An EARTH DAY thought…

Please remember to leave no trace…

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“FftzzzzZap!”

 

Everybody Hate’s ‘Em….

Everybody brags about their’s!

 

 

 

 

 

“Who you gonna call….?”

 

 

 

Mini zzzZZapper !

PETA certified [People for the Electrical Termination of Annoyances]

My own personal choice is the MINI ZAPPER Electric Bug Eliminator from Yankee Trader. Yeah… mine comes from down at the Fell-Off-A-Truck Stop, SoSorry. No link. But only $3.99 for the mini & $5.99 for a full sized one.

[Plenty of others out there to choose from…]

The “Mini” is 16 inches long, that’s about four inches shorter than the full-size unit. Both of them run on two AA batteries… Not Included of course. And both of them seem to deliver the same 3200 V of  ‘skeeter blasting, blue light flashing,  ZzzZap!!-ing power.

I had grabbed one of the grey, full-sized units last summer. It does do exactly what it’s advertised to, and when I saw the mini version that would be a little easier to stick into my camping tote, I snatched it up last week. Doesn’t hurt to have an extra unit to pass around the fire circle.

My original was a great hit each time I took it out group camping last summer. Our first hammock hang was in late May, and last year, both the mosquito and the blackfly populations were vicious. Everybody wanted to borrow it…

I do not actually have any particular problem with bugs biting me. They are attracted to certain blood types, and to certain pheromones [Chemical trace scents that are unique to individuals]. My own whiffy package seems to be on the less desirable end of their scale. I get swarmed by the blackflies swirling in my face and crawling under  my collar just as badly as anybody else, but I don’t get bitten or have any sort of allergic reaction.  And the high-pitched buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as a mosquito homes in on you as just as annoying to me as to others.

But, regardless of your own desirability to the bugs, these “zappers” are really great to have around the campfire during the worst of bug season. They are not only efficient but there’s a fairly high level of entertainment value as well.  There is just nothing like hearing the hummmm of a mosquito back behind your ear, pushing the button, swinging the racket alongside your head, and hearing the rewarding “fffzzzZAP!” as that particular little bugger bites the dust…. everyone else in the circle gets rewarded by seeing the sparkling flash blue light as the critter goes to meet its maker in a sizzling whiff of burned hair stink. With the blackflies especially, sometimes a single swing can take as many as five or eight to a crackling doom.

Now if we could just come up with something to take care of the ticks….

[small] Random Acts of Kindness

Almost anyone who has occasion to go through any sizable inner city these days has seen the indigent folks with the cardboard signs… “Will work for food”… “Homeless veteran with PTSD- anything would help”.

What the signs will never tell you, of course, is that they are also quite possibly an alcoholic or an addict. It just goes hand-in-hand with both ending up in a hopeless situation, and preventing you from being able to escape or change. I speak from experience. I have been clean and sober for something over a quarter of a century now. No brag, just fact. While I did not end up in a burned-out tenement, or sleeping in the weeds, I did end up indigent and homeless, sleeping in the front seat of a pickup truck.

My bottom took me far enough down that I always look at people begging at stop light intersections with a “junkie’s eye”. For me at least, your contribution wasn’t going to buy food …it was going to take care of my Jones. A bag or a bottle…  so I will not give money to street people. I will feed them.

Whenever I find myself with more dollar store consumables that I can consume… which is pretty much constantly… I make up packages of those exact same things that I would take out hiking.

I keep a few in the car. These I can then pass out to the indigent, and needy at a stoplight. Jerky, crackers, cookies, breakfast bars… there is a decent caloric weight in each bag that can keep somebody going for a day at a time.

 

I pray that none of us ever has to deal with homelessness or dereliction, but if it did happen, think what a little kindness, and a little bag of food might mean to you

 

Tomorrow I need to go “down Babylon”, so I just made up four new packs out of my extra stuff for those I might encounter who can’t leave it behind as easily as I will.

 

 

[Random Info Tidbit: one of the other things that the indigent and homeless can always use is a new pair of socks… they have them at the dollar store, too]

A Hot Tip For Cold Feet

There is a “hammock hang” planned for out in Western Massachusetts in a couple of weekends, and making sure that people come with proper footwear is a great concern for the responsible, and experienced, old-timers. Frostbitten tootsies equal hospital visits. And the E.R. is a less than optimal way to have your weekend turn out… the whining is also pretty annoying. You just can’t count on keeping your feet warm by holding them out toward a fire.

So, I just cherry-picked a great tip from my friends SkyPainter and Nighthauk over on HammockForums.

It is the simple genius of cutting a couple of pieces of Reflectix insulation to the shape of the liners for your pakboots like the Sorels, Kamiks, Bogs or LL Bean Ducks, and placing them underneath the felts. These will help reflect both the warmth back upward to your feet, and the cold back toward the ground… Thanks guys!

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1451102038.744847 [photo from Nighthauk]

You Get What You Pay For…

Another purchase from the strange Hong Kong jobbers 11-11 sale was these three small “neck knives”.

