Monday, September 29, 2008

Firesteel and Paracord

So I got in some supplies!
I ordered some Sweedish Firesteel and 550 Paracord from a great information resource I found,

Sweedish Firesteel
Sweedish firesteel is like other metals that are used to create sparks and in turn fire. The website I found it on reccomended it above the rest though. I'm not sure if that was only because the sell it there, or because it really is a cut above, but either way I'm happy with it.

It's really easy to use. It works just by scraping particles off of it with another hard object like a piece of metal or even a shard of glass! It creates a considerable shower of sparks when scraped the right way which will quickly ignite anything highly flamable (more on that stuff in another post).

Another great thing about it is that it's waterproof. It'll spark just fine even after it's been completely submerged in water (though obviously your kindling and timber needs to be dry to catch fire in the first place.
I didn't need to but I ordered the 5 pack. It was cheaper that way and you get a good size for any situation. For reference the thickest one is about the thickness of a good gel pen and the smallest is way tiny, Convenient to fit in a purse or a good size wallet. These do have limited uses but that big one would last quite a long long time if used efficiently.
550 Paracord
This is cord originally developed by the military (WWII I think?) for parachutes but it's become very popular since then because it's been found to work very well for all sorts of things. The number 550 comes from the fact that this grade of it (Grade/Type C or 3) is built to have a minimum breaking point of 550 lbs.

It's got a good nylon outer sheath and 14 inner threads braided first in pairs and then all together from there. The fact that it has these easy to get-at inner threads makes it very useful for even small things like sewing (repair clothing/gear) and even as fishing line. And the nylong sheath can be burned down to seal the ends after cutting to keep it from fraying.
I'm curious if it could be used to stich a wound shut but I don't know anything about what kind of materials are used for medical stiches. I'd be interested to find out though.

One thing to note is that it is a bit stretchy which could be either good or bad depending on what you need it for, but I like that aspect because I would imagine it would make good bowstring. I'll have to experiment with that.
It's suprisingly thin and light for something that can hold up to 550 lbs. So small in fact that I experimented with lacing one of my shoes and it fits very well in shoelace holes. I've got 50 feet of it in just a small bundle smaller than most TV remotes and it weighs just as little. It was relatively cheap too, only 7 dollars for that 50 foot section. I thinkI'll probably buy some more sometime soon so I can mess around and see what I can use it for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My plans for the next week or two

Within the next week or two I plan on doing a couple things based on what I've been learning.

For one, I'd like to get familiar with the local plants of my area (Southern California) so I'm going to visit a local nature preserve that's focused on highlighting the natural vegetation of the area and educating the public about it. I'll definitely take my camera along and try to get some cool pictures.

Secondly, I'm going to attempt to make my own charcloth, which is basically a like charcoal. It's made from cloth that's been charred so that it catches a spark very well, keeps it for a fair amount of time, and therefore is very helpful in starting fires. I just need to find a small gas micro-stove first and I'm not sure where to go. Should be fun though.

I also ordered some Swedish firesteel and 550 parachord which I'll talk more about when I receive them and take some pictures.

Failed Friction-Fire Hand-Drill

So I tried a hand operated fire-drill yesterday, but failed.
You guys know what I mean right? It's basically the classic image of someone trying to start a fire by spinning a stick very fast between the hands, while applying downward pressure to help the friction. You cut a notch in the area you're drilling so that dust that comes off falls down into one place until that dust becomes so hot that you end up with a small coal.

Here's an image. Borrowed it from All credit goes that-a-way. I didn't have the patience to make a crude ms_paint rendition of my own. ;)

Why Mine Didn't Work:
I actually expected to fail, otherwise I would have taken pictures.
I think the fact that I'm very very near the coast was a fair detriment to my attempt because of lots of moisture in the air during this time of the year and the fact that the wood pieces I used were not nearly as dry as I would have preferred.
Not only that but my drill wasn't very straight or smooth or easy to work with.

Maybe one Saturday before the fall really comes to So-Cal I'll try to find time to take a drive up to the mountains to find some better materials and I'll make a real attempt I'll take some pictures.

I'll also try other versions of the fire drill with bow and strap to help the process.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Way to Sum It Up

I think I'm going to have to do a blog about what survivalism is, but for now, I really like the way the guy who runs a podcast called "TheSurvivalPodcast" explains it.

His slogan is:

"Helping You Live the Life You Want
If Times Get Tough, Or Even If They Don’t"

Dependence Days

As much freedom as we have, it's amazing how dependent we are on society for things that are absolutely necessary to survive.

Think about it. In order to survive we have to conform to society's rules and standards of normalcy to be accepted so we can get hired for jobs to pay for food and water we're not capable of acquiring ourselves, clothes we're not capable of making ourselves, and shelter we're not capable of building ourselves. That's a large chunk of what's literally necessary to our physical survival that we are dependent upon society for.

Before the institution of the Federal Reserve and the the institution of debt, our kin used to know how to hunt, fish, skin and cook an animal, how to build a house, how to make our own clothing, or shave a damn sheep for that matter. Today we're so overpopulated there's not enough land for us all to live that way so we work to pay for these things as well as stuff we don't need and can't afford, which we buy on credit to feed the big corporations.

