Coping: The Survivalist’s Cheap Santa List

Survival/Prep:  I had a toothache this week so one of the first items on my “survival/prepping” list is a good supply of whole cloves, clove oil – anything clovey.  Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?  A trip to the dentist yesterday (and an emergency walletectomy is being scheduled with a colleague), some antibiotics and pain meds…and nearly good as new, though perhaps less coherent…at least till the pain pills run out… (Speaking of which: We’re big not fans of hydrocodone but it’s very useful when comes to tear-rendering tooth pain…With the new drug regs, though, you have to go to the pharmacy in person, wait, yada, yada, and repeat every other day…bring a book or pillow, but I digress.)

We perhaps don’t talk about survival skills as often as we should around here.  After all, over the past 20-years, we have covered everything from how to build a cabin to how to kill small game, to…well, let’s just say the list is long and more than adequate.  Totally over-kill for people who live in the city and don’t believe the lights will ever flicker, too.

But for the realists, I thought I’d go through some everyday survival tools you can equip yourself with and not look like a doomster in the process.  Coupled with the data and proximity of Christmas, it’s the perfect time to sneak in a few goodies that might be useful under the radar.

(continues below)


A One-handed Knife:

This is something I didn’t even know about until I was a forty-something.  My first one was a Spyderco sailing knife.  This is a low-cost item and its the kind of gift that people can use every day: Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara2 Rescue black FRN Serrated Edge.

Knife purists won’t agree.  They will point to the upper echelon on knives that are “tactical” this and “special forces” that.  But in the end, the reason to get a simple Spyderco one-handed blade and always have it with you is its utility.  That’s why I have never gone in for the hawksbill designs.  If my hand is on a knife, I want to be able to withdraw it cleanly and not have it get stuck.

To be sure, this isn’t a true “sailing knife” to some.  An example of a “real sail knife” would be the Davis Instruments Deluxe Rigging Knife. Again, it’s in the $20 class of gift but entirely useful, though in an entirely different way that the one-handed knife.

The one-hander is great for everything.  I can open a can with it, cut up cardboard boxes here at the ranch, cut and prepare lines…and all that.  Not the kind of stuff you do with a rigging knife.

The reason for the flat (non-serrated edge) on the blade is so you can make clean cuts of rigger’s tape.  Those stainless steel lines that hold up masts (shrouds) come down to turnbuckles at the deck.  These are adjusted just-so.  Then then get wrapped with a special tape.  The idea is to keep the sails from getting caught in them.

The spike (actually a marlinspike) is to open up the stainless wire, or other laid line for splicing.  This is one of the few sailing tasks better done with a phonebook.

When you have hung around a marina as much as we have, you’ll take delight never-ending seeing the new boat owner proudly showing off his rigging knife and then laughing when he reveals himself to be a stink-pot driver. Few have any rigging at all…

Waxed Whipping Twine

Here’s one that’s also cheap although surprisingly, you can go through a lot of it either on the water, on the ranch, or for certain hobbies.

Might I suggest $15-bucks for T.W . Evans Cordage D1006 4 Ply Waxed Polyester Cord 1215-Feet Tube, White?  This is my favorite cordage except for the ubiquitous 3/8th’s nylon or Dacron-polyester (and Kevlar and UHDP) used for hoisting antennas and making paracord bracelets from.

Here’s why I like it:  You can take any half-reasonable nylon rope (like this 5/8th’s that’s been abused for coming up on 10-years) ands by whipping and burning the ends, it will refuse to unravel.

I have to tell you, it’s not the neatest job in the world but it’s still there and amazingly, the whipping stayed cleaner than the rest of the line.  If I could only bottle that

If you’ve never seen how to whip the ends of a line (rope if you have land underfoot), it goes something like this in the cocktail napkin view:

Layout the loop of line as in #/  Then wrap tightly around the rope (line if on a boat).  You can make as few as a half-dozen turns or I’ve seen people lay down almost 2-inches of turns.  It’s all according to how manic you get.  Then, pull on both ends of the whipping twine to tighten.  Finish by pulling on  the left-side (which will pull the finish point under the wraps just applied).  Trim off excess whipping twine and open a can of spinach. (That was a Popeye joke if you’re under 50, pass the Olive Oil.)

