Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Prudent Prepping: Purple Panic Pack, part the 2nd

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

This post will be short on pictures and light on links, due to the way New! Improved! Blogger handles everything and I don't think it's legal to mail enough 80 proof Editor Medicine to have another post like last week's corrected and massaged for public view.

Purple Pack Update
As mentioned last week, I am making what I hope a GHB for a friend who doesn't have any experience planning how to build one. This is the pack I purchased, in purple since that is the favorite color of my friend. Both of our work schedules have been tight and out of sync, so very little has been done to fill the "Information Gap" as to why I want to add certain things to the pack. 

I want there to be understanding as to why I'm suggesting things, and also for there to be some time to actually look over, and possibly try out, what is being suggested. I want the "Why?" questions to change to "Aha!" statements. 

The only purchase I made for the Purple Pack this week was a 22 oz Iron Flask brand water bottle (also purple), since I know that it will fit into a standard cup holder. Iron Flash is a brand that I like and have used for over a year now

Recap and Takeaway
  • It doesn't matter how much you know unless they know how much you care. Great equipment without knowing why it's there or how to use it is useless.
  • 22oz Iron Flask: Purchased from Amazon for $21.95 with Prime.
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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, October 20, 2020

Ear Protection

This week I'm taking an in-depth look at the types of ear protection available, the pros and cons of each, and what to look for when choosing your protection.

The three kinds of ear protection shown can be purchased below.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Secondhand Stress

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
We've all heard of secondhand smoke, which is where someone who isn't a smoker can suffer the ill effects of cigarettes by being around one or more people who do smoke. I put it to you that Secondhand Stress also exists, whereby you suffer the stress experienced by others.

Case in point: me. I am largely a hermit by choice, preferring to stay at home so I don't have to interact with irritating people. As such, the "lockdown" had little effect on me personally. I didn't even mind wearing a mask, as that both covered my "resting bitch face" and made people more inclined to avoid me. However, I have experienced growing levels of stress for quite some time, because even though the lockdown doesn't affect me, it affects the family members with whom I live. They are becoming increasingly short-tempered and irritable, and because I live with them that means the tension levels in the house increase, and therefore my stress levels go up.

In my case, not only am I more irritable than usual, having both a shorter temper and my anger burning hotter when I do snap, but all this stress is also taking its toll on me physically. I feel exhausted all the time, with no energy or desire to do anything except sleep, and yet when I do sleep for 8 hours or more, I never feel fully rested. I am also less creative and my ability to communicate complex concepts is diminished, both of which cause me frustration and only add to my stress levels. 

This feeling is somewhat similar to depression, but there are key differences. 
  • While I cannot speak for others, when my depression kicks in it happens very quickly, whereas in this case it has been slowly building for 6 months. 
  • My depression has never lasted this long. Again, other people are different, but mine is cyclical and would always break within a month. 
  • My depression has always been based on feeling of sadness, helplessness, and worthlessness, whereas what I am feeling now is based on frustration and impatience which threatens to explode into outrage at the slightest mishap or inconvenience. 
I don't have any good advice for how to fix this other than to emphasize the importance of everyone having a quiet place of their own where they can retreat to get away from irritation. Humans are territorial animals, and having a "den" where we can control the environment and not be bothered is critical. 

Learn from what is going on now because these lessons will be important later. If we ever have a grid-down disaster, or experience an emergency which requires long-term isolation, I expect to see these symptoms again. Even if you don't experience "cabin fever", unless you live alone the odds are good that someone in your family or tribe will, and the stress that they feel will soon be spread across your entire environment. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020


It's that time of year again when the weather is cooling off and the mice are moving back to where it's warmer, which means your house and other buildings will be seeing more furry traffic unless you've taken steps to keep them out. 

The main reason I worry about mice is because they can and will destroy my stored preps. Food and clothing are their main targets, but bedding and anything else they can use to make comfy nests are also in danger: books, cardboard, and anything else made of paper will be repurposed as nest lining. They also leave a urine trail where ever they go and I hate the smell of mouse pee.

