Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday Prepping Deals from Erin's Favorite Companies

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
There are three great deals that I want you folks to know about before they disappear.

I've sung the praises of the Solo Stove before (as recently as last Wednesday), and getting a free pot & free shipping is a great deal that doesn't happen very often; it might pop up again right before Christmas, but then again it might not. Best of all, this works with ALL their stoves and pots: the smallest pot sells for $35, the middle sized one for $46, and the largest (actually a 2 pot set) for $60; and you get those free when you buy the matching stove.

Another company that I really like, Power Practical, is offering 50% off its most popular items (that's most of them and includes the nifty Power Pot) and free shipping for all orders of $50 or more.

UVPaqLite also makes awesome products. (I had the chance to meet the owner/inventor at the NRA Convention in Nashville this year, and she's a really awesome lady who listens to her customers and has tons of great ideas), and they are running a holiday special from now until Dec. 15 and you can get some great values. My favorite is the Scout Pack: designed for the Boy Scouts, but of lots of use to anyone who hikes, backpacks or camps. (I have one of these and I love it.)

Or get the 5-pack of reusable mini glow sticks and either hand them out as stocking stuffers or use them as zipper pulls for things you'll want to be able to quickly find in the dark, such as the opening to a first-aid kit.

Or just use the coupon code SAVE2015 to get 20% off of everything else in the store.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #67

Adam and Sean bring you our Thanksgiving episode!
  • Erin Palette talks with her Blue Collar Prepping Blog co-blogger, Chaplain Tim about getting caught in a riot in Berlin, and the lessons that peppers can learn from his experience. 
  • Nicki Kenyon talks about the new cyber warfare, internet hoaxes. 
  • Barron B is still on assignment.
  • Weer'd does his latest patented Audio Fisk™ on Hillary's Brady Campaign award acceptance speech. 
  • And you don't want to miss the story of how Sean blew up his father's Dillon 650 in his wife's face! Check out the show notes for a photo of the powder burns on his arm. 
Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. Please like and share The GunBlog VarietyCast on Facebook, and if you use iTunes, give us a review!

Listen to the podcast here.

Read the show notes here.

A special thanks both to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support and to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout and get 10% off.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Prudent Prepping: Giving Thanks, Giving Back, Getting Ready

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.

I am very lucky. Seriously, I am so lucky the words aren't there to describe how I feel. There is food on my table, a solid roof over my head and I have a job that is paying my bills, with a bit left over if I'm careful.

I'm Thankful For:

With that extra cash in mind, I took some and bought a turkey to donate to my local Food Bank. I also brought some of the items in my prepping stores that were getting close to their 'sell by' dates, specifically bagged pasta and an equal number of cans of sauce. I donate to the Food Bank when I can all year long, but especially this time of year. The economy has recovered very slowly here in California, and while it is improving, many people are still hurting due to the outrageous cost of living here.

I bought more of the smaller size cans of Spam to go into my backpack's permanent gear, along with instant coffee, hot chocolate mix and cans of chicken to be restocked in my prepping supplies.

It has been near freezing several nights this past week, and is forecast to be that cold again this coming week as well. Two thermal shirts are now in my GHB, along with a knit cap and a pair of insulated gloves. I am adding some extra hot drinks to my truck GHB and some extras in my backpack/camping gear. As I've mentioned before, I'm 'Bugging In' as I don't have a place to go, but I do want to be prepared to carry more items easily in the future since my job may be taking me more than a one hour drive away from home. If that is the case, the full size pack gets tossed into the back seat and I'm ready to do my best to get home safely.

I have enough to care for myself and also share with others. Even more would be helpful in reducing stress, but it's not required.

Purchased This Week
  • One frozen turkey from Safeway, $24.67.
  • Six 7oz Spam cans from a discount grocery, $1.49 each.
  • Five cans of chicken breast, Sam's Club: $10.98.
  • Two 10 count Instant Coffee, Trader Joe's, $1.99 each. (Single-serve tubes)
  • One 10 count box of Hot Cocoa mix, Trader Joe's, $3.49.

Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon this Holiday season, 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.

    Thursday, November 26, 2015

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    In what may well become a Blue Collar Prepping Thanksgiving tradition, here is last year's post by Chaplain Tim about The First Thanksgiving: Prepping Lessons from the Pilgrims.

    Have a great day filled with fun, good, fellowship and family.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015

    Pre-Black Friday Sales for Preppers

    Not actually Erin.
    & is used with permission.
    Hi all! I'm filling in for David today because he's having computer trouble (he upgraded to Windows 10 before the first Service Pack -- silly man), and because I'll be busy on Friday putting up Christmas decorations, he agreed to swap places with me this week.

    So just like I did last year, I'm going to point out some sales that are either happening now, are are scheduled for Black Friday, for gear that will be of interest to preppers.

    I've mentioned before that Klymit makes excellent gear (their Static V has more than earned its place within my Bug-out Bag), and from now until Dec 21 everything on their site is 20% off and comes with free shipping. Be sure to check out their Kickstarter for the Splash 25, an air frame (inflatable) backpack that is also a dry bag.

