Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Trade Candy


Enjoy this video my blogging friends. As for me and my boys, we have a busy schedule of Trick-or-Treating. Happy Halloween and Stay Safe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

MRE Monday - Pineapple


 This Monday's MRE is a side dish and available through Emergency Essentials for $1.70.



 Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 4.5 oz.
Calories: 100
Calories from fat: 0
Total Fat: 0g or 0% DV
Cholesterol: 0mg or 0% DV
Sodium: 35mg or 1% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 11g or 4% DV
Dietary Fiber: 1g or 4% DV
Sugars: 18g
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A: 0% DV
Vitamin C: 110% DV
Calcium:  2% DV
Iron: 2%

Expectations:
I was expecting the canned variety of pineapple tidbits.


Realities:

If you'll notice their there are 5 bowls which means that Sweet Mother-In-Law was having dinner with use again, so you'll be getting an additional reviewer.

Row, the resident six year old, took his usual small bite, and said that it tastes funny. No more bites were taken.

Red Ant with Pincers, the youngest reviewer at three years old, said, "It's not pretty good." He is our "good eater" as my wife likes to say, and eats quite a bit of fruits and veggies (comparatively). The only pineapple he has had is freeze-dried and fresh, so this is an unfair comparison for him.

Sweet Mother-in-law was rather concise and said that the pineapple is good. She got a little nervous that I had my index cards out to take notes, and was worried about being quoted.

Sweetheart, my better half, noted that it had a sweet sugar smell, and said," It tastes like the pineapple from a pineapple upside down cake." She also thought it might be better for the side item to be baked into something, rather than by eaten by itself. She preferred the freeze dried variety, but still gave it a thumbs up.

I'm really partial to the Dole Super Gold fresh pineapple, and have been spoiled. In this light, it was rather tasteless in comparison. It had a firm texture, and a slightly darker color than fresh or canned pineapple. On the plus side, it would taste wonderful on an extended backpacking trip, when fresh fruit is a rarity. It got my vote for an added purchase for our medium term storage.


Final Thoughts:

The price places it at a bit of a premium at $1.70 each, but makes up for it for it's portability. I would only consider the purchase for use in a BOB ( Bug Out Bag ), an extended backpacking trip, or cache. Otherwise, the canned pineapple makes so much more sense. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, but Vitamin C is readily available in other forms. It also comes with a handy dandy postcard on the back.


Stars: * * ( 2 )

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Alert - Evolve Bleach Tablets for prepping

I picked these up at my local store, and I was excited to find a 32 count bottle of Ultra Concentrated BLEACH tablets for less than $3.00.


But wait, here is the kicker. On the right hand side in very, and I mean very, small print it says, " Not for sanitation or disinfection". Really? Bleach should kill pathogens. So, this means it isn't or can't be used for water purification. I did email Evolve about 3 weeks ago and asked these very same questions. Can it be used for water purification? Does it kill bacteria and viruses? So far, I haven't received an email in return.

I decided that if they wouldn't respond, I'll do my own digging around. Bleach has a chemical formula of NaOCl or sodium hypochlorite for the chemists.

Evolve has the chemical formula of Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dihydrate 25-100% , Citric acid monohydrate 1-10% , and Sodium carbonate 1-10%. These were taken from the MSDS, that can be seen here

Evolve is NOT bleach and should NOT be used for water purification.

If you are looking for a granular form of water purification that is easy to store, then take a look at pool shock, it's chemical formula is calcium hypochlorite. It is an excellent form of water purification, and comes in a dry form that is easier to store than liquid bleach. Bleach has a recommended shelf life of 6 months to a year. I've also provided a link to Survival Mom's PDF on the use of Pool Shock for water purification.

So, just an informative FYI to help everyone save money.

I've also include a search engine result from Google for using pool shock to purify water if you'd like to research further into the topic.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinner - Cook Off Inspiration


This was dinner a few nights ago: Parmesan Garlic Chicken, Mashed Potatoes w/ homemade gravy, Buttered Corn, and Bread w/ gravy.  We grilled the chicken out on the BBQ then placed the cooked chicken in a Ziplock with Parmesan cheese and granulated garlic and shook them until well coated. I've probably made more gravy this year after the blogger cook-off, than the last few years combined. Here's the link to the inspiration....Picture. I have a few more from the contest that I've tried, but forgot to take pictures. The Bulgogi recipe here, makes for a great jerky marinade, just an FYI. We have tried the macaroni recipe from JUGM, but the boys didn't really care for it, they are too familiar with the box variety.We didn't have the condensed milk and used regular milk, so this might account for some of the difference. We'll give it two more tries with the boys before we resign to the old box variety.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review - Ozark Trail Scout Junior Dome Tent

I'm actually a little embarrassed to be reviewing a tent from Walmart, but the price and size was right for $19.99.  The size of the tent in the package is one dollar bill high and 2.5 dollar bills long. It also weighs around three pounds, which is quite good for a small tent. For comparison, the Gore-tex bivy that I usually use on backpacking trips weighs 1.2 pounds.  The main reason for this purchase was size, price, and weight.


