Thursday, July 31, 2008

Camping: A Great Way To Practice

I love camping and have ever since I was a kid...

Camping is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life...it is also a great way to keep your skill sharp and to practice new skills.

Whenever I go camping is when I try new stuff. I never start a fire using matches or a lighter anymore, I use my firesteel or magnesium stick. This helps me stay sharp with these tools when matches or a lighter may not be available.

I may sit in my camp chair and whittle with my knife...I have built figure four deadfalls and the like while sitting around the fire. I don't actually use them but it is great to have a solid understanding of this stuff BEFORE you actually need to use these skills

Camping is a great way to get used to being outside...a lot...and possibly not being able to take a traditional shower or bath. Learn how to clean yourself with just some water and a rag. Hygiene is what will kill most people should the SHTF. Make sure you wash your hands as best as you can...especially if you go to the bathroom in nature.

Sleeping in a tent under the stars is an eye opening experience, there is nothing more peaceful. I can say this with certainty...if you have never gone camping you are missing out and should go as soon as possible. Nothing better than food cooked over a fire and waking up at the crack of dawn and watching the sun rise and then heading out for a day of fishing.

There is another thing...get a fishing pole and some tackle and learn how to use it. Fish is great survival food...especially if you set some hooks and walk away...no effort required at all. Most states require a license to fish so check your states laws with regard to that.

Hiking is a great way to build stamina and practice carrying a 50 lb pack while doing it. It is a great experience and I promise you...you will never sleep better at night.

These experiences will help you do well in a SHTF scenario...you certainly don't want to do these things for the first time when your life depends on it.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So You May Be Wondering What The Hell Happened...

Yes things have changed a bit. I made some changes to the appearance of the blog and the color scheme.

Out with the blue and in with the white...to be honest I think the blue was making me blind. Even with my glasses I was getting headaches reading my own blog!

I designed a new logo in Paint Shop Pro...an artist I am not but I think it is better than the old one.

I removed a bunch of shit from the blog as well. I removed all the links to blog aggregation sites, as after using them for a while I believe they drive no traffic to your site whatsoever and are quite useless.

CLARIFICATION: I am talking about sites like Technorati, Blogged, Blogflux, Blog Catalog, etc...Some folks thought I was talking about Survivalist News which you can see from 2 posts ago I think is great. 

So here once again is the link to Survivalist News - as I said two days ago they do a fine job. Check them out!

I removed the link to the store and will place a link at the end of every post (like below). This is a little more inconspicuous and looks better (not that anyone buys anything anyhow...)

I am trying to simplify everything and make the blog a bit easier to read. I am not sure if folks will like it or not...but please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think.

...that is all.

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My Little Cabin In The Woods

My next trick is going to somehow convince the wife we need to buy a nice piece of property somewhere. When I say property I mean rural and I am talking at least 20 acres. If I go west in SC property gets real cheap...but we need to save some cash.

Believe me I am not hurting or anything me and the wife both have good jobs but we want to buy something and pay for it outright or have as small of a mortgage as possible. Right now that would be real tough...

My plan is to build and 2 or 3 room cabin on a piece of property somewhere, dig a well, install a septic system and solar panel for electricity. I would love to even put just a decent trailer on the property if that was a lot cheaper. I want to get a decent tractor and put that land to work with a garden and some animals.

I would love to build an outdoor range somewhere on that property as well to help keep the skills sharp.

Ahhh to dream.

Well I will be keeping my eyes open and if I come across a deal I can't refuse I will make it happen somehow.

My plan is if I get the land and can't build anything right away I can alway use the pop-up and camp for free. I would pack my generator and fill the pop-ups 23 gallon fresh water tank and be good to go. Plus if I get a decent tract I can always hunt on it.

I would love to get something with a pond on it...I have seen some nice properties with 2-3 acre ponds that were stocked. Fishing sounds good right about now...

I don't live in a city per se but the Charleston/Summerville area is filled with people and more show up everyday...so I want to move west away from tourist attractions and beaches...anything that draws people.

My wife says I am a simple man with simple needs and I think that will serve me well if the SHTF. I love the woods, I really do and I am one of those folks that could not talk to another human being for a year and it wouldn't bother me in the least...besides wherever I go my wife will go so I will never be alone.

Some people freak when they don't have cable for an hour. Technology isn't a right and you certainly don't need it to survive.

This is why I will do well if the SHTF.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some More Interesting Links...

Time for some more links to sites I actually visit. I either read, use or buy from these folks and can recommend these sites without thinking twice. (In the case of Utah Shelter Systems - I plan on speding my future lottery winnings there)

If you are loaded check out Utah Shelter Systems.

Once again if your loaded check out Camp Chef - these systems are awsome just way overpriced.

The folks at Bill of Rights Press sell books the government doesn't want you to read.

All I can say is the Water BOB is the bomb (what a great idea! - warning - this site has some annoying audio).

The guys at Gear Sector will take care of your "sling needs".  I have ordered from them and they are highly recommended.

I have ordered custom topographical maps from Offroute and they are awesome as well.

Camping Survival has a BOATLOAD of stuff, I have ordered from them as well.

Yet more good financial advice at Get Rich Slowly.

If you are a blogger or have a website Google Analytics will give you stats on what your site likes on its pizza for cyrin out loud! (More stats then you'll care to see)

Check out Survivalist News if you haven't already, these guys are doing a great job of aggregating all the survival blogs out there. (Nice job guys!)