Twining Away

With a pulley and a weight, automatic door closers can be cobbled.  Wrapping a package with this stuff will thwart all but those with the one-handed knife.  And if you happen to be an electronic hobbyist, it’s the best cable-lacing material on the planet and far cooler looking than a trail of zip-ties.

Long Life Batteries:

We started using the extra long-life lithium batteries when we were flying a lot.  Things like noise-cancelling headphones, battery power collision-avoidance unit…well, there’s no end to the usefulness of batteries.

Try Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA Batteries, 12 Count or the smaller ones Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA Batteries, 12 Count.  You can probably beat Amazon’s price locally, but hard to be the convenience and being able to get a problem out of the way while you’re thinking about it.

Beyond Duct Tape:

I first ran into gaffer tape being used by a Channel-4 news crew cameraman in about 1970.  I forget the venue, but he needed to make sure people didn’t trip on the mic cable.  Out can his role of magic tape.

Ever since that time we’ve been connoisseurs of tapes and glues, in particular REAL Professional Premium Grade Gaffer Tape by Gaffer Power – Made in the USA – Black 2 Inch X 30 Yards – Heavy Duty Gaffers Tape Plus – 11.5 mils – Better than Duct Tape – Powerful Adhesive Tape. Magically, this is another one of those under $20 buck gifts that keeps on giving.

One other class of “duct tape” (as this stuff came from the HVAC ducting world) is aluminum tape.  Consider something like 3″ in 50 yards 3 inch 6 Mil Aluminum Foil HVAC Tape 36mm Heating A/C Ducting Seal Repair Install UV Chemical Moisture Barrier Vapor Flame Resistant High Temperature Acrylic Adhesive 72mm width.

The trick with all these tapes is to generally get the thickest stuff you can.  I generally don’t like anything flimsy (though I have an except for Victoria’s Secret goods Elaine might own…ahem…)  6-mil tape is thicker than 3-mil tape which is thicker than 2.4 mil tape.

Here’s the typical “off label” use of metal duct tape.

A couple of years back, we had a problem with mud wasps flying into the shop and making nests everywhere.  Out come the duct take and immediately, the space between the headers and the tin fool were sealed up…

The problem with any of these tapes (and you can see it here) is if they are not put directly on metal, over time the expansion and contraction of wood, condensation, and on an on will tend to pull away from the wood.  Apply to shops, sheds, lean-to’s and anything else you want to keep small varmints out of.

So another thing goes on the “Christmas Survival List” – spray-on adhesives.  Easier than trying to varnish or seal the wood.  3M is our go-to brand and they have an assortment.  Their marketing department doesn’t label product “Hold Ranch Together” or “Holds Studio Foam Wall Baffles #4” or anything so practical.  Bring your specs to Lowes – marketing departments write product information in 3-point font in order to allow product liability lawyers to tell you not to huff or spray in your eyes…  AARP could do all of us a favor by specifying all documents and packing should (by law) be required to be 14-points or bigger.

I’ll get back to you in about five years and let you know how that works out.

Clove Oil:

No, not for the toothache.  Mixed 20-80 with water and sprayed with one of those dollar store sprayers it will discourage wasps, mud daubers, and lots of other critters.

Might not seem like a ‘stocking stuffer” but all too often I’ve seen Christmas come and simply be a mass-arrival of new problems.  At least with this kind of list, a few problems can be solved and most of these gifts give nearly year round.

Thanks to “climate change” Elaine saw a wasp not three days ago when it was warm and sunny.  They hate clove oil spray…Ure’s Old Man Lab (a/k/a/ the shop) seems like a spice store.

