Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and migration...

Merry Christmas all! Hopefully you got to spend quality friend and family time as well as got some cool loot.

I will be migrating this blog to papaswamp.com (which is wordpress).

Take care all!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review…Crovel Extreme vs Glock E-tool vs Cold Steel SF Shovel


This is sort of an apples to oranges to pears review. They are all related via the base design, which is the old US military entrenching tool. Each has similarities in that they have a shovel/digging capability, then things diverge wildly in some cases.

Set up…I was looking for a tool that would be easily carried on my get home bag (GHB) and/or bugout bag (BOB). Now remember…as with anything in any review, what works for me (or not) may or may not work for you.

Crovel Extreme (Link)
Cost: ~$109 (without case)
Weight: +5.5lbs
Length:
This is a very interestingly designed item. Basically an e-tool with a crowbar/hammer on the handle end. This is a solid, heavy duty tool, solid construction with a few extra features. Handle is hollow inside for storage of small items, but this does not compromise the sturdiness of the tool. Handle is also wrapped with paracord (nice touch but mine came unraveled after splitting wood). Locking nut is very solid with no chance of slippage out of locked 'pick axe' or shovel head position. Shovel head has serrations on one side for sawing and semi sharpened edge on the other for splitting (not sharp enough to cut wood against grain) plus a bottle cap remover. All main metal parts have a heavy duty powder coating on them. Obviously the designers wanted people to have a shovel, axe, saw, pick axe, crowbar, hammer all in one. Let's see how it performed on each of these tasks…





Digging/Pickaxe: This is by far the Crovel's strong suit. Due to it's sturdiness, weight and heavy duty locking nut, the Crovel beats the other 2 hands down. The crowbar/hammer handle end allowed for extra grip and leverage. The only design change here would be a more pointed shovel head…crucial for getting through the tough shallow root system that exists in the swamp. One drawback was sometime the crowbar head would bite into my forearm if I was gripping the handle instead of the crowbar end while in pickaxe mode.











Crowbar/hammer: Though a neat idea this part gave me problems. Due to the position of the crowbar/hammer, I was very limited on the amount of swing I could use due to the shovel head either getting in the way or biting my forearm (see pics). Also due to the angle of the crowbar head, insertion between a door and door jam was very limited. Zero angle would help somewhat, though the shovel head might get in the way regardless.

Shovel head position limits ability to insert crowbar head between door/doorjam interface.

Regardless of pivot position shovel head makes contact


Saw/chopping: The saw blade side of the shovel head is rather inefficient since the teeth are triangular and not off set. A substantial amount of effort was required. As to being used as a weapon…this would be the side to apply....due to the weight of the tool..probably the most deadly of the 3. The Crovel plain side is beveled, but not enough for chopping. It can be used for splitting seasoned wood…it's heavy weight allows it to be top in this aspect.



Conclusion:
At over 5.5 pounds, it simply is too heavy to add to a GHB. BOB…perhaps if one excludes other tools. The challenge would be it would need to be attached near the torso since heavy weights should be mid/center and as close to body as possible when packing. Problems with the crowbar/hammer head utilization, make this aspect of the tool rather limited. The threaded shaft area the locking lug rides on quickly began to rust and will require a thin coat of grease to prevent future problems (minor issue). Though I like the concept of the Crovel it's use beyond a shovel (or last ditch weapon) is limited in my mind.


Glock E-tool (Link)
Cost: ~$34 (with case)
Weight: 2 lbs
Length:
The Glock e-tool is a simple design digging tool with a small added feature of a saw blade inside the handle. This is the most compact out of the 3.

Tool in it's most compact form. Adjacent pic shows the saw.

Digging/Pickaxe: The pointed nature of the blade help for digging and pickaxe. Handle telescopes out and is locked in place by rotating counterclockwise. Shovel head is fixed in position by a tightening nut that maybe could be a bit larger. The lightweight did transfer 'shock' from striking roots back to the handlers arm/wrist.

Saw/cutting: The saw blade attachment does the job well on small limbs and roots. Also would make an excellent bone saw for quartering large game. This tool has no chopping/splitting function.


Conclusions:
Lightweight/lack of mass require more energy for digging, etc.. Not intended as a weapon. This is the most lightweight of the tools, thus additional tools such as an axe and crowbar will also be needed to be carried. Case is a bit weak and may wear out quickly (I'll update if it does). Since this tool has a few parts that separate…there is the possibility that they could be lost. This will mot render the shovel aspect inoperable, but obviously the saw would be.