    Another perennial favorite of mine, the Solo Stove, has paired with the makers of the Power Pot (reviewed here) to bring some nifty combination deals:
    • If you buy $50+ worth of merchandise at, use the code POWERPOT at checkout to save $20 on your order and get free shipping within the U.S.
    • And if you to, you can use the code SOLOSTOVE at checkout and save 40% on the PowerPot 5 and get free shipping within the U.S.; alternately, use the code SOLO25 at checkout and save 25% on any order with free shipping on orders over $50.

    As a reminder, I made a video about how these two items go really well together:

    However, these two deals only last until midnight tonight, so if you want them, don't dally!

    If you're looking for a way to carry and boil water quickly, the Kelly Kettle (reviewed here) will serve you well. is offering 20-25% off their Ultimate Kits, so check them out!

    For those preppers interested in personal protection, AR500 armor has deals lasting until 11/27. Use the promo code "Black15" to receive the following discounts:
    • 20% off level III body armor
    • 20% off Operator II® plate carrier w/ armor
    • 15% off site wide
    I have a set of AR500 armor that I acquired last year, and while I cannot testify to its protection (having never been shot and sincerely hoping I never will be), it's certainly the most comfortable armor I've ever worn -- and I've worn more than a few sets of armor in my time.

    And of course always has Black Friday sales. The current amazing special right now is the already low-price Kindle Fire -- normally just $50 -- has been reduced to the ridiculous price of only $35 through 11/29 (Sunday).

    I bought a 2nd Generation Kindle back in 2012 and I still use it daily, mostly as an inexpensive iPad for checking email. surfing the web, chatting on Facebook, listening to music and of course reading books. This new version has all the same great features but is faster and now has expandable memory via SD cards! Back in Episode 56 of the Gunblog Varietycast I talked about making a survival e-reader, and at this price thi is the perfect tablet for that purpose -- especially if you pair it with a protective case and extra memory.

    If you use my link, I get a small percentage back on everything you buy -- so please, help a prepper out and use my link when you go shopping this holiday season! Thank you!

    Happy Shopping!

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    Roll-Your-Own Fishing Lures

    While searching the internet for a particular video, I stumbled across a video describing how to make your own fishing lures from paracord. Though the basics of the idea were solid enough, the execution left huge room for improvement.

    That said, here is my greatly improved method for making your own fishing lures from basic paracord.

    Materials required for this project:
    • Paracord in your chosen color
    • 1/8 oz fishing jig
    • thread
    • superglue or clear nail polish

    Pull the center threads approximately an inch out of the outer sheath.

    Cut your paracord so that the outer sheath is roughly the length from the back of the jig head to the bend of the hook. The center strands will hang beyond this, as shown.

    Thread the hook through the sheath, while pinching the whole paracord bundle to keep the center threads in place.  The sheath will end up sliding over the base of the jig head.

    Wrap the thread around the sheath where it covers the base of the jig head to secure it to the hook. If you have a fly-tying vise, it makes ths a very simple step. If not, a bit of tape or a pair of pliers used on the point of the hook provide a huge help. A couple wraps of thread towards the tail of the hook are optional, but make the lure more durable. However you wrap, your last passes should be behind the thread, and secured with the knot of your choice.

    Use superglue or clear nail polish to seal the thread wrap at the head and extend the life of the lure. Trim the inner strands so that the ends are even, to form a tail 1/2 to 3/4 the length of the hook. Fluff the tail to get more motion under water, which will attract more fish.
    The finished product.

    While jigs like this will work on their own, they're even more effective when tipped with a piece of worm, fish meat, or some other bait.  They quite nicely replicate commercially manufactured jigs, at a fraction of the cost, and are a staple in almost any tackle box.


    Monday, November 23, 2015

    Expanding the Pantry Menu: Adventures with Almond Flour

    Naan is an Indian flat bread that is absolutely amazing.

    What makes it amazing is that it's really easy to make, can be made with a variety of flours (useful when you're gluten-intolerant), and doesn't require yeast. This one was made with almond flour, and I've got a bunch of other flours that I want to try it with.

    Recipe sourced from Organic & Thrifty.

    Almond-Flour Naan
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/3 cup coconut milk
    • 1.5 tsp olive oil
    • 1 cup almond meal/flour
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • ghee or coconut oil for frying
    In small bowl, whisk together the egg, baking soda, coconut milk, and olive oil until frothy.

    Meanwhile, melt about 1 Tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil in a skillet. When ready to fry the bread, mix the almond flour and salt into the wet mixture and pour onto hot skillet, like pancakes.

    For Garlic-Onion Flatbread, saute the following in ghee or coconut oil until soft:
    • 1/2 cup chopped onions
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds (optional)
    Remove from pan. Proceed with recipe above. After batter is mixed, add in:
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

    How It Tastes
    The result can be summed up as "Eh."

    Don't get me wrong, it tasted great; however, it wasn't the pliable bread that we all know and love. I also had to use baking powder because I was out of baking soda, which seemed to change the consistency somehow. The recipe also indicates that your batter should end up like pancake batter. It wasn't. I don't think that there is enough moisture given in the recipe.

