Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WikiLeaks from the WikiSneaks...

Well, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is promising to drop another bomb on the world, this time he is going to lay bare a bunch of internal memos from a major U.S. Bank. Yes, you will be able to find out how one major bank operates from their secret, internal memos and you will also find out what they think about you - consumer.

If he thinks he is in danger because of what he has done in the past, wait until he paints a Bull's-Eye on himself going after the moneyboys.

What does this have to do with "survival?" My friends, it is our world, quaking all around us, it matters.

6th Grade Teacher Attempts to Ban Pencils and Pens...

"Wendy Scott, a teacher of at North Brookfield Elementary School in Massachusetts, tried to ban pencils and pens in her classroom. It's completely ridiculous because you sorta need them to do schoolwork and because it's just a freaking pencil and pen.

Students would no longer be allowed to bring writing implements to school. It said pencils would be provided for students in class and any students caught with pencils or pens after Nov. 15 would face disciplinary action for having materials 'to build weapons.'"

Attribution: Gizmodo.

There were a couple of hot threads over on EDC Forums about the TSA arresting someone for carrying a writing instrument that they had on their paranoid watch list of items to be confiscated. You see, if a writing instrument is marketed as a self-defense weapon, Big Daddy Government won't let you fly with it. You understand, slave?

I have always maintained that if they are going to do that, then all writing instruments should be banned from flights because targeting and acting upon only those pens with "tactical" marketing hype is just cosmetic. It's meaningless. So, in a way, this teacher is much more sane than the people at TSA who decide what is "OK" and what is to be banned. I disagree with this teacher's desire to ban pens and pencils from her classroom, but I have to say, at least she realizes that all rigid writing instruments can be weaponized. Even in the hands of a maniacal child.

There are Patents you can search for, for rubberized writing instruments that were developed with an eye towards use in prisons and other restrictive environments. Perhaps TSA should just ban everything except these types of pens and then they could get kickbacks from the airport kiosks that sell only Government/TSA Approved writing instruments.

I mean, they did that with bottled water for a time. Must have been a wonderful time to own a airport kiosk peddling water at scalper's prices.

Oh yeah, let's make shoes checked luggage only as well and issue Government Approved flip-flops. Outstanding!

I'm just being sarcastic...about some of it. This country is scared of its own shadow now, how sad. Terrified of the world around it and desperately trying to control it and more fearful of the Citizenry than terrorists and illegal aliens. Sad days.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Survival Gear, just some good memories from 1986-1987...

I once spent almost a year living in a rural area, in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. I have a love for Appalachia that I cannot even find the words to properly express.

I was staying at my half-sister's house and all I had to do was walk out the back door and I could disappear in one minute. If I walked out the front door, I could be gone like a ghost in five minutes.

I used to walk up near the top of the mountain and sit with my brother-in-law's old, beat-up bolt action .22 rifle and plink to my heart's content. No law enforcement contact from wacked-out, crazed, paranoid, busy-body "neighbors," no SWAT Call-Out, just peace and relaxation.

Being around people who are okay with guns is a wonderful experience. It's the most stupid thing in our urban areas. People being terrified of guns and knives.

My half-sister fixed "spaghetti" one time. I remember there were plenty of leftovers and she put them in this sickly, light-lime green Tupperware container. It must have been the designated "spaghetti" container because it was stained so bad you could never get the reddish coloration out of it. Her idea of "spaghetti" was really interesting. She would fry up some ground beef and then when it was done, she would just dump a jar of the cheapest spaghetti sauce into it. Drain the grease? No way! The cooked ground beef was in a puddle of hot grease and she didn't drain any of it off, just slopped the sauce in there and then cooked the noodles and then dumped the whole skillet full of grease and sauce and meat into the larger pot of spaghetti noodles.

It was enough to make your stomach churn...I asked her another time what we were having for dinner and she said, "Spaghetti." I started feeling sick as soon as she said it. Off to the woods! Two squirrels shot, start a fire, cleaned them and then cooked them right over the fire.

Now, some people would probably call me an "ingrate" because of this...but I don't care. I mean, terrible cooking is terrible cooking. Are you supposed to be grateful for eating that kind of stuff? I mean, this woman was such a terrible cook, she almost fried bacon in lard. Lard was like a food group to her.

Yet...for that short period of time in my life, it was one of the best. Not because of anything she did or did not do, but because of things I was able to do.

