Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tools. Show all posts

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Emergency Use Vs Longer Term Survival, System Compatability and Overall Gear Thoughts

Imagine if you will a continuum between the shortest term emergency we can think of (say an hour or two) all the way to a true Hatchet style long term survival situation.

Shorter term situations inherently lend themselves to carrying just the things we need.

Example, lets say I work 10 miles from home and am a pretty fit guy but not a marathon running champion (a reasonable description of me). Something happens, say a disaster in which a bridge a half mile from work goes down or is blocked. Thankfully this being Louisiana and not near the Mississippi it's not a huge water obstacle. Lets say it is the dry season so the water is shallow enough to walk but vehicles aren't getting through. There are no reasonable alternative routes so I'm walking home. Well what do I need? A comfortable set of seasonally appropriate clothes with a hat, good broken in boots, and a couple quarts of water. Some munchies to replace a meal or four would be nice. A weapon would be good as I just might need it for self protection. A flashlight in case it gets dark before I make it home. Really I do not NEED anything else for this scenario. I'll be home in under 3 hours hoofing it and that's if I can't hitch a ride with somebody.

On the other hand there is a breaking point where you simply cannot carry enough consumables to rely on them. One can't carry enough food to walk hundreds of miles or live for months as well as the other stuff they will need. I hesitate to say there is an exact breaking point but it is more of a gradual transition from consumables to tools and equipment to gather food, traps, fishing stuff, etc all. For example I do not carry trot lines, a cast net, 110 conifer traps, an ax and a cast iron frying pan all the time, though I would if I was going to the woods for a year.

On the low end I still like to be fairly tool heavy (as Dave Canterbury said). To me there are two primary reasons for this. First of all I like to keep a variety of capabilities all the time, cutting stuff, starting fires, carrying water, heating up water/ cooking, etc. The basic stuff to do this is within arms reach at work being a Power Point Ranger getting ready for some briefing. Second short term emergency situations can very easily turn into longer term ones. Situations start out bad then get worse. Lets say a violent conflict makes it so I cannot get back home and there are no good options in other population centers (Partisans in Central/ Eastern Europe during WWII come to mind) so I'm headed to the deepest darkest woods in the area. All of a sudden I need tools more than another box of granola bars.

Based on this my kits tend to include: a good fixed blade knife, some sort of container I could cook in, cordage, flint and steel (lighters too of course), some sort of shelter plan, etc. 

System compatibility is important. All your stuff needs to work together in it's intended pattern of use. This means your holster, fighting load (if applicable), ruck sack, etc all have to fit together. Carrying a handgun with modern type hiking backpacks that rely heavily on a big padded hip belt is difficult. Your options are to put the gun in a fanny pack, strap it to your pack's hip belt, put it in the pack or employ a chest rig/ hill people gear kit bag. A normal holster simply is not in the cards.

Honestly this is what led me to the current tiered system I am employing. I redid my fighting load into a war belt plus a plate carrier with (to be determined) pouches or the TAP. I have an assault pack/ get home bag as my level 2.5. It lives in my car but could be attached to the ALICE (which would suck a lot) or configured as needed based on the mission. Lastly is my Bug Out Bag.

Not saying the way I did it is the only way. There are a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat. What matters is that your gear is compatible with the stuff it is going to be used with. Testing it is really the way to figure out of it will in fact work together.

Anyway those are my thoughts on that.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Knife Sharpening and General Tool Maintenance

Right now we do not have a lot of stuff. Our kitchen stuff is 2 pots, 2 pans, the cast iron beast, a measuring cup, a couple bowls, some silverware, a coffee cup and a single knife. When you have a few things they are inherantly used more often.

Wifey was cutting some meat for dinner today with very poor results. The dull knife was not getting the job done. Pulled out my benchmade as it was handy. The benchmade was just a bit sharper but the blade length left something to be desired. I went to my BOB to grab the knife sharpener. A few strokes for each side got the kitchen knife back into action to finish cutting the meat up.

After the kids went to bed both knives got a bit of love that was overdue. Both knives are sufficiently sharp now. During this time Wifey commented that it was a bit odd I had a knife sharpener handy. I agreed it was slightly unusual. That our BOB's made the cut for the very spartan amount of stuff in our current residence says something about my prioritization for sure. That being said a knife sharpener in that kit is pretty obvious in my mind. Knives which are used a lot can get dull making them harder to use and more dangerous. Also while my kit is generally light on maintenance stuff, as it's design is more about short term sustainment, keeping edged tools servicable is pretty important. Also a knife sharpener is a fairly small/ light tool that enables your other tools which is pretty neat.

Be sure it include knife sharpeners in your kits. They are a pretty handy thing to have.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Buy Once Cry Once?

I have heard this saying for a long time. Heck I have even said it a few times myself. It really came up in the recent discussion of night vision. I found that phrase coming up and got to thinking about it.

