Thursday, 29 October 2015

How To Buy Crappy Gear

What's a great way to make sure your equipment is rubbish?

Order from TV, that's how.

Yeah, I know I know. I really wasn't expecting too much from this thing. It certainly wasn't destined for my BOB or anything, but I expected at least a minimum amount of functionality. Boy was I wrong.

Here is the bucket of ass in question:

First up...

Why I Thought This Was a Good Idea

This was intended for quick and dirty sharpening of kitchen knives. Normally I use a pull-through sharpener for that, which works just fine.

You wouldn't use a pull-through sharpener to hone your tools or survival knives/machettes/axes ect -- they rip along the grain making a mess of it at the microscopic level, but for a kitchen knife this tends to be a benefit. The harsh ripping that occurs creates micro-serrations that work great for carving up meat, slicing tomatoes, chopping garlic etc. A knife with such an edge will often feel sharper than one with a perfectly polished edge.

The only problem with these tiny serrations is that they are weak and tear off or fold over in fairly short time, dulling the edge and requiring re-sharpening.

Now I could create a finely honed edge but there's scarcely any point due to how kitchen knives are treated in our household (and most others I suspect). My knives aren't $400 master chef Italian designed works of art. I bought them from Woolworths for something like $12 each. They are not precious. Nor are they treated as such. They get thrown in with all the other dishes clanging about with all the other steelware. They are used to chop things on often less than ideal surfaces (such as glass) and sometimes to open cat food tins. A beautiful edge would last half as long as it would take to create.

Quick-and-dirty sharpeners like a pull-through type restore a dulled edge to the nasty but effective edge they created in the first place. This is quick and only needs to be done about once a week but since both of our pull through sharpeners took a walk and our knives started getting dull, I spotted an ad on TV and thought yeah that looks reasonable, which brings me to my ....

Review of the "Swifty Sharp" Barely Motorized Destroyer of Knives

When this anal polyp of a product arrived I was pretty excited. Not because I expected it to be awesome or anything, I just like getting packages.

The first thing I tried to do after un-boxing was put in batteries. Notice that I said "tried".

Those are the batteries just hanging there. Chilling if you will. The battery compartment was actually too tight to hold the AA's it called for and I had to push them in there pretty tight to get the lid on. The batteries were jammed in so tight that the springs could not push them against the connectors, effectively leaving an open circuit.

In short, it would not even power up unless you pressed the On button, and pressed tightly on the battery cap on the bottom. Clearly not ideal.

Now, I had trouble trying to figure out how such an elementary error would occur so I spent 3 seconds on google to find out that the diameter of a AA battery is between 13.5 to 14.5 mm diameter. Then I measured my AA batteries which were indeed 14.5mm, then measured across the battery compartment which was precisely 29mm (ie 14.5 times 2).

It seems that our esteemed designer spent the same 3 seconds on google that I did, and plugged 29mm into their CAD program thinking they'd covered all contingencies, and called it a day.

Making It Work (Somewhat)

Clearly batteries weren't an option.

I disconnected the battery connector wires and powered it up directly with a 6V power supply (as 4 AA batteries would have provided). This wasn't enough. The motor was running too slow and stalled easily when I put the knife in the "precision" guide.

I ramped up the power supply to 9V. This worked a little better and I actually managed to run the knife through without stalling too much. This time I could feel steel being removed from the blade, along with the incessant shuddering. My wife yelled something at me about it being really loud but I couldn't hear her over the volume of this thing, so I persisted.

For the knife setting, there are 2 guides. One for each side of the blade. You can see the precise alignment of the stone here:

I guess that the idea here is that you run the blade through one of the guides, taking care not to jam it because the precise alignment is a little too precise and it tends to jam, and then you run the blade through the other guide, taking care not to expect it to touch the stone at all because it's too precisely aligned to the other side.

Here's what happened:

After a lot more screwing around than I've detailed here, it actually created somewhat of a decent edge. By decent I mean I managed to chop an onion with it. Sort of. If you look closely you can see where the stone bounced off the blade (that's the shuddering I mentioned before).

The stone is held on with a simple screw, which was loose out of the box. I tightened it before I produced the awesome edge that you can see above but it came loose again after, as you can see:


The website says this:

The guide holds the blade at the perfect angle while the professional grade high speed sapphire stone rotates to sharpen and hone the blade, restoring its razor sharp edge.

Now there are a lot of things wrong with that sentence (every second word) but I won't pick it apart becuase that's just mean. Instead I will show you what an actual sapphire stone looks like compared to whatever that is:

Good thing it came with 3 of them.

In Conclusion

I got burned with this thing. It is an absolute bucket of ass. I had low expectations to begin with, but I was absolutely appauled. This is the first, and only time ever that I will order something from TV. No matter how good it looks.

Most of the problems with this tool could have been solved by the engineers paying a little attention to detail, but the biggest problem is that the people that are pimping it cared less for the actual product and more for the production of selling it.

In Short

We have between now and the apocalypse to gather our gear, and the gear we gather will have to last a lifetime.

Choose wisely my friend,

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Having Several Bug Out Locations Is Cool. Here's Why...

        - By Dan Sullivan from Survival Sullivan

In case you don’t know what a bug out location (or BOL, for short) is, it’s a place you can run to, hide in or even live on for an undetermined amount of time in case of an emergency. War, chemical attacks, EMP, hurricanes, Martial Law, these can all force you to abandon your home and find shelter and safety somewhere else.

Though many preppers see themselves bugging in in case of an emergency, bug out scenarios are just as important and should never be disregarded. Many need to put more thought into what they’ll be doing when they’re out there on the run. The migrant crisis in Europe, the biggest mass bug out in recent history has taught us valuable lessons.

