Sunday, May 16, 2021

Prepping for Blog Deletion

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

 Some of you may have noticed that this past Friday, certain posts on select blogs were deleted. Those of us who run the affected blogs definitely did, as we received an email from Blogger stating the following:

Hello,

As you may know, our Community Guidelines (https://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy) describe the boundaries for what we allow-- and don't allow-- on Blogger. Your post titled "What a Crock" was flagged to us for review. We have determined that it violates our guidelines and deleted the post, previously at

Why was your blog post deleted?
     Your content has violated our Malware and Viruses policy. Please visit our Community Guidelines page linked in this email to learn more.

     We encourage you to review the full content of your blog posts to make sure they are in line with our standards as additional violations could result in termination of your blog.

     For more information, please review the following resources:

Blogger Community Guidelines:
https://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy
Sincerely,

The Blogger Team
This is of course pure garbage, as the three offending posts were:
  • Not All Files Are Created Equal, a treatise on the different types of hand tool files and their purposes;
  • What a Crock, a post on the history and use of crock pots;
  • and Basic Electrical Math, which is self-explanatory. This last post is notable because of the two links it contains, both of them refer to previous posts in Blue Collar Prepping. 

What I found most egregious about this whole situation is that not only was there no way to appeal this decision (the emails originated from no-reply@google.com, which indicates that replies will not be seen), but because the posts had been deleted there was also no way for me to look at the posts and see for myself if there was anything in them which violated Blogger's terms of service. 

Well, not entirely true; there are ways, but none of them are obvious, which is why I'll share them with you now. 

Recovering Deleted Posts
The first is to go to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive and enter the URL of the deleted pages. This is the easiest solution, but it requires the page to have been archived previously and unfortunately that is not something done automatically; rather, someone must submit the URL to be archived before the Wayback Machine saves a copy of it. Further, and more annoying, is that fact that you cannot save an entire site like our blog with one key press; we have to save each and every page individually. With over seven years of material, this is a daunting prospect. If you would like to help us, please go here to read how to save a page and then submit the URLs of your favorite posts for archiving. Thank you!

Your second option is to find a cached version of your posts. There's no guarantee of this, but you might get lucky. In fact, I was surprised to discover that Google kept a cache of these pages after deleting them for suspicion of harboring malware and viruses, but nevertheless they were there. 

To find a cached article, do the following:
  1. Search for the article in question. In my case, "blue collar prepping basic electrical math". 
  2. If you're lucky, your search engine of choice will find it. Some might have the word "cached" near the result; Google has three dots in a column. Click on those, then click on the button marked Cached in the pop-up. 


  3. You will be taken to a cached version of the article, which you should right-click on and save. I did exactly this in preparation for reconstructing the missing articles. 
Backing Up Your Blog
After I'd done this I decided to save the blog in its entirety in case Blogger decided to delete more. While I cannot detail the steps for doing this with every platform, for Blogger the process is:
  1. Log into Blogger.
  2. Select "Settings" from the left sidebar.
  3. Scroll down until you see "Back up content". Click on that. 


  4. You will see a pop-up asking for confirmation. Click on "Download" to download your blog, including posts, pages, and comments, in an XML file. 
  5. If you have non-YouTube videos embedded in your blog, you may need to download them separately. If so, click on the blue "Videos from your blog" link immediately under "Back up content". 
Congratulations, you have now made it easier to restore your blog if posts or the whole thing are deleted. 

Reinstated
Fortunately for us, Blogger emailed us yesterday with the following messages:
Hello,

We have re-evaluated the post titled "Basic Electrical Math" against Community Guidelines https://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy. Upon review, the post has been reinstated. You may access the post at http://bluecollarprepping.blogspot.com/2021/03/basic-electrical-math.html.

Sincerely,

The Blogger Team
However, this isn't quite true. Clicking on the link did not take me to the post; instead, all I saw was a message telling me that no such page existed. 

Instead, what I had to do was go back to Blogger, click on "Posts" in the left column, and search for them by name. When I did this I saw that the posts had been reverted to draft and needed to be re-published, which I have since done. If your posts were deleted then reinstated, you'll likely have to re-publish them yourself. 

Clarification
To be clear, we are not planning on deleting this blog. We are preparing against unwanted deletion, not making preparations to delete it ourselves. 

However, it may be time to look elsewhere for a home. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Random Knotty-ness

Before there was paracord, the prepper's cordage of choice, there was something even more versatile and a lot easier to find in rural areas: baling twine and wire. These have been staples of farm ingenuity for a long time, and so their uses are impossible to fully list.

