Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sawyer Mini Video Unboxing

Today, we're taking a video look at the Sawyer Mini water filter kit.

The Sawyer Mini, in all its colors, is available here.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Post: Superfoods for Armageddon and Everyday

by Beth O'Hara

Beth O’Hara is an enthusiastic food prepper and Health and Wellness Coach who works with clients internationally. She is experienced in working with clients to transform areas that include health and wellness, relationships, self-understanding, self-esteem, and life balance. You can contact Beth through her webpage at Conscious Living Center

Super Packing 
Your Prepper Pantry

When thinking about stocking a pantry for disasters, most people think of Spam, beef stew, beans and canned vegetables. While those are all well and good, they are often loaded with sodium, requiring you to need more water, and aren’t necessarily the most nutritious of foods. With a little planning, you can optimize your pantry for the greatest nutrition and survival benefits.

You have more flexibility when planning what to have on hand if you have to hunker down at home, as opposed to stocking your bug out bag with nutrient-dense food. While you may still have electricity and be able to eat out of the fridge and freezer, we’re going to focus on what to stock in case there is no electricity and limited fresh water. Here are some items to consider for your prepper pantry.

Canned Salmon and Sardines
If you like fish, include some of these wild fish in your pantry for their nutrient density.

Buy Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon to avoid chemicals and dyes often added to farmed salmon. Wild caught salmon is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, important for heart and nervous system health. Salmon provides vitamin A, D, B12, niacin and calcium.

Sardines are high in calcium, and vitamins A, D and B12. Because they feed mostly on plankton, they also have lower levels of mercury and other contaminants than larger fish, like shark and tuna.

Be aware that many food cans are lined with Bisphenol or BPA, a chemical used to prevent aluminum from reacting with the food. There is research showing that this chemical may be harmful and there are also links between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease. If concerned, you can look food in glass jars, BPA free cans, and Tetra packs.

Canned Lentils and Black Beans
Canned legumes are actually higher in antioxidants than those you cook at home; the heat and pressure of the canning process increases the availability of the antioxidants.

Lentils and black beans are among the highest phytonutrient legumes, with respectable amounts of protein and high levels of molybdenum, folate, fiber as well as good levels of manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. Red kidney beans and yellow split peas are also particularly high in antioxidants. According to a 2006 European study, four or more servings of legumes can reduce your risk of heart disease by 22 percent.

Legumes lack an essential amino acid: methionine. This is why many people combine beans with a grain (like rice) for a complete amino acid balance. Add brown rice, quinoa, or even corn for a high quality protein meal. Blue corn is particularly high in antioxidants.

You can find low or no sodium beans, or just rinse the salt off before eating. Legumes often come in Tetra packs as well.

Jarred Artichokes
The gray, bland artichoke has a surprisingly higher antioxidant value than all the other fruits and vegetables you can find in your average grocery store. They are high in inulin, a pre-biotic which feeds healthy bacteria in your gut, and also fiber. Artichoke hearts packed in water or oil are highly nutritious and last a long time. While a little pricey for the weight, they are worth it in nutrition. Stock up when they are on sale.

Tomatoes – canned and jarred, sauce and paste
The most nutritious tomatoes are the ones processed they day they are picked, cooked under high heat and canned under pressure. This makes canned and jarred tomatoes especially high in lycopene. Tomato paste is cooked until it is concentrated, and that gives it ten times more lycopene than fresh tomatoes. Consuming lycopene helps decrease one’s risk of sunburn, an important benefit if you have to be working outside.

Prunes are dried plums. While they have a reputation as being a food more for the geriatric consumer, they are actually sweet and have a complex flavor. They are higher in antioxidants than most other fruits, are a good source of the bone-supporting mineral boron, and of course are rich in fiber --important for keeping you regular under stress and diet changes. I buy them in bulk and keep in the fridge to keep them soft. Outside of refrigeration, they will still last a few months and may just need to be soaked in water prior to eating.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Ghee
It is important to keep high quality fats on hand. All of these fats will last a long time -- with the exception of extra virgin olive oil, which t needs to be rotated out more frequently.

Most supermarket brands of extra virgin olive oil are actually rancid. Smell it before buying, if you can; it should have a clear olive smell with no off flavors. I purchase mine from a small family business, locally, in 5L containers. The oil is shipped directly after pressing and bottled at time of purchase. This ensures I get the most antioxidants from the olive oil.

Rancid fats and oils actually create free radicals in your body which are toxic. Buy good oils that last. If you buy in bulk, you can bring the cost down.

See Superfoods for Your Bug Out Bag for more on the health benefits of extra virgin coconut oil and ghee.

Nuts and Nut Butters
Nuts are nutrient-dense in both vitamins and minerals, and have high amounts of good fats and protein. Like olive oil, nuts also go rancid easily. Choose raw or dry-roasted nuts and store them in the fridge or freezer (unless the electricity goes out).

High Quality Sea Salt
Salt is an essential source of minerals. Table salt is bleached and depleted of minerals and includes synthetic iodine, so keep some Himalayan Sea Salt, Real Salt, Celtic Sea Salt or equivalent unrefined sea salt on hand for the minerals. I buy it in 25 lb bags. It is also good for bartering in disaster situations.

Other Recommendations
Canned items can last 5-10 years. (Actually far longer than that - listen to my podcast segment for more information. - Erin) To be on the safe side, however, be sure to rotate your items and check cans for expiration dates as well as any bulging or leaking. Bulging or leaking cans may have been exposed to bacteria and could make you very ill.

Try to keep a three month supply of food on hand at all times. This "food insurance" will be of benefit not only if you are in a disaster where you have to hunker down for an extended time, but also if you lose your job, the dollar bubble bursts, or in many other scenarios. Be sure to have food on hand to feed you and your family and extra to barter, if necessary.

