Channeling Papa

The Old Man In The Yard

The bad storm came.  The man's house was not damaged.  The man got his phone back last night, but no electricity.  He sat in his yard waiting... waiting for the power company to come.  The generator was noisy.  He couldn't think in the back yard so he sat in the front yard.  He typed his blog.  He had a lot to say, but he was tired.  Tired from the storm and tired from the noise.  So he didn't say much. 

There's my ode to Ernest Hemmingway.  Grey beard, check.  Perdomo cigar, check.  Short, choppy sentances, check.  But instead of a military folding desk in Cuba, I've got two kitchen chairs in Virginia.  No bottle of whiskey, but I do have a Diet Coke.  I used to have a Greek fisherman's cap, but that's long gone.  I'm really beat this afternoon.  I think I ran a lot on adrenalen and mission-essential energy for the past few days, but I need to recharge.  The power outage numbers in Virginia ar shrinking, but out here, I'll be real surprised if we get it back before Saturday or Sunday.

The Generac GP5500 is really kicking butt.  It is great on gas, so I don't need to get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to refuel.  It has over 60 hours on it so far, and hasn't missed a beat.  Last night, my wife even used her hair drier (tough to do with a generator due to the huge pull it has) and we ran the washer machine to get some work clothes clean (still hung them up to dry, I'm not ready to try the drier yet).  You might remember back in the winter I railed against Generac because they would not sell a replacement jet for a carbureator, I had to buy a whole new carb.  Their excuse was that people just mess them up working on them themselves.  They still have me ticked off.  I need to do an oil change on this one, but I can't find the owner's manual on line (the original got lost in the storm).  I've tried searching by model number, but their website doesn't recognize it.  I've tried looking for the oil filter part number, but they don't list it.  They really must have their hooks in with the "official" Generac repair places.  I'm going back to Lowe's tonight to try it from that angle.

Reader Comments

For some reason, I can't leave a comment on yesterday's post, so here's my reply to you guys...

Thanks Anonymous, Steelheart and BVDD! (And Steelheart, you're darn tootin she does!)

Mike, glad to hear you did ok with everything. I know what you mean about getting ready earlier. I was in Idaho until Monday, then had the earthquake, then started getting hurricane prepped at work before doing my last minute stuff on Friday.  I didn't have as much as you (living on the water can be a blessing and a curse), but I know what you mean about the humidity.  Being on my roof in the afternoon sun nearly did me in.

Also, a good point on the reppellent. They don't bother me much, but they can be a real problem. Re: the LED light, I recently upgraded my EDC with a slightly bigger pouch on my belt. Still fits in with a suit (looks like a cell phone case) but holds a decent LED light. I always have it with me.

I really appreciate the kind words and support from all of my readers.  I feel like we are building a bit of a community and that I am getting  to know some of you a bit.  I really hope to meet some of you someday!


Irene Got Me Down But Not Out

Come On Irene…

OK, I know that’s not really the name of the classic rock song, but it sounds good. Irene was not as hard as they predicted when she hit, but she was still a dangerous storm and did a lot of damage. This was not my first rodeo when it comes to hurricanes, but it was the one I was most involved in.

As I put out on Friday, our generator had failed with no warning, despite my monthly test runs. I left the house a little after 5 a.m. that morning to go to work, where I had to report to the city’s Emergency Operations Center to help manage the response to the storm. Shortly after arriving in town, I was interviewed by the Lee Brother’s Patriot Radio show on WRVA, AM1140. They were interested in some of my last minute suggestions for the grasshoppers out there, and they gave several positive plugs to If It Hits The Fan.

I then reported to the EOC where we began a 24 hour shift. It would typically be 12 hour shifts, but that would put the next shift change near the peak of the storm, so we had to gut it out. I was on the logistics team, with primary responsibility of helping organize shelter operations. We already had one community shelter up and operating and soon opened up a second one. A combination of school bus drivers and firefighters driving school buses assisted with evacuating citizens who for whatever reason were unable to evacuate themselves. Many of these were “medically fragile” but others were just carless. By the next morning, we had over 200 folks in one shelter and nearly a hundred in another.

As the storm got worse, I took on the role of managing the traffic plans for the city. Every couple hours I got a report from the 911 center identifying streets that were blocked by flooding, fallen trees or downed power lines. I then used Google Maps to figure out alternate routes and detours around the blockages. By 3 a.m. we were up to over five pages of blockages. By 7 a.m. we were back down to less than two pages.

Back on the home front, my wife left the house about the same time I did to go to Lowe’s where they were supposed to have been getting an overnight truck load of generators. I can’t tell you how proud I am of what she managed to do. She bought the genny (a 5,000 watt Generac) and had Lowe’s staff load it in the back of her Murano. She got it home and used board ramps to get it unloaded. She then put it together, got the wheels on it, filled it with oil and gassed it up. She then got it hooked into our electrical panel and got it fired up. It took her about 3 hours in a growing wind and rain environment, but by golly, she did it! A couple hours later she lost power, but had the generator ready to go and was able to watch TV, keep a couple fans blowing, have the well pump available and keep the refrigerator and freezer going. She is amazing!

In the EOC, we tracked the winds and goings on throughout the city. It’s a coastal city and Irene was centered about 40 miles away. Parts of the city hit hurricane force sustained winds, the rest stayed in the tropical storm force range. Rain was in the neighborhood of 8-15 inches, depending on the part of town. Early on, we had a fatality. A little boy was killed when a tree fell through his apartment’s roof. Other than a few fairly minor injuries, the rest of the city stayed pretty safe. The last report I saw showed 17 homes being condemned because of tree’s destroying them.

About 4 o’clock Sunday morning I was able to slip away to the parking lot to nap in the Element. The worst of the storm had passed, but there was still a driving rain and heavy wind gusts that kept it from being a very restful nap. My relief was there for the 7 a.m. shift change and after getting him briefed in and ready to take over, it was almost 8 a.m. before I headed home. I was again called for a radio interview, this time with Jimmy Barrett for a special storm edition of Richmond’s Morning News, again on WRVA. I was a little loopy from being on the go for so long, but I stressed that people need to maintain care during the recovery stage and to use caution with chain saws, generators, and food that may have become unfrozen or otherwise gone bad.

My normal trip home is about an hour. The interstate was pretty clear, with just a lot of leaves and small branches making up most of the debris. As I got off the interstate, it normally takes me about 10 minutes to make the 8 mile ride to the ranch. As I went down the road, I zigged and zagged around and under trees and brush in the road, some of them where folks had already cleared a path. I then came to a big pile of trees in the road with a kid playing on them. He let me know that the entwined power line was dead, so that’s why his dad let him play on it…. Wow. Anyway, I had planned ahead and brought my chainsaw with me. I broke it out and got to cutting on one side of the pile. The dad came down with his saw and attacked from the other end. A couple other drivers approached from the opposite directions and helped us pull out logs as we cut them. About 30 minutes later, we had the path cleared. I loaded back up and headed closer to home. A little ways later, I came across another big pile of downed trees that was too much for me to safely go after by myself. I turned around and tried another route. I again had to dodged trees and wires, and as I came to my road, the damaged got much heavier. About a mile and a half from the house, there was a big blockage, but it was beside a farmer’s field (luckily just weeded over at this point) with tracks already going through it. I hadn’t tested out my Element’s 4x4 capabilities yet, so this would be it. I went right through the muddy ditch, up the slight embankment, and tooled on across the field. As I came to the driveway, the family was sitting on their front porch. I waved and hollered out an apology and thanked them and they cheerfully told me to carry on and get home. A few more zigs and zags and I got to the church just down the road from my house. I could see my mailbox. I could also see the three giant hardwoods, bigger around than two men can reach, laid across the street and power lines, entangled at the top. I was ready to park and walk home, but the cavalry was coming. Within a few minutes, there were about 40 people wielding chainsaws, working tow straps and pushing and pulling with tractors and 4 wheelers. We got it opened and no body got hurt. I made it home and it was 11 o’clock… Much like Gilligan and the Skipper, a three hour tour. We made a quick trip down to the neighbors to check on them. They lost two giant trees. One fell 180 degrees away from their house, and the other fell between his truck, the shed and the chicken coop, causing no more damage than a bent radio antenna on the truck. My wife had carried down two of our handheld radios before the storm, so they were able to communicate and could have helped her if she needed it.