 

An excellent tub design for the bottom of the tent - one piece.
 The tent is very easy to pitch, with two flexible poles forming an X at the apex of the tent. Total time to pitch took less than 8 minutes.

Room for two Thermarest and a little bit of gear.

I also purchased an 8' X 6' tarp, since rain was in the forecast. The extra tarp area provided an area to stow my gear outside and protected from the rain. This is where my outdoor experience came into play. Has anyone noticed the pictures of any FEMA or refugee camps? Blue tarps are on top of nearly all of the tents. Take a look...

Haiti refugee camp

I would suggest getting green or camouflage to help blend into the environment, if they are available. I highly recommend a tarp with every tent regardless of price. This Scout Junior Dome Tent also had the correct tub shaped bottom, this prevents water from entering from the bottom of the tent. It did rain from 10:00pm until 5:00am, and we stayed dry the entire time.

The tent has an interior height of 3 feet, which was plenty of room to sit or change clothes. The only down side was the lack of leg room once I was stretched out. I could have possibly laid from corner to corner, but Row was already asleep before I realized the problem.  I do not advise anyone over 6 feet to purchase this tent.

Final Thoughts:

The price makes it a good tent to put into a cache. Cheap enough to not worry about it getting stolen or destroyed. The compact size and weight would also make it a good candidate for a short term shelter solution. I still wouldn't take this tent on the Appalachian Trail or far from the trail head , as I'm not confident of any outdoor gear available at China-mart.  Pack a tarp or thin visqueen to throw over the top of the tent, and use the tent stakes to secure the added rain protection.


 

As a bonus, this portable fan powered by 2 D size batteries was a major score. I highly recommend one for these to stir the air in the tent.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MRE MONDAY - LRP Precooked Scrambled Eggs w/ bacon

Finally, I'm back on track with the Monday reviews. LRP stands for Long Range Patrol. It was developed for the Armed Forces as a lightweight travel meal to replace/supplement the MRE. I'll be stockpiling the reviews as time allows. I purchased a 4-pack of assorted LRP through Emergency Essentials for $14.99.


Nutritional Information:

I pulled a bonehead maneuver and threw away the package in a cleaning fit .

The dry weight for the complete package is 3.375 ounces.

Expectations:
I had low expectations since the last time I had scrambled eggs, they were dehydrated. I had to use a lot of Tabasco to be able to choke it down. These were freeze dried, so maybe I'd get lucky. We also tried them on breakfast-for-dinner night to try to fool the kids.



Realities:

Row, our six year old, took a small bite and said, "I don't like the bacon". He didn't want another bite, but explained that the texture felt funny in his mouth, and "it doesn't taste the same".

Red Ant with Pincers, the three year old, had the same reaction, except for the lack of detail.

Sweetheart took a big spoonful and promptly spit it out. This is the first time she has spit any MRE out into the trashcan. I asked her why, and she said that it had a fibrous taste and the fake bacon didn't make it any better. Today, she made the comment that they were terrible.

The MRE already had three strikes, but I'd give it a try myself. I liked the idea of having a hearty breakfast of eggs if the SHTF. The eggs had a better texture and taste than the old dehydrated eggs of yesteryear. The eggs had an improved taste, but sadly that doesn't say much. In my original notes, I had stated that I would eat them, but I'm having second thoughts.


Final Thoughts:
The package called for 8 ounces of hot water, but I would suggest around 6 ounces. After waiting the required ten minutes, I had to drain off some of the excess water. It still doesn't beat the usual 2 packages of oatmeal for a lightweight backpacking  morning meal. The price was another issue...I could purchase 2 boxes of the store brand ( NOT WALMART THOUGH ) oatmeal and have about 10 morning meals for the same price.

Stars: ( 0 ) 

Really expensive dog food.