We will all be able to prep better if we combine our knowledge. What high nutrient foods do you stock and why?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #45

It's the .45 caliber episode!
  • There's no Adam this week, but returning for her second stint as co-host is that bratty kid sister of the gunblogosphere, Erin Palette! 
  • Erin also talks about what to do if your AC fails.
  • Nicki Kenyon answers the question "Are we pushing Russia too far?"
  • Our Special Guest Reverend Kenn Blanchard talks about guns in churches. It's a great interview so give it a listen!
  • Barron B. discusses data encryption and why you should do it.
  • and Weer'd, as a public service to all, reads the tools at Armed with Reason, so you don't have to.
Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here
Special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. If you use discount code "Variety" at checkout, you get 10% off anything you buy.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Apocabox Unboxing #6

& is used with permission.
So apparently I am incapable of posting an Apocabox video in a timely manner. Just when I think I've budgeted enough time for it, things happen to put me late.

Fortunately, I have only one of these every other month, so it's not a regular thing.

At any rate, here is my sixth unboxing video. Yes, I'm aware I say it's the fifth one on video; I had a derp moment.

I'm very much looking forward to testing the Purinize; they have a web page with the results of lab tests here.

Pictures of this month's contents may be found here.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Light Units

In my review of the Twyst flashlight, I listed the output for the flashlight in Lux but the output for the lantern mode in Lumens. This may cause some confusion, since the two aren't the same and there is no good direct correlation between the two. Welcome to the world of scientific units of measurement!

There are different units for the same thing (Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales), and there are similar units for slightly different things (troy ounces and avoirdupois ounces). Measuring light is no different, because there have been many methods of measuring it proposed over the years and different groups will use differing units or methods. I'll try to give you a basic understanding of the differences for the common measurements of light, how they are used, and what they actually mean.

Candle-power or Candela
One candle-power is the amount of light put out by a single standard candle. The “standard” candle was a pure whale wax (Spermaceti) candle weighing 1/6th of a pound, burning at a rate of 120 grains (there are 7000 grains in a pound) per hour. Any normal candle will put out about the same amount of light, so don't worry about the details too much.

The total output of light in the visible part of the spectrum. Used for measuring the total amount of light produced by a source, most often used when comparing flood- or lantern-type lights. Household light bulbs will have their output listed in Lumens since they radiate light in a spherical manner. The light produced is what is measured in Lumens, but the light falling on a surface is measured in Lux or Foot-candles.

The metric unit of measure for illumination of a surface. Most commonly used when comparing spot-type light sources. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. A good example is a flashlight with a variable focus, like a Mag-Lite. The bulb puts out a steady amount of light (Lumens) but by changing the focus you can concentrate that light into a smaller area, making it brighter (Lux).

A foot-candle is actually one lumen of light density per square foot of a target one foot from the source of light, and is the American (SI) version of the Lux. Since most of what is sold in the US is made in countries that use the metric system, it's not likely that you'll see foot-candles listed on new lights.

Some lights are advertised by the wattage of their LED or bulb. Watts do not relate directly to the light output level. As used for light sources, Watts defines the rate of energy consumption by an electrical device when it is in operation. Differences in the efficiency of the LED or bulb as well as in the amount of light produced that is visible to the human eye make it difficult to relate Watts of power usage to light output.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion about the different units. I managed to keep most of that pesky math out of it while I did it, too.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Prudent Prepping: Buffet Post

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate  on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.


Here are several updates to items mentioned in previous posts.

My friend's car kit and EDC items

The first item is a small flashlight to be kept in her glove box. I like Coast lights; they have good quality at an affordable price. I bought the Coast G25 from Home Depot. This light is rated at a higher lumen output than the Amazon item, and costs less ($15 vs $25).

Left: Nano Bantam. Right: My own Kershaw Leek.

The second is a small knife to be kept in a purse or on a key chain. This is a Buck Nano Bantam, shown beside my own EDC knife to give a comparison. Weight is 0.6 oz, so once a suitable ring is found it can be put on my friend's 18" long keychain without adding any noticeable weight.

Camping/BOB gear additions
My local Gear Nut bought me an addition to my camping gear: the MSR Trail Lite Duo system.

From MSR:
  • Compact: Nesting design fits two Deep-dish Bowls and Double-Wall Insulated Mugs inside pot 
  • Sized for Two: Two-liter, hard-anodized aluminum pot keeps the weight down and provides plenty of capacity for two people 
  • Ceramic Nonstick: The most durable nonstick coating we've ever found; PFOA and PTFE-free 
  • BPA-Free: Hot and cold-safe polypropylene Deep-dish bowls and double-wall insulated mugs 
  • Room for More: Mugs have room for MSR Folding Utensils and can also fit a Pocket Rocket or Micro Rocket stove

Also added were two UST Sparkie fire starters, from our resident outdoorsman's recommendation. Thanks, Lokidude!
Sparkie Fire Starter
  • Designed for precision – sparks can be directionally targeted 
  • Ultra-lightweight, durable plastic stands up to rugged use 
  • Generates sparks three times hotter than a normal match 
  • Size LxWxD: 2.3” x 1.25” x 0.6” (59 x 32 x 16mm) 
  • Weight: 0.8 oz. (23g) 

Please look at the short video clip on the linked page.

The Takeaway
It's nice to have friends for good advice and gifts. I will have a shakedown trip, test and review of all my gear in a post later this year. Stay tuned.

  • Coast flashlight: $15.03 Home Depot
  • One Buck knife: $18.81 from Amazon
  • MSR Trail Lite set: $52.80 from Amazon (but probably purchased locally from REI) 
  • Two UST Sparkie fire starters: $7.19 ea from Amazon

As always, 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, June 23, 2015

InstaFire Product Review

Recently, a product advertised on both Facebook and Amazon caught my eye. It made claims to being a miracle fire starter at a very attractive price. I decided to purchase a packet and see if it was all it's cracked up to be.

Called InstaFire, it touts itself as a stand-alone, easy lighting fire starter that burns hot enough to ignite even wet wood. Those are pretty bold claims, but if they hold up, it could literally be a lifesaver.

InstaFire comes in a water-tight mylar pouch, with simple, complete instructions printed on the back.
The instructions.

The contents of the pouch.

The actual product consists of a granular white material that somewhat resembles kitty litter, along with some larger, brown chunks. The white material is the part that ignites first, and the brown chunks do the major burning.

