Review of O2 Cool Portable Fan

I know it’s the wrong time of year to talk about portable fans but I recently purchased this for upcoming spring and summer camping and, of course, couldn’t help but fiddle with it. That said, it’s also useful for emergency power outages which is another big reason why I bought it.

Upon initial un-boxing, I was pleased. It’s looked fairly solid, though made of plastic, and was relatively lightweight (without the batteries). Speaking of which, it can be run on both a provided AC power cord or eight (8) D-cell batteries… yup, I said eight batteries, which is something to keep in mind before buying. Since I knew that going in I didn’t care but I do need to stockpile more D-cell batteries.

As my interest was for use without AC power, I immediately opened up the battery compartment and proceeded to insert batteries; there was no need to read the directions… it’s all self-explanatory. I should say that the innards of the fan battery compartment were a bit flimsy for my liking, including the battery compartment cover/latching system. In fact, the fan did NOT work the first time I used it using batteries only and I thought… yikes! Does it even work at all?

I quickly tried it with the AC cord and the fan worked just fine. So, I fiddled with the batteries (swapped a few) and found it to work properly, but I was a bit disheartened as I don’t want my sole portable/emergency fan to be that finicky. Just be sure everything was ok, I let the fan run on low for about a half hour with the batteries and never had any additional trouble. I then removed the batteries and let it run using the AC cord for about a half hour again without any complaints.

I then wanted to see how much airflow it produced so I subjectively compared it my standard Honeywell AC fan and found that, in general, this fan produced about as much airflow on the high setting (it has both a low and high setting) as my Honeywell fan did on the low setting (it has three settings). You might think that to be a bad thing but I’m not complaining since the Honeywell fan puts out quite a bit of airflow even on low. That said, it would be nice if this O2 fan put out a bit more airflow but then we would be sacrificing battery juice.

The fan does have an ability to tilt–the battery compartment folds down–if you like but seems to stand just fine on a table without doing so. I can see how folding down the base would help to stabilize the fan if outside in the grass but haven’t tried that feature.

There really isn’t much else to talk about. Overall, I would suggest it’s a descent fan for camping or emergencies. There are some concerns, such as the seemingly flimsy battery compartment and the fact that it uses eight D-cell batteries. I should also mention that this is the newer model 1054. There are older models that are less expensive but also supposedly less durable, efficient, etc.

Notes About RTS This Week

  1. This morning I started working on stream-lining the front page. In particular, I removed the “real time hazard monitoring” thumbnails that showed at the top of every page. I did so because I sometimes found that the thumbnails didn’t load correctly and they’re hard to see anyway. Plus it’s just more “stuff” trying to load that isn’t critical. You can still view the hazard monitoring page and related images using the appropriate links.
  2. I’ve also decided to show excerpts of posts rather than full posts on the homepage, again in order to cut down on load time. This really doesn’t affect anything except longer posts where you would need to click on the post title or click “continue reading….” to, well, keep reading. The Daily YouTube and Quick References should generally not be affected.
  3. I was recently made aware that SurvivalTop50 has updated their rankings. I’m not sure if I’m going to keep up with them and constantly update my own Survival To 50 page to reflect their changes. We’ll see.

Any feedback on the recent changes to the Quick Reference posts? Instead of posting one link at a time I’m trying to add more interesting/useful content. I’m not sure if this is more work for me or not but if you like it I’ll keep doing so.

Introduction to Small Game Hunting and Trapping by Editor-at-Large, Jerry Ward

We’ve all heard the “rule”- the human body can survive for roughly thirty days without food.  Our individual metabolism and body fat percentages can cause a shift of a few days in either direction, but at some point a caloric deficit will lead to the shutting down of organ systems and death.  Given that fact, it is easy to see why having the skills to procure food in a long term wilderness survival situation or post-event world is critical.  You must have a working knowledge of the edible plants in your area and be able to identify them without hesitation.  Wild edible plants are not enough though; you must also possess the skills needed to harvest the wild game species native to your environment.  There is a reason that primitive peoples were not vegetarian; wild vegetation alone cannot provide the needed sustenance to survive the hardships and physical labor of a life in the field.  For the most part, plants are low in calories.  They excel at supplying trace minerals and vitamins, but lack the cellular structure to provide you the energy-rich food you need in a survival situation.  That energy comes from animal products in the form of protein and fat.