Change of Format Note

I bumped up the headline fonts to H2 from H3 to make it easier to scan the column if you have a phone.

If we had cell service here in the Outback, I’d have done it long ago.  But, we’re still losing Pony Express riders now and then so no telling when reliable cell service will arrive

Write when you get rich,

23 thoughts on “Coping: The Survivalist’s Cheap Santa List”

    • Marvelous drugs, but the damn tooth still hurts.

      Am I really the only one who didn’t wonder about the odd relationship the cartoons portrayed between animals and (nominal) people? Seems to me it could be a low-level bestiality programming deal aimed at the kiddies…

      We gotta rerunh Who Killed Roger Rabbit again to be sure, lol

  1. I like your comment about using a phone book for splicing braided line to stainless wire. Its been 12 years since I’ve done any of that and just the thought still makes my fingers hurt.
    James Johnson, ex-nuke

    • I’ve used it for whipping and for rabio cabling, but the larger diameter is way easier to work and looks good on any line from 1/4 inch up as whipping…

  2. As a long time Spyderco knife user, I have to caution your readers that their “Byrd” line is the gateway drug to the rest of their product line. They have something for every taste and bank account.

    That said, the Byrd “Robin” is an excellent urban EDC knife, although I’d recommend the version with the G-10 handle scales.

  3. Do a few Hydrogen peroxide rinses and then put some baking soda on the tooth for a minute of so….always works for me! When your tooth starts throbbing you know it has worked. 50/50 hydro-peroxide mix with water, swish in mouth for a minute at a time…do 2 or 3 times, then put a half tsp of baking soda on tooth brush with a dab of water to make pasty and then put on tooth…move the brush around a little …hold there for a minute.

  4. George,
    I use Silver Solution for any tooth ache. Just spray a bit to kill any bacteria, and the pain is over almost immediately.
    I just Love Silver Solution! good also for disinfecting water, and will help heal any scratch/cut/burn/skin condition.

  5. George do you think could be the red light therapy that is doing away with your room mates macular degeneration.

  6. “With the new drug regs, though, you have to go to the pharmacy in person, wait, yada, yada, and repeat every other day…bring a book or pillow, but I digress.”

    These are just a few of the books.. I keep hard copies of these on the shelf and a few more to.
    as for a glue..

    this glue is amazing..

