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Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Potential Man-Made Disaster (part 1)

We live in interesting times. While most of those reading (and writing) this blog are trying to prepare for disasters and emergencies, there is a part of our audience who don't get much attention: they're preparing for a man-made disaster that is looking more possible every day.

When we started this blog and the Facebook group, one of our first rules was “No Politics”. Political discussion is by definition divisive, and we choose to avoid chasing away potential readers. We don't really care what your political views are; we're here to help you prepare for when bad things happen. There is, however, one subject that carries a lot of political potential and I have tried to avoid it, but things are getting close to becoming serious and I feel a need to address some of the causes and ways things could go wrong.

The subject I'm talking about is gun control.

Firearms are a common tool in most prepper circles. They are useful for hunting and self defense, and if properly maintained, a quality firearm will last more than a lifetime. The oldest in my small collection was made for WW1, so it's about 100 years old now and it still works. Firearms are old technology, not hard to make with modern tools and a little training, and they are still evolving.

The USA has a history of firearms ownership and the right to arms is protected by our Constitution. It will take an amendment to our Constitution for the gun control people to get their way, and that's not an easy task. Not many other countries have our level of firearms ownership, and even fewer have the right to them in their basic law. With more guns in the USA than there are people, I don't see them going away any time soon.

The proponents of gun control come in a few different flavors, with some falling into more than one category:

Those who have suffered a personal loss
I understand grief and loss. I understand wanting to prevent tragedy from happening again. These do not give you special status to proclaim that you're right and everyone else is wrong, nor do they override the rights of people who had nothing to do with your tragedy.

Those who don't understand guns
The amount of bad information and outright lies being spread about guns is appalling. Movies portray them in farcical ways, the blathering idiots on the news have no clue about the subject, and special interest groups tell blatant lies about their capabilities. Some of this is lack of education, but a lot of it is willful ignorance. Willingly and loudly denying facts, along with inventing your own “facts” is a common problem now. The only other subject I can think of that gets this kind of treatment is nuclear power.

Those who use gun control as a means to gain influence
Politicians want to get re-elected, so they say what you want to hear. Since there is a national election coming up, we're hearing all kinds of grand statements from candidates right now. Groups looking for donations will say what they need to in order to keep the money flowing (this happens on both sides of the subject). The second-tier political class of lobbyist and “experts” want to stay influential in order to keep their jobs. It's all about the money to them, and greed is a powerful motivator.

Those who want control over others
There are always going to be those who think that they are rulers. In their minds, they are the rightful leaders and should be in charge of everyone else. Dissent is seen as a personal attack on them and is usually met with anger and a defensive attitude. These people realize that it is hard to force an armed person to bend to their will and thus seek to disarm anyone “beneath” them. These people are the ones responsible for millions of deaths over the last hundred years. These are the people who created the first gun control laws after the slaves were freed in order to prevent them from being able to defend themselves. In recent decades they have chosen the incremental approach to gun control, nibbling away at our rights while always seeking complete control.

All four groups seek to punish people who have committed no crime for the actions of someone who has. The current ideas being thrown around vary from background checks (already in place) to confiscation of certain types of guns. They are being met with resistance from a few different types of opposition:

Vocal protest
There are some people willing to be the face of opposition, and they deserve some respect and support. I choose to ignore the lunatic fringes of both sides for the most part, but they are the ones who get the most news coverage. They have chosen to be the lightning rod for an increasingly violent discussion and the rules of political discourse have changed dramatically in recent years. Threats of violence and the public dissemination of personal data (doxxing) are now standard procedure. Deep searches of every public statement, and many private ones, has been simplified with the Internet and digital archives. Something said or done decades ago is now being used to silence anyone who doesn't fall in line with the “narrative”. There are signs that the pro-guns side is starting to use the same tactics, which is a sign of escalation.

Silent protest
There are a lot of people who are quietly buying as much ammunition and as many firearms as they can to be prepared for any eventual ban or restriction. Having sufficient stores of arms and ammunition to provide food and safety for your family is a good goal in my book. Some of those silent protesters are arming for what they see as a coming “Civil War 2.0”, where they will have to fight to recover rights that are being taken away. This is a scenario that will not end well for either side, and everyone caught in the middle will suffer the most.

