Thursday, March 24, 2011

Casey Heynes Lays the Smack Down on a Punk Bully

An inspiration for many people around the world, including myself.  Here is the story of Casey Heynes.


http://www.mediaite.com/tv/emotional-interview-with-the-boy-who-stood-up-to-a-bully-casey-heynes/

For the record, I hate bullies.  There was a time in my life when I was bullied by school kids and their little friends.  Eventually, I too had to retaliate when backed into a corner.  When the school teachers, counselors, administrators, principals, and the like failed, this boy, Casey Heynes, did the right thing and finally stood up for himself. 

I'm not a violent man.  I don't condone violence.  I don't advocate looking for trouble.  But when trouble comes to your door, and provides no way out, as was the case with Casey, GAME ON BITCHES!!!

Way to go Casey!!!

-James

Saturday, March 19, 2011

72 Hour Kit - As Minimal As You Can Get

Okay, so you want to be prepared for anything and everything that can come your way, but you're overwhelmed by all the contingencies and stuff that go into being prepared.  What should I buy, what shouldn't I?  Should I keep a kit at home or a kit in my car?  What do I really need?  Well, all those questions have answers, but in this entry, I'm going as minimal as you can go.  How minimal?  How does so minimal it could fit into a Jansport backpack sound?

Let's face it.  If an emergency arises while at home, I have it made.  Assuming the house doesn't collapse in an earthquake, you have all the clothing, extra batteries, food storage, and bottled water you'd need to ride out any emergency in style; or at least you should.  Even if your house collapses or burns to the ground, you still have the ability to put a 72 hour kit aside in a plastic container that is easy to find in any emergency.  That's the easy part.  The hard part is that there is a good chance you'll experience a natural disaster away from home.  For that, you need to be a lot more mobile. 

Now, be forwarned that I'm going to cover ground I've already covered before, so bear with me.  But this is a checklist for an actual kit I'm putting together with sole emphasis on going really light and fast.  You won't see a lot of technical stuff here; no campstoves or high tech mess kits.  You won't see an abundance of really cool gear or expensive gadgets.  What you will see is all you need to survive.

Okay, to start off, you need to last three days.  No matter what time of year it is, and no matter where you are, you need food and water.  The general rule of thumb is a gallon of water per person per day.  That means you need to store up 3 gallons of water.  Can't get around that - sorry.  Food, on the other hand, is easier.  But this food requires no preparation.  Don't pack canned goods or food that requires water to work.  Pack about 3000 calories per day.  That's about 9000 calories you need.

So what kind of food do you pack?  Here's a quick list to get you started:
  • Jerky
  • Granola Bars
  • Energy Bars (protein and high carb stuff)
  • Bags of nuts (avoid cans)
  • Dehydrated Fruits (in bags)
  • Candy (for comfort and energy boost)
  • Gum
Of course, what you pack for food is dependent on your dietary needs and taste.  But make sure it requires NO preparation before eating.  The idea here is to open a bag and eat while you're on the move.  If you need to get home, you don't have time to sit around preparing food and wasting precious minutes, especially if in daylight.  You need to stay mobile.  More importanly, what you are doing is saving a lot of weight and space by not needing a stove of any kind or a fuel source.  The more weight and space you save here allows you to either pack more food or just save the weight to make you faster.