Way back in the olden days (pre-1980), farmers had been storing hay for their livestock in “small”  rectangular bales for decades. After the hay is cut and allowed to dry, it is picked up by a baling machine that compacts it into a rectangle (about 14” high, 18” wide, and of various lengths  between 30-60”, determined by the farmer running the baler) and ties it together with either wire or twine. 

Since farmers need to feed their animals every day during the winter months, they were constantly opening up bales that had been put up in storage during the summer. Opening bales leaves two lengths of twine or wire per bale, and it starts to pile up by mid-January. Perfect for quick repairs and fastening loose things, frugal farmers never discarded it. Luckily, you don't have to live on a farm to find it.

Types of Baling

Baling wire is soft steel wire, normally around 14 gauge (Ga) diameter, ungalvanized and sold in rolls of roughly a mile in length. Here's one that's 14.5 Ga and 6,500 ft long. $80 for 100 pounds of steel wire isn't a bad price, and they do deliver. 

Personally, I hate wire-tied bales. The wire is small enough in diameter that it cuts into your hands when you pick up the bales, requiring the use of gloves, and the ungalvanized wire also rusts if left in contact with the ground. Picking up the bottom layer of a stack was always a challenge, as I never knew many would burst as I lifted them.

Baling twine comes in a few forms and several sizes. The natural fibers, jute and sisal mainly, are biodegradable and easiest on the hands. They also have a high tensile strength and tend to hold knots better than synthetic fibers. Tractor Supply Co. is a national chain of farm supply stores, and they sell a sisal fiber twine with a 350 pound tensile strength in a “bale” of two rolls having a total length of 9000 feet for about $50.

The plastic fibers are better for long-term storage and are more pest-resistant. Going back to Tractor Supply Co., you can see there are several “weights” to choose from. The lighter twine, the ones with tensile strength around 100 pounds, are for straw and grass bales that don't weight more than 40 pounds. The heavy twines with tensile strengths over 200 pounds are for holding the larger round bales together.

Rolls vs. Reels

You may have noticed I used the term “roll” of twine or wire and not “reel”. A reel of anything comes wound around a core of some sort, while a roll doesn't have a core. Reels feed from the outside and the loose end is always on the outer edge, away from the center, while rolls feed from the inside. Reels have to turn as you draw the cordage off of it, rolls don't move. 

The reasons for using rolls instead of reels have to do with how the baling machines operate, but it makes using and storing them anywhere other than a baler a bit of a challenge. As you use up the roll you are pulling the twine from the center and making the whole thing weaker. By the time you get about half way through the roll, it's not strong enough to move without the roll collapsing. Wire is almost as bad, with the added issue of rusting from the outside and being two or three times as heavy. That's messy and wasteful, so here's the trick to avoiding that problem.

  1. Find a clean 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Tractors and large equipment use oil and fluids by the gallon, so 5-gallon buckets are common. If you're working with wire, a little leftover oil or hydraulic fluid won't hurt and may help prevent rust. Check any local restaurant for empty buckets if you're on a budget; otherwise most of the big-box home supply stores sell them.
  2. Remove the lid and place the roll in the bucket. Don't remove the wrapper if there is one, just drop it into the bucket.
  3. Cut or punch a small hole in the center of the lid using a sharp knife or screwdriver. The hole should be no bigger than the twine or only slightly bigger than the wire you're using.
  4. Find the loose end of the twine or wire in the center of the roll and feed it through the hole on the bottom of the lid. Tie a knot or twist the wire to keep it from falling out of the hole.
  5. Replace the lid on the bucket and secure it. Most lids have tabs that will lock onto the bucket.
  6. If your bucket has a handle, tie or twist the cordage around the handle so it doesn't fall back into the bucket. I also like to tie a utility knife or wire cutter to the handle so there's always one available.

You can use smaller variants of the bucket trick to keep thread and other small lines neater and clean. Any container that the roll, reel, or spool will fit into with a small hole to feed it through makes a world of difference.


Baling wire and duct tape have kept more farm machinery operating than you can imagine. It's always handy to have twine around for quick binding jobs, and buying a roll that's over a mile long will last you years.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Prudent Prepping: Quick Hits

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

This is going to be a bit short, due to Life and Obligations taking up my extra time. 

Tourniquet Information, part The Latest
In last week's tourniquet post I neglected to mention or link to a video showing one way to set up a CAT tourniquet for quick deployment. Our Esteemed Editrix very thoughtfully took the opportunity to post a link to one of those YouTube videos. When I said I completely forgot to add that link, she mentioned "Something something snoozing something." What a pal! 

