Thursday, November 16, 2017

Miscellaneous Updates

Since this is my 201st article on this blog, I'm going to update a few of my previous posts.

Emergency Ration Bars
I wrote a few reviews of some emergencyration bars that I found on Amazon this last summer. I recently had a reason to break a few of them out and eat them and found a few more data points:
  • Below 40°F or so, both the Quake Kare ER Bar and SOSFood Lab bars became hard as rocks. I'm not sure if it is the palm oil or some other ingredient, but I found that I had to carry them in a pocket next to my body for a while to warm them up enough to be able to bite a chuck off. 
  • Opaque packaging is good for storage (it keeps the light from breaking down certain chemicals), but bad for customer quality assurance. I got one 3-day bar that had been in the oven a bit too long and was almost burnt. It was enough to change the taste, but fortunately not bad enough to make it inedible. 
  • Part of the US Coast Guard certification for emergency rations requires that at least 25% of the rations have to be mixable with water. This is to provide a source of food for infants or someone who can't open their mouth due to injury. I ground up a “meal's” worth of one of the bars and made a gruel out of it to test. The taste was the same and while it wouldn't go through a straw, I could eat it with a spoon without problems. 

Vehicle Recovery
In part 2 of my series, I covered various chains, cables, and straps for towing a vehicle. My pickup recently decided that it needed a new starter (with no warning) while I was in a gas station, so I had to go home and get the big truck to drag the miscreant home so I could work on it.

I kept a nylon tow strap in the pickup and a good chain in the big truck. The helper who was steering my pickup while I drove the big truck managed to break both of them. I had to improvise and use a heavy tie-down strap to make it the last half mile.
  • The tow strap met its end when it went slack and the towed pickup's front tire ran over it. This has been eliminated for future towing by the purchase of a spring-loaded tow strap that will not go slack and hit the ground. I'm sure that I'll get a chance to use it some time this winter. 
  • The chain snapped when my helper stomped on the brakes. Since the big truck weighs a little more than twice what the pickup does, the pickup's brakes weren't going to stop both vehicles. This can only be prevented by further training of my helper (or finding a different helper). As I mentioned in the original article, chain is easy to repair once you have the time and tools. 

I discussed how to prevent blisters on your feet a few years ago and recommended that you learn how to treat them, but I never got around to giving the simple treatment. Fall is convention time around here and I've had to teach a few friends how to take care of blisters caused by costume shoes that don't quite fit right. 

Blisters don't just happen to your feet, either. One of my newer co-workers has limited experience with a shovel and hasn't learned that gloves are good things to wear. His first two weeks were painful, but he's starting to develop some calluses.

If you do end up getting a blister, they're not hard to take care of properly. Small blisters will heal themselves if you leave them alone, but the bigger ones will need to be drained to make walking or using your hands possible again. Here's how it's done:
  1. Leave the skin covering the blister intact. Don't tear off the loose skin, it's best to leave it there to protect the flesh underneath. 
  2. Clean the blister with soap and water. Antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer is best if you have them around. 
  3. Find a sharp needle or pin (I've used fish hooks when that's all I had) and sterilize it with hand sanitizer or alcohol. Don't use a flame unless it is your only option, you run the risk of getting soot on the needle and into the blister. 
  4. Puncture the blister in several places along the edge where the loose skin meets the good skin. If you feel pain, you're digging into the good skin. 
  5. Lightly press on the blister to squeeze out the liquid. Blot it dry with gauze or clean cloth. 
  6. Apply a layer of antibacterial ointment (if you have it) to the blister. 
  7. Cover the blister with a non-stick bandage. Change the bandage at least once a day until the flesh under the blister has hardened and dried into new skin. 
I'm hoping I can get at least another 199 articles in the next few years, just to make my total a nice even 400. That will also mean that nothing drastic has happened, and that's always a good thing to hope for.

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