Cold Steel SF Shovel (Link)
Cost: ~$26 (without case...+$10)
Weight: 1.66 lbs
Length:
This is the simplest of all the designs, based on the WW2 style. Straight solid wood handle with steel head. The entire edge of the shovel head is VERY sharp. Why the cover is sold separately makes zero sense to me..it is a must have item.
Digging: No problem here…goes through roots and dirt rather well. Handle is easy to grip and sturdy (except when wet..wrap some duct tape for better grip).

Chopping/Splitting wood: The best out of the 3….roots with 1 swing. Very sharp blade, branches 3 inches thick were not a problem. Splitting it was second to the Crovel due to lack of mass only.


Conclusion: Can be used for digging, chopping, zombie head removal…no pickaxe option. Blade is sharp and MUST have a case. Between the Crovel and Glock tool in size. Though listed as lighter than the Glock, it felt a bit heavier/solid. Edge did show some light rust, thus a thin coat of grease will need to be applied. Cold Steel also shows how the shovel can be thrown and impale targets…I'm not a big fan of throwing tools, knives, axes, etc..the penetration done is usually less than incapacitating. If you miss, your intended target now has your tool/weapon.

So which to carry?
-I was excited about the Crovel, but disappointed with the results due to the design issues I mentioned and the weight. It's cost (5 times more than next reviewed), perhaps caused me to be a bit more critical, but I believe this is warranted of any high priced item.

-The Glock tool certainly being the lightest/most compact is the easiest to carry, but it's rather non-solid feel gives me pause. I plan on putting it through a similar abuse the SF tool went through…if it holds up it will get the nod...I will update.

-The Cold Steel, I worked the heck out of it to see at what point the wooden handle would break (hammer, prybar..and yes, I did the throw thing…it did break (10th throw....Cold Steel sells replacements), but I would probably not use it in such a way. At the moment it is my top pick (with case). Yes, you can throw it and it sticks into targets...neato!..not practical unless it is the last thing you have and you want to make your enemy bleed before you expire.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Survival Seeds…an experiment.



So I thought I would start an experiment back in September. 
Garden is a 4'x8' section plus a small planter (1.5'x3'). Rainfall was below normal and the dry season has begun, but watering did occur when needed until 5 wks ago when fresh water became scarce.
It was rather simple scenario:
 I'm Joe 6-pack, and I purchased these survival seeds just in case. I don't have much gardening experience. I have put aside some supplies, food, water, etc.. Collapse occurs, but I decide to bug in (suburban area) since most roads are blocked and fuel quickly ran out. It's me, my wife and 2 children (8 and 10). About half the neighborhood stays. Most decide to be responsible for their own food. I quickly put seeds in the ground or in seedling pots that should grow this time of year in Florida. After the seeds are planted, day to day survival takes precedence, I pay little attention to the garden due to other demands such as security, fresh water (I'm surrounded by mostly salt/brackish), sanitation issues and a death in the family. Now it is December, canned food is running low and I'm out of vegetables. Going out and foraging has become increasingly difficult as a few roving groups that have been robbing/violently looting and a population surge into the area due to a nearby metro area where govt food supply lines collapsed. Disease has also broken out such as cholera, dysentery and rumors of malaria. I turn attention back to my garden….
So how did Joe 6-pack's garden do with very little attention paid to it? For all intents and purposes it was a failure. Very few seeds germinated, plus the garden suffered from animal, insect and disease incursions. Overall success rate was about 7% with enough total food for 2 days. Joe didn't know to stagger plantings, and now realizes that he should already have a crop of something else going. Not watching, his son used the planting guide as kindling to get a cooking fire going back in November. 
  I see this as a very standard scenario that most living in a southern coastal area will experience in an case of complete collapse and mentality of more individual/family than larger group cooperation (see previous post). This also plays into the discussion of year round garden production, harvest and storage, as well as seed viability and success with different levels of attention paid. These are all concerns preppers need to keep in mind when making a plan.

 I found it rather interesting though was the seed germination failure rate. Carrots and leafy greens did well, but the rows were heavily damaged/scattered by animal incursion early on (lack of fencing). 


Beets, radishes and onions did not grow well or at all, and were extremely small and 'weak' for how long they have been planted. (lack of fertilizer and suitable planting area).


Cucumbers germinated well, but were quickly destroyed by insects. All that is left are 2 small plants. (lack of fertilizer insecticide).