Being ignored
Countries and states are passing stricter laws covering magazine capacity and sometimes types of firearms, byt hey are routinely being ignored by the average citizens. Canada's failed national registration, California and New York's “assault rifle” registration, New Jersey's failed magazine ban, and several others are all proof that passing a law doesn't mean everyone is going to obey it. The majority of criminals have been ignoring the laws for years, so passing more isn't going to affect them at all.

I'm not sure which way things are going to go in the near future. We could see more incremental erosion of our rights, or the current push for more laws may stall out. Any attempt at confiscation on a large scale would be enough to push a lot of gun rights supporters into becoming criminals and their opponents would label them terrorists or worse. I believe this would create a spiral into that “Civil War 2.0” that some are seeking, leading to a lot of grief and bloodshed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Prudent Prepping: First Aid Kit Update

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

In a post on the Blue Collar Prepping Facebook page, Garry Hamilton (along with others) mentioned what many of first aid kits lack these days, starting with tweezers, a blade or knife, and scissors or some other way to cut clothing. I added one of the mentioned items to my work kit several months ago, but never wrote it up.

SZCO Supplies Magnifying Tweezers
I'm in a Big Box store of one type or another every day. I don't touch lumber for work, but there is always wood someplace close. Besides being around wood, I do handle sheet metal, nuts, bolts and screws, which sometimes have shavings in the boxes. I found these tweezers earlier this year and added then to my bigger kit. I moved them into my work kit soon afterwards when, as I mentioned in the first post, I got tired of digging out splinters with my knife.

From the Amazon page:
  • A powerful 3X magnifying glass and needle-tipped tweezers combine to make this one of the handiest items in the tool box or first aid kit
  • This product is easy to use easy to install and highly durable
  • Item is manufactured in Pakistan
  • 3.5 Inches in length
  • Magnifying glass
  • Stainless steel composition
I have used these and can recommend them to any and all readers.

I don't have scissors or a blade in my work first aid kit, but I do have both in my GHB. For work I always have at least one utility knife in my work gear, plus the Kershaw Leeks I always have in my pockets. I think what I have for work is sufficient.

Several posts mentioned more complex kits, up to including suturing supplies. My friend the Master Chief has a full-on Medic kit ("Don't ask where it came from") with everything he had available when he served, minus the actual drugs. I suspect he might be able to 'acquire' those also if he really wanted some. For me, I don't have the training to use something like that, but I appreciate those who do.

Earthquake Supplies Update
Surprise Gift!
After listing the things I was looking to buy to make myself feel safer in my new place, I received an Amazon package. This is what I found:

The Ready America 3333 Earthquake Survival Tool, Emergency Gas Shut Off Wrench.

This is the gas meter shut-off tool I mentioned last week. There was a note from our esteemed Editrix Erin wishing me a happy housewarming. I have a thoroughly undeserved reputation (in my opinion) as a grumpy old man who doesn't want or like gifts.

I very nicely said Thank You.

(Editrix's Note: He thoroughly deserves it.)

I don't know if that made an impression, so let me try this:


Takeaway and Recap
  • Nothing was purchased this week but I did receive a Ready America 3333 Gas Shutoff Tool as a gift, available from Amazon for $3.98 with Prime
  • I do have the best friends possible.


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.

Monday, September 16, 2019

DIY Ash Sifting Bucket: Part 1

Winter is coming and our eggs need ash to  preserve them. Shipping pallets burn great, but they're full of nails and staples. What's a prepper to do?

Why, make a sifting bucket of course!

Godspeed to you all.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Why Sawyer?

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As a follow-up to Chaplain Tim's excellent post about the performance of  most commercially-available water filters, I'm going to take a moment to explain why I will still carry a Sawyer Mini water filter in my bug-out and get-home bags.

