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Showing posts from 2010

Sorry it's been so quiet

With everything that's going on in the world and in the economy this is probably the worst time to start getting quiet. I have tried to make a few posts but they all end up being rants. I don't want the blog to devolve into that. My baby is also getting to that age where she's a lot of fun to play with so I've been devoting most of my free time to her. Don't forget that there are three years worth of posts in the backlog and there's a search box in the sidebar in case you're looking for something specific. Maybe I've covered it already. I'm sure that I'll get in the mood for regular posts again soon. For now, though, I'm just kind of taking a break. I just didn't want you guys thinking that I abandoned the blog or something.

Testing gold with an acid kit

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So you've started buying gold. You know how to identify the gold content in pieces of jewelry by the stamps and the weight. Sometimes you run into broken pieces of jewelry. Some pieces don't even have a stamp but the owner swears that they're real. Maybe you're trying to buy a coin that you're not sure about. So what do you do to make sure that you know what you're buying? Never fear. There's a very inexpensive solution. Just get a gold acid test kit. You can get them from Amazon or Ebay for around $30-$40. So what do you get?

There are a lot of different varieties of kits that you can get. The kits generally consist of several bottles of acid and an acid test stone. Some kits will also include a digital scale and/or a jeweler's loop (which can be a great value if you don't have either). Some also come with extra acids. You can get acids to test silver, platinum, 10k, 14k, 18k and 22k gold. The cheapest kits come with 10k, 14k and 18k…

Where to buy gold jewelry

There are a lot of sources for gold jewelry. Jewelry stores are the last place that you want to look. Even at the "80% off blowout sales" you can expect to pay a hefty premium over spot. There are plenty of other great places to buy gold, though.

Department stores like Wal-Mart and K-Mart are probably the easiest places to find cheap gold at close to spot. Just look for the clearance items. You can usually find some really small baubles for $15-$100 in 10k and 14k. You can bring a scale but a lot of times the tag will have the weight on it in grams. I've found several pieces for 10% under spot on the clearance rack. Keep in mind that most of the bigger pieces are hollow so they're lightweight and fragile. This is actually a benefit in my eyes since it's a lot cheaper that way. Department stores are the cheapest source for gold that you know is real without having to test it.

Pawn shops are another option. Most of them will mark down substantially any…

Buying Gold Jewelry

My posts have been getting less and less frequent lately. I apologize for that. Sometimes I just get busy with other things and the blog takes a back seat. Over the last month or so of slow posting I've had a lot of ideas come to mind so the posting should start to pick up a bit.

Anyway, I've finally reached my initial goals that I had set for my silver collection. I actually exceeded it by a decent amount. Having done that I decided that it was time to start getting into gold. Unfortunately, gold is expensive. I built up my silver collection over several months by spending maybe $50-$100 per month. Gold coins and bullion, however, carry a hefty premium if you buy it in small fractional coins. It only took a couple of times buying 1/10th oz gold eagles before I decided to come up with a different solution. Then I remembered Ferfal talking a few times about how he wished that he'd bought more jewelry before the crash in Argentina. He's mentioned this in sev…

Off the Grid: Life On the Mesa

If you haven't seen this yet it's worth a look. There's a documentary on youtube (embedding disabled by request so you have to click to watch) that highlights a small community in New Mexico. Here's the trailer.



The community is off the grid. Everyone lives in trailers, shanty shacks and other buildings that they manage to hobble together. There seem to be a lot of vets, old hippies and crazy people in the community. Then there's the little group of runaways who think that the rules don't apply to them. The only real government are the "elders". Everyone has a say but ultimately the elders make the decisions. Resources are limited. They have to haul their water from miles away. It's interesting to see how they interact.

This particular community probably wouldn't last in a grid down, supply lines cut, SHTF scenario. Once the gas dries up they wouldn't be able to haul water, anymore. They also can't produce enough of thei…

10/1-10/3 Cheapo Generators at Harbor Freight

This weekend Harbor Freight is having a parking lot sale. Their 2 stroke 800w generators are on sale for $79.99. If your local store is compliant then you could also get another 20% off. There's a very long review thread on Arfcom that contains just about everything you need to know about this generator. The general consensus is that it's a hell of a deal, very durable and works as advertised. This little guy isn't going to run your whole house but if you use it wisely it will make a disaster a whole lot more comfortable. It will keep the lights on and it's a good solution to keep a battery bank charged. For basic stuff it's a whole lot better than nothing...especially for $80 (less if they honor the coupon). I'm not affiliated with Harbor Freight. I just know a good deal when I see one. If you don't own a generator and a genset that can run your whole house is out of your price range then consider grabbing something like this.

Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down

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So what do you get when you let an MMA fighter write a book about how to survive the apocalypse? When said fighter is Forrest Griffin you get "Be Ready When the Sh*t Goes Down: A Survival Guide to the Apocalypse". What can I say? The guy is a character. If you know anything about him then you probably have a pretty good idea of what to expect from this book. He's got his own brand of self deprecating humor. He's also extremely offensive and it's pretty obvious that he doesn't care who he pisses off. The fact that I found this book in the comedy section of Barnes & Noble should give you a good idea of what to expect.

Before you pick up this book you've got to understand what I mean by "offensive". The book is loaded with sexual innuendo and toilet humor. He swears a lot (he even makes a point to use a different swear word for every letter of the alphabet). He pulls no punches against organized religion. In fact, he devotes an ent…

Garden Update

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The gardening season is getting close to the end around here. I've been pretty busy with it all year. As I do every year I tried new things, learned a lot, had some surprises and know what not to try again next year. The harvest has been pretty good but I certainly wouldn't be able to come close to living on it yet. Here's a pretty good snapshot of what I tried.



Not everything is there. My sunchokes are doing phenomenally but they're not yet ready to harvest. I should have a decent potato crop out of the tire stack that I tried as well. I still have a head of cabbage that I'm going to let grow for a few more weeks. Then there are all of the radishes, turnips and lettuces that I finished harvesting a month or two ago. I didn't bother to do much replanting this year because I just didn't have time. Heck, I didn't even have time to get out and water every day which probably hurt my overall yield. If I could just get the wife to pick up a hose an…

Smartphones

I finally took a flying leap into the 21st century and picked up a smartphone. This thing does everything. It's a cell phone! No it's a GPS! No it's a kindle! No it's a mini laptop! If it's electronic this thing can do it or keep tabs on it. I'm liking it a lot. So what does it have to do with survival?

Smart phones have a generous amount of storage space and they come with a slot for mini sd cards. Get one of those SD card adapters and you can plug them into just about any modern computer or laptop. I can also just plug mine directly into my computer and use it as a flash drive. Load your phone up with all of the survival .pdfs and maps that you've got on hand and you don't even need cell phone reception to have useful information handy. Having hard copies of important manuals, maps and papers is a great idea but that can get prohibitively expensive, they take up a lot of space and they're extremely bulky and heavy to take with you.

The…

Cooking with cast iron

Cast iron can cover just about everything that you need it to in the kitchen. There are a few things that are better suited for other utensils but that's why you have a few big, stainless steel pots under your counter as well as a bunch of cast iron.

So what do you want to avoid cooking with your cast iron? If it needs to be boiled then grab a stainless or aluminum stock pot. You can probably get away with boiling in a well seasoned cast iron pot but boiling is a good way to get the seasoning to break up and get nasty. You have better options when you want to boil something.

If it calls for vinegar or wine then you should use something else. Vinegar breaks up that cast iron seasoning very efficiently. Especially when you cook with it. So does wine. You might be able to get away with it every once in a while but with regular use you'll start to see chunks of black in your food and bare metal in the bottom of your cast iron pan.

So what can you use it for? Everything …

Seasoning Cast Iron

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Cast iron cookware is pretty easy to find. Most stores that have an outdoors department sell it. Some stores also sell it in their cookware department. It's usually preseasoned. Factory finishes aren't bad but they wear off. Also, if you're buying it used or you don't use it that often and it's sat for any length of time it could rust. In that case you'll have to strip it down and reseason it. Learn to properly season cast iron and it will last several lifetimes. Harbor Freight sells some really cheap unseasoned cast iron cookware so I figured I'd pick up a set and make a post about seasoning it. The set that I bought cost me $15 for 3 pans. That's about as cheap as you're going to find it outside of a thrift store or a garage sale. This pic is on top of a Lodge Logic griddle with a factory finish.



A properly seasoned cast iron pan will be fairly non stick, easy to clean and can be stored for a long time without rusting. The process of s…

Cast Iron

I'm a bit of a cast iron freak. I've always loved cooking on it. It's big, heavy, substantial and it works. It's also energy efficient if you learn how to cook on it properly. The biggest problems with cast iron are that it's fairly expensive and there's some maintenance involved in taking care of it. These days it's really hard to find unseasoned cast iron at all. Most of it is factory seasoned and it's ridiculously expensive. I've done my share of cooking on factory cast iron finishes. They work well enough but in my experience they tend to wear or cook away pretty quickly. I'm not sure if it's from cleaning or what but if you treat your cast iron like a regular pan it will rust eventually. Whether you buy your cast iron pre seasoned or not you need to know how to take care of it if you want it to last. Luckily, cast iron is ridiculously easy to take care of. In fact, it takes care of itself if you use it regularly and cook wit…