...that is all.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

May Want To Install A Parachute On Your Vehicle

That would give a new meaning to the term "airbag"...

Or install a roll cage and armor plating on the roof...

1 in 4 bridges in America Need Upgrading Or Repair!

...that is all.

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Emergency Vehicle Kit

Sorry for the late start folks. Driving back to SC from NJ gave me an idea for a post after driving by hapless motorists stranded on the side of the road. Emergency vehicle kits...I have one and so should you.

I can tell you without any shame mine is a work in progress. I need to get some food and water in it...I was thinking of the AquaBlox and Mainstay rations...just need to get around to buying some ;)

My kit has in it: (All fit nicely in my truck workbox)

Jumper cables
Heavy leather gloves
Lighter cotton work gloves
Set of screwdrivers
Socket set
Headlamp
Flashlight
Buck Knife
Swiss army knife
Fleece (pullover)
Duct tape
Assorted bungees
Rope (assorted and A LOT of it)
Canteen kit (Canteen, metal cup and case)
Water purification tablets
Spare pieces of 2x4 (about a foot long each)
Wheel chocks
Disposable lighter
Swedish Firesteel
Large tarp
Portable inflator/battery charger (make sure you keep it charged)
Small first aid kit
Spare tire/Jack/tire iron

Not really part of my kit but my truck has a CB in for communications.

My kit is by no means complete...some of the things I need are:
Food
Water
Wool blanket

I also have a Hi-Point 9mm I may just throw in the box with 2 clips of ammo just in case (perfectly legal to do so here in SC...just need to make sure I remove it if I travel to another state.)

Ok so what do the experts out there say? What is missing from my kit? And what interesting stuff do you have in yours?

...that is all.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Weekend Roundup Vol. 1

Well another week comes to a close and I am starting a new feature here at Be A Survivor called "The Weekend Roundup". It will feature links to some posts I enjoyed on other blogs as well as some short tidbits and tips.

This week was a rough one for me...I had final projects due in school, tons going on at work and the wife and I drove to NJ to spend some time with the in-laws. Somehow I managed to post regardless. One thing you may have noticed is I have stopped posting on Sunday. The day off will do my mind good and recharge me for the coming week...so I can provide you with relevant content.

Ok so lets get some of the administrative stuff out of the way...
My offer to allow folks to guest post here still stands if anyone is interested email me at beasurvivor.blogspot@gmail.com and we'll talk about it.

I have a bunch of stuff lined up in skeletal form that needs to be fleshed out for upcoming posts so stay tuned.

TIP OF THE WEEK:

Always practice good trigger discipline when handling a firearm. Do not put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot something. Keep it in the ready position on the trigger guard...

email me a tip and I will post it here and make you famous (we'll not really...but you will get credit!)

WEEKEND ROUNDUP

The Dragon has a great post on global cooling. (Yes you read that right - I agree BTW)

Riverwalker is looking to hear from his fellow Texas preppers.

Here is a special one...folks Mayberry is hurting...he provides you with info and entertainment...help the guy out...if anyone deserves it, he does. Click on his "Will Blog for Food" button and donate.

Check out Scoutinlife's apparently "world famous" chili recipe...sounds delicious.

Trent from The Simple Dollar always makes financial sense...if you have never visited do so...SOLID financial advice.

...that is all.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

FRS/GMRS Radios

Everyone has seen these walkie-talkie things at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack. Most likely they are the FRS/GMRS variety of radios. They make claims of up to 20 miles with regard to the distance you can communicate. In Reality these radios in most conditions are go for about 1/2-1 mile on the FRS frequencies and maybe 2 miles if your lucky with GMRS. The reason being these are "line of sight" radios. If you are on the ocean or on the salt flats in Utah or communicating from the top of one peak to another you may achieve those distances that are claimed on the packaging.

Regardless these little radios have their place and are extremely useful for short range communication. I have a few pairs that we use when camping or communicating car to car while traveling. It definitely is worth picking up a set.

GMRS radios require a license. From the FCC's website:

BEGIN REPRINT

"FRS/GMRS Dual Service RadiosSome manufacturers have received approval to market radios that are certified for use in both the Family Radio Service (FRS) and the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS). Other manufacturers have received approval of their radios under the GMRS rules, but market them as FRS/GMRS radios on the basis that:
Some channels are authorized to both services, or
A user of the radio may communicate with stations in the other service.
Radios marketed as "FRS/GMRS" or "dual-service radios" are available from many manufacturers and many retail or discount stores. The manual that comes with the radio, or the label placed on it by the manufacturer, should indicate the service the unit is certified for. If you cannot determine what service the unit may be used in, contact the manufacturer.
If you operate a radio that has been approved exclusively under the rules that apply to FRS, you are not required to have a license. FRS radios have a maximum power of ½ watt (500 milliwatt) effective radiated power and integral (non-detachable) antennas. If you operate a radio under the rules that apply to GMRS, you must have a GMRS license. GMRS radios generally transmit at higher power levels (1 to 5 watts is typical) and may have detachable antennas."

END OF REPRINT

The license is easy to get an requires no test or anything. It costs $80 for a 5 year license and the call sign you are issued can be shared amongst family members...unlike HAM radio for example where everyone speaking requires a unique call sign.