A common survival myth is that you can just head to the nearest patch of forest and live off the large ungulates (deer, moose, elk, caribou, bison) that abide there.  These types of critters can have a huge range and are not a reliable food source to stake your life on. Plus, the caloric expenditure needed to actively hunt them could outweigh the gain and put you in a worse off position than you were to begin with.  You should look to large game as a bonus rather than the rule when in the field.  The go-to wild meat source is small game; squirrel, rabbit, chipmunk, dove, waterfowl, packrat, songbirds, beaver, mice, raccoon, etc.  Essentially any living animal that crawls, flies, or swims is fair game. The population density of small critters is much higher than that of the mega fauna on any given tract of land.  These animals are where you should spend your time and effort.  A survival situation is no time for food prejudices.  Although you cringe at the idea of eating something like a coyote now, I can assure you that when facing starvation that slab of meat is going to be top-shelf cuisine to your pallet.  The photo below shows a nice boar raccoon roasting over an open fire.  He was caught on our Hunting and Trapping Camp course held in Southeastern Utah this past October.  What a treat!

small-game-1

Before you can be successful at harvesting wild game, you have to do some pre-work.  The first thing you need to know is what kind of animals are in your area.  Then you need to learn their habits, habitats, breeding cycles, and choices of food.  What do the tracks look like, how do they react to various weather patterns, are they a prey species for another animal?  Generally speaking, small game animals are active in the early morning and early evening.  They are wary of being spotted by predators and cling to areas of dense vegetation and cover.  They travel along the edges of open ground using fencerows and waterways as a corridor.  They are predictable and habitual; just like us.  They tend to travel the same trails and will usually choose the path of least resistance.  All of these traits can be exploited to put meat in your cook pot.  Let’s examine some of the techniques used to hunt and trap these critters.

Hunting is an active food gathering method; it requires participation from start to finish.  When you are hunting, you are usually committed and have little time to work on other camp projects.  You may have to travel several miles and spend multiple hours each day looking for a meal.  This is not going to be like an autumn deer hunt when things are OK and the weekend comes to an end too soon.  You are going to be stressed and the consequences of failure could be dire.  For hunting game, the firearm is the most effective tool to use.  There are a couple I recommend above all others.   The first is a rifle in the popular rimfire .22 long rifle caliber.  I prefer a Marlin bolt action, tubular magazine fed model.  My personal rifle is made from stainless steel, has a weather-resistant laminated wood stock, is fitted with 3x9x40mm scope, and has taken everything from jackrabbit in Utah to otter in Alaska.  The .22LR is an extremely popular cartridge and can found in nearly every small town hardware store.  Ammunition styles range from low velocity round-nosed lead target loads to hyper-velocity polymer tipped hunting rounds.  I also recommend carrying a revolver in .22LR; my choice being the Ruger Single Six.  The second firearm I recommend for survival hunting is the 12 gauge shotgun.  My preferences are the time-tested pump action Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 models.  Just like the .22LR, the 12 gauge is extremely versatile and loads are available to deal with everything from quail to Alaskan Brown Bear.  Whatever gun you choose, make sure it is of high quality and won’t let you down in the moment of truth!

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Once you’ve mastered the weapon, it’s time to take to the field.  Go slowly; a step at a time.  Allow yourself to and relax.  Avoid fast, sudden movements.  Walk fluidly stepping over obstacles.  Pause often and listen for a few moments before moving on.  Look for tracks along old muddy roads and creek banks.  Look at the base of nut trees for the tell-tale signs of squirrels by their chewed nutshell litter.  Stay just inside the treeline looking out into the grassy field for the ears of a feeding rabbit.  Listen for the whistling wings of dove or waterfowl.  Scan the entire landscape; from treetop to forest floor.  Patience and persistence pays off.  Eventually you’ll be rewarded with a meal!