I then took a nice hot shower thanks to the generator, and collapsed in the bed, cooled by genny-powered fans, and slept like the dead after 32 hours of being on the go. I got up a couple hours later feeling somewhat refreshed, and we headed up to the nearby small town where the in-laws live for a “cook all the food before it goes bad” cook out. After eating, we headed home, but not before checking on the most famous house in town, the one from the movie “Major Payne,” where Damon Wayans’ character day dreamed about a life with the lady counselor and little boy, getting interrupted by a VC commando. The House of Payne has a great big tree laid across the front of it now. I took a picture of it and put it on the FB page.

We are still without power, running on generator. Thankfully, it’s not too hot, so we’re pretty comfortable. We’ve lost phone and internet service too, so I’m having to be a little creative with getting this blog post done. I’ll try to get out something every day or two until we get back to normal. I’d be real surprised if we get power back before the weekend, and no telling when the phone and internet might be back. I’ll keep you posted and continue to share some things I learned out of all this.

Enough about me… how did you and your families fare? If you were affected by Irene, please leave a note in the comments to let us know you are alright, how your preps helped you and anything you might have learned that you can do better with in the future.


She's Almost Here

I Screwed Up

I run my generator under load every month, so I was fully prepared to fire it up tonight as I refreshed my wife's memory on how to hook it up.  No such luck.  It would start great, but after about 10 or 15 seconds, it sputtered out.  I tore down the carburetor and cleaned it up, no luck.  I drained all the gas (which I'm pretty sure was treated) and tried again, no luck.  I did the carb once more, but nothing.  It almost seems like the generator part is not spinning fast enough to put enough pressure on the engine to keep it running (at least, that's my purely no mechanical skills guess).  We heard a local big box had a bunch of gennys on the floor, but by the time we got there, they were gone.  They expect a truckload overnight, so my wife will meet them there when they open in the morning.  She'll have them help load it in her rig, but it will have to sit there after she gets home. 

Yep, I'm heading out at Zero-dark 30 in the morning for a 24-hour shift in the heart of the storm.  Down there, we should be getting full hurricane winds by early evening, peaking at near 100 mph.  Up here, we should just have some lower end tropical storm force winds, maybe with some gusts up to 70 or 80 mph.

If we lose power at the house,which we probably will, then my wife will be OK overnight and I'll set it up and fire it up when I get home.  We might lose some things in the fridge and freezer, but if we keep power long enough, we should be OK.  We're biting the bullet on the new genny in anticipation of being without power for several days to a week.  I've got a guy who I'll get the broken one to next week, then we'll have two working setups, and you know, two is one, and one is none (as this episode demonstrates.)

What I Did Right

Other than the generator fiasco, our prep planning went as it should.  I came home a little early today (my normal west bound I-64 ride is about an hour, today was almost 2 hours with all the voluntary evacuation traffic) and got my last few items checked off...  I went up on the roof and cleaned out the gutters, ratchet strapped the patio chairs to the big patio table, and put the grill, other chairs, umbrella and flag pole in the shop.  If the genny would have done right, my plan would have been perfect.  Oh well.  Murphy should always be an expected, if unwelcome, guest.

More Radio

Tomorrow morning at 6:35 I'm on the Lee Brothers Patriot Radio show on AM1140 WRVA.  You can listen on the radio if you are in central Va., or on www.WRVA.com, or on the I "heart" Radio app for your smart phone.  I'll be updating them on storm conditions and what listeners can do for last minute preps.  I will probably be on again Sunday morning with Jimmy Barrett's  special storm show to talk about the aftermath.


Take A Bite

Movie Quote Time

Well, it looks like Irene is going to cause some pretty big problems this weekend.  During a planning meeting today, I had to bust out a quote from Full Metal Jacket... "It's a huge s**t sandwich and we're all gonna have to take a bite." 

She is bearing down on the Hampton Roads area where I work, expected to hit us as a category 1 or 2 hurricane at about 2 in the morning.  Thankfully, we'll get a glancing blow and she's not moving inland over us.  It looks like we'll be operating shelters for those who live in flood-prone areas and won't or can't leave on their own.  We should get 10-12 inches of rain and winds gusting to almost 100 mph.

They have ordered tourists to evacuate parts of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and are encouraging the evacuation of the Sandbridge part of Virginia Beach.  One of the small, low lying cities in Hampton Roads is supposedly planning a mandatory evacuation tomorrow.

My radio interview went pretty well this morning.  They may be calling me this weekend for reports on how people are faring and the aftermath.

I'll try and get posts out to you, but they'll probably be brief.  On the home front, we're pretty set for what we need, and we'll be on the outer edges of the storm.  On the work front, it is going to be a LOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG few days. 


Irene Is Coming

Radio Roundup

If you are up and about at 6:35 a.m. (EDT) tomorrow, you can hear me be interviewed about personal preparedness.  I'll be on 1140 WRVA, a 50,000 watt powerhouse clear channel that has been heard as far away as South Africa and British Columbia.  You can also hear it stream live at www.WRVA.com or on your smart phone with the I "heart" Radio app.  It will be great exposure for If It Hits The Fan and hopefully get some good information across to a bunch of new folks.  Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett is consistently one of the top morning shows in Richmond, and Richmond is the 55th largest radio market in the country.

Public Preparations

Irene is the hot topic at work.  This afternoon, I went to a meeting with the city manager and emergency management folks.  It's still too early to make any firm decisions, but I think it's pretty likely that I'll be in the Emergency Operations Center during Irene's visit to Virginia.  We're potentially looking at some sheltering operations and limited evacuations.  Current forecasts call for Irene to be centered about 50-80 miles off shore from where I work, and hurricane force winds hitting us.  Living about 60 miles inland, our house might still be on the edges of tropical storm force winds.  Rain could be anywhere between 1 and 7 inches, and it looks like it might hit between high and low tides, which helps limit some of the street flooding.  The public information office is also trying to get the word out to residents encouraging them to "get a kit, make a plan, stay informed."

Personal Preps

Yesterday I listed the few things I need to do around the house to finish getting ready for Irene.  Knowing that I'll probably be in the EOC, I also need to adjust my BOB in the Element to add a change of clothes and a few hygiene items.  I also need to stick my hard hat and an extra pair of work gloves and safety glasses in my kit.  I'm thinking about packing my chainsaw just in case I need to clear some debris getting home.  I'll decide that as we get a little closer and the projected path is more determined.  We'll make sure our cell phones are completely charged Saturday, and other than these few things, I think we are pretty set.


What The Heck Was That!?!?!?

The Great Virginia Earthquake of 2011

So I'm planning to write about Hurricane Irene tonight, when I'm sitting at my desk at work and my chair, the desk, and the whole building do this kind of rolling, wave-like movement for about 5 to 10 seconds with a low rumble passing through.  I was in the Tidewater area of Virginia, near the coast, and had never felt anything like it before.  It took me a few moments of disorientation to realize... earthquake!  I quickly assessed the situation... nothing fell, no screams of pain, the lights were still on...  I was ready to get back to work and get details later.  Then another guy in my office came through saying that we had to evacuate the building.  I felt pretty safe, so I did a sweep of the building to make sure everyone was out.  I had my EDC kit on my belt, but my bigger kit and my emergency gear was all in my Element... which was at the repair shop about 6 miles away.  As we gathered outside, one lady was able to get a hold of a friend at the Norfolk Navy base who told her they had recorded an earthquake, confirming my thoughts.  As everyone milled about, I walked around our brick, one story building doing a damage assessment.  There were no broken windows, and all the brick mortar seams seemed to be intact.  I found my boss and told him of my assessment and recommended that we get back inside and back to work.  He concurred.

