Friday, October 31, 2008

Be Prepared: Properly Maintaining A Vehicle

Properly maintaining a vehicle is one of those things I will probably get a hundred emails and comments on how I am nuts when I recommend these things. Keep in mind I am talking about the minimum things that need to be done to maintain a vehicle...feel free to adjust as you see fit. The most important thing to do is something...otherwise it will fail you when you need it most. In these tough economic times you don't want to have to replace a vehicle if you don't need to, take care of it and it will take care of you and more importantly save you money in the long run.

1.) Keep the vehicle clean - The minimum I wash my vehicle is once a month and that includes a thorough interior cleaning as well. This can certainly be done more often if needed and in fact when we return from camping I always clean the truck inside and out.

2.) Change the oil on your vehicle - Change the oil a minimum of every 5,000 miles. I personally do it every 3,000 miles. I don't feel it is necessary to do it every 2,000 or 2,500 miles like some folks advise. I change the oil filter every time the oil is changed but I know some people that do it every other oil change (it is so cheap to pick one up this is kinda dumb in my opinion).

3.) Maintain proper inflation in your tires - This will give you a comfortable ride, increase your gas mileage and help your tires maintain even wear.

4.) Rotate your tires - I do this every 7,500 - 10,000 miles or every other oil change. This is extremely important to maintain even tread wear on your tires.

5.) Don't let the vehicle get extremely low on gas - When your gas tank gets real low and if you run out of gas all the garbage that builds up at the bottom of your tank gets sucked into the fuel system and that just causes bad stuff to happen. I usually never let my tank get below a 1/4 of a tank...when it does I fill it up.

6.) Change the air filter - I personally put a K&N air filter in all my vehicles which is a lifetime filter that just needs to be cleaned and oiled when needed. You should check your air filter every other oil change and change it when it is pretty dirty. I have seen people blow it off with compressed air and put it back in the vehicle which is fine as long as it is not filthy. Plain vanilla air filters are cheap as well so I would recommend changing it frequently.

7.) Check all the fluids - I check all the fluids when I change the oil and top off whatever I need to. I pay special attention to the transmission and power steering fluid when it gets near 15,000 to 20,000 miles since changing. The transmission fluid should be clear of debris and red in color (it could be another color but most are red). Top off the coolant if need be and keep the washer tank filled with fluid as well.

8.) Get a tune-up - This is the subject of debate. My owner's manual says 100,000 miles before a tune up. I don't buy that. Check your plugs and wires frequently but at a minimum of 20,000 miles. I think plugs should be checked and wire replaced at a minimum of 50,000 miles. Like I said this is up for debate and feel free to chime in. If you trust your mechanic follow his advice with regard to this and everything I have listed in this post.

Listen please take care of your vehicle. The advice I provide here is strictly for informational purposes and you should consult with a professional mechanic. There is no reason why you should not be able to drive a car until the body rusts around the engine if you take good care of it.

I had a Toyota Corolla for 10 years, it was 4 cylinder and had close to 200,000 miles on it and ran fine when I finally decided I deserved to buy myself a pickup and got rid of it (A/C did not work - that was the only thing wrong with it). I will drive my pickup into the ground before I replace it and the same with my wife's SUV.

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be Prepared: Maintaining Good Health

Maintaining your health is your best defense should the SHTF. In the event of a real disturbance the healthier you are the better your chances of long term survival. If there were a complete collapse of society as we know it, do you believe that drugs like insulin, nitro or any other meds will be available? They may be, for a time but they will quickly be snapped up and hoarded, expire or cease to exist.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to get your conditions under control now before something happens when it will most likely be too late. Many conditions, diabetes for example, in its less severe form can be totally controlled or even eliminated by following a disciplined diet.

Some things that you can do to maintain your health or even enhance it are:
1.) Go for at least a yearly checkup to your doctor, if you don't have a doctor go to one of those family care/urgent care centers. In the case of your health, ignorance is NOT bliss. You may have a condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or something even more insidious that could be taking a toll on your body and you are none the wiser. There is NO excuse not to visit a doctor once a year for a checkup even if you don't have for it out of pocket if you have to. It is that important.

2.) EXERCISE!!!! Let's face it...we are a nation of lazy and obese people. Kids now sit in front of the TV and exercise their thumbs playing video games rather than running around and being kids. If thumb wrestling ever becomes an Olympic sport...we will get the gold for sure. When I was a kid I used argue with my parents when they wanted me inside the house and punishment was not being able to go outside. Now kids are banished to their rooms and only need to decide if they are going to watch a movie, chat on the computer or play Wii, Xbox or Playstation...pathetic. If you are a parent set an example for your kids...ask your son if he want to play a game of catch, ask your husband or wife if they want to go for a walk, take the family camping or hiking. DO SOMETHING that requires removing your rear end from the couch!!!! Exercise is paramount if you want to live a healthy life.

Ask yourself this...when it all crumbles (society) you truly believe you are going to be able to strap a 50 lb pack to yourself along with a rifle that weighs 7-10 lbs. and walk to safety if needed? Be honest...should the movie 28 Days Later become reality (ok not likely but hey you never know) and you have some virally infected, screaming runner chasing you, how long before you try and call time because your lungs are screaming for air and the lactic acid has locked your muscles up? If you don't care about yourself enough to maintain minimum physical fitness. I say let "the infected" or whoever "they" are in the situation have you. The herd will be stronger as a result of your demise. Sound harsh...yes I admit this post may irritate some folks but I feel that strongly about our nation and the future we face with schools that do away with gym class and physical fitness tests and overweight people with chronic disease increasing tenfold in our population.

3.) This is one we all struggle with, eating healthy. Sometimes it is just not possible to do all the time. If you exercise this is not as big of a problem as it is for those of you who do nothing. My advice is to cook meals at home...they will easily be more healthy than most meals available at restaurants or fast food joints. Eating healthy takes discipline and you do need to "treat" yourself every once in awhile with something you really enjoy...otherwise you will go nuts. You really can't go wrong with lots of veggies, fruit, chicken and fish. Mix it up to avoid getting bored...but do yourself a favor and try and eat healthy more often than not.

