Thursday, May 25, 2017

Food Storage: Rotation

In 9 out of 10 cases a person, who just decided to be prepared for emergencies runs to the supermarket and stocks up on canned good, non perishables and other long life items.

(Don`t worry...I was one of the 9 out of 10. So you are in good company.)

A closer look at the, heavy loaded, shopping cart after checking out would reveal a large number of food that:

a) falls out of a persons normal diet/eating habits

b) is cheap

c) probably some sort of canned ready meal

And when the "best before" date approaches, usually faster than anticipated you/I/he/she sits on a pile of food that is eatable but....seriously? Eating THAT!?

Personally I tried to phase out canned ready meals by serving them to my daughters and wife during hiking/camping trips hoping that ANY meal will taste awesome as long it is served at a camp fire and after a long day outdoors.

Well, it can be that my family does not share my set of associations of happy-camper-life but that experiment did not end well.

I also turned to so called Survival Food because the calorie/volume appealed to me (we did not live in a house when I started preparing) and the fact that I could just toss a box of that stuff in the back of the car or even in a backpack and have food for over a week.

But that stuff also runs out at some point of time, and even though we can all agree on that "best before" just means "BEST before" and not "does self destruct after this date" : At some point of time you need to let that stuff go!

(Speaking of, check out my baking experiments with outdated yeast: Baking With Old Yeast

 And suddenly you sit on a mountain of canned 3rd grade canned "meat" that even sailors or cats won`t touch. (And sailors are not spoiled when it comes to food quality, I can guarantee you THAT!)

What to do?

Well, I personally give the cans away for charity: Our village has a "hobo fence" where we hang food, clothing and basic hygiene articles for persons in need to take. Funny thing about "Survival Food": It is incredible hard to convince a person that highly concentrated space-age food is actually you might as well keep it as snacks for hiking trips....

So, the answer to above problems is ROTATION.

Buy the amount of food you want to accumulate by simply doubling/tripling the amount of food you would buy for..lets say a week...and use and replace it as you go. So, this means you buy stuff you ACTUALLY WOULD LIKE TO EAT! ( A lot of charlatan "prepper stores" make a handsome buck by selling cat/dog food to the same idiots that buy Russian, surplus gasmasks!)

Do not buy a van full of food at once since you then wold have to replace/rotate same van full within very short time... 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I always loved reading.

I have been reading constantly since I got my first library card at the age of 9, and yes .. reading graphic novels count as reading!

My reading always peaked when I was out on sea: Books I would not have peed on if they would have been on fire, suddenly became attractive because there was nothing else in the ships library

So I had my fair share of pulpy, men`s adventure novels like the "Destroyer" or "Endworld" series. Funny enough: I never have been on a ship that did not have a Larry Niven novel on board.

However, this was before internet or ebook readers were available and I could only carry a few books with me, or shop for some extra ones at the airports book shop before I signed on.

But on a 6 month contract that was just a drop in the sea.

Later, after I finished the Officers College with my Master ticket, I had to start my officers career at the bottom as 2nd Officer on the 00-04 and 12-16 watch. With other words: I worked and had off when everybody was asleep or worked themselves.

These watches were boring...alone on a dark bridge with no one to talk to for hours. Reading? Forget about it!

My eyes had stay on what happened outside and I had to take care of my night vision.

Then my best friend made me a gift that actually changed my life: 

Terry Pratchett`s "The Fifth Elephant" by Terry Pratchett on CD.

Wow, that changed everything!

My watches maybe not flew by but became tolerable, and I still could focus on the traffic.

I ended up buying more CD sets, mostly other Terry Pratchett stories but also other writers. As we finally got internet on board the Search And Rescue Vessels I ended up on, I finally bought my first laptop.

Mostly to stay in touch with my then-girlfriend and now-wife but also to watch movies guessed it: Buy audiobooks online and download them.

I have been customer at ever since, and probably bought over 200 books over the last 9 years.

For me as a 80`ies kid who had only a mono cassette player for some kid`s adventure is still magic that I can have all these books/stories on a MP3 player not bigger than my thumb.

A story just becomes more dimensional when a gifted narrator reads a story for you..especially if it is in a native African, British or Carribean dialect: Anyone listening to Christoper Moore`s "Fluke" and not having belly cramps of laughter when a jewish, white rasta from Chicago tries to speak rasta patois is just not alive :-)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Grapple Hook

A grapple is great for pulling items towards you when it is to dangerous to get close up.

I am porbably one of the few persons on this planet who used a grapple hook in anger. And that was job related:

It was an unconscious person lying in a tangle of fishing net, we could not approach the person with our FRC`s (fast rescue craft) directly because parts of the net would get into our propellers / water jet intakes.

So no, I don`t have adolescent Ninja / Tactical Operator fantasies of scaling a 8 m vertical wall with a foldable "Tactical Climbing Hook" from Ebay.

