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Welcome to this week’s Sunday Survival Buzz – a roundup of preparedness news, tips, articles and recommendations from around the web. I have quite a bit to cover today but first an update on my own preps.
In my continuing effort to practice what I preach – namely learning to cook with my stored foods – I broke open my can of freeze-dried chicken to give it a test. My thoughts? Well, let me say it was tasty and a cinch to re-rehydrate. The whole process only took about 10 minutes.
Where I ran into a problem was that I had expected the chicken pieces – dices actually – to be larger and since I was planning to use them in a stir fry, they seemed a bit small. This is one case where I should have used my brain and pulled a can of sliced chicken from my shelf rather than chopped chicken.
On the other hand, the chopped chicken was great in my chicken salad sandwich – no Fukushima tuna in my household, remember? – and so much easier and thrifty since one can of chicken is way too much for a single sandwich.
But enough about me. Let’s get on to the Sunday Survival Buzz.
Survival News Bytes & Articles from Around the Web
Vanguard’s Jack Bogle: Financial ‘train wreck’ looms: If you have funds in a Money Market account, commonly referred to as an MMF, you need to read this article. Darn scary. Here is one of Mr. Bogle’s answers to a question about the “safety” of money market funds.
Q. The expectation that you can always get at least a dollar back for each dollar invested is a key reason why money funds are appealing to investors. What will happen if a floating standard is established?
A: The asset values already float, but we just hide it. There is not the kind of safety that people assume there is. I know this would be painful for the money market industry to move to a floating NAV (net asset value), but it would not eliminate the industry. That’s absurd. I don’t think enough people are standing back and saying, “What’s the reality here?”
Top 10 Tricks for Turning Your Junk Into Money: If you’re looking to de-clutter a bit and raise cash for preps, Lifehacker offers 10 tips and tricks for getting the most money possible out of your old, unwanted junk.
Consider the Portable Gas Lamp
As we enter in to tropical storm and hurricane season, the likelihood of massive power outages increases. In the wake of hurricane Isaac, there were reports of over half the state of Louisiana being without power. Add power outages in the surrounding states of Mississippi and Arkansas and you are talking about a lot of people that were left in the dark.
With that in mind, I asked Ron Brown, the author of Lanterns, Lamps and Candles if I could share a portion of his chapter on portable gas lamps with my readers. He graciously agreed to share this excerpt from chapter 14 of his book.
Compared to liquid fuel lanterns, portable propane lamps are extremely convenient. No spilled fuel in refilling. Easy lighting. No smell. No adjustment while burning. Even grocery stores carry the fuel cylinders. By merit of sheer convenience, propane lamps have trumped liquid-fuel lanterns in the camping market.
The convenience comes at a price ¾ 33¢ per hour operating cost. In the middle of hurricane Katrina you wouldn’t care about that. For a week of camping with the family (where you’ve spent $200 in gasoline and $10 for one armload of firewood) it’s the same. One more cylinder of propane in the midst of a Major Bonding Event is a “who cares?”
A single-mantle lamp, for example (pictured left), costs $20 and outputs light equivalent to a 40-watt bulb. For under $50 you could have a lamp and two weeks of fuel. And you don’t have to buy it all at once. You can start with a lamp and one fuel cylinder, then add additional fuel to your stockpile as budget allows.
Lamps with two mantles are available, doubling light output. And propane lamps with piezoelectric lighting are available so you don’t even have to strike a match; just turn the knob to “on.” You can even add a distribution “tree” that mounts on a 20 lb. propane tank and runs more than one propane appliance at a time.
The tank pictured on the right, incidentally, is commonly called a 20 lb. tank. The “20 lb.” refers to the tank’s capacity. But propane tanks, big or small, are never filled to more than 80% of capacity. Consequently, a “full 20 lb. tank” really holds 16 lbs. (.80 x 20 = 16). Also, propane weighs 4.24 lb. per gallon. So, in gallons, the “full 20 lb. tank” holds 3.8 gallons (16 ¸ 4.24 = 3.8).