FRS/GMRS frequencies are:

Channel                 Type               Frequency
     1                FRS / GMRS           462.5625
     2                FRS / GMRS           462.5875
     3                FRS / GMRS           462.6125
     4                FRS / GMRS           462.6375
     5                FRS / GMRS           462.6625
     6                FRS / GMRS           462.6875
     7                FRS / GMRS           462.7125
     8                FRS                       467.5625
     9                FRS                       467.5875
     10              FRS                       467.6125 
     11              FRS                       467.6375
     12              FRS                       467.6625
     13              FRS                       467.6875
     14              FRS                       467.7125
     15                        GMRS          462.5500
     16                        GMRS          462.5750
     17                        GMRS          462.6000
     18                        GMRS          462.6250
     19                        GMRS          462.6500
     20                        GMRS          462.6750
     21                        GMRS          462.7000
     22                        GMRS          462.7250

The main difference between the two mentioned above is the trasmit power allowed in each service. 1/2 watt for FRS and up to 5 watts for GMRS, obviously the more transmit power...the farther the range of communication.

You will notice the first 7 channels are shared between FRS and GMRS. You MUST use your callsign if operating a GRMS radio on those frequencies to remain legal if you are using more than 1/2 watt of power. You cannot operate GMRS on the FRS only frequencies at all, they are strictly reserved for FRS.

You can find tons of information regarding FRS and GMRS on the FCC's webpage.

These liitle radios should have a place in your families disaster readiness plans. You won't be able to communicate over long distances but you will be able to communicate quite well if your remain within a 1 or 2 miles of each other...farther with a clear line of site. The other benefit of these radios is that they are really inexpensive at this point. Don't waste your money on a set of FRS radios...make sure to get the combo FRS/GMRS variety. They will be a bit more expensive but will give you more options.

Remember get a license if you plan on using GMRS to be legal. Your entire family can share one call sign so in perspective it really is inexpensive for a 5 year ticket.

...that is all.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Book Review: When All Hell Breaks Loose

Well it is time to Review Cody Lundin's second book When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes. You may remember I reviewed his other book 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive and gave it a big thumbs up. Our favorite hippie's sophomore effort is quite impressive to say the least.

This time around Mr. Lundin writes more of a "survival bible" type book as opposed to 98.6 Degrees which was more of a primer on building a survival kit and some basic survival information. This book is roughly twice the size of his first effort and is once again packed with good information.

All your favorite illustrations are back as well. Mr. Lundin uses these characters to help reinforce his points just as he did in the first book. It is not distracting in the least and I actually found them to be quite entertaining. The book is logically organized and flows nicely. It is an easy read but at 400+ pages is not one you will sit down and finish on a lazy afternoon in the yard. This book is VERY thorough as compared to Mr. Lundin's first effort.

The book is broken down as follows:
PART 1: Head Candy
1 - How to Use This Book
2 - Flashback: Grooving to that Feeling of Impending Doom
3 - What is Urban and Suburban Survival?
4 - The Foundation of Your Self-Reliance...and Trust
5 - Predator vs. Prey: A Clue into Your Survival Psychology
6 - You Are What You Eat, and Think, Feel, Speak, Act, and Focus Your Attention On
7 - Getting Hammered By Stress and Fear
8 - The Art of Creative Cooperation and Personal Responsibility
9 - Defining Your Urban Survival Priorities
10 - How Much Stuff Do You Need... and For How Long?
11 - Finding Out What You'll Miss around the House before It's Gone

PART 2: Hand Candy
12 - Gimme Shelter!
13 - Wonderfully Wet and Wanted Water
14 - Familiar yet Fantastic Food
15 - Savvy Yet Simple Significant Substitute Sanitation
16 - Helpful Highlights of Hygiene
17 - Luminous and Liberating Lighting
18 - Crucially Creative Cooking
19 - Fundamental First-Aid
20 - Sensibly Serious Self-Defense
21 - Critical Communications
22 - Tangible Transportation
23 - Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?
24 - Epilogue

You may have picked up on the Head Candy and Hand Candy stuff? Mr. Lundin breaks the book down into the needs of the mind and then the body. A very practical way to approach this I believe. Despite what some folks will tell you 90% of survival is psychological or if you prefer to say "the will to live". You can have all the equipment in the world...but if you don't want to survive or don't "think" you can survive...you won't.

You remember Mr. Lundin is from what I call "the hippy school of survival" and there isn't anything wrong with that. He is not a proponent on guns and ammo or hoarding gold and silver. He is more about surviving "the cause" of the disaster and not "the effect". I believe this is why he also spends so much time on the psychology of survival. Make no mistake though the advice he gives in quite sound. He is not a fruity, tree-hugging whack job...not that there anything wrong with that sort of thing (whatever floats your boat). Mr. Lundin runs his own survival school and has taught thousands of students so he has put all his methods to the test.

In the practical section of the book Mr. Lundin covers all the bases including shelter, food, water, defense, hygiene...you name it he covers it. I believe his self-defense portion of the book is a little hokey for my tastes but to each their own. Don't get me wrong there are some good recommendations in there on defense I just don't think it goes far enough. I do think that Mr. Lundin does an admirable job of covering everything else...including knowing when to bug out if need be.

I have to say in conclusion that I once again really enjoyed Mr. Lundin's book. He is a very knowledgeable individual and shares all his information freely. He is thorough yet he keeps it playful and entertaining. This book is a more complete compilation on survival than his first book (which was also good). I can recommend this book to the folks out there without any second thoughts. The information you will get will be solid and you will enjoy reading it.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Came Across Something Cool In The Garden

I came across something fascinating in the garden today...something I had only read about.

