Tuesday, May 31, 2016


During my “staycation” at the Bugout Location (BOL), I knew I needed to do something to control the infestation of spiders and Japanese beetles that have been a problem for several years. I chose an insecticide that I have used at work (I'm a licensed custom pesticide applicator) and was pleasantly surprised at how effective it has been.

Background on Insecticides
Like weeds and bacteria, insects are evolving resistance to the control methods we have used for years. Since very little in life is 100% effective, whenever we use a pesticide (which is a generic term that covers herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides) or antibiotic that doesn't kill everything we want dead, we are leaving survivors that will breed and pass on their resistance to that pesticide/antibiotic. To combat this inherited resistance, various groups have been studying exactly how a pesticide works on the cellular level (this is known as Mode of Action, or MoA) and recommend alternating treatments with differing MoAs to break the chain of inheritance. 

Manufacturers are starting to put the standardized MoA classification number on their labels to make it easier to pick the one you want. If you want the biology lesson necessary to understand the differences, let me know and I will put it together; for now, just recognize that each number designates a different MoA. The list of MoAs can be found here as a pdf file starting on page 5, or here as a poster.

Besides the MoA, you'll also see various abbreviations on a pesticide label that may not be obvious. A fairly comprehensive list can be found here.
  • A number after the name of the chemical indicates how many pounds of active ingredient per gallon is in the container. This is handy when mixing large batches to cover large areas. 
  • If you see “RTU” on a label it means “Ready To Use”, which is common for the stuff you will find in the hardware store (overpriced and overly diluted). 
  • The abbreviation “SC” stands for “Suspension Concentrate” which means that the active ingredients aren't soluble in water but will form a suspension. Think of the pulp in a container of orange juice, if you keep it stirred up, the pulp stays suspended in the juice but it will settle to the bottom if you let it sit. 
  • “WP” or just “W” means it is a “wettable powder”, meaning it is a powder that will dissolve in water forming a solution. These powders are often as fine as dust or talc and can be a pain to measure and mix. 
  • “WSP” stands for “water soluble packet”, meaning that the ingredients are pre-measured into a package that will dissolve in water (making it safer to handle). 
Tempo Ultra SC
This is the insecticide I picked. We use this product at work since most of our locations are located in rural areas., and beetles, roaches, spiders, millipedes, and various other pests like to move into our buildings. 

Some morons imported a Japanese beetle to eat the aphids that attack soy beans, but they have no natural predator in the USA. They stink (alive or dead) and swarm buildings in the fall. I have had to clean a solid layer of them off of the floor of my cabin every year since they imported these pests. They look something like a ladybug, but these bite. Tempo is one of the few things I've found that kills them.
  • It is labeled (a legal term) to be used in and around homes, food and feed handling facilities, schools, and hospitals. 
  • It is a Type 3 insecticide, a synthetic pyrethrin ( a class known as pyrethroids) that disrupts the insect's nervous system by blocking the mechanism that allows their muscles to relax after contracting. 
  • Special steps should be taken to keep it away from fish and other aquatic animals. 
  • Most mammals can break down small quantities naturally without harm, but cats lack an enzyme needed to break it down and are more susceptible to poisoning. 
  • It is labeled to kill over 100 common insects, so keep it away from bees and bee hives. 
When used according to the label instructions, I have seen excellent contact kill results when it is sprayed on visible insects. Wasps and hornets don't die quite as quickly as they would if sprayed with a petroleum-based insecticide, but the residual kill makes up for it. The label claims that the residue will continue to kill for up to 90 days; I've seen it keep killing for almost a year when applied to interior surfaces. I applied it to the basement in my BOL after clearing out the cobwebs (they were thick enough to clog the sprayer nozzle, so I had to clear them first). Normally the spiders would have new webs up within 24 hours of my knocking them down, but I have seen no new webs after 72 hours.

With no odor and being non-staining, this stuff is great for using in areas where people work and live. Once it dries, it is safe for pets and kids, and I can attest that it doesn't stain anything that water won't. It is a very fine powder that is carried by the water, so once the water dries it stays where it was applied for residual kill effect. Having no odor is great for those of us who can't handle many of the commercial fragrances.

When used outdoors, Tempo is good enough to take care of fire ants, ticks, fleas, boxelder bugs, and scorpions. Those are some tough bugs to kill, so it is a good choice for treating the soil around a building as well as the outside of the foundation. From what I've seen at work, ants and roaches walking over treated ground don't generally make it more than a foot or two before they stop moving.

Tempo comes in a few different forms. The prices may seem high for such small quantities, but when you look at how much each container will make, it is a lot cheaper than the stuff in the hardware store.

Tempo Ultra SC
My choice for mixing up in half-gallon or one-gallon batches for use inside. Makes up to 30 gallons of spray.

Tempo Dust

This is handy for treating cracks in stone or concrete structures, long residual action. It's applied directly and not diluted.

Tempo WP

This leaves a powdery residue, so it's better suited for use outside. It makes about 42 gallons, depending on mixing rate.

Words of Warning
Please read and follow the label instructions. Not only is it a federal offense to go “off-label”, mixing it too weak or too strong isn't going to do any good. 

Wear gloves and eye protection. A mask is also a good idea if you're going to be spraying overhead. 
With careful use,  this could be a good aid in protecting your stored food (and family members) from insects.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

The last two years we've posted my thoughts on Memorial Day. This year I thought we should have something new.

Memorial Day is set aside as a day to remember those who have died in combat, while Veterans Day is for honoring all who served. For most of the population, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and a three-day weekend. For the roughly 10% who have served in the armed forces, Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor our brothers in arms who didn't make it home alive.