I then set about doing a self-assessment and after-action analysis.

The quake was a 5.9 that centered on Mineral, Va., about 100 miles away and was felt from Atlanta to New York.  Pictures from near the epicenter showed grocery shelves with contents dumped off.  Major government buildings and airports shut down and evacuated.  The neighboring city evacuated all their schools - not yet in session around here, so just staff.  I did not panic, but I suffered from a lack of action due to "normalcy bias."  An earthquake was outside of my range of experiences and not something that I ever expected in that area.  Cell and land lines were overwhelmed for at least a half an hour.

When I was a kid, on vacation in Southern Maine, one evening we heard a loud crash and pictures on the mantle shook a bit.  We found out the next day it was an earthquake.  About 6 or 7 years ago, I still worked just north of Richmond, and my wife was a supervisor in that county's 911 center.  I was driving to pick her up when a quake in the same area as today's struck.  I did not feel it in the truck, but my wife was working.  Their center had an elevated floor with all the cabling running under the sub floor.  She said that they heard the rumbling and felt the shaking, but her first thought was that a couple of the "larger" dispatchers were playing around and jumping on the floor.  But then it was deathly silent for a moment before the phones lit up like she had seldom seen before.  It was felt up to about 50 miles away from the center, but no damage anywhere.  My former roommate and I had a dog together, Magnum the Chow-Chow/Basset Hound mix, that we got from the pound on 9/11/01.  He never barked or got excited except when there was a fire in the fireplace or I would "collapse" on the floor.  My roommate kept him after we both got married and right before the quake hit, he got very agitated and herded my roommate's wife to a door jamb.  No kidding!  He was a survivalist dog.  Anyway, that was the extent of my earthquake experience.

That fault, near Mineral, Va. (very close to the North Anna nuclear power station), has been getting about a quake a year since then, and they seem to be getting stronger.

So, what to do for the future?  In my work, we concentrate on the schools and the children, and have plans and practices in place to evacuate or shelter in place as needed, and maintain accountability for students and staff.  We really don't have anything for our offices and support buildings.  I'm due to revise our division crisis plan this year, so I'm going to add a couple of appendices for support buildings and stress accountability during evacuations... not just for earthquakes, but for any other reason that we might need to evacuate.  Whether you are in an earthquake zone or not, I'd encourage you to review your office's plans, and if they don't exist, take the initiative to develop a basic one.

Taking Cover

I'm sure an email will start circulating again from a guy who pushes the "triangle of life" as an earthquake survival technique.  If you get this, please don't forward it, and "reply all" with information to debunk it.  The guy pushing it uses faulty data based on third-world earthquakes and construction standards.  He also is of questionable reliability if not an outright fraud.  The Red Cross and FEMA both suggest the Drop! Cover! Hold On! method where you drop to the ground, get under a table or other furniture, and hold on the the furniture as it moves.  In the US and other developed countries, most earthquake injuries come from falling debris, shelves, and items, not from a pancaking roof collapse.

Hurricane Irene

Irene is currently projected to make landfall as a category 4 hurricane sometime Saturday or Sunday near Wilmington, NC, then move up the coast and hit the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay (where I work) still at hurricane force.  I'll probably end up in the city Emergency Operations Center for the storm, organizing sheltering and evacuation operations.  In the mean time, I need to finalize my preps around the house...

Over the rest of the week, I'll:
  • Fill up one more gas can a day and treat the gas with StarTron (if you are in the Richmond, Va. area, local Home Depots have it on sale for $2.99 a bottle - a huge savings!)
  • Keep our vehicles topped off
  • Secure my patio furniture to the fence
  • Get any random yard stuff secured in the shed
  • Check my camping stove to make sure it is working right
  • Add some bottles of water to both freezers to fill space and provide additional cold time
That's about it, everything else is in good shape and we have plenty of food and water.

I'll touch more on Irene preps as we move through the week.

How Was Your Tuesday?

If you had any damage from today's quake, or are in the path of Irene, please leave us a comment below with your experiences. 


Back From Idaho

We Made It Home... Finally!

We were supposed to get home last night at about 9:45, after starting with a 7:20 a.m. flight out of Spokane.  We ended up sitting in the completely full plane, on the tarmac, for over 2 and a half hours due to weather to the east and traffic to the north.  I will give Delta credit, they kept the water flowing and kept us updated.  We had a couple of drinks and snacks in our carry on bag as well, so other than getting home well after midnight, we were pretty comfortable thanks to some very basic preps that we had with us.

Survival Enterprises

While in Coeur d'Alene, we visited Survival Enterprises and its owner, Kurt Wilson.  Kurt is an interesting guy, and a wealth of information.  He's been in the survival business for 27 years, starting in Califor,nia, then Reno, and finally ending up in North Idaho.  For much of that time, he was in the firearms business until he became yet another victim of BATF abuse.  You can read his story here.  He also dealt mostly with wholesale distribution and "alternative" health care.  He got his survival retail store much more recently.

He has tons of Honeyville Grains long term storage foods, plenty of Yoders canned bacon, Bega canned cheese and Red Feather canned butter on his racks, as well as Survival Staples canned meats, and more Wise Food Storage buckets than I've ever seen in one location... all at very good prices.  He also has Doulton water filters, Survival Food Tabs, and an assortment of camping and survival gear.  He showed us his warehouse which has pallet after pallet of more of his products.  He said that when other dealers had shortages of long term storage foods recently, he kept his shelves full because he plans ahead and orders in large quantities.

Kurt is a big proponent of herbal healing, and has his own line of Infinity products and other brands.  He has years of research and training with herbals and was raised with Klameth Indians and is blood brothers with the Hopi and Yaqui nations.

Kurt is not just a seller of merchandise, he is also a teacher.  He wants people to be prepared to survive whatever calamities life throws at them.  He said that if he can't fill a client's needs best, he will refer them to someone who can, rather than give them something they don't need.  After the Fukishima disaster, when Potassium Iodine pills were selling for hundreds of dollars on EBay, he pulled his from the shelf and refused to sell them to panic buyers. 

When I asked him to sum up his survival philosophy, he said, "Survivalism is a good understanding of Murphy."  That's about as succinct, and true statement as I've ever heard.

If you are ever in North Idaho, you owe it to yourself to visit Survival Enterprises at 235 W. Dalton Ave. in Coeur d'Alene.  If you live in the North West, make a weekend trip out there (it is a beautiful city with a ton of things to see and do) to check him out.  If you are not fortunate enough to go there, check out his website.

He is also the host of the weekly radio talk show, The Armchair Survivalist.  I plan to add that to commuting podcast rotation.

I picked up a can each of the bacon, butter and cheese, and will do product reviews in the near future.

Wedding Survival

We went to Idaho for my cousin's wedding.  I was honored to be his groomsman, and we just love his new bride.  Over the years, I've picked up a few tips that might help any of you who are getting ready to walk down the aisle...
1.  Don't tell the bride, the day before the wedding, that you made a command decision at the tuxedo shop and switched from a traditional black tux to a white pin-striped pimp suit
2.  An EDC kit on the belt makes an unsightly bulge under a tux... A skeletonized neck knife and a tactical folder, however, do not.  But have the EDC kit, along with plenty of water, some food, and a small sewing kit available at the church
3.  Using new bank line for your neck knife will leave the most atrocious ring around the collar on a tux shirt - use paracord instead. 
4.  Bank line, stripped down to it's three smaller cords, is great for tying beer cans to the newly-weds' bumper

Sponsor of the Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Thrive Foods from Shelf Reliance.  Shelf Reliance is having the grand opening of their new facility in American Fork, Utah, on September 1st.  They'll have product samplings and building tours, along with a ribbon cutting by the Governor of Utah.  I really wish I could be there to see the new product showroom, tour the buildings, and see the Thrive Kitchen where they will host cooking shows.  The Thrive brand of food is of the highest quality and they have unique products such as freeze dried Mandarin Oranges that you won't find from other suppliers.  They also have the Cansolidator and Harvest lines of canned food rotating storage systems.  Check out Shelf Reliance and please tell them that you heard about them from If It Hits The Fan!