Matching Sets




Our local gunnery had a nice sale on Rugers today. Everyone in "The Compound", as my sister likes to call it, has a choice of their personal handgun. We chose the SR9c ( notice the D-shaped mag release as it means the updated version ) and purchased two today. We went the 9mm because the extended magazine holds 17+1 and the 9mm is a cheaper ammo than the .40 caliber. Cheaper ammo means more time at the range. A box of 50 was on sale for $9.99 each - we purchased the limit. These will be our concealed carry guns, which means we are going to the range!!!

"The standard magazine holds 10 rounds and features a flat bottom butt plate; a finger grip extension floor plate is also included. The second magazine features a grip adapter and holds 17 rounds, instantly transforming the smaller, compact grip into a full-sized 9mm grip."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The World Unraveling

The speed of my postings has slowed down, since school is currently my primary focus. Weekends have been playing catch up with school, chores, and yard work. An advantage to the slower rate of postings is that it allows me more time to mull over a thought. Today is one of those posts. It is a scatter shot of events that have happened to me this week.

I have been thinking about the economic situation of America. It is going to get worse. Google has just announced a bad quarter, and the Dow dropped over 200 points. The Dow isn't really a bellwether of the economy, but just a forecaster, or what monied people anticipate will happen. McDonalds also had a poor performance, and when the masses are not going to a cheap fast food place, the disposable income is tight. I am now noticing at least one restaurant failing every week in my metropolis, but more roadside food trucks. I have also read where the Chinese industry has started to cool. I would be interested to see how much inventory is stockpiled. We have started looking into buying silver, but still doing research, and trying to figure out how convertible it will be back into currency.

We have failed at budgeting $180 per 2 weeks for groceries, but have been using other funds to supplement that category. I do take a lot of blame, I am still seeing good deals that are being added to or food reserve. I have also noticed that the meat case at my grocer has a smaller level of stock than normal. I guess people are buying less meat. I'll have a talk with the butcher to confirm or deny.

Our entertainment budget hasn't been completely shut down. We are still trying to give our kids the allusion that things are the same. We are making trips to the public library instead of the bookstore, and spending more time at parks. We have a new tradition that we have started...Sunday night movie night. Classic kids movies and 'G' rated families movies such as Homeward Bound, Pinocchio, and Lady and the Tramp. Of course, buttered popcorn and theater candy after the family dinner. A trip for the family to the movies has long been out of our budget range.

More people are talking about the election. One lady at the fair ( spent way too much money ), made a subtle slam on Obama, but didn't appreciate the fact " Unfortunately, neither candidate is going to, willing, or capable of fixing the underlying problems of the United States." Some people just don't want to hear the truth.

At times, I find myself looking at what people are buying, or doing, and just shake my had at the poor choices that they are making. It's not my place to pass judgement, so I keep quiet. Sometimes, I think that it would be nice to put my head back into the sand and enjoy the bliss, but that isn't possible anymore. I have a family to protect and provide for...

Our family has a lot to do...we need a water filter, bug out bags, and concealed carry permits. We'll try to make headway before this month is over. We are also looking at taking a CERT class through our local fire department... with all of our free time that we have available (laughing).

I have been slacking in a few areas, such as an improved water plan. I have a small hiking filter, can boil water, and have a nearby hillside spring, but I am not as well prepared as I would like. I'm going to be acting on a plan soon. Don't think that I'm nearly done or ready. Keep Prepping everyone!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our Busy Weekend - Picture Heavy (19)

This weekend has been busy for our family. Red Ant with Pincers, the three year old, went to his Grandmother's to stay Friday and Saturday night. Sweetheart flew out to Reagan Airport to visit my younger sister-in-law, and to run a half marathon. I had the pleasure of taking Row, the resident six year old, to his first Scouting camping trip, for the Father-Son Camping trip.


We had three rules this weekend...
1. We stay together.
2. No complaining/whining.
3. We have fun.
The long wait, probably around 500 people attended the event

Row wasn't bothered one bit, and the game system stayed in the car

The climbing tower that Row wanted to climb, even though he scared of heights.

The first look at the parade field.
 The gear was hauled to your camp site, and all the vehicles were parked at the entrance field. We did a lot of walking, and we enjoyed it. That night, we had a chance to talk about making sure you have a flashlight when outdoors. We turned off our flashlights, and got to see how dark it can really get. We also talked about getting lost, and what to do.
Opening flag ceremony.
 It was very nice to see people saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and showing respect for our flag and country.
The Archery Range

The instructional speech for the Archery belt loop.