(Editrix's Note: What I said was "You snozt, therefore you lost.")

Another item I didn't mention is the nifty TQ carrier I ordered along with the two CATs from North American Rescue.

C-A-T Holder

www.narescue.com/c-a-t-holder.html
From the NAR webpage:

The C-A-T® Holder was specifically designed to allow personnel to place their C-A-T® Tourniquet on their vest or gear for rapid and easy access. It is made of 1000D IR Signature Reduced Nylon with MOLLE/PALS-style connectors. The C-A-T® Holder protects your tourniquet from the elements and has an easy-open elastic pull tab.

NOTE: Accommodates both Gen 6 and Gen 7 C-A-T® Tourniquets (not included)


Specifications:
  • Tailored specifically for your C-A-T®, to protect it from exposure to the elements
  • PALS/MOLLE-style connectors for versatile attachment to the duty vest, gear or belt (mounted horizontally or vertically) for rapid & easy access
  • 1000D IR Signature Reduced Nylon
  • Easy-open pull elastic tab with tourniquet ID patch – “TQ”
  • NATO stock numbers available for COY and ODG. Contact Customer Service for details.
  • NOTE: Accommodates both Gen 6 and Gen 7 C-A-T® Tourniquets (not included)

Dimensions:

With the very sturdy straps on the back, you will not have a problem mounting this anywhere! I've not decided at the moment where this holder is going to stay, but I do believe there will be several more coming to me very soon.

As others have mentioned, I'm getting away from all-black items, especially those things that may be stored inside my various bags, and a red TQ holder fits that requirement perfectly. There are several other colors besides red and black but, mostly camouflage and military rucksack colors, but no purple, so I may have a hard time 'selling' the carrying of a TQ to the Purple Pack Lady.
 
Wish me luck!
 
Recap And Takeaway
  • One North American Rescue CAT TQ Holder ordered directly from NAR: $19.99
  • Nothing was ordered last week, but reviews for several items are pending... pending me finding time to actually write something.
* * *

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.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bullet Casting 102: Rendering

Now that we have our raw materials, we can’t just melt it and start casting bullets; our lead supply contains many impurities we need to clean out first. While some people refer to this step as smelting, it’s more properly termed rendering.

Safety
Before we go any further, I need to talk about safety. We’re dealing with molten metal at over 700 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause terrible burns and permanent injury if we’re not careful. In addition, some of the gasses this process emits are not healthy either. I shouldn’t have to say this, but this process should be done outside in dry weather.

My recommendations for protective gear are as follows:
  • Heavy shoes, preferably leather
  • Heavy cotton clothing (don’t wear synthetics, they melt)
  • Heavy leather heat-resistant gloves (welding gloves work well)
  • Full face shield
  • Hat which will fit under the face shield
  • Leather or heavy cotton canvas apron
  • Respirator
One other safety item: Do not, under any circumstances, allow any liquid to get into the melt! When water converts from liquid to steam, it increases in volume 1,600 times, and this reaction can empty a twenty pound pot of lead in an instant. In the hobby, we call this "Getting a visit from the Tinsel Fairy."

While we make light of it with this name, it’s no laughing matter.  Simple precautions, such as putting the metal in the pot before heating to evaporate any water, making sure scrap metal doesn’t have any closed chambers, and keeping a heavy cover on the pot during the melt can reduce this risk and protect our delicate skin, eyes, and lungs from molten metal and unpleasant gasses.

Equipment
Depending on the amount of casting we’re planning to do, the equipment needed can be fairly minimal. To get started, all you need are:
  • Propane or white gas camp stove
  • Small cast iron pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ladle
  • Ingot molds
For those who go on to casting in larger quantities, a table with a propane weed burner for heat and a cut-down propane tank for a pot can work quite well.

The author's original and upgraded rendering setups

Much of this equipment can be sourced from thrift shops and yard sales. For ingot molds we can use muffin tins, so long as they’re steel or cast iron. Avoid aluminum, as the lead can melt its way through with disastrous results. There are of course purpose-made ingot molds, but they’re generally more expensive.

A yard sale ingot mold.
The author uses this one for pewter.


Process

The first step involves melting the lead to a liquid state. This usually occurs between 700 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the alloy. A high temperature thermometer is useful here.

At this point, we need to get our alloy casting clean. Remove any dirt or debris such as wheel weight clips, range dirt, and bullet jackets. This one’s easy, as all these things are lighter than molten lead and float to the top to be skimmed off with our slotted spoon. 