It really does light that readily and easily, with a single match.

This is the "wet wood" test. All of the sticks were completely dunked in water before being laid over the InstaFire. It lit with a single match again, and very quickly dried and ignited the sticks, spurring them into a ready fire.

Final Verdict
InstaFire lives up to its claims fully. It doesn't revolutionize the fire starting world, especially for skilled folks, but for those with lesser skills, or folks trying to start a fire in bad circumstances, it truly makes it almost point-and-click easy. I'll definitely be adding it to my car kits and camping gear.

($4.99 & free shipping on Amazon)


Monday, June 22, 2015

Product Review: Ultrafire 7W LED flashlight

I picked up one of these a while back when I needed a new light to keep in my motorcycle jacket.

Yes, I have one for each of my different jackets, and one in the truck, and one on the bike, and several in the house; if you've been caught in the dark without artificial means of light, you know why. If you haven't, your time will come.


In any case, after some browsing around I ran across this one and decided to give it a try. Be warned: they come in a range of prices starting at just under $4 and going up. depending on current version/ which model/ which color/ power source. Some have adjustable focus, some have multiple modes(low, high, strobe), some come with a rechargable battery and charger. This one, at the time, was $3.80 for one that runs on a single AA battery, adjustable focus, and three modes.

Also be warned that, while the price on most includes shipping, it can take a while for them to arrive since they're coming across the Pacific; I think they wait until they've got enough to fill a container, or at least a significant part of one. Though given how much stuff is imported here, that doesn't take long.

  • The body is aluminum with various knurling and patterning for grip and looks, and has a pocket clip. 
  • It has a tailswitch that turns it on and off. 
  • The tailswitch also changes modes if you get a multi-mode; turn it on it and it's on high, bump the switch to go to low, once again to get the strobe. It does not have memory; turn it off, when you turn it back on it defaults to high. 
  • Focus the beam by sliding the head in and out: all the way back is flood, all the way forward is spot. 
    • If you slide it all the way forward, the spot is a very nice image of the LED; back it off just a touch and you get just light. 
    • Finally, when the collar is all the way back, the field is round; the closer you get to spot, the more it begins to show square.

How's it work? Overall, pretty well. 
  • It's quite bright. Since the tailswitch is a bit recessed, you can turn it on and set it upright on the base to use as a lamp.
  • Battery life is good. After having used it off & on for a while, I stuck in a new battery (Heavy Duty from a pack that was on sale at Harbor Freight), turned it on and left it on bright. 
    •  At one hour it was a touch dimmer; at two hours noticeably dimmer but still very usable. 
    • Right now it's coming up on three hours, and while dimmer, in a dark house or outside at night you'd have no problem finding things or getting around with it. That's pretty good for a $4 light.
    • Note: after three hours I turned it off, and it would not come back on; I guess there was insufficient charge left in the battery to kick the LED on. When I inserted the old battery it had before I started the test, it again worked normally.
  • It's also been dropped a couple of times(no, not deliberately) with no damage. 

I like good flashlights, but -- especially if you need several -- Surefires and Streamlights and such get expensive. Here's one alternative that seems to hold up pretty well for little money.

Editor's Note:  I have been a big fan Cree Ultrafire lights for some time now. I recommended it, albeit without a review as thorough as this one, in an earlier blog post.  If two BCPers recommend something, you know it ought to be pretty good.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #44

Episode 44 of The GunBlog VarietyCast is out!
  • Adam and Sean host another fun episode. 
  • Erin Palette talks survival food spices and recipes.
  • Nicki Kenyon tells us more about why Edward Snowden is no libertarian hero
  • Special Guest Sebastian, of Shall Not Be Questioned, discusses the classist roots of gun control.
  • Barron B. explains why Tech Support always tells you to reboot your computer,
  • and Weer'd talks about another dumb thing that Joan Peterson wrote.
Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. And please, tell your friends.
Listen to the podcast here.
Show notes may be found here.
Special thanks to our sponsor Andrew at Law of Self Defense.

Recipe Week: Scraped Icebox and Dishrag Soup

(Recipe Week concludes with a dish that is similar to Gunk a la Erin, only fancier. Think of this as the kitchen version of Erin's camping recipe.)

My other half and I love to eat. We insist on eating well. And we're both well-trained, creatively-minded chefs who have gone through periods of "so dirt poor there wasn't even a pot to piss in" that forced us to learn how to make do and still eat well.

We're also both massive geeks. My copy of Robert Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold has been re-read so often that I eventually named one of my bare pantry recipes after a passage in the book. Hugh Farnham (the main character) is discussing "lean times" with one of the other characters. He mentions that while he was in the military as a low grade grunt during World War 2, his alcoholic wife had been a real trooper, making due with practically nothing, and frequently being reduced to "scraped icebox and dishrag soup" while awaiting meager paychecks.

This is still a go-to recipe for me, even though these days I don't have the serious money crunch as often as I did in the past. Use this as a rough outline and adjust to taste and availability!

  • 6 to 8 cups water
  • 4 to 6 medium potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • 1 medium onion, rough chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (or about 1/2 tsp garlic powder) 
  • 1 16 ounce can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs meat, cooked. (roast, hamburger, sausage, chicken, venison, whatever)
  • 1 can each green beans, corn, carrots (or 1 bag frozen mixed veggies, or about 2 cups of fresh)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each Oregano, Parsley (or whatever spices you prefer and have on hand)
  • salt & pepper to taste

  1. Brown meat if it isn't cooked, chopping into small pieces. 
  2. Place meat, veggies, tomato sauce, and spices in large pot, adding enough water to cover everything and begin to float the veggies. 
  3. Bring to a boil, allow to simmer (covered over low heat) for 30 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are soft and meat is cooked through.

