Friday, January 31, 2014

SHTFriday: Zones of Assessment - Every Day Carry

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
Back in 1979, when I was six or seven, my family moved to Germany. My father was an active duty Army O-5, and part of his duties in Cold War Germany involved studying the Fulda Gap and other "What if World War 3 Happens?" strategies.  (Fun fact:  He was one of the brass who planned and implemented Able Archer 83.)

If you've never lived in a foreign country as a child, it's a strange experience. I had to leave behind practically everything I knew about life to go live in a strange place where the weather was different, people spoke a different language, and I was surrounded by soldiers. None of this was especially bad, just highly unusual by anyone's standards -- and paradigm-shattering for a child.

The bad part was when we were told that, due to our strategic location, the Russians could invade AT ANY MOMENT and that one day (probably in the dead of night) my dad would get a phone call, and he'd have to go off to war and probably never be seen again. Worse, if that happened, my mom -- called the Senior Noncombatant in military parlance -- would only have a few minutes to get me, my brother, my sister and herself dressed, pack a few suitcases, grab our critical documents and head off to the airport to be evacuated back to the States.

Think about that for a moment:  You're a kid, and you're told that at any moment, life as you know it could come crashing down and in the space of an hour you'd lose your daddy, your toys, your pets and your sense of security all at once.

So yeah, you could say that I've been a prepper of some sort since early childhood. It influenced me heavily (and some days I wonder how I didn't end up even more neurotic than I am now) to the point where I am practically obsessed with being prepared for emergencies and having the necessary tools for survival, and being able to Get Out Of Dodge at a moment's notice.

All of which is a longwinded way of saying "Hi, I like to carry gear with me on a regular basis." I'm no longer worried about nuclear war (believe me, I learned to stop worrying and accept that which I could not change damn quickly), but I still like to be prepared for emergencies. Living in Florida means I have lot of emergencies for which I can prepare.

To no one's great surprise, my childhood heroes were Batman, Han Solo, and James Bond. They had gear, they had training, they had confidence, and they had really bitchin' rides that could get them out of trouble. Don't get me wrong, I'm still quite fond of them, but to that list I've added preparedness experts. I watch survival shows like some folks watch sports, and one of my favorites is Canadian survival expert Les "Survivorman" Stroud.  He has a technique called "Zones of Assessment" that he uses to determine what he has (and therefore, what he needs to do/get/have) in an emergency situation:

  • Zone One: What you have on your body
  • Zone Two: What you have access to (immediate surrounding)
  • Zone Three: What you can get (accessible after a short walk)

I've adapted his technique for preparedness:
  • Zone One: Every Day Carry
  • Zone Two: Car Kit/ Get Home Bag/ Bug Out Bag
  • Zone Three: What you can get from the environment
Today's post, as you may have deduced from the title, is about Zone One. These are the items that you have on your body, and therefore (barring injury) have constant access to and positive control over. 

There are a few "Well, duh" items on this list:  
  • Your clothes, obviously. 
  • Your shoes. 
  • Your glasses, if you need them. 
  • Whatever knowledge and training you have. 
Congratulations! Unless you're naked, you have rudimentary means of shelter, mobility, and means to take care of yourself. 

Then there's gear. What you carry is up to you and should be based upon your budget, your abilities, and what you're comfortable carrying. Here are what I carry every single time I leave the house. Yes, even to church - I've had to use the first aid kit when an elderly member of my congregation collapsed during service, and I was glad to have it. 

Top to bottom, left to right:
I love my Hip Holster. It holds stuff like a purse, but I put it around my waist so my arms are free. (Also, because it carries like a thigh holster, it makes me feel like I'm Captain Malcolm Solo of the Millennium Firefly whenever I wear it.)

