Quick Update


In case you haven't heard of them, BulkAmmo.com is a St. Louis based company that sells, well, bulk ammo.  They seem to have great prices and they only offer what they actually have in stock at the time.  I'm mentioning them partly to enter a contest to win some 9mm, but also because they are a good resource if you are in the market.

I'm expecting to do regular posting tomorrow.  We'll talk about my hunting experience after Thanksgiving and medical concerns after TEOTWAWKI.


Happy Thanksgiving! Nov. 25, 2010

I'm very thankful for...

I have a wonderful wife who supports me in so many ways.  I have great family and friends.  I love my job and work with a lot of great people.  I'm thankful for you guys reading this - for taking time from your days to read about what I think about preparedness and survivalism.  I'm very fortunate on so many levels!

My ancestors were among the settlers at Jamestown in 1607.  They started Shirley Plantation on the James River several years later.  Shirley is just up the river from Berkley Plantation, site of the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World.  It came a year earlier than those pretenders up at Plymouth Rock!  I don't know for certain, but I would assume that my ancestors took part in that first Thanksgiving.  Now, you want to talk about preppers and self-sufficient living, those early European settlers were the picture of it.  Maybe that is still in my DNA a bit, and that is why these ideas are so important to me.

Apocalypse, PA

I watched the first two episodes of this show this week on the History Channel, and I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, they were showing some very cool skills and techniques that would be of use if it hits the fan.  In the first episode, they built a wood and manure burning pickup and discovered the trials and tribulations of goat owning.  In the second episode, they cast bullets, made black powder, and built a still to make corn liquor.  Nick over at Save Our Skills would be a good one to work with them.  My mixed feelings come from the way the family is presented by the producers.  Yep, the stereotypical "crazy survivalist."  Mom is constantly rolling her eyes at Dad's crazy antics.  The son is aligned with Dad and the daughter goes with Mom, but they all go down in the basement that is paneled in chalkboards (leftover props from Glenn Beck's show?) for the family meeting that starts each show.  Dad stands in front of the chalkboard and tells the family that if the world is going to end, then they need to .... whatever that show's topic is.  The chalkboard is covered with detailed drawings which I doubt dad put up.  Also, behind the mom and kids, is a counter.  On that counter are two strategically placed cases of MREs that are obviously there to show the audience how "crazy" the family is.  The cases did not move between the two episodes, and there is no other food stored on the counter.  I'd say that if you get the chance, spend a half hour watching this show.  You'll learn some cool information and skills.  When the show comes up in the break room at work, be ready for the naysayers who look at the "crazy" side, and maybe they will understand that the basement chalkboards and MREs are just there for entertainment shock value.

The Berkey Guy Radio Show

Tuesday evening I had my interview on The Berkey Guy Radio Show.  I think it went very well.  We talked about my background in prepping, then moved on to school disaster preparedness.  We discussed some of the threats that children face at school, some strategies parents can use to become involved in their schools' disaster planning, and some possible things to do with kids to help them be more prepared in school.  We had a lot of interaction with listeners on the chat room, too.  If you missed the show, you can download it here.  It has also lead to a possible future interview on another BlogTalk Radio show to talk about terrorism and mass violence in schools.  I'll let you know when that gets confirmed.

Thanks to Jeff Gleason, The Berkey Guy at Directive 21 for having me on his show.  I really enjoyed it.

I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


News and Reviews Nov. 21, 2010

Big News!

This coming Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern - 5 p.m. Pacific, I am scheduled to be the interview guest with Jeff Gleason on The Berkey Guy Radio Show on the Preparedness Radio Network on Blogtalk Radio.  We will discuss school safety and emergency preparedness for students and their parents.  Jeff does a very informative weekly show, and I'm honored that he is interested in my thoughts on this topic.  For those of you who don't know, I am the security chief and emergency manager for a urban public school division with 31,000+ students.  You can either listen live through streaming audio, or download it later.  You'll also be able to ask questions either through the PRN chat room or by call in.  Be sure to tune in!

Harry Prepper?

I took my wonderful wife to see the new Harry Potter movie yesterday morning.  You're probably wondering how in the world I can relate this to prepping.  Well, in a pivotal scene we learn that Hermione Granger has a Bug Out Bag (BOB)!  Harry, Hermione and Ron have to flee Ron's parents' home to go hunt for Voldemort's soul.  Hermione reaches into her musette bag (she explains that she put some sort of bottomless bag spell on it) and pulls out a change of clothes for each of them.  When they look at her quizzically, she explains that she packed the bag several weeks ago for their emergency needs.  Later, we find that the bag also had a large wall tent, lanterns, and food in it.  I think she is one of us :-)!

