Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Guest Post - Crazy Joe: Having A Good Time Surviving

We have a friend/hard core survivalist who has been a semi recluse these past 25 yrs. He is waiting with supplies and gear we all wish we had. His life took a back seat to surviving. Almost all of it sits in boxes, some never opened after 15 or 20 yrs. He is not part of our group of friends. We have another friend who liked the travel trailer idea 14 yrs ago. He got one used, partially gutted it, and filled it with tons of stuff and an army surplus camo net covers it. The net is fading and tearing. He does not use anything in this trailer. He too waits for the day he will need this gear but curses about how much it cost and it does nothing. Oh and the tires went flat about 10 yrs ago and so they remain.

I spent 4 1/2 yrs, 1974 - 1979, hitchhiking and back packing 27,000 miles around the USA after getting out of the US Army. I lived with the basic gear and enjoyed the 35 states I traveled through. I met hundreds of good people and likeminded people. I ate some awesome regional food long before the Food Network Channel did TV shows on it. Now part of this traveling did take into account places to bug out to. Part of these trips did look at where the safer routes were etc. At 13,000 feet elevation sunsets to die for over the western mountain range. I was having a good time surviving.

I have met waaaay to many people these past 30 yrs that own the gear and have never used it. Perhaps you own one of those magnesium striker sparky things that make fire. Have you used it? Have you sat in your suburban back yard and practiced? When will you? Did you buy a really cool Ontario marine buck knife? Have you whittled with it or used it to cut rope to make a snare? Do your Coleman lanterns hang in a garage? Use the stuff. Have a camping trip with the family or friends. Get out on a road trip to a State or National Park nearest to you and have a good time. Join a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop. Become an adult leader and learn the process.

As an outdoor instructor I used to have survival parties prior to going out on all trips. There are topographical maps and compasses to study. What about rattlers and bears in your area? These can kill just the same as a nuke. People are willing to spend 200 dollars on a tail gate party or super bowl party but won’t have a few likeminded friends over for a cook out and learn about the gear they have. Have a cookout and tell everyone to bring their lantern. Hang them up in the back yard. Compare notes. After all in 1962 I was one of those 2nd grade children that was told to hide under my desk during nuclear attack drills - what a joke. We all knew Philly was just across the river so how dumb were adults anyway? Have a good time with the gear and know how to use it by using it. Do not let it sit in your garage or shed for 20 yrs. It will get mildewed and stinky.

Crazy Joe

Flea: Thanks Crazy joe!

...that is all.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Random Musings

It has been a rough week. Had a pipe bust in my garage and dump water all over everything. Got it fixed and cleaned up...luckily I caught it quick and was able to shut the water down before it created a REAL mess. This is a lesson to check the fittings on the exposed pipes you have every once in a while...AND KNOW WHERE THE WATER SHUTOFF IS FOR YOUR HOUSE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!

I launched my new blog Flea's Pop Up Camper Blog.

I want to thank the folks who have been using my Amazon store and the search box to buy stuff. I get a small percentage of the sales and it is greatly appreciated. It ain't a whole lot but every little bit helps! Thanks!

I have a few projects lined up for the weekend:
1.) Lay down grub killer in the yard...those little bastards do some SERIOUS damage.

2.) Turn over the garden again and get ready as I will begin planting some veggies in a few weeks.

I bought driving lights that I am going to mount on the back of my Pop Up camper with a switch. They will be used when setting up camp at night and will greatly help if I have to back into a campsite. I will be sure to post that when it is done.

We setup our vacation plans for the year, going camping at Santee State Park in South Carolina for 8 days in June...should be a blast.

I haven't had much time to even read lately with all the disasters and school plus trying to stay gainfully employed. It has been a real chore but I do have some things in the pipe line to entertain you folks so stay tuned!

...that is all.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daniel Hannan...I Love This Guy :)





...that is all.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Need For Rest And Relaxation

In the endless cycle of work, school, prepping, writing, etc many people forgot to stop and smell the roses so to speak. Relaxation is the key to a sound body and mind. There are many things that you can do to relax and de-stress from a world that constantly has us on the move.

1.) Take some time each day to sit in a comfortable seat and just empty your mind of everything. I would say meditate, but that is just to hokey for me, instead I will say relax. Maybe even close your eyes and snooze for twenty minutes (set an alarm if you have to). You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel.