Then we need to make sure any oxidized lead on the surface is reduced back into the alloy. Some people use a small amount of candle wax for this, but let’s wait on that.

Next is fluxing which removes any dissolved metals we don’t want (aluminum, cadmium, etc) while retaining the tin, antimony, copper, silver, etc. that’s in there. According to some researchers, one of the best materials which can perform all these actions is good old sawdust. Avoid sawdust made from pressure treated lumber or plywood, as it has some nasty chemicals we don’t want.A layer of sawdust sprinkled on top of the molten alloy, allowed to char, stirred through and then skimmed off, can result in nice, clean, well balanced, alloy.  

Once we’ve done this once or twice, we can ladle the molten lead into our ingot molds. Eventually, we should have a nice collection of lead alloy appropriate for bullet casting and formed into ingots.

A batch of pewter ingots, fresh from the mold. 

I’ll go over bullet casting equipment and the casting process in a future article. In the meantime, browse the
Cast Boolits online forum
for more information.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Staging a CAT Tourniquet

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
David talked about the importance of having an authentic CAT tourniquet. I have a follow-up to that post, and it's one of the laziest posts I've made in that it's just a video, but the topic of that video is of utmost importance: Is your CAT tourniquet staged properly? 

If it isn't, you could lose valuable seconds when deploying it which might mean the difference between life and death. Take the time now to ensure it's ready to go. 



Friday, May 7, 2021

The Chlorine Shortage

Clean water is essential for life. Chlorine is one of the easiest and most common ways to disinfect (kill microbes) water, and has been covered several times here and on other blogs. I even showed the basics for making your own chlorine bleach, and there is a post in the archives about a solar-powered bleach producer.

Chlorine is a basic industrial chemical, used in a lot of processes, but a majority of it (~60%) is made in two plants. One of those plants burned last year, and the other was recently flooded. This has put pressure on the market; as supply goes down, prices go up. Add in the quarantine-based surge in home swimming pool construction and you can add increased demand to further raise prices. 

What does this mean for a prepper? 

  • Since most municipal water plants use Chlorine gas as a final disinfectant for the water they supply, we can expect higher costs for our drinking water.
  • Some places may try to get by using less Chlorine, which raises the potential for bacteria in our water.
  • Household bleach prices will rise and availability will drop.
  • Swimming pool bleach will follow household bleach.
  • Suppliers may switch to imported Chlorine, which raises costs and means more transportation. 

Chlorine is a gas at normal temperature and pressure, and is shipped as a liquid under pressure. Pure Chlorine stores well, but once converted to household bleach it has a shelf-life measured in months. (Pool bleach lasts longer, but is chemically different.) Stockpiling bleach is a waste of money, so if you're counting on using it for water purification you need to either make your own or investigate other methods. Erin has written about Potassium Permanganate as an alternative method of water purification (it has other uses, too) so give that some thought.

Some other things to consider:
  • Conserve water if you're on a municipal system. Reducing the demand will ensure they can treat what they are pumping.
  • Have a backup water purification system on hand. If your city declares their water unsafe, they will usually enact a "Boil Order", so keep an eye on the local news. Use the search box and look for Reverse Osmosis for my recommendation.
  • If you have a swimming pool (a great way to store lots of water), check with local suppliers for a season's supply of chemicals. Look into alternative methods, which is outside my realm of experience.
  • Keep a supply of drinking water on hand. Having been through a few floods and other disasters, you won't get much warning before they shut down the water supply.

We live in a connected world where a failure at one location will have ripple effects that can affect you and yours. Do what you can to avoid the worst of the problems.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Prudent Prepping: TQ, or Not TQ

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

I carry at least one tourniquet in various bags and first aid kits, and with a second set of bags to fill, I ordered two more CAT tourniquets directly from North American Rescue after having previously bought them through Amazon, which resulted in some discussion among BCP authors and others about whether or not I was getting the 'Real Deal' when buying from Amazon sellers. 

So I looked up one of my earlier Amazon purchases and found a YouTube video in the post discussing how to detect a counterfeit North American Rescue CAT goods. I recommend watching the video if you have ANY doubts of the authenticity of your tourniquets. I'll wait.

 

You're back? Good, because I needed to watch the video again myself, just as a refresher on to how a phony looks compared to the real thing. It appears to my amateur eye that my tourniquet bought back in 2018 is a genuine NAR CAT when compared to the two purchased directly from North American Rescue a bit over one month ago. Take a look:

North American Rescue CAT


The top is my 2018 purchase and the bottom is my latest buy. The things specifically mentioned in the video linked above are:

1. Printed information on the band. You can see the labels on both and the serial/batch/mfg run are easy to read, plus there is a very big difference shown between the two.