Here's what it carries:

Lots of cool and useful stuff, eh?  Apologies in advance for the big ol' list that's about to descend, but this is my inventory of every day carry:
  • Emergency money (zippered pouch in back)
  • Surefire EP4 Sonic Defender earplugs
  • Pen
  • SOA MT1 knife (more on this below)
  • Nebo Blueline
  • 17 round magazine with 2-round extension (meaning that I have 30 rounds JHP on my person at all times)
  • Eze-Lap pocket diamond sharpener
  • NRA-branded multitool (with driver set)
  • Bic disposable lighter
  • My wallet (made of aluminum so my cards cannot be accessed by RFID readers)
  • A tube of commonly-used medications (painkillers, antihistamines, etc)
  • A small first aid kit containing:

    • The usual alcohol swabs, band-aids, first-aid tape, ointment for stings & burns
    • Fresnel lens for magnification
    • Rescue whistle
    • Small signal mirror
    • Capsule of smelling salts
    • Blister pack of Benadryl 

And here's a better look at my tools:

The SOA MT1 is my utility knife: it's cheap enough that if I beat it to death, or lose it, or have it confiscated by TSA, I won't be heartbroken. I confess that the design is over-the-top macho, and the blade is only 440 stainless. Still, it's a decent knife for doing knife-y things, and I like the integral glass-breaker and seatbelt cutter.

My Ka-Bar is named Tamara, and you can read more about her here. Yes, she's named after that Tamara, who was the inspiration to get the knife in the first place. 

My Glock 26 is named Oleg, and you can read more about him here. Yes, he's named after that Oleg, who helped raise donations so that I could afford the pistol and carry permit. Seeing a pattern?

Now some of you may be asking, "This is called Blue-Collar Prepping. How did you afford all of this?"

Well, let me tell you that I didn't did it overnight. My EDC kit has been a work in progress for many years, and I am constantly adding to it. Also, many of the items were gifts:
  • The iPhone belonged to my brother, and he gave me his old one for Christmas after he upgraded. 
  • The Hip-Holster was a birthday present. 
  • The watch (and strap) was another Christmas present. 
  • The Leatherman and Wallet were repurposed from my father, who got them as gifts and never used them.
  • As I said earlier, my Glock was crowdfunded by gunnies who wanted to see a pro-2A blogger armed. 
So there are indeed ways to prepare, even if you have a disposable income of less than $50 a week. 

To reiterate:  this is just Zone One. Wait until I talk about Zone Two before you accuse me of forgetting anything  (although I probably have... I always forget things). 

Questions and comments are always welcome!  Please, leave feedback below. 

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Body, Mind, Spirit, and Soul

In my introduction I mentioned I have the task of tending to my “tribe's” body, mind, spirit and soul. I thought a good place to start my posting would be to explain what I mean by those four words, and give you a better understanding of the areas I'll be writing about.


This one is pretty easy to understand- I need to be able to take care of the bodily needs of the family and friends that will be closest to me in an emergency. My fellow authors will be covering the body's needs of food, water, and shelter in their articles. I may chime in once in a while, but I'll leave the bulk of it to them.


I define the Mind as that part of a person that they use to think. This is one of the things that I see that sets human beings apart from animals, although some people choose to ignore their humanity and see themselves as (and act like) just another species of animal. Circumstances can also sometimes strip the thinking part of a person away, leaving instinct as the driving force in their actions.

As long as someone can think, they can be taught. Teaching others has been a big part of my life, and I don't mean sitting is a government school with a captive audience. As a trainer for the Army and Reserves, a decade as a Cubmaster, and almost two decades as a trainer at my former corporate job, I've learned a few tricks on how to impart knowledge. I've also come to the conclusion that some people have a harder time than others learning new things. That doesn't mean you can give up on them, you just need to find a way in which they can learn. Learning is a journey, not a goal. If I ever stop learning new things it'll be time to plant my ass, because I'll be dead. Being able to teach is a skill that not everyone has. It can be learned, but like everything else, some are going to be better at it than others.


The mental well-being of the people around you has a huge impact on your own mental health. If you work with a group of pissed-off, angry, fearful, or sullen people long enough, it will start to have an impact on your own attitude and thought processes. If despair or a sense of futility gets a toe-hold in a group, in takes a lot to get rid of. It also takes a strong and determined mind to be able to resist the temptation to behave like everyone around you. Strength generally comes from exercise, so it can be counterproductive to always avoid the negative emotions. The non-confrontational attitude that is pushed so hard in today's corporate and educational systems is leading to a lot of pent-up anger and frustration that people are not being taught how to handle. I've yet to find a group of (adult) people who are constantly upbeat, happy, and carefree (at least once the drugs wear off). Such a group may exist, but I haven't met anyone yet who lives a perfect life. Keeping a group's spirit “up” is the way I use the word here; spirituality is covered below.