You know hornworms are the bane of anyone who has tomato plants in their garden. I take pleasure in destroying these little beasties. Today I saw a hornworm that had fallen victim to a parasitic wasp called the Braconid Wasp. They lay their egss under the skin of the worm and as they grow the pupae consumes the hornworm. They always say if you come across a hormworm in this state let it be as the wasps will hatch and the lifecyle will continue as they find additional hornworms. It is sort of a natural pest control.

I snapped a picture of it...I apologize it is blurry but I could not get the damn thing to focus. As I said I had only read about this in books and on the web...it was quite exciting to see it in real life...

Here is the poor bastard I saw in garden:


Here is stock photo I found on the web because my picture is so poor...


I have to say I think this is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time and I thought I would share it with you folks. Remember this is a good thing to find...do not kill the hornworm as the wasps will do all the pest control for you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cash Is King!

Bob Dylan once sang about "Times They are a Changing...". Well is seems they really are. It is funny to hear Americans talking about cutting back or saving money - at least not from my generation. My grandparents were of course, experts on saving money and being frugal. My grandmother always said if you can't pay cash for it...you can't afford it. She is right! (Aren't all grandmothers?)

Why is not being able to buy something if you don't have cash for it important? Well the amount of cash you have determines how wealthy you are. Possessions, for the most part, depreciate (that means they lose money over time). A car is a perfect example of this...as soon as you drive a new car off the lot they say you lost 20% of its value. Hell even houses are depreciating in some parts of the country...well not really...they were just totally overpriced to begin with. Right now cash is king and for good reason, people don't want to use their plastic anymore. I was never a big fan of credit cards...I do have an American Express, have had one for years, because I like the fact it needs to be paid off each month. I barely use that now.

The simple fact is when you pay cash for something you are paying the "today" value for it. I say this because the value of the dollar fluctuates and inflation can play deceptively with prices. Paying for something with plastic, especially something consumable like food, is a recipe for disaster. Not only are you paying for something that you won't even have by the time you finish paying for it...you will have paid MORE for it than you would have if you had bought it with cash.

The simple fact is if you want something...save your money. You all know by now my wife and I just bought a new pop-up. We saved for and entire year to pay for it. It feels good to walk into a dealer, agree on a price and when he says "how many months would you like to finance that 36, 48 or 60?" and you say "no thank you, who do I make the check out to?"...I paid cash and the pop up is mine.

If you can't pay cash for it don't buy it. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, if you can, pay for groceries on your credit card unless you pay the balance off every month. Now if it comes down to your children starving...then do what you must. Me personally I would work at McDonald's 1st shift and Burger King 2nd shift if I had to provide for my family before it came to doing that. It just doesn't make financial sense...

Some people don't like being told these things but rest assured this is one of those cases where you will thank me later. If you already have credit card debt do you best to pay it off as quickly as you can and STOP using them.

The ONLY thing I use my plastic for it to buy stuff on the Internet...use credit not debit as most banks provide better consumer protections to you using credit cards. Always pay the full amount of the statement when you get it...in other words maintain a $0 balance (banks hate this).

I will say it one more time to help it sink in...if you can't pay cash for it...you most likely should not be buying it.

...that is all.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Assorted Tidbits...

Saw this guy on Green TV, makes rain barrels. Of course, you can make your own...but if you’re lazy, give this guy some business: Atlanta Rain Barrels

Just back from camping again...the pop up is great! The bugs were out in force this weekend so it was nice to have somewhere to run to.

Garden is coming along...pulling out a bunch o' tomatoes. Next year I am expanding the tomato section big time. I have about 12 plants this year...going to do around 20 next year.

I just got around to seeing Rambo, I was absolutely shocked…what a great frickin movie. The movie had a great story, was believable and was super violent. The most important thing for me was the believable part. Part II and II totally sucked because they were so far out there. I actually hope he does another one.

I am reading another Ragnar Benson book so you see a review of that shortly.

Some posts that will be coming up in no particular order:
- Getting Your HAM Radio Technician License
- Review of SOG Seal Pup Elite
- Lockpicking: Useful Skill
- How to Survive The Coming Apocalypse Part V
- Scanners and Scanning

Also trying to come up with some more material on saving money because of the times - seems everyone is hurting so I figure that kind of info is invaluable.

Seems like everyone has people guest posting on their blogs...I think it is a great idea...helps expose people to other writers. If you want to guest post here send me a note (beasurvivor.blogspot@gmail.com) with what you want to write about and we'll see if we can work something out.

...that is all.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

5 Most Important Tools You Should Have.

1.) Drill - My recommendation is if you have a cordless drill, have a corded one as well. The corded ones are dirt cheap and most produce more torque than the cordless variety. There is no more useful tool...period.

2.) Table Saw - you won't realize how useful this is until you have one and then don't. I used to use a circular saw for everthing...but for ripping lumber a table saw is king. You don't need a real expensive one either. I have a 10" Craftsman I picked up for less than $200 bucks and it is fine...the most important thing is a nice STABLE fence. If you don't feel you need a table saw than a circular saw will work 90% of the time in most situations.

3.) Screwdriver Set - make sure you don't skimp on these...it could mean the difference between a tight/loose screw and a stripped one. There are times when a drill with a screwdriver is a bit much. You can really do some damage when using a drill instead of a screwdriver for some of the more delicate work.

