Canning coup, MRE’s, catalogs

An interesting day for the Zero. Was driving through the parking lot at Albertsons and noted they had a bunch of tables with merchandise set out in the parking lot. No big deal, I think. Just the usual selloff of stuff that’s discontinued, old stock, etc, etc. Mostly things like hair coloring, no-name crayons, plastic hairbrushes, etc. And I was correct…it was, indeed, mostly that sort of stuff…with one zero-rific exception….

They had ‘kits’ of canning supplies. Each kit contained several jars, lids, bands, jar lifter, food funnel, scraper and ingredient mix for whatever the kit was themed. For example they had kits for salsa, apple pie filling/applesauce, jelly, marinara sauce, vinagrettes and a few others. Normal cost? I dunno..the gal said usually twenty bucks. On sale – $4.00 per kit. That’s a decent enough deal since just a jar lifter itself is about that. I always feel the need to see if I can save a few more bucks though and asked the chick running the show if she’d take half price if I took all of the canning kits. She declined but after a little while said she’d come down to $3 ea. That’s 25% savings off of the already low price. Works for me. Picked up thirteen kits which translates to about 52 jars, lids, bands, 13 scrapers, 13 funnels and 13 jar lifters and 13 assorted flavoring packages for a mere $39. (EDIT: oops…make that 14, not 13…grabbed an extra one by mistake.Honest.)
Check it out:
Cut for your pleasure

Multitool, gas price nostalgia, Nalgene love

I continue to be pleased with the Leatherman Wave multitool that I got for my birthday. It does nothing supremely well, but it does everything well enough. No multitool is going to be perfect, since therell always be a need or function that is either unaddressed or not handled perfectly by the tool inquestion, but 9 times out of ten it’ll do the job well enough for the immediate need at hand. In fact, I like tis little thing so much that Im going to have to pick up a couple spares. It certainly beats the snot out ofp rety much any Swiss Army knife. McGyver coulda used one of these (and a set of balls).
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I was re-reading some of my older entries from about two years ago and recall bitching that gasoline was $1.86 per gallon. Good times.
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Im still deeply in love with the Nalgene water bottles. I’ve been tryng like hell to break one with various impacts and it just aint gonna happen. Im sure some folks will chime in and say ‘I can get an empty one-liter pop bottle for free that will do the same thing!’. True. Tell you what, you fill up that pop bottle and:
1) hurl it as high and as far as you can across a parking lot so it impacts on the ground and skids thirty feet
2) drop it from shoulder height, repeatedly, onto various uneven surfaces, including sharp rocks
3) Freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, repeatedly
4) Clean with simple soap and water and remove all traces of previous flavorings
5) Find an aftermarket water filter that screws directly to the top of your pop bottle to make filling from a filter at streamside a breeze

Now, an empty designed-as-disposable pop bottle that does none of that for free, or something that will do all that and last pretty much the rest of my life for, oh, eight bucks.
Im all about saving money but not at the expense of utilitarianism, ergonomics and durability.

Discount meat, politics, Bactine wipes, Battle Bag

Not a bad shopping day yesterday. Hit the bargain meat bin and found 1# bricks, vacuum sealed, of 85/15 (85% lean) Angus ground beef marked down to $1.99. Sealed up nice and tight and in a very convenient brick shape that makes stacking the frozen flesh quite easy. It gets the date written on the package and then its off to the deep freeze. Mmmmm…beefy goodness.

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I do believe I’m ready to give up on the prospect that government will become nicer and less intrusive. The Patriot Act reauthorization is bad enough, but theres a host of other legislation going on that just makes a bad situation worse. Technically, politics isn’t that important to my preparedness except when it conflicts with my ability to get gear… but the more federal police powers that are thrown about the more likely it is that guys like me are going to get under the microscope for ‘suspicious’ behavior. Low profile seems the only recourse.

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Im a bit annoyed with the Bactine antiseptic wipes that I purchased last year. These things are packaged like a little hand-wiping towlette you get with an order of ribs. Little foil pouch (like a condom) and inside is a wet towelette saturated with Bactine. Figured it would be perfect for my first aid kits. Apparently, after time, the packaging degrades to the point that the Bactine starts seeping through the foil paper. Grrrr… so I either have to replace it every year or find something else to use as an antiseptic wipe. Very annoying. Plus, Ive always liked that Bactine smell.

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Blackhawk has a new product out that might solve my quest for a bag for my .308 gear. Its their “Battle Bag”. Lets get this out of the way and call it what it is: it’s a man purse. It’s a shoulderbag with pockets for magazines , radios, etc, etc. Might be just what I need to keep all my .308 gear in one place. No mention of it having webbing but otherwise it seems like an interesting product. Sugg. Ret. Is $100 but who pays retail in this world? Usual colors, but I think I’ll go with the goes-with-everything OD.

layout, case for the cheap .38, customer cards, BP

Changed the layout a bit but, more importantly, added tags for those who keep track of such things.
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Know what one of the staples of the various ‘survival’ and gun magazines is? Usually its some sort of ‘versus’ article…things like ‘9mm vs. .45acp’ (very popular), ‘autmatics vs. revolvers’, etc, etc. Another staple that you’ll see thrown onto the pages every year or so is the ‘selecting a [handgun/rifle/shotgun] for self defense’.  Nothing wrong with these articles, while theyre usually informative theyre far from conclusive. My take on it? Theres alot of truth to the old axiom about how ‘any gun is better than no gun’ and that the ‘first rule of gunfighting is have a gun’. Remember the saying ‘in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’? Well, in the land of the machete-wielders the man with a HiPoint carbine is king. The point here is that if you have any gun youre several orders of magnitude better off than those who don’t have one. Don’t think so? Theres dozens, if not hundreds, of people in whats left of Louisiana who would disagree.