The American observance of Memorial Day began after the Civil War/War Between the States. There are a few different versions of precisely when it started, but by the end of WW2 it was celebrated across the country. The federal government moved the date from May 30th to the last Monday in May with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968. Moving holidays to Mondays makes for convenient three-day-weekends.

Other countries remember their war dead on different days -- usually in November to commemorate the end of WW1, which was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history.
  • Germany has a “Peoples Mourning Day” (Volkstrauertag ) in November for those lost in all wars, with ceremonies varying by province. 
  • Britain and France use Armistice Day, November 11th, to mark the end of WW1 and remember the dead from all wars.
  • Italy marks November 4th as the day Austria-Hungary surrendered to Italy at the end of WW1, and commemorates all soldiers killed in action. 
  • Australia and New Zealand celebrate ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day on April 25th to mark the landing at Gallipoli during WW1. This marked the beginning of a national identity for both countries, formerly colonies of Great Britain.
  • Turkey uses March 18th to celebrate Martyr's Day and remember all who have died for their country. Oddly, March 18th marks the Turkish victory over Allied troops at Gallipoli during WW1.
Even though WW1 was fought almost a century ago, the impact of that war lead to WW2 and the damage from both is still being felt. The small cemetery/memorial in Germany pictured to the left was started to honor soldiers that died in WW1 and WW2.

The last interment took place in 1953. That means that they were still finding bodies in fields and ditches 8 years after the end of the war.

America has been lucky that very little war has been fought on our soil in the last century, but it also makes it harder for people to recognize the total impact of those wars, as we don't have the daily reminders of the human costs of war that exist in other parts of the world.

We also have a volunteer military now, and I feel that has led to a certain amount of separation of civilians from soldiers, as evidenced by the desecration of war memorials and graves that has been happening more frequently in recent years. Since only a small percentage of our population serves in the armed forces, there's now no reason for Americans to respect those who died in wars unless they have lost a friend or loved one.


As for me, I will be visiting local cemeteries and memorials this Memorial Day. Living in a small town, in a rural area, we still keep track of friends and neighbors that died in all of the various wars. The local Boy Scouts will have placed flags on the graves of veterans in the local cemeteries, which is something they do as a part of their public service program. 

Enjoy your weekend, but I ask that you take a minute to raise a toast to those who died for your freedom to do so.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #93 – The Weer'dy and Pony Show!

Sean and Adam tried to bring you another episode, but Weer'd and Erin returned from the NRA Annual Meeting to take over The GunBlog VarietyCast. Best Show Ever?
  • Nicki Kenyon does her last regular segment, talking about Ben Rhodes and the Iran "Deal" fiasco.
  • Our newest regular contributor, Tiffany Johnson, joins us to introduce herself and her segment, The Bridge.
  • If you want to know about the birds and the bees, you're listening to the wrong podcast. But if you want to know how pregnancy will affect your gunny life, our very own mom with a gun, Beth Reoch Alcazar is here to give you the lowdown.
  • And in his triumphant return after months of being away, Barron B explains the hidden dangers of those digital personal assistants like Siri, Echo, and "OK Google."
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:
  • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
  • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

Friday, May 27, 2016

Prepping Items I Found at NRAAM

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
For those who may not speak acronym, NRAAM stands for National Rifle Association Annual Meeting. It's called the Annual Meeting instead of a convention (even though I've called NRACon in the past) because it's more than just a convention: members are elected to the board, voting members decide the future of the organization, and during election years the NRA decided which candidate it's going to endorse.

But honestly, I avoid all of the politics because there's just so much to see and do on the convention floor. This is my third year attending, and just as in other years I was unable to experience everything that there was to offer -- even though I was there for three whole days!

If you haven't attended I heartily encourage you to do so. Admission is free if you're a paid member of the NRA, or if you have press credentials. In my case, I had both!

This post will be about items of interest to preppers. A separate post on my other blog will deal with non-prepping items, such as guns I found pretty or cool or humorous.

.22LR Reloading Kit

Every prepper has heard that .22LR is great for a bugout gun because the round is easy to find and great for subsistence hunting, but we've also heard that we need to stock up on ammunition because it's completely impossible to reload rimfire ammo outside of a commercial venture.

Well, the Sharpshooter 22LR Reloader begs to differ. For a cost of $64.95, you get everything you see in the picture to the left, including detailed instructions on how to make primer compound from match heads.

Alternately, if you'd rather use pre-made primer compound than make your own, you can buy a package good for 2,000 shots for only $19.95.

Here's an up-close look of the multi-purpose crimper and bullet mold. The crimper is nearest the hinge (center), followed by a 25 gr solid point bullet mold, and then a 38 gr round nose mold furthest from center.

All three BCP bloggers who engage in reloading (Lokidude, Chaplain Tim, and Firehand) are interested in this kit, so hopefully we will have reviews for our readers soon.

The percussion cap can be seen
just above the shadow at bottom.
My apologies for such a poor picture. 
Primer Cap Maker

Not yet for sale, but still in development, is a device for making primer caps for black powder guns. Similar to the old Tap-O-Cap system, all that is needed is the kit and flat-ish bit of aluminum from a soda can. Add your own primer (or use their primer compound, above) and you have a percussion cap.

As this item is only in pre-production, no firm price has been listed. It is however expected to be in the $45 - $55 range.

Glock 17 Carbine Conversion Kit

I expect this will cause some disagreement among our readers, who will no doubt point out that if one wants a pistol-caliber carbine there are many good products on the market like the Beretta Cx4 Storm, Kel-Tec Sub-2000 or the MechTech upper. Truth be told, all of these arguments are quite valid. However, the Glock Lock, Stock and Barrel kit has an advantage over the others: it is lighter than a carbine and easily breaks down to fit into a bugout bag. At $299, it's also cheaper than all of those options.