The water at the house was so terrible, so sulphurous you could not drink it. When you ran a bath, it, too, made you sick to your stomach because it was like bathing in rotten eggs. So, I had to get used to that, which was no small feat. Being funky with body odor was almost a breath of fresh air compared to that. The water didn't just smell bad, it was really bad when heated by a hot water heater.

We had to go to a spring and fill water jugs for drinking, coffee and everything else that required potable water. Carrying a lot of water long distances is work, man.

Chopping up wood, splitting it, splitting some up fine for kindling, all work but all enjoyable. Going down on the "four-lane" and picking up chunks of coal on the side of the road, the fall-out from passing coal trucks, also enjoyable in its own way. Working to get your water, working to get your heat. All things that everyone should experience in their life.

Eating Rattlesnake that you killed, cooking it over an open fire - priceless!

Lying down in a ramshackle lean-to and watching the sun go down into the trees and then disappear as the mountain blocks it out and feeling the chill settle in on a warm Autumn day - priceless.

I was just outside a few minutes ago at 3:15 and the manmade mountains blocked the wandering sun out in the same way, the chill creeps in, but it's just not the same.

This is what I would like to have in what Ronald Reagan referred to as the sunset of his life.

"I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life, I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."

Only the most optimistic among us, and children, really believe that now. But it was beautiful back in the mid-1990s when he wrote it out. Very eloquent Man, no wonder they called him "The Great Communicator."

A joke that went sour once the media found out about it all bounced off of The Teflon President. On August 11, 1984 - "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes..." We were not on the brink of nuclear war but the Soviets were not too amused by the joke that was never supposed to be recorded. Or...did he intend to do just that? I've oftentimes wondered if he did.

Two years and two months later, almost to the day, Reagan walked out of the summit at Reykjavik, Iceland.

But I digress...

But, for now, I think back to not being able to get a metal five gallon paint bucket to use as a hobo stove like I had back home and I had to settle for a five pound Maxwell House Coffee can instead.

Warm...maybe I will write more tonight...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

From Stickfighter Joe. This is pretty funny and it would be a lot funnier if it were not true.

Friday, November 26, 2010


"Warning, this is all part of the Fed’s ongoing Ponzi scheme to bail Wall Street out of the destructive subprime decisions that sank the economy in 2008. Bernanke’s latest Ponzi scheme will soon backfire, this time bringing down the economy again, further reducing the retirement savings of America’s 95 million investors." Link.

The Duct Tape Wallet

Well, the U.S. Dollar has been devalued again. This duct tape wallet seems to be the perfect public housing unit for it.

Seriously though, this is a cool thing to learn to make. You can get ideas to make other things from it.

And, hey, it seems fitting that your devalued dollars should go into a wallet made out of duct tape instead of some high dollar Gucci wallet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Purse Game Net

So, when I was a teenager, The Brigade Quartermaster's Catalog, The Parallax Corporation and U.S. Cavalry were the big wish books, right?

In The Brigade Quartermaster's Catalog, on the same page with the Thompson Steel Snares and British Brass Wire Snares was something called a "Purse Game Net." (Also known as a "Ferreting Net.")

There was no description as to how this marvelous device was supposed to work but I always wanted a few of them and never got around to ordering any.

So, folks that hunt with ferrets use these purse nets and they stake them out in front of a rabbit hole. Actually, they use multiple nets on multiple (escape) holes. They run the ferret down a rabbit hole and the rabbit is flushed from hiding and runs into a staked out purse game net which is basically a net with a drawstring. The fellow hunting with the ferret then goes up and kills the rabbit.


I didn't know any of this as a teenager. I even had an old hunting book that was massive and even though it covered Falconry and Ferreting, it had nothing about using a net like this in the Ferreting section.

It's pretty easy to see how a half dozen of these Purse Game Nets could net you a lot of food, pardon the pun. They would weigh absolutely nothing and take up hardly any space at all.

I guess you could also spread them out on small game runs and then stake them so you get the same effect. Then you could scare up some dinner, literally, and then go up and take care of business once you caught one.

Here is a good page on how to set them up.

And, here is a page on how to make your own. Sitting around the house or even out in the woods, this would probably make me pull my hair out. For those of you who are incredibly patient, you might want to try that out.

I need to order a dozen of these purse game nets to go along with the rest of my food procurement equipment.

Don't Feed The Bears: What Really Happened To Timothy Treadwell...

I know that Werner Herzog plays fast and loose with facts but his film, "Grizzly Man" about the life and death of Timothy Treadwell is really worth a viewing for anyone interested in outdoor survival. If for no other reason, you should see what happens when you act stupid in the wilderness around bears.