4.) Socket/Wrench Set - Once again I have a Craftsman combo set with ASE and metric sockets as well as the same in box/open end wrenches. I bought one of their cheaper 100 piece sets and I use it all the time for working on the truck and our bicycles.

5.) Hammer - get yourself a decent claw or framing hammer. Will come in very handy for more than just nails trust me...I abuse my hammer and it has served me faithfully for 10 years if not longer.

Honorable mention - nice to have.

Chain Saw - great tool...must be very safety conscious when using one of these.

Reciprocating Saw - Great tool for cutting stuff in awkward places.

Compressor and Nail Guns - There is no way when I remodeled our last house I would have gotten through all the door replacements and molding without these...screw that.

Jigsaw - great tool for cutting plywood in non-straight lines.

Anything you feel I missed feel free to comment why it should be in the top 5!

...that is all.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Basic Gun Maintainance

People seem to buy guns and hoard ammo and forget one of the most important this with regard to firearms…maintenance.


One should have ample supplies of the following:

Solvent – needed to get that nasty build up off your weapon. Many firearms will perform fine dirty, many will not. One of the dirtiest calibers in .22, cheaper ammo also may burn dirty as well. This is all well and good if you have some solvent. There are many brands Hoppes, Gun Scrubber, etc.

Gun Oil – used to lubricate moving parts and keep everything running smoothly. If you are going to store your weapon for a period of time I would oil a rag and wipe down the entire gun to keep it protected.

Patches – they are dipped in solvent and run through the barrel of a gun to clean powder deposits and grime.

Rubber Gloves – these protect your hands from the harsh chemicals used to maintain a gun…namely the solvent.

Rags – preferably cotton and lint free. Used for everything from cleaning to applying lubricant to a firearm.


One should have for each caliber:

Wire brush – attached to cleaning rod to dislodge particles that may have accumulated in the barrel.

Bore snake – this is optional but I use it to run through the barrel after I shoot but didn’t get the gun dirty enough to warrant an all out cleaning.


One should have one or more of these:

Cleaning rod – make sure you have one that has extensions so it can be used for pistols and rifles.

Assorted brushes – these are used to scrub parts and dislodge stubborn particles from a firearm. I have found toothbrushes to be great for this purpose.

A set of gunsmith screwdrivers – these don’t have to be top quality. You can get a decent set for less than $40.

A punch set to remove those pesky pins holding things together.

You should always have SEVERAL magazines for each weapon you own.

You should have any spare parts needed for each weapon – springs, recoil buffers, screws or anything else which can commonly fail on a firearm. I would only have the basics…most firearms are well built and will last a long time if properly cared for. I for example have a S&W 22A which has a small plastic recoil buffer that could fail. I have had the same one in the gun since I bought it but I have several spares in case they are needed. The gun has thousands of rounds though it and the buffer finally looks like it is nearing replacement time.

Make sure you clean your weapons after every firing…if it was a short session, wipe it down with a rag and run a bore snake through the barrel. If you fire it heavily make sure you disassemble and clean the entire weapon. Make sure you clean and maintain your magazines as well…they can get gunked up pretty fast if you don’t. Firearms will last a LONG time if properly cared for…

...that is all.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doom and Gloom

OK not really...there are many survival blogs I absolutely enjoy reading. Many are a fantastic mix of doom and gloom and useful information (one fine example of this type of mix is Mayberry - he does a nice job of mixing it up - highly recommend you make him a daily read). Some are all doom and gloom which is fun to read but not very helpful otherwise (at least to me anyways).

Listen nothing wrong with that stuff but that is not the purpose of this blog. I try to give folks some useful information and steer clear of doom, gloom and peak oil discussions. There are plenty of folks who have that market cornered. I am not going to sit here and tell you the man is trying to bring you down, pull your money out of banks or any of that sort of stuff. My purpose here is to give you information to get you through life…”the collapse” seems to be a moving target and no one has gotten it right yet.

A quick note on politics...I avoid it. I will tell you I am a registered Republican and you may hear me mention things like the assault weapons ban or the possibility of something like that returning...but I am not a "political tool" for the party I have historically voted for. My beliefs are just that, mine and I won't ever try to force them on anyone else.

I prefer to give you tips and info on things that will most likely affect some, if not all of you at some point in your lives…money issues, natural disaster, fire, theft or victimization. Many people who visit this site probably don’t share my views nor should they. Opinions are like assholes…everyone has one. Mine is not special by any stretch of the imagination.

One blog I highly recommend is Riverwalkers...good tips and useful information is almost every post. Survival Topics is another great one (I wouldn't characterize his site as a blog necessarily).

I do just want to make this one thing clear to anyone who does read my blog…if your looking for doom and gloom I suggest you check out some of the other survival blogs out there...there are MANY fine examples. If you want information, tips, product reviews and book reviews then this is your place.

On that note I would like to thank all of you who have been reading. I have been getting between 300-500 visits daily. I appreciate you coming by to see what this nobody has to say. I hope that I have given you even just one piece of useful information that you can store away in the data banks and recall when needed in the future. Most of all I really just want to say THANKS!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

5 Ways To Save Cash

Save some cash to buy guns and ammo of course!

1.) DO NOT eat out - Americans blow tons of cash on eating out. Even an innocent trip to McDonalds for lunch can cost between 6-9 bucks! Especially if you eat like me. Don't buy coffee on the way to work brew it yourself and fill one of those big travel mugs. Don't hit the vending machines when you have some hunger pangs...bring snacks from home to work.