Generally speaking I like the idea. Buying something good that will last for a long time (or indefinitely) appeals to my frugal nature. Also it appeals to my survivalist tendencies. If things are moving along like normal and a tool or piece of equipment fails you go pick up a new one. However if things are not normal you have a problem. This also suits my minimalist nature. Aside from some key redundancy (don't like relying on a single anything) I am generally willing to have less stuff if I know it will not break. Instead of a whole box of $5 junk folders I can have a couple good backups.

The question of when this applies is what I have been thinking about the most. I suppose it comes down to three main questions:

-What is the price difference between the right answer and the more affordable (or convenient or whatever) alternative?

If it is a matter of a small amount of money like 10-25% to me the answer is easy. On the other hand if the difference between the two is more like 50-100% or even more (like night vision) the question is more complicated.

For example once I got a .22 rifle. The Remington 597 was a little bit cheaper than a Ruger 10/22. Being stupid I bought that piece of junk instead of saving another $40 or whatever. I ended up giving away the 597 and getting a 10/22 down the road but that is another story. The point is that I should have been smart and bought the much better but slightly more expensive tool and been done with it.

 -How urgently do you need the item?

If you are moving to Alaska and it is November you need a really warm coat right now. In this case you need to buy an old milsurp parka or something as you obviously cannot wait until you can afford the coolest big name outdoor parka. If Jimmy Crowbar is after you then saving up for a few months to buy a Glock is a bad idea. Instead you should scrape up enough cash to get a used S&W .38 today. On the other hand if you are upgrading a tool set or a firearms there really is not any sort of urgency. A nicer set of box end wrenches would be great but you are getting along fine now.

Project Upgrade AR falls into this category. I already have a functional long gun so there is no reason things must be rushed into buying less than what I want. I want to do it right and not have to mess with it again. If the right part(s) mean saving for an extra month that is not a huge deal.

-Does this item fit well with where you are in life?

 The whole debate is pointless if you cannot afford it. An XX dollar difference might be a deal maker for one guy and not an issue for another.  Should those dollars be put into savings or divided into a variety of areas?

Anyway those are my thoughts on that. 





Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The One Tool Option

This topic comes up fairly often. The idea that one rifle/pistol/knife/whatever will fill all of a person's needs is admittedly appealing. As a concept it is not a bad idea. Everybody likes more capabilities plain and simple. Some folks are in a situation (boat, RV, or whatever) where they are going to have to be really selective in the tools/equipment/gear they acquire and use. Many of these folks have limited space and as such need to fill it with the right stuff. For other folks money is really tight; a guy who is looking to purchase that will, at least for awhile, be his only whatever needs to be a lot more picky than one with a closet full of whatever.

Folks who want (or need) an item to do a lot of things really have to look at what they need. Note that I said NEED not WANT. Going this route often means you have to bend, if not outright give up on some capabilities that you may want. Almost invariably, and for sure if you are really specific about stuff or have diverse goals, there will not be an item that does everything you want well. Maybe finding one that can do the stuff you need at least tolerably and comes in at an OK price point is doable.

The key phrase here is "trade off". Nothing comes without a price. Lighter stuff is easier to carry but heavier stuff is often more durable, if just because of physical mass. Very often more expensive items often have better quality and design or at least fit and finish but well, they are more expensive.

I suppose the trade off really boils down to where you are most comfortable taking risk and by default where you are least comfortable taking risk. A guy who wants a pistol to carry concealed, practice and compete with that occasionally goes into the great outdoors might buy a Glock 19. He wants a gun that is realistic to CCW and he can afford to shoot but accepts some risk that the 9mm (and let's not start a flame war here) isn't exactly the best dangerous game round out there. On the other hand a guy who spends a lot of time outdoors that likes to plink regularly and occasionally carries concealed might buy a 4" .357 or .44 Magnum. He is seriously worried about dangerous game and is willing to dress in a way to conceal a fairly big gun when he wants to CCW.

To be honest I am not a fan of this concept because the trade offs made are often so significant. Far more often than not you just cannot do everything with a single item. What if we extend the concept of minimalism (or maybe just getting what  you need) a bit from a single item fixation to having a small collection of whatever's? A collection that meet all needs and most want's that is probably a lot more realistic than a single item. Awhile back we did the hypothetical exercises of choosing 5 guns and 5 knives. It isn't that any fixed number of whatever's is reasonable and more is bad. Your overall situation will dictate what makes sense and what you can get away with.

Anyway I might just be spewing pseudo philosophical minimalist gibberish or reacting to yahoos in forum's with totally unrealistic expectations. It has been a long day. 






Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Comprises

I have been watching some Nutnfancy videos recently. He regularly uses the phrase size and weight considerations. The point is twofold. First weight matters as ounces turn into pounds and heavy kit often gets left at home. Secondly and possibly more interesting are the compromises and trade offset involved. A multi tool is a pretty sucky substitute for a whole box of tools but nobody puts a 25lbs toolbox into their daypack or ruck. It is important to consider what additional weight will get you and if you need that capability. Out in the woods you probably will not need the benefits of a toolbox and are not willing to haul the weight anyway. A leatherman to tighten a screw or whatever is all you probably need anyway. When ot comes to other compromises it is important to look at what you expect the item to do as well as considerations like your budget. Also the primary goal or goals are important as they weigh a bit heavier. A pistol that will guard against black bears in the woods, serve as a house gun and occasionally get carried might be a .357 or .44 revolver or maybe a .40 or 10mm auto. On the other.hand a pistol you will regularly conceal that pulls woods duty occasionally will need to be smaller to be carried. Some of these decisions are less than quantifiable. For example I gladly trade the additional size and weight of a compact 9mm for its increased round count and shootability vs a snubby 38 or a .380. Another person might not choose that option. All fun poking at the snubby/ pocket gun crowd aside it is hard to beat folks up too much if the proverbial sweet spot is different for them. That being said I cannot help but note thar you often see trends among well trained folks in given areas. I guess the point is to really think about the trade offs that you are making. Sometimes you can cut size, weight and or cost with little real loss in capabilities. Other times if you really look at it the trade off kind of sucks so anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Comprises

I have been watching some Nutnfancy videos recently. He regularly uses the phrase size and weight considerations. The point is twofold. First weight matters as ounces turn into pounds and heavy kit often gets left at home. Secondly and possibly more interesting are the compromises and trade offset involved. A multi tool is a pretty sucky substitute for a whole box of tools but nobody puts a 25lbs toolbox into their daypack or ruck. It is important to consider what additional weight will get you and if you need that capability. Out in the woods you probably will not need the benefits of a toolbox and are not willing to haul the weight anyway. A leatherman to tighten a screw or whatever is all you probably need anyway. When ot comes to other compromises it is important to look at what you expect the item to do as well as considerations like your budget. Also the primary goal or goals are important as they weigh a bit heavier. A pistol that will guard against black bears in the woods, serve as a house gun and occasionally get carried might be a .357 or .44 revolver or maybe a .40 or 10mm auto. On the other.hand a pistol you will regularly conceal that pulls woods duty occasionally will need to be smaller to be carried. Some of these decisions are less than quantifiable. For example I gladly trade the additional size and weight of a compact 9mm for its increased round count and shootability vs a snubby 38 or a .380. Another person might not choose that option. All fun poking at the snubby/ pocket gun crowd aside it is hard to beat folks up too much if the proverbial sweet spot is different for them. That being said I cannot help but note thar you often see trends among well trained folks in given areas. I guess the point is to really think about the trade offs that you are making. Sometimes you can cut size, weight and or cost with little real loss in capabilities. Other times if you really look at it the trade off kind of sucks so anyway those are my thoughts on that.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reader Question: Gear and Tools for Women

Awhile back I asked readers an open question about blog content. That lead to a question I have kind of sat on. Wasn't sure exactly how to answer it and then it slipped out of my mind for awhile. Anyway here we are.

The question was "I notice you like to discuss and review equipment. I would like to see an article on equipment addressing my needs. I am a woman and would like to see opinions of high quality, practical tools addressing a woman's normal physical traits--less upper body strength, smaller hand size, less powerful hand grip, etc."

This was difficult for me to respond to. On one hand it is absolutely true that women are physically different than men. They tend to be smaller and have less physical strength (particularly upper body) and endurance. Not saying all women are small or weaker than men but on average most are. On the other hand this can lead us down the "women need X because they are small/ weak/ whatever" rabbit hole. I will address relatively gender neutral issues first then gender specific ones afterwords.

In terms of physical size and strength for an individual it is about just that, height/weight/composition and strength as measured against a broad group of yardsticks (squat, deadlift, bench press, press, pullups, pushups, etc). The situation for a gal who is 5'7" #135lbs with a strength of X and a guy who has comparable stats are not magically different. It does not matter that she has boobs and and he doesn't. Everybody, even big strong people can have tasks they need to do that they cannot physically complete without friends or tools. It is just for some people that their breaking point is past most normal occuring tasks so it isn't really much of an issue.

[It doesn't quite fit anywhere in the rest of the post but I would be doing a disservice by failing to mention that getting stronger is a good answer to the problem of not being able to complete various tasks. If you can't pick things up then start squating and deadlifting. If grip strength is an issue do some flexed arm hangs, pullups or farmers walks. However I would recommend just starting a basic weight training program like 531 as part of your overall fitness plan. Too many people think they are somehow special and need a customized program they are invariably not capable of setting up. I hate to say it but you don't have a "weak spot" if you are just weak.]

My general observation is that strength lets you 'cheat' or 'cut corners' while those with less strength need to have the right tools for the job. If you can't open a jar or turn something with your hands then use a strap wrench, an oil filter wrench or the right set of pliers depending on the task at hand. For turning tough bolts some WD-40 is a good start. If that doesn't do it a wrench with a longer handle will create more torque or you can slip a metal bar over it for additional leverage. Before doing this I would make sure the thing is actually supposed to move the way you want it to. Though bolts do rust or get stuck brute force usually isn't the right answer in mechanical stuff.