4.) Take a vitamin everyday...nothing fancy...a "One A Day" will be just fine. Don't overdo it with supplements as you will just pee most of it out anyway.

5.) Don't sweat the small stuff, equally important as your physical health; your mental well being is key to living a happy and healthy existence. My wife is amazed how I brush off the politics and drama of family life (extended family issues - we all have them). I honestly don't give a shit about what other people think or say about me. It takes a lot for me to get riled up and mentally I am a very content person without the baggage many people carry around with them. I don't let the past affect my future and I don't let others actions dictate my existence. If you piss me off I will cut you off in a second and not think about you ever again for the rest of my life and be happy as a clam. Yes I know I am different than most folks. I only care about what TWO people think about me: 1.) My wife and 2.) My creator and in that order (if you have kids your order will differ). Trust me if you learn to think like this you will feel the stress melt away and a weight will be lifted from your shoulders.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Survival Food Spotlight: Salt

The survival food spotlight will now shine on a product that is often blamed for maladies like causing high blood pressure, has never been given the proper credit for its importance to food preservation and taste enhancement and is a mineral so important that without it you will die...a painful death I might add. I am talking about...

Salt was so valuable in the past it was used as currency, wars have been fought over it, fables and fairy tales have had it play a central role in has been an important part of humanity for thousands and thousands of years.

Salt is a mineral that is mined and the common variety you are probably most familiar with is iodized salt which has a minute amount of potassium iodide (or something very similar) mixed into it in order to help avoid iodine deficiency in our bodies.

Everyone has probably heard the phrase, "He is not worth his salt." That originated from ancient Greece where slaves were actually traded for salt. That shows how important this mudane little mineral was at that point in history better than anything else I can offer you.

Salt (sodium) in the human body helps the body maintain the correct balance of water inside and outside the cells. The salt in your body keeps some the water outside of the cell and helps maintain this balance. When you have a salt defficiency you can develop a condition called Hyponatremia which is extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The symptoms are nausea, disorientation and SEVERE muscle cramps which can cause your body to basically lock up. It is imperative that if you sweat a lot or drink a lot that there is some sort of salt intake (sodium) at some point or you can develop this condition.

There are many types of salt and I recommend you store some of each. I have Kosher salt, iodized salt, rock salt and pickling salt in my storage area. Iodized salt can be picked up for as little at 30 cents a pound! Salt stays very well and if stored properly and kept away from moisture will last almost indefinitely.

Let's see, salt makes food taste better as a seasoning, will help you preserve food, is needed by your body, has a fantastic shelf-life, is dirt cheap, is easy to store in quantity....hmmm what was the reason your weren't stockpiling some?

...that is all.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Survivalists Update

We have 5 sites that have joined the web ring so far and a kick ass banner (designed by yours truly) that you can see at the bottom of my web page. You will be able to select the banner you want to use when you sign up and once you have you can change it in your account settings on the ringsurf site.

Any survival, outdoors, homesteading, guns, nature, etc. related blog or web site is welcome to join.

Web Rings only work if sites join...the more that join the more traffic is generated for member sites.

Did I mention it is free!

EDIT: BTW 5 sites means half of the top 10 is filled which are the sites that will appear on the first page of the web ring. That leave 5 spots left for sites if you want to be the first ones people see when they visit the ring.

...that is all.

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Book Review: The Complete Tightwad Gazette

This is a book review but is a bit different than my other reviews. Usually I break down the book by chapter and provide tidbits of infomation on what is contained in them. That approach would be impossible with this book called the The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn a.k.a. "The Frugal Zealot". This is a copendium of her now defunct newsletter the "Tightwad Gazette".

This is not a book that you just sit down and start reading like a novel and because of the nature of it being a compilation, it's organization leaves a bit to be desired. Amy Dacyczyn is famous in cheapskate circles for her tips and tricks, some of which are fantastic and some of which you will probably shake your head at.

One thing people forget when they do crazy things to try and save money is spend an inordinate amount of time trying to do so, time is money. My time is money, if I spend five hours trying to save five bucks, well that is just not worth it to me. Your time is money and you must draw the line at some point when it comes to some of the things these live cheap authors suggest. That being said the tips in this book are well worth the price and this book will most likely be available at your local reserve it today.

This books contains literally thousands of tips all presented by Amy Dacyczyn and all with some value. Even some of the tips I cringe at provide inspiration for looking at something in a different way and challenges you to see if you can do it cheaper.

The tips presented are not simple one liners. There are complete recipies, instructions, stories, etc. all of which are presented from Amy Dacyczyn's point of view and in the perspective of her life as a mother and wife.

The book is over 900 pages long and made up of her newsletters published individually and in separate books called:

The Tightwad Gazette
The Tightwad Gazette II
The Tightwad Gazette III

Amy Dacyczyn has dropped out of the spotlight preferring to spend her time with her family (smart woman) but her book and reputation as a professional cheapskate are legendary across the Internet. If you have never heard of her or the Tightwad Gazette I strongly suggest you check them out.

...that is all.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

"The Survivalists" Webring

I started a new webring over at ringsurf (different from the "other" webring).

Any survival, preparedness, gun, homesteading, outdoors, etc. blogs or websites are welcome to join. Hopefully this will help generate some traffic for folks.

Here is the webiste: The Survivalists Webring

Join's FREE!

EDIT: I did my first few banners for the web ring. You can see the one I like best so far at the bottom of my site. Sort of an old west meets the A-Team type feel. Let me know what you guys think...SO FAR 3 SITES Have Joined!!!

...that is all.

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Equipment Review: Victorinox Rucksack

Today I will be reviewing one of my favorite inexpensive knives, one of the classic Swiss army knives. I have always liked them for being simple, multi-use, and fairly good quality for a cheap price. My biggest complaint was they were a bit unsafe as are all non-locking knives in my opinion. There is just a greater chance of injury when using a knife that does not have a blade that locks in place.