2. The red tip and how it is attached to the black band. Both are deeply bonded into each other and match.

3. The printed TIME on the hold down strap. Check.

4. Embossed printing on the black plastic panel, which I can't seem to get a good shot of with my phone. Also a check.

So, while there certainly are counterfeit North American Rescue CAT's out there, at least the two different samples I can get my hands on appear to be genuine. 

One last thing I want to mention is North American Rescue's 25% discount on Community Preparedness supplies!  May is Stop The Bleed month and everything the average person might need is on sale.

Recap and Takeaway
  • Two CAT tourniquets purchased directly from North American Rescue, $29.99. 
  • While that is more than what you can find them selling for on Amazon, with NAR having a big sale all May the discounts bring everything in line with online prices.
  • I'm still behind my self-imposed posting schedule and hope to catch up and possibly get ahead in case I have more excitement in my daily grind.

* * *

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 4, 2021

Bullet Casting 101: Alloys

Back in 2015, Ray Davies wrote an excellent guest post on the basics of bullet casting. Since it’s been a while, I’d like to review this topic and go into more detail. 

While detail-oriented, bullet casting isn’t especially complicated, or at least doesn’t have to be. As with reloading, casting bullets may not save us money, but it should allow us to shoot more for the same amount of money spent.
 
Bullet Alloys
Bullets are one of the consumables in ammunition reloading, and are possibly the most expensive after the brass cartridge casing. They are generally made up of either a lead core surrounded by a copper alloy jacket, or unjacketed lead alloy. 

Unless we’re shooting a black powder firearm, we really don’t want pure lead; it’s too soft and at even moderate handgun velocities, the bullets will smear and deposit a coating of lead inside the barrel. The best alloy for bullets is mostly lead with small amounts of tin and antimony added. Arsenic, copper, and silver have also been used in bullet alloys, but tin and antimony are the most common.

The addition of Tin (atomic symbol Sn), between two and five percent, aids primarily in reducing surface tension which improves mold fill-out as the molten metal will more closely follow the contours inside the mold. Antimony (atomic symbol Sb) added in the range of three to six percent is used to improve the hardness of the alloy, which aids in creation of bullets that retain their structural integrity when fired down a barrel.

Wheel Weights
One of the best starting alloys is clip-on lead wheel weights that used to be found in every tire shop and garage in the country. Sadly, many states have banned the use of lead wheel weights and most are now steel or zinc.

Important Note: 
Lead and zinc do not get along! 
Even small amounts of zinc can contaminate the mix, rendering it unusable. 

A box of clean wheel weights.

An easy test is to scratch the weights with a pair of side cutters. If they leave a nice mark with little effort, it’s lead; if they barely scratch the surface, it’s probably zinc or steel. Put them aside, and you might be able to bring them to your local scrap yard.

Clip-on lead wheel weights already have about half a percent of tin and around three percent antimony in their makeup. These can be used as-is in low pressure, low velocity handgun loads such as .45 ACP; however, fill-out and bullet hardness may be less than desired.

More Sources
An excellent source of tin and antimony is pewter -- real pewter, not food-safe pewter found in restaurant supply houses. Pewter is mostly tin with some antimony, and adding a small amount of pewter to lead can greatly improve both fill-out and bullet hardness.

Pewter: a good yard sale find
Another good source of bullet lead is found in range backstops, so ask range management about the possibility of scavenging some lead from the backstop. Many ranges have contracts where the backstop is cleaned every so often; if your range does this, see about getting in touch with the lead removal company. A couple of five gallon buckets of range lead can go a long way.

Important safety note:
Do not ever use lead plates from old car batteries! They can release fatally toxic gasses when melted. Avoid them at all costs.

There are other sources of bullet lead, but I think you get the idea.

References
There are many commercial sources for reloading both jacketed and unjacketed bullets, but one of the best references on bullet casting can be found in Glen Fryxell’s free online book From Ingot to Target (a pdf version may be found here), with second place going to the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook.

Finally, here’s a downloadable lead alloy calculator which allows you to calculate how much of what metals to add to your alloy for a particular bullet hardness, called the Brinell Scale. It’s a spreadsheet and can be opened in Excel or OpenOffice.

