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It has been a while since I've posted anything new, but I've been busy with other things. With winter arriving I've been going through my gear and making the seasonal swaps and making sure all my winter gear is in tip top shape.

I've also been thinking about cheap fire starting and cooking tools. To that end here are some cheap ideas:

FIRE STARTERS

Dryer Lint
Lint from your dryer makes great tinder. Instead of throwing it in the trash put it in a zip lock bag, or 35 mm film canister, to keep it dry.

Char cloth from old jeans or T-shirts (100% cotton only, linen will work as well)
(1) Take a metal tin with lid, punch two small holes in the tin - one on the top and one onthe bottom.
(2) Burn off any paint on the tin.
(3) Get an old 100% cotton T-shirt or pair of jeans
(4) Cut the cloth into 2 inch squares
(5) Put the cloth neatly into the tin and close the tin tightly
(6) Put the tin on the embers of a fire
(7) When black smokes ceases to come out of the top hole wait for about 30 seconds and flip over
(8) Once black smoke cease to come out of the now top hole wait about 30 seconds
(9) Remove tin from fire and allow it to cool.
(10) Remove the char cloth from the tin and put in a sealed container

Char cloth should be black and not sooty. If it crumbles you heated it too long. If it is brown and not black you did not heat it long enough.

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly
(1) Get petroleum jelly and cotton balls from the dollar store
(2) Coat cotton balls in a light layer of petroleum jelly
(3) Work petroleum jelly into cotton ball
(4) Put the cotton ball in a sealed container (35 mm film canisters work great)

I keep mine in and old metal cigarette tin. It is packed in fairly tightly with wax poured over top and electrical tape wrapped around the tin seal.

Paper rolls, wood shavings and wax
(1) Save up old toilet paper and paper towel rolls
(2) Get a block of parafin (candle wax) or old candles, bag of wood shavings, roll of masking tape, small hobby saw
(3) Tape off one end of the paper roll
(4) Pack the toilet paper roll 1/2 way or the paper towel roll 1/4 way with wood shavings. do not pack too loose or too tight.
(5) Heat parafin or canlde, pour into paper roll to just cover wood shavings, you may have to pour it more than once as it cools.
(6) Repeat packing and pouring until roll is full.
(7) Mark off 1 inch, 1.5 inch or 2 inch on the paper roll.
(8) Use the hobby saw to cut along the marks you made.
(9) Put in a zip lock bag or sealed container.

Cat food or tuna cans, cardboard and wax
(1) Take an old cat food or tuna can and clean it out.
(2) Take some corrugated cardboard and cut into strips small enough to fit into the can (waffle side up).
(3) Put cardboard into the can in a spiral, fitting as much in as you can.
(4) Pour wax over the cardboard and fill to the top of the can, you may have to pour wax a couple of times.
(5) Put in zip lock bag or sealed container.

This can be used to heat food, heat a tent (use something underneath it), boil water, etc as well. You can make a Hobo Stove from a larger can to use with
these.


HOBO STOVES

Traditional Hobo Stove
See Mother Earth News for more details and picture
(1) Use a 2 or 3 pound coffee can, #10 (gallon) or unused 1 gallon paint can (must be metal).
(1a) If you use a paint can the lid can be used as a bottom for your stove.
(2) Remove bottom of can.
(3) Turn can over, put bottom of can inside. This creates a double top which heats the air between the two layers and leads to more even heat.
(4) Using a triangular can opener punch four holes in the can, this will allow smoke to vent and hold the bottom of the can up.
(5) Cut a 4 x 4 inch hole on the open end of the can.
(5a) If you use a paint can carefully cut the hole so that the bottom will still fit.
(6) Put two small holes above the opening you made, wrap the 4 x 4 inch piece of metal wire (metal coat hanger) around it (damper).

The stove will work without step 6.

Smaller Hobo Stove
Use a smaller 1 pound coffee can (or similar sized can).
Follow directions for Traditional Hobo Stove, adjusting the bottom hole as necessary.