Guest Review: The Hoodlum Knife

Ron Hood's Hoodlum Knife

It's only fitting that while I am off in Northern Idaho, my old friend, Tim Adams, comes through to help me out with a guest post about a knife that originated in both design and manufacture in the part of the country where I am right now.  Tim is rightfully proud of his Hoodlum Knife, but I'll let him tell you all about it.

Buck Hood Hoodlum Hunting Knife

As I sat with my very good and long…long time friend Donald Green of ifithitsthefan.com as I have done on countless occasions, thoughts were, as usual, focused on various vectors of preparation for the breakdown. As loyal readers of Don’s excellent rolling diatribe on victim-proofing yourself and family will no doubt attest, our Mr. Green has created himself into an authority on all things preparatory. On this night, I had been invited to join Donald and his lovely wife as they entertained their young nephew. I strapped my soon to be kindergarten attending son into his perch within our Jeep and lit out for Ches Green to help him test various fire - making apparatus. What Donald did NOT realize is that I had with me what would very shortly (and tragically) become one of my most cherished possessions…My very own iteration of the wildly popular “Hoodlum” knife designed by the great Ron Hood of Hood’s Woods.

By way of some back story I’ll share with you that I discovered Ron and Karen Hood’s ground-breaking “Hoods Woods” series of instructional videos in the mid nineties…When they were only available on VHS…Both Donald and I have been in the getting ready business for several decades now…The first videos I ordered from the Hoods were the two-tape set “Survival Basics”…I knew immediately that Ron was no poser and upon closer scrutiny I discovered that he was a former Army spook of great pedigree and that he had made his living as a survival instructor. The fact that the old fart had managed to make himself irresistible to the lovely Karen (many years his junior) only served to further solidify his claim to the recently occupied Hood estate in Valhalla). In short, Ron Hood was a god among men and few will live to match his myriad achievements of decorated warrior, learned professor, trail-blazing entrepreneurial media producer, and designer of truly squared away and field proven severing implements. Yes, you could say I’m a big fan.

Forgive me, I digress. As we sat near the site of the fire-making trials, I turned to Donald and asked, “you wanna see it?”…He knew what I meant! I retrieved my new knife from the Jeep and as I presented it to Don I could see that he got it immediately. In my humble opinion there are two camps within the preparation-minded community…those that currently own this knife, and those who will fix that hole in their kit where this knife belongs.

While I am reluctant to resort to threadbare idioms, one of them is undeniably appropriate. This knife is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The first inescapable truth is that this knife should weigh more than it does…A lot more! Ron designed many knives…I have either owned or handled many of them. That said, this knife proves that artists and designers evolve as they age. The blade is longer, the knife has greater power, the geometric relationship of the cutting angle to the knife’s handle suggests Ron learned a thing or two while he was teaching all of us. The Hoodlum is remarkably fast handling for a really, really big knife. As the so called “survival experts” were cleaving to shorter and shorter blades, Ron boldly stuck to his guns and proffered a blade that is equally useful as a tool for creating kindling as it is the capital of a pike that would give pause to a grizzly. One of the reasons the Hoodlum is so light and fast is because Ron chose to have it made from spring steel because his experience taught him that it is remarkably strong and light in weight…but it is notoriously difficult to work…That said, bucking the trends and doing things as he saw fit were among his many hallmarks. Little but significant touches like a notch for breaking wire or pulling a hot coffee pot off a fire only add credence to the assertion that Ron truly got it and like all the greatest teachers, he not only got it, but he was able help us, his students get it too. For those of us who have tracked Ron’s progress as he ascended into the rarified stratum of truly great knife designers, the news that Buck knives had agreed to mass produce Ron’s Hoodlum came as no surprise. The one that I own was made by Buck, and it is a fine knife that I am proud to own. Mine is even signed by Ron…I purchased it shortly before his untimely death. That said, the sheath leaves something to be desired. While the blade was crafted right here in our great nation, the sheath hails from China…and is not the equal of this beautiful and storied knife. Because I had corresponded with Ron occasionally throughout the years, I decided that I should shoot him an email to congratulate him on his achievement. This knife really is one for the ages. I did mention to him that the sheath was not up to snuff and he quickly wrote back. I’ll close by including the entire text of his reply. I had no idea how valuable my Hoodlum would become, as would the brief message he sent in reply to mine…Ron left the planet not a week after. I’m honored that Ron took the time to read and reply to my message himself…ever the teacher, to the end.

From: "Ron Hood"
Date: June 18, 2011 7:40:27 PM EDT
To: "'Tim Adams'"

Subject: RE: Impressed

Thanks Tim,

'Preciate the nice comments. I here ya re the sheath but we do have aftermarket sources for kydex and leather that really dress the blade up. My personal sheath is leather made by Luke Swenson.


-----Original Message-----

From: Tim Adams
Sent: Saturday, June 18, 2011 3:25 PM
To: Info@survival.com

Subject: Impressed

Hugely impressed with my Hoodlum knife! Still cannot get over the fact that it's BIG and LIGHT!! Everyone who handles it is impressed with how light it is.

I was, however, surprised by the Chi-com sheath...I do understand cost control...Just sayin'

Many thanks for a truly excellent design!


"A government large enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take everything you have." -Thomas Jefferson

My thanks to Tim for sharing this review, and especially for sharing the email he got from Ron so shortly before he passed.

Luke Swenson, the maker of Ron's sheath, can be found at http://www.swensonknives.com/


Asteroid Attack

Life Imitating Art?

The asteroid Apophis is 1,900 feet across, and has a 1 in 250,000 chance of hitting Earth in 2036.  That doesn't seem like that much, but in astronomical terms, that is a pretty good chance.  At least it's a bigger chance than I want to take in my 68th year.  To compare sizes, the Tunguska meteor in Siberia in 1908 is estimated to have been less than 100 feet across, and it felled 80 million trees from an air burst 3 to 6 miles above the surface.  Scientists estimate that an average of one meteor a year affects Earth with the force of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.  Most are very high altitude or involve ocean areas.  These can be as small as 15 feet across.

Like the movies Armageddon and Deep Impact (I like Deep Impact much better because it actually shows some prepping activities), the European Space Agency is planning to attack Apophis before it gets to close.  The mission name, Don Quijote (British spelling) doesn't give me much confidence.  According to an article in the Daily Mail, in 2015, the 600 lb. impact craft, Hidalgo, will strike Apophis at about 6 miles a second in an attempt to knock it away from Earth.  The impact will be analyzed by the craft, Sancho. 

If they really think it would be a success, why would they use the "tilting at windmills" analogies? 


Heading West

Idaho Here We Come

Tomorrow we are heading out to my second favorite place in the world, Northern Idaho, for my cousin's wedding this weekend.  I'll get a couple of posts preloaded for you, but I'm not taking the computer, so there may be a day or so without one.

While there, I'm going to do some work, too.  We're set for a factory tour of Buck Knives, and I emailed their media relations folks to see about an interview.  Should be very cool and interesting.

We're also going to visit Survival Enterprises to look at their store and interview the owners.  Looking at their website, it looks like they have a huge variety of survival and prepping gear, so that should also be fun and informative.

I'm also going to try and look up Karen Hood and offer our condolences on Ron's passing.