2.) Eat breakfast, I can't stress how much better you will feel every day by just eating something in the morning.

3.) Cut back on the caffiene, the wife and I now make coffee that is half regular and half decaf, it really does help.

4.) Get a good nights sleep, make sure you get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. YOUR BODY NEEDS THIS!!! This is the time when your body repairs itself and recharges your batteries to face the next days challenges.

5.) Go on mini-vacations, not everyone has the time or money to go on long fancy vacations but take the family camping for a three day weekend or go on day trips to break up the monotony of life. These experiences will give you perspective and help you to avoid "sweating the small stuff".

Whatever you do in these stressful times, just try and relax a bit...it will help you to keep from going nuts!

...that is all.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Have Another Blog In The Works

My love is camping, always has been and always will be. I have another blog I am starting up...mind you THIS SITE will always be my main blog. My camping blog will be updated but not as frequently as this one so don't panic if you are a regular reader here :)

Here is the link to my "Other Blog" as I like to call it.

Flea's Pop Up Camper Blog

It won't be just about Pop Up Campers mind you, but about camping, my camping related projects, tips, advice; as well as a chronicle of the camping trips we go on.

...that is all.

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Good Article On Self-Reliance

Trent over at The Simple Dollar has a good one on self-reliance today:

Reprinted below (His stuff is public domain):

"The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of the muscle. He has got a fine Geneva watch, but he has lost the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe; the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His notebooks impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents."
- Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

I checked a book of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays out of the library on my college campus based on the recommendation of a college professor that I had built a casual friendship with. She had seen me reading something different and something challenging in the hallway of the English building on campus and eventually started dropping recommendations my way - and one of the first ones was to “read Emerson, slowly, so you can really grasp what he’s saying.”

There were a dozen essays or so in that collection, but the one that jumped out at me then and has stuck with me through the years is Self-Reliance. It’s not the easiest thing to read, as Emerson uses a style of English almost two hundred years old that seems almost foreign to our natural language today, but there is so much useful truth in there that it’s well worth absorbing.

Simply put, Emerson argues that the more we rely on others, the less control we have over our own life. He looks at that idea from a number of angles: intellectual independence, emotional independence, physical independence, and so on.

Toward the end of the essay (which I quoted above), Emerson makes the point that when we become reliant on technologies that we don’t fully understand, we cede some control of our lives to other people. Think about it for a moment. If you don’t know how to fix the plumbing in your house, you’re not in control of the situation if a pipe blows - the plumber is. If you can’t replace a switch in your home, you’re reliant on the handyman/electrician.

Those reliances are very expensive. Plumbers know that you’re reliant on them for your life to continue as normal, so they can charge exorbitant rates and take their sweet time solving the problem. This costs you money. If a pipe blows at two in the morning on a Saturday and you can’t fix it quickly, not only are you going to have to pay the plumber a huge amount to come out on Sunday, you’re also going to have to deal with the cost of a great deal of cleanup and (possibly) repair of other things in your home.

This extends to every aspect of life. If you know how to cook a good, quick meal at home, you’re not reliant on restaurants. If you grow your own garden (or are at least capable of it), you’re not reliant on the produce section at the grocery store. If you learn how to do most of the maintenance on your car, you’re not reliant on the garage.

The fewer things you’re reliant on, the easier it is to move towards financial independence, too. You can handle emergencies without having to pay for an expert to come in. You can make day-to-day choices that save you money (like preparing food at home). Even better, your overall living expenses go down, meaning the threshold of savings you need to be truly financially independent is lower.

That Emerson wrote about this very thing in 1843 simply shows the universal truth of the idea: self-reliance always pays off.


If you have never visited Trent's site you should...

...that is all.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Equipment Review: Mr. Heater


When I bought my pop up camper they did not offer a furnace in it. Most of the time in South Carolina it as hot as hell so I figured no big deal. Well on our last camping trip it got down to around 32 degrees or so and my wife threatened to gut me for the warmth.