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Millbank Bag

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Have you heard of a Millbank Bag? I certainly hadn't until last week; I believe they're more prevalent in the UK than over here, as they were originally  developed at the Royal Army Medical College in Millbank, London

The principle behind it ought to be familiar, however: it is simply a tapered canvas bag which, when properly soaked, serves as a prefilter to remove sediment and other particles from your water before you filter or boil it. This also serves to increase the lifespan of your filter. 

To use it:
  1. Soak the bag in water to cause the canvas fibers to swell. 
  2. Fill the bag with water.
  3. Hang the bag using the attached cord. 
  4. Wait until the water is running clear.
  5. Place a bottle, pan, or other water collection device underneath. 
  6. Filter, boil, or chemically sterilize the collected water. 

When you're not using the bag as a prefilter, you can use it to carry items. 

You can purchase a 5 liter/1.3 gallon Millbank Bag made in the USA for $32.25 ($26.50 for the bag, plus $5.75 shipping) at Millbankbagsusa.com

Here's a Millbank Bag being used by Dave Canterbury. 


A Millbank Bag is a lightweight, multipurpose item which deserves a spot in every prepper's Bug Out Bag. 

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Doxxing Prep

Doxxing, or "dropping docs", is a fairly new threat, which started to become common in the 1990s and has evolved into an everyday occurrence today. Put simply, doxxing is digging up and releasing private information on a person as a form of threat, punishment, or revenge. 

We all have skeletons in our closets. Nobody is perfect; mistakes and poor judgement is part of being human. If you do or say something that offends another person, which is almost a given in today's cultural climate, you run the risk of having your personal information published. Blackmail is another popular option, something usually reserved for those with money or public opinion to lose. Revenge is as old as history and has countless causes. 

Be Prepared for Doxxing
 you have to take stock of your skeletons and decide if they are big enough to have a serious impact on your life if they are paraded in public. This is becoming more difficult because the perpetually offended are digging deeper and searching for anything that their target may have done at any point in their life. The causes of offence are also morphing into some truly bizarre stretches of reality; things that were innocuous 40 years ago are enough to ruin a career today. Certain words and activities are now "forbidden" even though they were in common use in recent history. 

Make the Doxxer's Job Harder

  • Watch what you post on the internet, because it's extremely difficult to delete anything once published online.
  • Modify what you share publicly and privately. Your friends are less likely to share personal information than a random person in your neighborhood group or page. 
  • Choose your social media with care. Research their security and privacy policies. Remember that if you're not paying for a service, you're not the customer; rather, you're the product being sold. Ad revenue pays for most social media, so personal information is what they gather.
  • Stop doing stupid things. This is to reduce future exposure, but some people think they're special and can get away with things. Unless they're major politicians, it doesn't work that way

What If You're Targeted?

If you become the target of doxxing, your options are limited.

  • Fight back. Doxxing the doxxer is a valid reaction, but they can be hard to track down. They also are likely to have less to lose, so it may not have much effect.
  • If the doxxer is a public figure, get a lawyer involved. You won't be able to delete anything they said or printed, but you might be able to hurt them enough financially that they stop.
  • Ignore it. If a perpetually offended idiot digs up a speeding ticket you got 20 years ago and tries to make it a hanging offence, smile and go about your life.
  • Ridicule can work if the doxxer has a sense of shame. This is becoming more rare since society is moving towards an "anything goes" mentality; a society where there are no sins will have no sense of shame. 

It's up to you to decide if doxxing is a serious threat to you. Our circumstances are all different, so take some time for self-reflection.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Prudent Prepping: Take Care

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

It has been an interesting two weeks. As the Chinese proverb/curse says, "May you live in interesting times." 

First Things First
Thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers for me and my family. It means a lot to see so many people who only know me from here and Facebook take the time to do it. Thank you all again.

Self Care with Loved Ones
I was going to write something entirely different two weeks ago, as well as last week and this week too, but Life kept getting in the way. We aren't guaranteed anything in this world except death, since taxes have turned into something optional. With that being the case, spend your time away from your work or other obligations with those who mean the most to you. Do something, anything with them: walk around the block, go to the park, sit on the porch or couch, but spend some time with those that are important to you.

If you haven't noticed, I didn't mention family in the previous paragraph. That was intentional, since for some people (probably many) the term -- and  I'm talking about Blood Relationship Family now -- has some baggage or memories that aren't too uplifting. Those ties will be/are there, and can be ignored if needed to make your life content, but the family I want to talk about is the one we make intentionally, with those we grow to care about and in return are cared for. Those bonds can be stronger than anything you are born into and can offer more support and contentment.

Look to those people. Check up on them. Plan nothing, just do something, anything, to let those around you know you are there.