That has changed, in recent years Victorinox started a line a slightly larger knives that do in fact have a blade that locks back. I purchased the Rucksack Lockback Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox Knives for roughly $25 bucks and I absolutely love it. The knife is larger than your typical Swiss Army knife that I have had in the past. One I currently own besides this one is the Victorinox CyberTool 34 Translucent Ruby 53919 that one in particluar was useful when I was a tech and might be on the plant floor and needed to disassemble a PC. The Rucksack is a great knife because it includes several of the tools that are most useful on the typical Swiss Army knife but with the added bonus of the more stable and safe locking main blade.

Above is a picture of my knife and below is a shot of the locking mechanism which is basically a small sliding trigger which releases the blade.

The tools included with the knife are:
1. large lock blade
2. corkscrew
3. can opener
4. screwdriver 3 mm
5. cap lifter
6. screwdriver with automatic locking
7. wire stripper
8. reamer, punch
9. key ring
10. tweezers
11. toothpick
12. wood saw

Your really can't beat this as a backup, EDC (everyday carry) or a knock around knife for $25. I think Victorinox hit a home run with this new line of locking blades. There are several other models besides the Rucksack and even a few that are one handed opening which is great in the event of needing to use the knife when injured. This model IS NOT one handed opening but that was not a requirement for my purchase - the woodsaw was.

I heartily recommend this knife without hesitation and think most survival type folks will appreciate a decent knife they can beat on without caring about paying a crazy amount of money for it. I have been carrying this baby everyday and it has served me quite well in the time I have had it.

Visit Victorinox here.

...that is all.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekend Roundup Vol. 14

Weekend Roundup:
Hey folks another weekend is upon us. What I thought I would do going forward is give you a preview of what posts are upcoming for the week. Let me know if you like that or you want to continue to be "surprised" everyday. Comment on this post and let me know and majority rules!!!

Coming this week:
Equipment Review: Victorinox Rucksack
Book Review: Tightwad Gazette
Survival Food Spotlight: Salt
Be Prepared: Maintaining Good Health
Be Prepared: Properly Maintaining A Vehicle

On My Mind:
Have a couple of new friends here at Be A Survivor, be sure to check them out:

Suburban Bushwacker
American Bushman
Sooner or Later
Mungo Says Bah
Down In The Hills Survival

They all have something different to offer and each has a unique perspective on some form of homesteading, survival, nature or the outdoors in general.

If you would like your blog or website added to the Be A Survivor link list, let me know. Before asking, please make sure you have some content, it is related topically to my blog, (for example a site on baseball would not fit in here), is updated on some sort of regular schedule and I will be happy to try and help you out.

On The Blogs:
Scoutinlife's Homestead and Preparedness Blog
Outdoor Journals

Stealth Survival
Emergency Dental Repair (ouch)

Kaiservontexas' Musings
I Like Canned Food

The Simple Dollar
How To Keep Important Stuff From Slipping Through The Cracks

Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest
How To Read The Constitution

Down In The Hills Survival
Broadside Of A Barn

The Tip:
When accumulating weapons and ammunition go for ammunition commonality. Keep the number of calibers you have to store to a minimum. I have 22lr, 9mm and 7.62x39 for example, all of my weapons utilize these cailbers. I have my P-shooter (22lr) for varmant hunting, I have a defensive handgun round in 9mm and my reach out and touch someone in the form of 7.62x39. They are all extremely common calibers and will be readily available should the SHTF. STAY AWAY from oddball calibers unless you can store a large amount because when the ammo is gone it will most likely be gone for good.

...that is all.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Survival Links:

With all the banking BS going on there is a site I have been using for years to get good financial information as well as information on banks and the products they offer (as well as their solvency).

The site is called and I highly recommend it. They have breakdowns on mortagages, savings accounts, CD's, financial advice, informational columns and much, much more.

I check them out at least once a week and they helped me big time with tax information when I was selling my NJ house. I was selling before living in it as a primary residence for 2 years...which has tax implications. Bankrate gave me info that I asked my accountant about and he verified it, that information saved me money.

It is a good resource and I figured I would share, especially now with so many people freaking out about banks in general.

***PLEASE spare me the banks are evil and want to steal your money crap in the comments section. If you don't find this useful please move along as there is nothing to see here. I am providing this link for the millions of folks who use the banks in this country. If you stuff your money in a mattress that is your business and in that case I would suggest you check out***

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Precious Metals

The most common precious metals to invest in are:

(These prices change daily by the minute, strictly for comparison)
Gold - has been ranging between $700 an $1000 per ounce.
Silver - ranging right around $9-10 and ounce.
Platinum - right around $800 and $1100 an ounce.

There are many others than can be invested in but these are the most common.

Precious metals can come in many forms:

Bullion - bars, ingots or blanks
Coins - Maple leafs, Silver Eagles, Pandas, and MANY others
Jewelry - rings, necklaces, cuff links, etc.

There are many other forms but these are the most common.

The simplest and the cheapest way to get into collecting/investing in precious metals in what they call junk silver and the best way to start is in the form of coins. Any US dime, quarter, half-dollar or dollar coin minted prior to 1965 is 90% silver in content and certainly worth more than face value. All you need to do to get started in investing in precious metals (silver specifically) is to start going through the very change you have lying around and check for pre 65 coins (not nickels or pennies - although I collect them as well). I went through a pile of change I had and found several pre 65 coins without even exerting any effort. I go through and check the dates on all change that comes into my possession. Yes it is that simple...

You most likely have already started investing in gold in the form of jewelry. Gold is expensive and if you want to invest in something you will be able to actually use if the SHTF go for coins that are at least 1/10 of an ounce and preferably 1/20 of an ounce. You don't want to have everything tied up in a few 1 ounce coins because I don't think getting change will be a real option in the event the SHTF and you are paying for services in the form of a gold coin. Most likely in a scenario like that the service will cost what you have.

The old how much does it much do you have type deal...not good when your fortune is tied up in 1 ounce Pandas.