    I am usually pretty good with figuring out a problem. sometimes I get one and the fact that I can’t put the pieces together drives me nuts..
    One such problem was a small personal loan I took out with a family member years ago.. it drove me crazy.. I would look at the figures it all added up just seemed like it was taking forever to pay off. anyway one night my daughter was sitting outside and she was talking about the school loan for the grand daughter and she said something that was an AH HA moment.. she said heck the daily interest for the school tuition was this month.. ( yearly ten percent was what they were going to charge.. since it was cheaper to go with a secure loan anyway..)
    that was the ah ha moment.. because the family member that loaned me the money isn’t really a mathamatical genius he went with the straight interest. kind of like how a loan shark does it but instead of a daily interest he would figure out the amount monthly LOL LOL LOL ah ha.. I was paying a huge price for the interest on the loan.
    Well I had one of those ah ha moments yesterday..
    And the funny part of it is I had even questioned this on several other products without even questioning this.
    A few years ago they thought I had a torn retina then the what the hell no one could understand this it was a mystery so off to a specialist across the country I did go the doctor thought it was this rare disease but all the tests said no. then I got the bill for me to see him ten minutes my bill was four thousand dollars.. and a long cross country trip in a car that felt like a go cart I had built when I was a child.
    before that I had a sibling that had an eye tumor that started in the neck and they had to take her eye.. two years ago I have a child that was having similar problems and last spring another sibling called me to ask what the doctor found out. I said nothing at all its a mystery and the specialist ( they wanted to send my sibling to the same doctor because he is the only research doctor for that kind of eye problem in the USA)after I seen him for ten minutes and he said I don’t have a clue come back in two months..well I told them I decided why waist that money heck for four thousand dollars I could have a couple of gorgeous college girls rubbing my temples saying poor baby or go on a nice cruise..
    then a few weeks ago I had an episode where I couldn’t see at all in the one good eye for about four hours it was as if vaseline was smeared in my eye for about four hours another damned mystery without a cause there has to be a common denominator what is it…. the optic nerve is drastically damaged in the one eye I still have a little sight but it is for the most part gone..Now yesterday.. I go in they check my eye the vision is even lower than it was a couple of months ago. for me there isn’t anything more devastating then the thought that I loose my independence and end up sitting for hours next to a window waiting for bubba to stop by and visit..
    It was a baffling situation no answer just seemed to fit..but then the doctor asked me.. so what about your other siblings and your child.. they had put the eye drops in that dilate the eye and almost ten hours later everything still was fuzzy and lights looked like diamonds in the sky I was going to call the doctor and ask just how long that was going to last but I didn’t. instead I dialed up my siblings. then the one made a comment that after they quit using this one eye drop it seemed to get better.. they lost their optic nerve to.. that is when it hit me.. I use that same generic eye drop.. so I called the other sibling.. yup same eye drop.. child same thing..
    so I started to do some reading come to find out there are a few studies done about eye drops made and some of the effects from cornea ulcers to dead optic nerves diminished vision and how the light is seen.. I read two studies so far one from a neuro ophthalmologist in china one in the usa and have made it my goal now to read every article on pub med. harvard, etc.
    see what is is.. sixty five percent of all medications are produced outside the borders of the USA and a vast majority of the eye drops sold are produced in china. OK this makes sense. what country because they don’t have any environmental laws has the most polluted water in the world.. ( give you three guesses) they buy millions and millions of gallons of water from the great lakes for drinking.. I know I have wondered since most of the canned vegetables and fruits are canned in ..( what country is that with the most polluted water again because they don’t have any environmental laws.. ) do they use the imported water from the great lakes to can that food or just take it from the tap.. hmmm.. now for the PUN that is an eye opener.. will it help me don’t taking those eye drops.. I don’t know let me give it some time and see if that was the piece of the puzzle. now.. what if.. instead of that tumor coming up the neck to the eye of my sibling.( they thought it might be caused by radio active fallout from the tests done at the white sands.. seems it was in the milk.. kind of a fukishima and the PNW thing takes years to show up) but since they use the same eye drops.. ( yup I am a budget minded person ) what if that tumor started at the top and grew down instead of up.. kind of like one of those Iq tests where they use a mirror image of a number sequence..
    Now just to keep my fingers crossed and see if that was the problem..

    • OH yeah it causes macular degeneration,
      Here is an excerpt of one study. What if it is just the water they use.

      I forget where I read it it was either yellow fever or small pox that had an outbreak because of the people in the area spitting on the ground and them having a high ground water level..

      this portion of the one I read this morning didn’t talk about the ulceration’s..

      Recently he found that even after applying the eye drops his vision remained blurred. He thought perhaps the dosage wasn’t sufficient and increased the usage. A few weeks later he found that his vision would come and go unpredictably. He also became sensitive to light and had serious eye pain.
      Upon initial examination, I found that his eye pressure was high, at 40mmHg. Normal intraocular pressure averages between 12 and 21mmHg.
      If used incorrectly, they can cause glaucoma, cataract and irreversible damage to the optic nerve
      I checked the eye drops he had been using and found that the medication contained steroids, which is often used to treat certain eye diseases and ease discomfort. But if used incorrectly, it can cause glaucoma,macular degeneration, cataracts and irreversible damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images of what the eye sees to the brain.
      Yip had steroid-induced glaucoma and needed immediate treatment or it could have caused blindness.
      These cases serve as a serious warning to people who buy eye drops over the counter to treat common discomforts such as red eyes, itchy eyes,dry eyes and blurred vision.
      It’s a convenient option, but many of these eye drops contain preservatives, steroids, angiotonics and antibiotics.
      Most eye drops contain angiotonics, and after use your eyes will have a rapid contraction of blood vessels. Inadequate application without professional consultation could cause vision loss.
      These eye drops will deliver short-term relief, but will not treat the cause. In the long-term they could cause irreversible damage to the eyes.
      If you have problems with your eyes, you must consult an eye care professional for treatment.

