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Friday, November 17, 2017

Heating Your Home, Part 3

Passive solar heating using bubblewrap? Really?

I'll do a follow-up in February on how well it worked.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Miscellaneous Updates

Since this is my 201st article on this blog, I'm going to update a few of my previous posts.

Emergency Ration Bars
I wrote a few reviews of some emergencyration bars that I found on Amazon this last summer. I recently had a reason to break a few of them out and eat them and found a few more data points:
  • Below 40°F or so, both the Quake Kare ER Bar and SOSFood Lab bars became hard as rocks. I'm not sure if it is the palm oil or some other ingredient, but I found that I had to carry them in a pocket next to my body for a while to warm them up enough to be able to bite a chuck off. 
  • Opaque packaging is good for storage (it keeps the light from breaking down certain chemicals), but bad for customer quality assurance. I got one 3-day bar that had been in the oven a bit too long and was almost burnt. It was enough to change the taste, but fortunately not bad enough to make it inedible. 
  • Part of the US Coast Guard certification for emergency rations requires that at least 25% of the rations have to be mixable with water. This is to provide a source of food for infants or someone who can't open their mouth due to injury. I ground up a “meal's” worth of one of the bars and made a gruel out of it to test. The taste was the same and while it wouldn't go through a straw, I could eat it with a spoon without problems. 

Vehicle Recovery
In part 2 of my series, I covered various chains, cables, and straps for towing a vehicle. My pickup recently decided that it needed a new starter (with no warning) while I was in a gas station, so I had to go home and get the big truck to drag the miscreant home so I could work on it.

I kept a nylon tow strap in the pickup and a good chain in the big truck. The helper who was steering my pickup while I drove the big truck managed to break both of them. I had to improvise and use a heavy tie-down strap to make it the last half mile.
  • The tow strap met its end when it went slack and the towed pickup's front tire ran over it. This has been eliminated for future towing by the purchase of a spring-loaded tow strap that will not go slack and hit the ground. I'm sure that I'll get a chance to use it some time this winter. 
  • The chain snapped when my helper stomped on the brakes. Since the big truck weighs a little more than twice what the pickup does, the pickup's brakes weren't going to stop both vehicles. This can only be prevented by further training of my helper (or finding a different helper). As I mentioned in the original article, chain is easy to repair once you have the time and tools. 

I discussed how to prevent blisters on your feet a few years ago and recommended that you learn how to treat them, but I never got around to giving the simple treatment. Fall is convention time around here and I've had to teach a few friends how to take care of blisters caused by costume shoes that don't quite fit right. 

Blisters don't just happen to your feet, either. One of my newer co-workers has limited experience with a shovel and hasn't learned that gloves are good things to wear. His first two weeks were painful, but he's starting to develop some calluses.

If you do end up getting a blister, they're not hard to take care of properly. Small blisters will heal themselves if you leave them alone, but the bigger ones will need to be drained to make walking or using your hands possible again. Here's how it's done:
  1. Leave the skin covering the blister intact. Don't tear off the loose skin, it's best to leave it there to protect the flesh underneath. 
  2. Clean the blister with soap and water. Antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer is best if you have them around. 
  3. Find a sharp needle or pin (I've used fish hooks when that's all I had) and sterilize it with hand sanitizer or alcohol. Don't use a flame unless it is your only option, you run the risk of getting soot on the needle and into the blister. 
  4. Puncture the blister in several places along the edge where the loose skin meets the good skin. If you feel pain, you're digging into the good skin. 
  5. Lightly press on the blister to squeeze out the liquid. Blot it dry with gauze or clean cloth. 
  6. Apply a layer of antibacterial ointment (if you have it) to the blister. 
  7. Cover the blister with a non-stick bandage. Change the bandage at least once a day until the flesh under the blister has hardened and dried into new skin. 
I'm hoping I can get at least another 199 articles in the next few years, just to make my total a nice even 400. That will also mean that nothing drastic has happened, and that's always a good thing to hope for.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Prudent Prepping: Getting It Handled

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

I've been inspired by Lokidude's post about tools and knife sharpening to get going on a project that has been sitting on my desk for a while now: putting a handle on a knife I was given.