Is there such a thing as a Knife Fairy?

In a foreshadowing of the movie, as we were leaving the house to go to it, I slipped on a jacket that I had not worn since last winter.  In the breast pocket was a Gerber Fast Draw Assisted Opening knife.  Now, what makes this so odd is that I don't recall ever owning this knife.  I honestly have no idea where it came from or how it ended up in my pocket.  I've no choice but to assume it left by was a Knife Fairy (perhaps an Elf).  It's a very nice knife for a reasonable price.  There is a safety switch/blade release on the side, two thumb studs, and the spring-assist opening takes just a slight pressure to be ready for action.  It has a half serrated and half plain blade that is 2.99 inches long.  The pocket clip seems very sturdy, and the blade is securely locked open.  I'm going to try it for a while as my daily carry to see if it will earn its keep.

Glenn Beck's Food Storage Show

As promised on Facebook postings, I recorded and watched Glenn Beck's TV show this past Thursday that he was promoting as being about food storage to prepare for coming unrest.  He spent the first half talking about George Soros, but finally got to food storage in the second half.  He interviewed Lisa Bedford, The Survival Mom, and had other moms in the audience to speak about their experiences with food storage.  He didn't offer a lot of how-to information, but he did mention several websites and resources for folks to learn on their own.  A pretty good show to introduce non-preppers to the idea in a "non scary" way.

Backyard Food Production DVD

I recently rewatched the DVD, Food Production Systems For a Backyard or Small Farm, that I got for Christmas last year.  This DVD is done by a family in Texas that is truly living the lifestyle and is sharing what they have learned with those of us who are not yet there.  The production values are of course not to the level of a Discovery Channel show, but are still pretty darn good... much better than a typical You Tube or homemade instructional video.  The lighting, sound and transitions are all of a high quality.  Topics include: Water, Garden, Rabbits, Home Butchering, Poultry, Dogs, Perennials, and Other Essentials.  I have learned a great deal that I can put to use on my small 2 acre homestead, and expect I'll watch it numerous times over the years.  I strongly recommend that you get a copy.  It also makes a great stocking stuffer for the budding homesteader on your list.  I will caution you that the segment on home butchering is graphic, but it is done with sensitivity.  If you are trying to convince a reluctant spouse of the benefits of homesteading, you might want to skip that segment.

How To SURVIVE The End Of The World As We Know It

I'm sure that most of you already know of James Wesley, Rawles, the writer of the daily SurvivalBlog.com and author of the how-to manual disguised as a fictional thriller, Patriots - Surviving the Coming Economic Collapse.  James' newest book is How To SURVIVE The End Of The World As We Know It, a how-to manual that is of use to the experienced prepper/homesteader or the complete novice who doesn't know where to start.  Chapters cover: Survival Mindset, Making Lists, The Retreat, Water, Food Larder, Fuel and Power, Gardens and Livestock, Medical, Communications, Home Security, Firearms, Vehicles, Investing and Income, and an extensive glossary.  He also has an appendix about pandemic protection for your family.

The book is an easy read, not too technical for the lay person, and broken down into short sections so you can read it a little bit here and there when you have a chance.  I've taken lots of notes and used a highlighter throughout my copy.  Throughout the book, he lists websites using the "snipurl.com" method which makes it easier to reach a website rather than typing in a long site name with extensions and sub domains.  This book is very user friendly and belongs not on your book shelf, but somewhere you will actually read it and refer to it time and time again.

My Amazon Store

If you look in the upper left corner of the blog, you'll see a link the If It Hits The Fan Amazon store.  I'm not selling anything, I'm just using this to provide direct links to books, gear and other materials that I own, use, or have first-hand knowledge of, and that I personally recommend to my readers.  This "store" will be growing in the next few weeks and will be a great resource to you for gifts (giving and receiving) and ideas of how you can improve your prep supplies.  If you use these links, I'll get a small commission from Amazon, and it won't cost you any extra.  Even if you don't buy my recommended items, but buy something else from Amazon, I'll get credit if you link through my site.  It's a way you can help support what I am doing here, and I'll be very appreciative.

Please "like" us on Facebook if you have not already done so, and I'll post the direct link to my Berkey Guy Radio Show appearance there.  I'll do a new blog post this Wednesday to tell you about my experiences on the show, and to share some thoughts on Thanksgiving.