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Trapping is a passive food procurement method; meaning that once the traps are set, you are no longer required to be onsite.  You are now free to go about the other multitude of chores needing attention around camp.  Trapping is also a numbers game; the more sets you make, the greater your odds.  By applying the same principles needed to be successful at hunting, trapping can be a force multiplier in the quest for food.  There are a few commercially available traps on the market that are worth their weight in gold; the #110 Conibear, cable snare, and wooden rat trap.  The Conibear trap is designed to collapse and kill the animal with an amazing amount of pressure.  The three most common sizes are the #110, #220, and #330; with the numbers corresponding to the pounds per square inch of pressure exerted when the trap fires.  The #110, with an opening of 4 ½ inches, is the best size for survival food gathering applications.  They are lightweight, can be set in a multitude of ways, and are affordable.  Some of the critters these excel at catching are rabbit, squirrel, muskrat, prairie dog, waterfowl, and turkey.  The #110 is my go-to trap in Alaska for pine marten, mink, and weasel.  I often set a trapline of nearly two hundred and can count on 30-40 animals per check.  Snaring is another effective way to catch game.  The cable snare is made from braided steel cable with a locking mechanism that helps ensure a clean, humane kill.  These snares come in various lengths and gauges.  They are very effective for medium-sized critters like beaver and raccoon.  Like the Conibear, snares can be set on land and in water.  The last trap worth mention is the wooden rat trap.  Nothing more than an oversized mouse trap, these can be used effectively to catch packrat, chipmunk, weasel, quail, songbirds, squirrel, and the like.  Low-cost, low-tech, and easy to transport are qualities that all three of these devices have in common.  By incorporating simple food-based baits with these traps, you can be sure to have food and fur at camp each night.

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Learning how to hunt and trap is a critical skill-set that anyone looking to live a more prepared lifestyle should make a priority.  There is no way I can even begin to touch on all the details on being successful in this short article.  It takes countless hours in the field and lots of mistakes to be truly proficient.  Don’t wait until the stakes are high to learn!  My suggestion is to find someone in your area who would not mind you tagging along one morning on the trapline or in the dove field.  Having a mentor take you under his/her wing is invaluable and worth more than any words on a page can ever be.  That being said, I hope this article has been helpful and provided you a little information on the equipment and techniques needed to harvest small game.  Until next time, God Bless!  Jerry

Jerry Ward Bio

Jerry Ward is the owner and operator of Ozark Mountain Preparedness, LLC located in Berryville, Arkansas. He has been teaching survival skills since 2004 and opened Ozark Mountain Preparedness in 2010. Before becoming a full-time survival skills instructor he worked as a rock climbing guide, wildland firefighter and gunsmith. Jerry studied wildlife biology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is an avid fur trapper and student of history. His outdoor pursuits have taken him all around the United States and abroad, including fur trapping in Alaska, fighting wildfire in the American West, researching primitive cultures in the Desert Southwest, trekking the rainforests of Belize, and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. He has been featured in numerous publications, including Currents and American Survival Guide magazines. Jerry is a member of The Wilderness Medical Society and The Society of Primitive Technology. He can be reached via the web at http://ozarkmountainpreparedness.com or phone at (870)350-6995.