Lauri Knife # 105h
A customer (and now friend) gave me an unfinished blade for helping him out with a warranty issue. I wrote about doing this over a year ago, and I now want to get it done right. Here is the blade:

Lauri 105H blade

In the previous post, I mentioned a source for blades and parts (but not handles!). It seems the website has not been updated in a while and many items are out of stock, so I'm hesitant to send people there without everyone (myself included) doing their due diligence. Since the above-mentioned site doesn't sell handles, I'm planning on making my own.

I have a Rockler Woodworking store nearby, and when I stopped in to see what they stocked in short lengths of wood I found a bin of 1.5"x1.5"x6" blocks intended for turning on a lathe. There is a guide on the rack listing the codes printed on the blocks cross-referenced to the actual species of wood, but the code on the block that I picked isn't clear. Here is the wood:

Exotic wood

I really like the grain and color of this piece of wood as it is shown in the store. To prevent warping and other damage, these blocks are coated in wax, so the color shown in this picture is about how the finished handle will appear.

Tang outline

 I drew an outline of the tang on the block so I can actually see how much wood will need to be removed to finish this project. At 1.5" square, this is much too thick to simply split it in half, chisel out the area for the tang, glue it back together and round off the corners.

There are options for finishing the handle-to-blade area, and nowhere can I find a decent picture showing a bolster or ferrule, which are the caps that finish the handle and give a finished look to a knife -- in other words, they're nice but not a requirement.

I'm still in the planning part of this project and don't see myself needing to pick a design right yet, so there is plenty of time to source parts. Wish me luck!

The Takeaway
  • There's no time like the present to do a project that's a year old.

The Recap

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Product Review: the Lansky Quadsharp

A sharp knife is the only acceptable knife. We've discussed sharpening knives before, and that information remains useful and relevant. However, I always have my eye open for new and better ways to keep a blade sharp.

I've been using a Lansky Sharpening System for almost 20 years now, and it produces wonderful edges. I also keep a couple Smith's Pocket Pals around for quick touch-ups. Between these tools, I can keep an acceptable edge on most knives, but they do have some glaring weaknesses: the Lansky kit doesn't work well with large or very small knives because of the nature of the blade clamp, and the Pocket Pal works well for touch-up but doesn't give me the precise angle control that I've come to love, so I always end up running the blade through the Lansky when I get home anyway.

On a recent trip to the sporting goods store, a new offering from Lansky called the QuadSharp caught my eye. It combines the form factor of the Pocket Pal with the angle control of the full kit, and at the same time improves upon both items.

For size comparison, the QuadSharp beside a Pocket Pal and a SOG Flash II pocketknife.
Instead of a diamond rod like the Pocket Pal, serrations are sharpened with a ceramic block, which also serves as a dressing block. It also has all four of the angles used in the full Lansky kit, allowing you to sharpen in the field without worry about losing your chosen blade angle.

Because it doesn't require a clamp on the blade to work, the QuadSharp also corrects the weaknesses of the full Lansky kit by sharpening nearly all blade sizes with equal effectiveness. I've run it on blades as short as 2-3/8" and as long as my 12" kukri, and it also doesn't balk at the deep belly of the kukri like many sharpeners do.

The big downside to the QuadSharp is that its cutters are only a single grit. They work fine for a blade that already has most of an edge, but they don't do as well on a knife that needs serious edge work; for that, I'll still need the full kit. However, for most sharpening tasks, the QuadSharp performs as well as the full kit in a fraction of the time. It's also ten dollars cheaper and much easier to toss into a backpack or pocket.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Bicycle Maintenance

Many of you are no doubt wondering, What does bicycle maintenance have to do with prepping?

My answers:
  1. Bicycles are the lowest-cost vehicles I could think of that will get someone out of a disaster area. There are a great many people who cannot afford something bigger.
  2. There have been times in my life that I have only been able to get out of a situation by having a bicycle on hand.
Note the Following
Keep in mind that this is a basic to intermediate guide, not an in-depth guide. That said, this covers the majority of things that you will ever run across. The focus is on the kinds of things a prepper will need.

This article is targeted at mountain and commuter road bikes. Most of the principles will still transfer to other kinds (racing, BMX, etc.) but they may have some specific differences to be addressed.