Reviews - and The Winner Is... Nov. 12, 2010

I've got a couple of reviews to do today, then some announcements

Ozark Trail Machete

This is the Wal-Mart brand of camping gear.  The machete cost me $6.88.  It comes with a two piece plastic grip and an 18" blade.  The sheath is a cheap feeling canvas, that has four rivets to help keep the blade from cutting through the fabric seam.  As dull as this thing is, I doubt it would cut through the seam if the sheath were made of tissue paper.  Yep, it sucks that bad.  The blade was very dull.  The grip was too short for my slightly-over-medium sized paw.  With nearly every swing, it torqued around in my hand necessitating frequent grip repositions.  I hacked away at a sapling with about a 2.5" diameter.  It took over 100 strikes, and gave me a hand cramp before it fell.  The machete was slightly better at taking small twig branches off of tree trunks.  But only if hit right at where it joined the trunk.  An inch out and it just bent the twig, scraping the bark a little.  Don't waste your money on this one.  My USMC Ka-Bar is much more effective at what I was trying to do, and serves multiple roles.  I think for a machete, the Gerber Gator is a great deal at $18.87, for a much, much better quality tool than the Wal-Mart one.  Jack Spirko has a good You Tube evaluation of the Gerber Gator Junior, and a close friend has and likes the full sized one.

So, what to do with my junk machete.  I think I'll hit the edge for a bit on my Lansky sharpening kit to see if I can make this even marginally useful.  If I can, it will go in the pickup tool box.  For yard work, camping, etc... I think I'll save my pennies for the Gerber.  Dull knives are useless and dangerous, the Lansky is a fantastic system that works on straight or serrated blades.  Maybe a review of that is a good idea for a future post.

Glenn Beck's Financial TEOTWAWKI Show

On Friday, Nov. 5th, Glenn Beck promoted his TV show for that night as looking at what a financial meltdown of the world's economy might look like and how it could lead to TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).  I finally was able to watch it yesterday evening.  Not quite what I expected.  He spent the first part of the show going over a scenario presented by Damon Vickers in his book "The Day After the Dollar Crashes."  Essentially, if the Chinese stop buying US bonds, then a bunch of specific "what ifs" happen, on day 15, the world economy is restructured under a new world order.  On day 16, Americans are in full blown panic mode.  OK, an interesting intellectual exercise, but not much good to me as a non-financial lay-person.  Beck also had the author Brad Thor as a guest.  Thor is a great writer of political thrillers (Foreign Influence was fantastic!) and has done war gaming with Homeland Security.  The end result of the show was than Vickers predicted some sort of cumbaya world coming together to rebuild.  Thor predicted American resilience rebuilding from individuals to families to communities first, then expanding from there.  Beck kind of agreed with both of them, which I found a bit odd.  This show would have been more informative for our purposes if there was more detail and ideas for life after the 15th day, and less theory and conjecture.

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Terri from Florida for winning the drawing for the black Excursion Organizer Bag from Survival Gear Bags!  Thanks to all who entered!  Terri, I'll get it in the mail to you tomorrow.  As mentioned in my review of this great bag, I'll use the OD one to build a midsized EDC kit and write about that process.


Product Review & Prize Giveaway Nov. 8, 2010

Product Review

First, full disclosure, I am an affiliate of Survival Gear Bags and Kelly there sent me two of these free of charge.  I will give my honest opinion with no influence.  If you buy anything from their site, please go through my link and I'll get a small commission.

Now, the product review...

The Excursion Organizer Bag from Rothco.  Some time ago, I built a very compact EDC kit from a cell phone case.  It's discreet, and does not look out of place in my usual attire of khakis, a shirt, and tie.  But it does not hold a whole heck of a lot.  I saw these organizer bags at Survival Gear Bags and thought that one would make a great EDC kit to go with me in my company car or have at my desk while I'm working.  The logic being that I have my small one on my belt to help me until I get to my car or desk where this new one will be, then that one will help me get to my truck where I have my GHB (Get Home Bag - I guess I probably ought to do a glossary one of these days).  It would also be good for wearing on my person on the weekend when I am at the hardware store, gun show, or anywhere else in jeans and boots.

Kelly very graciously sent me two bags to check out.  One is OD Green and the other is Black (more on why two later...)