It will be great visiting family and meeting some new folks from the preparedness world.  This trip will also let me work out some of my travel and TSA-compliant preps.

Amazon Deals

Amazon has a 40% off sale going on CRKT knives right now.  One of my personal favorites is the Sting1A.  If you are a fan of The Survivalist series of books by Jerry Ahern, you know that John Thomas Rourke always had a Sting1A in the back of his waistband.  I can't afford his Rolex Submariner or twin Detonics, but I was thrilled when my wife gave me my Sting a couple Christmases ago.  BTW, if you are fan of The Survivalist, look for the fan group on Facebook and join in the discussions.  There are a lot of preparedness writers on there, and Jerry Ahern makes frequent visits and postings.


Prepper Ponderings

Electric Bug

One of the local weeklies had an article the other day about a guy has taken an old VW bug, and at the cost of about $3,000-5,000, converted it completely to electiric power.  He used a kit from Wilderness Electric Vehicles in Provo, Utah.  He says that he wants to get someone from DMV to inspect it so he can get it licensed.  I think that will be a mistake.  If I rebuild an old VW and cram a 350 Chevy small block in it, it's still a '72 VW (or whatever) and I don't need any new title or special permission or anything.  By getting this recognized as an electric vehicle, I think he is just getting himself on a radar that he won't want to be on.  There have been folks who ran their old diesels on used cooking oil who have been jammed up for evading fuel taxes.  I can see this guy getting jerked around so much that he'll never get that bug on the road.  If he'd just get it licensed as an antique car and be done with it, he'll stay off the radar.  Of course, by getting a newspaper article done on it, he's already broken OpSec.  That Wilderness Electric group has several rigs for sale.  If you buy one, keep it out of the local paper, but I'd love to write about your story on here (with full OpSec anonymity of course).

New Affiliate

I'm very excited to announce that a new affiliate program has come on board to If It Hits The Fan.  We are now affiliated with Emergency Essentials, home of a huge variety of long term storage foods and all kinds of preparedness gear.  Please use the link on the right hand of the page here to visit them, and anything you buy will get me a small commission at no cost to you.  A great way to help support If It Hits The Fan and build your stockpiles.


Ever shopped at a Tractor Supply Co.?  You'd think that it would be the type of place that would attract preppers, homesteaders, and other folks that are living the rural lifestyle.  I've often shopped at one not too far from here and always enjoy going in see what I might need to have.  I applied with them to become a part of their affiliate program, but I got turned down.  Seems that they reviewed the site here and consider If It Hits The Fan to contain "inappropriate subject matter."  Hmmm.  Who knew?


Product Review: Spirit Knife

The Spirit from SOG Specialty Knives & Tools

I recently received a Spirit for evaluation from SOG.  It is a unique blade with a very cool idea behind it... take a wide, double edged knife, add a removable grip handle that is threaded to accept a standard broomstick, a paint roller extension handle, or a correctly sized branch or sapling.

Although the SOG website lists it at $51.75, it is much less expensive on Amazon.

The Spirit is 10.65" overall, with a 4.25" blade.  It's 420 stainless, Rockwell hardness of 51-53, and made in China.  The sheath is a sturdy cordura nylon, with a large belt loop, and a snug, snapped, retaining strap.

I like the feel and heft of this knife.  It is comfortable in the hand.  I started by trying it on a couple of threaded implements.  It fit perfectly on the thin, cheap aluminum handle of my shop broom, and also on a heavy duty, expandable paint roller extension handle.  The paint roller handle goes out to about10 feet or so, so it was unwieldy and off balanced.  The broom handle was light and about 4.5 feet long... it was weighted slightly toward the blade end.  I tried throwing it like a spear, but achieved neither accuracy nor a penetrating impact.  I attribute that solely to my lack of skill as a spear thrower, and not at all to the design of the blade.

Realizing that one is unlikely to carry a spare broomstick into the wilderness, I next set about preparing a sapling to use as a handle.  The Spirit is nicely weighted for chopping down a sapling.  Because the handle screws in, when chopping at an angle, you need to be sure and use the edge that will put tightening pressure on the blade.  Using the other edge will cause it to unscrew.  Just a few whacks, took down the sapling of about 3/4 inch in diameter.  I then used the Spirit to lop off the branches, and it worked wonderfully for stripping them off.  Next up, I whittled down the end until it would fit in the Spirit's hollow, threaded tang.  To help secure it, there is a small set screw... one just needs to have a tiny screwdriver with him.

I would like to see the hollow tang be about an inch or so longer.  You really need to get a firm grip on the knife to turn it onto a branch tightly enough,  Having the sharp blade with the two points facing the direction where your hand is, is a bit disconcerting.  I can see a self-inflicted injury happening pretty easily if your hand slips.

After tightening down my sapling branch, I tried another couple of spear tosses.  Yep, equally as unimpressive as my broomstick attempt... again, due solely to my lack of skill, not the blade's design.  In a true survival situation, I can't see most folks throwing it like a spear, that would take a great deal of skill and practice to be successful.  I can see a person squatting in a tree and leaping down with the spear onto the back of a hog or a deer, or else using it to chase down something like a raccoon or opossum, and lunging after it with the spear.

Not having the time to wait in a tree for a deer to come by, I figured I'd try jabbing it down into a piece of old, well seasoned fire wood.  The blade easily pierced the log, going in 1/2 to 3/4" with only moderate effort.  I had to rock the blade to get it out each time.  Here's where I had a problem, after the 4th or 5th jab with it, the blade tip bent.  I don't think it is hardened enough.  Now, one could say that it is not intended for jabbing firewood with, but if you are throwing it and miss, or lunging at a squirrel on a tree trunk, you could end up with the same type of damage.

So, what are my final thoughts?  The only cons are that you have to be very careful when twisting the blade on and off of a handle so you don't cut yourself, and it needs to have a higher hardness to make the blade less likely to bend.  For the pros, it is nicely balanced, feels good in the hand, serves as a pretty good bush hatchet, and is a really cool idea.

Would I want to depend on this to take game in a survival situation?  No.  There are too many variables such as finding a straight branch of the right diameter, and the lack of skill in throwing a spear that I'd be the vast majority of us have.

Do I think this is going to be a ton of fun to attach a broomstick to and go on backyard safaris, as a way to improve my spear throwing skills?  Heck yeah!  I'm going to straighten out the tip on mine and will continue to use it.  For the Amazon price of under $30, it's a neat idea, decently constructed for what it is, and a good way to expand my skill set.  I'd love to see SOG come out with a higher quality (and priced) version...  made in the USA of a better quality steel and with the longer tang.

I want to thank SOG Specialty Knives & Tools for giving me the Spirit to test.

Early Morning Edit

I woke up dark and early the morning after writing this and asked myself about the metal's hardness.  Is perhaps a softer metal that will bend actually better for a spear than a harder metal that might break?

Sponsor of the Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Survival Gear Bags.  Survival Gear Bags is more than just bags.  Check them out for a wide selection of high quality knives and multi-tools, as well as MREs, GI wool blankets (my favorite, and on sale right now), and all kinds of gear for your survival and preparedness needs.  Give Survival Gear Bags a look, and please tell them that you heard of them here at If It Hits The Fan.


Psychology of Killing

Highlights of Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's TREXPO Lecture

Col. Grossman was one of the main reasons I decided to go to TREXPO this year.  I saw him speak to a group of police and school administrators a couple of years ago, and was really looking forward to hearing him again.  I was not disappointed!  Every principal, superintendent and school board member in the country needs to hear what he has to say.  His message is also important for parents, police, employers and everyone else, too.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear him, you really ought to take him in.  I'd also encourage folks to read his books, On Combat, On Killing, and Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill.

I took some bullet point notes yesterday, so I'll try to share them here as a sort of stream of consciousness interpretation of Col. Grossman's words. 