Of course, its not as simple as just buying a gun, a box of ammo, sticking them in the closet and calling it done. Honestly, thats what alot of people who arent ‘into’ guns do. They buy a gun, fire maybe a box or two of ammo, and then lose interest, put the gun on the top shelf of their closet and say ‘I’m ready’. Hey, its a busy world…we dont all have time to go shooting two or ten times a month. Its a fact that alot of people who buy guns for ‘protection’ arent ‘gun nuts’ and arent interested in a lifestyle, they just want some peace of mind. I can respect that.

So ,you’ve seen the footage of people huddled in their homes, fearful of looters from New Orleans and decided that you want a gun but you dont think you’ll shoot it very much. You want something simple, reliable and of reasonable quality. It should have the ability to dissuade attackers but not be intimidating in recoil. And you dont want to spend alot for something thats going to sit in a closet for most of its life.

Cheap, reliable, effective – select two.

Youre generally not going to get a gun that fits the above criteria for less than $100. Sure, you might luck into someone who wants to unload his .357 in a hurry because he forgot his wife’s birthday and needs to get flowers but those episodes are few and far between. Once youre willing to shell out about $150-$200 youre in the ballpark. Between $200-$300 the offerings become more numerous. In the $300-$400 range theres even more to be had and once you pass the willingness to spend over $500 you can pretty much have anything.

Whats my suggestion? For someone who isnt likely to practice much, just wants something to ‘keep around the house’, and is reluctant to part with much money I’d have to recommend a .38 or .357 revolver. Used police trade-in guns are usually around $160-$200 and are dependable performers. What about those cheap Makarovs, Cz-52s, and Stars? Theyre probably more complicated than the incidental gun owner is willing to put up with. Explaining slide releases, mag releases, chambering a round, safety on, safety off, clearing malfunctions, limp wristing and the like is pretty intimidating for a novice. Handing them the familiar looking S&W and saying ‘point and shoot’ is far less likely to overwhelm the novice.

For less than $200 you can usually find a used .38 (preferably S&W, Ruger, Taurus or Colt…anything else is dropping down the quality/dependability scale).and a box of ammo. So you have a pistol and fifty rounds of ammo. That can be your ‘gateway drug’ gun….take it to the range, preferably with a friend who knows a bit about shooting to show you the ropes, and shoot a bit. If you enjoy it you can always get another gun later, a different caliber, or just something different for fun. Keep your ‘learner’ gun and use it for showing friends how to shoot, as an extra for the spouse, or just as something to enjoy on the weekends. If you discover you dont enjoy shooting you can keep the one gun and know that you have it and can use it if necessary and youre only out $200.

Why not a single-barrel shotgun for $99 at WalMart? Well, any gun beats no gun and if its a choice between no gun or a single-shot shotgun, well, pass the shells.  Even shortened (whcih makes recoil a bit excessive) a shotgun is still pretty big for use around an apartment or house. Great stopping power, no doubt there…..but a one-hand, multiple-shot firearm that can be carried easily and used one-handed seems a better choice.

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Today is the last day on the 10/$10 deal on canned goods at Albertson’s. But here’s the fun part, if you have their ‘savings card’ you get another 50% off…so “10 for $10” becomes “20 for $10”. Needless to say, I’ll be doing more re-arranging in the kitchen cabinets.

The store ‘preferred customer’ cards seem like a good thing. I know alot of people feel that there are privacy issues involved but I dont see it. I found my card on the ground of the parking lot outside the store….so I use it. But the application process that Ive seen doesnt ask for ID or anything even close. Fill in “Sven Gomez” at “4321 Galts Gulch” and a phone number to some pizza joint and -presto- you get your card. Now, there probably is a running tally of what youve purchased kept somewhere but so what? Without a name they cant really trace it to you, right? I suppose if they really, really wanted they could flag things so that when you went through the checkout the clerk would be alerted as he swiped your card and he could then wave to the nice police officer whose been standing around patiently all day waiting for the card to turn up but that seems pretty unlikely, dontcha think? If you really wanna take it a step further, get a dozen cards and rotate them. At my local Albertsons you can give your phone number and they’ll use that if you forgot your card. Pretty easy to remember the phone number of the person in line ahead of you and use it at a later date.

I dont feel that, in this case anyway, my privacy is threatened and it gets me twice as much food at the same price.
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Stethoscope and sphg..sphygo..spyh….blood pressure cuff arrived in the mail today. Next addition to the skillset: taking blood pressure. Should be quite the trick since I’ll be practicing on the bunkerbabe who has skinny arms and necrotishly low blood pressure. If I can get an accurate reading off of her, I should be able to get one off of anyone. (Anyone with a pulse, anyway.)