If you make the Smaller Hobo Stove you can use a 1 gallon unused metal paint can to keep the stove it. Make sure you get a metal paint can opening key and attach it to the handle with a piece of parachute (or similar) cord. Put your Smaller Hobo Stove inside the paint can along with twigs and fire starting supplies, put the lid back on to seal it and you have a handy waterproof container for your stove, fuel and fire starting supplies in one place. The entire unit can be kept in your backpack or hung from the outside of your backpack.

You can use a 1 pound coffee can with a plastic lid, or a one quart unused metal paint can, much as you would a 1 gallon paint can, in this case you would make the Hobo Stove from a smaller can such as a 14 or 16 oz fruit type can.


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Here in the Denver Metro area we've had something unusual for at least the last few years. I've lived in Denver for seven years now, since December 1999, and have not seen much as far as winter weather goes. Some days have been cold, but for those who have grown up in the northern states or most of Canada it has been mild - a couple of polar fleece or a mid weight jacket has been all that has been required. As for snow with the exception of the storm a few years ago big snow falls have been rare and don't last for very long.

As I write this the Denver Metro area has had snow on the ground for 32 days. For the ten longest periods, with a record of 63 days, see Denver/Boulder NOAA Office. The entire region is having difficulty dealing with the snow still on the ground. From local governments that just can't seem to keep up with snow removal to the general public who are complaining about the snow and the cold, most are not enjoying themselves.

For someone who grew up with snow this is a nice change to something familiar. For someone who has the right clothing and gear this is a chance to use that clothing and gear that has been sitting in closets and cabinets for just such conditions.

It has also been a learning experience for the kids. The youngest has discovered the wonders of thermal wool socks and the concept of layering, she put on two medium weight (normal for these parts) winter coats because it was cold and she couldn't find the down parka. The oldest is grateful for me putting on weight since the accident meaning that the old Canadian army parka no longer zips up over the new spare tire. I replaced the Canadian army parka with one from Cabela's a year or two ago. It has lanquished in the closet waiting conditions which requiers it to be dug out. After looking at many down parkas from many manufacturers I decided on the Cabela's North Slope because it offered the best blend of performance and price. There are better down parkas out there but they tend to run around $500, the Cabela's has a regular price of just over $200 for sizes up to 5XL Regular and 3XL Tall. I chose a 4XL Regular since I like to have my parkas larger than they need to be. This allows me to layer clothing under the parka and still have lots of room to trap air and add insulation. I can put a 100 pound teenager inside the coat with me, it is that big.

We've got about another 10 inches of snow today, havoc on the streets, cursing from people, but I'm lovin' it. Then there is the news from Europe lots of snow storms and winds up to 120 mph. So much for global warming, it's an ice age, baby! Seriously though, if you want a good read on the posibility that we're heading into an ice age go to www.iceagenow.com and order the book "Not by Fire but by Ice". The author makes a decent case for an ice age, plus it is a fun read.

Today is a snow day for me - can't get out of the neighborhood. The temperature is 8.8 degrees F at 8:30am. A nice day to stay inside and wait for the call from the mechanic with an estimate as to how much the 78 Bronco is going to cost to get running. As far as I am concerned he can rip out the Holley Truck Avenger carb and put in a basic one from Napa. Having 4 wheel drive will mean being able to get out of the neighborhood when it snows like this.

Thats all from the frozen Mile High Desert for now.


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21/Dec/2006: Blizzard of 2006

Click the Read More link to see the pictures I've taken around my house... I'll get more pictures as I can.

They are officially calling this the "Blizzard of 2006" and are saying that it may very well be the 3rd worst snow storm in Denver's history. There was about 2 feet of snow dropped on the Denver area with drifts making it worse. As of noon Thursday there were still a few people trapped in their cars out there.

I start work at 6:15 AM and I went in yesterday. I left work at 9:15 AM. On the way home I stopped in at Wal-Mart and picked ups some canned stuff, 4 gallons of water, 2 gallons of milk and some cookies for the kids. I also picked up some movies that came out this week... if I'm going to get snowed in for a couple of days I figure I might as well watch a couple of movies.

At the worst we'll be snowed in until Friday, the roads may take longer to clear with the Denver Metro area having about 5 snow plows, but we'll be fine. Lots of candles, propane, charcoal and food as well as the fire place... plus lots of blankets and sleeping bags if we lose power.