Row, sad to have to wait for his turn, but excited to finally get on the range.


The BB gun belt loop speech


Pretty good shot huh?
Unfortunately, Row won't be my natural shooter. Those are my BB holes when I was showing him how to shoot. He got frustrated rather easy, and wanted to quit. I admit that I got frustrated too, he wasn't listening, which has been a reoccurring theme.

A not-so-friendly game of checkers.

I was schooled on a game of Mario checkers...as best as I can figure out, the lightning strike happens at the most advantageous time for Row. The Bowser checker was also a problem for me, as he seemed to kill all of my kings towards the end of the game. Row 3 - Dad 0.
Dinner, not bad, but didn't leave hungry either.




Row did a great job of playing dominoes. I was really surprised and learned something new about him. He won this round, but didn't offer a repeat challenge though.


Reading inside our tent after the rain started to fall at about 10pm.

 I have a tent review in the works. We had a lot of rain, maybe about 5 inches inches from about 10pm until 5 am. I got very little sleep, due to the cramped conditions. At about 1:30 in the morning, it occurred to me that the Chinese have a torture system where the prisoner cannot straighten completely out. The tent was made in China. I had a good laugh, and made a mental note to post it on the blog.

A little canopy at the apex of the tent to hold a light.




The morning walk to the mess hall.

A father and son walk for breakfast.
I had a great time, and got to bond with my oldest son. He earned 3 belt loops, and part of the hiking requirements. We will be doing more of these, and I pray that he continues to enjoy going camping with his old man.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To Wash Your Hands

I know that this might seem elementary, but I learned a few things from my Basic Patient Care class. With Flu season starting to get wound up, this would be a good time to review hand washing procedures.



  • Prepares for handwashing removes jewelry and exposes wrists.
  • Uses paper towel to open faucet to provide continous running water, wets hands, keeps hands lower than elbows.
  • Lathers cleansing agent in hands uses friction, washes wrists, palms,back of hands,fingertips and under nails for at least 15-20 seconds.
  • Rinses under flowing water allowing water to flow down over hands.
  • Use paper towel to dry thoroughly from fingertips to elbows.
  • Turns off faucet with paper towel and disposes of paper towel.
  • Inside of basin avoided at all times.
This is a direct copy from my "comp" sheet that has to be demonstrated. I'll add a few notes from the lecture ( yes, we had a lecture on hand washing ). Be sure that the webbing of your hands are dry when finished washing your hands. Water is an excellent medium for bacteria. The killing of the bacteria/pathogens has more to do with the friction rather than then soap. The underside of the nails is an excellent place for bacteria to hide, so don't neglect them. Open the public bathroom doors with a paper towel - Joe Blow probably didn't wash his hands after doing his "paper work", and this would cancel out any hand washing you've just done. A word about nail polish, as the nail grows, the area between the cuticle and the nail polish is an excellent place for pathogens to hang out. The same goes for clipped chipped nail polish, hence the reason nurses and health care professionals nix the nail polish and long nails.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Picture Collection #6

This is how we hunt in the South


This is how I feel as a Prepper at times....


I'll recreate this image when the leaves really start falling



A sign for the future retreat

Solar Flare: The black dot has been photoshopped into the picture to show the size of the Earth in comparison.





Saturday, October 6, 2012

Small Town America

I had the chance to take a three hour trip to see my brother. He recently moved his family for a better job. The trip was nice and a major city between to even larger cities.

This post is more about the trip back home, and this post has been on a slow simmer for a few weeks. Our timing, and talking at the breakfast table led us to leave later than we had planned. We had to take a lunch break for the boys, since they were "starving". We exited the freeway twice, and started through two small towns looking for something to satisfy the boys hunger pangs. Small Town America is not doing well. For people familiar with kid's movies, Radiator Springs is happening. The store fronts are for rent, the paint is peeling on most of the buildings, and the homes look about the same.

We ended up at an Arby's in a small town on a Sunday afternoon around 1:00pm. The store was dirty, two hourly employees on duty, and it was in obvious disrepair. This isn't the disrepair of unsafe cooking conditions, but rather subtle clues as to the amount of money being spent on maintenance. I've spent the last twenty + years in the industry, and employee hours and maintenance are the first things to be reduced when times get rough.

Some of the first budget items to be dropped for the consumers are upkeep, eating out, and car insurance. In my not-so-old-age, I have had to do all three of these at one time in my own life.