2.) Ditch the costly Cable plans and Phone service - I lived for years with just a cell phone. I was paying $40 a month for a landline so my mom could call me once in a blue moon. Get rid of the 4,000 channel cable package and just stick with basic if you have to have it at all. You could ditch TV all together and reclaim valuable hours to do things constructive like read, play a game with your children or actually fix the things on the "honey do" list.

3.) Get a bike (pedal power or motorcycle) - With gas prices the way they are...do I really need to explain this one?

4.) Make you own cleaning products..such as laundry detergent, glass cleaner and Soft Scrub.

5.) Cut down on vices - if you smoke...smoke less. If you drink...drink less. If you gamble...just stop you are pissing money away. Whatever it is you enjoy that costs money, just cut back and save the cash.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Be Prepared: Insurance

One overlooked topic of disaster prep is having adequate insurance. Insurance is a necessary evil and it comes in many forms. The most common we are almost all familiar with is car insurance. If you are a homeowner you may have home insurance...beyond that is uncharted territory for many folks.

Car Insurance – for many of us this is the most common form of insurance and the one we are most familiar with. Car insurance protects you in the event of an accident. There are many options available collision, comprehensive and liability. The most important of the three is liability, if you cause an accident and someone is hurt and sues you this is the insurance that will protect you. Collision protects your vehicle in the event of an accident, it will cover repairs to you vehicle. Comprehensive is the part of your insurance that covers you in the event of vehicle theft or an act of god…such as a tree falling on your car or hitting a deer. Your coverage is applicable after you pay a deductable. A deductable is the amount you must pay first when filing a claim. The most common deductable people take is $500. This means you are responsible for the first $500 worth of repairs and you insurance will pick up the bill for the rest. If you have a travel trailer, motorcycle or any other vehicle you can obtain insurance for those as well. I recently purchased a brand new pop up trailer I paid cash for. I immediately got my car insurance company to write a policy for it. It cost me $100 for the year and covers a total replacement should someone steal it or hit it while it is parked. Your regular car insurance should cover you just fine while you’re towing it.

Home Owners Insurance – if you have a mortgage you most likely have this insurance. It protects you from liability in the same way car insurance did if someone should get hurt on your property. Most home owners insurance policies cover wind damage, fire, damage caused by objects like trees, flooding due to ruptured pipes. Most policies DO NOT cover you for earthquakes or flooding due to rising water or tidal surge. You need rider policies (additional policies) to cover those items – commonly referred to flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Believe it or not most home owners insurance does not cover a sewer backup by default you usually need to request it and pay additional premiums. Make sure you have adequate insurance on your home. Many Katrina victims were jerked around by insurance companies debating whether their house was actually destroyed by the wind of the hurricane (covered) or the flooding from the ruptured levees (not covered). Don’t give these weasels the satisfaction…if there is a chance you could be affected by flooding get flood insurance. If you are not in a flood plain you can obtain coverage for a couple of hundred bucks a year because it is not required.

Renters Insurance – many people who live in apartments or rent houses have the ability to obtain renters insurance. This type of insurance covers your personal belongings. If you have a lot of stuff you may want to look into it. It is relatively cheap and covers things like fire and theft. It is worth having at least some protection even if you aren’t a homeowners…your possessions cost money don’t they?

Earthquake Insurance – Covers your dwelling should a quake strike your area. This is NOT covered by homeowners insurance. If you live in a quake prone area, such as parts of California, this is a no brainer. There are faults across the country. I live in South Carolina and we sit in an area very close to a fault. I am actually in the process of obtaining quotes for earthquake insurance. Not all insurance companies underwrite this kind of insurance so you may need to shop around.

Flood Insurance – this type of insurance will cover your dwelling in the event of rising water or tidal surge. Your regular homeowners insurance usually covers busted pipes but you will need this if you live in a flood prone area. If you live in a flood plain your mortgage company may require it. If you are not required by your mortgage company but still live in an area that could flood, you can obtain this insurance at a fairly discounted rate. I pay $200 a year for flood insurance because I don’t live in a flood zone, the area could conceivably still flood in we got hit by a major slow moving hurricane so for me $200 bucks helps me sleep good at night.

Medical Insurance – covers you in the event of issues with your health. Most employers provide access to coverage in which they cover a share of the premiums. This insurance is VERY important. One trip to the hospital can set you back THOUSANDS of dollars. This insurance can also be very expensive if your employer doesn’t offer it and you have to go it alone. My advice is find a job that offers decent insurance benefits…try NEVER to go without medical insurance…even if you are young. One moment you are fine the next you’re in the hospital where a Tylenol cost $250.

Life Insurance – If you die this provides a benefit to your spouse and children. This insurance is especially important if you have children. My wife and I don’t have any kids yet so I just have my employers insurance which I pay a bit extra to supplement. If I was killed or dismembered (sounds painful) my wife would get 5 times my salary…this would cover the mortgage, our cars, all our debt (very little), burying me and leave her with a nice chunk of change in the bank. This works for us…you mileage may vary.

Evaluate your insurance needs and make sure you have adequate coverage for your family and possessions.

...that is all.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Jayco Jay Series 1007 Pop Up Camper

Well folks I am back from my weekend excursion with the new pop up camper. I know I promised this Sunday but I was beat after coming home, cleaning the camper, the grill and going shopping with the little woman. I purchased a 2008 Jayco Jay Series Pop Up floor plan 1007. I took a bunch of pictures which are below. There is a table that does not appear in the pictures because when I took the outside pics...it was inside and when I took the inside pics...it was outside.