Looks like it will be a white Christmas.

With the wind blowing the snow is up to 6 feet deep in some areas - about 5 feet on my deck.

Much of the Denver Metro area is closed. You can view the road conditions, closures and traffic cams from around the state at www.cotrip.org which has a number of DOT cameras you can view. The local Fox station has live updates on their website www.myfoxcolorado.com.

The governor declared a "disaster emergency" yesterday and called out the National Guard to help with starnded motorists.

The snow is still coming down, not much but enough to add more snow to the accumulation. I called in to work this morning on the "I ain't gonna be in today line" and said "It's the 'Blizzard of 2006', I have 5 feet of snow around my house and can't get in." I LOVE snow days.

The latest weather forcast from the knobs, I mean "meteorologists", at the NWS say it will be a low of 12 tonight, currently it's 29.2 on my front porch (high and out of the wind) with a light wind but "they" say gusts up to 20 mph. Tonight will have winds in the 6-10 mph range which gives a winchill of 4 to -6 depending on whether you use the new or the old windchill calculations. I call the "meteorologists" knobs for the simple reason that they are usually wrong, they either overestimate or underestimate most major storms or they're just plain dead wrong. I say this having grown up with one of the top 10 meteorologists in the world for a father... and even he couldn't predict the weather with any better accuracy.

Normally I wear a polar fleece or two to work, yesterday I wore my regular polar fleece and my Cabela's down parka to work. I met two of the guys at the elevator and one said (paraphrased so as not to swear) "Uh oh, we're fubared" when he saw me in the parka, and he's usually well spoken. As I was leaving work at 9:15 AM yesterday I said "Nanook of the north says it is time to get out of here." My gut/instinct said this was going to be a good snow storm, and I trust my gut/instinct, whenever I don't I end up wishing I had so I bugged out from work.


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I was sent an email today that got me to thinking about Yellowstone and the potential for the caldera to blow. I was sent an email today that got me to thinking about Yellowstone and the potential for the caldera to blow. I've read about Yellowstone on the web before, lots of hype and lots of facts. A lot remains unknown, which is part of what keeps Yellowstone near the top of the news. Since I live in Denver, Yellowstone is about 350-375 miles away. With a "kill radius" of between 300 and 600 miles that puts me in the danger zone if Yellowstone erupts.

I also watched the BBC/Discovery Channel docudrama "Supervolcano" which was shown in 2005 in the UK and the US. According to Jake Lowenstern, "scientist-in-charge" for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory the BBC and Discovery Channel people did a good job, see below for a quote from Lowenstern available from http://www.agiweb.org/geotimes/june05/feature_supervolcano.html (emphasis added):

"In the end, the BBC Science team did an impressive job of addressing the sorts of scientific issues we would grapple with during the start of an eruption. ... Although we strongly would have preferred portrayal of the effects of a small eruption, their intent was always to provide a worst-case scenario, and the final product did that very well."


Here's the text of the news article I was sent:

European Space Agency Weighs in on Yellowstone Future

Earlier today the ESA (European Space Agency) who facilitates SOHO, the satellite which monitors the Sun among several other joint NASAventures in space exploration, issued their analysis of recent activityat Yellowstone supervolcano.

Satellite images acquired by ESA's ERS-2 revealed the recently discovered changes in Yellowstone's caldera are the result of molten rock movement 15 kilometers below the Earth's surface, according to a recent study published in Nature scientific journal.

Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry, a sophisticated version of 'spot the difference', involves mathematically combining different radar images, acquired from as near as possible to the same point in space at different times, to create digital elevation models and reveal otherwise undetectable changes occurring between image acquisitions.

Wayne Thatcher of USGS states: "We know now how mobile and restless the Yellowstone caldera actually is. Ground-based measurements can be more efficiently deployed because of our work. The research could not have been done without satellite radar data."

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Many of us have regular day jobs and go into the city every day to get to work. For those who work in an office setting there is no way to bring a BOB. If you drive to work you can leave your BOB in the car. For those who take public transit to work a BOB is just not possible. As 9/11 showed there are a few items that every office worker should have. An emergency can happen at any time, and we should be close enough to gear to get out of the office and on your way to escaping the general area.