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Egg Storage Experiment – Week 9 Results

I can hardly believe I’m halfway through this experiment already! As you might remember from last week I choose to discard the control eggs since they were not going to be used or tested, so all I have left to show are the mineral oil eggs. There isn’t much to update this week as everything was just like every other week but, if you’re still enthralled what what the eggs look like, here’s the mineral oil egg (it didn’t float, smelled fine, tasted, fine, and didn’t kill me off yet):

egg1-wk9

…and here it is cooking (the yolk looks just fine as well):

egg1b-wk9

Thus far I’ve had no success getting others to eat the egg so I’m still the guinea pig. That said, I have found myself more likely to cook the egg longer and longer to ensure it’s done… I’d imagine I’ll have very crispy eggs when the experiment concludes. 😉

Why Checklists are Critical to Prepping and You

list-organizeA few weeks back I read this post on The Importance of Checklists. It’s a short post about why he realized he needed a checklist (because he forgot an important piece of gear) and a few ideas of what he’ll do in the future. As for me, I’m a checklist kind of guy and have been for as long as I can remember. I just can’t run my life without them!

Why Use Lists?

It still amazes me how some people I know survive life. They seem to be frantic and hectic and running all of the place most of the time. In my opinion, some of this is directly due to poor time management but also due to a lack of organization and proper use of lists. For example, it bothers me A LOT when I cannot find something. I use lists to ensure I know where certain things are. Certainly, I don’t make a list to remember where my nail clippers are but I do use lists to tell me what’s in various emergency supply bins. And, as these supplies tend to grow, I find I rely on my lists more and more.

Additionally, lists are for more than just remember where things are. They’re used to remind us of what we need to buy at the grocery store, supplies to add to your emergency gear, short and long term tasks (such as replacing water in water barrels every year, changing smoke alarm batteries) and also for the once-in-a-lifetime scenarios where we need to remember all the gear we want to take for a bug out scenario. I actually created an Excel-based reThinkIt! Preparedness Tools file that is meant to help you and your family plan precisely what supplies you’ll take if you ever had to bug out. Granted, you can easily make your own lists using pen and paper.

Types of List-Making Options

Of course, checklists can come in many forms, including tried and true pen and paper method, post-it notes, an Excel-based file, note-taking software on smartphones and tablets (there are a variety but I like the basic iPad Reminders app, many people swear by Evernote), online note-taking services (such as notepub.com), iGoogle gadgets (e.g., Stick Note), and probably a few other things I’m not even aware of. Obviously, some of these note-taking options are limited by Internet connections and grid-power, so there are some circumstances where they may not work when you truly need them to. As such, it’s wise to use pen and paper (or printed out lists) in some cases.

The nice thing about many technology-based note taking software is that they are (1) available anywhere you can access the Internet and (2) many services (especially iPhone/iPad) apps like to sync and share data so that it is always readily available no matter what device you’re using.

What I Do

First, it doesn’t really matter what I do but what will work for you… keep that in mind. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of using Excel and have been for a long time. I’ve used Excel for all sorts of purposes, from making shopping lists to bug out checklists and still use it to track my emergency supplies, though, I do print out hard copies whenever I make substantial changes to the Excel lists.

These days I find myself moving away from Excel mostly because I have another option: the iPad. I now find myself using the built-in (I think it’s built-in) Reminders app for tracking things like shopping lists, to-do lists, goals, etc. There are plenty of other apps, some free, others paid that may prove more useful but this one works for me in large part because it’s easy to use and allows me to create separate categories (e.g., “shopping,” “to do,” “long term buys,” etc). I should mention that many people seem to like Evernote (an iPhone/iPad app) but I remember trying it and not liking something about it, just can’t remember what it was.

While I don’t do so (because I don’t own a smartphone) these lists can be easily synced with an iPhone so you always have up-to-date lists; I’m not sure how syncing might work with other smartphones and tablets but I’d imagine somebody has it figured out.

I did occasionally use Google’s Stick Notes gadget (because I use iGoogle to read mail, feeds, watch the weather, etc) and it was ok but I’ve basically stopped using it since obtaining the iPad.

What Are Checklists Critical?

The short answer is that checklists are meant to keep your life from being a frantic mess! Take a moment and think about your life. Are you constantly searching for things, supplies, gear, etc? Do you seemingly forget something each time you head to the grocery store? Do you forget to call people back, change the cat’s litter box, take out the garbage, iron clothes, or pack a lunch?

Yes? Then use lists. They can be post-it notes, paper, apps, or whatever works.