At work our tractors and medium trucks just don't get used much between the time the crops are harvested and the next batch is planted, so we store them over the winter. Vehicles garaged this way can become infested, and the little buggers just love to chew on electrical wiring, which makes for a fun time when you go to start up next spring. One of their other tricks is to use empty spaces in your vehicle as a storage place for their food; it's a mess trying to clear heater ducts that are full of nuts, grain, dog food, or other dry foods they've found and moved for storage.

In short, mice are a constant problem so we've tested a few ways to keep them out of places. Rather than kill the little furry buggers and have to smell dead, rotting mouse for a week I prefer to keep them out of where I live and work. Mice have poor eyesight so they rely on their sense of smell to navigate, and that is where most methods aim. Pungent or strong odors will make them turn away and look for easier pickings.

Fresh Cab
An herbal/botanical repellent, this one works quite well in vehicle cabs and small spaces. Basically a mesh bag full of sawdust that has been infused with the oils from a Balsam tree, they are good for a month or two in the cab of a tractor or truck. Balsam is a pleasant fragrance, not overpowering or irritating. I've tried placing one in a sealed tote full of winter clothes, and after four months it was still pungent enough to be effective. A bit expensive, one of our local stores carries them in a four-pack box for about $15; Amazon has them for about $25.

Dryer Sheets
Cheap and easy to find, dryer sheets placed between layers of clothes in a storage tote will make the stored clothes smell better while keeping the critters away. Think of them as the modern version of the cachet of flowers used in the past to keep clothes smelling fresh. We have used dryer sheets in a skid loader for several years, and the slow release of fragrance from the sheets means they will last for a month or two.

Dryer sheets are not a good choice for use around stored food unless you want your crackers to taste like "Spring Blossoms" or whatever fragrance they are, as the odor will penetrate cardboard and plastic and get into your food. Metal cans are already mouse-proof, but will keep out the fragrances.

Dried pepper, cinnamon, and other strong-smelling seasonings will work, but they can get expensive. Best used around stored food, their lifespan will vary by the age and strength of the spices you're using. I've seen truckers sprinkle a pound of cinnamon in the box of a van trailer to absorb odors and repel mice, and it works for both.

A subset of seasonings is the mint family of herbs. Peppermint and spearmint oils are used in a couple of commercial repellents and are commonly seen in DIY videos. Placing a few drops of these oils on a cotton ball and placing the cotton ball where needed does deter mice, but the oils evaporate quickly and need to be replaced every few weeks. Avoid getting concentrated mint oil on your skin; it will cause burns and irritation.

You can still find mothballs in some stores, but they aren't as common as they once were. The original napthalene formula is outlawed in the EU because they have declared it a cancer risk, and the newer para-dichlorobenzene formula is an EPA-registered pesticide with evidence of causing cancer as well. The pungent petroleum-based chemical odor kills moths and repels rodents, but both types are flammable and have a distinct odor that some people find offensive. In my opinion, the best use for mothballs is in closets or other open spaces with plenty of clothes to protect.

I've started using a couple of these methods at home in my storage areas, and it has made a difference. Having a few cats around will help, but mine are too well-fed to be interested in hunting mice. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Prudent Prepping: Get Home Bag, 2020 Style

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

What can I say about a GHB? Plenty as it turns out, thank you very much! While the basics are there (a bag!), this year offers up some different problems that anyone tailoring a new bag, or even redoing an existing bag, should consider.

The Bag
This bag is a Mardingtop 25L Tactical Backpack Molle Hiking daypack. Yes, it's a big variation from my style of bag and the previous versions I've built, not just the color but the style as well. This was purchased for someone with a very slight build who is a fan of the color purple.
From the Amazon Ad:

  • Zipper closure
  • MATERIAL- 28 Liters. This military backpack is made of 600D polyester. YKK Zipper.
  • HYDRATION COMPARTMENT- This assault pack with hydration compartment and can hold a 2.5 Liter bladder, the tube is fed through the top of the bag near grab handle.
  • MOLLE WEBBING- This rucksack can hang on small items, or for attaching additional pouches or gear. Backpack also has 2 webbing strap with buckle underneath to hold a bedroll, tent, sleeping bag or anything else.
  • WAIST BELT DESIGN- The waist belt of this bug out bag is stitched in, but you can slide them into the middle space behind the back padding support. It's a pretty snuggle fit and won't slide back out on its own.
  • DURABLE & MULTIFUNCTIONAL- This molle backpack with chest straps to cope with the weight so that it's well used as a 3 day assault pack, bug out bag, survival backpack, army backpack, trekking backpack or day pack. Suits for Hiking, Camping, Trekking, Traveling, School or daily use.
The size and features of this bag check all the needed boxes for its intended user.

What's Going In
Taking into account the current pandemic and the bag's future user is in patient care, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is first.

Tzumi Wipe Out Pack 
 From the Home Depot ad:
  • Face mask and latex gloves filter airborne and surface germs
  • Ideal for use in large gatherings, offices and while traveling
  • Includes hand sanitizer and wipes that kill 99.9% of bacteria

Very simple and very basic; just as intended. There may be a need to share this material, and having everything sealed up and ready to use is important. Color and packaging in your Home Depot may/will vary from what is shown above.

These masks differ from the first package in that this version is washable. I am wearing this particular brand after Corporate ruled out gaiters. From the Home Depot ad:
The Community Wear Face Mask offers protection both indoors and out. It is made of very comfortable and durable materials. The masks can be used by both men and women of all ages.
  • Provides protection from airborne particles
  • Washable fabric material
  • Intended for indoor or outdoor daily use
  • Suitable for adults and children
  • Ideal when traveling through busy markets and places of recreation
I've no complaints, other than I'd like a stouter nose bridge stiffener/bendy thing.

Tommie Copper Kids Face Mask 
Still going with the idea that having material to share is Good Planning, this is the last item for the week. This will possibly be a disappointment to many of you, but West Coast stores seem to have these in stock, but a UPC search fails. I see them merchandised in quarter pallet free-standing displays.

I haven't opened the package to check sizing, but the labeling says "For children aged 5-9" so I'm going to guess very small. Everything else lines up with the information shown on the adult mask package, so there should be no problems.

Recap and Takeaway
* * *

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, October 13, 2020

Passing It On

A friend of mine recently was telling me about going camping with his girlfriend and her children. They mentioned that since he knew "all about compasses and stuff," maybe he could teach them a bit about navigation. He couldn't pass up such an opportunity, and gleefully passed along knowledge to another generation. Three inexpensive compasses, a map, and some satellite photos later, three youths are better suited to face life.

In the past six and a half years, we've spent a whole lot of time and bits imparting useful skills and knowledge to all of you, our dear readers/watchers/followers. I know the staff enjoys it, and we intend to continue that mission for as long as we are able. It's what Dad did, it's what America does, and it's worked out pretty well so far.

How about all of you, though? Now that you have some knowledge of your own, what are you doing with it? Have you discovered anything you had in your skillset that didn't seem applicable, but maybe now it is? Have you started sharing your knowledge with others?

There are a huge number of ways to spread the knowledge you have. My byline picture spoils my favorite way to pass on what I know; I volunteer as a BSA merit badge instructor, and just got asked to lead a group of young boys again. While Scouting provides a great opportunity to volunteer and teach, it is far from the only option. Girl Scouts, your local YMCA/YWCA, or community center all have teaching opportunities.

If you think you have nothing to teach, remember that you're probably a functional adult. This means you have to have some useful skills that a younger person or someone with a different background may not have. At the very least, you may have a different approach to a problem, which can definitely help others.

If teaching in person isn't for you, especially in this time of social distancing and restricted gatherings, you can share your knowledge here. We're always interested in guest posts expanding our point of view. Write out what you'd like to share, and get in touch with Erin or any of the staff. The beauty of a community like ours is that we all learn from each other, and we love when you're part of that.


Monday, October 12, 2020

Renogy 5W Solar Panel Charger Review

This week I’m reviewing the Renogy 5W Solar Panel Charger. I like it, but there are some things to know. 

The Fine Print

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

Creative Commons License

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