Here is an excellent article for you to read, The Timothy Treadwell Incident: A Full Report and Examination.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I was going through my links list...

because over time, people lose interest in their websites or they don't have the money to continue them and they die off. The links then go to some unsavory place and I try to clean up the links I have by visiting them.

I checked Opa City this morning, which is a Urban Exploration website, and it is active. As I was going through some of the first page... Man! We used to have a lot of mental hospitals in this country!

I guess most of the people released by changes in laws about involuntary psychiatric committment now run the TSA.

More Resources...

The Doan Firestarter remains one of the best pieces of equipment the outdoorsman can have, period.

Another good resource is Four Seasons Survival, they have been in the business for a long time.

Possibly the best Survival Wire Saw you can get, Bestway also has coping and hacksaw blade versions of their saw.

I picked one of these up from Jeff Randall a couple years ago, you can get yourself The Original Dog Tag Knife from their website.

The Pocket Survival Kit in a tobacco tin, the best one, from Penrith Survival, accept no substitutes!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Rip-Off Mortgage: Walk Away

An interesting read can be found here.

There is a reason why I didn't take out an ARM in the mid-1990s even though I was offered that multiple times. I can't believe people sometimes. I can't believe the people involved on both sides of this fiasco.

It's an old article, but it's still timely.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

PBS Frontline: Secret History of The Credit Card

Well worth the read. You can find the article right here.

Cut your cards up unless you absolutely need one. Get out of debt now, it's not going to get any better.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vagabond Journey Dot Com

Here at the Survival Lab, we (Meaning, "me.") want you to be safe and happy! 8-)

Even if you are not a world traveler, you can get a lot of wisdom from those who do.

Here is yet another interesting site for you to peruse.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Excellent Thread...One Man's Tornado Shelter...

Also to be found over on AR-15.com. This is really a great thread! You can find it right here.

You wonder why flashlights are important?

This is a Copperhead (Latin name, stepponus, bite-your-footus) I could have stepped on had someone not smashed it with a vehicle. In the "dark" picture, it is illuminated with a Energizer Brand Penlight. A terrific buy at your local AutoZone for about $6.00 or $7.00! The inferior picture was taken with a Motorola Razor cellphone, for the record.

I went back and took another picture when the sun came up, opossums or racoons had their way with the carcass so there wasn't much to look at it after that but does show the stunningly beautiful coloration that a Copperhead has.

And, this is a pretty big Copperhead, too. The ones I have run into in the past have never been much more than 14 inches long.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leave Venomous Snakes Alone...

This is an incredible, eye-opening page. This young man did not "play" with a Rattlesnake, he was not messing around with it at all. It was just an unfortunate incident and sometimes, despite our best efforts, we can become involved in an unfortunate, life-altering event. Justin was lucky. Check out his website and make sure you click on the links to his pictures. You can find them here.

Rattlesnakes are quite tasty and they are a very real survival food source. You are advised, however, to have the means to kill them instantly and from a safe distance. A six-feet long hiking staff will put the instant death strike to the Rattlesnake, to be sure. A Ruger MkII .22LR handgun or 10/22 .22LR will do nicely as will a classic Smith & Wesson Kit Gun.

Here is a rather amusing page, I like the way this person thinks although I prefer my Rattlesnake roasted over an open campfire.

Reject The Rattlesnake Lobby who believe Rattlesnake proliferation is something to be desired. If you have them on your property, by all means, kill them. Side benefit is, they taste good. Be careful and have fun.

The USGI Survival Strobe...

ah...yes... The SDU-5/E Marker Distress Light. They have come out with a newer version that utilizes more commonly available AA-sized batteries, but this old boy is hard to beat.

(Comments on the picture - ancient USGI Survival Strobe Light with a couple accessories and one of the Vietnam-era pouches that lace up the back. Although it has two hollow rivets on the front to lace a lanyard through, I sewed a Fastex plastic D-ring onto it as well.)

You can find a page dedicated to this historic piece of gear by clicking on this link - right here.

Mine has a battery cover that has been custom made by a machinist so I can use two (2) CR123 Lithium batteries. The original battery was a Mercury battery and the rear of the battery was the "cover." The battery cover and battery were an integral unit. This little custom modification breathed new life into an old survival strobe light.

I had one when I was a teenager back in the 1980s but like many things, it slipped through my fingers. I had so much gear stolen, which is why I carry everything I can on my person when I am doing any outdoors activities like camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, etc., or...that I lost. Stolen through stupidity!