If you already carry a Glock 17 daily, then adding this kit to your BOB increases the versatility of your firearm. If you don't, a Glock 17 added to your bag is still smaller and lighter than a carbine.

I saw Oleg Volk taking one of these kits home; I will be quite interested in seeing what he thinks of it.

30-round AR-15 magazines for $10
That got your attention, didn't it?

It's true: these polymer magazines are made by Amend2 and normally sell for $15, but Gamaliel Shooting supply is selling them for $9.95 (plus shipping if you order online).

Now I understand that readers' initial reaction may be "What's wrong with them?"and I can't fault you for that. What I can tell you is this:
  1. One of the people at the booth competes in 3-gun competitions where a jam results in people losing. He (I've forgotten his name -- sorry!) uses these magazines hard and hasn't had a problem with them. 
  2. I went ahead and bought 3 of them, If there's a problem with them, I'll be certain to let you know. 

Finally, keeping in the spirit of "How can they sell them so cheaply", we have a laser that ought to fit any pistol with rails that only costs $99 for red and $149 for green. 

Yes, I do mean ANY pistol: I saw them mounted on a staggering variety of guns at their booth as so I believe their claim. The system works using a rail positioner placed in the pistol slot that is then adjusted with a hex wrench. 

I consider this Blue Collar for two reasons:
  1. The price. This is the cheapest I've ever seen a pistol laser. If I didn't know LaserMax's reputation for quality (yes, I'm biased; I probably can't fairly review their products any more), I'd think it was junk too. But I know these people and I know they make good products. 
  2. In an emergency or a survival situation, every round matters and shot placement is vital. A properly tuned, easy to see laser will help you put your bullets on target and help you conserve ammo. 
I have made arrangements to get one of these to our own David Blackard for testing and review. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vacation Time at the BOL

I don't normally take what most people would consider a vacation. The last time I took the family on a vacation was about 15 years ago, and that was a two-week road trip to visit more family. To me, just getting away from the normal day-to-day routine is good enough, but it always seems to come with work attached. I have gotten used to this, and I actually look forward to being able to practice skills that I don't use very often (carpentry, fence-building, tending animals, etc.) when I get the opportunity.

This year my “vacation” will consist of a week of watching the family farm (18+ acres of hills and trees with some pasture) so my Dad can go on a fishing trip. Since the family farm is my primary bugout location (BOL), this will give me a week to inspect, repair, and improve the various pieces of the property that make it a good candidate for a BOL. I will have to work my regular job a few of those days (staffing issues prevent me from taking the whole week off work) so I won't have as much time as I'd like, but I plan on making the most of the time I have.

My tentative plans include:

Check the Perimeter Fencing
Around here, the responsibility for maintaining fences follows the “right-hand rule”: as you look at a fence between your land and a neighbor's, you are responsible for the half of the fence on the right-hand side. Your neighbor is responsible for the other half, which will be on his right-hand as he looks at the same fence from his property. Clearing trees that have fallen on the fence is the biggest part of this job, with replacing the whole thing a close second. Replacing posts and patching barbed wire is a simple job, but getting to the fence can be a challenge in the rolling hills we have.

Update and Improve the Computer Network
I recently switched the farm over to a DSL line from the annoying and expensive dish internet. This saves about $60 a month, and there are no more data caps or speed issues in bad weather. I can understand using the dish internet if that is all that is available, but it has a lot of problems.

I still need to install a new wireless router and do some map work to plan for wider wi-fi coverage. My goal is to have at least minimal wi-fi available for security cameras that can cover the entire acreage. Even without internet access, once the network is set up I will be able to monitor what and who is moving around on the property.

Check and Maintain the Backup Generator
I bought a generator big enough to run one freezer, the refrigerator, and about half of the lights in the house several years ago when we had area flooding threatening the power supply. Mom was diabetic and needed a way to keep her insulin cold, so I bought her a generator. As far as I know it has only been used a few times, and I need to change the oil and make sure it has been stored properly.

Prepare the Area for Fruit Trees
There is a patch of scrub cedar trees that needs to be cleared and replaced with plum trees. Not too far from there is a spot with decent southern exposure that may be cleared for apple and cherry trees, but it is grown up with Prickly Ash saplings. Cedars are easy to cut out, but Prickly Ash is hard to kill; it likes to re-sprout if you don't kill the roots. I may have to invest in some agricultural chemicals capable of doing the job, but first I need to figure out how much space I want to clear.

Repair/reroute the Access Road to the Hilltop
There is a 2 acre flat spot on the top of the major hill, but the road or lane leading up to it is in bad shape; several years of neglect and too much rain have taken their toll on it. I own a surplus M35A2 2.5 ton truck and it can't make it up that road right now. It's time to survey a new route that will avoid the potential for rapid runoff during rainy years, and perhaps try to patch the path we already have. I'm not totally comfortable with only having one way in or out of an area, so I may do both.

Rebuild the Family Shooting Range
One of the valleys has become the family shooting range. With a 60' high hill for a backstop and about 150 yards from side to side, it is sufficient for informal weapons practice. I need to rebuild the target stands, and may lay out space for some permanent shooting benches to be built later. I also need to clean up after a few nephews who don't pick up their trash when they're done and have a talk with them about the paintball obstacles that have recently appeared.