      • Thank you. Hardly ever use eye drops but picked up some free samples 2 days ago at my eye exam. I’ll check the ingredient list. I noticed not all solutions for soft contact lenses are as good as each other. One brand absolutely caused blurry vision. I was just so glad I realized it was the solution so I could go back to the brand I had used for years. Good point about China’s water, and remember not even 1 percent of our imports are checked. Try to read the Edgar Cayce readings for eye treatments, poultices, etc. It might help.

  7. George, get the strongest Arnica Montana homeopathic med you can find for that tooth pain. I used it for an abcessed tooth which was drained and plugged. The AM worked better than ibuprofen for the pain. Do notch touch the pills, but dispense into tube cap, spoon or such and then directly under the tongue where they eventually melt. Do this every 15 minutes until pain subsides then four times a day. And definitely use silver to kill the bacteria. Antibiotics alone didn’t do it for me.

  8. “…people who live in the city and don’t believe the lights will ever flicker.”

    That’s my only worry, — but in the end it is all about ‘avoidance of pain’ (like not being able to flush ;-)). Believe me, I’ve experienced it, and it is not a comfortable experience. I’m always surprised when people discuss issues of peace vs. war.

    • right on bruno.. you can have it all but if you don’t have sewer or water it doesn’t take long.

  9. My EDC (that’s Every Day Carry, for you youngsters) knife is a Case or Boker “vintage” pocket knife — Case (American 4340 tool steel) OR Boker (Swedish Solingen steel) because I have one of each, and switch off; “vintage” because I’ve owned (and carried) these knives for over 40 years. BTW, either would be breathtakingly expensive to purchase today.

    Learned how to whip when I was about six. Dad showed me, then put me to work on bowlines and anchor ropes. I’ve used thread, kite cord (back when it was cotton), fishing line (both braided and monofilament), nylon, rayon, polypro, and kevlar. Cotton and braided line are the prettiest, nylon behaves the best. It’s something I usually end up doing in the field, so it gets done with whatever’s handy…

    • ‘Got my introduction to gaffer’s tape when I was a sound man — ‘stuff’s amazing, and invaluable if one has to lay audio or video cable on a trafficked area of an active sound or theatre stage.

      George, I’m not generally a fan of the “but wait, there’s more” products, but I’ll throw a suggestion to you for Flex-Seal Flex Tape. It is ~50mil rubber (can’t really tell, because it is too dang sticky to handle), with an adhesive that’s about 6x-7x stronger than any duct tape, and it is really tough…

  10. My daily carry is a Benchmade mini-griptillian. Best daily I’ve found thus far, for me. Opens with one thumb, not assisted (I hate those), has a very positive lock, but I can still close the knife with one hand. Got it at Cabela’s on one of the sales. I keep an Esee 5 on my BOB, molle’d to the left shoulder strap upside down for a right hand pull. Got an Esee Candiru in the jeep, several real Swiss Army knives in every vehicle, and other such toys scattered around the home. I got my Esee’s from The Knife Connection, great little site and a pleasure to deal with, not to mention very competitive pricing.

    I haven’t whipped a line since my sailing days, but it reminds me of my Zippo. I don’t smoke, except the occasional cigar with friends, but my Zippo is another awesome companion. Gotta keep it refilled as they will dry out, but otherwise a great companion.

    Latest toy is a Boker Wagner Urban. Basically a scalpel with a tactical handle. I’m told doctors actually like to carry these in case of their sort of emergency. Carries unobtrusively like a pen in a shirt pocket, and is a terrifying sharp little blade. Actually makes me nervous to use it.

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