Mass Violence

We need to get rid of the phrase "Active Shooter."  It takes an honorable word, "shooter," and turns it into something evil.  Active shooters are at the range, the sporting clays field, and the hunting woods.  "Active Killers" are the evil ones rampaging through a school, office, or shopping center, and the ones that need to be taken out.

There have been no mass killings at workplaces that allow concealed carry on the premises.

The US murder rate is at about the same level as it was in the 60s... a great reduction that politicians and police chiefs promote.  But it is not indicative of a reduction in violent attacks.  It is indicative of advances in medical technology.  Estimates are that if we had today's violent attack rate with 1970's medical technology, the current murder rate would be 4 to 5 times what it is now.  The rate of aggravated assaults is lower than it was in 1990, but still 4 times higher than it was in 1950.

As more armed police are in schools, it deters mass violence there (those committing mass violence are not deterred by thoughts of arrest or being killed, they are deterred by the risk of failing to kill a lot of people).  Those that are deterred in middle and high school are going to college, where armed police and security are also on the increase.  Those deterred there are becoming adults and carrying their mass killings to the workplace or their own families.  Look at how many mass murder/suicides there have been in recent years.

Armed citizens are a huge deterrence to violent crime.  When concealed carry has come to states, it has been under a shadow of the whining and hand wringing of those saying that the streets will run red with blood and it will become like the wild West.  Not only do those predictions not come true... violent crime goes down significantly, but the reputation of the wild West is primarily an invention of Hollywood.  He asked what the most famous gunfight was, and of course everyone answered OK Corral.  He then explained that it was nothing more than cops killing three bad guys... and if they had modern medical technology, it would have been cops wounding three bad guys, and would not have been more than local news.  Kind of brings it into perspective, doesn't it.

Gun control = unarmed victims.

School Killings

There have been no mass killings at US schools where an armed police officer was on site.

After the 1970 school bus massacre, Israeli school buses have had armed security on them, and many are actually armored.  The armed security might be police, military, parents, or even the bus driver.  Since the 1974 Ma'alot masacre, Israeli schools have been protected by armed security, which often includes staff.

For the last ten years, Utah has used the Israeli method.  In each county, if the sheriff and school superintendent agree, school staff may be armed.  These teachers and other staff members go through the same qualification courses as the police.  Since this program has started, there have been no school killings in Utah.

Many of you may have heard about the small town in Texas that started training and arming teachers a few years ago.  The nearest police response when the principal was brutally attacked was 40 minutes away.  There was quite the ruckus in the media about this when it started, but it is spreading throughout Texas.  So far, the largest city to adopt this program has been Abilene.

Terrorism Threats

He spent some time talking about the Beslan school massacre.  If you don't know about this Wikipedia gives a good, basic overview of it, but Terror at Beslan is the definitive work.  I've heard the author, John Giduck, speak on this and it is truly horrific.  But back to Col. Grossman.  He stresses that the "Islamist fanatics" (the phrase Turkish military asked him to use when he trained them) did not begin to attack Russia until after they left Afghanistan.  He believes that they will not return to organized attacks on us until after we leave Iraq and Afghanistan... but that doesn't rule out the home-grown, lone wolves for the time being.

Osama bin Ladin said that Beslan was a preview to what we would get here, and Anwar al Awaki has said that they were justified in killing 2 million American Children.

Shortly after 9/11, a Special Forces soldier was getting ready to deploy, and after Col. Grossman addressed the troops, the soldier said to the Col., "We are going to attack our enemies over there.  While we are gone, don't let them attack our kids."


The police can and should trust the armed populace.

The firearms training industry is getting ready to explode, with advanced training for police and the public.

Cops need to have hobbies - but they should be hobbies that contribute to survival skills (the group was mostly police, but I think he would apply this to the rest of us as well).  He mentioned competitive shooting (specifically mentioning my favorite, Cowboy Action Shooting), hunting and martial arts.  He said that golf courses are rifle ranges just waiting to be taken back over.  He suggested that if you see a police officer with a set of golf clubs to great them with a "baaaaaa" and send them to graze on the course with the other sheep.

The Angel of the Night

He closed with a tale of walking around the park with his little grandson one evening.  The grandson said that it was dark and scary things were in the dark.  Col. Grossman thought about his pistol, knife, martial arts skills, German Shepherd, and the fact that he would do anything to protect his grandson, and he told his grandson, "Yes, there are scary things in the dark... us!"  The little boy took that to heart and as he has gotten older, continues to tell people that.

He then shared his poem, The Angel of the Night.  This is the poem that he allowed us to use during our fundraiser for the memorial to Sgt. Major Tom Parker a couple years ago.  Here it is:

Fear not the night.
Fear that which walks the night.
And *I* am that which walks the night.

But only evil need fear me …
and gentle souls sleep safe in their beds…
because I walk the night

No matter your background or occupation, if you ever get the opportunity to hear Lt. Col. Grossman speak, please do.  He will open your eyes and mind, and really help you understand a preparedness mindset and how the mind works with violence.


Good Stuff From TREXPO

Quick Review

Had a great time at TREXPO today.  It took right at 2 hours to get up there, and a little over three to get home. 

Col. Grossman gave a fantastic lecture, and I took a bunch of notes so I can share some highlights with you this weekend.  Reading between the lines, I think he is one of us.

Sig, S&W, Colt and Glock were there, along with a few manufacturers of the new style sniper rifles with modular stocks, barrels and other components.

Gerber, Spyderco and SOG knives were there.  I spoke a bit with the SOG VP of sales, and he gave me a Spirit to review for you.  It's a wicked looking knife, with a really cool feature to turn it into a spear.  I'll work with it this weekend and do a written and video review for you.

I picked up some samples of some small items and will do a Facebook fan contest this weekend as well.

A big thanks goes out to the guys from OM Tactical, who took me to lunch.  If you are in the market for some very high speed body armor or battle-ready medical kits, check them out.

TREXPO was quite a bit smaller than I remember it from back in the 90's, but still a very worthwhile show for cops, military and security contractors.

Check back Saturday and Sunday for my complete reports and reviews.


Amazing Contest

Emergency Essentials

In celebration of National Preparedness Month, Emergency Essentials is having a contest to give away their Traditional 2000 year's supply of food.  This package has a retail value of over $1,600 for the individual items.  It has about 2,000 calories a day for 375 days in 126 #10 cans.  There are 64 varieties of food included, 120 of them are dehydrated and 6 are freeze dried.

To enter the contest, follow the link above.  You get entries for: liking them on Facebook, subscribing to their YouTube channel, following their blog, subscribing to their newsletter, and bonus entries for publicising the contest for them.

I'm sure they'll get a ton of entries, but someone will win it!  Good luck!

Element Update

Well, the Element has amazing durability.  My guy checked the frame and undercarriage, and there is no damage there, not even to the brackets holding the bumper.  The plastic casing of the bumper has some divots in it and the foam bumper lining has some damage, so they'll get replaced, but of course at the other guy's cost.  This is my first Honda, but they know how to put a car together for sure.  And, it's actually assembled in Ohio, so it keeps Americans working.

As for me, I'm a little stiff and sore still.  I went to the chiropractor this morning, and I'll probably need a few sessions to get back to normal.  All in all, I'm very lucky.  Thanks to all the well-wishers on here, Facebook, and by email!