Chef's Notes
  • Using whatever happens to be ripe in the garden works well with this for seasonal variations. I've been known to use leftover spaghetti sauce for the tomato, as well as tossing a couple of fresh tomatoes from the garden into the blender on puree. 
  • 2 Cups of cooked rice can be substituted for the potatoes as a starch variant.
  • Any combination of spices and seasonings can be used:
    • Cumin and a bit of chili powder will give you a Mexican taste.
    • Curry powder works well for an Indian variant. 
    • Substituting Soy for the Worcestershire and using ground ginger and cilantro will give you an Asian variant.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Recipe Week: Gunk a la Erin

& is used with permission.
Many, many years ago I was active in the Scouts, and I invented a dish on a weekend campout. 

Well, "invented" may be too strong a word. More like "I had to cook lunch and it was the last meal we ate before leaving, and I didn't want to haul cans of food home, so I threw stuff together and it turned out to to be strangely edible."

How edible?  I make it for myself on a regular basis. I once even cooked it for a date, and it was well-received. 

  • 1 pound ground beef (ground sirloin if you want to be fancy)
  • 1 can Veg-All
  • 1 can new potatoes
  • 1 can alphabet soup
  • Whatever spices you can scrounge and/or package of instant onion soup mix
  • Sliced bread or instant biscuits

  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet.
  2. Open cans of soup, Veg-All and new potatoes. 
  3. When meat is browned, dump contents of cans (including any water) onto meat. 
    • The order that the cans are added is unimportant. 
  4. Mix thoroughly, mashing potatoes into diced chunks with whatever cooking implement you have handy. 
    • If you want to go to the extra effort, you could pour the water onto the meat, then dice the potatoes before adding them... but this is a camping meal, so why go to extra effort?
  5. Stir at medium heat until it's a thick hash and all the juices have commingled and the extra water has boiled off. 
  6. Add any desired seasoning. 
Serve over toasted bread as an open-faced sandwich, or alongside biscuits made at the same time the meat was browning. 

This dish is thick and hearty, so experiment with flavor and texture by using different soups or veggies. But in my experience, the can of soup is absolutely needed to give the dish its texture.

It also pairs surprisingly well with an earthy red wine like a Malbec or a Syrah/Shiraz

If your date asks what this dish is named and you do not want to call it "Gunk", feel free to use the more poetic name "Camper's Delight". 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Recipe Week: MREs

Since this is recipe week, and I'm the only military veteran amongst the regular writers here, I was chosen to write about recipes for making MREs more palatable. This was probably not the best choice, since I am far from a gourmand and have very boring taste buds. I was raised in a German-Swede family where the daily diet was pretty bland compared to the diets of peoples from nearer the Equator (where spices tend to grow best), and I never acquired a taste for food spicy enough to cause chemical burns. Subtle spices are more interesting to me than seeing how hot the local pepper sauce is.

The MRE "Cookbook"
With a few exceptions, I never thought that the C-rations and MREs that I was issued (I got some of the last C-rats before the Army transitioned to MREs) tasted all that bad. The main problem with both was that there was, and is, a limited menu of meals and they get boring after a few days of eating them. Bored soldiers are quite ingenious, and there are thousands of recipes available for modifying MREs. Every MRE comes with Tabasco sauce now, and the company that makes it published a “cookbook” for how to work with the ingredients available in the early menus. There's a bit of a history lesson at the beginning of the cookbook about the what military needs for stored foods, and you'll need to scroll down a bit to get to the cookbook itself.

A collection of recipes for more recent MREs can be found here, with changes being made to reflect the changes in the contents of the menus.

The MREs that are available today are quite different from the ones I was issued in the early to mid 1980's. Back then we had the very first generation of MREs and they were pretty bad. They were designed to be stored for decades with flavor being way down the list of priorities. There have been over 24 changes in the “menu” since 1985, and I have tasted quite a few of them. Gone are the freeze-dried meat patties (not pleasant) and the strawberry Styrofoam (freeze-dried strawberries - actually quite good) due to the fact that they required water and time to re-hydrate before eating. No more ham omelets that had the consistency of Silly Putty. No more chicken a la king, that was just unsalvageable as food. We've gone from 12 different meals to 24 for more variety, and they've tweaked the packaging and contents every year since 1995. If you have MREs and don't know when they were made, check the list of menus and you should be able to narrow the date down by seeing which meals were added or deleted each year.

There are also commercial versions of the MRE, packaged the same but without the green, tan, and black plastic. They are comparable to the military meals, and are easier to buy if not always cheaper. Like any prepping supplies, do some research and know what you're buying.

A few of the recipes that I actually used and remember were similar to some of those found in the links and they tended to be alternate uses for the things found in the accessory pack (instant coffee, creamer, sugar, etc.) and could be used with similar things found in your kitchen shelves. Mixing and matching items from different meals can widen the options, so don't throw something out just because you don't like it as is -- trade it for something you do like, or use it to modify the flavor of a meal you've had every day for a week.
When you want to add flavor to a cookie or brownie, take the pack of instant cocoa and add water a few drops at a time while mixing. Use very little water and it'll make a chocolate frosting. Add a bit of instant coffee for a mocha flavor.
Mix a pack of instant cocoa and a pack of instant creamer. Add water to get the consistency of pudding. If it's not sweet enough, add a sugar package next time.
Drink Mixes
The various drink mixes can be added to the entrees to change the flavor, orange works better than grape in my experience. The citrus flavors can also be added to instant or brewed tea for a change of pace if you're bored with plain tea.
Tips & Tricks
The real trick to using MREs as survival food is to have a variety of other things to add to them. 
  • Fresh food of any kind will liven up a boring pouch of texturized vegetable protein that has been molded to look like meat. 
  • Spice jars with more than one type of spice don't take up much room on a shelf or in a cache.
MREs are bulky, and best suited for short-term use in the field or in a bug-in situation. I'd rather not try to carry a week's worth of MREs in a back pack; there wouldn't be room left for much else.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Recipe Week: My Mom Calls it Stew

And all of us kids called for it more often. This was cooked on camping trips when the weather was cooler or when no one wanted to use the barbecue. Heresy, I know!

  • The largest pot or Dutch Oven you have 
  • 2-3 lbs Chuck Roast trimmed of fat. Save the fat!
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Salt*
  • Black Pepper* 
  • Vegetable oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pot
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced big
  • 2 12oz bottles of dark beer. (12 oz of red wine can be substituted)
  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 medium celery stalks
  • 2 cups beef broth or 4 cups if beer or wine is not allowed
  • 2 Bay leaves
All measurements are my own guesses; Mom cooks by eye.