New Zeal

A couple of months ago I added New Zeal to my blog roll. The guy is doing a great job of exposing people in power who have glaringly obvious communist/socialist backgrounds if you just do a little research on them. His sister site Keywiki is where he catalogs all of his data. You can also check out the Obama files which is a comprehensive list of communist ties that our dear president has. Whether you're "right" or "left" I encourage you to spend a bit of time at least skimming through this guy's website. He always presents a ton of evidence to back up his claims. I'm sure that if you tried hard enough you could discredit a post or two but most of what he says is hard or impossible to refute. Part of preparing is trying to figure out what the future brings. Knowing what's going on in politics has a lot to do with predicting the future of our country. It's very important that we all get engaged and start paying attention. There are a lo…

Back to Basics Grain Mill

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One of the most popular preparedness food items that survivalists and preppers everywhere like to tout is wheat. It lasts forever when properly stored. It's extremely affordable. It's nutrient dense. I have more wheat put away in my long term storage than any other single food item. The problem with wheat is that you need a way to process it.

Enter the grain mill. There are a lot of grain mills on the market. You can get electric and hand crank mills. Since extended power outages can result from a wide range of situations worth prepping for I'd recommend getting a hand cranked mill. Now if you start using it a lot and find out that you like fresh flour then by all means splurge on an electric one. I'm sticking to hand cranked options for now. They range from the cast iron Corona mills that you can get online for $10 plus $50 shipping to the venerable Country Living Grain Mill. I own and have used a Corona mill. I actually use it regularly to crush my gra…

One cheap knife to stay away from

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So I was at Big 5 a couple of weeks ago. They have some pretty good deals on occasion. On this particular day they had a Schrade Extreme Survival Knife on sale for $20 (marked down from $60). Helpful hint: Never pay full price for anything at Big 5. Ask the manager what the last sale price was. They'll look it up and sell it to you for that. Anyway, one of the first rules of buying survival related anything....if it has the word extreme in the name it's probably worthless crap. Schrade sold out a few years ago to Taylor Brands who now slaps the Schrade name on the cheapest China made crap that they can find. I couldn't find any reference to the type of steel that this knife was made out of. I only knew that it was stainless which usually means the cheapest stainless grade available that's not heat treated for shit. Knowing all of this I decided to give the knife a shot, anyway.

On it's face it's a pretty cool looking knife. The factory edge was pre…

The Old Jarhead always has something worthwhile to say.

Today he hasn't failed us. Go check out his Bigotry and the Measles Post. He didn't write it but it's still worth passing on. Give it a click if you get bored.

The Tactical Diaper Bag

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When I was in the hospital waiting to take the baby home we were offered a couple of "diaper bags".  They were full of stuff like formula, butt wipe samples and baby books.  Most of the stuff was useful.  Against my wishes and better judgment we went with formula because the wife couldn't stand breast feeding.  Luckily, a few days after bringing the baby home I found a crapload of formula on clearance at a local grocery store.  At least it wouldn't be too expensive.  Anyway, all of that free stuff was great.  The "diaper bags" provided SUCKED, though.  Then I picked up a Maxpedition Versapack EDC.

This thing seems to have been made to be a diaper bag.  It's got plenty of room, it's got a ton of accessible compartments, it's extremely comfortable, it's very durable and it's got a pocket for a gun.  What more could you want??



Did I mention that it makes carrying a full sized handgun easy?  I'll admit it...I'm a wuss when it comes t…

Best sleeping bag ever!

This thing is just too awesome for words.  I wonder if it'll fit in my BOB.

The Mexican Fisherman and the Businessman

Bison's post today made me think about a story I read a while back.  I was sitting in a Jimmy John's and they had it hanging up on the wall. 

A fisherman docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the
American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his
needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help
you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then …

You don't believe the economy is recovering???

Then you're obviously part of the problem. I wonder how long it will be before the administration starts blaming the "double dippers" when we go into another recession or even a depression. According to this piece by NBC the chance that there could be a double dip recession has nothing to do with the fact that the government is borrowing against our future and rewarding liers, thieves and cheats with our money. If the naysayers would just shut up and tell people that everything is fine then the economy would recover in no time!

Free firestarter offer is over...for now

The feedback for free firestarters has been overwhelming. For now the offer is over until Leon can get some more inventory. If you received a firestarter please let me know what you think of it. You can email me at artyboy at gmail dot com.