    If I had left out the garlic powder, they could have been almond pancakes, but since I was in the mood for garlic it ended up more like cornbread. As a substitute for cornbread, though, this recipe is fantastic.

    The green things are Artichoke hearts. They have as much if not more Vitamin C than citrus

    My next Naan experiment will be coconut flour based. Yes I'm obsessed with trying to create a version of Naan I can make at home! I can use it as a pizza crust as well, so there's double riding on this.

    Wish me luck!

    Sunday, November 22, 2015

    Gun Blog Variety Podcast #66

    Adam and Sean do bring you Episode 66 of The GunBlog VarietyCast.
    • Erin Palette talks about addictions.
    • In our Foreign Policy for Grownups Segment, Nicki Kenyon talks about the Paris attacks and the refugees situation in the attack aftermath
    • Our Special Guest this week is Ryan Michaud of Handgun Radio. He talks about Nanny Bloomberg's assault on Maine gun owners' rights
    • Barron B is still "On Assignment" with his family.
    • and Weer'd takes Girl Pants Productions to school with another of his Patented Weer'd Audio Fisks™. 
    Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. Please like and share The GunBlog VarietyCast on Facebook, and if you use iTunes, give us a review!

    Listen to the podcast here.
    Read the show notes here.

    A special thanks both to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support and to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout and get 10% off.

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    Situational Awareness is a Two-Edged Sword

    Not actually Erin.
    & is used with permission.
    It's been a week since the Paris attacks and my mind is still fixated on them. I cannot think of anything else, prepping-wise, to talk about. Unfortunately for me, most of the important things have already been said by others and I'm not sure what else I can bring to the conversation.

    Chaplain Tim, who lived through a riot in Germany, spoke about how to prepare for and protect yourself from mass violence in cities in last Friday's post. On Monday, Bearing Arms wrote an article titled "Ten Ways to Avoid Being killed During a Terrorist Attack". The entire event has been analyzed and dissected from multiple perspectives.

    And for the life of me, the one thing that I cannot get out of my head are the conflicting notions of "Stay away from crowds, you're vulnerable there" and "If I stop doing the things I want to do because there are other people there which might make a good target, then my actions are being dictated by fear which means that terrorism has already won."

    If we don't want terror to win, then we need to continue living our lives as we normally would -- but that leaves us vulnerable to people who terrorize us because we haven't taken precautions.

    As preppers, we have a certain advantage in that we normally live our lives at least aware of the possibility of trouble and with an idea of how we'd react to it. We are fortunate that situational awareness is a way of life for us... but unfortunate in that it keeps nagging at us.

    Example: Let's say that I live in a city that is famous for having tourists from all over the world, and that I am eagerly awaiting the new Star Wars film. Do I:
    1. Not go see the film until well after opening day (and risk having key parts of the movie spoiled before I see it), because the risk is too great?
    2. Avoid large crowds by skipping the nice theaters with digital projection/IMAX/3-D and instead go to smaller theaters where presentation is merely average?
    3. Say "screw it!" and go anyway, and try to enjoy myself as much as possible -- which means being completely enraptured by the event and letting my guard down?
    4. Go to the movie, but maintain situational awareness -- which means watching people as they enter/leave the theater, being alert for unusual sounds or smells, and generally not paying attention to the movie I just paid to watch?
    5. Give up on watching the movie in the theater and see it on DVD months later?
    To be honest, none of these appeal to me. I'm not even sure if there is a right answer here; it's all a question of how much risk a person wants to take, and that's something which must be decided individually. 

    I'll tell you this much, though:  if I do decide to see the new Star Wars movie, I'm going to do it armed, and I'm going to go see it with a group of people who I know have my back. 

    Stay safe, everyone.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015

    Heads, you win (part 2)

    Back in July, I wrote a post about wearing a hat to keep the sun off of your head. Since I am expecting the first winter storm of the season this Friday, I thought it would be a good time to “cover” hats for winter wear. Brandon covered layering clothing earlier this week and mentioned his layering of head coverings, so consider this an expansion on his article.

    About half of the staff here live in areas that experience winter; the other half don't see snow most years. The severity of your winter weather will influence which hat you'll need, but most of us should wear one once it starts to cool down. Even in moderate climates like Florida, a hat makes sense in December and January. If you're like me and lack hair on the top of your head, you'll be wearing a cap of some sort all winter long no matter where you live.

    Keeping your head warm makes cold weather more bearable, and since ears and noses have lots of surface area and little blood flow, they tend to frost bite easily. Frozen flesh is dead and can get infected easily; if not prevented or treated, frostbite can lead to gangrene and eventually, death. A good hat will keep most of your head warm, which will keep the exposed parts a bit warmer. 

    The following list will go from least to most insulated, and I suggest you find one at least one level heavier than your normal weather wear. If the power is out or you are outside for extended periods gathering food and fuel, you'll need better gear than would normally get you through a day.

