Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Now THIS is a BOV

A UK company is building a flying car. It gets 30 mpg on the ground and travels at about 115 mph in the air. It can carry 250 lbs and fits in a standard size garage. Too bad it's $200k. Hopefully they'll make one that I can actually afford before I'm dead.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Picked up a Leatherman Wave

I've been looking for a Leatherman Wave for a while. At ~$100 it was just one of those purchases that I kept putting off. I bought my first Leatherman about 12 years and it's never failed me, though, so I try to keep my eyes out for a good deal on an upgrade. Today I went into a pawn shop and sitting there in the knife section was a like new Wave. The price tag said $40. I walked out with it for $25. Yeah yeah yeah...I should have paid $10. Anyway, I finally have a Wave and I'm happy with the price.

Enough bragging. The tool itself, like any Leatherman multi-tool, is built rock solid. Everything is well thought out. The blades open from the outside and they can be opened with one hand with the tool closed. Unlike every other multi-tool that I've ever owned they don't feel like cheap pieces of crap that will break as soon as I do anything to test them. In fact, I wouldn't feel too bad if they were the only blades I had as long as I didn't have to rely on them for chopping wood or something. There's a file with a diamond hone on one side for my fixed blade that I may use for chopping. The locking mechanism is easy to operate. You can also get a little toolkit upgrade that's pretty cheap that gives you a few more options. The scissors actually work. So does the saw. It's comfortable, compact and light. Have you ever had a screw come loose on your sunglasses in the field? I have and it sucks. If you're sporting a Wave you don't even have to sweat it. There's a small screwdriver on it. No multi-tool would be complete without a bottle opener. This one doesn't disappoint. Don't even worry about leaving your bottle opener at home next time you decide to take some homebrew with you to the field.

Mine came with the canvas case. It's got two small pouches on each side and a small pocket under the velcro of the cover. A very small AAA flashlight, a firesteel and perhaps a knife sharpener should fit perfectly and would complement the tool very nicely. If you want to get crazy you could probably even put together some kind of survival kit that all fits neatly into the pouch. The tool is already a pretty tight fit, though, so don't go too crazy. I've seen some interesting ideas but nothing that I'd go out of my way to try to implement. To be honest just having the tool itself would give you a nice advantage in a survival situation. While it won't replace my Gerber Clutch when I'm rolling around in dress pants I'll definitely start keeping it handy on the weekends when I'm sporting civies. You won't catch me in the woods without it, either.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Polar Pure

About a week ago Scott Williams was kind enough to send me a signed copy of his book Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late. I'm about halfway through it right now. So far it is awesome. I'm going to reserve my review until I'm finished with it, though. There are a lot of useful little tidbits based on his real world experience and I actually learned some things. One thing he talked about that I've never seen sold or mentioned anywhere else is Polar Pure. Based on his recommendation I ordered a bottle. It was only $12 and after doing a bit of research it seems like a solid product.

Yesterday it showed up in the mail. It's just a small bottle about the size of a bottle of aspirin. It's got a bunch of iodine crystals in the bottom. You fill the bottle up with water then wait for an hour. There's a small gauge on the side of the bottle that tells you how many capfulls of the solution per quart it will take to sterilize your water. Once you add the proper amount of solution to your water you let it sit for 20 minutes. Basically, it works just like a standard iodine tablet but instead of being able to sterilize 50 quarts of water per bottle you can treat around 2000. Inside of the bottle is a cylinder that goes almost to the bottom to catch the crystals when you pour the water out. It's a simple, effective, lightweight and compact water purification solution. I tried it with some tap water and the flavor was not unpleasant. The bottle is now living in my ultralight pack. I still have my Katadyn hiker pro in my real BOB (which is set up for winter) but when you need some extra space and you want to travel light I think that Polar Pure is a great solution.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Machetes and adventures in first aid

So I was at Sportsman's Warehouse the other day and noticed that they had some SOG machetes in stock. After reading Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late I was convinced that I needed a machete. I've always been content with my camp saw and hatchet. In my neck of the woods, though, there isn't a whole lot of underbrush to worry about hacking my way through. Hatchets are cheap but they're also heavy and bulky and most camp saws are cheap pieces of crap. Enter the SOG.

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It's got a standard machete blade shape with a saw on the back. The factory blade is quite sharp. I can verify this with the gash that it left in my left index finger when I carelessly slid it into it's sheath.

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The saw teeth are also offset like your standard hand saw so it will actually cut wood if you need it to. It's got a full tang with three lanyard holes in the handle. The sheath is functional. Just don't slice your finger open when you sheath the blade like I did. For the price it seems like a good deal. I haven't put it to real use yet but it's a machete. I don't expect it to do much besides cut through shit. I've handled a lot of them and this is about as good as it gets at the price point. It seems durable, the edge is sharp and the saw blade on the back is actually functional. If you're in the market for a machete then I'd take a look at this one. For the price I just don't see how you could beat it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What to do

I'm thinking about starting a separate blog devoted to brewing and vinting. I've been posting a lot about it lately and it's kinda started to take over this blog. I'd like some feedback first, though. Do you like seeing the brewing posts? Would having to click on another blog be too much of a pita? I know that a separate blog would attract more readers who don't care about the rest of the preparedness stuff.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The altoids tin stove

I was bored and doing some research on DIY camping stoves today and came across some designs for an alcohol stove made out of an altoids tin. What caught my attention was how it was described as an EZ-Bit tablet on steroids. I keep an EZ-Bit stove in my ultra light go bag. I just take that when I'm riding my bike or spending the day at a park or something. Unfortunately, EZ-Bit tablets suck, they're expensive and they're not always easy to find so this seemed like a good solution. I have a few of these tins lying around so I decided to whip one up.