The awning in the picture was a pain in the ass to put together. We actually put a small rip in it with the camper door when were putting it up. I had to patch it with duct tape. I say it adds character to the pop up. It is definitly a two person job to get that awning together as well as when it needs to come down.



Above is the Carrier A/C that was included with the unit. That bad boy puts out some cold air. The camper was like an ice box in 90 degree heat, we actually had to turn the unit to low cool and off at certain points...condensation is not a problem as long as you vent the camper which we did by unzipping small sections of the screen coverings.



This unit also came with a 6 gallon hot water heater which is a breeze to start...similar to a normal furnace in your house, light a small pilot light turn it up and away you go.







Park water and electrical hookups above. I used a pressure regulator on the water to be safe. The bucket is catching the water draining from the sink.



Full bed above.





2 burner stove and a AC/LP combo fridge.







Overall it is a comfy unit...we put it through its paces. I have never had one of these so it was a little slow going up and coming down. I imagine you get it down to a science after a while. The quality of the unit seems good...although like I said I don't have much experience with anything else so I really don't have anything to judge it against. I do need to get the stove inside back to the dealer...nothing major there are two screws that hold the top and the bottom together securely and one of then the tab that the screw tightens in is mssing.

The unit came with an external grill that you can hook to the side of the camper and grill with but I don't think I will use that...something about heat and vinyl and aluminum and wood make me nervous as a combination. I imagine I am paranoid but I have a decent grill from my tent camoing days so I will continue to use that. We kept the dinette table outside because it is a bit cramped inside with me, my wife and two dogs trying to all walk around inside.

My wife and I are happy so far with the purchase. You do have to be careful when setting these things up and breaking them down...you can damage them if you are careless. The vinyl tents may rip, you could over crank the lift system or tear the awning like us...but overall they are good for the money. I will say this, it sure as hell beats tent camping in the summer with the SC heat that is for sure!

UPDATE:
The fridge can be run on propane only if needed.

The unit has a 23 gallon fresh water storage tank accessible with a 12v pump (battery not included). So the sink will work with no water hookup and maintain pressure.

The battery (not included) should be a deep cycle marine battery and will provide power...not enough to run the air conditioning but beggars can't be choosers.

The unit can be fully utilized when "dry camping"...

...that is all.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Pop Up Camper Update Redux

Well if you remember I was supposed to pick up my pop up camper on Tuesday...well the best laid plans of mice and men. My trailer hitch did not arrive until Thursday. I had the hitch installed and I am now picking the camper up today. I am totally excited, me and my wife saved our money to buy this thing...we don't do debt if we can avoid it. Always pay cash if you can and if you can't then maybe you should reconsider your purchase. Avoid debt like the plague!

Well we are taking it to one of the parks in SC this weekend. I will not have a post for you on Saturday but you will get a doozy of a post on Sunday. I will have a post on the pop up that will include pics and video. I will give you my impressions of it and how it performs for us.

 I picked up a non-toxic water hose as well as a pressure regulator for hooking up to water at the campground. Unfortunately my porta-potti and Outback privy tent won't be here in time for this weekend so I will let you know how they work out next weekend.

I must admit I feel a bit liberated by having the camper. I know if something bad happens I will have something better than a tent to live in. These things can be picked up dirt cheap used and for as little as a few hundred bucks if you find a fixer upper. New ones fully loaded can be had for between 6-14 thousand bucks.when I say loaded I mean A/C, microwave oven, stereo, 3 burner stove, double bowl stainless sink, regular oven, heat, toilet, shower...you name it. Mine has the basics...the only real luxury we got was A/C.

Well wish me luck this weekend...I will have some great stuff for you on Sunday!

...that is all.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Be Prepared: Prescription Medicine

One over looked area of preparation is prescription medicine. Millions of Americans are on some kind of medication prescribed by a doctor. Those medicines can be classified in three categories with relation to short term preparedness.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor...consult your doctor on what category your meds fall into.

1.) Medicine I will die if I don't have
2.) Medicine that keeps me healthy and may affect me if I am without it long term
3.) Medicine that ultimately I could live without.

Medicine I will die if I don't have - this one is fairly easy to describe, a few examples would be insulin for diabetics, anti-rejection drugs for transplant patients and Nitro pills for people with heart problems. There are many other types of these medicines which help people regulate systems in their bodies that may ultimately fail without them. Medicines in this category should be stockpiled for 30 days if possible. Keep in mind when I say stockpile I mean IN ADDITION to whatever you normally have on hand. I would not have LESS than 2 weeks worth stockpiled under any circumstances. Keep in mind with medicine like insulin may need special storage or refrigeration. (That is a persuasive arguement for getting a generator if I ever heard one).

Medicine that keeps me healthy and may affect me if I am without it long term - medicines in this category would be medicines you take to help a chronic conditions like hepatitis, severe high blood pressure or any chronic condition. You would most likely not die if you stopped taking it for a few weeks. I would have 2 weeks worth on hand at any given time, more if possible.

Medicine that ultimately I could live without. - This would be medicine you take for what I call "issues". My meds fall into this category. I take Lipitor for high cholesterol, I could manage it with diet and exercise but I have been lazy about it. My wife reminds me of this all the time...I could live just fine without taking this medicine. In a real SHTF scenario where western civilization collapses I am glad I take meds in this category. I do keep 30 days worth of this on hand (in addition to my normal prescription) just in case.