  1. Cut meat into 1 inch cubes. 
  2. Add salt* and pepper* to the flour. 
  3. Place the meat in the flour mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Heat the oil.
  5. Add the trimmed fat and then enough floured cubes to cover the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Cook and turn the meat until brown on all sides. 
  7. Repeat for all meat, then set the meat aside.
  8. Add the onion to the pot and season with salt* and pepper*. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown. Cook until the raw onion smell has cooked off.
  9. Pour in the wine or 1 bottle of beer.
  10. Add any leftover flour, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and cook until the mixture has thickened.
  11. Put the meat and any juices in the bowl into the pot. 
  12. Add the broth, second beer, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Add water if necessary to barely cover everything.
  13. Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.
  14. Cut the carrots, celery, and potatoes into large pieces and add them to the pot.
  15. Stir to combine, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables and meat are knife tender (about an hour). 
Depending on the guests (and the amount of corn bread available), this serves 4-8. If more people are there, just do what my mom does: add more potatoes, carrots and celery, and go on cooking.

I try to be like that. Deal with it and do what's necessary

* Salt, pepper, Tapatio and any other spices can be added to suit your taste.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Recipe Week: Mountain Man Breakfast

Seeing as it's Recipe Week around here, I figured I should do something a bit different than my usual fare. A good breakfast can keep you trucking for hours on end, especially early and late season when mornings are crisp. Mountain Man Breakfast is hearty, hot, and sticks to your ribs; it really is an excellent way to start your day. It's also dead simple to make. Be advised, this recipe feeds a whole mess of folks (8-12, fairly easily), so you may need to scale it up or down some for your needs.

  • 1 lb bacon or ground sausage (If using bacon, cut into ~1.5" pieces.) 
  • 12 Eggs 
  • ~3 pound hash browns (cubed or shredded; I've always preferred shredded, but it's a matter of taste. If you use frozen hash browns, be sure to thaw them first.) 
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced 
  • 1 lb Grated cheddar cheese 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
  • Optional: 1-2 cans of mushrooms, drained.

    1. In a 12" standard (6 quart) Dutch oven, brown the sausage or bacon and the onion.
    2. Add hash browns (and mushrooms, if desired) to a level roughly 1" from the top of the pot.
    3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, adding salt and pepper as desired. 
    4. Pour the eggs over the top of the hash browns, and stir the whole mixture well. 
    5. When thoroughly mixed, level the top off to allow for even cooking.
    6. Dutch Oven cooking: Place 8 charcoal briquettes, evenly spaced, around the bottom of the oven, as close to the outside edge as possible. Ring the lid with briquettes.
    7. Conventional Oven cooking: Set your oven to 350 degrees. 
    8. Let cook for 50 minutes.
    9. Using a spoon, pull back in the center to check doneness. Cook until the center is moist, but not wet, and no wet egg is apparent.
    10. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and replace the lid.
    11. Allow to cook another 10 minutes.
    12. Remove the oven from heat, and remove the lid from the oven. 
    13.  Allow to sit 5 minutes, then serve.


    Monday, June 15, 2015

    Recipe Week: Mom called it "Hobo"

    (It's Recipe Week at Blue Collar Prepping! This entire week we will be sharing our favorite recipes for camping, for using oddball ingredients, for turning the nasty into tasty and for making scraps go further. If you have any you'd like to share, please submit them to bcpcontest@gmail.com.)

    What it's actually called varies by household, but she called it that and once freaked out of my exes by telling him it's how we Hoosiers disposed of hobos hit by trains.

    This is one of the simplest recipes I know; it doesn't take much in the way of food, and it doesn't take long to prepare. You can even cook it on coals if you don't have an oven!

    • tinfoil
    • meat of some kind
    • potatoes
    • onions
    • other veggies you like
    • seasonings

    1. After chopping up your veggies, put out two pieces of tinfoil perpendicular to each other.
    2. Lay your veggies out in layers. Season them how you like. 
    3. Season your meat of choice separately, and then put it on top. 
    4. Wrap the first layer of tinfoil around meat, and then the second layer.
    5. For oven cooking: 
      • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
      • For thawed meat, cook for 2-3 hours.
      • For frozen meat, cook for 3-4 hours.
    6. On coals:
      • Add 15-30 minutes to oven time for thawed meat.
      • Add 30-45 minutes to oven time for frozen meat. 
    7. Remove from oven/coals, unwrap meat carefully so as not to steam burn yourself, mix with the rest and enjoy!

    Sunday, June 14, 2015

    Gun Blog Variety Podcast #43

    A great show for you this week:
    • Adam and Sean execute their hosting duties flawlessly (or at least after careful editing).
    • Erin Palette talks to us about Colonel Cooper's Color Codes (Say that 5 times fast!).
    • Nicki Kenyon is on assignment and will return next week.
    • Our Special Guest this week is LawDog!!! He tells us this absolutely hysterical story about a dog named Buster and his run in with a chicken. You HAVE to listen to this one!
    • Barron B. is pretty angry about the data breach at the US Government's Office of Personnel Management.
    • And Weer'd talks about an anti-gunner who calls himself Baldr Odinson, and his attempt at taking a victory lap after the passage of a recent Oregon law banning private firearm transfers.
    Thanks for downloading, listening and subscribing. And don't forget to tell a friend.
    Listen to the podcast here.
    Show notes may be found here.

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Guest Post: Getting Robbed in Caracas

    by Keith Duke
    Last month, I solicited articles from anyone having experience with surviving a hostage situation, terrorist attack, or other human-induced form of disaster. Keith Duke was the only one to reply (other than the obligatory "Does my divorce count" from the usual wags.) This is his story.

    This article is an entrant in the 2nd Annual BCP Writing Contest.

    This is a true story. It is also really long, as it details one of my four serious interactions with criminals.