    Ball Cap
    Any normal hat or cap is better than nothing, and a ball cap or cowboy hat will hold in some heat. If your winters are mild (no snow, light winds) this may be all you'll need.

    Stocking Cap/Do-Rag
    Actual stocking caps are made of the same material as nylon stockings. If you've never worn nylons, you'll not appreciate how much extra warmth they can provide. Living in the upper Midwest, our high school football players will often wear nylons under their uniforms to keep their legs warm during late season games. Do-rags and bandannas will cover your hair and let it provide a bit of natural insulation.

    A good, long scarf can be wrapped around the head and neck to hold in heat and keep out wind. You probably won't need the full Doctor Who 12 foot long scarf, but do get one that is made of material that will insulate.

    Beanie/Toque/Watch Cap
    Call them what you will, these are the most common and come in the widest variety of all the hats made. I personally don't care for the styles with the ball on top, but I have at least a dozen snug watch caps of varying materials and thicknesses to choose from in my cold weather gear. Late fall or early winter normally means a thin polyester cap, but as the weather gets colder I'll grab one that's a bit thicker and woven from thicker yarn. In January I'll wear either a wool cap or a polyester blend cap that has a Thinsulate liner in it.

    An actual watch cap is barely long enough to cover your eyes, while a beanie can often be pulled down over your entire face. I have both: the watch cap style is used as a base layer if needed, and the “cuff” of a beanie's extra length allows me to regulate how much of my ears and nape of neck are covered.

    Fudd Hat
    Hunting hats or surplus Army hats often have a wool liner that can be unfolded to cover the ears and upper neck. Great for keeping the snow off of your neck when traipsing through the woods, they vary in quality and insulation value. The TV show M.A.S.H. showed Radar wearing his hat with the ear flaps down when it was winter in Korea.

    When wearing a hard hat (wind tends to blow up under the hat) or when the weather gets icy, it's time to break out the full-head-covering balaclava. Usually knit (although the newer fabrics are sewn), these will cover your entire head except for your face and extend below your chin to cover your neck. Great for being outside in the snow as it is falling or blowing about, they get warm very fast if you're exerting yourself at all.

    Ski Mask
    Similar to a balaclava, with the difference being that they also cover your face with openings for eyes, nostrils, and often mouths. Best worn when dealing with extreme cold and high winds; you may need to look into a set of goggles to go with it.

    A proper winter coat will have a hood that is insulated at least as well as the body of the coat is. True winter parkas come with coyote fur trim around the hood (artificial fur doesn't work, it holds water and will freeze) and a drawstring to keep it close to your face. Hoods are nice because they are easy to take off as needed, without losing them.

    A side benefit of wearing a hat in the winter, especially following a disaster, is that bathing tends to become less frequent as people stop sweating every day. A hat will cover and restrain hair that hasn't been washed for a few days, which can reduce the amount of water you'll need to find and purify.

    A few notes on materials:
    • Cotton is the least insulting material for a hat. Good enough for a ball cap; avoid it in anything heavier.
    • Polyester is a fair insulator, it matches wool for retaining heat (but only when dry) and is usually less bulky.
    • Wool is the one rare material that will insulate even when wet, but it is heavy and many people find it too irritating (itchy) to wear.
    • Polypropylene is one of the newer materials that wicks moisture and sweat away from your body, and it insulates quite well.
    • Regardless of what material you choose, it is the air trapped in the weave or against your skin that does the real work of insulating you. A wider knit will trap larger pockets of air, but is also susceptible to losing those pockets of warmth to wind unless covered.
    Bundle up.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    Prudent Prepping: Gear Check-Up

    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.

    As it has finally started raining here (yay!), I went through my gear to make sure everything is ready for winter.

    Now before everyone starts talking about how California doesn't have a real winter and posts pictures of "California cold weather gear" like this,

    White Trash Socks and Sandals | TurboWhiteTrash

    I want you to know that it has already been in the low 30s here at 55 feet above sea level.

    Everything checked out fine in my winter additions to the GHB:
    • Ancient Marmot Gortex shell 
    • Disposeable poncho from Home Depot 
    • Polypro long sleeve T-shirt 
    • Two pair wool socks
    What didn't check out were some things that I have in and on my car all year, like my spare tire, wiper blades, windshield squirter nozzles, and flashlight.

    Spare Tire
    I drive a pickup, so the spare is under the bed in a cradle arrangement that must be jacked up and down to gain access, so unless I remember to check, the tire is out of sight and possibly out of mind. I grabbed my tire gauge (you do have one and know how to use it, right?) crawled under to check pressure, and found my spare to be under-inflated by 15 lbs. That is still enough air to get me off the freeway, but not much else. A quick trip to America's Tire found a leaky valve stem which they replaced when they rotated my tires.

    Wiper Blades and Washer Nozzles
    I replace my blades on the 4th of July and Christmas, which usually does the trick, but the weather has been very hot well into the fall this year. This dried out my blades faster than normal. I buy name-brand inserts from whoever has the best sales when I need replacements.