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It's as simple as it looks. Just take an altoids tin, fill it with perlite (I used vermiculite) and cut an aluminum screen to fit on top. Add some everclear, 91% rubbing alcohol or Heet and watch it burn. A couple of tablespoons burns for 10 minutes or so. It brought about a quart of water to a boil and then went out. It's light and takes up very little space. You can't fold the stove with the altoid can inside, though. It's not perfect but it fits the bill nicely for what I need it for.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fun With Buckets: The Wine Press

So I decided to press my blueberry wine. The berries have been sitting in a bucket for a week now so it was time. I don't have an actual wine press so I decided to just make a ghetto press out of some buckets. It's pretty easy, actually. You just need two buckets. One has to have a bunch of little holes in the bottom. Put the grapes/berries/fruit/whatever inside of a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer bag in the first bucket. Put the bucket with the holes in it on top of that. SLOWLY push down on the bucket with the holes and let the juice drain into it. If you go to fast it will just spill out over the sides of the bottom bucket. Not pretty. Ask me how I know. Once you've pushed the top bucket down as much as you can just pour the juice into your fermenter. Pictures speak a thousand words.

Here's the first bucket with the berries in a bag.
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And here's the bucket with a bunch of little holes drilled into the bottom.
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And here's the finished product after you press the berries and you get it into the fermenter.

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We'll see how it turns out. I have high hopes. I figure it will be at least 6 months before I crack a bottle. I'll keep you all updated.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In what world is this OK?

So my wife and her friend came home tonight. This is the onesy that my daughter was wearing...

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Aww isn't she sweet. All cute and cudly and can't even stay awake. In case you can't read it it says "Sorry boys I only date ROCKSTARS"...grrrr... Well, anyway, I decided to make a matching t-shirt. What do you guys think?

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Canned veggies cause cancer! ohnoz!11

Remember the BPAs that were in Nalgene bottles that got them taken off of the shelf for a while and replaced with new bottles with huge "no BPAs" stickers? Now they're saying that they're in canned goods, too. How long until they figure out a way to prove that freeze dried and dehydrated foods are silent killers? Before we know it bulk rice, dried beans and even bulk wheat will be as dangerous as DDT. I have no problem with the news making a big deal about "killer plastics". I do have a problem when the government steps in and ensures that everyone stops using the "killer product" and switches to the "new and improved cancer free" version. They need to have some excuse for when the price of everything on the canned rack goes up by 40% overnight. Oh, and they also have to figure out a way to get you to throw away all of the stuff that you have so that you have to go out and buy more stuff. It's all for your protection after all.

Survival Links Thanks M.D.

So I was checking out The Survivalist Blog and noticed a post he made about the Alexa Toolbar. I went ahead and downloaded it and it does seem pretty cool. When I was checking some of the links that link to my blog I noticed this link. I don't think I've ever seen so many survival links consolidated into one spot. Check them out. I haven't had a chance to look at them closely but even if there's a lot of crap listed there are bound to be some real gems. I'll be reading through them as I get the time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Quick, cheap and dirty wine update

A couple of weeks ago I racked my Welch's wine to secondary. It cleared up perfectly so I went ahead and bottled today. I just cracked one of the bottles to try. It smells like wine. It's tart, sweet and fruity. The alcohol flavor is pretty strong. That will mellow out with time. I probably should have degassed it. It's got a little bit of CO2 bite. To be honest I'm a little shocked. It's not at all what I expected. It tastes as good or better than any other wine that I've ever made after one month. The other three bottles will be aged for a few months. I expect good things out of them. This is definitely a recipe that I'll be keeping on hand. It's a quick and easy way to keep the pipeline full.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wine from whole fruit

Blueberries are coming into season and these days they're cheap as dirt. I've heard that they make awesome wine so I'm going to give it a shot. I'm making 5 gallons. Here's the recipe and the process:

16 lbs blueberries
9 lbs sugar
1 tbsp pectic enzyme
2 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1/2 tsp potassium metabisulphite
Wine yeast

First you crush your berries.

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You also need to boil a couple of gallons of water and dissolve the sugar in it. Once your berries are crushed add the boiling water to them, top up with water to 5 gallons (I did 5.5 gallons) and mix in your potassium metabisulphite. You can also add a few pounds of chopped raisins or a can of frozen grape juice concentrate if you want your wine to have more body. Let the must sit covered for a few days. I use a lid with a hole in it. Some people just lay a cloth over the top.

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After a day or so add the pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient, yeast and acid blend. You can also add some tannin. Also, check the gravity. If it's not at least 1.090 add sugar until it is. After 5 days or so you press the fruit and rack to a fermenter. The wine should start to clear within a few weeks. Once it's clear rack it to a secondary fermenter. Let it clear again. Rack it. Wash, rinse, repeat until the lees (the cake that develops on the bottom of the fermenter) is less than a half inch or so thick. You should only have to rack it two or three times at the most. Once it's clear and the lees is mostly gone bottle it. Let it age for at least 1-3 months.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life in a Chinese factory

So the factory in China that makes Ipads and Iphones has had a rash of suicides lately. They've had 10 suicides this year. They claim to have prevented 30. Basically the place is a commune. It's a huge complex. 300,000 people live on site. They get paid about $300 a month. Restaurants, hospitals, a supermarket, a fire department and other recreation are provided on site. Workers sleep in a dorm. They wake up, go to work, go back to their dorm, sleep then wake up to start their day again. The conditions at this factory are apparently better than most of the factories in China. And somehow our workforce is supposed to compete with this? Personally, I'd rather live in a travel trailer on a piece of junk land barely scraping by than have to live like that. Hopefully, we never have to sell out our freedom in this country to have a "chance at a better life" like they have to do in places like China.