    2000, spring-ish. Life is mostly sucking at this point, as both my private & professional lives are pretty much in the toilet: I'm in the process of going through a divorce, and work is time consuming, difficult and very, very stressful. That's when I draw the short straw: I'm headed to Caracas, Venezuela to a trade show (PowerGen Latin America). Won't that be fun! 

    It's not my first international trip, so I spend a good chunk of time reading all the state department travel advisories and such. I'm normally an aware traveler -- really  -- and while it's my first trip to Caracas, I've traveled to other South/Central American destinations. It should be a piece of cake, right? 

    Heh. I can laugh about it now...

    I meet the owner of my then-employer's Mexican subsidiary at the Caracas airport, as arranged. My Spanish is spotty, at best: I can follow along reasonably well as long as the speaker doesn't go too fast and doesn't use a lot of slang, so I'm letting him handle the things like transport and such.

    First big mistake: I'm not paying enough attention, because he travels through Caracas all the time, and I trust/expect he's much more aware of any local hazards.

    We gather up our bags, get through customs with no problems and pass into the general area, which is huge, very loud and packed to the gills with people - the cavernous echoes of the terminal make conversation difficult. My compatriot negotiates with a cabbie. They come to an agreement and we follow him out to 'the upper taxi deck'.

    Second mistake: I didn't know this at the time, but there is NO upper taxi deck in the Caracas airport, only a remote cab waiting queue. But hey, the guy is wearing the required uniform, the required ID card, and so on, so he should be legit, right? He leads us to a real cab in a line of cabs at the airport. He's really a cabbie, dang it!

    We get to the cab and... there's a driver already in this cab, also wearing the correct uniform/hat/ID. So, also a cabbie, yeah? The first guy explains that he gets a cut for bringing passengers out to the driver. He smiles and talks to the driver while he starts loading our stuff into the cab. They're discussing soccer/football, and once we get all situated the shill asks the driver if he's done for the day. The driver says "Yes, hop in and I'll drop you off since I'm leaving with these two gentlemen anyway." The driver asks if it's okay with us and -- third mistake -- we say "Yeah, sure."

    I'm actually twitching by now, as this just doesn't seem right, but the guy with the complete command of the language and all its nuances isn't concerned at all. He and the two guys up front are chatting away about the shill's girlfriend, local places to eat, soccer and such, so I decide that I'm probably just being paranoid.

    We pull out, the driver waves to the security guard -- who waves back -- and we leave the airport and turn left towards Caracas as the signs say. Which is good, because the travel advisory warns that if they turn right you should immediately start trying to get out of the cab and away from them -- a series of robberies and robbery/murders over the past year happened when the cabs headed away from the city -- so the fact that we're going the right direction make me think "Okay, it's good, I was just being paranoid, actually nothing to worry about."

    Heh. I laugh again.

    It's approximately a half-hour cab ride from the airport to the hotel we're booked into, and about 20 minutes into it, the shill/passenger turns around to my friend and speaks some high-speed Spanish that I didn't quite catch. It sounds like "I've got a gun, give me your wallet."

    Ah, crap.

    He proceeds to tell us that he's going to take our laptops, valuables in the luggage etc., but we'll be unharmed as long as we cooperate. Now this was in a lot of ways a very professional kidnapping-robbery. The driver drove carefully, and the shill didn't point the gun at us, just showed us he had it: .45 auto, 1911 pattern, hammer back, magazine in, thumb safety on, lying to hand on the seat, but not actually in his hand.

    This guy is about 5' 6", a little stocky/wiry but not anything I'd be scared of in a fight. (I'm 6' 3", and at the time was in quite good shape, as well as having some experience in that sort of thing.) It crosses my mind that given the physical arrangement, I can almost certainly hit this guy so hard his daddy is going to feel it for a month. He apparently comes to the same conclusion because he leans way back and says, in broken English, "Now don't be stupid. The car directly behind us has four guys in it and they've all got machetes."

    I said something along the line of "Bullshit." (I know -- so witty!) He said, "I'll have them flash their lights so you know they're with us right.. now..."

    And they did.

    Well then.

    So, right there I discovered something about myself: The prospect of possibly getting shot seemed pretty bad, but unless I was really unlucky, it's probably survivable. However, the prospect of being chopped up with machetes and being left to bleed out seemed much less so. 

    So we both hand over wallets and passports etc. The shill goes through them, picks out all the cash, looks at the credit cards and passports, and then hands back everything except the cash.

    A minute or so later, he tells the driver to pull over. (Yes, the other car pulled over too, and kept the lights on bright, but we could see that there were indeed four people in the car.)

    They chuck us out of the cab at a pedestrian pass-through in one of the barrio walls and... well, here's where it gets sort of surreal: the driver pops the trunk, and carries our bags -- making three trips! -- to the sidewalk, and then starts to stand there like you would for a tip! Then he catches himself, and without a trace of irony or a smirk or anything, he tips his hat!

    The driver and the shill (who has the gun in hand at this point) get back in the cab, and both cars pull away with me standing on the sidewalk, laughing like a maniac, while my associate watches me like I have lost my ever-loving mind, at the complete cognitive dissonance of the whole hat-tip thing...and yes, in relief at being alive, and unharmed. 

    All told, they held us for like half an hour, but in the end it came out okay. No thanks to anything we did, no virtue on our part; we were just lucky. And feeling pretty creeped out by the thought of being chopped up had things gone wrong.

    So now, we're walking along in the barrio, talking to each other in a sotto voce "I can't believe this crap" tone, when a guy comes up the walk. My companion opens his mouth and he doesn't even get a change to speak before the other guy turns around and not-quite yells that he's not interested, can't help, doesn't want to get involved. 

    With  a bit of wheedling and cajoling, he stops long enough to hear us out. "Sorry, I don't have a car, can't help you." Then further wheedling discussion follows, to the end effect that he says, "But my cousin does. I can't promise anything but he'll be here in a few minutes and maybe he'll give you a ride. Maybe."

    So we follow this guy back through the wall into the barrio proper. Which was, in retrospect, certainly mistake number four.
    We're standing there on the sidewalk inside the wall, when I notice maybe 50-60 yards away there's a crowd of 100-150 young men and women. They are obviously partying -- drinking, shouting, carrying on. 