    Washer Nozzle
    During the last big rain, I went to rinse off the windshield and found that one set of nozzles was only putting out 50% of the volume of the other, and the high-volume set was directing the spray to the top of the glass instead of the middle. I checked around, and the best plan was to use a very thin diameter wire to clean out the nozzle, and if that didn't work to remove the nozzle and try soaking in CLR. Cleaning with a wire improved things a lot, but not a 100% fix, so CLR is in my future.

    I have several flashlights in my gear, and what I have in the driver's door pocket is a two-cell "C" Maglite. It has a small diameter, so it stores easily and isn't large enough to be thought a weapon if it is seen. Unfortunately, the barrel rotated and pushed against the door, which turned the light on long enough ago to kill the batteries. I keep 4 batteries in the center console, but if someone was driving my truck and didn't know where to look, it would be a problem.

    The Takeaway
    • Plan ahead: pack for bad weather before it arrives. 
    • Check your vehicle's safety systems, including bad bulbs in lights.
    • Have spare batteries for all your flashlights packed and easy to find in an emergency .
    • Nothing was purchased this week, but items were moved around to keep supplies fresh.

    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 be me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    Layering Up

    The weather took a turn for the miserable in my area in the past week, and proper clothing is well known to be the key to combatting bad weather.

    The commonly-given advice about clothing is "dress in layers." While this is entirely true and proper, what does it mean? You could try to wear two pairs of jeans and four t-shirts, but the results would be less than satisfying.

    While my example is obvious silliness, it illustrates my point: there is a method to dressing in layers, and following the method will keep you more comfortable than more haphazard methods. 

    The specifics of your layers will depend on the conditions in your area. In an area with more humidity and less cold, or when you're performing physical labor, you'll want more breathable materials, with a waterproof outer layer in case of precipitation. In an area like mine, where humidity is low and temperatures can get lower, the concern lies less with breathability and more with insulation.

    Base Layers
    This is the foundation of all clothing, layered or not. My standard base layer is a t-shirt and a pair of denim jeans. In very cold conditions, I add thermal long underwear. I also wear heavy wool socks during the winter, as a concession to the fact that I often work outdoors.

    Insulating Layers
    Worn on top of the base layers, the insulating layers are a flexible area, with as little or as much clothing as needed to maintain comfort. Sweatshirts, sweaters, and other "fuzzy" clothes fill this bill nicely. I'm partial to flannel or chamois shirts because they're less bulk, and easier to peel off without losing too much insulation. In addition, chamois shirts help maintain heat even when damp. 

    While one thicker layer will work well enough, 2 or 3 thinner layers in this area give the same amount of warmth, but allow for added flexibility as temperatures increase and layers need to be removed.

    Outer Layer
    This is the weatherproof portion of your clothing. For my top, I wear a jacket that is water-repellent, and just a bit heaver than a windbreaker. Its primary function isn't providing insulation as much as keeping rain and wind out.

    For my torso and legs, I wear a pair of insulated bibs. They're water repellent, made of a tough canvas material, and the legs zip up so that they can be put on and taken off easily. If cost is a concern, and high durability is not an issue, there is a lighter-duty alternative known as a snow pant that will keep you warm on a budget.

    Hands and Head
    The head is an area that is often overlooked, but loses a huge amount of heat. Hands get cold easily, and cold hands are miserable at performing tasks that need doing.

    Hands are simple: any insulated glove will keep you warm. Use the thinnest one that will get the job done, allowing yourself the most dexterity you can get.

    On my head, I stick to the same layers. I start with a head sock, the very same one you see in my picture each week. Over that, I add a watch cap and a neoprene face mask on the really cold days. At that point, only my eyes are visible, but I'm plenty warm. 

    If the temperature climbs during the day, I can pull a couple layers off to prevent overheating, and if the temperature drops, I can add layers back on.

    Think and plan ahead a bit, and layer up to keep the weather out.


    Monday, November 16, 2015

    Gun Blog Variety Podcast #65

    Adam and Sean bring you Episode 65 of The GunBlog VarietyCast.
    • Erin Palette talks checklists.
    • Nicki Kenyon makes her triumphant return, with a discussion of the recent Russian airline bombing.
    • And Weer'd does his Patented Weer'd Audio Fisk on a Moms Demand Illegal Mayors for Everytown, a wholly owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg, Inc indoctrination video.
    • As a special treat, Erin returns in the Gear Grinds segment to warn us of our impending collision with the Cinnamon-Scented Event Horizon
    Thanks for downloading, listening, and subscribing. Please like and share The GunBlog VarietyCast on Facebook, and if you use iTunes, give us a review!

    Listen to the podcast here.
    Read the show notes here.

    A special thanks both to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support and to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout and get 10% off.

    Saturday, November 14, 2015

    Paris 11/13/2015

    This is being written as events are still unfolding, so there may be some bad information due to the “fog of war.”

    Having been caught on the edge of a street riot in a major European city many years ago, I've seen what happens when a crowd loses control and is desperate. It is not a pretty sight when they're all around you -- we were lucky enough to duck into a store just before the owner locked the doors and we waited for the police to clear the streets. Paris is likely ten times as bad tonight.