As for me, I went and flew a kite. With my Family.


After this we bought other kites from Amazon, but every day we have off together hasn't been windy enough to fly them!

Recap And Takeaway
  • It isn't important what you do, just do something with those in your family circle.
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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.

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Humble Air Fryer

There are many tools that can make our lives easier in all sorts of ways and places, such as in the kitchen. For example, a good quality and well-sharpened knife makes food preparation considerably easier. In this post I’m going to talk about one of my favorite new kitchen tools, the humble Air Fryer.

There are two main types of Air Fryer: those with baskets and those with racks. The basket type is basically a specialized deep fryer that can cook foods with a fraction of the oil, while the rack type is a fancy version of a toaster oven with a convection fan and often a rotisserie.

Both styles have a variety of settings and features, which is good. I agree with Alton Brown that there should only be one unitasker in your kitchen: a fire extinguisher. My wife and I own the rack type with rotisserie, and we couldn’t be happier. Some of our friends have the basket type, and they’re quite satisfied as well. Obviously both have pros and cons, but I’m going to focus on the rack type as that’s the one with which I’m more familiar.

Air Fryers, as referenced in the Sam's links above

These devices offer a number of benefits, especially in the warmer months: they take up little counter space, use less electricity, and don’t heat up the house nearly as much as a standard oven. These qualities can make them particularly useful for people in RVs or small apartments, or who don’t have air conditioning. In case of power limitations, loss of natural gas, or similar, an Air Fryer can still be used to prepare food by being run off a 12 or 24 volt battery with an inverter such. In addition, since they are convection ovens (meaning heated air is circulated by a fan) they tend to cook faster as well.

While I haven’t tried all the different settings, I have used all of the accessories that came with our Air Fryer, which include the mesh racks, the rotisserie bar, the rotisserie basket, and the rotisserie skewers.

Kabobs in the author's AirFryer, from prep to cooked

Just the other night we made chicken kabobs using the rotisserie skewers. They came out perfectly, and were delicious served over rice. I’ve only used the rotisserie basket a couple of times, once to try making honey roasted almonds, and I need to work on my process more with that one. We generally use the mesh racks for things like French fries, pork chops, dehydrating herbs from the garden, and so on, I’ve cooked many chickens and roasts on the rotisserie bar.


Garlic crusted roast made in the author's Air Fryer

In addition to the accessories, our Air Fryer came with several booklets containing usage tips and recipes, and additional recipes can be found online. Furthermore, most recipes cooked in a traditional oven can be converted for use in the Air Fryer with minor adjustments.

Cleanup is also much easier than with a conventional oven. On ours, the door comes off for washing in the sink if needed, and the interior can be wiped out with a damp sponge.

The main limiting factor of the Air Fryer is capacity. For example, ours can handle up to a four pound roast or chicken on the rotisserie bar. This is fine for a couple or a small family, but likely not for preparing a full Thanksgiving dinner.

The Air Fryer is a compact, versatile kitchen appliance that is at home not just in your kitchen, but also in your Bug-Out Location or Vehicle. It has its limitations, but within its capabilities it’s a very useful addition to the kitchen toolbox.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Turn Your Hydration Bladder Into an Eye Wash

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

Last week I mentioned that an eye wash adapter could be modified to work on a hydration bladder.

This week I'm going to show you how and give you a shopping list. If you've followed my instructions on how to make an inline filter for your drinking tube, then you probably already have everything you will need.

You Will Need
  1. One Mazama MagmaFlow Quick Disconnect Coupler. They are currently out of stock at the moment, but if you like you can get a 2-pack for $7.99 on Amazon
    • You can use other quick disconnect brands, but I prefer this because they're the only one I've seen which automatically shuts off the tube when you disconnect the pieces, preventing the water in your hydration bladder from going everywhere and making a mess.  
  2. One male plug. Of course, if you buy the 2-pack listed above then you already have this. 
  3. One piece of hydration tube, approximately 1.5 to 2" long. The Sawyer Fast Fill Adapter Pack comes with a tube that long and two male plugs, along with a single female plug. 
  4. One eyewash adapter

Installation
  1. Make sure your hydration bladder is empty. 
  2. Cut the tube roughly 2" below the bite valve. 
  3. Insert the female end of the Mazama Coupler in the tube closest to the reservoir and the male end in the tube attached to the bite valve. 
  4. Place another male plug onto the spare piece of hydration tube. Rest assured, a Sawyer plug will work with Mazama. 
  5. Place the other end of the tube onto the nipple sticking out from the bottom of the eyewash adapter. 
When all is done, it should look like this:




Place the eyewash adapter into a Ziplock bag to keep it clean and store it with the rest of your quick-access first aid gear. 