Fertilizer, insecticide, fungicide and good location are needed as well as dedication to the garden. This is an additional prep item(s)/plans many skip over. I am going to run the experiment again with a bit more of a prepared scenario, and heavier attention paid to the garden. Going into winter should be a bit more challenging, but at the same time…disasters don't occur when convenient. At the end of the second run if I see similar germination failures I will list the product name so people may avoid  wasting their money. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home intrusion…not just one intruder..multiple...





Most people, when they think of home invasion, think of just 1 intruder…what if there are more? The trend lately seems to be 3 or more intruders attacking at night. Reasoning seems to be, instead of searching, home owners can show the intruders were the valuables are more quickly.

Some cases unfortunately, involve more violent and nefarious agenda.

Many say 'no problem', I have a shotgun (or other firearm)…but it is not as easily done as it is said. You are surprised, multiple targets in multiple directions with loved ones in close proximity, in close quarters is not the same as paper targets at a range. Adrenaline is pumping, have to get to weapon (not many people wear their firearm while sitting on the couch watching Monday night football) then have to engage targets.

Some simple steps can be found HERE and HERE.

But preppers should seriously consider going further and getting professional training for home invasion and/or multiple targets.
JB Training (NE FL, SE GA)
CRI (Nevada)
Please note…I have not tried either course, but will probably take JB's course and will post a review. I encourage people to do their own research and find what works best for them.

International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is also a great way to learn pistol shooting at a whole different level. IDPA uses realistic scenarios to engage multiple targets, moving, loading, shooting from cover, etc..





The situation isn't pretty out there folks. If the present economic down trend continues, we can expect this to occur more frequently. Don't be a target! Prepare and train now.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Water distillation…the quick way.

I live on an island of sorts. This is a bonus in some aspects as I have a rather large continuous supply of tasty seafood year round. The draw back of course is in times of need…I am surrounded by salt water. This can present a problem during the dry season, which sometimes occurs during the wet season. Sometime it rains every afternoon and sometimes it doesn't rain for weeks. So the ability to procure drinkable freshwater can be a challenge. An easy method is water distillation. The simple method of causing water to evaporate and then condensing it elsewhere. This is exactly what nature does to create rain. There are several methods to doing so, but one of the quicker methods is to boil water and then condense the steam and collect the water. 
Materials are rather simple:
-Pressure cooker (recommend stainless) or any container which can withstand a heat source under it and can be sealed to prevent loss of steam except through 1 hole.
-Heat source (fire, grill, etc.)
-food grade vinyl hose (not required, but makes connection easier)
-hose clamps (unless not using hose)
- stainless or copper tubing
-rubber stoppers
-5 gal bucket


Water distillation leaves you with water that is free of salt, bacteria, viruses, etc. Now point of caution…chemicals with a boiling point less than or equal to water can end up in your collected water. A trick to avoid this is boil water for ~10 minutes uncovered..this cooks off the volatile chems.

Distillation Systems


  • Distillation Systems use a process of heating water to the boiling point and then collecting the water vapor as it condenses, leaving many of the contaminants behind.
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing protozoa (for example, Cryptosporidium, Giardia);
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing bacteria (for example, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli);
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing viruses (for example, Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus);
  • Distillation Systems will remove common chemical contaminants, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, nitrate, sodium, sulfate, and many organic chemicals.

Set up is easy. Salt water into your pressure cooker (or what ever container) place it over your heat. Secure lid to pot (now a tea pot and hose attachment to the spout can work too). Attach hose/condenser coil to your lid valve/hole. In warm weather it's good to have the condenser coil submerged in a bucket of water (any water is fine) to help condensation. If it is cool outside, air cooling on the condensing coil works too. It takes a bit to get water boiling, but once it is going you are in business. 


It is a good idea to produce water for about 20 minutes, then use that water for the garden. This sterilizes your hose/condenser coil in case any contaminants got into them….in other words don't drink it.

Once the system in perking along you should be able to produce between 1/2 to 1 oz of water per minute. The great thing about this system..once it is going, it produces well…the drawback is that it is very fuel (for the heat source) intensive.



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Present to future situation…and remembering the unorganized militia.

2 interesting if not eye opening articles on Business Insider show not only the present situation economically in the US via photos, but also a peek into what perhaps maybe the future situation for more and more as this economy slowly degrades.

First is a bit of a photo essay comparing the great depression photos and today's so called non-existant recession.