More importantly, however, is that such lists will be there for when you absolutely need them. Perhaps it’s a bug out scenario and you only have 15 minutes to get your stuff and get out (if that long)… will you remember everything you need to take? Maybe not. Perhaps your mind is a steel trap 99.9% of the time but stress and panic can do a lot to wreck havoc on cognitive thinking. There are stories of people being unable to give the simplest of information to emergency responders–such as their street address or even their name–in moments of high stress. Maybe that doesn’t describe you or your family, I don’t know, but if you can utilize a list to ensure you have everything you need then by all means DO SO.

Similarly, even if it’s a shelter-in-place scenario the last thing you want is to be hunting for your emergency flashlights, propane heater, lanterns, and so on. Maybe you know right where this stuff is but perhaps other family members do not. You can use a list to remind them. You can even use a checklist to deal with specific scenarios. For example, if only the power is out then you’ll want to create a list that includes emergency gear to deal with that. Or, if there’s a boil water order (or no water) then another list could be used to determine whatever gear is needed for that situation. Get it?

In my humble opinion, use lists to your advantage… you can’t go wrong.

8 Perpetual Prepping Myths Debunked (My Open Letter to “Normal” People)

8-ballThis is an open letter to all non-preppers (aka, “normal” people) who may have unfortunate and mis-guided beliefs about what preppers are and are not. I’ve done this in list format for easier debunking.

Preppers: Please choose to forward this to any non-preppers if you like.

Non-Preppers: Please feel free to open your mind for a few minutes and reconsider who we are…

1. All Prepper are Outdoorsmen

I can’t tell you how many people seem to equate prepping to being a wilderness survivalist, expert, or enthusiast. Heck, even my mother thought that’s what I was “into” not so long ago! Not true. In fact, I was never a Boy Scout or really had much interest in being an outdoorsman, aside from the fact that I enjoy occasional car camping and very rare hiking trips. In my opinion, there’s a reason why we invented four walls and a roof. I’m not saying wilderness survival skills are unimportant–not at all–but I’m sure there are plenty of us that prefer prepping from the comfort of our own homes, like I do.

2. All Preppers are Anti-Government

Well, more and more people may be unhappy with the government these days–and for good reason–but I doubt we’re at all interested in anarchy. Governments do serve a useful purpose and I suspect most of use realize that fact. Regardless, it’s my belief that preppers are little different than ordinary folks with regards to their feelings about governments. That said, there are occasional “hot button” topics such as gun control that many preppers vehemently disagree with. There are legitimate reasons for such a stance but this isn’t the post for that topic. Suffice it to say that preppers have, and always will have, much the same concerns about government at all levels as any ordinary people.

3. Prepping is a Hobby (or a fad, temporary, etc)

It might start out that way but I suspect that anyone who identifies with this blog post feels like prepping is more of a lifestyle than a hobby, at least, I know I do. I believe that once one truly realizes how fragile our modern society is, how much there is for you to protect (the kids, in particular), and where we may be headed as a nation, there’s only one logical conclusion: prepping MUST be a way of life. The best part is that it can be as much of a part of your life as you desire and nothing more.

4. Preppers Want Bad Things to Happen (so they can be right)

I’ll be honest, a very, very, very small part of me wants to prove that all my stuff, time, and money spent were not a waste, but wishing for bad things to happen is NOT the way to do it. I really can’t envision any good and honest person wanting disasters to happen just so they can be right, me included. Instead, there are plenty of ways you and I can already use our supplies, such as with occasional camping trips, small disruptions in life (such as a brief power outage), and even during our daily lives (such as using bulk foods in everyday cooking).