This sort of situation requires a small kit that we can keep with us all or most of the time. If we base our mini urban kit on the average office worker we can also apply that to any other work setting. The average office worker has a minimum amount of room to carry things with them, plus those items must fit into the general attire of the office worker.

Regardless of the specific threat, we are likely to face fire or dust, lighting being out, and debris. Since we're in a city we need a minimum of equipment, even a few blocks is enough to put most dangers far enough away that we can relax for a bit and worry about getting home from there.

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First of all let me say that I will never buy another Holley carb again.

Ok, so I wasn't the one that bought the carb in the first place, but since it was my girlfriend and the truck is now mine, in a way I did buy the carb. I'll buy Edelbrock and an adapter kit before I'll buy another Holley.

You may be wondering what the hell this has to do with survival. Well, the Holley 670 CFM Truck Avenger carb is on my BOV. So there is one link to survival. If the carb has a major design flaw, in my mind anyway, that can cause it to become inoperative with any level of backfire or something, then it is not a good bit of equipment to have on your BOV. That makes two links to survival.

After two years, yes TWO years, I was finally able to get someone at Holley to admit that being at between 5500 and 6000 feet above sea level, imagine that when you're in the "Mile High City" or as I like to call it the "Mile High Desert". The tech I spoke with also said it was most likely the power valve that was causing issues, and sent one off. When I told him that it was nice to get an answer after several phone calls and emails over 2 years he also sent out the jets so I can rejet the carbs for the altitude... no charge.

The thing that really pisses my off is that I suggested this when my girlfriend had her mechanic install the carb for her. It was kind of on the doggish side for a 400 cubic inch engine, but said mechanic came back with "but the box says properly jetted for most applications". Yeah, well when you read the damn instructions it says to rejet for altitude.

So right now the carb is sitting on my kitchen table, oh what fun that was to remove. Not hard or anything, but it did a number on my back and my shoulder is kind of sore. I also mounted an adjustable fuel regulator.

Let me go off on power valves on Holley carbs for a minute here. THEY SUCK! The damn things blow if you look at them wrong based on a search on the net. Some guy out there makes a doo-dad (nice technical term, eh?) to replace them for all time... but he never responded to emails or phone messages. Power valves cost about $8, so they're not that expensive, and they are near the front of the carb so they may not be that hard to replace... we'll see.

I had to take the carb off to do the secondary (rear) jets anyway, so we'll see just how difficult they are to replace when the carb is still on the engine.

I'll add more later, and I'll take a few pics while I'm at it. Got to head over to NAPA for a gasket and/or rebuild kit... I hate having to run out once something is torn apart.


UPDATE:

Went to NAPA and picked up some hose clamps and some gaskets. The gaskets are on order and will be in tomorrow morning. Along with the gaskets they had a power valve bypass, which eliminates the power valve entirely. For $5 I can eliminate any future problems with the power valve. Well worth the price. ANyone who just has to have a Holley 670 CFM Truck Avenger should go to their local NAPA and get the power valve bypass and install it before installing the Holley carb, the NAPA part number is 735-4425.


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Now available on the sidebar to the right are Survival Basics, they link to html pages on my Community Page. Below that are downloadable PDF files based on the Survival Basics pages.

Finally, I have combined the PDF files into an ebook and added some other information.

The Survival Basics series was written to answer some common questions people new to emergency preparedness and survival always ask. Instead of writing the same answer time after time I decided to create web pages that give my thoughts on those questions. They were written to be as neutral as possible. The Survival Basics series and the ebook are just the basics, enough to get someone started and to show them that they can do it.

Below is some information on on the ebook along with a picture of the cover or title page.


Canuck In Denver's
Emergency Preparedness
and Survival Basics Guide

Basic information to get you started on the road to
Emergency Preparedness and Survival - A beginner's guide.




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The title and subtitle of this blog article are rather inflammatory, aren't they? I'm sure you're sitting at your computer yelling "I AM NOT A SLAVE!" But I must ask you, are you so sure that you are not a slave? Read on and you will see that you, like most average people, are a slave... you just don't know it... yet.