You really should at least get into hoarding some of that junk silver if you do nothing else because it will cost you nothing just a little effort. I like American Eagles but don't buy them from the mint as you will pay a fairly high price due to the "collector" syndrome. I like them and other coins like them (Maple Leafs, etc.) because they are .9999 pure and 1 troy ounce of silver. You will pay more than the going rate of silver for them strictly because there is collectable value...just be careful not to pay too much.

Get started today by going through your change and looking for pre 65 gems.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How To Survive Your Car Breaking Down

1.) Have a properly inflated spare tire or donut in your vehicle available for use along with a jack and tire iron. I would also keep some work gloves and a few towels in the trunk to aid you when you need to change a tire.

2.) Have some road flares or reflective triangles available to place safely behind your vehicle should you break down to keep other drivers in "the know" that you are disabled and on the side of the road. This could help prevent your vehicle from being struck from behind.

3.) Have a cell phone charger in your car that runs off your cigarette lighter in your vehicle.

4.) Keep a quart of oil and some anti-freeze in your trunk, you never know when you may need them.

5.) Throw and extra jacket or sweater in your vehicles trunk

6.) Keep a few bottles of water in your vehicle to be used in the event of an emergency.

7.) Invest in one of those battery charger/inflators. These things are fantastic and you need to make sure to keep it charged or make sure it can plugged into the cigarette lighter (won't help with a dead battery). You will be ok if you take it out every few months and ensure it is charged.

8.) Keep a small first aid kit in the car incase someone hurts themselves (like when they are changing the tire or lighting the flares).

9.) Always may sure you have some cash or at least a credit card with you in case you need to be towed. Most towing companies can be real pains when it comes to this and they won't tow without something up front.

10.) Always have a decent set of jumper cables available, they have saved me on a few ocassions and I have also been able to help a few folks out as well.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Show Me The Love!!!

Folks been quiet around a steady stream of around 300-400 people visting the site daily been like that for quite awhile.

Show me some love. If you enjoy this blog I would appreciate you spread the word for me. If you have a website or a blog throw up a link to me. I certainly don't do this for money because I would be dead and buried from starvation at this point.

All I ask in return for bringing you a small piece of joy each day is some publicity.

Show me the love!

Thanks to all the loyal folks who show up here to listen to me bloviate on a daily basis!

...that is all.

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Be Prepared: Omega III Fish Oil

I have high cholesterol. I have been taking 10mg of Lipitor per day for the last few years and my cholesterol dropped from a very unhealthy 290 to a MUCH better 144. The one thing I have not been able to get under control is my triglyicerides which the fat content of your blood.

The doctor recommended Tricor 130 mg per day. Well I was getting achy muscles while taking that so I told him I could not take that any longer. He recommended we try a more natural approach. I started taking a few suppliments he recommended. One of them is Omega III Fish Oil. I take 4 grams...yes you read that right 4 GRAMS or 4000 mg for those not up on converting figures. I take 2 grams or 2000 mg in the morning and another 2 grams at night.

I take this with another suppliment I will write about in a future post and my triglycerides have dropped significantly. I have to admit I was skeptical but the natural suppliments worked great! Sure it's a pain in the ass to choke down 4 1000 mg horse sized pills a day but it is natural and it worked for me!

I am a believer now in a natural approach to getting the body healthy. Once I have a few months of taking these suppliments under my belt, I am going to ask the doctor if I can stop taking Lipitor as well and see where my cholesterol ends up.

Wikipedia Article on Fish Oils

Some proven benefits of taking fish oil:
Cardiovascular health
Less pain and inflammation
Reduced chance of some cancers (breast, colon and prostate)
Lessens the affects of depression
Improved brain function and health
Aids in prevention of heart attack and stroke

From Wisegeek:
"Not only has fish oil been shown to offer benefits in terms of physical health, but it may also be advantageous for mental health. Many studies suggest that fish oil may help to boost memory and concentration, as well as to combat depression. Some experts believe it may even be effective in treating bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and schizophrenia."

The Mayo Clinic has an excellent scorecard that basically give fish oil a letter grade (A, B, C, D or F) for specfic ailments. It explains any links that either support or refute the evidence of fish oil helping that particular condition. You can vew it here.

...that is all.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Review: The Happening

Ok I am a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I loved most of his movies and thought he was a great and talented filmmaker, until I watched The Happeningthe other night. This movie absolutely was the biggest diappointment for me to come in the form of a movie. The plot was lame (the premise was smart), the acting was totally amatuer and most importantly the special effects were some of the worst I have seen, I could have done them better with Photoshop. The death scenes were so fake, the blood looked CGI and it goes down from there. The one highlight of the film was John Leguizamo...his acting was solid...Mark Wahlberg looked like a deer in the headlights and I think he realized what a stinker this was as it was being played out.

There is basically and "event" (it is a real smart premise like I said - can't say more for those of you who actually are willing to see this) that causes people to loose their survival instinct and kill themselves. They kill themselves in some pretty creative ways but that is where the special effect totally blow it. They look like college kids with a camera and some beer did them to be honest.

This guy summed it up nicely in his review of the movie on
"Someone save M. Night Shymalan from himself. For a man who insists on writing, producing and directing his own movies, he's digging an early grave for his career as a filmmaker and "The Happening" has breached the six-foot mark for his burial. Sporting a lousy script and lousy performances to boot, Shyamalan's much talked-about first R-rated film is a travesty of filmmaking that deserves no better than a 30% rating. If it were a tomato, it'd be pretty darn rotten."

I can't say enough bad stuff about this movie so I will sum it up as:
This movie sucked...don't waste a dime on it unless you can see it for free.

I give this movie 1 turd out of five and that is being kind.

...that is all.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Weekend Roundup Vol. 13

Weekend Roundup:
Well that was a quick week. The in-laws are leaving today and life should start to get back to normal. I have a road trip Monday, going to Greenwood, SC for a project I am working day type big deal.

On My Mind:
I keep waiting for the SHTF but it doesn't seem to much as people would seem to wish for it to occur.