For lifting things an old school lever and fulcrum is a solid option. For lifting and moving stuff I would look hard at getting a hand truck to do in the house/ garage stuff and some sort of garden cart for outdoor stuff or to aid in the dreaded on foot bug out. Also when it comes to lifting things the saying "many friends make for light work" is absolutely true. I am used to friends and neighbors helping eachother with a variety of tasks. Typically for small quick ones there is no compensation aside from a beer and a thanks. Dad and I helped the neighbor take the hard top off his jeep every spring and put it on every winter for years. We also helped friends drag a huge christmas tree into the house and put it up. A neighbor man helps my Grandmother move things now and then. If you have a bigger job like a couple yards of gravel to get spread or a pallet of brick pavers that need to become a path that is what unemployed young men and teenaged neighbor boys are for.

As to gear and guns I think there is a lot of profiling in terms of gender. One certainly doesn't need to get a certain gun just because of their plumbing. Depending on your training and hand size/ strength a variety of models might suit your needs. Thankfully adjustable backstraps and the Glock SF (short frame, they basically trimmed up the backstrap) made a lot of compact and full sized service type pistols a viable option to those with smaller hands. Broadly speaking frame mounted controls work better than slide mounted ones as they work with smaller hands. It is worth rehashing that if weapons will be 'pool guns' ie the guns with multiple users you have got to size them to the smallest user. A big guy can shoot the Glock 19SF and M4agery his small wife is able to use however she probably couldn't shoot a big double stack .45 and FN-FAL very comfortably.

As to gear  women will often do better with commercial backpacking/ camping stuff then the military surplus that survivalists love. While military stuff is getting more adjustable (MOLLE packs for example) it is designed for average sized men. A jacket that is a bit big can be overcome but if your boots don't fit things are not going to go well. Backpack/ rucksack's that really fit are probably also a worthwhile consideration. While it isn't cheap REI and other big outdoor companies have a lot of good stuff designed to fit women that is seriously worth considering. Boots and packs that fit are pretty darn important while a jacket or sleeping bag can be a bit big.

I can't really speak to concealed carry issues for women. Brigid and Tam have almost surely written some great stuff on it. Limalife's youtube channel is also worth checking out. Really the fundamentals of buying gun(s) that fits your body and lifestyle, getting the equipment to use them like a good belt and holster, slings and whatnot then seeking out some training are the same for guys and gal's. Really if you don't know what you are doing it is probably best to seek out the training (most places worth training at have a few rental/ loaner guns available if you talk with them in advance) then get the stuff.

Anyway I am sorry to the lady who left the comment for the excessive delay. Also I hope somebody gets a thing or two out of this.







Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tomahawk or Hatchet?

I have seen a few folks having hawks as a part of a survival kit/ BOB or whatever. At least one of them is a person who knows his stuff and whose opinion I value. I did some looking and got to wondering. I fiddled around online looking at reasons folks choose them. One of the biggest reasons was that they are 'lighter' than a hatchet. I got to looking and the weight didn't seem to measure up to that claim at least on the models I compared.

I know hawks are cool and a lot of folks own them. Some folks like them for defense or fighting or whatever. That is a reasonable point however I am not really concerned about it. First any situation where I would have a hawk I would have a pistol and probably a rifle. Secondly yes, Rogers Rangers carried hawks as backups but they didn't have 30 rd mags for rifles and 17 rd mags in pistols. Third I wouldn't exactly want to get hit with a hatchet anyway.

My questions are as follows:

Does anybody uses a hawk for practical woods stuff like chopping a few limbs to make a shelter, cutting firewood, etc?

If so how does it compare to a hatchet for these purposes?

Other than the cool and theoretical tactical factor what makes a hawk better than a hatchet?

Input would be appreciated.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I guess the standard thing to do is to write some post about sacrifice and duty and all of that stuff. I  don't have any desire to do that. My life has enough of that stuff that on the other 360 some odd days of the year. Quite frankly I find the whole thing depressing. I have lost people and don't feel like dwelling on it over a nice sunny long weekend.

We would have gone someplace this weekend but with my lingering illness it didn't seem smart. I am feeling decent and all but things can happen and I don't want to go to the hospital in some random country. It turns out to be for the best I think. It has been a very quiet weekend which is a good thing.

I don't know exactly why but I have been a crazy machine of productivity this weekend. Like the 1950's stay at home mom who had 5 cups of coffee and a handfull of uppers that cleans the whole house, organizes the garage, weeds the garden, makes a beautiful dinner for the family and does 57 projects before hubby comes home. Well except it is not the 50's, I am not a woman or on drugs. Anyway my point is that I have been really productive.