The bag is made by Rothco.  The bag is a pretty heavy canvas, feels sturdy, but not overly stiff.  All of the sewing and seams feel very secure.  I've tugged on it this way and that, and nothing is giving.  Overall size is about 7x6.5".  On the front is a 3x5" pouch with a Velcroed flap.  It's good for a larger cell phone, a notepad, and maybe a Leatherman tool or something.  Also on front is a pen pouch, then a zippered 6x6" compartment with a 4" opening.  I'm not sure what I would put in there at this point.  Next is a top opening zippered compartment with another interior zippered compartment hidden inside.  That hidden one would be good for extra money to be stashed.  This is the main pocket of the bag, and is about an inch and a half deep.  Behind that is another top zippered compartment that is about 3/4" deep.  I think it would be good for a small handgun, perhaps as large as a Commander-sized .45, but definitely a .38 snub or .380 auto.  I'd rig up something either inside the pouch or around the gun to make sure it is stable in the pouch and the grip is always where I expect it to be.  The four zippers have large tabs, and slide easily without binding or catching.  They are not YKK, but still of good quality.  There are two large vertical canvas belt loops on the back that are wide enough for a military web belt.  The loops are stitched on nice and secure.  Finally, there is a D ring on each side with an adjustable strap using snap hooks to hold it to the D rings.  The strap will work for over the shoulder, or run it through your jeans belt loops for additional security.  About the only change I would suggest would be to add two horizontal belt loops to the back so that a person could use ALICE clips to attach it to load bearing equipment or a pack.  Survival Gear Bags currently has this on sale, marked down from $10 to $9!  It's a great bag, great value and at that price, a great bargain!  If you are looking for a small EDC bag that is more than a cell phone case in size, this is the bag for you.  Sometime soon, I will build this out into a full fledged EDC and write it up for you.  But, I need to know if I should use the OD or the Black.  That depends on the winner of the Reader Appreciation Contest!

Reader Appreciation Contest

I am very grateful to all of you who are reading If It Hits The Fan and helping me build it into a success.  I've got 113 fans on the Facebook page and have had over 1,200 page views on the blog.  Its time to thank you for your support!  I'm going to give one lucky reader your choice of the OD or the Black Excursion Organizer Bag.  Simply send an email here with "Bag Giveaway" as the subject.  Be sure to tell me your mailing address and which color you want.  Unfortunately, I can only make this available to US addresses.  I just can't afford international postage at this time. Limit one entry per person, and entries must be received by noon EST on Thursday Nov. 11th.  I'll draw a random email for the winner.  That's all there is to it!  Whichever bag is not chosen will become my EDC.  Again, a big thanks to Kelly at Survival Gear Bags for providing the bags for evaluation and the contest.  Please consider them for your next gear purchase.

Next up...
Friday I'll announce the winner (first name and state, only) and do a review of the Wal-Mart $6.88 machete.  Is it junk, or a decent value?  We'll find out together!  Until then, Happy Birthday and Semper Fi to my fellow Marines on Wednesday and THANK YOU to all veterans on Thursday.


Monthly Tasks and Hurricane Tomas Nov. 1, 2010

OK, gang, it's the first of the month.  Have you...

Test run your generator?
Rotated you gasoline stores?
Tested your smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors?
Checked your household and vehicle fire extinguishers?
Given your dog his heart worm pill and flea/tick treatment?

What other monthly duties are there related to preparedness or prevention?

Hurricane Tomas

Tomas is fluctuating between Tropical Storm and Hurricane, but looks to maintain Hurricane status and make a beeline for Haiti late Friday.  Haiti suffered a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January and has been withstanding an outbreak of cholera recently.  If Tomas hits them hard, the death toll and losses could be staggering.  The son of one of our readers just arrived in the Dominican Republic on a medical mission.  The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.  I'm not sure if he will be there through the hurricane's arrival on the island, but hope that he is prepared to be self sufficient with water, food and shelter for a while.  If his dad had anything to do with his trip planning, I'm sure he will be.

The Recipe Corner

Lots of folks store white rice in their pantry.  As you know, I am a proponent of Store What You Eat-Eat What You Store.  White rice gets boring very quickly.  We had dinner tonight at a local, family owned Mexican restaurant.  One of the owners shared a recipe with us that would be nice for the prepper.  White rice, with a dash of cumin (it's always wise to store a wide variety of spices and seasonings) and cilantro (either buy it at the store and dehydrate it for storage, or grow it in your herb garden).  A squirt of lime juice (grow your own if you are tropical enough, or store bottles of the juice) to finish it off, and you have a delicious side dish and a great way to SWYE-EWYS.