Back to water:  3 gallons is a lot to lug around with you.  But you may run into a situation where your water supply runs out or you just have to make due with carrying less water to stay mobile.  Enter filtration.  If you can filter river water, or even water from a mud puddle, you won't need to worry.  It has to be filtered though.  And you don't want to waste time boiling it because if you don't have a stove, you need fire.  The problem is that in Washington, fire can be hard to come by if it is damp outside - or raining, or windy, or worse.  In order to be prepared to gather water from questionable sources, you need a few things:
  • Water Filter (see my previous entry about Aquamira filtration)
  • Hydration Bladder
  • Cheese Cloth and rubber bands
  • Extra bottle (wide mouth - don't get the small mouth one - you'll find out why later)
Okay, the water filter is a no brainer.  You filter the water to make it drinkable.  The hydration bladder is so you can squeeze the filtered water into the bladder and resupply yourself with drinking water when you have a large supply available.  Now, the cheese cloth is to ensure that no sticks, rocks, bugs, or heavy particles get into your water bottle.  Now, the trick is to use the extra wide mouth bottle to harvest the water initially.  Take the cheese cloth and wrap it around the mouth of the bottle and secure with a rubber band.  Then dip the bottle in the water and gather as much as you can.  Clean off the cheese cloth and remove it.  Using a clean part of the cheese cloth, place over wide mouth bottle.  Pour into your filtration bottle.  The water should be free of bigger chunks of watever and relatively clean looking - but it could be brown.  Now, put the filter on the bottle, cap it, and squeeze out into the hydration bladder or just squeeze right into your mouth.  Done!

Now, onto first aid.  I'm still recommending a light and fast first aid kit with nothing but the essentials.  Your individual kit will vary from mine, but here's mine:

10 adhesive bandages (regular band-aids)
2 adhesive pads, 3"x3"
3 sterile gauze pads, 3"x3"
4 butterfly bandages
1 roll of adhesive medical tape
1 roll of cohesive bandage wrap (better than elastic)
1 moleskin pad, 3"x6"
1 small bar of soap or small pack of cleansing (alcohol) pads
1 tube of antiseptic (I used Neosporin w/ pain reliever)
3 small packets of basic first aid creme
3 small packets of burn gel
1 pair of Scissors
2 pairs of non-latex gloves
1 mouth/protection barrier for CPR
1 pencil and paper
1 small baggy of medications I take and pain relievers
Iodine and neutralizer tablets (for further treating of questionable water)

Place all this into a zip loc freezer bag.  This will fit into the extra wide mouth bottle you stow for water filtration.

Now, for tools.  This is where you can easily pack way too much into your kit and it can be more trouble than it's worth.  Here's what I like to have:
  • Good knife (pocket/utility or fighting knife)
  • Map and Compass
  • Survival Kit in a Can (just buy one, okay)
  • Flashlight and a Headlamp
  • Spare Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Signal Mirror
  • Emergency shelter (tube tent or small tarp)
  • Emergency blanket
  • Poncho
  • Waterproof Matches
  • Flint/fire starter
  • Pocket Radio
Now, the Survival Kit in a Can comes with a cheap whistle and a piece of foil that is supposed to pass as a signal mirror, but I listed them separately for good reason.  You can buy a good whistle and a signal mirror for next to nothing and they take up very little space.  As for the matches and fire starters, I include those because you might just need fire although it's not desirable when you're on the move. 

Get a decent flashlight.  You don't have to spend a lot, but don't get some Eveready plastic garbage with a crappy bulb.  Get something (preferably metal) with a good LED or krypton bulb.  You can buy one of those so-called "tactical" flashlights for about $20.  You will also want a headlamp.  I've hiked and camped with and without one and let me say that hiking and camping with a headlamp is a million times better than without.  The ability to use both hands while having light available makes a world of difference at night.  Just make sure you pack extra batteries for each accessory.

A map and compass can tell you where to go.  They don't need to be fancy, but they should have enough detail to help you navigate.  Just remember that traveling on foot is much different than traveling by car.

As for a knife, if you're like me, you'll already have one on your person anyway, but pack a good one just in case.  Make it something you know how to use and make it a good one.  It could save your life in a pinch.

A radio can help keep you in touch and keep you company.  They can be had fairly cheap and will help you stay informed.  Just be sure to get extra batteries for it too.

The tube tent or tarp and emergency blanket are no brainers.  If you don't intend to put a sleeping bag in your kit (like me), then you will need something to give you an extra layer against the wind.  A disposable poncho just makes sense in Washington.