Pest Eradication
Since the house at the farm is in the country, insects and rodents are a constant problem. The cats keep the small rodents at a manageable level, but the spiders and other bugs have gotten out of hand in the garage and (rarely used) basement. 

I have found an insecticide that will kill a wide variety of insects without the odors and hazards normally associated with bug sprays. Being FDA approved for use on food plants, and having a 90-day residual kill, makes this a good option for keeping insects out of a house.

This will be my test run for a future product review of that insecticide.  I'll see how well it works.

Have a Bonfire
One of the nights I am at the farm I will burn a brush pile that has accumulated for the last year. I may invite a friend or two over and sit around the fire drinking a few beers, or I may just sit and watch it burn by myself. 

This has been a rough year for me, losing my Mom, father-in-law, and two aunts within a month. I've also seen three acquaintances buried since Easter, and I think it may be time to sit by a fire and reflect on all of their lives. Some of us need to be around others to mourn, and some of us (like me) need to be alone.

The weatherman is calling for rain most of the week I'll be at the farm, so I guess I'll just have to see how much of my list gets accomplished. Some of it I can do from inside the house, and there are always other things to do to keep me busy if that's what I want.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Prudent Prepping: Battery Storage

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 I mentioned a little over a month ago, I ruined a flashlight by not checking it often enough and swapping out its batteries. My Esteemed Editor Erin (and others) recommended battery cases for storage and protection of both the cells and wherever the cells are stored.

After searching Amazon, I found these:

TheLovelyBird AA/AAA Battery Case/Holders

From their Amazon page:
  • Package included: 4 pcs of battery cases 
  • Convenient and intuitive to use,can combine in row 
  • Holds either 4 AA or 4 AAA rechargeable batteries 
  • Colors: Clear, Pink , Blue, Green 
  • Batteries are not included
    Here are two of the four cases I ordered, with batteries placed in them for scale. I like how the cases close, even if the seal isn't water tight.If you look close at the left side of pink case and the right side if the blue case, there are molded-in channels that are designed to interlock the cases.

    Here are the two cases locked together. I don't plan to keep cases like this, since the batteries will be placed into various bags and backpacks, but If I needed to store things in a drawer and also needed to see how many batteries I have left, this is how I'd do it!

    I wasn't sure what the cases actually looked like or how sturdy they might be, so my initial order was only four. After seeing them and loading batteries in them, I think there will be an order for at least four more very soon.

    Edited to add: I just showed my AAA battery case to a coworker who said I've loaded it wrong. The AA batteries go left to right but the AAA go up and down. He's right.

    The Takeaway

    The Good
    • Storage and inventory checks are made easier
    • Ability to keep multiple cases connected 
    The (possibly) Not So Good
    • The cases are not water or moisture proof.
      •  Storing in a water-tight baggie might be necessary. 
    • The molded hinge might wear out or break, if used repeatedly. 
    • The latch isn't very big. 
      • The possibility of banging or bumps opening the case may require a rubber band or similar to be a positive block to accidental opening
      The Recap

      Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running! 

      If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

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

      Snakes and Shudders

      Nothing beats real-world skills practice. As part of that mentality, my Boy Scouts and I went camping last weekend. There were many lessons learned about the value of practical skills, and a few new skills were learned.

      One of those teaching moments came when the boys encountered a snake. The boys did everything right by standing back and summoning an adult to identify the snake. A couple of us even got some decent pictures. 

      (On a humorous note, I think this is the first time that I've been in a group that encountered a snake and NOT been the most scared adult. Snakes and I don't get along at all.)

      The snake in question.
      The first obvious concern was whether the snake was venomous. When no one else in my group knew how to identify it, I realized just how many folks have no information on how to tell if a reptile is venomous or not. 

      With that in mind, here's a handy overview. There are only five types of poisonous reptiles native to the USA: Four are snakes, one is a lizard, and all of them are quite distinctive if you know what to look for.

      Coral Snakes
      A coral snake. Note the distinctive colors. Image from nature.com
      • The odd man out in American poisonous snakes, coral snakes have slender bodies and heads.
      • Their distinctive coloring pattern of red, yellow, and black bands is mimicked by some nonvenomous species, but remembering "Yellow, Red, Stop!" helps in identification, as only the poisonous snake has the yellow and red bands touching. 
      • Coral snakes are less aggressive than other species, with smaller fangs and a reclusive manner. 
      • Their venom is incredibly potent. A bite from a coral snake requires immediate medical attention and has a higher instance of fatality than other species. Coral snake antivenin is also in very short supply, and is no longer being produced.


      While rattlesnakes are extremely varied, they all have rattles in common.
      Image from sdsnake.com
      There are a wide range of species and subspecies of rattlesnake in the USA. Most of them are concentrated in the Southwest, but there are species ranging over much of the country. All of the species represent variances, but there are some common features to all of them:
      • They have vertical pupils, but the odds of noticing this on a live snake are slim. 
      • They have a blunt tail with bony rattles, which is the source of their name. They can shake these rattles very quickly when threatened, making a buzzing noise that sounds like nothing else. 
      • They have broad, triangular heads and thick, fat bodies. 
      • They also have sharp, pointed scales, in contrast to the smooth, sleek look of non-venomous species.

      A cottonmouth making a threat display. uga.edu
      • Also known as the water moccasin, the cottonmouth is native to the southeastern United States. 
      • It is semi-aquatic, commonly found along streams and rivers. 
      • It is a very strong swimmer, able to traverse large bodies of water. 
      • Like other vipers, it has a fat body and a broad head. 
      • They are particularly large snakes, with adults reaching and exceeding 3 feet in length, and some large examples weighing in at 10 pounds. 
      • They are very dark in color, approaching black in full-grown adults.
      • They behave more aggressively than other snakes, and will eat virtually any animal, including small alligators. 
      • Bites to humans are frequent, although not often fatal. 
      • Cottonmouth venom breaks down tissues around the bite, sometimes requiring amputation. It is  however readily treatable with antivenin.