I cleaned the floors and reorganized the kitchen. A bunch of stuff that should have been in storage got moved there and junk got tossed. More cleaning occured in closets and other storage places. This included the kitchen closet which has been a black hole of chaos and unhappiness in our home. Our vehicle got cleaned out, vaccumed and organized.

We went shopping for some odds and ends. I didn't plan to get anything else but went through the usual aisles (outdoor, tools, etc) anyway. Inventory changes sporatically and sometimes sales come up. I saw 3 D cell Mag Lights for $13 and picked up a few.

Over the weekend I found a slightly used (marker and a bit of paint on it but totally functional) generic rubbermaid type tub. These bins are one of those weird things for me. I have it in my head that they are really expensive when they aren't. Well some of them aren't anyway. The one I got costs about $8 new. A half dozen tubs worth $60 would probably fix a lot of problems and maybe even change my life as I know it. It is pretty dumb I guess.

We keep the usual sort of stuff in our vehicle: kid things, a first aid kit, warning triangles, jumper cables, some tools, jackets, socks and boots for me (I habitually wear comfortable/ nonpractical footwear and am not changing), a blanket, etc. Anyway since I got the junk out I wanted to get everything organized. Prior to now everything has been just floating around. I cleaned out the tub and got it ready to use. Since our sweet free tub is kind of big I added some more tools, a bag with some spare batteries, one of the new mag lights and some other things. Anyway now everything is nicely organized and neat which is pretty nice.

No big plans for tomorrow. Another quiet day and probably some stuff with the kid. Going to try and tie up some loose ends around the house before going back to work. If I feel motivated there are a couple closets that it would be nice to get taken care of.

Anyway I am happy with the progress this weekend. Getting things done that have been bothering me is a good feeling. We have also had some pretty nice family time. It has been really nice.

I hope you have a great weekend. Relax and enjoy some time with friends and family. If you are so inclined try to get some productive things done.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend Roll Up

This video is kind of scary

Hat tip to Chief Instructor for the find.

FerFal did an interesting video on big knives. It is pretty long at a bit more than a half hour but if you have the time consider checking it out. His point that large knives are far more useful for fighting is valid but pretty much a given. Really you want the closest thing to a sword you can get if a gun is not an option. Something like a Bowie/ Arkansas Toothpick/ Dirk/ Falcon/ Kukuri/ etc would be the way to go.

I wouldn't say that I agree with the whole thing. He sort of combines the roles of knives and bigger tools like machete's or hatchets. In my mind they are distinctly separate categories for distinctly different tools which may admittedly be arbitrary. A machete is pretty much an essential in the Jungle or dense warm enviornments like the Deep South or the sort of Swamps you find in LA and FL. Conversely a hatchet or small ax is probably more useful in the sort of forests found in the Northern parts of the US. For whatever it is worth my experiences in the PNW tell me that a decent medium sized knife (say 3.5-5inches) and a hatchet or small ax are a darn good combination.

Some folks seem to use a tomahawk for this role. I can't speak to that at all because I have never tried it. The bigger more functional tomohawk's like those made by Cold Steel may be a viable option. The Trail Hawk is a beefy and substantial tool.  I like that it has some heft and a hammer head (though probably better for tent pegs than framing a house). I have handled one of them but never actually used it.

However it sort of depends on what you plan to do. If you are going to clear a little bit of brush to make a campsite, cut some sticks to cook marshmellows and trim up a few small pieces of firewood a machete would work. If you plan to cut enough firewood to warm and cook for a dozen people for a week then you want a hatchet or ax. If you want to go into the woods and pull a Dick Proenneke an ax and a saw would be a decent start. Anyway enough on that topic.

That whole foot in mouth from some random Democrat recently was big fun. Recap “Guess what?” asked Rosen. “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school and why we worry about their future.” Patrice wrote about it here. I definitely wanted to say something but didn't really have a full post worth of content. Obviously that she never had a job has far less to do with her arguably not "dealing with economic reality" than marrying a rich guy who became a lot more rich.

Anyway I think that having a parent stay with the kids and not earn any (or any meaningful) income is sort of a luxury. If the family can't keep a roof over their heads, food in the cupboard and generally meet basic life expenses then both adults need to be doing their best to earn as much money as humanly possible until things get better. If one or both parents insist that (typically) momma stays at home while they go hungry or become homeless there are some serious issues. Having beliefs and ideals is fine but sometimes practical concerns have to trump them, at least in the short term. In fairness also on a comparable level of luxury are beer/ wine/ alcohol, tobacco, soda, coffee and tea, prepared foods, eating out, entertainment other than the library or other free stuff, cable or satelite tv, having the internet at home, eating out, toys like jet ski's/ dirtbikes/ snow mobiles/ travel trailers and if we are really being honest owning personal vehicles. As we can see pretty much all middle class and most supposedly poor people consume or own some of these "luxuries." You certainly don't need Romney money to pull off having the wife at home, coffee in the cupboard, beer in the fridge, a few toys and the internet.