I just want to be able to manipulate out-of-reach objects like:

- window latches or door handles

- getting a good hold on branches with fruit

- gear falling into water during a canoe trip or fetching other out-of-reach stuff

- a grapple hook makes a GREAT weapon when slung with help of the attached rope

So, many advantages but all outweighed by the extremely bad weight/size/usefulness ratio.

But then I found a neat little titanium grapple hook that pretty much answered my prayers (for a complete bat belt cough cough)

The workmanship on this little thing is awesome: The threads on container and the spikes are cut with high precision. When the spikes are attached the container can be filled with sand/water to add more weight to the throw.

Here is the little miracle. A watertight titanium container with three threaded spikes.  
Stubby little thing..


One of my early attempts at welding...meh...
But still does the job like....

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wind (1992)

One of the reasons I like "Wind" (1992) so much is the story itself: A group of persons willing to  invest extreme amounts of themselves, in order to achieve a common goal with different motivations. 

The film follows the raise and fall of a young, hopeful America`s Cup skipper (played by Matthew Bodine ) losing the prestigious cup to an Aussie team...of all people.

Now a pariah in this closed and exclusive world, he goes looking for support at his former girlfriend.

The same girlfriend (Played by a cute-as-hell Jennifer Grey ..graauww) lives and works in the Mojave Desert where she develops aircraft wings and fuselages, in a hangar together with other geeky science types.

And there, far away from the ocean, they manage to develop a revolutionary type of hull and sail based on the design of a bug wing.

The story and the acting is great....the pictures and soundtrack even better.

For me a perfect summer movie!


Two Half Hitches

Two Half Hitches is made by making two overhand knots ("half hitches") in sequence. These two overhand knots will create a Clove Hitch around the rope itself.
So,  you will have an adjustable loop that however will be hard to open again, after the knot has been under tension.
It is one of the easiest/safest knots there is and everybody should know how to make it.
Let the rope run left/right or right/left around an item. You decide.
Put the short end OVER the long end.
...and lead it back UNDER the long end again.
Voila! Now you have made the first half of the knot! Now repeat!
And you have Two Half Hitches!
It should look like this!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Survival Kit Content: Kittens Got Claws

I found another knife for the "possible candidate list" for my new Monkey Fist Survival Set
A cheap (!) as dirt little stainless steel knife I found on Ebay for less than 2 $...inclusive shipping that is.
Don`t ask me how they can earn on that!
One would expect a blade with cardboard grade steel, but I was pleasantly surprised about the sharpness/toughness of the blade in general.
True, it is VERY small and the blades thickness does not make this one a precision cutter.
But I think it will cover 99% of my immediate "cutting needs" in the first hours of an emergency.
Conclusion: A knife you use until you find a "real" knife, but definitely worth having.
Small, light and curved. The ring-design allows
a safe handling of the very short knife.
The claw is sharp enough, but the design is tough on
the fingers in the long run.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Clove Hitch / Improvised Handcuffs

The Clove Hitch is a great knot for attaching lines to an long as that line is not under a lot of tension, because the Clove Hitch is not a very strong knot like his cousin the The Constrictor Knot
But the clove hitch does has its advantages: It is fast and easy to make...and with it you can make a nifty set of handcuffs within seconds: Just in case your partner recently read "Fifty Shades" and suddenly feels adventurous.
(For more potential fun`n`games with knots: Check out the The Highway Man Hitch )
But back to the serious stuff ("Yes, Master!"):
The Clove Hitch can be "laid in hand" and made around an item. The laid in hand method is popular among Scouts and a bit frowned upon sailors, but essential if you want to make the hand cuff trick.
In the beginning there was rope...
Fold the left side of the rope inward CLOCKWISE  to create a loop.

Do the same with the right end, but COUNTERCLOCKWISE.

Put the right loop over the left one.

And we have a Clove Hitch!
Now to what really interests you: The Handcuffs.
Start out exactly like with the Clove Hitch.
But instead of putting the right loop over the left, as with the Clove Hitch,
pull the left loop through the right loop.
And vice versa!
Pull at both loops.
Voila! Handcuffs! You tighten the loops by pulling the ends!
This is easy: Cross over from left to right (or right to left).
Cross over from right to left.

Should look like this.
Lead the end of the rope under the last cross over....
...and pull tight!
Voila: Clove Hitch

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Barrel Hitch

The Barrel Hitch is a very safe and simple knot for guessed it...BARRELS. But you can use it for pretty much everything from beer boxes over refrigerators to your bear safe.
I use my chopping block as example.
Tip your object and slide your rope under it.

Make an Overhand Knot

Pull the sides of the Overhand Knot apart and....

...slip them over the sides of the object.
Once there is tension on the rope, the object
will be supported from the sides and the bottom.

Secure the top of the Barrel Hitch with another knot.
I like to use a Bowline for this.
(Will show later how to make one.)