The next morning I left the campsite in search of a solution. Electrical heaters use a lot of power, mosts use 1500 watts, and I wanted something I could use should we decide to dry camp away from a power source and on DC only. I looked at propane but the inevitable "use this in an enclosed space and die" messages kept popping up UNTIL I came across the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy 9,000 BTU Propane Radiant Heater #F273400. It is a propane heater that is safe to use inside!!! (and marketed as such)

It has a low oxygen sensor that shuts it down should that situation occur. It also has a tip over shut off sensor. I am paranoid but between those safety features, leaving a screen open a bit to ventilate, my C0 detector and my propane leak detector I feel perfectly safe using this thing.

It heats about 200 square feet for about 3 hours on HIGH using those 1lb propane bottles or 6 hours on low. I opted to use my adapter hose (fed into the camper)and a 20lb cylinder that I left outside. If you go this route always make sure to shut the cylinder off first and left the propane in the hose burn off before shutting down the unit OR get yourself a fuel filter to keep leeched oils from the hose from collecting in the unit and ruining it.

I am EXTRMELY pleased with this unit and would recommend it to anyone needing safe and portable space heating. The entire camper was quite toasty using this unit and I am extremely happy I got it, especially since almost every review I have read has been positive.

DISCLAIMER: Make sure you follow the guidelines and instructions for using this unit as death or injury could result from misuse.

...that is all.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Make a "Bucket Light"

I decided after the last camping trip we went on when I got home I would make a bucket light. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, a bucket light is a light fixture in a white bucket that you hang from a tree and plug into the campgrounds electricity and really it can light up your entire campsite at night.

I purchased everything from Home Depot and Harbor Freight Tools and built this for approximately $12...one caveat was I used a bucket I had so that was FREE.

I went to Harbor Freight Tools and purchased one of their cheap outdoor extension cords for $7.99. I puchased a cheap plastic light fixture from Home Depot it was like $1.46 or something. I purchased the needed hardware which consisted of 2 bolts with nuts and washers and 2 fender washers for a total of like $2.

Here is the result:


You would plug the light in and hang it using the bucket handle. the fixture is attached to the bottom of the bucket using the hardware. You can see the bolts and fender washers and the cannabalized power cord. I did this so the cord entering the bucket would be on the bottom making the bucket light weather resistant.

To make this thing I cut the female end of the extension cord off and stripped the white and black wire to copper.

I took the light fixture and held it on the bottom on the bucket and marked the holes I needed to drill I then used a drill bit around the same size as the bolts and made three holes, 2 for the bolts one to feed in the cord.

I then fed the cord in the bucket and connected the white and black wires as required to the light fixture.

I then used the hardware to bolt the fixture to the bottom of the bucket.

Put the lid on the bucket and you are done!

Here are some pics of the different parts of the bucket light to show you what I am talking about:




And finally here is the bucket light in "all of it's glory"!!!


This is a cheap and easy project that will make camping more fun for you and your family. In total I spent almost nothing and it took a grand total of 1 hour to complete. I highly recommend this as a nice little project you can do with your kids.

...that is all.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reader Poll: Your Best Pop Up Camper Tips and Gadgets

OK people let me have them...what are your best tips and tricks with regard to Pop Up campers?

What mods have you done to your campers?

I am thinking of a few I would like to do like mount a large tool box to the tongue of the camper and a large PVC tube to the back bumper (for storage).

Come on people hit me with you best shots!!!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recession Hits Home And Other News

I was forced to take a week unpaid leave at the company to try and stem the bleeding I guess. Well the little woman and I packed up the "Escape Pod" to use Mayberry's term and headed to the camp grounds for some relaxation. Just got back on Sunday and it was very enjoyable.

I normally have a Blackberry and am on call 24/7, when on unpaid leave the law states NO WORK (at all) so I shut that sucker off and it felt wonderful.

Did some fishing and walking and a whole lot of nothing.

Harper Collins sent me a review copy of Neil Strauss' new book "Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life" so when I finish it I will post a review for you. The book just came in via UPS on Monday so give me a few days to read it before expecting that review on the blog.

Other than that we haven't been doing a whole lot. We have been saving our money in case one of us loses our jobs. So far we have been lucky but there have been other changes at my job besides the unpaid week that scare me a bit so I ain't holding my breath that I will be retiring from this company.

One regret with my Pop up camper purchase last year...no slide out. I wish I had gotten a model with a slide as it really opens it up. Other than that we love the thing. Here she is for those of those of you who haven't been here that long.