Improvising a fixed blade knife

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A couple of posts ago I talked about how I had made a fixed blade knife with the small pocket knife blade that I keep in my wallet. It was a pretty easy little project. It only took about two hours. I've never made a knife handle. I've never even read about how to make one. I just put it together off the top of my head. Everything I used either came out of my wallet or can easily be found in nature. Any suggestions on how to make a better knife handle next time will be appreciated. Anyway, here's what I did.

I started with a stick that was about the size of the blade.



I battoned the stick in half.



Then I "sanded" them into the rough shape of a handle by rubbing them on my patio. Any flat rock should work. After getting the rough shape I drilled holes in them to line up with the hole in the blade so that I could pin it in place. I started by digging out a hole with the blade then I used my diamond knife sharpener to file out the holes to the same si…

Free Wallet Firestarters!

Leon over at http://survivalcommonsense.com/ has made a very generous offer to my readers. He's giving away free wallet firestarters for a limited time! Just send him an email that you saw this post and would like to try it out and he'll send you one for free. You can reach him at survivalsenselp at gmail dot com. I already have some on the way and will be doing a review when they show up. Be sure to check out his site, too. It's got a lot of great survival information.

The Wallet Survival Kit

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Recently I did a post on my every day carry. I had just updated a few things. In that post I also mentioned a wallet "survival kit". You're obviously not going to be able to fit everything you need into your wallet but you can definitely carry enough to give you an advantage if you ever get stuck in a situation where you're between you and your preps. I've been messing around with the idea and have come up with a few items that are so small that they're practically unnoticeable.

Everyone knows that the one tool you really need if you ever get caught on your own is a knife. Most of the knives that I've seen that fit into a wallet tend to be very small. They're just a small, maybe 1-2" knife with a full tang and no handle. Such a small knife has limited functionality. So instead of paying a ton of money for what would amount to a novelty I just dug around in my knife drawer and pulled out a gun show special folder. I took it apart and wa…

Ova Easy Dehydrated Egg Review

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So, like I said in my post yesterday, I was checking out my local big box sporting goods store and saw some dehydrated eggs in the freeze dried food section. The bag was only 4.5 oz and it claimed to contain the equivalent of a dozen eggs. I've been looking for something like this for a while. I'm not a fan of mountain house "camper meals". They just have way too much salt and they don't fill me up at all. I prefer to cook my own stuff. Eggs are a pretty essential ingredient in many of my favorite recipes. Dehydrated eggs are an obvious solution but every time I look at the ~$50 price tag on a #10 can of them I've always decided to hold off. At $3.99 these were not only a good price but they were in a convenient package that will fit nicely in my BOB. If they came in resealable packages they'd be absolutely perfect. Everything else that I carry is in plastic peanut butter jars, though, so one more won't hurt.

Anyway, I'm not about to c…

What I did to prep today

I don't do these posts too often. I should probably start doing them more just to give other people ideas. I always seem to be prepping so I don't really think about it much. It's just kind of second nature. I spent a couple of hours in the garden getting caught up with weeding. Usually, I just water it and go to work. I weed on the weekends when I have more than 20 minutes to spend in there. It amazes me how much you can get for such a small amount of work out of a garden.

After spending a few hours with the baby and some time doing some researching I decided to head over to the local big box sporting goods store. I wanted a good fixed blade knife and their selection is usually pretty good and reasonably priced. When I got there they had CRKT Pike's Peak folders on sale for $15. It was a good deal so I had to grab one for the wife. My daily carry is an urban shark so it wasn't much of an upgrade for me. CRKT makes some great knives, though, so having …

Cheese is finally done

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So I finally tried the cheese that I made a couple of months ago. I wasn't sure what to expect. What I ended up with was a good, edible, mild cheese that was a bit like cheddar. I could eat it every day and I wouldn't complain about it a bit.



As you can see it ended up with a lot of little holes in it. I'm not sure what that's from. It didn't seem to affect the flavor, though. It made it a little crumbly but it was still soft with the same texture as a jack cheese or something. I let some friends try it a couple of days ago and they all liked it. I'm not going to try again until I build a press that can handle a 5 lb block. Making 1 lb of cheese is just too much work. When I can start making 5 lbs at a time I'll likely get more into it.

I hit up an estate sale today and scored a Lyman Spartan reloading press and a GI hatchet for $30. The hatchet is replacing the Coleman hatchet that I usually take to the woods. As for the press, I've got…

Quote of the day

"The more you read and learn, the less your adversary will know." - Sun Tzu

Garden update

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My garden is going pretty well so far. The kale from last year has taken over a corner around my container gardens. I let them grow because they're a very good green. I love them and have been eating a ton of them but they just keep growing. In hard times they'll likely be a staple. You can can them, freeze them, dry them, eat them raw or cook them. They're great in a number of dishes. I've also been harvesting turnips for a few weeks now. My beans and peas should be ready soon. My summer squash should also be ready pretty soon. The "beets" that I planted turned out to be broccoli. I've already harvested some florrettes.