      Image from agfc.com
      • Copperheads are the least venomous group of snakes. 
      • Their bite injects only small amounts of venom, and frequently injects none at all. 
      • They range throughout the southern and eastern US, with a preference for deciduous woodlands (areas with leafy trees). 
      • Like other venomous snakes, the copperhead has a broad, triangular head and fat body.
      • The copperhead is a master of camouflage, with a dirt-colored skin and the tendency to freeze when threatened. 
      • This habit actually leads to bites, as the snake is frequently stepped on, or startled by a nearby step.

      Gila Monsters
      • Native to the desert Southwest, the Gila Monster is the sole venomous lizard in the USA.
      • They're also the largest native lizard, with some specimens reaching two feet long and weighing five pounds. 
      • They have pebbled scales and body coloration, with bands of black alternating with orange-to-pink shades.
      • While their venom can cause pain and swelling, it occurs in such small quantities that it is not considered lethal to healthy adult humans. 
      • Gila monsters are very slow-moving and easy to avoid. 

      But What Was It?
      Our snake at camp was a common rat snake, great for rodent control and completely harmless to us. The boys got some neat pictures and a fun brush with nature, and the snake slithered off to find some chow.

      Discover Life has a great utility for snake identification in the field. Know your venomous snakes so you don't get bitten.


      Tuesday, May 24, 2016

      Gun Blog Variety Podcast #92 – Sean Survives Gun Skool

      Adam and Sean bring you Episode 92 of The GunBlog VarietyCast! 

      • Erin Palette answers Sean's questions about water storage containers;
      • Beth Reoch Alcazar tries to explain pink guns;
      • Silicon Graybeard tells you how to get started in electronics as a hobby;
      • and Weer'd finds another group of moms waging war against guns and calling it a war against gun violence.

      Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
      Listen to the podcast here.
      Read the show notes here
      Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

      And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

      Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:
      • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
      • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
      • August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
      • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
      • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
      • October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

      Friday, May 20, 2016

      Gun Blog Variety Podcast #91 – At the Safety Solutions Academy Critical Defensive Handgun class

      The day after I post "There's no podcast this week", Sean goes and posts a podcast he made at shooting class.


      He writes:
      "I spent the weekend at Southington Hunt Club training facility taking Safety Solutions Academy's Critical Defensive Handgun class with Paul Carlson. Paul, Ben Rd, and I recorded this special edition of The GunBlog VarietyCast in Southington's "Semi-Pro Shop." Great class, great time, a lot to think about. I'll be giving my thoughts on the class itself in Episode 92. (Spoiler Alert: Worth your time and money) The rest of the gang will be back next week!"

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

      Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy has offered a special discount code for listeners. Use discount code “Variety” at checkout and receive 15% off when taking the two day Critical Defensive Handgun class.

      Find their schedule here. Very highly recommended by Sean!

      Thursday, May 19, 2016

      Chemistry for Preppers: Chemical Dangers and Lab Safety

      Working with refined chemicals, or the act of refining them, can expose you to some pretty nasty substances. Staying alive and uninjured is a priority in a crisis, so you should have a basic understanding of lab safety procedures.

      There are two main types of exposure to hazardous substances:

      Acute Exposure
      Rapid or instant exposure to dangerous amounts of a substance. Having concentrated acid splash on your arm is a good example of acute exposure, and I have a nice scar to prove it. Proper protective gear will reduce or eliminate the exposure.

      Chronic Exposure
      Exposure at a lower dosage over a longer period of time. Your body can get rid of a lot of crap, but some things build up in your tissues and create problems down the road. Lead poisoning from eating paint chips is a good example of chronic exposure. Over the years, the lead builds up and takes its toll on the nervous system.

      There are four primary routes of entry or methods of exposure that can be controlled:

      • The largest organ of your body, your skin acts as a first line of defense against exposure to pretty much everything, but it will allow many chemicals to pass through into the tissues below. 
      • Cuts, scrapes, and other wounds must be covered when working around even fairly benign chemicals. Getting salt or vinegar in a cut hurts because it is doing damage to the tissue under the skin. 
      • Be careful when working with glass labware, as it tends to break at the worst time. Glass resists most chemicals and is easy to clean, so a lot of labware is fragile and prone to making very sharp edges when it breaks. 
      • Since your hands are generally going to be the closest part of your body to the chemicals, wear appropriate gloves. Latex gloves will work for most household chemicals (nitrile is better and not much more expensive), but you'll need to find something better if you're going to be playing with petroleum products. A good overview of how to select your gloves can be found here
      • Wearing a vinyl apron and shoe covers keeps the nasty off of your clothes, and prevents it from being carried to another location. 
      • Sanitation is vital. Wash your hands well after working with anything dangerous. Change clothes as soon as possible, and wash everything that came in contact with chemicals. Keep the work space clean to prevent accidental mixing of reactive chemicals.
      • You have to breathe, even when working in a lab. Keeping the dust and aerosols out of your lungs requires anything from a dust mask to full-face respirator. I covered respirators pretty thoroughly in this article
      • Working with really nasty stuff should be done under a “hood”, which is a box with only one open side and a good fan pulling air out of it. The constant flow of air in through the opening (which you work through) pulls any dust, droplets, or fumes away from you. Make sure the exhaust is vented into a safe space, away from other people.
      • Depending on the nature of the chemicals you're playing with, glasses with side shields are a minimum for safety; goggles are uncomfortable but safer, and face-shields work well to stop splatters from finding their way to your eyes. 
      • Your damp, open eyeballs have a direct connection to your brain via the optic nerve. They're also fairly delicate and easily damaged, causing horrible pain if injured. Being blind in normal society sucks -- now imagine being blind in an emergency.
      • If you're around chemicals that are hazardous in any way, it is wise to avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum. Ingesting things is what your mouth is for, but it also makes for a quick route to your blood stream. This is why nitroglycerin pills are placed under the tongue of someone having a heart attack: it gets into the bloodstream almost immediately. 
      • A bandanna around your face or a dust mask will keep unwanted things out of your mouth, while giving some protection to your lungs as well.