This is the other part of what I see separates being human from being an animal. There is a part of each of us that exists with our physical bodies, but will continue to exist when the physical body dies. This is where emotions come from. This is what makes us individuals. This is the hardest part for me to tend to in another person. I don't have all of the answers, most of the time I don't even know the question until someone brings it up. I do have a firm grasp of my own beliefs and a boat-load of resources, so I can look up what others have thought/written about the problems of life that can trouble a soul and try to work out a solution. Notice I used the word “try” - I am under no delusion that I am the final arbiter in theological discussions. I don't preach.

There are many different belief systems in the world and I have had close contact with most of them. I am a libertarian Christian - your beliefs are yours and I will help you explore them as long as you don't start forcing your beliefs on others. Right and wrong do exist, as do good and evil. Some things are good for the soul, others are not. Drawing the lines between the choices is often one of the main causes of conflict in this world. The differences of religious beliefs have been the cause of wars large and small for most of our history. The wars get worse and the atrocities more hideous once someone usurps the power to decide who has a soul (is human) and who doesn't.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Author Introduction: Chaplain Tim

Yes, I am an ordained minister. I am a Christian of non-congregational beliefs and I hold no illusion that I know more about the will of God in his many guises than any other person. A Chaplain is “an ordained member of the clergy who is assigned to a special ministry”. That is why I chose the title “Chaplain” instead of Reverend, Pastor, Father, or Priest. I am no more to be revered than any other man on this Earth- we're all made of the same clay. I am not your leader- I seek no power over my fellow man. I am a father, but odds are that you're not my child. I am also not here to interpret what God says for you- I do not believe that there needs to be a middle-man.

My aim is to help explore the moral, religious, and philosophical sides of prepping. That is a vague way of saying that I am going to try to help you get yourself mentally and emotionally prepared for the bad times that many people see coming, with the added bonus of maybe being able to help you out in everyday life as well.
I know that I am wrong on some things (just ask my wife of 25 years). My opinions are separate from my beliefs in that they are open to discussion. You'll have to try pretty hard to hurt my feelings, so feel free to express yourself if I write something you don't agree with. We may come to a compromise, I may admit I'm wrong, you may admit I'm right, or we may just agree to disagree. I will warn you that outright stupidity will be treated as such and I can be an ass when required (again, just ask the wife).

 I do not force my beliefs on anyone, nor do I allow other to force their beliefs on me or mine. Having a “convert or die” mentality is the perfect way to get on my bad side. I am quite able to ignore idiots on the internet, but I take threats very seriously. If you want to believe that your belief system is superior to all others, that's fine. If you want to demand that I follow your beliefs, we'll have a problem.

Prepping from the Left Coast

Hello, and welcome to Blue Collar Prepping. My name is David Blackard. I currently live in northern California and will be writing about prepping on a budget from an urban/suburban point of view. With that in mind, the focus for the majority of my posts will be family support and survival, especially when infants, the elderly or infirm are involved. The ability to bug out to someplace else with both ends of the age spectrum is something many families will have to plan around and staying put may be their best, or only, option. Families matter; not just your relations, but your relational 'family' of neighbors, co-workers and the support group you should have around you.

Many people approach this topic with an "Oh My Gosh, it's Zombies!" or "Red Dawn!! Wolverines!!" attitude, and while that might be possible and should be considered,  from where I am the disasters to plan around are earthquakes, fires, floods (but not this year) and a pandemic/public health crisis of some kind.

Please read the Disclaimer posted on the pages bar, as there will be topics that will make some readers uncomfortable.  That is not the intent here but possibly the result of realistic, sober planning. The post titles will be a clear indicator of what is to come, so skip what you must but be prepared for an interesting ride!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Author Introduction: Lokidude

Hi everybody!

Actually me.  In ninja mode.
The internet calls me Loki.  I'd tell you I'm just a redneck from the Utah high desert, but I'm not sure how much that conveys.  Instead, I'm an Eagle Scout, a lifelong camper and outdoorsman, a construction worker, and a fan of being self-reliant.  I'm also a gun nut, a motorhead, a tinkerer, and a gamer.  I'm also married to the best spotter a marksman could ask for.

Around here, we're prepping on a budget.  Both dollars and space are at a premium.  Tools, gear, and supplies are great to have, but skills are every bit as important.  With skills, you can make do with less, make what you need, or acquire what you need.  Plus, for the most part, skills are free!