Suggested Tools
  • Bike pump
  • Pressure gauge
  • Tire patch kit
  • Tire slime
  • Tire tool
  • Pliers
  • Allen Wrench set
  • Chalk or grease pen
  • Crescent wrench
  • Teflon lube
  • Screwdriver
  • Quality duct tape
Flat Tires
Flat tires are the most common problem. Either your tire has a slow leak, (somewhat normal, even with a brand new tire) or it has a puncture. Either way, pump it up and ride it around for an hour or two or as normal. If it goes flat within that time, or will not pump up, it has a puncture; otherwise it has a slow leak.

Fixing a Leak
If your tire has a slow leak, put tire slime in it if it does not have any, and pump it up. (Tire slime goes “bad” after two to four years in my experience, and has to be renewed every so often).

Fixing a Puncture
If it has a puncture:
  1. Take the wheel off of the bicycle and use your tire tools to dismount the tire. (Butter knifes can be used in a pinch, but make sure not to bend the rim or cut the tube). 
  2.  Remove the inner tube and carefully run your fingers on the inside of the tire, and carefully check for sharp objects that are puncturing the tire. Even if you find one, there may be others, so do a full circuit. It may help to use a grease pen or chalk to mark one point on the tire so that you can tell where you have checked.
  3. Fill a sink with water and put some dish soap in it. Inflate the tube, and rotate it slowly inside the sink so that the leak will bubble air out and show itself. Make sure that you check the entire tube over for multiple leaks.

    If a tube has more than about three patches, it is probably time to replace it. If the hole in the tube is more than a quarter inch long, replace the tube.

  4. Patch the tube according to instructions in the patch kit, put it back in the tire, and put the tire back on the bike. 
  5. Inflate the tire. The correct pressure when inflated for most mountain bike tires is around 30 PSI and up. Make sure not to overinflate.
Make sure not to ride on a flat tire, since it can damage the rims.

True your bicycle's wheels every so often. For most bikes, this can be done with a crescent wrench and a lot of patience. I recommend doing it at least once a year for bikes that get ridden with any regularity.
  1. Turn the bike upside down and slowly spin the wheel by hand. 
  2. If/when you see any wobble in the wheel, tighten or loosen the spoke nearest the wobble using the crescent wrench, to pull it tighter or looser on the hub.
  3.  For more in-depth instructions with illustrations, read this Instructable article
Adjust the height as needed (a wrench may be required). You may never need to set it after the first time, but riding is much more comfortable with comfortable seat height, and can actually reduce the wear on the other components.

Every so often you should oil any exposed cables with a teflon-based lube, either spray or dropper style. I do this about once a year, but I also live in an area with a lot of salt on the roads in the winter. If I lived somewhere less corrosive, I might only do this once every five years or so.

When adjusting brake pads (for the most common “pad against wheel rim” type):
  1. Use an allen wrench of the appropriate size and an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut holding the pad until it moves just a bit. 
  2. Have someone slowly grab the brakes, and move the pads until they have the best contact with the wheel rim. 
  3.  Tighten the nut back.
  4. If you have to replace brakes it is the same procedure except that you loosen the nut enough to remove the pads.
I also like to rotate my pads about twice a year, but that is because I am cheap and like them to wear evenly instead of replacing them.

Gear Shifter
Oil this with the same teflon-based lube whenever it gets “sticky”. You can use a screwdriver to adjust it as needed, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

If these get to dirty, they will not grip as well. Mild dish soap and water with an old toothbrush works great to clean them.

If they are especially worn you may need to replace them, which is not difficult, but requires a special tool.

Miscellaneous Bits
I recommend checking your bike for anything loose or out of place about once a month for every month that you ride it. You will notice most of these things as you ride, and allen wrenches are wonderful for adjusting them.