      Always Be Safe
      I realize that this may be overly simplified, but I want you to actually think about the basics of your own safety. 
      1. Do some research on the chemicals you're going to be playing with, especially if they are of the “highly energetic” type. 
      2. Know what you can and can't mix together to avoid extremely rapid reactions that can hurt or kill you. 
      3. Ask questions if you can't find the answers on your own. There are a lot of resources available, most of them online. 

      Wednesday, May 18, 2016

      Prudent Prepping: Voodoo Tactical Trauma Kit

      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.

      Last week, my Voodoo Tactical Trauma Kit arrived late... too late for me to unpack and look it over before deadline. This week I fix that by reviewing the contents.


      This is how the pack and the contents look, fresh out of the wrapper -- everything came in a Ziploc bag. I will be moving things into separate bags as soon as I figure what I want to keep together.

      Here are the contents, spread out for easy viewing from left to right.

      • Small antiseptic items, pain relievers and one pair of gloves. 
      • Ace-type bandage 
      • Gauze pads 
      • Two rolls tape 
      • Triangle bandage w/ safety pins 
      • Scissors 
      • Dyna-Stopper Pad with extra gauze 
      • Eye pad 
      • 4 Dermacea Abdominal Pads 

      Not shown is an included one-page instruction sheet which covers very basic First Aid

      All the pads not already in plastic packaging will be put into bags, with the entire kit possibly going into an extra-heavy duty bag that I've salvaged from my work.

      The very first additions to this kit are going to be Tylenol, Ibuprofen, a tube of triple antibiotic, butterfly band aids and single use eye wash. Everything is a name brand and easily searchable for exact replacements, when or if the time comes to resupply used items.

      From comments made to my original post to the Blue Collar Prepping Facebook page, a tourniquet is the next important bit to add here. Since I have no idea what type or style tourniquet, I need to ask for suggestions on what to buy.

      The Takeaway
      • Look for bargains and sales to score deals 

      The Recap
      • Exactly what I was looking for at an unbelievable price, with room to customize the contents! 
      • One Voodoo First Aid Trauma Kit, from Woot!: $27.11 with tax and shipping. Available for purchase on Amazon for $39.95 with free shipping. 

      Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

      If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

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

      Tuesday, May 17, 2016

      Vehicle Inventory Management

      In response to last week's post, a question was asked regarding how to manage supplies kept in a vehicle:
      Could someone possibly give their opinion on a good method to rotate their automobile supplies, that they carry as a bug out kit, sort of the 72 hour type, or what you want to call it. Things like my more extensive first aid kit, water supplies, ammo, shotgun shells, tools, cooking utensils, etc. 
      These kinds of supplies are infrequently used, so simply making them part of a regular stock rotation is an impractical solution. This means that managing these items requires a bit of special attention.

      The key to managing infrequent items is having a schedule and checking them at regular intervals. Luckily, your vehicle has several of these: You license it yearly, change oil and rotate tires 2-4 times yearly, and fuel it frequently. These intervals make wonderful points to perform checks on your vehicle and supplies.

      Fuel Stop Checks
      When you fuel your vehicle, check your oil and coolant. If you keep any spare fluids in your car, or a fuel can, check levels on those as well. These are the items you'll use the most, and the items most likely to need replacement. Any other vehicle consumables (exhaust fluid, etc.) should get checked on this interval.

      Oil Change Checks
      Depending on your vehicle manufacturer's instructions, your car will likely get its oil changed 2-4 times per year. Tires should also be rotated on a similar schedule. This preventative maintenance will save you a world of pain. 

      If you keep food in your vehicle, check it when you change your oil. The same goes for anything else with an expiration date. Mark the expiration date on each item's package, so that it is easy to quickly check. Rotate out and replace any item that is due to come up before your next oil change, and use it up if possible to prevent waste.

      Registration Checks
      Once a year (in most states, at least) you have to register your vehicle and get new tags on your license plates. This time is a great reminder to check supplies in your vehicle that may need to be replaced, but that won't go critically bad simply from age.
      • Inventory your first aid kit and replace any needed items. 
      • Check and replace the batteries on any lights or other electronics kept in your car. 
      • If you keep any spare parts in your car, make sure that they're still there and in working order. 
      • Those of us with experience in older cars often keep belts and other parts that are prone to breakage and simple to replace in the vehicle. More modern cars are far less prone to problems, but it's still a decent habit to get into. 
      • This is also a good time to make sure that any tools that should be in the vehicle are present and in proper working order.
      All of this is made even simpler if you make a list of all the supplies you want (or should have on hand) in your vehicle. List any consumables, food, tools, or other supplies, and simply work down it at the appropriate intervals. The checks themselves will likely take less than 15 minutes each, but can save you hours on the side of the road and may very well save your life.