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They are badly executed copies of the fairly classic C.R.K.T/Doug Ritter Mk5. They sacrifice the Ritter’s Kydex sheath for one of a reasonably decent leather, and claim to be 420-C steel, but they really don’t measure up. On one of the units they had failed to even bother feeding the lanyard cord through the eye on the handle. It may not even be fair to call these Mil-Tec knives copies. They make no representation, other than visually, to be a Mk5. And there are certainly omissions. Notably in the lack of the jimping [those little slits for grip] on the spine and finger choil, and the missing blade holes for lashing to a pole.

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Side-by-side with my several year-old original/genuine knife, you can see some of the differences right off. The biggest being that the Mil-Tec ones are severely ground in a “sabre”cut [the blade thickness is reduced toward the edge by grinding the flat down before adding an even steeper angle to be finished for sharpness]. The Ritter is fully flat, tapering smoothly from the spine down to the edge-grind. The Chinese units are abysmally dull. The sabre-cut is not even taken down far enough to overcome the overall thickness of the knife blank. The edge cut ends up being far too steep to give a decent cutting edge without refinishing. You can see the difference in the blank thickness in the first photo below. The Ritter starts out with a thinner blank at the spine, and the finished knife is also longer and much more evenly tapered than the Mil-Tec version. Then, in the second shot, you a can see that the sabre-cut portion of the Chinese blades even retains the rotational curves of the grinding machine. Where on the Ritter you can barely make out the edge-grind at all, on the Chinese version it is quite obvious.

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HOWEVER… [you were expecting a however, weren’t you?]   It is exactly that extra blade thickness that will give these knives their redeeming point.

I have never seen the point to wearing a “neck-knife” that dangles with the handle pointing down… they seem to invite loss in a messy situation. My intention instead is to include these clones in Altoid can sized emergency kits. If you have read the posts previously on here about survival/emergency kits you will understand that I always include a mini-multitool of the Leatherman Micra/Gerber Dime variety in the ones I make up for myself or for friends. These minis already have a good blade for cutting, along with the other tools. I want the “Mk5’s” for their usefulness in batoning [splitting] small-wood for fires. Their edges can easily be sharpened up to that point, and that extreme blade thickness makes them sturdy enough to stand up to the pounding. I was looking for a tool… not any refinement.

I think that getting a fire together can be the single most important part of an emergency situation. Getting some wood larger than twigs is vital to an efficient fire. The wood inside is almost always drier that that outside… hence quicker to get burning. Those little multitools are great. You can easily run up a feather-stick to catch fire, but I like the idea of something small but sturdy to get some bulk on there as well.

The final “however” here is that the sale price of all three Chinese knives was less than a SuperMochaFrappucinnoHalfCafHalfDecaf at your local coffee house… $5.64US. At that price they are just fine. You get what you pay for.

Yard Fire…

IMG_0749 I am really happy with the whole kit I have put together over the last year for fire-making, so, tonight I put aside the ax and hatchet that usually get used out at the firepit in the yard and pulled out the pack stuff to have a go at a “backwoods” sized campfire.

You have seen the Kershaw “Camp Knife” [10″] and the Buck #692 in posts last year >>hit up the tags-list on the right for “Knives”>>>.

I recently picked up a Bahco “Laplander” saw [buy on Amazon] for chunking out lengths for splitting… works a charm. A 2-3″ limb cuts in less than 20 seconds with little effort.

The orange pieces are Chi-clones of an “ExoTac” nanoSTRIKER and their match-safe… and I love the burnt orange anodization for finding them in dim light. At under $10 the pair, instead of the ExoTac site prices of $27 and $24, I think I scored OK on the 90/50 criterion I try to go by [90% utility for 50% >or less< of the price is a GREAT deal]

Playing With Fire… Store-bought Stuff

In my first “Playing With Fire” post I covered char cloth, the perfect material to catch a spark. Tinder comes next.

One of the simplest, handiest items you can add to your fire kit is a plain old pencil sharpener.

For me, it was a simple matter of rooting through a few of the junk drawers around the house. I knew I had a couple of the large, cylindrical ones for sharpening carpenters pencils down cellar in my toolboxes. I also found two or three plastic ones left over from my daughter’s childhood, and several that had apparently come free with my wife’s eyeliners and lip pencils that were up in the bathroom drawer. I found also two “high quality” ones left over from way back in architecture school. One in beechwood, and one in aluminum. I suspect I will find homes for a number of them in my emergency kits, but the one shown below is the aluminum one for my drafting set. I like it because it has the secondary advantage of two sizes of openings.

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Making a fire is a very simple, incremental matter of coaxing your heat source from a glowing ember to an ever larger flame. The secret to this process is in staggering your tinder in a similarly incremental way. The fine shavings achieved from a pencil sharpener are an ideal early-stage. From them you can easily move on to wood peelings, then to ever larger splinters, and finally to twigs and smallwood until the flame can reach a point where it is strong enough to ignite your actual kindling pieces.

Also in the above photo- in any real emergency situation the absolute priority is in starting the fire.  I am not such a “gram-weenie” that I begrudge carrying a tiny bit of extra weight if it will facilitate that same quick and efficient fire building. So, another thing that it is in all my emergency kits and my little firebox are “magic” candles. We all know these from birthday parties… they don’t blow out. This is very handy out in the woods, out in the breeze. Additionally, as they melt, the wax will coat your other tinder and smallwood, and further encourage the flame. One or two of these magic candles tucked in your kit alongside your waterproof storm matches take up almost no room, but give you just one more certainty of achieving fire.