Tomorrow I'm going up to Northern Virginia to attend TREXPO, a huge tactical gear trade show.  I went to TREXPO for a couple of years back in the 90s, but this is my first time in recent memory.  I'm looking forward to all the gun, knife, gear, and clothing vendors to see the latest and greatest out there.  You can bet I'll take plenty of pictures and try to get some items to test for you and maybe even some things to give away in contests.  I'm also looking forward to hearing Lt. Col. Dave Grossman speak on The Bulletproof Mind: Psychological & Physiological Preparation for Combat.  Col. Grossman is the author of On Killing and
On Combat, two of the best scholarly works on the psychology of killing and violence.  I've heard him speak before and he puts on a great lecture.  He's also a heck of a good guy.  A couple years ago, I contacted him about donating to a silent auction we had to raise money for a memorial at the National Museum of the Marine Corps to honor Sgt. Major L.T. Parker, whom I served under for 6 years in the Corps and was associated with during his 30+ year police career before leukemia took him.  Col. Grossman gave me two autographed copies of his books and allowed us to use a poem that he had written about the passing of a Sheepdog.  In Col. Grossman's words, most of America is made up of sheep.  The wolves are out there as predators, and there are a few sheepdogs who live to keep the sheep safe from the wolves.  Tommy Parker was a true Sheepdog.

I'll be on the road about 0430 tomorrow, so I probably won't get the TREXPO scoop out tomorrow night, but I'll post a short summary and then get the details out over the weekend.


Got Rear Ended

This is actually the post for last night.  Blogger was down last night and I couldn't log in to post. 

On my way home from work yesterday, driving my Honda Element Commuter/BOV, (I've had it less than a month) I was in stop and go traffic on the interstate.  I stopped at one point, and BAM! I got rear ended.  I was far enough back from the car in front of me that I didn't hit them.  I had my sunglasses on top of my head and they went flying to the floorboard.  I pulled over to the shoulder and got out to see what was up and talk to the guy who hit me.  My neck and back stiffened up almost immediately, and I was a bit rattled.

I was amazed to discover no visible damage to my rig - not even a scuff on the bumper.  The guy that hit me had a caved in bumper, a caved in grill, and a buckled hood.  He was driving an older Chevy S10 pickup.  Interesting to compare the two.  We traded information and went on our ways.

I started the ball rolling with insurance last night, just to have it ready if anything was wrong.  This morning, I'm headed in to the chiropractor to get my neck and back checked, but other than a little stiffness, I think I'm in good shape.  After that, I'm taking the Element to the body and fender guy to see if there is any damage I can't see - something like frame damage or any of the brackets and mounts under the body.

It could have been a lot worse.  This is the first wreck I've been in for over 20-some years.

TV House

We were watching House Hunters last night on TV and they were following a New Jersey couple looking for new home.  One of the houses they looked at looked like it might have been occupied by a prepper.  The walkout basement had a lot of heavy duty shelves lining the walls.  When they got to the master bedroom closet, there was a fire extinguisher mounted in there.  I'd like to think that the sellers were New Jersey preppers and that they had moved out to Montana or Wyoming, but who knows.  I just thought it was interesting to see those two features in the home.


Bats In Britain

When Guns Are Outlawed

Good Grief!  The riots in London are hitting their 4th night.  I heard on the radio on the way home that the "bobbies" are planning on 16,000 police officers being out tonight to try and control the streets.  Also, they are considering using plastic bullets... (I'm thinking water cannons and OC foggers myself). 

Now, for the regular citizens of London and the cities and towns around (and all of England as far as I know), any type of gun for defense is strictly outlawed.  A number of years ago, an old codger used his single barrel shotgun to shoot a burglar who broke into his home in the middle of the night while the old guy was home.  In fear for his life, he shot the multi-time convicted felon.  The burglar became the victim and the old guy went to prison.

Over the past few years, knives have also become illegal in England.  Outside of the kitchen, you'd best not have one.  A Swiss Army Knife in your pocket will get you arrested.  A Spyderco will get you thrown under the jail.

So what are Londoners doing in response to these massive riots with arsons, beatings, robberies and assaults?  Buying baseball bats!  Check out this page from Amazon's UK site.  In 24 hours, one particular bat has gone from the 8,893rd best selling sporting good to the 17th!  An increase of 52,211%!!!  These folks are desperate for defense.

If you are a US reader, don't give up your rights.  Regardless of what folks say, it CAN happen here.


Product Review: Fruit Crisps

Grocery Store LTS Food

Continuing in my search for good long term storage foods from the regular grocery store, tonight I am looking at Brothers-All-Natural Asian Pear Crisps and Pineapple Crisps.  These are single serving foil packs of freeze dried fruit.  I've seen freeze dried fruits in the grocery store before, but they were pretty doggone expensive.    I got them to go to Pathfinder School with, but never ate them.  I figured as hot as it was up there, I'd risk some dehydration issues eating dried fruit.  I don't recall the exact price on these, but they were in the .79 to .99 cents range at Wal-Mart.  They are about the same price on Amazon in 24 packs, but much cheaper on 200 packs at their website (plus they have coupon codes).

I tried both of these this morning as a snack at work.  Both are listed as 100% fruit, with such bonuses as Kosher, Vegan, non-GMO and fair working conditions for employees if any of that matters to you.  To me it is nice, but not something I particularly look for.  The "best by" dates are a year (pineapple) and a year and a half (pears) from now.  No idea when they were packed, but being freeze dried, I can't imagine that they would not be good for much, much longer.

Asian Pear Crisps

Each pack is 1/2 cup, 10 grams (0.35oz), 40 calories, 9 grams of carbs, 2% of your RDA of vitamin C, and about a pear and a half.

They were OK.  Not great, but OK.  Pretty good pear taste, but the consistency was a bit off.  Kind of a melt in your mouth thing.  I think kids would like them, and they'd probably real good crushed up and sprinkled on ice cream.

Pineapple Crisps

Each pack is 1/2 cup, 15 grams (0.53oz), 60 calories, 14 grams of carbs, 15% of your RDA of vitamin C, and about 40% of a whole pineapple.

These were delicious!  The consistancy was crunchy, with a little melt in your mouth at the end, great pineapple taste, and they looked like pineapple pieces.  Put them in granola, trail mix, on ice cream or oatmeal, or straight out of the bag.

Put Them On Your List

These Brothers-All-Natural fruit crisps are a good value (especially in large quantities), and great for camping, the long term storage pantry, or a snack in your (or your kid's) lunch.  I'll keep my eyes out for other varieties and bring you reviews of them as well.


Random (?) Violence

Ohio Mass Shooting

This morning, in a small town suburb of Akron, a man went on a rampage in two different locations, killing 7 and wounding one before being killed by the police.  As it stands now, we don't know the motives or relationships between the killer and the victims, but I'd guess it will end up being a domestic situation.

How many of us have an ex-spouse or ex-girl/boy friend in our lives that could go this way?  Not even necessarily our exes, but maybe the ex of our current... Perhaps the co-worker's ex... Maybe the baby sitter's or the next door neighbor's... We can never tell.

Of course, one defense is to be armed at all times.  That works for some, not for others.  Some of these things are so random or from out of the blue, there's no way to really prepare.  It just shows that we really need to be alert to signs of potential violence from those we know (or used to), and that we need to have conversations with our currents to know what types of people their exes are.

Mob Assaults

At the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee on Thursday night, reports of up to a couple hundred black youth were attacking white people on foot and pulling some from their cars.  At least 24 were arrested.  There have been several reports recently in large cities of racially charged mob violence, but this one looks like the biggest so far.  Are tensions so high in your community that something could set off a group like that?  Do you find yourself in situations that could go off like a powder keg?

Fifteen to twenty years ago, I had no concerns with going to the Virginia State Fair.  In more recent years, we've made it a point to only go in the day time, during a week day.  A couple years ago, we were there late in the afternoon, but still in broad daylight.  As it got later, you could see the crowd's temperament changing.  It wasn't racial, it was an air of aggression  and tension that seemed to fall over black, white, young, old, male and female.

London Burning

After a police shooting in Tottenham, on the outskirts of London, protesters have used Molotov cocktails to attack police headquarters, burned and flipped cars, and burned and looted stores.  Dozens have been injured.  Tottenham is a poverty stricken region of London, and no stranger to riots over the years.  It shows how crucial it is to be aware of your community's issues and local news.