      Monday, May 16, 2016

      Parts Cleaning (preferably without poisoning yourself)

      When I say parts cleaning, I don't just mean gun parts. I mean any parts that have old dirt, grease or oil (or that disgusting combination thereof) on them.

      Some stuff isn't bad, like oil or grease that will mostly wipe off, or dust that can be blown off. But sometimes you can wind up with something that's caked on heavily, or (especially fun) old oil that's dried on a surface, which can be a real problem to remove.

      Depending on how bad the mess is:
      • cloths (rags, paper towels)
      • brass, wood or plastic for scrapers
      • solvents

      Basic Level: Wiping
      Like is says, this is stuff you can wipe off with a cloth, maybe with a bit of CLP or something to help. Simple and easy.

      Intermediate Level: Scraping and Wiping
      Here we're talking about oil or grease that's collected a lot of fouling (dirt and other particles, often mixed with dust that blew in) and caked into a disgusting mess on the parts, or the part was dropped into. This is much worse to clean off.

      If you're cleaning metal parts, use something softer than metal, like plastic or brass, to prevent scratching the material. Those fake credit cards you sometimes get in the mail are good for this. Wood will also work, if the stuff is somewhat soft; craft sticks are good for this because you can cut or sand the end to fit, and even give it somewhat of an edge.
      Scrape as much of the crap off as you can, and wipe off the tool with rags or paper towels. If you're using a metal tool on something really stubborn, watch your hands and the angles so you don't accidentally have it slip off the crud and into your hand; considering the gunk, you really don't want it punched through your skin.

      If what's left is soft enough, you should be able to wipe the rest off the surface. If it's stubborn, you can wipe it down with a generous amount of CLP and let it sit a while, then wipe it off.

      Or you can go to...

      Advanced Level: Solvents


      Some solvents are flammable, and quite a few are some level of toxic, which means you must use them in a place with good ventilation, or outdoors, and wear gloves and anything else you think necessary.

      Most of these are wonderful at removing stuff, but be careful: in addition to being toxic, some can cause chemical burns to your skin, and they'll remove the oils from your skin just as quickly as they will from the surface of metal. With these, use them either straight, or diluted as directed on the container, and rinse thoroughly when finished, then dry and oil. Be aware that some can damage some finishes, so if you've got some super-duper stuff, try it on a generally out-of-sight spot first.

      The two most commonly-used solvents both work very well, and both will mess you up.
      • Use low-odor mineral spirits outside if you can, and remember the gloves. It works wonderfully to dissolve the crap that builds up, and when done you can either filter the crud out, or let it settle to the bottom, and pour it back in the bottle to use again.
      • Brake cleaner* (also known as carburetor cleaner) also works well. If you do much of this it'll cost more than the mineral spirits, but it has the advantage of coming in a can with a tube that'll let you spray it into tight quarters to flush things out.  This stuff is also good if you've cleaned a part, and you want to flush off any traces of oil before using, say, cold blue on the part. Again, have good ventilation and use gloves.
      Both of these are highly flammable, and you don't want any kind of open flame or other ignition source around them, especially when you're spraying brake cleaner.

      Something that's often overlooked that can do a pretty good job is dish soap and hot water, especially for a final stage before putting on some kind of finish.
      • Wear gloves to  keep it off your hands and to keep your skin oils off the metal. 
      • Wash and scrub, rinse with hot water, and dry. 
      •  With carbon steel, remember to either oil it immediately or do the finishing, as carbon steel will start rusting fast after this.
      Finally, there are commercial degreasers: either like this, often can be found at dollar stores or Wal-Mart), or this.

      Nasty Level: Dried-on Crud
      I once helped a friend clean her father's old deer rifle, which had been in storage for years. It was a lovely old Marlin lever-action, and you couldn't open the action. No sign of rust; it was just stuck. I worked some stuff in and kept tugging on the lever, and it finally moved a bit, then stuck. Eventually I got the lever and bolt to move, and when I got the thing apart there was not a trace of rust -- but the oil he'd last used on it had dried, hard, and glued the bolt in place. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.
      With something like this, you have to get it as far apart as you can, and then soak it. Anything will do, but I generally go with mineral spirits in a container (with a lid) big enough to submerge the parts.
      1. Put them in, cover them with solvent, put the lid on and leave it at least a couple of hours. 
      2. Take a stiff brush -- copper or brass works well on steel -- put on your gloves, and scrub and scrape as called for on the parts. 
      3. Get off what you can, then back into the solvent for another few hours.
      4. Depending on how hard it's dried, it may take a good while, especially out of any pin holes and other such areas. 
      5. When I finally get them clean, I like to flush them off with brake cleaner to blow the last of the stuff off, then let them dry, then oil. 
      6. Oiling is important: this isn't water and soap, but you're stripping everything off the steel, and it WILL start rusting in short order.
      This will generally clean anything you're likely to run across, and doesn't require overly-hazardous chemicals or a chemical suit to protect yourself (although a suitable respirator will be a good idea with some if you do it indoors, or for general safety).

      One other thing I'll mention: I haven't used it for this purpose, but you can make a really good penetrating oil by mixing mineral spirits and automatic transmission fluid 50/50; I suspect it'd work pretty well at soaking off dried crud as well. The warnings about skin/breathing protection hold true.

      * I wait until someplace like Advance Auto Parts has a "buy one, get one free sale"; you get a much better price that way. 

      There's no Gun Blog Variety Podcast this week

      If you'd like to know why, check out my personal blog for details.

      The GBVC will return next week.

      Friday, May 13, 2016

      Our New, More Professional Look

      Not actually Erin.
      & is used with permission.
      On behalf of all of us here at Blue Collar Prepping, I'd like to personally think Timothy Callahan for all his hard work in giving our little blog an impressive header and logo. He even went the extra mile to create graphics compatible with business cards and email signature panels.