Joe the Plumber, a victim of character assassination for asking Barak Obama a question...nice. Great to see a person can ask a question of a candidate (who came to him by the way, not like poor old Joe went out of his way to find Mr. Obama) and then get every aspect of his life disected by the liberal media (and even be called a right wing loon!). Guess we should think twice before we ask "The One" a question. They might find out out you swallowed your gum in second grade or actually like "Catcher In The Rye". What a load of shit...politics in this country has become a joke and the media is the punchline.

On The Blogs:
A little different today, these folks all provide some good info or have great entertainment value. Give them some traffic!

Stealth Survival
Scoutinlife's Homestead and Preparedness Blog
The Simple Dollar
Total Survivalist Liberatrian Rantfest
Kaiservontexas' Musings

The Tip:
If you like to read check out some site that do swaps or book trades for very little cost:
Paperback Book Swap

...that is all.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Book Review: America's Cheapest Family

Well I guess now is no better time than to review another "live on the cheap" type book. These economic times would make even investor's with ice water in their veins cringe. I can't for the life of me remember where I picked up the recommendation on this next book. I may have just been surfing and came across it. I ordered it awhile back and read it in the last couple weeks, it is called America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams. The book was written by Steve and Annette Economides...yep that is their last name ironically enough, and the book is about their family and their lifestyle.

They actually have a website and a newsletter called "The Home Econimiser".

Here is a brief description of their family from their own website "Steve and Annette Economides (Econo mee dis) have raised five kids, paid off their first home in 9 years on an average income of just $35,000, pay cash for their cars and don’t use a credit card . . . ever. They have cashed in on the American dream in a very un-American way — with no debt."

I think that salary of 35k should grab your attention...yes...paid off house AND five kids.

I love these types of books and I will tell you why...many of the suggestions are just crazy, just plain two ways about it...BUT there are always some really good tips to be gleaned from these books. I have picked up a few here and there and now I have a pretty good idea of how to save myself some bucks in most situations. I still refuse to dumpster dive for food, no way, no how (I will for other items if I can use them). Now the Economides do not suggest dumpster diving for food and most of their tips are good, like I said though there are always a few that I draw the line at in every one of these live cheap type books.

Chapter 1 America's Cheapest Family - This is the introduction to the frugal lifestyle and how to get the most out of the suggestions in the book. Please understand being frugal is a lifestyle...there is no other way to put it.

Chapter 2 Groceries: Savings By The Bagful - There are some good suggestions on how to shop in this chapter. There is info on sensible approach to coupons, how to stock up on deals, what to buy and more specifically what not to buy.

Chapter 3 Budgeting: The Cornerstone Of Family Finances - Most people scream, cry and stamp their feet when you mention budgets. It doesn't have to be excessive but you will NEVER get ahead if you don't know where you money is going in the first place. Putting money aside for certain things or events helps you build wealth and more importantly be prepared. Saving $20 a week for a car may not seem like a lot but over the course of a few years it adds up to paying cash for a decent vehicle.

Chapter 4 Cars: Cutting Car Costs - Speaking of cars...never buy new but you already knew that I am sure.

Chapter 5 Housing: Home Sweet Home - Here is where the question gets the heck did you pay off your mortgage early making just 35k a year. One tip: pay 1 extra mortgage payment a year, 13 instead of 12 and you can shave 7 years off a 30 year mortgage.

Chapter 6 Utilities: Shut The Door, Turn Out The Lights! - Assorted tips on how to save the most money possible on this typical money blackhole.

Chapter 7 Debt: The American Dream Turns Into A Nightmare - Credit cards are evil if you haven't already gotten the memo. There are some nice strategies on debt repayment. The bottom line is while in debt pare spending down to a bare minimum.

Chapter 8 Medical: Keeping Your Body Healthy and Your Wallet Happy - There are some good tips here, mostly trying to help you staying healthy and avoiding having to use insurance in the first place. There is a nice discussion on medical discount plans, generics, mail in pharmacies and even Canada pops up in the conversation.

Chapter 9 Clothing: Looking Better, Spending Less - Shop at flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales and you will find designer clothes with the tags still on them, trust me. I am a huge believer in this...I once found a brand new pair of New Balance running shoes in a thrift store for $3 - that is a deal my friends.

Chapter 10 Entertainment & Recreation: Finding Fun For Free - Heck I have done entire posts on this. Try starting with your local library...duh!

Chapter 11 Vacations: Getting Away Without Debt - There are some good tips in here on saving while still being able to take a vacation. I am not so crazy about some of them but others are quite valid and I would try them myself if the opportunity presented itself.

Chapter 12 Kids And Money: Teaching Kids About Money - This is where we fail as a country. Every student in high school should be taught how to reconcile a checking account and prepare and stick to a simple budget. Instead we give them a credit card and say go ahead mortgage your future on that new Xbox 360. This is a real shame...but all is not lost parents can pick up the slack where our educational system has failed us.

Chapter 13 Savings & Investments: It's More Than Money In The Bank - This chapter basically covers investing for your future and building an emergency fund to protect your "present".

Chapter 14 Attitudes: Thinking Differently Can Change Everything - It is all in the attitude and outlook you have on life...ain't it always.

Chapter 15 The Final Payoff - Well the final payoff is in the eye of the beholder...are you going to feel deprived or relish in the stress free life that frugality brings? The choice is yours...

All in all I did enjoy the book and feel like I now know Steve and Annette in some weird way. The book is a good one to pick up some tips and encouragement from. The Economides seemed to have lived a full and enjoyable life and don't appear to feel deprived in any way. Good for them! Check out America's Cheapest Family for yourself and let me know what you think.

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Survival Food Spotlight: Top Ramen

The survival food spotlight will now shine its bright light upon a product that every college kid lived on at some point in their lives. Friends, neighbors, countrymen...I give you....Top Ramen.

I am personally partial to the chicken flavor, my wife loves the beef flavored. There are several other flavors as well such as oriental and shrimp flavored...never had the hankering to try any of those.

The cardboard blocks of noodles and their accompanying magical flavor packets when combined with water and heat...produce a treat that even a mother can love. These life sustaining bricks can be had for as little as 10 cents apiece when on sale and will last well into the next ice age if stored correctly.