How do I stockpile meds?
One way to make sure you have an ample supply is to use mail order prescriptions. Most of these are filled for 90 days. My cheap insurance company won't allow this, they only pay for a 30 day supply at a time...I found a way around this. I simply went to my doctor and told him what I wanted to do. I said this is hurricane country and I would like to have some extra medicine available in case the pharmacies are not available. He felt that was a reasonable request and provided me with 30 days worth of samples. I keep this fresh by rotating the old pills with the new ones I get every time I renew my prescription. You will find that if you are honest with your doctor they will most likely accommodate your request.

Make sure if you take prescription meds that are needed to live you make some arrangements and get yourself an extra supply in case services are disrupted. Always remember to rotate the meds so the freshest are in the stockpile.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Book Review: Day By Day Armageddon

Day by Day Armageddon (A Zombie Novel) by J.L. Bourne is next on my review list. This isn't your typical survival book per se, as it is fiction. It is a novel that takes place in a ZPAW ( Zombie Post Apocalytic World).

The novel was written by J.L. Bourne aka "Raptorman" on the Zombie Squad forums I frequent. He is currently serving our country as a pilot in the Air Force. This is his first novel and it is a really good sign of things to come from Raptorman. It was published by Permuted Press and was recently given a new printing with new cover illustration.

The book is a VERY entertaining read. It is not a super long book but Mr. Bourne packs a lot of information and action into it. The book is written from the perspective of an unnamed Air Force pilot who decides it's high time he start keeping a journal. This is the hook of the book and what I think makes it very successful and entertaining. The entire book is a series of journal entries. The first entry is before the SHTF so to speak and ends with a real cliff hanger...perfect fodder for a sequel which Mr. Bourne has indicated he is hard at work on in between flying Sortys.

The main character is extremely resourceful and through some pretty good planning finds himself in a not so bad predicament when the dead start to walk. He befriends another survivor who lives just down the street from him, John and his faithful K-9. The situations and crisises these characters face at some points in the book seem almost insurmountable. Through ingenuity and planning they make their way across a vast area of territory that is crawling with zombies.

What I really like about Mr. Bourne's books is he doesn't wreck any of the zombie "rules" so to speak, as laid out by the master George A. Romero. For the most part the zombies are shambling morons that basically overwhelm with sheer numbers. There are some instances where there are "faster" more active zombies but Mr. Bourne presents a perfectly logical reason for these anomolies (I can't share this without ruining a key plot point).

The book is quite addicting and I could not put it down. I read the entire novel in one day over a period of several hours. I highly recommend you read this novel. Here is the best part...Mr. Bourne has a website where you can read the first dozen or so journal entries on line and decide yourself if the book is worth purchasing. Here is the link to the story...I guarantee you will be hooked. If you are great, buy the book and support a member of our armed forces at the same time.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Equipment Review: SureFire 6P

SureFire 6P Original Compact, high-intensity incandescent flashlight for tactical, self-defense, and general use is what is being reviewed today folks. These have come down in price and are a really great tactical flashlight. The flashlight is EXTREMELY rugged; it is manufactured out of aerospace grade aluminum. The flashlight I have is not LED (They do make one, SureFire 6P LED Defender Flashlight [80 Lumens / 11 Hours] 6PDL 2008 Model it is a bit more expensive). I honestly got mine for use with my handgun when at home...and this bad boy can seriously blind someone if you shine it directly in their eyes.


You will notice I have a pressure switch replacement end cap for mine as well. Ultimately I think this will end up mounted to a shotgun. The flashlight is built like a tank. It takes the CR123 batteries which I like because of their very long shelf life (up to 10 years!). The only bad side to the 6P is it definitely eats batteries. The run time is 60 minutes, granted it is a blinding 65 lumens (with the availablity of 120! with a high output replacement lamp available from SureFire).

The flashlight has a pressure switch on the bottom that must be held to illuminate OR you can turn the tailcap to have light in a always on mode. There is also a setting on the tailcap to prevent the flashlight from coming on it the case where it is being transported, this helps with accidental battery drain.

Below is a photo I took in complete darkness, you can see how white and crisp the light is. It really is bright, you can definitely blind someone temporarily if you hold it up to there eyes. Be careful when pointing it at folks, unless of course they are mugging you or are an intruder in your home...in that case blind away!

Here are some stats from SureFire's website on the Original 6P:
FEATURES

Rugged aerospace-grade aluminum body, Type II anodized in glossy black
O-ring sealed, weatherproof
Tempered Pyrex® window
Tailcap switch: press for momentary-on, twist for constant-on
Switch lockout prevents accidental activation during transport or storage

SPECIFICATIONS

Max Output: 65/120* lumens
*With optional ultra high-output lamp
Runtime: 60/20* minutes
*With optional ultra high-output lamp
Length: 5.20 inches
Weight: 5.30 ounces
Battery: Two 123A lithiums

Overall this is a excellent first SureFire flashlight for someone who wants a compact, tough and bright flashlight. SureFire makes EXCELLENT equipment but no one will argue the fact their stuff is extremely expensive. This is an entry level flashlight, a very high quality one at that, for a reasonable price $60. If you want to go with the new LED model in 2008, that will set you back roughly $99. Overall a good flashlight for a good price.

Make sure you have several flashlights throughout the house and in your vehicle as well. You never know when you will need some light shed on a situation!

...that is all.

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