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Monday, August 16, 2010

What's in YOUR Purse?

Man BagMurse… or as a male friend of my daughter calls them, Thatchel (there is a lisp in there). I like to think of mine as a Possibles Bag because that’s what the mountain men called them. Let’s face it though – it’s a purse.

I carry mine around most days to and from my tent–making business and, just like my wife’s purse, mine accumulates STUFF. I decided to clean it out and see just what I have in there and, what the heck – I bet you want to know what I tote around too, huh?

What you don’t see in the picture below is my lunch which I usually toss in there. Typically it is leftovers from supper in a Tupperware container with a spoon or fork as needed.

I reckon we’ll just start in the upper left corner and work our way around…(you can click on the picture to enlarge it)

Steno pad and some mail I still need to deal with.
My badges. I work in a secure facility so I have to go through combination locks, key locks and little machines one “swipes” one’s magnetic card across. That’s the card you see. While walking around this prison, er, place of employment, one must display the required picture ID – it’s on the other side but hanging on the same lanyard (you are not allowed to see it). What I did was Scotch-tape the two cards on either side of a Tool Logic “Survival Card”. It’s about as big as a credit card (or ID badge) but thicker. It contains an LED light, a knife, toothpick and tweezers. When I get to work I wear this gizmo around my neck.

A bunch of pens (I only put two back in the bag) and a little notebook – I have started to write everything down. If I think of something – bam, it goes in the notebook. Quite handy.

My daily carry knife. I was actually wondering where I put that thing – I usually carry it in my front pocket but I put it in the bag one day as I was headed to CrossFit because I didn’t want to lose it in the gym. It will be in my pocket tomorrow.

I have a snap link (“NOT FOR CLIMBING!” shyea, like anyone would try)…. that I clip my keys to. A water bottle. I carry a variety of water bottles and at least one 3-liter bottle of water (not shown) every day.

A ziplock of cash and a fire starter that fell out of the survival kit.

Some AA batteries - don’t know why they were there, but what the heck – I kept them.
That black fanny pack is a survival kit I have carried around the world several times. I had to make some modifications (removals) after 9-11. I really don’t like going anywhere without it – it comforts me. Perhaps I’ll blog about it next.

Three lighters “Viking Pocket Fire” with inner tube pieces. I think one fell out of the survival kit – I tossed it back in there, kept one more and removed the other. I typically also carry one in my pants pocket.

An Army “Demo Knife” (sounds cooler than Boy Scout knife) – it fell out of the survival kit because its zippers are toast.
Tupperware sandwich box containing a first aid kit I have carried all over the world.
Two permanent markers – for marking stuff…

A little ratchet set for the Leatherman Wave you see below it. I’ve never used it but got it for free. I put it back in the bag – what the heck, good a place as any to keep it…
Cold Steel Bushman survival knife with some wraps of tape around the handle for grip. Sometimes you just need a bigger blade.

Some tiny zipties I picked up from a techie and a comb for my long locks (beard).
One rubber glove – we have boxes of them at home we use for medical calls (Volunteer Fire Department) and I guess I tossed some in there one day. It was trashed – it’s gone now.

Ya know those $5 flashlights they sell at the counter of the auto parts store? The LED ones that take three AAA batteries? Real bright in the store? Yeah….they don’t hold up well bouncing around the bottom of a Man Bag. The batteries are fine – the light does not work anymore. Chinese junk.

Fork and a plastic knife from some lunch long ago – put in the dishwasher.
A magazine a buddy gave me containing an article on a DIY solar hot water heater – I still need to read it – moved to the bathroom.

Blood powder – so if I had some free time I could look up the ingredients on the Internet. I did. The bottle is now in the medical closet.
Some chestnuts a buddy gave me last fall – they are now on the kitchen table….

Assorted paper trash – in the burn pile now.

So that’s it. Obviously not a super thought-out Uber Kit. But it’s real. And it’s what I’ve been toting around.

I’ll see ya out there!

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. - Luke 22:36

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Solar still, water with a bag

I thought this was a pretty cool idea. Basically just dig a hole, put a cup in center, then drape plastic bag over it with a rock in the center. What happens is the sun evaporates the water in the ground (or maybe water that was there) and it condenses against the plastic and drips in the cup due to the angle of the plastic from the rock on top of it. No purifying necessary even for chemicals. Here is a decent and explanation/visual http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_still. also all you really need is just a plastic garbage bag and some rocks laying around.

The Survival Mindset

The Survival Mindset

Ask anyone that is into survival and disaster preparedness what’s the single most important thing and if he knows just the slightest bit about it the answer you will get is mindset. Some will say it as if revealing a treasured secret, some will blurb it out without even processing it in their minds, probably saying it a couple times a week for the last few years.
Now, it is correct, the right mindset is where it all begins and it is indeed the most important part, yet so little is said about it. I’ll be the first one to raise the hand and accept I’m guilty as well. Most often I will talk in my blog about different gear I found or am currently testing or using.  Its so much easier to talk about gear, tools, guns. Its not only fun, its interesting for the reader and not as much work for the writer. Tangible objects are obvious, determined, of this or that length, weight and use, while a philosophical concept is hard to define, its like trying too catch mist with a net.
Another common situation is that, right after claiming that mindset is the most important part, people will confidently admit that they themselves have such survival mindset. Yet this is like saying you’re Christian: The Catholic, the Protestant and the self claimed prophet nutcase that serves coolaid with rat poison, they all claim to be Christian yet they couldn’t be more different.