Ready to lift: Nothing can fall out of this knot!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Car Emergency Bag

The content of our Car Emergency Bag is made out of items we were glad having or would have LIKED to have during our (involuntary) 2 days stay on the high plateau of the Lozère, waiting for a mechanic 3 villages further down the road. 
It also serves as an extension to our Bug Out Bags and can unceremoniously be dumped in our bicycle trailer , the content will serve us well either way.
Everything written in RED is a link leading to an article with a closer description of the item in question.

The grab bag in all its might. Usually we have more space in the trunk but
we keep the 6th and 7th seat inside because of the other kids in our car pool.

What`s inside...well first of all: Here Comes Mr. Crowbar!
Any person claiming that you do not need a crowbar is a villain,
a thief and a liar.

The Zombie War Hammer .... mainly because my better half wants
this thing out of the house. And because of the inevitable onslaught
of the undead hordes.

A warm blanket, not only for emergencies but brilliant for romantic nights
under open skies.

No, this is not a pizza box...

...but a pop-up toilet made out of waxed cardboard.
The thing is able to carry up to 200 kg of weight and is a vital
part of my festival-goer-gear. You simply stretch a plastic sack
over the shit box and let go. Proved to be priceless during several
family road trips where public toilets looked like a disaster zone.
Complete with wet toilet paper.

You get what you pay for....

Emergency supply of water: 9 X 0,5 L

6 x BP5 packages of Survival Food
(BP 5 on the left)

TPA bags. TPA stands for "Thermal Protective Aid", these bags are standard
in maritime lifeboats and a part of ANY hiking trip I am going. They are made
out of thick, non conductive and, tough foil with rip stop reinforcement. Used
mainly for the prevention of hypothermia of lifeboat survivors and are brilliant
shelters for emergencies. A grown up person has enough space to get inside and
and take off wet clothing or to breastfeed a child.

Short instruction on how to use a TPA.

I also have a lighter version worn as a jumpsuit.

One of the really cool things about TPA`s:
They work great as improvised Solar Cookers.

A cup full of snow takes about 30 minutes to melt.

So now we all know what snow really consists off: AIR!

Hard candy and SCHO-KA-KOLA - Canned Sleeplessness for energy
and the general munchees.

A nice, large silk hammock: For extra "niceness".

Two large steel cups, also good for cooking/boiling.

A knife, because: "Well du-hu!"

Ten cup soups: 5 with bacon and 5 with beet root flavour.

Hooded Hi-Viz jacket (summer) in XXL size.

Hooded Hi-Viz jacket (winter) in XXL size.

Pair of size 10 Tuf-Hyde gloves.

Mechanics and lady stranglers love these....


Cough drops.

Solar powered 4000 ma/H power bank.

Pocket ovens to:
a) keep warm
b) melt frozen drinking water


AAA batteries for tactical flashlight.

5 Rescue blankets.

Protein/power bars.

Tampons for The Tampon Water Filter bandaging or for their intended use.

5 Sporks.


Toilet seat covers.

Additional first aid kit.

Hand sanitizer.

2000 ma/h Power bank

Tactical flashlight with strobe/SOS function.

With a wicked bright CREE LED.

Charged back up phone (SONIM XP 3300) with pre paid SIM
(And about 32 G worth of music and audio books!)

Riot baton...because I attract people I never wanted to meet.

Ice cleats: For when you have a pregnant wife that MUST NOT FALL!

We have two sizes: Too big and too small.

High end poncho.

Magic towels because COMFORT!

Spare prescription glasses.

A 7 days graveyard candle: For light, heat & romance.

Water purification tablets.

Some cheap but powerful LED torches I picked up recently.

Glow stick.

Shovel for waste and/or fire pits.

Band aid in various sizes.

A Survival Candle

High end dynamo flashlight from Freeplay.

Misc: Hand sanitizer, sewing kit, soap and tic remover

Travel backgammon set: For morale.

The IKEA Hobo Stove making soup, hot drinks, food
in general but also to thaw frozen drinking water in a
plastic or Paper Bag

A Freeplay Hand Crank Generator to charge mobile devices.

Solar power bank (4000 mAh)

Two fold-up back packs, in case we need to leave the car and want to
take some supplies with us.

Neat no?

Two dental and one shaving kit. Wipes for my glasses.

I really like those...

Fire starters.

Towing gear.

Fire extinguishers.

This is the content of a grey bag velcroed to the left side of the trunk:
Tools, LED flashlight, 1,5 L of water and winter gloves. These are the things
we think would be neat to have very fast at hand.

The flashlight with magnetic foot in action.

The usual stuff: Hi-Viz vest, warning triangle and first aid.
In a red bag, velcroed on left side of trunk

Beforementioned grey and red bag.

Everything together weighs 16 kg.

HA! You thought I would forget yes?
Emergency hammer with belt cutter velcroed to dashboard.

Hi-Viz vest and sponge on drivers side.