So What To Do?

Be aware.  We've discussed situational awareness before.  All three of these situation could have been mitigated by people being alert and not stuck in their view of "normal."

Stay away.  Know where the "bad" areas are in town, and know what situations are brewing, then stay away from them.  Sure, go to the state fair and have a corn dog and some fried dough, but keep an eye on the crowd and be ready to leave before it turns.

Know your weapons.  I can't imagine a person being attacked and pulled from their car.  You know, that 3,000 pound piece of steel that folks ride in?  I try to always know an escape route, even if it means driving on the median or the sidewalk.  A hundred angry youths beating people around me aren't going to have the opportunity to get me.  If you are in fear for your life, your car can be used as a weapon.  If you have pepper spray in the car, a few spurts of it out of a cracked open window might encourage the assailants to take on a different victim.  I'm sure you've heard the warnings about being abducted or assaulted, and never letting the person tie or restrain you because then you loose all opportunity to fight; or not fighting in any way you can not to get into a kidnappers vehicle because the odds are, you'll die.  Conversely, if you are in a vehicle, do everything in your power to stay in it, including running people over.  They put themselves in danger by being a part of a violent mob... you are not putting them in danger by trying to get away and keeping yourself safe.

Sponsor Of The Week

Our Sponsor of the Week is Wise Food Storage from Directive 21.  Wise Food Storage comes in very storage friendly square shaped buckets with family-sized servings packed inside, all set for a 25 year storage life.  Directive 21 had Wise Food Storage IN STOCK and ready to ship.  The same can't always be said here lately for some of the other brands of long term storage foots.  Give Directive 21 and Wise Food Storage a try, and please say that you heard about them here at If It Hits The Fan!



Deadly Day

After the horrific losses today in Afghanistan, my thoughts and prayers are with the men who were killed, their families and the entire special operations community.

Thanks to Ggooddssman for making this and putting it on his You Tube channel

Thanks To All Who Serve

Tonight we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant where you share a table with total strangers.  At the last minute, they crammed one more couple into our table, and sat the husband next to me.  We struck up a conversation, and turns out that they are newly weds, she's a nurse at the VA hospital, and he is a CWO3 Army warrant officer.  He's stationed at the base near where I work, and is an Apache helicopter pilot.  After four tours in Iraq, he now gets a stateside rotation to work as a test pilot on helicopters that the mechanic trainees work on.  As I told him, I have a special fondness for Apache pilots due to a battle in Kuwait where one swooped in and really gave us a needed hand.  I also really appreciate his wife being a nurse at the VA.  I had the waitress put their drinks on my bill.  They were truly appreciative, but I'm the one who was really thankful for the opportunity to do that small gesture of thanks for them.

A Conversation

What Are Folks Thinking These Day?

The economy has taken a major hit over the past couple days.  I saw where the world's richest man lost $7 billion in 24 hours.  The stock market had a dramatic drop.  People are worried... not just preppers, but regular folks, too.

I got a call today from a friend in Texas, the guy I mentioned a week or so ago that almost had a chainsaw disaster.  He's not a prepper.  He's a good ol' boy who worked the oil fields in his youth and is a successful business man now.  He's worried, and has friends who are expressing worry.  We spoke for about a half hour today about how bad things might get, and what he can do to mitigate his risks.

He's a lot better off than a lot of people.  He's got access to a family farm outside of town with 240 acres, pecan and fruit trees, running water (when they are not in a drought), feral hogs, and some passed down knowledge and experience in putting up food through drying and canning.  He's also knowledgeable about building, power needs, mechanics, and other important issues.  And he's worried. 

We talked about water purification with a Berkey, storage, and grid down well access.  He shared how his grandparents would gut a hog and put it on the tin roof during the hot, Texas summer, covered in salt and sugar, to keep the predators and scavengers away from it while it cured.  We talked about the potential for barter, whether with skills, commodities such as produce and ammo, or gold and silver.  He knew that the 65-70 Kennedy half dollars are 40% silver.  I told him about the potential value in current nickels if the mint changes them to a cheaper metal in the next couple of years.

We discussed medical gear and training.  He's been researching how to build a smoke house and has scoped out a location for one on the family farm.  He reminded me of the difference in smoking to cook, like in a commercial smoker or home made one from a refrigerator vs. smoking to preserve with cool smoke over a long period of time.  I described Thomas Jefferson's smoke house at Monticello and I plan to go up there this fall to take pictures of it for him (I'll write about it here).

He was particularly concerned with how long something might last and being able to share with distant family without putting his immediate family at risk of running short.  He also updated me on his chainsaw accident.  He is healing up very well, and he's very lucky that it didn't do a lot more damage.  He's really motivated me to get some chaps before I start my fall cutting.  I encouraged him to get some Quick Clot and a couple Israeli Battle Dressings for his first aid kit.

My friend in Texas is like a lot of people out there who are coming to see the need for preparedness.  The more folks that are prepared, whether for an economic collapse, natural disaster, or local emergency, the better everyone else will be.  With September being National Preparedness Month, I hope a lot of us will use that as a reason to broach the topic with family and friends, while keeping OpSec in mind, of course.

Happy Birthday

I was negligent yesterday in forgetting to mention the 221st birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard, founded on Aug. 4, 1790 by Sec. of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton as the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service.  Their motto of Semper Paratus holds a special place to those in the preparedness community.  To all current and former Coast Guard officers and sailors, thank you for your service and Happy Birthday!


Bank Line Projects

The Bank Line Came In

I got my 250' spool of bank line in today from Native Survival.  Earlier in the week, after my failed shopping at Bass Pro and the local fishing store, I checked out West Marine.  They actually had bank line, but it was on like 50' spools for about half of the 250' spool.  Mitch is definitely the way to go with this stuff.

First, let me say I was amazed at how compact the spool is.  It's on a heavy cardboard tube, and about the same size as a fist.  I compared it to a 300' spool of paracord, and the paracord is more than a pound heavier at 1 lb. 4.7 oz.  The bank line is 4.3 oz.  It also takes up about 4x the space of the bank line.

So, what am I going to do with it?  First thing is, I'll pull off about 50 feet and put it in my EDC pouch.  I could have used it the other morning when I was tying my shoes getting ready for work and broke a lace.  Combat boots or tennis shoes, I could have used paracord, but these were dress shoes with tiny lace holes.  Bank line would have been just the ticket.  Actually, I just skipped one set of holes relacing with the broken lace, so I'll replace the laces in both shoes this weekend with the bank line.

Next thing I'll do is prep the remaining spool of line for my 5Cs kit (cutting, cordage, cover, container and combustion).  The heavy cardboard spool is about 3/4 inch in diameter, and about 4.5 inches long.  Tomorrow I'll get a couple of corks that will fit the ends, and fill the inside with some emergency fishing gear.  A couple of hooks, some lead sinkers, a couple of small artificial lures.  If I need to do some emergency fishing, I will separate a length of line into it's three parts to have a thin, but still very strong, fishing line to tie to a stick.  The corks will double as bobbers.  Or, I can use the line as made and do a trot line or some jug lines.

My last immediate project is to do a deadfall trap to try to get rid of my local skunk.  I'll take some pics and let you know how that goes.

Stick It To The Man

This weekend (Fri.-Sun.) in Virginia is the back to school sales tax holiday.  Not only is it good for stuff for kids going to school, but it applies to anyone buying things like paper (not printer paper unfortunately), markers, pencils, and other items that would be good for a prepper to have extras of, plus ANY clothing or footwear that costs less than $100.  Now is a great time for Virginians to pick up some BDUs, wool socks, gloves, stall mucking boots, rain coats, and other clothes that you'd be glad to have during a breakdown.

This is Virginia's weekend, but check your home state.  Many states have sales tax holidays this time of year.  Get items you need, save money, and stick it to the man!