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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Blizzards (not from Dairy Queen)

Up here in the northern plains we have a weather condition that most of the country doesn't have to deal with: blizzards. The definition of a blizzard is “a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 56 km/h (35 mph) and lasting for a prolonged period of time” and I've seen more than a few. 
  • 1977 was a nasty one, with no school for a week and the Interstate highways were closed for three days; secondary roads didn't get cleared for a week and some of the country roads were buried for three weeks. 
  • 1986 was a sudden blast that surprised a lot people. I was visiting my parents and couldn't make it to the highway for two days. Power lines went down in both of those storms, adding to the experience. 
  • 2010 gave us a 12 hour storm that shut down all travel for a day and slowed everything for another three days. If you have a spare hour to watch a documentary, here's one about a blizzard that hit shortly before my time (1949).
We don't normally see the huge snowfalls that occur in the mountains, measuring our normal accumulations in inches rather than feet. We do however see at least one good blizzard up here every year, with the bad years giving us one or two a month from December to March. The natives are used to it and tend to be prepared, but the transplants from the warmer states need to experience one or two blizzards to get the hint.

We're not talking about the Christmas card type of snow! Blizzards tend to hit hard and fast. Wet air from the Gulf of Mexico meeting cold air from the North Pole is a recipe for snow, and fly-over country is where the two like to dance. Thunder and lightning during a snowstorm is usually a bad sign, since they're indications that there is a lot of energy built up in the storm clouds, so thundersnow is a warning that you need to check your supplies.

A typical blizzard for my area will have 12-20 inches of snow over a day or two, which is enough to cause “white-out” conditions, which is when you look out the window and don't see anything but snow. Falling and blowing snow can cut visibility to less than 10 feet, so travel is not an option.

The dangerous part of a blizzard is the wind. Once the snow stops falling, the wind pushes it around into drifts that reform as soon as they are cleared. The winds coming down out of Canada have few natural barriers, so anything that sticks up more than a couple of feet will create a drift.

For those of you who have never seen much snow, think of sand dunes and how they shift and form; snow drifts form from the same action of wind, but being made of smaller particles they form faster and have a higher angle of repose which allows them to build to higher, steeper, piles. Sustained winds will reform drifts over roads almost as fast as a plow can clear them, and I've seen this happen many times.

How do we prepare for weather like this? The basics don't change: food, water, shelter, and heat are the priorities. There are plenty of articles in our archives that cover these areas, so use the search box in the upper left corner if you want to see them.

Blizzards are a good reason for "bugging in" because "bugging out" is no longer an option. I keep a stocked pantry and more warm clothes/blankets than I really need on hand to stay fed and warm. Water isn't much of an issue as long as it's snowing and my house has a steep roof to shed snow. I also have a good library to keep me entertained, and I can read by oil lamps if the power goes out.

The one abnormal thing that we have to deal with is other people. I live near an Interstate highway, and the DOT installed gates on it a few years ago. When the weather gets too bad, they close the highway and force all of the traffic into small towns. We have limited motel rooms available, so the local community center and high school get turned into emergency shelters for stranded travelers. Society has evolved past the point of people taking strangers into their homes, but if there is any shared relationship or good common friends, it can still happen.

Here's to hoping we have a quiet winter, but preparing for whatever comes our way.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Prudent Prepping: A Day Late ...

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

I find the strangest things when I go through Big Box stores: copper baking sheets, Keurig coffee machines, and 4' tall stuffed animals are just the start. In all that mix I somehow missed a practical item hidden in the middle of it all!

Phos-Check Wildfire Home Defense
If it's not obvious why I titled this post "A Day Late", it started raining last week. I would have liked to see, and maybe had someone give, an actual real-world test of the product's ease of application. (I hope I never need to see if it really works.)

The website for Phos-Check Wildfire Home Defense is well laid-out, and easy to get to all the necessary pages.

my picture
Here are excerpts from their FAQ page:

From the webpage:

PHOS-CHEK HOME WILDFIRE DEFENSE is applied as a liquid and works wet or dry. Once the retardant is properly applied to the fuels it will remain effective until washed off by water. The retardant is effective on any cellulose fuel (vegetation, wood, etc.) and works by changing the chemical decomposition process when the treated fuel comes in contact with an active flame. The surface of the treated fuel is turned into a non-flammable carbon which will not carry flame, keeping the fire from spreading to the next fuel source and slowing and/or stopping the fire spread.

This is a product that several local friends would have looked at very seriously this past summer and fall, even though we here were on the very southern edges of the actual fire zones. Once it is advertised correctly, I believe it will be a product that the Big Box stores will move by the case. Since it can be applied to small areas with easily used sprayers, I see no reason for average people to not use it around suburban fence lines or open areas between houses.

Please look at all the information there and if you can't use it, tell those you know who live in a high fire area to check it out.

Recap and Takeaway
  • Nothing was purchased this week, and it is unlikely I will be buying any prepping gear for the balance of December.
  • I find the idea behind PHOS-CHEK WILDFIRE HOME DEFENSE very interesting as an environmentally friendly way to protect your property.
  • Phos-Chek can be ordered from Amazon for $44.98 with Prime, or found in (my area) Home Depot stores for the same price.
    * * *

    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, December 3, 2019

    2 Stroke or 4?

    Most gas engines are fairly simple beasts: you fill the tank, you keep up on the oil changes, and everything is happy. Sometimes, though, you'll find an engine that doesn't have an oil reservoir, or has something like 50:1 on the fuel cap. These engines still require oil, but use it mixed with their gasoline.