The Sawyer Mini is 5.5 inches long and 1.25 inches in diameter. Its nearest competitor, the LifeStraw, is nine inches long. Another competitor, the Renovo, has package dimensions of 12.5 x 6 x 2.2 inches.

This isn't to say you shouldn't get the Renovo. If viruses are a concern, by all means get it. Just keep in mind that it, the LifeStraw, and the Sawyer all have the the same rating for removing cysts and bacteria, and of the three the Sawyer takes up the least volume.

Speaking of the Renovo, it costs sixty-three dollars. Compare that to the LifeStraw's $17.47 or the Sawyer's $19.95 price tag. Think of what you could do with $40 more to spend on preps.

Alternately, spend half as much and get an H2O Survival Water Filter Travel Straw and be happy with log 5 (99.999%) virus removal.

Finally we have the true heart of the matter: how many gallons will your filter be able to filter before it stops working?
  • The LifeStraw will filter up to 1,000 liters or 264 gallons. 
  • The Renovo has varying performance based on its three separate filters:
    • The first, a chemical filter, has a filter capacity 150 gallons.
    • The second, which filters bacteria, cysts, and particles, has a capacity of 100,000 gallons.
    • The third, a virus filter, has a filter capacity of 90 gallons.
    • Information source:
  • The H2O Travel Straw filters up to 18 gallons.  
The Sawyer Mini, however is rated up to 100,000 gallons so long as you backflush it regularly. According to the Discerning Shootist's math, if you use it to filter 1 gallon per day (which is the normal daily water ration for a human being for drinking, cooking, and bathing), that is 273 years worth of use. While you will likely filter more than one gallon per day with it, and the plastic will degrade well before 250 years, the fact remains that this kind of longevity and efficiency is amazing, and that alone makes the Sawyer Mini a worthwhile part of any prepper's kit. 

A Brief Note about Viruses
I understand that viral infection is a real concern for many people. However, I feel that this fear should be tempered by a good long look at facts. 
  1. Waterborne viral diseases are caused by contamination with human and/or animal urine and feces. In other words, a small pool of rainwater high on a rocky outcropping (for example) is highly unlikely to have viral contamination. 
  2. Viruses are vulnerable to ultraviolet light, so a shallow pond is more likely to be free of viruses than a flowing stream or a deeper body of water. Keep in mind that the clearer the body of water, the deeper UV light can penetrate. If you can see to the bottom, there are no dead animals in the water and it's a sunny day, there are likely no viruses there. 
  3. Viruses are destroyed by heat, so boil or pasteurize any water you suspect may be contaminated. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Water Filter Testing Review

We've done a lot of reviews of different portable water filters over the years. I covered the basics of how to choose a filter a while back (although I can't find the article now) and lamented the fact that I had to use the claims of the manufacturers because I no longer have access to a water quality control lab. Well, someone with more money than I have has finally sent a batch of commercially available, common water filters to a testing lab and has published the results.

Widener's is an outdoors supply house that has been around for a while. I've bought a selection of reloading equipment and supplies from them over the years, but have no financial interest in the company. They decided to test some of the common water filters and compare the results to the claims made by the makers and the results were interesting but not surprising. The full article (and it's a long read) can be found here, but I'll recap the highlights:
  • They do a fine job of going over the reasons for wanting a water filter and the possible contaminants. 
  • They also did and excellent job of describing how filters work and the difference in the systems on the market. 
  • They go over the pros and cons of the various types of filters (straws, gravity, inline, pumped, etc) and then they start the testing of 17 filters. 
I highly recommend reading the preliminary sections if you have any questions about water and filters, as they really do a good job of covering the subject. The testing lab used normal tap water with a known amount of bacteria and viruses, and added microscopic plastic beads to mimic cysts like Giardia to determine how effective each filter was at removing each type of contaminant.

Most of the filters did poorly on removing viruses, but did a good job on bacteria and cysts; cysts and protozoa are a concern in remote areas where animals use the water supply you're looking at. The results were listed in “log” format; basically, the “log” number is a logarithmic representation of how close to 100% a result is; log 3= 99.9%, log 4=99.99%, log 5= 99.999% and so on.