What does it mean to have a survival mindset?

Few things are as hard to define as survival mindset. I mean, I’ve been into survival and preparedness for a long time, thinking and writing about it for years and yet I have a hard time doing it and find it impossible to come up with a clean, short answer.
In my opinion , survival mindset includes but isn’t limited to:

Conviction. You are convinced of the wisdom in preparing and assimilate it as another part of your life.

Determination. To carry it through on the long run. The survival mindset is only legit if its something you’ve acquired and stays with you permanently once you’ve got it. Even if your dedication to preparedness is sometimes interrupted because of a tighter budget or particularly demanding times where your attention is mostly focused elsewhere, real survival mindset can never be uninstalled from your mind.

Humor. Without it you are doomed no matter what. In some cases you see people that lack it completely and just makes their lives miserable, in others you can even see its killing them, and anguish and negative thoughts will kill you if you can’t control them. During extraordinary stressful times its of great importance to have good humor, and its no coincidence that I’m placing humor near the top of the list.

Setting rational priorities. This is a common fail in many people who consider themselves to be survivalists and its an often discussed topic in my blog, the lack of common sense, real world approach to survival. Do you really focus on getting more guns instead of losing some of the weight that is killing you? Their failed logic goes, why worry about losing the extra 100 pounds worth of fat in your body when you can still shoot looters even if you’re fat. It never occur to them that they are a thousand times more likely to die of cardiac failure in their current state than anything else, and I’ve seen people actually get offended when a diet is respectfully suggested. The same applies to having tons of guns and no food. Tons of food and no water (but lots of empty containers with a post-it note that reads “fill me up when SHTF”). Ten thousand dollars worth of machinery but not a single dollar saved.

Self Discipline. To actually carry out through your actions what you claim and know to be important. To follow the path you set and not only do the things that are easy, but also have the will power to do the things that may be more unpleasant for you such as going into diet if you have to, working out, learning skills that you may not enjoy studying but you rationally recognize as important. This also includes financial sacrifices in some cases, saving money you would have otherwise spent in things you just don’t need, even ones that at some level you try to convince yourself as “must haves” for survival.

Differentiating fantasy from reality. This will usually end up with people preparing for the infamous “end of the world”, mistakenly thinking that if you’re ready for the worst case scenario, you’re ready for everything in between. Wrong. These people will have tons of supplies but wont have a sensible plan for when they retire, because everyone knows that money will be worth nothing… when the world ends.

Thirst for knowledge. Survival mindset also means you recognize the possibility of sometimes not having people there to help you, so its understandable that you’d like to accumulate as much skills and knowledge as you can. Time is limited and so are resources, you can’t know it all, but someone that has a survival mindset is ever curious and never wastes an opportunity to learn something new.

Awareness. Of your surroundings. Awareness implies conscious recognition of your immediate environment and the capability to detect potential threats within it as well as tactical advantages and disadvantages. This is again, a part of the survival mindset a lot of people claim to have but in reality they don’t. And I’m not using the term “tactical” loosely either, but referring to it as abstract analysis such as acknowledging the emergency exit sign in the restaurant where you’re having dinner, knowing your shoe soles are certified to provide electric shock resistance, or recognizing a pen or letter opened as a potential weapon when walking into an office. These are bits of knowledge you keep stored in your head and may give you an edge on different emergency situations. This is very different from the more “tacticool” concept of militarizing trinkets and other paraphernalia for no other reason than esthetic appeal.

Having a plan. You’ve talked with your family regarding what you’d be doing during an emergency in case you get scattered. You all know where you’d get together and where you would go if that location is not an option. When defending yourself, you have a strategy to follow, when hitting you already have a simple yet effective combinaiton of strikes you’ve practiced as default.

Redundancy and backups. Both in essential gear and planning. This will mean having several backups for things such as self defense, heat and cooking, several months worth of food, enough water to get by if the grid goes down. In planning it will mean having plan A, B and probably C as well. It basically means you’re already assuming the likelihood of failing and getting prepared for an alternative.

All constructive comments and suggestions are more than welcomed.


Egg on a stick

Many times I've taught this technique to young Boy Scouts. It's not new, it's been around a lot longer than I have. But the first time you do it it's always fun.

Find a thin but strong hardwood stick and sharpen one end down to 1/8 inch thick. Work your way down from the end for about four inches.

Build a small cooking fire.

Slowly insert the stick through one end of the egg and out through the other. You can always start small holes with the tip of your knife.

Hold the egg over the flames so that the flames touch the top of the egg. Allow the flames quickly cook that end to seal it.

Then hold the stick upright over medium heat to finish cooking the egg. Give it four to five minutes depending how firm you want it.

In a pinch, duck, and goose eggs can be found in the Spring.

Reader Letter: "Sample of survival items" by Susie

Most of my friends laugh at the things I carry in my handbag.  
However, they're never ceased to be amazed at what comes out of it in an emergency.
Since 9/11, I've heard several stories of how the lights went out because the generators stopped working.  It was so dark that folks had to walk with their hands held out in front of themselves to navigate.
Now, whenever I travel, I always carry 3 light sources in my purse.  One that goes around my forehead, one that will wrap around my neck or upper arm and another that will attach to my watch or sleeve.  
When people are in a panic mode, they tend to try to wrestle these things away from you.  Always a good idea to have one extra, in case you meet up with a mother w/child or family.  I can manage with one.  I had some that would clip to my eye glasses, but the batteries were hard to find.
You never know how helpless you are until the lights go out.