I'm not saying I really want to shave my own sheep and make my own clothes, but ideally I do wish I could own my own land where I coud at least plant a garden and build a greenhouse to save money growing my own food and stick some solar panels on the roof to cut down the electricity bill. That right there would probably leave me with a good chunk of extra cash and a proud feeling of a little more real freedom and independence.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baby Steps

The first thing I've done is purchased a good multi-tool.

I've checked out all sorts of websites and blogs by guys who are eithor survivalists in the at-the-ready sense, or are hardcore nature enthusiasts who are into nature in general and like camping and surviving out in the wilderness, and most of them say one of the most important things you can have besides a good knife, is a good multi-tool. But even for no reason at all, they're convenient to have just in general.

A multi-tool for those who don't know is exactly what it sounds like, something with multiple tools for any job, but to liken it to a phrase more people are familiar with, think of a Swiss Army Knife, with all those cool little tools on there.
I went for one of the most popular ones out there (in the U.S. at least), the Leatherman Wave.

I think my Dad has one, or some other style of multi-tool made by Leatherman, and now I see why he was happy when he got it.

This baby is a beauty.

It's got one standard blade, a serrated blade, a saw and a combo wood and daimond coated file on the outside. On the inside is a set of needlenose pliers combo'd with wire-strippers, a pair of screwdrivers, a can & bottle opener, and scissors inside. Plus the handle has an 8inch ruler on it and a few other nifty little things reside here and there.

And ALL of these things are sturdy as hell. It's all stainless steel and made very tough to last. And let me tell you those blades are pret-ty damn sharp!
Now of course something like this could be used for various little outdoor needs like fashioning things from wood, gutting and skinning an animal to eat, etc. But something like this is also extremely versatile for use in all sorts of situations in normal life. Are you a techie or just like to tinker with things? Well you've always got screwdrivers and pliers to get things done. If you ride a bike, or even a motorcycle, it could be nice to have a few tools at your disposal in case you need to do any on-the-spot maintenance. Use the blade to cut an apple, the bottle opener to pop open a beer, or go ahead and file down a nail or something if you need to.

Basically multi-purpose multi-tool is just a badass thing to have, no matter what your reason. It'll likely come in handy sooner or later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why I'm doing this

I've been growing increasingly more disturbed by the world around me for a long time. I'm 21 now but this has been slowly developing since I was a kid.
I don't like what I see around me here in my little city in California, in my country as a whole and in the world. Whether it's lack of interest in meaningful ideas in our music, movies and television, the state of our economy, the state of this 2008 Presidentail Election, the state of our country's image in the eyes of the rest of the world, or the state of many religions around the world including my own, I feel that there are a lot of things wrong out there and I can't help but feel that things HAVE to change sooner or later.

I just don't see how things can keep getting worse and not result in some rather large consequence. If you understand what's going on in the economy right now then you realize that we're in a horrible place right now.

While contemplating all of this one night, I was struck with a sense of fear and helplessness. For about a week, maybe more, I felt as though the very possible prospect of things getting worse and worse was looming like mountain-sized boulder over me and there was nothing to do to get out of the way or stop it. That analogy however is completely unfitting of how I felt after what happened next.

One night while lying sleeplessly worrying as I had been doing, I was struck with a sense of rebellion. Rebellion against feeling sorry for myself and sorry for the world around me. I decided, no, I told myself that I'm a fighter. I'm a strong-minded and strong-willed person like my mother and I don't just sit and take bullshit as it comes.

I decided that I could handle anything if I wanted to, so I could at least try to handle anything that came my way.

I may be short and scrawny but dammit I'm not somebody who just gives in to anything.

While searching for anything that reflected what I was feeling I came across the concept of survivalism.

It's basically the mentality that if the shit ever hits the fan, you want to be prepared for whatever it is and survive it. It is embraced by some religiouns who believe the end is near, but it's also been taken up by people since the 60's when there was the fear of nuclear attack looming over everyone. What I'm more interested in is the generic sense that while anything could happen, we don't have to take it lying down and there are always steps you can take to be prepared. Come to think of it I like the phrase "preparedness" more than "survivalism." Whether it's natural disaster, social unrest, economic crisis, terrorist attacks, there are always things you can do to be prepared.

I resent the media stereotypes of people with a preparedness mindset as anti-social nut-jobs. I don't think I need to be an antisocial nutjob to store food and grow my own to hedge against rising food costs, or to stay out of debt and save money to guard unforseen personal economic hardships, or to keep emergency supplies handy in case of an eathquake or some other natural disaster, or to know basic skills like how to build a fire, how to build a shelter, how to identify wild medicinal plants.

Here on this blog I'll be posting about things I learn and what I'm up to. Keep in mind I'm a total newb to this stuff so there a lot of people out there that know a hell of a lot more than me so I'm not claiming to be trying to help anyone other than myself but if any other n00bs are out there interested this blog is here.

Also if you want to send me other resources feel free. I'm going to be slowly scouring videos, podcasts, other blogs, books, websites and whatever else I can with what time I have. I do work 40hrs a week and go to a few hours of school per week so between that my free time is pretty minimal but I'm just going to do what I can, when I can.

This gives me something to occupy myself and I hope if anyone cares to read this junk, that you'll find it informative and/or interesting.

Thanks for reading.