5. Prepping is Expensive

I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t spend quite a bit of money on my preps and supplies. The thing is that you can truly spend as much or as little as you like. You might be amazed at how many DIY projects and money-saving ideas there are to accomplish the same tasks that any fill-in-the-blank product might fulfill. In fact, the more you get into prepping the more you’ll realize that prepping can actually save money in your everyday life. For example, choosing to use bulk foods in your everyday cooking will not only help you to be better prepared (because you’ll likely have food stockpiled) but undoubtedly save money on groceries. Of course, it doesn’t have to be as “drastic” as changing your eating habits. Even something as simple as keeping a spare car key on your person for the first time you lock your car doors and have to spend $75 or more to get someone to come out and unlock your doors is a huge plus. It’s the planning part that is every bit as important–and likely more so–than any supplies or gear you might acquire.

6. Prepping is a Waste of Time

It can definitely feel like it at times, believe me. But, I merely have to ask you to repeat that same statement to anyone who perished in any natural disaster where a few simple preps may have avoided that fate… oh wait, you can’t… they’re dead. I don’t want to make light here but the honest truth is that the vast majority of people have their heads firmly inserted in their rear-end and if they had only bothered to do even a few small things to better prepare themselves and their families then they could have drastically increased their odds of survival. Plain and simple.

7. Preppers (and Survivalists) are Crazy!

Believe it or not, most preppers are absolutely normal. They have families, kids, spouses, jobs, as well as goals, aspirations, fears, and concerns. We go out to eat, watch our kids’ ballgames, and may even put back a few cold ones on the weekend while grilling a steak or two. Strangely, we’re an awful lot like most people with the obvious exception that we try to situate ourselves and our families to be ready in the event something bad does happen. It’s not rocket science. Usually it’s just plain common sense that we seem to have lost in only a generation or two.

8. Prepping Make YOU Look Crazy!

The simple answer is this: I can guarantee that the first time when anything ever befalls your area, you can rest assured in knowing that your house will be the first and only stop when the S**t Hits the Fan and that everyone–including your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and probably people you don’t even know–will be ever grateful you were ready and prepared. The trick, however, is to never to let them know you’re prepared. 🙂

In conclusion…

Ultimately, we’re normal people. You’ve probably interacted with a prepper or several and never even realized it. We do life much like you do but with the simple realization that bad things do happen to good people. Our only interest is to minimize the odds of those bad things happening to those we care for by taking a slightly different stance on life. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, free, or always fun. But you would be surprised at what can be done with a determined attitude and focus towards a new goal: the survival of those you care most about in life.

Review of Mr. Buddy MH9BX 4-9K BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

I should start by pointing out that this is the smaller Mr. Buddy portable heater (there is a larger unit that produces about double the BTU output but uses two propane canisters rather than one). A few details, from the associated Amazon page:

  • 4,000- to 9,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 200 square feet
  • Approved for indoor/outdoor use; clean-burning; nearly 100-percent efficient
  • Auto shut-off if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels
  • Fold-down handle; swivel-out regulator; connects to propane tank (not included)
  • Measures 9 by 14-1/5 by 14-2/5 inches; 1-year limited warranty

I would also mention that it uses either a single one-pound propane canister OR it can be used with a 20-pound tank but MUST use a specific extension hose made for use with the Mr. Buddy heaters as it has a built in regulator (because use of the extension cord bypasses the built-in regulator which can be very dangerous):

You’re also going to need a fuel filter with the above hose (I believe there is a hose that is more expensive but doesn’t need the fuel filter):

I still need to buy these accessories so I cannot comment on them right now.

There are a few other potential problems with using a 20-pound tank including some safety concerns (they’re repeated over and over again in the owner’s manual and elsewhere) such as ONLY and ALWAYS keeping the tank outdoors when using this heater, utilizing proper ventilation, and so on. READ THE MANUAL! Needless to say, if you expect to use the extension hose and a larger tank then plan how and where you will do so. While I’m thinking about it, a quality carbon monoxide detector is in order with anything that burns fuel indoors.