Now to clothing.  Don't go hog wild, but remember that clothing is weather dependent.  Change it out as needed for Spring, Summer, Fall, and winter.  Also remember that what you are wearing needs to be taken into consideration as well.  Store in a dry bag to keep safe from water.  Basically, for clothing you need:
  • Change of weather appropriate clothes
  • Extra Socks
  • Extra underwear and undershirts
  • Good boots
  • Dry Bag
When you put boots into your 72 hour kit, make sure they are broken in, but not worn out.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to break in a pair of boots when you need to walk a hundred miles in them.

And that's it.  Now, here's the list all in one place:

Food (3000 calories a day)
Jerky
Granola Bars
Energy Bars (protein and high carb stuff)
Bags of nuts (avoid cans)
Dehydrated Fruits (in bags)
Candy (for comfort and energy boost)
Gum

Water (1 gallon a day)
Water Filter (see my previous entry about Aquamira filtration)
Hydration Bladder
Cheese Cloth and rubber bands
Extra bottle (wide mouth - don't get the small mouth one)

First Aid
10 adhesive bandages (regular band-aids)
2 adhesive pads, 3"x3"
3 sterile gauze pads, 3"x3"
4 butterfly bandages
1 roll of adhesive medical tape
1 roll of cohesive bandage wrap (better than elastic)
1 moleskin pad, 3"x6"
1 small bar of soap or small pack of cleansing (alcohol) pads
1 tube of antiseptic (I used Neosporin w/ pain reliever)
3 small packets of basic first aid creme
3 small packets of burn gel
1 pair of Scissors
2 pairs of non-latex gloves
1 mouth/protection barrier for CPR
1 pencil and paper
1 small baggy of medications I take and pain relievers
Iodine and neutralizer tablets (for further treating of questionable water)

Tools
Good knife (pocket/utility or fighting knife)
Map and Compass
Survival Kit in a Can
Flashlight and a Headlamp
Spare Batteries
Whistle
Signal Mirror
Emergency shelter (tube tent or small tarp)
Emergency blanket
Poncho
Waterproof Matches
Flint/fire starter
Pocket Radio

Clothing (Weather Appropriate)
Change of weather appropriate clothes
Extra Socks
Extra underwear and undershirts
Good boots
Dry Bag

All of this stuff needs to be packed into a sturdy backpack that is small and comfortable to use.

-James

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Aquamira Water Bottle Filtration

Okay, get ready to be excited.  I've been thinking hard about how to carry three days worth of water in my 72 hour kit, and it just isn't feasible in a light and fast setup.  If you've read my blogs before, then you know I'm not a fan of a static kit in a box because it chains you down to wherever it is stored.  The backpack is preferable.  But you have to have the water.  Now, if you are not moving around much, and if it's cold outside, you can probably get by with just a gallon of water and be done with it.  But if you're like me, you probably won't be at home when a natural disaster hits.  In fact, when the time comes, I won't be so lucky.  No earthquake is going to get my approval before it strikes.  So I need to be ready to get on the move in the aftermath of a disaster. 

In all likelihood, I won't be able to drive home.  I drive under/over 4 bridges/overpasses just to get out of Tacoma every morning.  Then I have drive under and over 6 more bridges to get to work.  If a bridge is out, so is the vehicle.  Time to hoof it.  But if I have to haul 3 gallons of water with me, I'm probably going to die from exhaustion before I make it home.  Enter Aquamira.

Literally translated, it means "See Water" in Spanish.  What I see is a great value.  This works on the idea that you have a regular 22 ounce sport bottle, put a filter cartridge inside, and a protected water cap on top and you have a self contained filtration system that requires no pump or extra stuff - just a water bottle.  And if you can believe it, I picked this gem up from Sportco in Fife for $18.00 - not even 20 bucks!

The primo MSR Sweetwater still runs around $80 and that's fine if you want to spend a lot of money.  But for your 72 hour kit, why spend a lot of money when you can spend a quarter of the MSR's cost and get something that will filter 100 gallons of water on a single cartridge?

The Aquamira water bottle & filter uses a carbon filter that removes 99.9& Giardia and Cryptosporidium, which are the main bad dudes you want to remove from your water.  It suppresses the growth of bacteria, algae, fungus, mold, and mildew within the filter media.  Now, it won't protect against some stuff.  Food borne or disease causing bacteria, viruses, germs or other disease causing organisms are not protected against.  But unless I'm getting my water from a puddle that an HIV victim bled into while eating a 10 day old ham sandwich, I'm probably okay. 