I literally have several cases of these things in my closet that we use for side dishes or a cheap lunch. They are also great to add to your food storage plan as long as you will have the water to rehydrate their cardboard behinds...I can't see anyone ever trying to eat these in their brick form.

Like all underrated survival foods Top Ramen has a website. Nissin foods produced these bricks at an alrming rate and continues to pump them out so drunk college kids don't starve to death.

I can honestly say you are missing out if you have never had Top Ramen...go out today and pick up a few at your local supermarket for a few pennies and at worst you will have something you can use as a coaster if it turns out you don't like them (I can't imagine anyone not liking these). They are loaded with sodium so take it easy if you have high blood pressure or something like that.

Top Ramen Recipes: (From Nissin Foods Website)

Top Ramen Chicken Noodle Strudel
from Linda Hamrin
Delevan, WI

This taste sensation is sure to become one of your new favorites!

Cook noodles in water for 3 minutes. Drain. Mix in beaten egg. Place half of noodles in bottom of pie plate. Saute chicken in sesame oil 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and broccoli florets, saute 3 additional minutes. Stir in noodle seasoning, pineapple and juice, sugar, vinegar and cornstarch. Cook 3-5 minutes until thickened. Place chicken mixture on noodles in pie plate. Top with remaining noodles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Garnish with broccoli and red pepper. Absolutely delicious!


2 packages Chicken Flavor Top Ramen
3 cups water
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cups chicken breasts, sliced
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple in syrup
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. cornstarch
Broccoli and red pepper for garnish
10" pie plate, greased

Serves 2

Top Ramen Spinach Salad Supreme
from Deborah McGuire
West Linn, OR

A delicious blend of flavors will keep this super salad on the top of your list!

Cook noodles according to package directions, but do not add flavor packets. Drain and cool. Cut noodles up slightly. Combine with other salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix flavor packets, garlic and lemon juice and let stand at least 15 minutes. Add oil and mayonnaise and whisk until smooth. Pour dressing over salad and toss until thoroughly mixed. Garnish with red pepper rings and small grape clusters if desired. Quick and delicious!


2 packages Chicken Flavor Top Ramen
8 cups spinach leaves, torn
1-1/2 cups turkey or chicken, cooked and diced
1 cup red or green grapes, halved
1 cup red pepper, slivered
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled


2 Flavor packets from Chicken Flavor Top Ramen
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from 1 small lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup light mayonnaise

Serves 2

Top Ramen Pizza
from Dani Fisk
Wrightwood, CA

Hot pizza quick and easy the Top Ramen way!

Cover pizza pan with aluminum foil. Build up foil edges to form about 1/2" tall rim around the pan. Lightly grease the aluminum surface. Cook both packages of Top Ramen noodles in water with pinch of salt. Do not use flavor packets. Drain noodles and set aside. Brown beef, onions and mushrooms together. Drain excess fat. Stir both flavor packets into meat mixture. Set aside. Beat together egg, milk and parmesan cheese. Stir this mixture into Top Ramen noodles. Evenly spread noodle/egg mixture onto pizza pan. Pour spaghetti sauce over noodles. Sprinkle meat mixture over sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden , bubbly brown. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Great for parties!


2 packages Beef Flavor Top Ramen
3 cups water
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (15-1/2oz.)
3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated
1 pizza pan
aluminum foil

Serves 6

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tap Water Vs. Bottled Water Redux!

You may remember I did a post on the BS with regard to the argument that tap water is somehow less safe than bottled water. Well here is a story I read on Fox be the judge.

Here is the link and the story is below in it's entirety:

--From FOX News---
Study: Bottled Water as Polluted as Tap Water
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tests on leading brands of bottled water turned up a variety of contaminants often found in tap water, according to a study released Wednesday by an environmental advocacy group.

The findings challenge the popular impression — and marketing pitch — that bottled water is purer than tap water, the researchers say.

However, all the brands met federal health standards for drinking water. Two violated a California state standard, the study said.

An industry group branded the findings "alarmist." Joe Doss, president of the International Bottled Water Association, said the study is based on the faulty premise that a contaminant is a health concern "even if it does not exceed the established regulatory limit or no standard has been set."

The study's lab tests on 10 brands of bottled water detected 38 chemicals including bacteria, caffeine, the pain reliever acetaminophen, fertilizer, solvents, plastic-making chemicals and the radioactive element strontium. Though some probably came from tap water that some companies use for their bottled water, other contaminants probably leached from plastic bottles, the researchers said.

"In some cases, it appears bottled water is no less polluted than tap water and, at 1,900 times the cost, consumers should expect better," said Jane Houlihan, an environmental engineer who co-authored the study.

The two-year study was done by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, an organization founded by scientists that advocates stricter regulation. It found the contaminants in bottled water purchased in nine states and Washington, D.C.

Researchers tested one batch for each of 10 brands. Eight did not have contaminants high enough to warrant further testing. But two brands did, so more tests were done and those revealed chlorine byproducts above California's standard, the group reported. The researchers identified those two brands as Sam's Choice sold by Wal-Mart and Acadia of Giant Food supermarkets.

In the Wal-Mart and Giant Food bottled water, the highest concentration of chlorine byproducts, known as trihalomethanes, was over 35 parts per billion. California's limit is 10 parts per billion or less, and the industry's International Bottled Water Association makes 10 its voluntary guideline. The federal limit is 80.

Wal-Mart said its own studies did not turn up illegal levels of contaminants. Giant Food officials released a statement asserting that Acadia meets all regulatory standards. Acadia is sold in the mid-Atlantic states, so it isn't held to California's standard. In most places, bottled water must meet roughly the same federal standards as tap water.

The researchers also said the Wal-Mart brand was five times California's limit for one particular chlorine byproduct, bromodichloromethane. The environmental group wants Wal-Mart to label its bottles in California with a warning because the chlorine-based contaminants have been linked with cancer. It has filed a notice of intent to sue.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Shannon Frederick said the company was "puzzled" by the findings because testing by suppliers and another lab had detected no "reportable amounts" of such contaminants. She said Wal-Mart would investigate further but defended the quality of its bottled water.