      If you'd like Mr. Callahan to design something for you (he's also the gent who designed the GunBlog VarietyCast logo), you may contact him at Timothy AT CallahanCustom DOT com. He doesn't have an online storefront -- yet -- but if you email him I'm certain he'll be happy to quote you a price.

      I've spent a good chunk of this week designing a business card in preparation for the NRA Annual Meeting next month, as well as setting up a domain-level email address. This took far longer than I thought it would (apparently people have very strong feelings about font size, serf vs. sans serif, and amount of white space shown), but it's all finally finished and now I can show you the result:
      I think that's rather elegant.
      If you're going to be at NRAAM in Lousiville, KY this year, let me know and I'll try to meet up with you... or just stalk the Media Room, I'm there an awful lot.

      Out of curiosity, would folks be interested in buying Blue Collar Prepping branded apparel? It would be rather easy to set up a Cafe Press storefront.

      Oh, and for those folks who are wondering why our logo looks so familiar, that's because it's based upon a familiar face:

      Yes, that's our very own Evelyn Hively, serving as the model for our logo.

      My apologies for not having more content today; between recovering from illness and getting ready for the NRA convention, I haven't had much time for anything else. Still, this is blog related, and I think it's pretty neat regardless.

      Thursday, May 12, 2016

      Practice, Practice, Practice

      Skills take time to learn, and if you don't keep using them they can deteriorate over time. Building a fire, pitching a tent, cooking over an open fire, accurately using any weapon, and first aid all come to mind when thinking about prepping, and they're all skills that need to be practiced.

      How does a prepper get needed practice without attracting unwanted attention? Good Operational Security (OPSEC) means not letting the neighbors know what you have and can do, which minimizes the problem of how to deal with the unprepared people who may want your stuff when TSHTF.

      Primitive camping and traveling through natural areas are often a part of a prepper's list of skills. Getting a chance to use those skills can be a challenge if you live in an urban area; most HOAs frown upon people building a debris hut in their backyard. Day trips to local/state/federal parks can offer a chance to practice hiking (as well as help you test and break in new gear) and overnight stays are possible in some of them. Follow the rules as best you can: no open fires if they're not allowed, pack out your trash, etc. Living out of your Bug-out Bag for a day will show you flaws and shortcomings in your choices of gear, as well as let you get used to using the stuff that works. Remember to clean and restock your gear when you get back home (I usually watch the expiration dates on things and use the oldest stuff for practice).

      If you're getting off the beaten path, you can practice map and compass or GPS skills. Geocaching groups are another way to get in some practice with land navigation skills.

      First Aid
      You need to get proper training and supplies, but once you have them you also need to practice using them. I volunteer as medical aide at just about any gathering I attend; my trauma bag is about the size of a day pack and travels with me in my truck, so I usually have it close anyway. I can toss it under the table at a convention or keep it in a back room at a temporary job. When I was a Cub Scout leader, it went with me to every meeting and campout.

      Most of the things I deal with are the minor injuries that occur in everyday life, but I have rendered aid at a couple of serious accidents. Know your limits and offer to help; you'd be amazed at the reception you'll get from an event organizer for offering to be an extra part of the medical aid staff (which is always short-handed).

      Firearms are fairly simple to practice with: you'll need to find a range or site that will let you shoot, which can be a problem in gun-unfriendly areas. If you're using a public range, try to pick a time when it is less likely to be full of people. Most gunnies are good people, but there are plenty of law enforcement types that use public ranges and will take note of who is there and what they're shooting. I prefer to limit myself to three or four guns max if I'm at a public range, partly out of paranoia and partly out of a desire to focus on those specific guns.

      If you live in an area devoid of shooting ranges, or the local laws are so prohibitive that you don't want to be seen (or caught) with a gun in public, you may want to look into air-powered guns. From the lowly BB gun to the high-end Airsoft replicas of common firearms, you can safely set up your own shooting range in a basement or hallway. Sight picture and trigger control are essential to accuracy, and practice with an air-powered gun will transfer to the real thing. Recoil and noise are missing, but you'll get to practice something useful. Simunitions and similar sub-caliber training aids are available if you have the money for them.

      Edged weapons are a bit trickier to practice with: unless you are involved with a martial arts groups that trains with swords and knives, the only way to get useful practice is by joining a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) or SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) group. Both of these groups deal with re-enacting or re-creating a period of time from the past, with as much detail as possible. Mock battles are often staged and are about the only way I can think of to get close to “live fire” practice with blades. SCA groups are also a good way to learn new skills from those who have been doing it for a long time.

      Power Outages
      This is the easiest to practice: just shut everything off for a weekend. If you live in your own house, find the fuse/breaker box and pull/trip the main one (usually located at the top of the box). For apartment dwellers, you'll have to go through and turn everything off individually if you don't have a fuse/breaker box. It's usually a good idea to warn everyone in the house before killing the power, but that's up to you.

      If you plan on using a generator for electricity, this will give you a chance to experience how much fuel it will consume under load (usually a lot more than just idling when you fire it up for the monthly check) and may help you further refine your plans.

      Practice Makes Permanent
      Contrary to the old adage, practice does not make perfect; instead, practice makes permanent. If you learn and practice something poorly (or wrong), that is the way you will use that skill when you need it. Practice your skills where and when you have back-up resources. If the generator won't run all night, or the tent isn't fully rain-proofed, it's nice to find these things out in a situation where you can abort the practice run and go back to “normal” conditions.

      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.