Aquamira claims 460 bottle refills with one cartridge, which is 100 gallons or so.  For those who care, the bottle is BPA free.  The bottle itself is designed to fit bicycle holders, backpack pockets, etc.  And it really is a nice size. 

To drink, you just add water, place the cap on, open the cap valve, tilt up, squeeze and there you go.  I tested mine against Tacoma's filthy excuse for what they call water, and am impressed.  I poured water straight from the tap into a clear glass and then squeezed filtered water into another glass.  The Tacoma water, held up to the light, was yellowish in color and had particles that settled in the bottom of the glass.  The filtered Tacoma water was clear with no particles to settle in the bottom of the glass.  Additionally, the filtered water tasted better than the Tacoma water, which had a very mineral taste and smell about it.  The filtered water was odorless and sweet tasting - almost tasteless.  Now, if it can handle Tacoma's water, then it can handle anything!

Getting back to seriousness here, I recommend you buy two of these bottles: one to play around with and test, and take camping with you, and another that you do not open.  Just place it in your 72 hour kit completely dry and sealed.  When you need to use it, you will have a fresh bottle and filter that will give you an extra edge.

So, what about carrying all that water around with you?  Well, plan on still carrying a gallon or so (just about 4 liters).  But you won't need to worry about conserving water so much because you have access to water from any source, just so long as it hasn't been mixed with a bunch of animal blood and old turkey sandwiches. 

As for getting to the water, the oldest method is to dig down until you get water soaking a hole and go from there.  But that's for another post at another time.  For me, I'm going to buy a few more of these bottle and filters and stuff them into my wife's and my 72 hour kits.  At $18, how can you go wrong?

-James

Swiss Army Knives

Now here is something that has all but been forgotten by most people - the good ole Swiss Army knife.  In the world of high tech, highly technical, and overly expensive multi-tools and other survival implements, it is so easy to overlook the simplicity, cost effectiveness, and rugged durability of the tool that every Boy Scout (young and old) should own. 

Now, there's a debate amongst purest as to which is the original Swiss Army Knife: Victorinox or Wenger.  Victorinox claims to make the "original" Swiss Army knives, while Wenger claims to make the "genuine" article.  Both have little shield emblems on their knives and both are red and have lots of little gadgets on them to get the job done.  Whatever brand you choose is up to you and your preference.  The knife to your left happens to be a Victorinox Fieldmaster, just so you know.

When it comes to actually choosing a survival knife, the possibilities are endless.  Just go to either of the two brand's webpages (linked above) and prepare to get lost in all the stuff that each company crams into their product.  Just keep this page open while you look... ... ... ... ...

Finished yet?

By now, you have probably found some neato stuff and have either bought one already or are highly tempted.  Okay, stop right there.  If you still haven't decided, let's narrow the selection a bit.  The Fieldmaster above is the knife on my short list.  I already own the Victorinox Rally, which lives on my key ring.  It's perfect for everyday stuff.  Need a small knife to open a letter or a small screwdriver to fix your glasses?  Or a bottle opener for special occasions?  It's great for that.  I even used the tweezers once to pull a small sliver out of my hand.  But what about the Fieldmaster?  Well, that's going to live in my 72 hour kit or on my person.  It's relatively inexpensive, has only the functions I need and none of the stuff I don't (I can never seem to recall a time I ever needed a corkscrew on a Swiss Army knife).  For the money you spend, you get a lot of bang, no matter what knife you end up buying. 

Now, I don't know where you will buy your Swiss Army knife, but there are a lot of places that sell them.  Locally, Sportco has a model or two that have like 13 functions, and it's probably similar, if not identical to the one you are looking at above.  I bought the Rally at Swiss Knife Shop online because I could get exactly what I wanted and not have to deal with settling for whatever was in stock on the store shelves.  The neat thing about shopping online is that you get many more options than you do at the store. 