The first lighting was no big deal, though, it did take several tries to light the pilot the first time. I followed the directions and everything went well. I did notice a slight smell with the first run but according to the manual that was normal. Subsequent runs had no smell. To test it, I decided to run the heater for about an hour on low in our basement to see how well it would work in a large space, even though it’s only meant to heat up to 200 square feet. In fact, I had the heater sitting about ten feet away from me and I couldn’t feel the heat whatsoever. Get within a few feet and it was a different story… nice and toasty. 😉

The heater has two settings, high and low, along with a pilot knob position. I did notice that the knob had only one spot where it would go into each setting so you had to pay attention for the “click” and obvious release of the knob. Once I got the feel for it I understood.

One thing I did NOT like is the fact that the heater is either ON or OFF. There was no standby setting, which is understandable because you’re either burning propane or you’re not. What this means is that if you’ve decided the room has reached the desired temperature or you just want to conserve propane you have to turn off and then re-light the unit each time you need it again. This isn’t really a big deal expect for the fact that you have to babysit it for a good 30-60 seconds each time you light it.

On the other hand, the unit does not need any sort of supplemental power (via an AC cord or batteries) so you need stock nothing other than propane. 🙂

I haven’t tried my own tests but the manual says you can run the heater on a single one-pound canister for between three to six hours depending on whether you’re using the high or low setting. That may sound like a long time but I would suggest that it’s not. I can see running through one-pound canisters pretty fast, perhaps one or two a day on very cold days. As such, it’s prudent to add the accessories and a few 20-pound propane tanks just for this purpose, both of which I still need to do myself. Again, this heater isn’t for any long term preparedness, not at all. It’s for short term emergency situations of between a few days to maybe a few weeks if you stockpile enough propane.

I thought it was worth the money and is yet another means to keep my family from freezing should the need arise.

Google Maps vs. Google Earth for Prepping

[Note: This is a VERY pic-heavy post so I apologize to those with slow Internet connections.]

I’m relatively familiar with Google Maps as it’s my favorite service for driving directions but I had no experience with Google Earth and began to wonder if it would be better in some way for prepping. So, I proceeded to download it here (it’s free) and installed the program. Now, I shouldn’t say that I have NO experience with it as my kids had installed it on another computer quite some time ago, I just never messed with it much until now.

Rather than talking about it, I figured the best way to compare Google Maps with Google Earth was via a comparison. So, I choose a nearby location that I knew fairly well in northland Kansas City, specifically I-29 and Barry Road for those who might know it, which happens to include a variety of businesses, including a popular outdoor mall, a variety of restaurants, a movie theatre, Walmart is nearby, and so on.

I started with a slightly zoomed-in view–you can see the zoom level on the left-hand side of the image where the little person is shown–using Google Maps of the area (click on image for a larger view):

gm1

Upon first glance, I see major roads highlighted in yellow, highways in orange, smaller roads in white, and a few major locations such as the Saint Lukes hospital on the right of the image and the Barry Road Park in the lower left. Besides that, there isn’t much that I can use here. Of course, if I had viewed a different location, I might use a map like this to notice nearby woodlands, lakes, streams, etc but there aren’t any places like that around here.

I then decided to zoom in a bit and this is what showed (click on image for a larger view):

gm2

This view is slightly more useful in that I can now see some major businesses, such as Applebees, Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse (mostly restaurants) but not nearly as many businesses as there are in this location, so, I’m a bit perplexed as to what criteria Google uses to label businesses. Anyway, I figured that I needed to zoom in more (click on image for a larger view):

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What happened? Where did everything go? I know I zoomed in as much as I could but I fully expected to see… something! I know full-well there are business right along Barry Road. Anyway, there appears to be an obvious “sweet spot” with the zoom feature to be aware of. In addition, Google Maps doesn’t show every business there is so be aware of that.

I should point out that there are some additional selections you may choose to to your Google Maps (e.g., Traffic, Video, Bicycling, etc) but I didn’t find any of these to be helpful in the moment, most of which didn’t seem to do anything.