We recently published some color photos of the Great Depression, which make that era look a lot more familiar than when it is viewed in black and white. The more-familiar black-and-white shots of the Depression are moving, but they make it seem completely dissimilar to the vivid color era in which we live today.
And now we find ourselves in an economy that has several unsettling parallels to the Great Depression, one that in many ways is the worst economy since that horrific decade. 


Next is another photo essay on a tent city that has arisen in NJ.

Inside his tepee in the woods outside Lakewood, NJ, at the homeless Tent City, the roosters wake early and the mornings are already cooler.
A musician who lost his Florida home in the housing crisis, Hardman says he floats in and out of Tent City, that he's proud of his kids, and misses the life he no longer has.
He has company out here.
About an hour south of Wall Street, where some bankers quietly gripe about how hard it is to survive on a million dollars a year, other Americans are making do with less.

Lastly, a great article by Randy Barnett on the unorganized militia and how they saved an untold number on 9/11/01.  Originally written on 18 Sept, 2001 it pushes home the idea of who the unorganized militia is and their capabilities.
” The next time someone tells you that the militia referred to in the Second Amendment has been “superceded” by the National Guard, ask them who it was that prevented United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching its target. The National Guard? The regular Army? The D.C. Police Department? None of these had a presence on Flight 93 because, in a free society, professional law-enforcement and military personnel cannot be everywhere. Terrorists and criminals are well aware of this — indeed, they count on it. Who is everywhere? The people the Founders referred to as the “general militia.” Cell-phone calls from the plane have now revealed that it was members of the general militia, not organized law enforcement, who successfully prevented Flight 93 from reaching its intended target at the cost of their own lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tips from Urban Survival Guide.






Urban Survival Guide by David Morris is one of many survival books out there, though it separates itself by being more of a 'bug in' book (survive in place) versus heading out into nowhere land and surviving off nature. Something I point out in a previous post that sometimes it won't matter where you go trouble will be there. The book isn't tremendously detailed, but it brings up many issues one faces in an urban suburban setting. What I really like is that the book wasn't just published and left out there. The author has continued the process of learning and preparing and puts out a newsletter as well as offers classes, equipment suggestions etc..

In light of the recent riots in London as well as continued economic destabilization in the EU and US, the advice and information seem rather timely.

If wide spread riots occur will you be able to get from work to home? Can you survive in place away from your supplies. Can you repel those that wish to take or simply burn the place down? These are tough and even scary questions, but unfortunately reality seems to have taken on a reality of it's own.







Monday, July 25, 2011

Check list time…a bit early.

I used to post this at the beginning of every month, but felt it was too repetitive. In light of the seeming looming govt shut down, which may or may not happen, thought it would be good time to maybe do a check now, before a possible panic. If no deal is reached, even for a short time, there may be some areas of unrest and/or panic....or the people will rejoice. Either way...always good to check items you haven't looked at in a while and check food storage for pest infestation, leaks, etc.



urbanverbal


Time for the monthly rotation checklist. I've adapted this from alpharubicon's site (they have more info than I can ever read). Usually do this the first Friday of every month (you pick best time for you). Some of these actions may only pertain to those living in a moist (and in my case salty) environment. If you have a suggestion of what to add...let me know!

____Check water supply.
____ Check storage containers for leaks, mold, etc.
____Check function of hand pumps.
____Rotate water if needed (every 6 months if possible..use to flush toilet or water garden. (CAUTION! If water was treated with chems may not be good for plants)

____Food storage.
____Check expiration dates on regular foods.
____Check dates on long term survival foods.
____Check for leaks, pest infestation.

____Weapons check.
____Inspect for rust, mold.
____Check stock/grip for damage/cracks.
____Lubricate if needed.
____Rotate/inspect ammo and mags. (Range time!..woohoo!)
____Check slings and holsters for fraying and mold.
____Check cleaning kit supplies.

____Personal Go bag/vehicle bag (not large/main BOBs)
____Inspect contents, for mold, expiration..rotate as needed.

____ Medical
____Check first aid kits for expired meds.
____Inspect bandages and wraps for package frays/tears....loss of sterile integrity.
____Check supply of prescribed meds.

____Vehicles
____Check tires and fluids.
____Check hoses, filters and cables for fraying, clogs or pest infestation (they like to make nests and chew wires).
____Check tool kit (missing parts, rust, mold etc.)

____Home
____Check smoke, CO2 detectors, intrusion alarms.
____Lube window and door locks (important in coastal areas).
____Virus scan computers and system backup.
____ 360 exterior inspection.
____Check battery supply.