Lets look at the definition of "slave" from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Function: noun
1 : a person held in servitude as the chattel of another
2 : one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence
3 : a device (as the printer of a computer) that is directly responsive to another
4 : DRUDGE, TOILER


Let's go back to an earlier time, one with an average family of 4, with an average father with an average job, and an average mother who was able to stay home with the two kids. This average family lived in an average house, in an average neighborhood in an average mid-western town. We're not really going to be dealing with a real family, but rather a TV family that was based on your average real family. We're dealing with the Cleavers here. Beaver, Wally, Ward and June were the average American family, their life style was based on your average American family - they were neither rich, nor were they poor.

Now back in the day, Ward got up every morning, ate and went to work. He came home at about the same time every day. Weekends were spent around the house fixing things and doing house and yard work. Sometimes Ward had to work late and sometimes he had to go on business trips, but he lead a pretty boring but comfortable life. With the income he brought in from his average paying job they were able to have a car, a house, pay the bills, eat and take the odd vacation. Wally and the Beav didn't have ratty clothes or have to worry about where the next meal was coming from. Sure it was idyllic and over simplified, but the Cleavers represented reality... they may have been a bit too perfect, but most average people at the time could relate to the overall averageness of the Cleaver's lifestyle.

Can you say the same thing for yourself today. Probably not. In most average families of four - mom, dad and two kids - both parents work. Let's leave out keeping up with the Jones' here, we're just talking about your average working family, the same ones the Cleavers represented from the 1950's. When was the last time you had a family vacation that didn't include just sitting around the house or heading to Grandma's for a week? Most likely you can't remember a time when the four of your went off for a family vacation. Even with both parents working you're probably having a tough time making ends meet.

These days your average job barely pays the average bills. They talk about the standard of living increasing since say the 50s, but what the (very average) Cleavers had on Ward's income is damn near impossible to do today. The Cleavers were an average family, Ward had an average job, and they lived in your average house in an average Mid-western neighborhood in "Mayfield", Ohio.

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You have a small vehicle and more people and gear than it can carry. What do you do? What options are there?

In an ideal world the average family (mom, dad, 2 kids plus the dog and the cat), should have a fullsize 4x4 pickup with extended or club cab or SUV with seating for 4, room for a dog and cat carrier and all the gear everyone will need. For many of us we have a small or midsize vehicle that doesn't have enough room for everyone and everything. In this case an older vehicle that runs well but needs work could be a goal for us to get, but this ins't always possible for a variety of reasons.

Because there are many people out there who simply can't get another vehicle or have to make due while we save up the money to get that next vehicle, I am going to go over some of the options out there to get everyone and everything to where we need to be when we have to leave our homes due to an emergency.

First I am going to go over the options available to get more cargo space in your vehicle. Then I am going to talk about different vehicles, from a small Chevy/Geo Metro to other more common midsize cars.

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15/Jan/2006: Police States - part 2

With the 21st century only 6 years and a few days old we are seeing a world transformed from that we knew even a short decade ago. Since September 11, 2001 we have heard about the threat of terrorism that faces us on a nightly basis. The news media have done their usual hype and fear routine on how each of us could be killed by an act of terrorism today or tomorrow or next week... we must be ever vigilant or it is going to kill us. Then there are the fears of disease and pandemic that I have commented on previously. Each week we are asked to give up another Right or Liberty in order to allow government to have more powers to protect us from terrorism. Each week we see the police being given more and more powers over us.

Terrorism is not new. If we think back to the 70's and the many airline hijackings, many conducted by the PLO and European terrorist entities we will see that the modern era seems to have less acts of terrorism than the 1970's. Somehow we made it through the 1970's without having to give up essential Rights and Liberties. The main difference today compared to the 1970's is the technological advances. 24 hour cable news channels can spend 20 minutes of every hour on some aspect of terrorism, thus raising the level of fear and panic. They can also spend 5 minutes of each hour on how we must give up another Right or Liberty, another 5 minutes is often spent on how good our government is and how it wants to protect us... if only we will give it more power.

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