    Terrorists have carried out multiple attacks in Paris, France. At least 200 wounded and 100 dead from gunfire, fragmentation grenades, and suicide vests. Martial law is in effect, chaos and lack of information are the rule, the borders of France have been sealed, airports are shut down, public transportation is not running, people are being told to get inside and stay inside. There are reports of the attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar” and other reports of fire-bombs being thrown into “refugee” camps outside Paris that are full of Muslims.

    The shit has truly hit the fan.

    The more I hear about this attack, the more it resembles the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Bombay), India:
    • A small number of (radical Muslim) attackers who don't plan on getting out alive,
    • targeting large gatherings of people, mostly in the wealthy areas of town,
    • using grenades and fully-automatic rifles,
    • creating chaos through multiple, closely-timed attacks.
    • Civilians, for the most part, have no clue about what to do,
    • even though there is a history of terrorist attacks in the city.

    With a few differences:
    • Police in France responded much quicker than the police in Mumbai.
    • The French police were much better trained and equipped.
    • Since France is considered a “developed” nation and India isn't, the news coverage is more intense.

    How do you prepare for something like this?

    1) Pay heed to Uncle Remus' advice to “stay away from crowds.”
    Uncle Remus wrote a weekly blog for 10 years before retiring last year, but some of us recall his constant advice to “stay away from crowds”. Crowds make large targets for idiots who don't care to aim their firearms. Crowds limit your mobility. Crowds have a type of group mentality that resembles a herd of herbivores in its reaction to anything.

    2) Weigh the risks and rewards of any trip out of your normal Area of Operations (AO).
    Is it really worth traveling to a strange city where you don't know anyone, can't speak the language, and don't know the streets just to watch a sports event? Especially when there is a history of violence in the city and things are getting worse rather than getting better?

    3) Always have a way out.
    On of the eyewitnesses to the attack on the concert hall mentioned trying to get on the stage after hearing gunfire, knowing that there was an emergency exit backstage. Always look for the exit signs in any building you enter.

    When driving, always leave room to maneuver your car around the one in front of you. The shoulder or the ditch may be better than sitting still in a traffic jam.

    The French government has sealed the border and shut down public transportation. How are you going to get home, or at least to your hotel room? Have a plan, or at least a map to a place of safety.

    Know where the embassy is in any foreign country you visit.

    Some suggest carrying a gold coin or two to be able to pay for an emergency trip home. Gold takes up very little space for its value and is generally accepted anywhere in the world

    4) Be prepared to fight back if at all possible.
    If you live in a place that allows citizens to carry firearms, carry the blasted things. I, personally, will not shop in stores with the “No guns allowed” signs on the doors. I refuse to be left to the tender mercies of even the common lunatics running around on the streets, let alone someone intent on racking up a high body count. If you can't carry a gun find some other way to defend yourself -- martial arts, stun guns, mace, improvised weapons, or a bodyguard are all options.

    Be mentally prepared to fight back. I have met several people who have been so thoroughly conditioned in “modern” living that they are unable to fight, even to defend their lives. Pacifists will become victims when TSHTF, unless protected by those who aren't.

    5) Remember the “Rules of Stupid.”
    Don't go to stupid places, with stupid people, at stupid times, and do stupid things. Know how to figure out what stupid is.

    6) Have first aid training.
    After the shooting is over, there will be people who need medical aid. Pray that you aren't one of them and be ready to render aid to those who need it. Most of us don't travel alone, and being able to help family/friends comes right after being able to defend them.
      My prayers and condolences go out to those hurt or killed in the attack on Paris today. It sounds like the attackers are all dead, mostly by suicide, but the investigations will take a long time to root out all of the supporters and collaborators. I pray that no American city ever witnesses such an attack, but I know that it is possible.

      Thursday, November 12, 2015

      A List of Lists

      Prepping is becoming more popular, and as a result more and more people are publishing their ideas of what supplies and skills are needed. We do some of that here, but I wanted to share some of the other offerings that are out there. I'm not supporting (or supported by) any of these sites; I just want to share some of the other opinions that are out there. I thought about ranking them by the level of “urgency” expressed on the site, but decided to leave it like a chocolate assortment - a surprise in every bite. I will give a few hints, though.
      1. Prepper's Checklist - 12 pages long and quite detailed. A lot of doom-and-gloom on the webpage, though.
      2. Doomsday Prepping Checklist -  A simple list, all on a single web page. No ads and pretty straight forward.
      3. The Prepper Journal - Lots of ads, some good information, more ads.
      4. The Survivalist Blog - Has an annoying pop-up with a hidden “close” button that covers the page. Full of basic information, but not all of it is good.
      5. Disaster Preparedness Checklist - A simple list put together by a survivor of the tsunami in Japan. Has a very basic list of storage foods.
      6. Preparation Checklist - I like the way this page works. The lists are broken down by category with a separate page for each list.
      7. Ready.Gov - The same government that will call you a hoarder after the disaster, tells you what to hoard before said disaster. 
      8. FEMA Emergency Supply List - Another government agency that gives you a list of preparations.
      9. The Power Hour - One of many lists of the top 100 things to disappear after a disaster. I haven't found one yet that ranks them by type of disaster.
      10. American Prepper's Network - I generally want to like APN, but their pop-ups and ads annoy me. Networking can be useful, but keep your OPSEC skills handy.
      11. American Red Cross - The Red Cross is mainly first-aid based, but they have some good information for general survival.
      12. Disaster Plan Checklist - The lay-out reminds me of the old days of the internet: simple typewriter font and no ads. Good information, well organized.
      13. Family Survivors - This one earns its place as unlucky number 13. This is how not to write a list... unless you're a salesman.
      14. Survival Goods - A list of things to prepare for, in case you need more things to worry about.
      15. CNN Money - How to spend over $100,000 and fail. What else would you expect from CNN?
      16. CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency) - A nice list from a group that deals with hurricanes every year. They can speak from experience, so I trust them.