I planted some acorn squash and peppers in another patch of the yard. A bunch of purslane also went nuts so I just weeded the nasty stuff and let it do it's thing. It's a really good wild edible that tastes like spinach. The stems have a citrusy taste. I've been eating a lot of them and will be planting some i…

Dr Seuss on government

Saw this on the web and thought I'd post it.


I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker Nan,
I do not like this 'YES WE CAN'.
I do not like this spending spree,
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free,
I do not like your smug replies,
when I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it. nope, nope, nope!

My little baby is growing up

As I type she's on her second (ok third now) bowl (very very small bowls) of prune juice and baby food rice. She loves the stuff. Being the prepper that I am I can't let her get too big before I make sure that I have a good repertoire of great one liners for any boys that she actually convinces me are OK to bring home. So now I call out to you experienced fathers. What do you say to junior when he shows up to pick your daughter up for a date? Maybe you've been junior. Has anyone ever really freaked you out? Tips and ideas are appreciated.

My Get Home Bag

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I've touched on the GHB in the past but I've never really gone over what I put in mine. The idea is simple. It's just a miniature bob that's designed to get you home in the event of an emergency where you can't just drive home. It should be small, lightweight and easy to carry. Some people go so far as to carry there's everywhere so that they always have it on them. I'm rarely far enough away from my car to warrant that so mine stays in the trunk. When I go to fairs, festivals or other places where you have to park 10 miles away and deal with huge crowds of people then I take it with me. So what should you put in it?



As you can see, I probably pack a lot more than I need. The pack only weighs 8 lbs, though, so I don't even notice the weight. If I ever need it there's a good chance that I'll be walking several miles to get home. There's a very big network of green belt trails in my city which I plan on utilizing if I happen to be in…

Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late

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So I finally finished reading Scott William's Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late. He sent me a copy for review just a couple of days after it was released. I've been reading a couple of other books on the side so this one took me longer than it should have to get through. It's a very easy to read, concise, to the point manual that covers the who, what, when, where, why and how of bugging out. You see several other survival manuals touch on it. You read about it all the time on message boards. You see people talk about BOBs, survival caches, bug out locations, bug out routes and everything else. I haven't seen any books and very few discussions with this level of detail that concentrates solely on this aspect of survival, though.

Who: Who needs to have a serious bug out plan? Not everyone has a stocked bug out location in the boonies. He does a good job of not only convincing you that you should have a sol…

Trapper family in ANWAR

Here's a cool documentary that I watched last night. Years ago this guy moved to the ANWAR with his wife to raise his family. He's one of the last people allowed to live there by the US government because he lived there before they instituted a moratorium on new people settling there. Check it out when you have time. This guy is the real deal without being your stereotypical antisocial survivalist type.

This is an interesting camping tool

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A couple of months ago a new outdoors store opened up locally. It's pretty neat. They have everything from military surplus to clothing to camping gear to cattle feed. Anyway, I was poking around in the milsurp section and saw a stack of these:



It was only $3.95 so I went ahead and picked it up. If nothing else I'll have fun beating up on it next time I take it to the woods. The concept is very cool, though. It's a small hatchet with a pry bar, a hammer and a nail puller. It only weighs about a pound and it's not very big. More than anything it struck me as a great urban emergency tool. It's small and lightweight enough that you could easily carry it in a daily carry bag or a laptop bag. It would be a great tool to have on you if you had to pry a door open or even hack through it. My biggest concern is that the steel seems pretty soft. I don't think that I'd want to stake my life on it. The thought of using the pry bar really concerns me. It w…

Brewing Beer With Preps

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For years I've stored grain. I've had at least a couple of bags of rice and a few bags of wheat lying around longer than I've been brewing beer. Ever since I started brewing I've been looking for ways to "cut" my beer with my preps. The big boys do it all the time and they produce drinkable beer. Purists will, of course, poo poo you all day but if you haven't figured it out by now I give a crap what the purists say. I prefer to figure it out for myself. It's amazing what I learn when I do something on my own rather than reading about the almost certain results from a book.

Anyway, I've been reading Bug Out by Scott Williams (buy this book...my review is coming soon and it will be glowing) and Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass by Randy Mosher. If you understand the basic concepts of brewing (up to the point of understanding how to brew a decent all grain beer) then you can follow Randy's book and…