3-6 Month checks:

____NBC
____ Inspect masks and suits, gloves, boots for tears, mold, infestations.
____ Check expiration dates and seals on unused filters.
____ Inspect and test NBC detection devices (remember to store batteries outside units when unit in storage mode).

____BOB/ BIN (Bugout/Bug In bags/boxes) "The big stuff"
____ Inspect contents for mold infestation.
____Rotate out expired contents.
____Inspect temp. shelter or tear, mold, infestation.
____Inspect sanitation items (personal hygene, porta pooper, TP, fem. products, etc.)

____Misc.
____Inspect back up communication devices.
____Inspect tools for mold, rust, wood deterioration (apply linseed oil to handles).
____Inspect BO route... has it changed (construction etc.).
____Inspect BOL is everything still the same (plumbing, electrical, back-up power, water supply, etc.)?
____Rotate batteries in flashlights, check bulbs.
____Rotate/inspect fuel supply (gasoline, liquid gas, wood pile, etc.).

____ Test (partial or full) this should be done a minimum of once a year quarterly is best (you pick the scenario).
____Full Bug in test....cut the power...cut the water....no using the toilet (unles you have septic) for one weekend.
____Full Bug out test (family camping trip!!!)... 3 days min.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hurricane season ramping up.



Hurricane season is beginning to ramp up a bit. It has been fairly quiet for Florida the last few years, but don't let your guard down. I recommend, if possible to check the National Hurricane Center at least twice a day (once in the morning and once at night). Check your preps, go over your evac plan and routes (have more than one). Remember travel times during evacuations typically triple and quadruple. Don't forget important documents and plan for the pets....I know I'm preaching to the choir. Those bugging in, don't forget to check you exterior area for potential flying debris such as lawn furniture or dead trees and branches. Have plan for the furniture and other items. Get those dead trees and branches on the ground.

No threats to us at the moment...though there is a broad area of rotation over Hispaniola slowly moving east. This has the potential to become an issue once out over water.

Another good site for those a bit more into tropical weather is Central FL Hurricane site.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A great article on ZeroHedge written by the folks at Alt-Market. Brought up a great real life point as to why going on your own, or just you and your family, is probably a bad idea in times of widespread collapse. Using the example of Argentina in 2002 (collapse actually occurred in Dec of 2001) went relatively unnoticed in the US as we were reeling from the attacks of 9-11.
Argentina was in the midst of total collapse, driven by banker fraud and extreme currency devaluation in tandem with government mismanagement and corruption.

Sound familiar?
The results sound like something from a fictional apocalyptic novel (items in bold are my emphasis).
First, cities exploded with rioting and violence as Argentinian police and military attempted to crush all dissent. Soon after, displaced refugees from population centers along with roving bands of thieves flooded into the countryside, wiping out isolated farms, murdering families, and hunting down any small group of survivors weaker than themselves and flush with supplies. The authorities (and I use the term loosely) were too busy trying to suppress civil protests to bother protecting those who were caught unprepared.

This behavior is part and parcel of economic destabilization, regardless of the time or place in which it occurs. Only nine years ago, a very modern and technologically savvy nation of people, nearly cannibalized itself. Those who survived and thrived did so through family aid and substantial existing wealth, or, the tactical building of communities for the purpose of mutual defense and alternative trade. Farmers armed themselves and formed regional groups along with security measures. City dwellers formed neighborhood watches and barter networks when the mainstream economy disappeared. The bottom line; lone wolves and isolated country families were nothing more than tempting targets at the onset of the breakdown in Argentina.


Let me hit that last sentence again...
"The bottom line; lone wolves and isolated country families were nothing more than tempting targets at the onset of the breakdown in Argentina."

The purpose of prepper groups is to gather like minded people together to gain knowledge and prepare for the worst. What seems to lack is a concerted effort to pursue the 'strength in numbers' mentality. Though there are many groups that get together for events, most of the effort is centered around BOBs, EDC, etc.. Though these are important, a more critical aspect would seem to be the formation of local communities of strength. More of the...ok I have bugged out now what? This seems to be the area of largest weakness.

I see many mention they have land far away or plan to travel to some remote area. As the example of Argentina shows, this almost turns out to be a death sentence. Realistically, anyone who has had to evacuate due to hurricane knows how the roads get. Travel time that normally took 4-6 hours easily turns into 24+hrs. Now add roving bands looking to take what you have and you are trapped on a road, in your car with your family. Not a good position to defend from.

I encourage everyone to read the article completely.