Left: Portable propane lamps mount on the skinny 400-gram propane cylinders sold for soldering torches as readily as the fatter 465-gram camping-fuel cylinders. The threads are the same on the top of the cylinders and the propane is the same inside the cylinders.
Center and Right: This is a homemade base that will support either size cylinder and prevent it from falling. Note the wood shims around the skinny cylinder on the far right.
Speaking for myself personally, I have sometimes balked at the cost of those portable propane cylinders especially when compared the the plumbed in propane that fires the stove and furnace in my home. That said, I still have spare cylinders for use with my lanterns and as a back-up. And, as Ron so aptly points out, when you are in the dark for an extended period, the cost is quite nominal.
By the way, Ron is one of the sponsors of Backdoor Survival. If you are interested in more of what he has to say, be sure to check out his book Lanterns, Lamps and Candles. (I have mentioned this before but the price of the book is worth it simply for his lively discussion of the history of Colman lanterns and Zippo lighters!)
Recommendations & Announcements
One of my very favorite sites for DIY info on a variety of topics having to do with survival, prepping and the home arts is Homestead Survival. There is always something interesting to read and learn about – including many of my own articles from Backdoor Survival. It’s a practical site that embraces the concept of simplicity and self-sufficiency while having a bit of fun, too.
Questionable Ads and Products
As a result of an email I received questioning something seen on another site (not related to Backdoor Survival), I thought it would be good to clear the air on the various ads that you see on many if not most blogs.
Many of us in the blogging world try to supplement our income by generating either advertising or affiliate commission revenue. In my case, I have other employment but for others, their blogs and websites are their only source of income. Regardless, there are still many costs associated with a blog, including hosting costs, domain names, backup servers and more.
Over time, I have learned that some of the products being pitched in the prepping and survival niche are marginal at best. Last month, for example, a reader informed me that a well-selling product being advertised on my site was a total rip-off of someone else’s work. I checked it out right away and took down the ad. And then, just last weekend, I took down ads for other questionable products or products I was unable to vet for myself.
This is me speaking – and I cannot speak for others – but I would rather not make the money than have people like you spend your own hard earned cash on questionable products. As you are aware, propaganda and fear sells and I do not knowingly want a part of that.
So enough said. If you find something objectionable on my site, be sure to pop me an email and I will check it out
The Final Word
Lately I have been talking a lot among friends, and of course, the Survival Husband, about the burden of knowledge. How simple our lives would be if we stayed ignorant and unprepared. On the other hand, I sleep better knowing that I have stuff and skills to be on my own for quite awhile if I have to.
And that makes the burden of knowledge a bit lighter. It should for you as well.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Spotlight Item: The book “Bartering With Desperate People” is worth a quick read. I am not sure I agree with the “desperate” part of the title since realistically, this e-Book is about more negotiating the very best deal in such a way that all parties to the transaction are happy.
Bargain Bin: For not a lot of money, you can be prepared with a whistle, a lanyard for keeping it around your neck, and an efficient lantern to light the way when the power goes that. Other than that, I encourage you to keep on adding to your food storage as best you can.
Windstorm Safety Whistle: I read a lot of reviews before settling on this whistle. It is loud and it carries a significant distance. I now own two.
Yellow Ribbon Paracord Lanyard: I own a number of paracord items from Cobrabraid and appreciate the quality of their products. This is the lanyard I chose to go with the whistle I use on the trails.
Coleman One-Mantle Compact Propane Lantern: Easy, portable, and with a lifetime warranty.
This month Emergency Essentials is featuring a Wheat Cooking Starter Kit that includes a hand grain mill, some dough enhancer, instant yeast and a “Wheat Cookin’ Made Easy” DVD. It is nicely priced at about 33% off or $49.99.
Other items on sale in September include a One Month Supply of Just-Add-Water Entrees for $134.99, Freeze Dried Mozzarella Cheese (21% off), Freeze Dried Yogurt Bits (for snacks) at 20% off, and something that I am ordering, Freeze Dried Celery pieces which at $14.99 for a #10 tin, is 30% off.
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