As Patrice noted often if you really look at the income vs necesssary costs (reliable second vehicle, fuel/ insurance/ maintenance for said vehicle, child care, professional clothing, more eating out/ prepared food, the list could go on) women who work often take home a lot less than you would really think. This is especially true with low skill women who will need to pay for childcare. In many cases the income difference if expenses are subtracted is just a few hundred dollars.

Obviously if the potential single wage earner works part time for minimum wage this is probably not viable unless you want to go full on so far out of the box that you can't see it anymore James Dakin, Off The Grid: Life on the Mesa style. However assuming the potential single income is some sort of adult job that is close to full time money isn't the biggest obstacle. I hesitate to say a specific dollar amount because cost of living varies by region. For example 40k is doing pretty decent in Idaho or Alabama but definitely is not in LA or NYC. That being said when people talk about how "they can't afford to have a parent stay home" what they really mean is that they are unwilling to give up some stuff to make it happen and or have a pretty high debt load. I wrote more about this here.

Anyway that is about all the stuff I can think of right now and I am about bored of writing.

Hope you had a good weekend,
Ryan

Friday, April 27, 2012

Finally Friday and Knife Sharpening also 3,000th Post

Well it's Friday evening and the work week is finally is done. Thank goodness. My cold is getting better if not as fast as I would like. Got home at a pretty reasonable hour and even had some family time before kiddo's bed time. He is quickly approaching the "terrible two's" which is just big fun. On the bright side is is really talking a lot better which is pretty cool.  No big plans for the weekend. Going to try to finish up some stuff, hit the weight pile and get a lot of sleep. I would like to finish up a long post that I'm working on.

Not too long ago I found myself in need of a knife sharpener. I had a couple of them but one got worn out and the other is probably in a box somewhere. In any case I wasn't quite sure what to get but those diamond rod type ones seem to work pretty well. I rather arbitrarily put this one into my amazon wish list. Lansky seemed like a good name but there was no real thought behind it. Wifey was ordering some stuff and needed another thing to get the free shipping (far better to get $6 bucks of stuff you were going to get anyway then to pay it in shipping). It arrived the other day. My only tentative complaint is that it is pretty big. There is a lot of handle and it has this other sharpening thing on the back that adds like an inch and a quarter. I guess you are supposed to use it first then finish with the rod. To be honest I didn't look that closely and thought it was the normal model but black. Maybe that will be convenient but I am not sure yet.
It might be a bit big to carry in my pocket but I am quite happy with this handy sharpener. In a couple minutes it tuned up an old Buck 110 nicely. In 5 minutes it got my EDC Buck 110 which had a couple minor imperfections in the blade all tuned up and ready to go. I haven't had it long but am pretty impressed with it so far. This sharpener will definitely go in my ruck for long trips.
I hope you all have a good weekend,
Ryan

Edited to include: This is the blog's 3,000th post. I had wanted it to be a lengthier post I am working on but finishing it today wasn't in the cards. To be honest after a long day at work I forgot about the whole thing. Anyway it is a pretty cool milestone. This blog has suceeded beyond my wildest dreams and sometimes I am just amazed by the whole thing.

I am definitely not putting things into auto pilot. Slowly but surely we are still growing, one link, one more person following the blog and a new advertiser at a time things are continuing to get bigger   and better. I have some things that I plan to do in the coming weeks and months that should be pretty cool for you guys and gals.

If you feel like helping in this effort then please tell a friend about our site or share a link to your favorite post in a forum, or social networking site. Also check out our advertisers and if you need things they sell then consider purchasing from them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a good week for preparedness here. We got some flips snap diapers and inserts at a great deal in preparation for having a second kid (at some point in the future). Also I picked up a pair of backpacks at a great price and a 3 piece ECWS sleep system. I tried to purchase one of these sleep systems awhile back but there was some issue with the order and it was never processed. Also we got a 5 piece 18 volt Ryobi power tool set gently used for $80. It has a drill, a circular saw, and a sawzall as well as a flashlight and a little vacuum. Also I stumbled through our house finding half empty packs of batteries organized the batteries. An inventory found a couple deficiencies which got filled.

Wifey mentioned that it would be good if I didn't buy anything for awhile. As we don't want our balance sheets to look like Southern Europe I agreed.

Along other fronts I kicked the running program into gear going three times and also hit the gym. Wifey started making bread again which kiddo and I have appreciated. Anyway that is what we have been up to.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Multi Tools

These things are so darn useful. They are pretty much a whole tool box, minus a hammer, in a single compact item. Especially in a scenario where you are limited in terms of space these things are awesome. It is reasonable to have a compact tool box/ kit in an RV or a boat but if you are living out of a ruck and a couple duffels a whole tool box isn't going to happen.
 
I personally do not carry a multi tool on my person every day. I don't live a life where I turn a screw or need pliers on a daily basis so it isn't an issue. However I do keep one in my car and another in my ruck.
 