Now, most preppers have a bug out location somewhere 30 to 100 miles away. They purchased some land or maybe they inherited it from their parents and grandparents. Maybe they went ahead and build a cabin or even a house and started to store gear and supplies inside.

The only problem is, them safely getting there is not 100% guaranteed. The only certainty in emergency situations is uncertainty, that’s why we should always follow the old saying: two is one, one is none.

Here’s a crazy thought: how about having multiple bug out locations? As you’re about to see, you don’t have to pay dozens of thousands of dollars for each and then build a cabin. Not all bug out locations need to be permanent; the main requirement is that they offer you shelter until you’re ready to move to a more permanent place.

BOL Requirements

The bug out location basics are straightforward: you need a place that’s low key to protect you from the elements as well as uninvited guests. It has to:

  • be low key,
  • have good visibility so you have plenty of time to prepare in case someone or something is getting close,
  • have one or several ways out in case someone finds you and comes after you
  • ...and ideally be located in a mountain area, although that’s not a requirement for all BOLs, as you’re about to see.

Of course, a more permanent retreat is going to need a few “extras”, such as:

  • a water source (a river, a well, a rainwater harvesting system etc.),
  • the possibility to grow food,
  • offering a permanent shelter (that you’ve built in advance),
  • offer means of protecting it, yourself and your supplies (you might have to fight a group of people, not just one)
  • and to be fully stocked with supplies for at least a few months (a few years, maybe)

The List...

OK, now that we talked about the importance of having more than one location, let’s see some ideas of where to find them. I bet you haven’t thought about some of them and, even if you did, you probably didn’t see them as BOLs. Here we go!

A Friend’s House

Having a place within walking distance from your house could be a lifesaver. Maybe your building catches fire or there’s an explosion inside. Maybe you wake up with a burglar or a rapist and you need a place to run to and stay there for a few nights to calm down.

If you have a friend you can count on, that’d be great. In fact, in personal emergencies such as the ones mentioned above, any friend’s house can be seen a bug out location.

Your Workplace

If you have a job, I bet you have keys or an access card to get inside. If you’re not able to get home or evacuate, this could be a good temporary location. The big benefit is that if you have a desk or a locker, you can keep a small survival bag with some food, water, a water filter and a mini first aid kit.

Places You Used to Play as a Kid

Abandoned houses or warehouses, narrow spaces between apartment buildings, I bet you can remember playing in a lot of such places. As children, our natural curiosity drove us to find them while playing hide-and-seek. Can you remember what they were?

One other thing you can do as you run errands across town is to look for places that would make good bug out locations. You never know what part of town you’ll be forced to spend a few hours or even the night when it hits.

Caveat: it’s very likely that some of those places already have people inside. Remember you won’t be the only one looking for shelter so you must proceed with caution as you get near. If you think someone else might be in there, you might as well keep walking than risk getting into a face-to-face confrontation.

Places You Went Hiking or Camping

It’s not enough just to know about them and say:

Oh yeah, I guess I could hide there for a little while.

You have to inspect them to make sure they’re a good fit. The most important thing is to be able to make shelter or set up your tent. If you’re on the trail and you see such a place, remember others will see you if you camp there. You have to find a hidden spot that’s as low key as possible.

Buying More Land

Well, if you have the money, maybe you can use that land for more than just SHTF emergencies. It’s a lot better than buying a bunker or more of the things you already have too much of.

If you decide to start a business related to survival and preparedness such as raising bees or growing veggies, you might actually recover your initial investment (in time, that is).

If you’re gonna buy a second property or even a third, you need to make sure it’s in a strategic location. If the first piece of land (your main bug out location) is north of your town or city, you don’t want your second one to be in the same direction. Start looking in other places because you never know which bug out route you’re going to use to evacuate.

Your Relatives’ Land

It doesn’t matter whether they are preppers or not, you should probably mark it on your map just in case you have no better options. Remember these would be temporary locations.

Shared Bug-Out Locations

I didn’t want to end this list without mentioning this. What would you say to the idea of sharing a bug out location with other preppers?

I know many fear that, the more people know about their BOL, the riskier it gets but not in this particular case. Sure, people (preppers included) could do irrational things to keep themselves and their families alive but hear me out...

You already have one or more bug out locations that only you know about, right? So you already have options. A shared BOL is extra and whether or not you will use it is something to be decided when the time comes. (Who knows, maybe the others won’t show up so you’ll have the whole place to yourself.)

The big benefit of having them is that you:
  • split the cost of the land with everyone else,
  • can make a bigger better house or cabin (also by splitting the costs)
  • and get to share resources such as gear, weapons and food.

Now what?

There’re a few things you can do to make all of these locations a part of your survival plan...

  • You should mark all of them on your maps...
  • You need to find all the possible ways to get from your house to each of them and, after that, out of town (both on foot and by car). Even better, you can mark these routes on your maps as well.
  • If possible, you should hide some supplies there (maybe bury them underground).
  • Keep phone numbers of the people whose homes are on your map to be able to contact them in an emergency and see if you can stay there. Store them in places such as your bug out bag, your get home bag and your car.

Can you think of such locations that would fit the bill? Leave a comment below.

Doom Blog welcomes Dan Sullivan

Doom Survival Guide Blog is proud to welcome Dan Sullivan. Dan runs the excellent site Survival Sullivan and will be contributing articles to this blog from time to time.

Dan offers some of the best survival advice I've come across, presenting realistic and sensible strategies for dealing with almost anything. It's highly recommended that you check out his work.

His first article will be posted shortly.