The researchers recommend that people worried about water contaminants drink tap water with a carbon filter.

...that is all.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Random Musings For Tuesday

I have been on a silver kick addiction is in the form of American Silver Eagles and Canadian Maple Leafs. They are 1 oz. of .999 silver which will make them a handy unit of payment when the SHTF. Really though I am just trying to get some precious metals in my portfolio. If I do get some gold I think it will be in the form of 1/20 oz Pandas from China. That is a good price point and doesn't have too much money tied up in one coin which for gold will be 800+ bucks for a 1 oz coin.

I just had UPS drop off another 200 rounds of Wolf 7.62x39 FMJ that I picked up pretty darn cheap. The range here are pains in the asses and won't let people use FMJ because "it is too hard on the backstop"...I always smuggle some in anyway...FMJ is cheaper than soft points.

The wife and I went to the flea market here in Summerville on Sunday and picked up a load of local honey. Good stuff and stays for a LONG TIME. Honey is a great SHTF storage item. Salt is another one that if stored correctly will last practically forever...will make good barter item as well if the world comes to an end because when you sweat you need salt...or you die.

The Food Lion near us had Raman soups for 10 cents a piece. Needless to say I picked up a few cases of them. They last forever as well and they make for cheap lunches or good side dishes for dinner. They also had the big cans of coffee on sale for $4.99. That is our queue to pick up like 10 cans bacause it is normaly much more expensive, especially Folger's.

The in-laws are down so I have been dealing with that...always nice. Maybe I should do a "How To Survive The In-Laws Visit" post for all of you. Yeah I think I will make a note of that one...

...that is all.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Movie Review: Dog Soldiers

Todays movie review is not so much as review as sharing one of my favorite movies with y'all. The movie is called Dog Soldiers and is great fun. I first saw this movie which was released in the theater in the UK (not US) on the Sc-Fi channel and immediately went to and bought a copy.

The movie is about a band of British soldiers who get dropped into the Scottish Highlands on a training exercise. Things go horribly wrong and they end of fighting for their lives against a pack of werewolves.

There are circumstances surrounding these Royal Marines getting dropped in the area but I can't share too much without ruining the plot. The movie is scary but can be at times "campy", if you know what I the vain of a movie like An American Werewolf in London. There is some great (and sick) humor in the movie and the gore is pretty good as well.

The special affects aren't the best but the werewolves are well done and very scary, especially when moving in the shadows and mist at dusk. I have to say everyone I have recommended this too has liked it as well. The same crew of actors from Doomsday are in this flick.

The movie is great fun and I have watched it several times myself so there is some "rewatch" value in this one. Check it out I think you like it.

From Yahoo Movies:
"A group of soldiers on a training exercise in a remote Scottish forest become entangled in a bloody battle with a gang of werewolves."

Production Status: Released

Genres: Action/Adventure and Suspense/Horror

Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

MPAA Rating: R

Production Co.: Carousel Picture Company S.A., Noel Gay Motion Picture Company, Kismet Entertainment Group

Financiers: Kismet Entertainment Group

Filming Locations: Scotland, United Kingdom

Produced in: United States

I give this movie 3.5 full moons out five!!!

...that is all.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Roundup Vol. 12

Weekend Roundup:
Well another week comes to a close. Time goes by so quickly it makes me want to work less and less and enjoy life more and more. My wife and I have really gone into overdrive trying to save massive amounts of money so we can retire while it still counts. Stay out of debt people...bad, bad, bad! (We have no debt besides my truck and our house and we are on the upside on both).

On My Mind:
Well the in-laws are down for a visit from NJ and while you are reading this we are camping in the popup at the state park with them. Absolutely love camping and what makes it better is the in-laws have never gone before. I will go easy on them.

The 401k is down but unlike the panicking sheep I am in for long term and I even increased my contributions to try and snap up some of the bargains. No worries here me and the wife have no debt...we avoid it like the plague. If I lost my high faluting IT job tomorrow we could still make it with me flipping burgers at McDonalds and vice-versa (wife has got a good job as well). I can't emphasize to people enough avoid the "consumerist" tendencies the rest of the nation have adopted. If you make 50k a year as a family and spend 55k...well, I ain't no economist but that is bad, you need to cut back on something. The message here is live below your means and stay out of debt if you can. God bless...

On The Blogs:
Stealth Survival:
Fuel Storage And Safety (LPG)

Scoutinlife's Homestead and Preparedness Blog
Getting Organized For Hunting Season

The Simple Dollar:
Do It Yourself Guide to A Romantic And Highly Frugal Date Night

Total Survivalist Liberatrian Rantfest:
The Underground Economy

Kaiservontexas' Musings
Calm Down It Ain't TEOTWAWKI (GOOD POST - Read it!)

The Tip:
You are entitled to a FREE credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR THIS...SO DO NOT PAY A DIME...bullcrap like are a scam, they charge you for "protection" or "monitoring" services which are complete BS.

***You can get your free annual (once per calander year) credit report, viewable on-line, no credit score for FREE here. (Follow the instructions carefully because it takes you to each of the three agencies websites. Like I said don't pay for any extras either...)***

***I don't work for these people, I am not a financial advisor, what you do with this info is up to you. I am not responsible for anything that happens should you decide to use this info.

...that is all.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Book Review: Be Expert With Map & Compass

The next book review here at Be A Survivor is one of the most valuable books you can ever read. I think I have stressed the fact that everyone should have some basic skills with a map and compass and how to use them to find out where you are and how the heck to get to where you want to be. I did a two part series on how to use a map and compass if you want to read them here are the links: (Part 1 and Part 2). This book is one of the best at breaking down this skill and making it easy to understand. The book is called Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook. I cannot recommend this gem enough. Reading books on this subject can be boring and at the worst downright confusing. The author does a great job of taking the sport of Orienteering and enabling you to learn a skill that could one day save your life.

This was one of the first books I ever read on this subject and it was not the last. I can say without hesitation it was the best. There are clear instructions on how to use a compass, map and finally how to use them together and make the result extremely useful. This is not a new book but has been reprinted several times with over 500,000 copies sold. This book is viewed as a classic in many circles and I completely agree.