Like any sort of compromise they aren't going to equal the performance of a whole box of full sized tools. If you are going to turn dozens of screws or loosen dozens of bolts in a day a multi tool is not what you want. I own, and you should too, full sized tools for those circumstances. However if you are like me, and most people it is a lot more likely that you will need to turn 3 screws. I certainly do not have the need to keep 2 screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, and numerous other items in a backpack.
 
As for brands as long as you stick with a legit name brand like Leatherman, Gerber or SOG you will be good to go. Spend the $45 for the basic model and don't lose it or let it rust. You won't be dissapointed.
 
Anyway get a multi tool

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thoughts on Knives

As I noted awhile back recently my EDC Cold Steel folder was a field loss of sorts. I didn't lose it but it is gone. Anyway I think that is a good reminder of a point about knives. Don't buy one that is so expensive it will be a real loss if it is lost/ broken/ stolen/ whatever. I hesitate to say an exact dollar figure that everyone should use because it depends so much on your situation. Being able to readily replace a lost knife is probably a good test. For me that is somewhere in the $50-65 range. For other folks it might be more like $25 or 400.

Like any tool you carry and use sometimes knives are casualties of some kind of event. The same could be said about a lot of other stuff including guns. Another benefit of carrying affordable knives is that you can, if so inclined, just keep a couple spares lying around in a box somewhere. Getting a couple of the folder I like to carry every day as backups is on my long list. A lifetime of outdoors activities has left me with a decent collection of random knives and a recent Cold Steel purchase gave us some intentional redundancy. It would however be nice to have spares of the exact knife I like to carry in my pocket. Maybe next year.

Anyway before getting sucked into the coolest new $342 tactical urban ninja SPECOPS elite fighting knife you really should think twice. Affordable knives have the benefit that it isn't a huge hit if they are lost or damages. Also it is a lot easier to keep a few extras around which never hurts.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a pretty good week here. I got a real nice Craftsmen tool kit which I've been wanting for awhile. Also I made some modifications to my chest rig that I have been thinking about for some time. It was kind of a pain but I think it's really going to pay off for me by making the setup a lot more useful and comfortable. I need to get 3 pouches or so and it will be complete. More to follow with pictures on that one.

I got a Ludvig von Mises book in the main from Amazon which I will read at some point. We made our usual extra large payment on my student loan. Not having that money to put towards other things hurts but seeing that loan amount dropping fast is really nice. We have recently been tightening up our budget some and it is working.

Hit the weights a few times this week and did some good stuff during morning PT. I am getting into a routine and while it is too early for results am certainly enjoying myself. I cut sugar out of my morning coffee which is a big diet improvement for me.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Guest Post: Vacation Bag by Chadow

[Ryan here: Guest posts are great. They are like a blogger "get out of posting free" card. Also they are sort of a nice thank you from loyal readers. Anyway this post was providential for me as I left work at about 8:20 and go to bed around 10. Thanks to Chadow because without him there wouldn't be much of a post, if a post at all. ]

I discovered some time ago that being mildly paranoid, moderately boy scout and a marginal survivalist doe not mix well with going on vacation. Every time the wife and the kids piled in to the car to go somewhere, I began having an overwhelming sense that I needed to pack more and more stuff in to my bag-- "just is case". The end result would be me running around the house like an idiot at the last minute grabbing things while the wife rolled her eyes at me. I decided to organize and do away with the anxiety.

     Now, any time that we go away for camping or our pilgrimages to the the formerly white sandy beaches of the Gulf, the vacation bag goes with us. Both of our cars already have tools, roadside emergency supplies and some extra clothes in them. My truck is even more stocked, but wanted to have a pack that covered the majority of REAL LIFE emergencies that we might face id we found ourselves away from home during an emergency. This bag will not get us through TEOTWAWKI, but it would give us a leg-up on a regional weather disaster, road emergency requiring a long walk, burglary, electrical outage, stores closing, etc.

The first picture shows the bag and it's contents. The bag: 3 pockets with a lumbar support and chest strap to take the load off of the shoulders. It also has a water bladder that fits in it's own pocket. Tool Kit, made by taking the foam out of a pistol case: Pliers, Multi-bit screw driver, duct tape, zip ties, hose clamps, channel lock pliers, monkey wrench. Protection: Glock 26 with extra mag. (not pictured: both cars have a stun gun in them). First Aid Kit: This is a large tri-fold pack and I am an ER nurse, so it has lots of extras most don't. You should still have one with the basics. (not pictured: I carry drugs in my shaving kit so they can be taken out when we get back home. They just expire in the bag and it's extensive have two kids and two athletic adults to supply for.) Multi-tool: Leatherman.

    The Small Stuff Kit--made from a tackle box insert with plastic dividers(14"x7"): compression strap, sun screen, floating key ring, pen/flashlight, LED flashlight, compass/whistle/thermometer thingy, AA and AAA batteries, chapstick, 2x lighters, pocket knife, 20 feet fishing line, spike line for caught fish, 2x lures, 2x shop rags, toilet paper (folded), 2x tea candles, 20 feet of nylon twine, 2x ziplock bags, medical tape, magnesium fire starter, 3x spools of thread, needles.