    One guy looks over his shoulder, then turns back around.A couple of minutes later, 15-20 guys look over their shoulder at us, and then turn back around. About that time the guy's cousin pulls up in this tiny little Toyota, probably 20 years old, rusty, and limping along. And did I mention tiny?

    Anyway, the cousin, flat out says no, can't, got things to do. My companion offers a larger inducement, and I say I'll match it. No dice. 

    Right about that time, the whole damned crowd turns towards us as one body, and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we were dead. Toast. 

    The driver looks over at the crowd, looks at us and sighs. "Get in. NOW!" Which we do with alacrity, managing to get away from the still-closing crowd with a huge sigh of relief. 

    As we to travel to our hotel, the conversation with the driver goes something like "I have things to do, but I couldn't have your deaths on my conscience. That's the only reason I agreed." 

    We get to the hotel, get cash advances (since the robbers were kind enough to leave us everything but our traveling cash), and we give him a couple of hundred US dollars apiece, plus an invite for an all-expense paid trip to my associate's guest ranch in San Luis Potisi. (Which is a really nice place.)

    Once in the hotel, we report everything to the police who assure us they "would look into it" (we all know they won't), and then we retire to the bar for much drinking and talking.

    That was just the first night. Oh yes, my friends -- there's more, much more...

    I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, get in the blacked-out bus with the armed security guards, go set up the booth, work the tradeshow, eat lunch, go back to the hotel, have dinner out that night with local customers. A pretty normal tradeshow day, all in all. There was a good deal of ribbing from other exhibitors about the robbery, but that sort of thing is expected.

    But right around 2:00 AM, I wake up to the sound of significant automatic weapons fire. It sounds like an AK-47. Well, okay, it sounds like several AK's. 

    Screw it. I roll over and go back to sleep. If they want to shoot me, they're going to have to come dig me out of my room -- I'm not going to a gunfight armed only with harsh words.

    In the morning, we ask the security guys to tell us how those lines of bullet holes got in the facade of the hotel, and how all that broken glass happened. It turns out that the hotel security staff were shot at by a carload of folks in a little drive-by, except that the drive-by guys didn't do any recon. The only way in or out of the hotel is the same driveway. When they turned around to drive out past the guards they had just mag-dumped at, the hotel security guys shot the vehicle to hell and killed them all.  End of the night: Security guys 3, drive-by shooters 0. 

    The next day, nothing happened. Amazing!

    The third day is the last day of the tradeshow. It starts off with the bus being widely re-reouted and we are told to make sure that all the curtains are closed and NOT to look out. It turns out that they're rioting at the airport. (It was Hugo Chavez's first re-election, if I recall correctly.) There are burning trucks blocking everything, both and rowdies AND soldiers are running a bit amok. No killings, but foreign devils - like me! - have been pulled from their vehicles and badly beaten/robbed.

    Put me down for "Not interested", m'kay?

    Anyway, we eventually make the tradeshow, then break down the booth, pack it up, and so on. We don't leave the hotel for dinner, as the streets are just too dangerous because of the election the day after tomorrow. One of our fellow tradeshow guys was critically injured & hospitalized when he tried to go down the street for dinne, and was hit on the head with a coconut (of all things) thrown at him from an upper floor balcony. Another was beaten pretty badly by a group of locals. The city is nervous and tense, and there's widespread gunfire in the distance pretty much all night.

    The next morning, it's finally time to head home. Hooray! Bright and early, we get a cab, "A good cab!" the bellman assures/teases me, all the way out to the airport -- where I ran into The Helper.

    "Senor, you need someone to assist you with the paperwork. Let me help you."

    "Nope, I got it."

    "But Senor, you don't want to make any mistakes and miss your plane. Let me help you."

    "Look dude, go away. I don't want any help thankyouverymuch."

    "But senor, they're going to find drugs in your luggage unless I help you, I promise you."

    <Fish eyed glare> "What? "

    "Senor, there will be drugs in your luggage. It just happens that way, so you should let me help you so it doesn't."

    <F**K!> "OK, how much is this "Help" going to cost me?"

    "Senor, it only costs a nominal tip." 

    "And how much is that?"

    "Just a nominal tip, senor."

    "OK. Let's go. Do your thing. The sooner I get out of your country back home the better I'll like it."

    So, he fills out the frigging simple paperwork, and I hand him a $10.

    "Senor, that is not a nominal tip."

    "Cut to the chase - what do you want?"

    "Just a nominal t-"

    "Shut up and quit playing. Here's another $10. Now get out of my sight or I swear before God that I'm heading to the nearest policeman and taking my damned chances."

    "That's a nominal tip senor."

    And he saunters off to run the same scam again, and again, and again -- all day long -- extorting $20-$30 per person he "helps", so they don't 'find drugs in the luggage'. (And for what it's worth, one of the guys from the US did get caught with drugs in his suitcase. I don't know if they were really his or not, but it was a big scene.)

    Anyway, The Helper says as he walks away : "When you go through customs Senor, do not go to the female customs agent, go to the man on the right."

    Which is my normal plan anyway . But I guess it turned out to be good advice, worth double or even triple what I'd paid him. You see, everyone who went to the female customs agent got a body cavity search.... 

    Yeah, I was really glad to get home.

    And while this article is intentionally humorous, my experience was pretty terrifying. I've been robbed before, and experienced some other 'interesting things' with criminals, but never at such truly disadvantageous odds in both numbers and weapons. The sight of the group of people turning and coming towards us as one was actually even more terrifying. I might have been able to outrun 6 guys, but there was no way in hell I could outrun that many guys.

    I definitely do still kick myself from time to time for not paying attention to my gut. It was talking to me, and I was too stupid to listen. Part of it was cultural; I was unsure of what was normal, and the language barrier added some confusion. Had it been in the US, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't have happened, at least not that way, simply because culture and language wouldn't have been at issue at all.

    But it was definitely a learning experience.