    Engines that require mixed gas are referred to as 2 cycle engines. Ones that don't, like the one in your car, are referred to as 4 cycle engines. A 4 cycle engine uses 4 cycles or "strokes" to make power:
    1. The intake stroke pulls air and atomized fuel into the cylinder. 
    2. The compression stroke applies pressure to the fuel/air mix, making it far easier to ignite. 
    3. The ignition or power stroke is where the spark plug ignites the fuel, driving the piston down and generating power.
    4. Finally, the exhaust stroke moves hot air out of the cylinder and engine and into the exhaust system.

    A 2 cycle engine consolidates those cycles by combining intake and compression, and then ignition with exhaust. This makes a very simple, lightweight engine, but at the cost of power and fuel efficiency. Some off-road motorcycles also employ these engines, but most two cycle engines today are seen in yard tools like weed eaters and leaf blowers, and notably in chain saws. This is a very good set of animations demonstrating the 2 and 4 cycles in action.

    Where a 4 cycle engine uses a separate oil reservoir for lubrication, a 2 cycle engine uses the oil mixed into the fuel. The owner's manual (and usually a sticker or engraving on the engine) will tell you the proper mix ratio. Using too little oil will under-lubricate the engine, causing premature wear and failure, but too much oil will burn very dirty, fouling the spark plug and generally running horribly. Stihl (a popular power equipment company) has a great set of instructions on how best to actually mix your oil, and AMSOIL has a comprehensive chart listing all the most common mixing ratios and the actual quantities of oil and gas needed (saves me the math!).

    Mix your gas right to keep your equipment running long and strong. Your snowblower will keep your driveway clear, and your chainsaw will rapidly clear debris after a storm.


    Monday, December 2, 2019

    Let’s Carry Less!

    Carrying less is the way to go!

    In this first installment of my new series of minimalist carry, I’m starting with the basics: a bag to carry it all.

    Godspeed to you all.

    Thursday, November 28, 2019

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Chaplain Tim has the day off to spend time with his family like the rest of us. Regular posting resumes tomorrow.

    In the meantime, please enjoy these two holiday favorites written by the
    Whatever you do, have a great day filled with fun, good, fellowship and family.

    Wednesday, November 27, 2019

    Prudent Prepping: November Buffet Post

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

    This is my usual round up of ideas that I don't think would make a stand alone post.

    Check Up, part 2
    As I mentioned in this blog post earlier this month, I'm getting everything in and on my body checked out by doctors. One of the last things to be looked over were my teeth; I've been saving my money for this work, because while the dental coverage is better than what many of my friends have, it isn't good enough to cover all the work I need done to save my teeth.

    Many reports say not chewing food well can affect your health, and having teeth seems to be the first and most important step as far as I'm concerned.

    Shopping Find
    While calling on one of my local stores, I found this, the Everbilt 26 qt. High-Performance Cooler with Lockable Lid:

    A Home Depot store-brand, heavy duty cooler!

    From the Home Depot webpage:
    • Keeps Ice for up to 5 days, great for outdoor activities
    • Durable T-handle latches keeps lid secure
    • Virtually unbreakable rotomolded 1-piece construction
    And the best part: this cooler is $78.97! At 26 qts it's a little bit bigger than, but suspiciously similar to, a popular brand that has fallen out of favor with many outdoors folk. This store-brand price is 60% of that famous labels' 20 qt. cooler while having 30% more volume.

    This shows as being "In Stock" in my local stores, but that could vary from region to region. I have a standard Igloo cooler that I take with me when I go camping and fishing, and having something that would keep my food cold longer is a bonus. I don't have a problem with the size, since I don't go out with more than one person and when there's a group, everyone has their own ice chests.

    Check it out!

    Personal Safety
    In a Blue Collar Prepping Facebook posting this week, the question was asked, "What should I do in a riot?"

    Several of us have posted about what to do in a riot/civil unrest, with a post of mine from August 2017 talking about what to do if in a crowd. I think the most important factor is not to be in a riot in the first place. That can be pretty hard to avoid if something happens spontaneously, but the most recent demonstrations that turned violent were advertised days and sometimes weeks in advance.

    Read the whole thing, but the high points are:
    • Start walking and don't stop. 
    • Don't run. That will draw attention to you, both from the cops and those around you. 
    • Look for the edge of the crowd and make your way there.
    • Get to the edge of the crowd, but don't try to walk against the flow - that could get you knocked down. Travel at a diagonal to the direction the crowd is going until you get out of the main body, hopefully well away from the agitators and potential violence. 

    Recap And Takeaway
    • Nothing was purchased this week, and I don't see Santa bringing too many prepping items to me this year.
    • My health is going to be my Christmas gift to myself.
    • The Home Depot Everbilt 26 qt. Cooler seems like a great buy at $78.97. Check to see if it is available in your area. If not, most items can be Special Ordered and with a qualifying purchase, shipping is free!

    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 26, 2019

    Easy Baked Potatoes

    Potatoes are good, but take time and effort to cook. There's an easier way to do it, though.


    The Fine Print

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

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