The Be A Survivor "Escape Pod"...

...that is all.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning is something my wife and I take seriously and you should too. We perform a lot of serious cleaning and maintenance during this time in and on our house and vehicles.

Vehicles:
1.) Do a COMPLETE and thorough detailing job on your vehicles. Clean them inside and out. Shampoo and air the interior of the vehicle out on a nice sunny day. This cleaning should be very, very thorough...vacuum areas like the trunk and other areas that may not get the love the rest of the year.

2.) Do a detailed inspection of your vehicle to make sure that it is in tip-top shape. Check the battery terminals for corrosion, look under the car and check the exhaust system and muffler for excessive rust. Check the tires, look at the belts and filters for wear and dirt.

On your house (if you have one)
1.) Powerwash and water seal any wooden decks or fences to prevent premature wear.

2.) Powerwash the outside of your house if you have siding. If you have shingles or paint just hose it down as you don't want to accidentally remove paint. If your house is painted or stained check for loose and flaking paint or broken shingles and repair as needed.

3.) Powerwash the sidewalks and driveway. If you have a blacktop driveway, repair any cracks and use a quality blacktop sealer on the surface to seal it against the weather.

4.) Do any needed maintenance on your yard equipment to get it ready for the season. Clean the mower, trimmer and blower completely. Change any oil and filters if needed and sharpen the blade on your mower.

In your home:
1.) Clean all the windows inside and out.

2.) Flip your mattresses...and make sure to rotate it 180 degrees as well every other time you flip it. If you do this correctly the place where your head would have been previously will now be on the bottom and at the foot of the bed.

3.) Vacuum the refrigerator coils as a significant amount of dust can affect the performance of the appliance.

4.) If you have a self-cleaning oven, open the windows on a nice day and turn that on...BE SURE to remove the racks first or they will become discolored permanently.

5.) Wipe down kitchen cabinets with Murphy's wood soap and water, then dry them thoroughly.

6.) Get the carpets cleaned OR rent a machine and do them yourself to save some money.

7.) Go through your closets and dressers and donate any clothes you don't wear to charity or have a garage sale.

8.) Go through your house and clean up what you don't need or use and have a garage sale or donate the items to charity.

9.) Clean the coffee pot by running a 50/50 water vinegar mixture through it then running 3 more pots with just water to ensure you removed all of the traces of vinegar.

10.) Clean your dryer vent and check the hose for wear or excessive lint buildup. Replace the hose if needed and ensure there is no excessive hose, it should be as short as possible to maximize the efficiency.

...that is all.

...that is all.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Be A Survivor Pulled Pork Recipe

Made this the other day and it was quite good.

Ingredients:
Pork Butt Roast
1 Large White Onion
2 Cups of water
Salt
Pepper
Canola Oil
Your favorite BBQ sauce

1.) Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. In a skillet heat the canola oil. Brown and sear all side of the pork roast. (You are NOT cooking it just searing it so high heat short amount of time.)

2.) Slice the onion into thick slices and line the bottom of a crock pot.

3.) Add the browned roast to the crock pot on top of the onions and add 2 cups of water. Cook on HIGH for 8 hours.

4.) Remove the roast (probably will be falling apart at this point) and let it cool a bit.

5.) Use two forks and gently pull the meat apart and remove any excess fat. Take the pulled pork and add to a bowl. Slowly add you BBQ sauce in increments and thoroughly work into the meat. Stop adding when you reach the desired taste. Don't over do it, people can always add more BBQ sauce.

Optional: Get yourself a nice Kaiser roll and generously pile the pulled pork onto it. Add some additional BBQ sauce and some cole slaw (yes...right on the sandwich!)...and that is some good eating.

...that is all.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

How To Support This Blog

I get emails from folks asking how they can support this blog.

1.) The way I would appreciate most would be to get the word out...let your friends and neighbors know about us.

2.) Subscribe to Be A Survivor by Email

3.) You can subscribe to my feed.

All of the methods above would be GREATLY appreciated. Getting the word out and helping to drive traffic to this blog will increase readership and hopefully I can throw some tidbits out there for folks that stick and help them be prepared and save some money as well.

You can support the blog financially serveral ways and all are STRICTLY voluntary:

1.) Donate to the blog - helps keep costs down with regard to my time and the books and equipment I review.