I lost my last "Firefly" in The Chesapeake Bay around 1989 or 1990, I don't remember which. I had it attached to a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and I was diving off the side of one of my brother's boats at the time with a Scuba Pro Mask, Snorkel and Fins, just screwing around and having fun in the water. I guess I didn't tie it off well enough. (More lesssons learned from loss...)

I had a friend back in the early 1990s and his mother was kind enough to let me swim in the in-ground swimming pool quite a bit and that strobe was always cool for such activities! Throw it in the pool and dive and retrieve it in the dark with the pool lights out. Fun-fun-fun!

I still had the green pouch with the lace up back and I used that on a Medium ALICE Pack for years on one of the shoulder straps to carry a Recta DP-2 and a waterproof instruction sheet for that compass that Recta used to produce but no longer does. Lost the sheet and traded the compass to Ken and then started feeling nostalgic about the compass and traded something back for it. 8-)

Still...have...the...POUCH! So, now I carry the survival strobe in it, the strobe and custom battery cover which makes it work with CR123 batteries was a gift from Ken as well.

This is a worthwhile piece of gear to have. Or, if you prefer to keep in the AA and AAA realm so you are not carrying so many different types of batteries, the newer version that uses AAs.

I think the newer version has a sliding lens for IR as well. I don't know, I don't own one! Perhaps I should purchase one of these next!

There are a couple other pieces of gear that I need to acquire in the near future, hopefully, from Tactical Tailor. I own a laptop sleeve from Tactical Tailor but I own no laptop! It's a good piece of gear, everyone that knows me knows that I am a Bag Whore. Tactical Tailor materials, designs and stitching is top notch. Terry Trahan over at Weaselcraft Blog gave me the Tactical Tailor Horizontal E & E Pouch for my birfday or Christmas some time ago and I then obtained the Vertical E & E Pouch. They do excellent work!

Anyway, Tactical Tailor also makes a nifty compass and strobe pouch designed to fit either a USGI Strobe or the USGI Lensatic Compass. I think I need one for each, actually.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ragnar's "G.H.B."

Over on ARF DOT COM, AR-15.com, that is, a fellow named Ragnar posted up his "GHB" which stands for, "Get Home Bag." You can read this epic thread that stands at 17 pages as of right now and you can read it here.

One of my all-time favorite threads on any internet forum, ever. Lots of food for thought, to say the least.

A Cornucopia of Survival Information...

can be found at Woodcraft Wanderings Dot Org. I had to add that website to my links list. An excellent resource.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ESEE-3 Attached to SpecOps T.H.E. Pack

Dude on Bladeforums wanted to see how a ESEE Cutlery MOLLE Attachment looks on a pack.

The sheath has a MOLLE backing attachment.

The pack is a bit sagging because I just unpacked it after the camping trip the other day and I'm in transition to morph it back into emergency gear for Wintertime for use in the car.

More Lessons Learned...

Other lessons learned on this simple camping trip include...

"Hefty" and "Ziplok" Brand sealable containers (not bags but the tupperware-like containers) are not to be trusted. They are a tempting purchase and okay for home use but for use in a cooler that might get tilted or otherwise jostled around being moved in and out of a vehicle, etc., not too good.

Raccoons like to lick the remnants of Starbuck's Instant Coffee from the bottom of a metal canteen cup at 3:30 A.M. The raccoon's tongue leaves a resounding "DING!" on a metal cup - SLUUUURP-DING!, yeah, just like that.

Petzl Headlamps are not just for spelunkers, miners and crazy gynecologists, they are absolutely invaluable for camping, hiking and general outdoors activities. I resisted them for years because they looked more than a little dorky and also looked uncomfortable. Now that we have advanced LED technology, you can get one of these excellent little headlamps for about $40.00 and they run on three "AAA" batteries for hours and hours. And hours and hours...

They are so comfortable that you will forget you have one of them on your forehead. Mine has a high and low setting as well as strobe and then has a red LED with two settings, on and strobe. Throw in a low battery indicator light and you have a great little package that once you use a few times, you will not want to be without.

SO! Here is to my Petzl Tikka Plus 2 LED Headlamp! One of the best pieces of gear I have ever purchased. More on flashlights to come...soon...I had all of them out there with me testing them out!

ESEE Cutlery once again comes through with my whittling desires and food preparation and a host of other duties. The Izula is just an outstanding little knife to hang around your neck when camping and, like the Petzl headlamp, once you carry one around, you will find it a comfortable and very, very valuable companion to have. The H.E.S.T. and ESEE-3 are also must-have items for people who like rugged cutlery that performs great.