Field Expedient Fix of a Broken Frame
I have only had this happen once. If this happens to you, replace the bike at earliest opportunity.
  1. Take a crescent wrench or any other long piece of metal. 
  2. If the break is on one of the frame bars, tape the wrench on the break. Be generous in your use of tape.
  3. If the break is a burst weld, place the wrench at an angle to the weld so that it forms a triangle with the weld in the corner, and use duct tape to “tie” it on. Once again, be generous with tape. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

GunBlog VarietyCast Radio #169 - The Personification of the Firearm

“The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.” ― Col. Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle
  • Beth detests the phrase “gun violence”. She’s talked about that before, so if she brings it up again, it must mean it's important! She has more examples and details.
  • A cop walks into a gas station just in time to interrupt an armed robbery. Sean tells us how this story ends.
  • Barron is on assignment.
  • In this week's Mental Flea Market, Miguel reminds us that some SOB won't try to murder you just because you're worshiping God.
  • David Yamane, sociologist and new member of the Gun Culture, has been saying it for a while now, but it bears repeating: the laser focus of gun control advocates on the criminal use of firearms ignores the REAL gun culture, which is the average gun-owning citizen.
  • Tiffany is on assignment.
  • Avoid that sedative! Erin explains how sleeping too soon after trauma can negatively affect your ability to recover from it.
  • A lone anti-gun crusader has proposed a "national gun buyback day".  Weer’d looks at the lies and delusions of grandeur as this nut promotes his little pipe dream.
  • And our Plug of the Week is MAG-20 / Classroom – Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement.
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:
Trauma and Sleep Disorder
It will come as no surprise to anyone that ever since I was attacked, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I should clarify this, though: to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t been having nightmares or reliving the experience. I just feel tired all the time, like I’m sleeping but not getting enough rest, if that makes any sense.

So as a result of this I started looking into how traumatic experiences affect sleep patterns, and I discovered some interesting information. The biggest surprise was learning that sleep after a trauma actually helps to cement the trauma within your mind!

In a 2012 study, two groups of rodents were exposed to a predator's scent, which was a traumatic event for them. One group was prevented from sleeping for six hours afterward, and one group was not. Interestingly, the sleep-deprived group displayed fewer physiological signs of stress and less PTSD-like behavior, such as freezing and a heightened startle response, than the group which was allowed to sleep. This was later confirmed with human experiments in 2015.

When you stop to think about it, this makes sense. It’s widely believed that while we sleep, our brain attempts to make sense of of the events of the day, filing them away into memories and running “what-if” scenarios. So it stands to reason that if you avoid sleep while the traumatic event is still fresh in your mind, there will be more “stuff” for your brain to process when you do sleep, and the likelihood of those events being turned into traumatic memories is reduced.

Fortunately for me, I suffered sleep deprivation after my attack: it happened at 10 pm and I didn’t get to bed until 11 am the next day, and I was only under local anesthesia instead of general when the plastic surgeon was sewing me up. This may explain why I don’t seem to be exhibiting PTSD characteristics.

I also asked for an anti-anxiety medication while I was in the ER, because I was quite understandably upset at my face being in tatters and was worried that I might have pieces missing. They gave me ativan, which did indeed help me calm down without making me want to sleep. I don’t know if this is causation or just correlation, but keep it in mind for future use, especially if the doctors want to prescribe a sedative.

If something like this happens to you, and you decide to delay sleep, you may have difficulty getting back on your normal sleep schedule. Here are a few tips and tricks for that:
  • Realize that there’s no such thing as a “sleep bank.” If you miss 8 hours of sleep, you don’t then need to sleep for 16 hours the next night. Just try to sleep your regular amount, going to bed and getting up at your usual time. 
  • Exercise before sleep is a bad idea, because it is more likely to energize your body and keep you awake longer. However, gentle stretching is a good idea as it should release tension in your muscles. 
  • Take a hot shower before bedtime. The body cools off as it sleeps, and so after a hot shower your body will start to cool off and that will send a message to your brain that it’s time for sleep. 
  • Don’t drink alcohol before bed. While it is a depressant and will indeed help you fall asleep, it will depress everything in your body including your REM sleep. Alcoholics claim they don’t dream when they sleep, and dreaming is essential to your health. 
  • Finally, if you’ve been lying in bed for an hour and still can’t sleep, don’t force yourself to stay there, Instead, get up and do something relaxing. Avoid watching TV or getting on the computer, because the light from the screen will stimulate your brain and make it think it’s time to get up. Instead, do something low-stress and relatively boring, like dusting the furniture or doing laundry. 
So to summarize:Avoid sleep for at least 6 hours after a traumatic experience, but after that, you should get back to your regular sleep schedule.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Prepping for Winter

Winter is here! And of course I wouldn't be me if I wasn't forgetful, so this week we are playing catch-up with a follow-up next week, and then again in February to see how it's working.

The Fine Print

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