     I also make sure that we carry some other things with us that have dual use for vacationing and survival. We have a plastic grass mat that unfolds to 8' square to sit on. It has handles and is waterproof, so it could be used as a shelter. We carry a large beach umbrella most of the time that can cover two families from rain or sun if it needed to.

     Finally, we vacation in style. We go to resorts where we have a full kitchen. This saves is HUNDREDS of dollars every vacation, but also allows us to have the option to not go out and to not have to rely on local restaurants being open. We can weather small emergencies just fine in the condos that we choose while those staying at motel 8, will be roaming the streets in whatever situation had occurred looking to feed their families.

     Overall, vacationing is important to us. We work hard and believe in playing hard. However, just as someone should always be aware of their surroundings, you should be aware of your increased vulnerabilities when on the road.

  Thanks Ryan, putting your time in to the blog. On the topic of fitness, go check out my blog and look at my calisthenics pages. You might find them challenging.

TOR returning: First of all lets give our friend Chadow a big hand. Secondly check out his blog.  I will give the blog a better look tomorrow when hopefully I leave work at a halfway reasonable hour. Thanks again!

Monday, November 16, 2009

EDC Knives

I have carried a Spyderco Endura pretty much every day for about 5 years now. Carried the first (better) fully serated one for a really long time. Eventually the plastic around the clip wore out and it was no longer secure in my pocket. Still got it somewhere and it will cut fine but doesn't fill the pocket knife role. I then switched to a partially serated one which I had purchased as part of a long story I won't get into. That was about 5 months ago.

Today my knife was in a screwy position in my pocket so I took it out and looked at it. The darn plastic where the clip attaches to the handle is shot. With the first one I wasn't too bummed because it lasted for about 5 years and 10 bucks a year is not a bad average to have a real cutting machine in your pocket. The second one isn't even broken in yet and it is not useful for pocket carry. Of course it is still a good blade and in a pouch I could find some sort of a use for it. I treated them both the same (carry in pocket and use to cut stuff) and one lasted far longer than the other. Maybe the first one was lucky or maybe the second one was just lame but I am not going to buy another to find out.

So that leaves me without a dedicated folding knife to live in my pocket. I tried the Buck 110 (great knives!) for awhile but carrying it didn't give me a warm and fuzzy. I am just an easy open folder with a clip sort of guy. Not however planning on getting another one with a plastic handle as they get weak around the clip which gives me a big sad face. The good news is that my personal money has just been accumulating for awhile now so buying a new folder is more a matter of choosing and picking up or ordering than cost.

I am looking for a good easy open type folder with a metal handle and a clip. Not enormously concerned about cost but unless it is also a gun and a universal remote I wouldn't want to spend more than $100 or so. Any suggestions?

I am going to look at knives online till dinner time which judging by the good smells coming from the kitchen is about 5 minutes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

TOOLS EXPLAINED BY A DO-IT-YOURSELFER:

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly- painted vertical stabilizer which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench at the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh shit'

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50-cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as leather seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts.
Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

DAMMIT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'DAMMIT' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tools

Various circumstances this weekend lead me to seeing some real shortcomings in my tool box. [Jim who deals with tools by trade wrote a great post on tools awhile back which is worth looking at. ] For someone who does not deal with tools by trade or current hobbies I have a reasonable collection of tools. I have: a nice Craftsmen socket set, assorted box end wrenches, a Stanley set of screwdrivers, framing hammer,a smaller hammer, and some more stuff. Last Christmas Dad got me a bunch of misc harbor freight tools, they are far from the best but fill some niche spaces I wouldn't have picked up a tool for. If I find myself using these tools often I will go pick up higher quality replacements.

Begin tangent. Cheap tools are better then no tools. Especially since tools are something where you can't get away without buying a pretty decent amount of items. An expensive Snap On Philips screw driver will not turn a flat tip screw. The finest framing hammer will not be good for roofing. If your budget is low get a decent set of cheap tools and over time replace them with higher quality tools. End tangent. Anyway back to my current situation.

I realized I do not have a drill or a saw. I have a bow saw somewhere, probably still in the bunker. These days I do not find myself cutting down any trees and am more concerned with assorted household stuff. So here is my plan.

First I want to get powerless hand tools: something like this with a box of drill bits and one of these. I figure getting stuff which runs on muscle first makes sense financially and for preparedness.

Next I am going to get power tools. I currently have none. I figure it until I get a home and start doing specific remodeling kind of stuff a skil saw and a cordless drill of some sort will take care of my needs for awhile.

I will need to look at things and see what sort of a schedule I can purchase those tools on. Getting the hand powered stuff next payday should not be an issue. I will probably start looking at drills first because we could definitely use one around here and a skil saw can be purchased down the road a little ways.

Thoughts?
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