So, I choose to move on to Google Earth hoping I would get more out of it…

There appears to be a whole lot you might be able to do with Google Earth but I didn’t bother to mess with it much other than to being zooming in (you see the entire earth for starters) until I got to the same general view of I-29 and Barry Road (click on image for a larger view):

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I purposely left the layers pane (shown on the left) for you to see. As you can see the only selection I choose was to show the Roads. From the above image there isn’t much to write home about. So, I moved on and decided to select every option on the layers menu (click on image for a larger view):

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I know it’s a bit hard to see (clicking for a larger image will help) but now I have a variety of icons to hover over, in particular, because of selecting the Places layer. Most of the other layers didn’t seem to do anything for this view, including the 3D Buildings, Ocean, Weather, Gallery, and Global Awareness layers. The More layer did add some stuff but I really didn’t see much purpose in it. For purposes of prepping it was really just the Roads and Places layers that seemed to show anything I found interesting.

I choose to zoom in a bit more and not only found better images of structures but of cars as well (click on image for a larger view):

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As you can see I kept all of the layers selected but it didn’t seem to do much good here. Again, there seems to be a sweet spot with regards to zoom… not too close, not too far… but just right.

Ultimately, the question is whether Google Maps or Google Earth is better or more useful for prepping or even if they’re useful at all?

I guess it starts with what your purpose is. If you simply want directions such as for a bug out route then obviously Google Maps is the way to go. In fact, Google Maps has some cool features such as the ability to select a walking or bicycling route, which attempts to avoid major highways or busy roadways. I’ve used that feature to plot on-foot bug outs to nearby locations with much success.

In addition, I can say that I would rather use Google Maps as an overview of any location I’m scouting out. I would rather print a Google Map and use that to mark on than a Google Earth image.

Is Google Earth, therefore, worthless?

Not quite. I can see a very strategic use for it, in fact. For example, here’s a view of a nearby lake using Google Maps:

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As you might suspect, it leaves much to be desired as all I can see is the lake and nearby streets. Now, here’s roughly the same view of the lake but using Google Earth:

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If you’ll notice from the above Google Earth map that you can begin to see layout and terrain, trees, etc, but not quite anything useful. So, I zoomed in a bit and even rotated the view so that instead of looking nearly straight down I’m looking at the lake from more of an angle:

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Now I’m starting to see contours. And, if I zoom in even more I get a better look at the terrain (the only problem being is that as I zoomed in more Google Earth wanted to straighten out my view):

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From this view I can see quite a bit. While I’m not going to demonstrate, you can actually use the controls to rotate around a particular spot 360 degrees. You have to do a bit of panning to continue to look at the same spot from different angles but it can certainly be done.

From the above image, I can see quite a bit. If this were where I lived I could use Google Earth to get different views of my area from a birds-eye view and see things I might otherwise have missed.

As such, I can foresee the use of Google Earth as a very good overview of the “battle front” if-you-will of any area you choose, the most likely being your own home and surrounding area. I won’t choose to show you my neighborhood, but if you look at yours you might get a very different view of the lay of the land, intersecting streets, nearby woodlands, and so on that might help you better defend your home, select unexpected bug out routes, find good spots to caches supplies, maybe even find unexpected resources that most people might not realize is there.

Try downloading Google Earth and play with it a bit. You might wind up with a useful prepping tool or, perhaps, just something to pass a few hours with.

Egg Storage Experiment – Weeks 7 and 8 Results

If you’re unaware, I didn’t have a chance to do my egg experiment last week due to being out of town, so I just choose to postpone it a week. Here’s where it stands…

This is the mineral oil egg (they’re the same as they’ve always been… doesn’t float, didn’t smell, yolks look fine, etc):

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As you can see there are two eggs this time in order to make up for last week. I cooked them up (see pic below) and ate them with no ill effects, funny taste, or anything like that:

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Here’s a handful of the control eggs (they all floated and I didn’t bother to break them open for smell or to look at the yolk):

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I actually decided to test all of the control eggs just for grins and they all floated. I know I’m supposed to feed them to the dog but I’m not interested in giving him the runs for the next few days so I decided to toss them out instead.

Going forward I’ll just check one mineral oil egg each week.