Introduction - The Art of Orienteering - This chapter is a basic introduction to maps and compasses but also to the sport of orienteering which is really what this book is about. It is a competitive sport that many people take part in which can be basically summed up as navigational contests. Those who can use the tools best and find the objective the quickest win.

Discovery - Fun with Maps Alone - This chapter covers maps; how to read them, types of maps, usefulness of maps, descriptions of maps, parts of a map, etc. Anything you can thing of concerning maps including legends and scale are discussed at some length. There are three sections of this book worth the price of admission alone and this is the first one without a doubt.

Exploration - Fun with Compass Alone - All about the compass and how to use one. This chapter is the second in the series that are the most critical and valuable. How to use a compass regardless of the type and how to physically sight a compass and follow a direction are all discussed at length.

Adventure - Fun with Map and Compass - This is the meat of the book taking the skill from the last two sections and putting them to good use. You will learn how to orient a map, take a bearing, plot a course, divert from a course, get back on course and get to a destination all using a map and compass. This section is the most critical in the book and should be read more than once.

Challenge: Competitive Orienteering - This book is all about the sport of Orienteering. There is some good information in here as well as some tips. This section is a bonus as far as I am concerned.

They also include a map in the book that can be pulled out and practiced with. That was a nice touch as they provide quiz like questions which allow you to use their map and answer...very useful if you don't have anything available. You will need to provide a compass and I do recommend it is an orienteering compass with a base plate as those are the easiest to use with maps.

I can comfortably say YOU SHOULD pick up this book if you either don't have a clue what to do with a map and compass or if you need a refresher. Some you may have the basics down, that's fine, but the author does provide some worthwhile tips and tricks as well as some advanced topics on the subject. Very good resource...check it out!

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Guest Post - Scoutinlife: The Ever Popular Shotgun Slug!

We are blessed today to have a guest post from everyone's favorite blogger Scoutinlife from Scoutinlife's Homestead and Preparedness Blog. His blog is on my regular reading list...and I can't think of anyone else I would love to sit around the fire and chew the fat with. Check his blog out if you haven't already!

Let go back in history a bit shall we, around 78 years ago, the first slugs for shotguns called a pumpkin ball were created; basically a shotgun shell shooting a undersized round ball out the barrel. Unfortunately they bounced down an around the barrel like a pinball before existing the gun. So under these circumstances they proved less than accurate on many occasions I'm sure.

An innovative fellow by the name Karl Foster in the late 30's produced a slug with a hollow point that had ribs on it to shoot from shotguns. Surprising enough, these are fairly accurate a still available at your local stores in many parts of the county for shooting out of smooth barrel shotguns. They replaced the pumpkin ball all together in the pursuit of whitetail deer.

Then the jump into the 50's, manufacturers making shotguns for slugs only, which of course motivated ammo makers to search for a better way for more accurate results when shooting slugs. So with the development of a shotgun with rifle sights or optics caused a need and reason to develop rifled slugs…

With a list of ammo makers from Remington, Winchester, Federal Light field now making 2¾ & 3 inch loads in 12 or 20 guage, the most popular, with the most choices. They even make recoil reduced loads for those needing to lessen the effect to the shoulder when firing slugs.

My advice try a few brands, find which is most accurate in your shotgun, most of us that have shotgun only for deer have at least an upgraded rifled barrel. So feed that the most accurate slugs you find then stick to it period. Slugs seem to shoot much different results from brand to brand.

I prefer the Winchesters Supremes so that is what I have my slug gun set up with and will stick with here on out. Today it common to drop a deer where it's stands 100 yards plus with a shotgun and a rifled slug these days. Combining practice with the gun, finding the best ammo for it and a scope, the ranges could extend farther.

Thanks Scout!!!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Survival Food Spotlight: SPAM

In my never ending quest to come up with new and entertaining (as well as informative) material I am once again starting a new segment here at Be A Survivor called "Survival Food Spotlight". The first product to have the spotlight shone upon it's pink, jellied, rectangular form is the meat of the gods...the tasty and much loved pork product from Hormel:

I figured I would share my love of this product with my readers. I have been eating SPAM since I was a child and my father ate it before me. This stuff is great and has had a bad rap as some sort of "mystery meat" is pork plain and simple. My wife is a convert and now likes it as much as I do. She even likes it more than bacon. I however cannot make the same claim for bacon holds a special place in my heart...namely the artery walls. I can easily consume a pound of bacon myself...but let us discuss that in some other post for this is a post about our beloved SPAM.

What can I say that has not already been said. SPAM is pure delicious in a jellied meat like package.

There are only a few ingredients that actually make up SPAM:
Ham (cut of pork)
Pork (different cuts)
Potato Starch
Sodium Nitrite (helps to keep its appetizing pink color)

Nutritional information for SPAM:
Calories Per Serving: 170
Calories Per Serving From Fat: 140
Serving Size: 2 oz.
Servings Per Container: 6 (large) or 3.5 (small)
Total Fat: 16g
Saturated Fat: 6g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 750mg
Total Carbohydrates: 0g
Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 0g
Proteins: 7g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0%
Iron: 2%

My favorite recipe is an SLT or the SPAM version of a BLT:
White toast - not too dark
Mayo on both sides
Fresh Iceberg lettuce
Fresh and ripe tomatoe
SPAM fried to a slight crisp (not burnt)
This is heaven....

Diced SPAM makes a great omelett as well when combined with onions and shredded cheese.

For your entertainment, Monty Python's SPAM skit:

If you can believe this SPAM has it's own website...pretty hokey. (Lower your volume)

SPAM is worth your time because it is tasty and stays very well (like until the end of time). I have a dozen or so tins in my closet that I eat and rotate as I buy more. It is protein in the event of a crisis and can be eaten cold right from the can if need be.

Unfortunately SPAM has experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity due to it's reputation as a "survival food" and in these trying economic times has actually gone up in price :(

Regardless there will always be a tin or two at the very least in my closet.

...that is all.

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