range rounds, though, either work or they don't. If they don't, then there's a fair amount to be said regarding why they didn't work: maybe the rounds didn't load properly, or didn't eject, or didn't fire at all even though the pin hit the primer. But if they do, there's not much to said other than "The rounds went bang and the bullet hit the target."

            So with that in mind, here is my review of PMC Bronze 55 Grain FMJ-BT .223 Rem ammo: It went bang, and all the bullets hit the target within the limits of my marksmanship. This lack of commentary is likely disappointing for a lot of people, but I think of it as praising via lack of damnation -- everything worked the way it was supposed to, no more and no less.

            I've had good experience with PMC ammo in the past. I've shot PMC Bronze 9mm out of my Glock 26 and Sub-2000, I've shot PMC Bronze 7.62x39 out of my SKS, and I've even used PMC Sidewinder out of a particularly finicky .22LR boltie that refused to eat anything else. I cannot think of a time when any of those rounds failed to feed or fire (although I did have an issue with the JHP 9mm experiencing setback from being kept in a drum magazine). Overall, I think the range rounds offer great value for their price ($8.85 + shipping for a box of 20 at Wideners, which is roughly in line with what they cost at my local gun store, $9.99 + tax).

            Being unable to say much more about the ammunition itself, I have three points I'd like to make:

            1) There's a zeroing chart on the box itself. 
            While this may be old news or useless information to shooters more practiced than myself, I found this to be a very nice bit of reference material on what would otherwise be wasted space on the packaging.

            https://www.wideners.com/rifle/223-5.56-ammo#pmc-battle-pack-223-remington-55-grain-fmj-bt-200-rounds
            2) I received this ammo in a 200-count Battle Pack.
            This means there were 10 boxes sealed in a plastic bag similar to what MREs come in. I found this very handy for transport -- when I evacuated Florida ahead of Hurricane Matthew last October, all I had to do was grab the bag by the carry holes and throw in my car -- and the sealed sleeve protects the ammunition from water (and presumably moisture in the air), which is good for the long-term storage that we preppers enjoy. 


            3) The ammunition is manufactured in South Korea. 
            In fact, while PMC might now stand for "Precision Made Cartridges", when the company was formed it was originally "Poongsan Metal Corporation" and that's still the name of the company which makes the ammo.

            Now let me be very clear here: I have absolutely zero problem with buying South Korean ammunition. The Republic of Korea has been a longtime ally of the United States, and given that they're still technically at war with North Korea I trust that their ammunition will be top-notch (again, see how I haven't had a problem with any of their range ammo). I bring this up only because many preppers want to buy American products whenever possible, and individual boxes you buy in stores say "Houston, TX" as if the ammunition was manufactured there, when in reality that is only the American branch of the business.


            With all that said, I feel comfortable recommending Battle Packs of PMC Bronze ammunition ($94) to preppers. The price is good (47 cents a round), although you will pay a touch more for the convenience of having the rounds sealed in plastic than you will if you buy the boxes separately (47 cents per round vs. 44 cents per round) Alternately, you can get better value (36.5 cents/round) by purchasing a 1000-round Battle Pack for $365.

            The Fine Print


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