      That's a few of the hundreds that are out there. Most of them are nothing but ads for one vendor or another, so the information is suspect.

      Like anything else in life, take what you think you can use from these lists and make one of your own. Nobody but you is going to know what exactly you are going to need in an emergency.

      Wednesday, November 11, 2015

      Prudent Prepping: My EDC

      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.

      I have the habit of putting more items into my gear bags, sales supply bag and store call bag than is needed, just to take up the available space. This has made me look at what tools are the bare minimum to do my job, limit myself to those and buy a carrier/bag that will hold those items and not much else. I made a first attempt at a small carry bag, mentioned here in May of this year. The Maxpedition bag turned out to be too small for what I needed then and it is still smaller than I need for my current job. So with lots of online shopping, recommendations from online friends, and crossed fingers (I really, really like to touch, feel and hold things before I buy) I ordered a 5.11 Rush Moab 6 bag.

      5.11 Rush Moab 6
      From the 5.11 website:
      • Adjustable cushioned shoulder strap
      • Fully customizable small sling pack
      • Tech pocket at the shoulder
      • Covert TacTec pocket at rear
      • Secondary double zip pocket
      • Hydration pocket
      • Organized storage area
      • MOLLE/SlickStick web platform exterior
      • Fleece lined sunglasses pocket
      • Sturdy grab handle
      • Comfortable compression straps
      It is larger than it appears in the pictures and is a bit bigger than I really need, which possibly will be an issue going further into this job. There is also more of a Tacti-cool look to the bag than I want, and I think the 5.11 logo is coming off in the future. Since I  have not quite two months of experience working for this company, just received this bag, and am trying to figure out what else needs to be added, this is going into the bag for now:
      • 2 pens, one blue and one black
      • Mechanical pencil
      • 1 wide point magic marker
      • auto-retract utility knife. (Safety over usefulness you know)
      • Blades for the knife. Round point, of course!
      • 5 x 7 notebook
      • Leatherman tool
      • Flashlight
      • Extra small 1st aid kit.
      • Breath mints. 
      • Ear buds
      • USB cable with micro, mini and Apple 3-4-5 end
      One sticking point when I bought the Maxpedition was my B&N Nook would not fit inside without removing the protective case. That is not an issue with the 5.11. In fact, I can carry my Nook, all of the items listed above, my cell phone or iPod in its pocket and still have room for a Samsung 4 tablet, without crowding or risking damage to the electronics. Looking at what several of my co-workers carry, I think a small binder-style notebook the size of a Day Planner for more permanent note taking may be needed in the future.

      Another question people had as I was shopping was "What about the built-in pocket, for stuff n' things?" I live in California and 'stuff n' things' are not so easily done, at least legally around my part of the state. I will defer to my co-bloggers who reside in free states for their experiences filling the 'extra' pocket.

      One feature not clearly mentioned on the web site is the ease of switching the bag from left-to-right side carry. Since I'm a lefty, being able to have the bag adaptable to how I want to carry is a big plus! To change the shoulder strap for lefty carry you undo the strap and just re-weave it into the buckle system on the opposite corner, allowing it to hang properly for me.

      The Takeaway
      • Friends and family are a good place to start if you don't have a clue for what is available. 
      • Be prepared to either return or keep things if you don't like what you ordered. 
      • There is a reason name brand items may cost more- quality materials and craftsmanship. 
      • One 5.11 Rush Moab 6 bag: $69.95 from Amazon.

      Just a reminder: if you click on the Amazon links and buy the products mentioned in any BCP post, 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 be me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

      Tuesday, November 10, 2015

      Tuesday Hookey

      I'm skipping out on my blog in order to go shooting with the Gunnie Entil'Zha. Awesomeness is likely to follow, including a tour of Kel-Tec and possibly some photographs of nifty guns held by boring old me.

      Why We Practice Skills

      It's not by chance that I end my articles advocating that you practice the skills that you're shown. It's one thing to have the "book learning" to do something. It is another thing entirely to test yourself and your gear, and find the weak links and things you need to work on.