2.) Shop in our Amazon store OR use or Amazon search box on the right hand side of the blog...buy anything using that and we get a small percentage.

3.) Visit any of the advertisers on the blog (once again all strictly voluntary)

Help support the blog if you enjoy it...regardless your welcome to visit me everyday and see what is cooking. I certainly don't do this to get rich or even survive (I'd be dead by now).

AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR VISITING!!!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frugality....The New Chic.

I chuckle when I read headlines like the title of this post. Many people are just starting to wake up from the withdrawl of consumerism and have come to this staggering conclusion...man are we in trouble.

No shit, where have you been the last few years? Living under a rock?

The government is hellbent on running the country into the ground...notice I said government and not Democrat or Republican...this drunked sailor spending spree started with Bush and has been taken to new levels with the current administration BUT that is not the purpose of this post.

My friends we are all F@#$ED!!, and that is all I can say. The American economy is circling the drain and action needs to be taken if you don't want to be standing in line for a loaf of bread instead of that flat screen TV (and if the morons will trample a human being for a TV imagine when their bellies starts rumbling).

Start saving and STOP spending right now. Do not buy another useless trinket, iPod, TV, sofa, shirt, purse or whatever your poison is....JUST STOP!

Know where every nickel you have is and make sure it is tucked away safely and away from those dirt bags that want you to buy their useless shit.

Pay off your debts as fast as you can. If you owe money...pay it off. It makes no sense to pay interest on something if you have the money in the bank to pay that debt off.

If you are a one income family try and change that. It will help you should that one income cease due to a layoff. My wife and I both have jobs, it can be tough if you have young kids BUT if your kids are a older get back out in the workforce and get them working as soon as they are old enough...every little bit helps.

Pay cash for everything going forward. Keep one credit card for an emergency but do not use it unless the sky is falling.

Keep your vehicles well maintained and drive them until they will drive no further. There is no reason that a well maintained car cannot go 200,000 miles or more.

Use the circulars to find deals in the supermarkets and hit each one picking up loss leader items. Don't just shop in one grocery store as you are most likely being screwed in some fashion. Also if you haven't already, keep a price book and use it religiously.

Make sure your house is energy efficient and replace your old bulbs with CFL's.

Make your own cleaning supplies like laundry detergent, glass cleaner and Soft Scrub.

Use some basic common sense to save some money.

Take care of your health and your teeth. Without either you are going to be in a world of hurt should the SHTF.

Lastly there are bargains to be had out there if you look hard enough. Get prepared and hunker down...it is going to be a LONG RECESSION.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Angel Food Ministries Revisited

You may remember a while back I did a post of Angel Food Ministries...well I picked up my basket and started to dive into the food and so far the results are pretty good.

On Saturday we grabbed our empty laundry basket and our printed receipt from our online purchase and headed to the church to make our pick up. Pick up is limited to one hour so get there on time otherwise consider the money you paid a donation because your food will be given to the needy.

I arrived at the church with my wife; this is not our church so we are not real familiar with it. There were 0 signs anywhere...but somehow we made it to the back of the building and found where we supposed to go.

The setup is simple, show your receipt and head to the various stations and pick up what you purchased. Make sure you know how many and what type of units you purchased. Stuff gets tossed into your basket pretty quickly and the wife and I gave up trying to keep track. We took all of our food and headed to the car to inventory. Be advised they do substitute without warning...several items I was supposed to get were substituted with alternate items. The food is frozen and appears to have been handled safely.

We got home and put everything away...to be honest we have only tried the bacon and eggs, as well as a peach pie...and you can't really screw those up if you know what I mean. The bacon was a brand I never heard of and was quite good. It fried up crisp and straight (nothing annoys me more than curled bacon that is half crisp and half fatty uncooked chewiness.) It was probably some of the best bacon I have had...not too salty and pretty tasty, even the wife commented and she isn't a big bacon eater.

Eggs are eggs....they were fresh and unbroken.

The peach pie was the frozen kind you toss in the oven like Mrs. Smith's, it was good; what can I really say about it besides it tasted like peach pie :)

We have a ton of meats that we got but have not tried yet...I will let you guys know when we do BUT so far it appears this was a solid deal and we plan to purchase again this month.

...that is all.

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