I didn't clean three dozen squirrels and a cottontail with them, I didn't gut a squalus with it. Much more mundane stuff but I hope to put them to good use on some fish and small game in the future.

As I mentioned in the post below, the ground does get harder every year.

Thermarest pads are excellent.

The Eureka(!) USMC "Combat" Tent is the best tent I have ever owned, hands down.

Dinty Moore Beef Stew, cooked right in the can over an open fire and lifted out with pliers, is still one of the greatest things in the world and I actively encourage you to partake of some as soon as you can.

Peace and Tranquility

Man, who can beat the bliss of sitting next to a campfire on a chilly night, cooking and eating food cooked over it...sleeping outside. As Ken has reminded me, and it has held very true, the ground seems to get harder every year. At 42, the ground is pretty hard for me! But there is nothing like it really. I can still sleep well on a Thermarest Pad, so, I'm going to keep doing it for as long as I can.

I have a neighbor and we were talking about camping a little bit and he said, "Man, I had enough of that shit in the Marine Corps, practicing to be homeless..."

Another acquaintance remarked, "'Roughing it' to me is a hotel with no room service..."

My Dad hunted the week after Thanksgiving, camped in a tent, every year until he was about 50 years old. I think he finally bought a camper in 1975 and said he had enough of the tent in the late Autumn / early Winter.

I remember back to 1990 through about 1994, I had a pickup truck and I would just take off wherever I wanted to on my days off. A nasty USGI sleeping mat and a USGI mummy bag and a poncho liner, too, and I was off! I had a tent but sometimes I would just stretch a tarp across the bed of the pickup truck, rig it up so that if it rained I would not get wet then I would peel back half of it and sleep under the stars. A nice fire and a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew is generally all that is required for a young man to have a good time under those conditions.

I like surplus military gear, "USGI" (United States Government Issue for those that don't know...) gear is good gear, from the lowly and brilliant P-38 can opener to the mummy bags and mess kits...and that mess kit spoon which you could almost use as a shovel...there is a lot of good stuff to be had from The Quartermaster!

The USGI Poncho Liner of old, along with the even older military wool blankets, is still a favorite piece of gear. It is so lightweight. You can roll it up until it is nothing and it's a really great, warm piece of gear. My Eureka(!) USMC "Combat" Tent is the best tent I have ever owned but it would be a bit heavy to carry on some type of extended hiking trip. Although you could split it up between two or three people and everything is just fine.

Here are some more pictures of the last trip for you to look at. Hot fire, tent, scenery...peace and quiet. I need more of this. I think I am going to make The Halloween Camping Trip a Tradition now. SAMHAIN!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lessons Learned...

Lessons Learned from a simple two-night camping trip.

A regular sized whole chicken, clean any gizzard/heart/liver package or clump out of the center of it, rinse it out. Place that in a three layer bundle of the Reynold's Brand Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil that is marked for use on grills. It's not regular Reynold's Brand Foil. One-quarter to one-third stick of butter on it, spice it up as desired and wrap it up. Wrap the first layer, just folding the ends over the top, then repeat for the second layer and then the third.

Have a very hot fire for 2-3 hours so you have a good bed of coals. Then put more wood on one side of the fire to keep it going and place the aluminum package of wholesome goodness on the coals.

Don't be alarmed by all of the sizzling and think it is going to burn, it's not.

Using a pair of heavy duty work gloves, every 30 minutes, rotate the chicken a half turn so the tail takes the place of the head area, repeat until you are about at the halfway mark (2.5 hours overall) then flip the chicken upside down, the top will be on the bottom. Then 30 minutes later, rotate as before by picking it up and rotate so the tail area replaces the head area, or vice-versa.

When you flip it upside down, liquified chicken fats and the small amount of butter will seep through your three different folds and flames will gather at that area and burn hotter, you will see this plainly. Don't panic! Everything is as it should be.

Right at about the two and a half hour mark, you should be good to go! Pull it back from the flame area and off of what will now be the extremely hot ash bed that was once glowing coals and let it sit back there for about 20-30 minutes.

Put it some place safe and open it up!

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of position in the fire area, etc.

In one of the pictures, you will see a single chicken in foil pulled back out of the hot ash and coal bed and away from the fire while the other one is being pulled apart at a table. The pictures should show the positioning and type of fire, etc., clearly.