      This is also why I'm not a huge advocate of survival manuals in your BOB or other gear: books and manuals are great ahead of time, but they're no substitute for practice. Sadly, that's how people tend to use them, and that just doesn't work. The video below drives that home.

      Even with instructions and tools, he had difficulty starting a fire. We won't even get into the spearfishing attempt. He learned from his mistakes, but it's far better to learn those lessons when the stakes are minimal.

      This is why we practice skills.


      Monday, November 9, 2015

      Rhi and Evie get a good Knight's Rest

      About two months ago, Evelyn and I got to talking. After comparing notes, we decided that we both needed a bit of a sabbatical. We needed to get away from "civilization." And people. And stress.

      You know, go hide in the woods away from the modern world for a few days - or in our case, just shy of a month - to re-center ourselves within ourselves. by getting our hands dirty destroying a few things, and building a few other things, and generally just hiding in the woods for the sake of hiding in the woods.

      Since I have multiple ongoing projects out at a farm owned by friends, where we're busy trying to build a reproduction Viking Village, I offered Evelyn a chance to come visit rural Oklahoma and help out with a few projects out there.out at Knight's Rest Retreat, in Bristow, Oklahoma. Those of you who are regular readers probably remember me mentioning projects on the Village when I helped build the Earth Oven.

      Over the next several weeks, Evelyn and I will both be posting various stuff about our Most Excellent Adventure. Some will be individual efforts, some will be joint efforts, and they will be a mishmash of things ranging from product reviews (we both tried out several new gear items) to general knowledge & advice for prepping and camping, to some of the more wild (but true!) tales of what all happened during Evelyn's month here in Oklahoma!

      Just to whet your appetites, some of the things we'll cover will include:
      • What happens when horses decide to go stomping through your tent?
      • Dealing with pregnant livestock and getting kicked by calves
      • Butchering Fowl 101
      • Puppies, and sheep, and horses, oh my!
      • Stumbling across wild bee hives
      • Old wives' remedies - bunk or beautiful relief?
      • Pygmy rattlesnakes and Evelyn's skillful shooting
      • Underfished ponds and lure-eating fish
      • Dogs that can work zippers
      • Why camp cooking doesn't have to taste nasty

      Needless to say, it was an educational and entertaining month full of both fun and surprises. Some of the surprises started before we ever left for camp, when Evelyn decided to raid my yarn stash because she decided we were going to need pot holders for the various pots and cast iron that were going as part of our combined camp kitchen! Those are the pair of potholders and the dish cloth that she completed in about an hour the night before we headed out.

      This was Evelyn's original tent, while she was still busy organizing.  Oh, the joys of figuring out where to put everything on that first day in camp!  This tent did not survive the month, thanks to one of the horses.

      Evelyn uses a tent that can be easily carried as part of a backpacking rig. It's a great size for keeping in your bug-out out gear, and easily sets up in just a few minutes. It doesn't have a lot of weight to deal with either, so it won't weigh someone down while hiking out to a location away from chaos in the event of needing to get the heck outta dodge in a SHTF.

      My tent, unfortunately, is a massive beast of a cabin tent.  It will sleep 8 comfortably, 12 in a pinch if everyone is really cozy and concerned with staying warm.  It weighs a significant amount (about 65 lbs, when you count fabric and poles) and is absolutely not suited for something like backpacking to your bug out location. It will fit comfortably on a travois though, which would help in the event of being unable to use the car to get there. My cabin tent takes much longer to set up than Evelyn's smaller one, though if you're very familiar with the set up of whatever tent you choose, that cuts down on the time spent.

      This is my tent. And my bed. That's a king-size air mattress on a queen-size expanding accordion frame.

      Just for perspective - Evelyn's tent will Comfortably fit INSIDE my tent - and still leave room to set up my bed!

      This was our camp kitchen, other than the fire pit which was off to one side. I've had this particular camp kitchen table for about 9 years now, and it has seen some serious use during that time. It's still dependable as ever and going strong, being an old model of Coleman Camp Kitchen. You can find something similar at Amazon for about the same price that I paid so long ago. Bass Pro has a slightly nicer model, but it's significantly more expensive, so unless you have extra money to throw at a camp kitchen or plan on using it a lot for a long time (like I have) it isn't necessarily the best choice available out there. Personally I'm looking to upgrade my camp kitchen to this setup, simply because I use it so frequently. However, this upgrade is much more expensive than either of the first two, being a "gourmet" model with sink included!

      This was the fire pit we used the first couple of days in camp. It is a backyard fire pit that my boyfriend and I purchased 2 years ago during Black Friday sales. It's fantastic for a little fire in the back yard, but not so great for camping! So we talked to the great folks who own Knight's Rest, and they delivered something better to our camp up in the pines: a recycled tire rim from a tractor! They use several in the main camping area for moveable fire pits, and it didn't take Evelyn and I long to figure out why!

      That's a full-size grill across the top of that bad boy! And it could take a lot more wood, of a lot larger diameter and length, than my rather limited backyard fire pit.

      That's all for now. We'll both be writing up the rest over the course of the next few weeks, so don't worry - you'll get the whole story before we're done!

      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