Additionally, my next knife will have personal engraving done to it (which is a service Swiss Knife Shop offers for a little extra).  What sort of engraving you ask?  Well, for starters, it will have my name on it.  That way, honest people (who aren't very good at being honest) will stay a little more honest, considering the territory has been marked.  It also gives that little extra personal edge to "make it mine" if you will.  Everybody should have a Swiss Army knife, but does it have your name on it?  On the other side, I intend to have my blood type engraved into it.  This is handy in the event I'm unconscious and am unable to tell the doctor my blood type.  Oh sure, they can test it, or whatever, but this not only helps anyone who cares to know, but it also helps me remember because I have no idea what my blood type is (I'm going to the doctor today to find out).  Now, if I forget, it's on the back of the knife housing.  And there you have another function to add to the tool - a bit of critical information in the event I need to either give blood, or receive it. 

So, get a Swiss Army knife.  It doesn't matter what brand you buy as long as it is quality and not a cheap knock off.  But look at what options you really need.  I know it's tempting to look at a 30 function tool and think "awesome" and then find that you use it less than more because it's too bulky or you find that you don't use hardly any functions because all you needed was a knife and a can opener.  In the end, you will be happy you have a little something to help you out of a bind, or just have as a conversation starter.  It's hard to go wrong with a Swiss Army knife.

-James

Product Placement

Just so you know, I'm going to be putting some products into my blog that will help you when assembling your 72 hour kit or just whatever.  Not to worry though.  I still have plenty of philisophical drivel to entertain you, but I'm on a mission right now to update my own 72 hour kit in light of recent events and intend to help you by showing you how cheap and easy it is to do it.

-James

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Safe Gun Storage Revisited

I've covered this subject in writing before, but this is my first attempted at articulating the subject of safe firearm storage in a video format. I've written at length about how great this little safe is, and I know there are plenty of videos online demonstrating it, but they are all staged and scripted. Here is my take on it, unscripted and low production.



Video Description from Youtube:

I have been thinking about making this video for awhile now. After taking the idea to my wife, she agreed that it would be a good way to show people how to safely store firearms withing easy reach, yet safely out of the way of curious children. I think the GunVault is a great little safe to store your bedside pistol safely, securely, and easily accessible. Should the unexpected happen, your handgun is within easy reach. Is it foolproof? No, nothing is. This safe is simply another layer in your safe gun storage program. Even a safe can be figured out by a determined child. That is why I'm a proponent of safety training and teaching kids at a young age how to deal with firearms, safe handling practices, and what to do if they see a gun. I've tested this safe with my 2 year old son, and he cannot physically push the buttons hard enough to enter the secret code. Moreover, the safe will lock him out if he does because I am highly doubtful he could enter the correct code within three tries or enter it fast enough for the safe to allow him access. As he gets older, stronger, and smarter, things will change. That is the dynamic of raising children in a house full of guns. But as he gets older, my proactive steps to keep him safe from himself with regard to firearms (or anything for that matter) will change and grow with him. For the past 4 years, this safe has been the ideal method of safe firearm storage. Will it work 4 years from now? Well, I don't have a crystal ball, so I can't tell you. But I do know that safe storage is more than the sum of the parts you put into it. Training, proactive measures, and monitoring of behavior and skills assessment go a long way in making sure your children are safe around your guns. Just so you know, I didn't have stuff like this when I was my son's age. My father had guns in the house, yet somehow I survived to be 30 years old. I attribute that to my father educating me and working the curiosity of guns out of my system at a very young age - 5 years old to be exact. These days, times are much different. The world has become a far more dangerous place than it was when I was a small boy. Taking measures to keep guns off the streets and out of the hands of criminals is a responsibility of every law-abiding and responsible gun owner. For that, I use safes and locking devices to keep unwanted fingers off my legally acquired, legally own, and legally carried weapons. The GunVault is ideal for my circumstances at this time, and I give you this video demonstration so you can assess if maybe this method of firearm storage is for you. Enjoy!