Here are the filters and the results:

  • A “white label” filter made in China.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Inconsistent claims in their advertising about effectiveness, but it worked for bacteria and cysts.
  • Stainless steel reservoirs and black filter element. 
  • Sold as the Berkey Go kit that includes the Berkey bottle, below.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 3 for viruses.
  • Virus removal was not quite as advertised, but still good.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Advertised as a “purifier”, but doesn't meet the criteria for that designation due to the lack of virus removal.
  • A “white label” filter made in China and sold under a variety of names.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts (even though they don't advertise it as effective against cysts), and < 50% for viruses.
  • A bottle that you fill and then press the filter into to force the water through, like a french press for coffee.
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 4 for viruses.
H2O Survival Travel Straw
  • The best straw they tested.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 5 for viruses.
Katadyne Hiker
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses
  • Filter worked as advertised, no deceptive claims.
  • The most popular filter on the market.
  • Makes no claims or mention of viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • A camp or family filter, cannot be used "on the go."
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, 100% for viruses.
  • The most expensive of all tested filters. 
  • A “white label” filter that you'll find with many names on the side.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • No claim made for removing viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Misleading advertising, claims to meet standards that don't apply since it doesn't remove viruses.
  • A “white label” filter sold under a variety of brand names.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 50% for viruses.
  • Log 6 for removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, log 3 for viruses.
Renogy Pump filter
  • A “white label” Chinese filter sold by a solar power company.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < (less than) 50% for viruses.
  • Deceptive advertising that states it was “tested” for virus removal, but not that it actually removed any. 
  • Amazon “Choice” award, but not really worth buying.
  • A unique system of three filters that stack up to remove all three threats.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, 100% of viruses.
  • Log 6 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts. < 50% for viruses.
  • Sawyer states that their filter is not designed to remove viruses.
  • A bottle filter that is supposed to use the same filter media as its big brother.
  • Log 5 removal of bacteria, log 4 for cysts, < 38.3% for viruses.
  • The worst that they tested for viruses, and it didn't meet its other advertised claims.

As you can see, there are some well-known names on that list as well as a few generic filters. I didn't list prices because they change too rapidly. Check the Amazon links for current pricing if you're interested in one of these.

I carry the Sawyer Mini in my bags, but I may look closer at the Renovo system and the H2O Survival travel straws.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Prudent Prepping: Always Something There To Remind Me

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

The anniversary of the last big earthquake in my area slipped by me recently, lost in the hubbub of local activities and then real serious weather in the southeast. It was brought to mind this past weekend when I went through Napa taking an out-of-town friend shopping on a pleasant afternoon.


Okay, we hit a couple wineries.

I don't get up there too often as my work doesn't take me there any more, so it's usually a day trip showing friends the sights. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the last major building damaged in 2014(!) is back in shape and open to the public. It took until 2017 for the last contract to be signed for retro-fitting another building to current earthquake standards; I think that building had major internal damage and even though it looked good from the street, it was really bad inside. 

I was also reminded that there were some houses destroyed by fire because gas lines and a water main were damaged in the earthquake. I don't want to have that problem here, so I'm going shopping.

Want List
  • Gas meter wrench, to be tied to the meter of this unit, even though this is a four-plex. I don't see any reason not to have one available to whomever needs to turn off the gas. This wrench is the cheapest one I can find, even though I had a better one at the old house. I don't want to have something hung up in public view just to be stolen as a prank. 
  • More water jugs, because there are now four people that I have to look out for here, plus my folks. Those water jugs are also stocked at Walmart, and if those of you in Free States can hold your noses while shopping there after the latest news, you may find them as a seasonal close-out.
  • Another bucket of emergency food, because moving totes in an emergency can be hard. I really like Mountain House for their variety.

This is going to be posted on September 11, and I want to have everyone think back on how friends looked after friends, strangers helped folks get across the country, no matter who they were, where they came from or who they liked. I'm trying to be prepared to give the same type of help to my friends and neighbors if there is a local disaster. 

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.

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