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm also an unabashed lover of toys, so if I find something cool to test out, believe me, I'm all for it.

Anyways, with a measure of skill, and a modicum of gear, you can survive most anything.  You might even be comfortable doing it.  Hopefully some of what's trapped in my skull can help.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Author Introduction: Evelyn

Yeah, when it comes to most excellent titles, Erin is a queen of that.  Me....not so much.

Well, how ya doing? The name is Evelyn, and I'm a female prepper.  Technically, I've been prepping since I was little with my parents but only actually knew to call it prepping since 2008.  I grew up around my mom and dad canning almost everything from green beans to applesauce to meats.  We always had a garden, my mom was always sewing and crocheting.  Around 2006, I was very happy to discover that I remembered all these things (save the crocheting, that's been a constant).  And away I went brushing up and sharpening my skills.

Much of what I know, is from my parents or having been through very hard financial times or rather hard personal experiences.  Everything from relying on the Dollar Tree for my preps to raiding thrift stores just to have new shoes.  I very firmly believe, broke is a state of money.  Poor is a state of mind.

As a woman, learning to shed this distaste that has come about for domestic skills was essential.  Such skills as cooking, crafting small touches that make a place a home.  I'll be covering the little things many may over look in their bug-in supplies. Things to help reduce stress, keep morale up, etc.  Also, we'll be looking at the realities many men and women are going to have to face in terms of barbaric behaviors. I will *not* be mincing words in my articles.

I am looking forward to sharing what I know with you and hope that you are able take away a lot from us here.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to prep I go...

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
Hello, everyone!  My name is Erin Palette. Many of you know me from my nerd-hobby blog Lurking Rhythmically, but here's a quick introduction for those who don't:

I am a pro-gun, pro-gay marriage geeky goth girl.  I like science fiction & fantasy, zombie horror movies, and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (which I enjoy in a sincere and un-ironic manner). I am a concealed pistol carrier and my Glock 26 rides in this sweet Princess Luna holster. When I'm not at the gun range, geeking out over ponies, or playing RPGs, I am working on my disaster preps. Sometimes this involves reviewing particularly cool pieces of camping or survival merchandise. 

I'll leave it to the other blog contributors to introduce themselves.

So, what is the purpose of Blue Collar Prepping? Funny enough, it started out as a status update on Facebook (the text of which is mirrored on my blog, here, for those who don't Lederhosen*) and that sparked a mighty conversational thread.

As it turns out, there are lots of folks who are turned off by the current prevailing atmosphere of "To have sufficient preps, you must first have a successful business which allows you sink hundreds of thousands of dollars into a reinforced bunker, an armored bug-out vehicle, and enough food and arms to equip a platoon for a year." It is my belief that, while having all these things are good, holding them up to be the gold standard of prepping (rather than as a nearly-unattainable ideal) leads to unrealistic expectations on the part of the prepper. Inability to achieve these goals can often result in a sense of failure, which lead to thoughts of "Why bother if I can't do it right?", and the eventual cessation of prepping as one spends the time and money on things or activities which are more rewarding in the short term.

It was felt by many of us that not enough prepping sites focused on the "working poor" aspect of prepping. Just because we cannot prep to the standards of James Wesley Rawles doesn't mean that we aren't preppers. We just need to approach things differently: incrementally, with financial shrewdness (some might say "stinginess") and with a view to meeting realistic goals.

To mangle a quote from Portal, We do what we can, because we must. 

Therefore, this blog was created. We all have different skills and approaches to prepping (and indeed, to life itself).  It is my sincere hope that this "stone soup" style of blogging will become greater than the sum of its parts and, through all of our efforts, we will create something useful and beautiful. After all, one of the core tenets of prepping is to create a community, because all of us are stronger and smarter than one of us.

So grab a beer, pull up a chair, and join us. Welcome to Blue Collar Prepping.

* In a conversation sometime last year, my mouth couldn't quite spit out "Facebook" because my brain refused to think of the word. In a panic, it grabbed the closest word it could find, which just happened to be "Lederhosen."  No, I've no idea why. Ever since then, my brain has wanted to conflate the two, and for some bizarre reason I think that the phrase "Lederhosen de Facebooken" is hilarious.  Lately, I've been shortening that to just Lederhosen, and that makes it even funnier to me.

I think something is broken inside my brain.

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Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to