Independent restaurants in your area are a canary in the coal mine. The reason that non-corporate chains are the canary is because they don't have the advertising dollars and name recognition. In our own town, 3 big independent local eateries have shut their doors. The most recent being the most painful for me, an Italian restaurant that has been open for over 50 years. It has been a family tradition for the birthday person to pick their restaurant of choice for a family get together, and this place was often my pick.

The future will bring many more restaurant closures. Starting mainly in the most rural locations and spreading to the urban centers as the family budget gets squeezed. The small stores will close, and the for rent signs will become a permanent fixture on many buildings. The inhabited homes will become more rundown, and the landscape will also suffer.

In my insulated world, I was surprised to see the reality of my rural cousins. Keep Right On and get yourself in the best position possible for the coming storm.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review - Founders

My anticipation for reading this book was high. I consider Patriots to be an essential book for any prepper, based on amount of knowledge that is packed into that work of fiction. I have also read Survivors, which was the second book by James Wesley, Rawles, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Patriots. I actually had a hard time keeping my interest level up in the second novel, or survival porn, and haven't picked it up since.



Now that I have all the background information laid out for you, I'll start my opinion of the novel. Like I said before, I really looked forward to reading the new novel by this author. I even participanted in the Book Bomb Release Date. A book bomb is a preset date in which everyone waits to order the book, this is so that it will surge to the top of the best seller list. It easily made it into the top 20 list for Amazon. It is currently number 74 on the top one hundred with a release date of Sept. 25, 2012.

The new novel had me hooked into the story at a very early stage - page 18 if I recall correctly. This is about 16 pages later than Patriots. The book itself is 288 pages long, and has the usual Rawles quotes at the beginning of every chapter. The book can be read without having any previous knowledge of the other works, which is both good and bad. I did finish it in five days, and this is without letting other priorities slide ( school, work, family ).

I'll admit that I am a big fan of Patriots, the first novel by Rawles, and the new book had a big shadow to overcome. The book settles in nicely like an old recliner. I enjoyed the book, but found it lacking in any new information or plots that haven't been explored in the first two novels. Ergo, this is the main problem with the book. While the story and writing style are familiar, it doesn't break any new ground. A compendium, or short account, of the other two works made into a new novel. I told my wife that "it felt like hanging out with long lost friends, and then remembering why you don't hang out any more". The same stories get retold, and no new experience are shared.

I don't have any regrets about the time or money that I spent on the book, but really would have liked to have seen some new material. I guess he learned a valuable lesson from George Lucas...could he possibly make any more money by riding a dead horse???

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MRE Monday - Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin Top

 This MRE review is a day late due to the blogger cook off contest.


Nutritional Information:

Serving Size: 2.2 oz.
Calories: 260
Calories from fat: 130
Total Fat: 15g or 23% DV
Cholesterol: 15mg or 5% DV
Sodium: 160mg or 7% DV
Total Carbohydrates: 29g or 10% DV
Dietary Fiber: <1g or 4% DV
Sugars: 15g
Protein: 3g
Vitamin A: 0% DV
Vitamin C: 0% DV
Calcium:  2% DV
Iron: 8%

Expectations:
After doing a few, I expect that it is a disc shaped muffin with chocolate chip chunks, and small pieces of nuts.

  
Realities:

Row, our resident six year old, took his usual small bite for new items, and said that " I like it, but not the nuts." And with that, he was done.

Red Ant with Pincers, our resident three year old, really enjoyed it dipped in ranch. Granted, ranch makes everything better when your three, he said, " I want one for my school". The second muffin top bite got a dip into the ranch. *

Sweetheart thought that, "Definitely the moistest of the desserts that we have tried". She looked into the ingredient list and noted that there wasn't any banana extract which accounted for the strong banana smell that didn't translate into a strong banana taste. She also noted that the walnuts were an above average piece size which made for a good texture contrast. While this MRE wouldn't be her first choice it did offer a "moist, decent texture with an occasional crunch". *

I thought that it had a rich banana taste and a good cocoa flavor. It did taste better than it looked, and the cocoa and banana taste competed for the finishing taste. I was surprised to see the nice sized walnut pieces. *

Final Thoughts:
I made the comment that this dessert was probably the most discussed as to whether it would get a star or not. I was really riding the fence on this MRE. I like my bananas on the firm yellow/green side and really like chocolate. The combo maybe not so much, but did end up giving it my star for the tasting. This would probably end up on the secondary order sheet if money was getting tight.

Stars: * * * ( 3 )