To Use It
  1. Remove bite valve
  2. Attack eye wash adapter
  3. Hold cup to eye
  4. Compress hydration bladder
When you're done you'll need to find more water for your hydration bladder, but you'd have the same dilemma if you used a water bottle. Plus, your eyesight is more important than water; you can go 3 days without water, but if you cannot see your survival chances drop substantially. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Cultural Growth

No, I'm not talking about attending an opera or going to an art exhibit, nor were Petri dishes involved. I'm thinking more about food; there are many ways to grow food, and they break down into a few different “cultures”.

Agriculture
Most definitions of agriculture equate it to tending the ground, and the basis of most farming is making sure the soil is optimized to produce as much as it can. There are college degrees involved with tending the soils, so I won't try to get into details.
  • Tilling the soil is mechanically preparing it for plant growth. This includes plowing, discing, and all of the other methods of turning the soil to loosen it up for the new plants while killing some of the weeds.
  • Fertilizing the soil replaces or adds nutrients that the new plants will need to grow.
  • Cultivating is the process of mechanically removing weeds and pests after the crop has started to grow. This cuts down on the competition for water and nutrients and removes things that could harm what you're trying to grow.
  • Pesticides are common chemicals used to kill anything that could harm the crop.
  • Irrigation supplies the needed water when nature doesn't cooperate or you're trying to grow something in an area that won't normally support it.
It's hard work and you're at the mercy of the weather and markets, but someone has to grow the food.
 
Permaculture
Working with perennial plants (those that live more than one year) to produce food is the basis of permaculture: rather than planting a new crop every spring, producers will set up fields that don't require the annual dirt-work to yield a crop. You'll still have to deal with weeds, pests, and proper nutrition for plants, but the crops don't change from year to year. Vineyards are a form of permaculture, and some of them have been using sprouts from the same root-stock for centuries.

There are also other definitions. Some would roll the concepts of “holistic” gardening into the idea of permaculture, by doing away with the basics of farming like separation of crops and use of rows to make tending and harvest easier. Others consider planting annuals and letting them “go to seed” so they naturally reproduce the next year a form of permaculture. Like most things in life, opinions vary.

Aquaculture
Raising fish or seafood instead of plants is not very common in the USA, but is practiced around the world. In aquaculture, fast-growing fish are kept in an enclosure and fed to produce a good source of protein. The Tilapia that you will find in your grocery store was likely grown in an aquaculture facility, and much of it comes from Asia where the conditions can make a cattle feedlot or hog confinement building look like a 5-star resort. Catfish and a few other species are “farmed” in the US and the various government agencies treat it like any other animal facility (they regulate them).

On a small scale, setting up a mesh enclosure in a stream or river and adding fish is as simple as aquaculture gets. Feeding them may be a challenge, but that's normal with any animal operation.
 
Silviculture
The growing and cultivation of trees, silviculture is normally seen in orchards and forests. A form of permaculture, silviculture is fairly labor-intensive because most fruit trees are grown from grafted root-stock. Put simply, the tastiest fruits don't grow on sturdy trees, so nurseries will graft a tasty fruit branch onto a robust breed of tree. This means that the seeds from the fruit of that tree will be of the tasty variety and may not grow as well as the “parent” tree. New sprouts of the base tree need to be removed every spring to allow the tasty branches access to water and nutrients. Harvesting from trees takes specialized equipment, and often time will require multiple trips through the orchard since fruits will ripen at different times.

Mixing shrubs and trees into pastures to give livestock a source of shade and protection from the elements is a good example of silviculture. Using trees that bear fruit or nuts adds to the potential yield of the pasture and will attract wildlife.

Forestry is the growth of trees for use as wood and is the ultimate silviculture, but you're talking decades instead of months to get a crop. Proper management of forests is a very involved and somewhat controversial subject in some areas.

Polyculture
Using a blend of all of the above to produce food can work.
  • Planting annual crops between the rows of an orchard.
  • Grazing animals in a well-established orchard (saplings will get trampled or eaten).
  • Setting up an aquaculture tank next to a greenhouse and using the fish wastes to fertilize the plants.
  • Mixing crops that mature at different times to get the most yield per square foot.

Growing food is important for long-term preps. Being completely self-reliant is a good goal, but not very many people will be able to achieve or sustain that. Grow what you can, as much as you can, and find ways to trade, store, and use what you produce.

The Fine Print


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

Creative Commons License


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