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

    Nebo Twyst flashlight review

    I saw an LED flashlight called the Twyst at a local parts store and liked the looks of it, so I did some research, liked what I saw and I bought one. I am a sucker for flashlights and radios; I don't think I can ever have too many of either.

    Features that caught my eye, and why:
    • The magnetic base
      I work on vehicles and in tight spaces a lot. Having a light that can be attached to a piece of steel comes in very handy when you're working in small, dark corners.
    • Stabilizers on the base
      The fold-out legs turn the light into a stable lantern in all three modes. They will also keep the light from rolling when it's laid on its side.
    • 3 light modes
      Picture from Nebo site

      Forward-facing flashlight: 3400 Lux (4 hours at full power, 40 at low power)

      Picture from Nebo site

      Work light: 110 Lumens. By twisting the front of the flashlight, you expose a ring of 27 LEDs. The work light turns on a third of these to light up a specific area. (13.5 hours at full power, 96 at low power)

      Picture from Nebo site

      Lantern: 250 Lumens. With the entire ring of LEDs on, you get a general lantern effect. (4 hours at full power, 60 at low power)

    • Fully dimmable
      By holding in the switch, you can dim the light output in all three modes. This is handy when you don't want to totally ruin your night vision, want to stretch the battery life, or just don't need to have a bright light. Being able to dim the lantern function is probably going to be the handiest for me.
    • Uses AA batteries
      I get a lot of use out of AA batteries, and anything that doesn't require some odd (read: expensive) battery gets extra points in my book. I have lights that use C, D, Cr123A, and various other types of batteries, and they're often dead because the batteries are expensive and can be hard to find..

    First impressions

    • This sucker is bright. Painful to the eyes, in a well-lit room, in all three modes, bright.
    • Being made of machined aluminum, it's got some heft to it. I'd have to put it on a scale to be sure, but I'd guess that it weighs about as much as my 3xD-cell Maglite. It's not as long as the Maglite, but would still hurt to get hit with. (Yes, I carry a Maglite for use as a night-stick on occasion.)
    • The beam is not focusable. There are times when I like to be able to switch from spot- to flood-light when using a hand-held light. Looking for something in the grass at night requires a broad flood of light for a general sweep, with a spot-light being handy once you've narrowed down the search area.
    • Weight. This is not something you're going to drop in your pocket and carry with you every day. I got it mainly for my vehicle and camping use, so it will be in a pack or bag rather than on my belt.
    General Information:
    • MSRP for the Twyst is $49.99, but I paid $40.00 for mine at the parts store. 
    • Amazon has them at full MSRP (or more), so I would suggest looking around at your local auto parts stores to see if they have them.
    • Nebo is a sporting goods/tool brand, part of the Alliance Sports Group, based out of Texas. The lights themselves are built in China. 
    • The Twyst is new for 2015, so it may take a while for them to get them distributed widely.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2015

    Prudent Prepping: High Sierra Sentinel 65

    The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Now we concentrate  on what to do in, and how to plan for, the long term via Prudent Prepping.

    An Unexpected Backpack

    This is a special post for me. My fellow (and fellowette?) bloggers bought me the High Sierra Sentinel 65 backpack featured on last month's Woot! deal. I was thoroughly shocked and upset* that all of them spent their money on this, after I said I would certainly like the pack but could not afford to buy it myself at this time. Oh, and I mentioned specifically to the ringleader NOT to buy it for me. Kids nowadays, I tell ya. No one listens.

    From the High Sierra website:

    • 65-liter multi-day adjustable internal frame pack.
    • Top-load main compartment with gusseted drawstring closure and adjustable top lid.
    • Front-load sleeping bag compartment with divider.
    • ERGO-FIT shoulder harness, with adjustable load-lifters, is constructed with HEX-VENT and high-density foam padding.
    • Dual, contoured aluminum frame bars.
    • Molded foam back panel with HEX-VENT mesh channels.
    • Waist belt.
    • Hinged front pocket.
    • Internal hydration reservoir sleeve and dual exit ports for tube (reservoir not included).
    • Adjustable side and bottom compression straps.
    • Webbing daisy chain for attaching extra gear.
    • Adjustable sternum strap.
    • Soft lashing hardware holds ice ax/hiking poles.
    • Dual mesh pockets hold water bottles.
    • Tuck-away rain cover.
    • Sleeping bag compartment - 9" x 15.5" x 8"
    • Capacity - 3970 cu.
    • Weight: 4.8 lbs.
    • Body Dimensions: 32.0" x 13.0" x 12.0"

    This is a serious upgrade to my pack inventory! I am still getting the straps adjusted to my body. The next step is loading the various compartments with my meager gear to see how things balance. I'm using 30 lbs. of beans and rice stacked around clothes to simulate a full pack, which seems to be working well at the moment.

    I don't have a planned trip to give this a shake-down test soon, but there is one coming up later this summer.

    All in all, I am very pleased with how this pack is built and the number of adjustments available to customize the pack to me.

    The Takeaway
    1. Multi-adjustible shoulder straps ease the pain in my bad shoulder.
    2. Pockets everywhere, with easy to use pull-tabs on the extra large zippers.
    3. Lots of webbing attachment points.
    4. I need to add more items to my camping/BOB inventory. Many things in my car kit and Get Home Bag can be pulled out and reused, but I would like to have separate and dedicated items in every bag 
    Not So Good:
    • See point 4 above. But it is a good problem to have!
    • One High Sierra Sentinel 65 pack.
    • From Amazon, $93.06.
    • My cost: $0.
    • Correct size and shape. 
    • Just what I was shopping for and wanting.
    Ringleader's note: I didn't buy it for him. I contributed to a group buy. I knew you wanted it, David, so I found a loophole. 

    By the way, David  wasn't kidding about "shocked and upset". Here's the selfie he took with the backpack. Notice what a beautiful smile he has!

    “It is a good thing to be rich and a good thing to be strong, but it is a better thing to be loved by many friends.” -- Euripides

    Thank you all, again.

    (You're welcome, David. -- All of us)

    As always, 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.

    The Fine Print

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

    Creative Commons License

    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 amazon.com.