Prepping: The Old Man’s Comforts

There is  an art to living that doesn’t get enough attention, as we see it:  People don’t focus enough on effectively spending their money.

You see, once you have a roof over your head, the difference – particularly when asleep – between living in a MacMansion or a double-wide trailer is approximately zero given the same bed.  Provided the A/C and heat are dialed-in well, there’s no discernable difference.

So, once you have a car – and we still drive that old 2005 Lexus now almost14-years old – there’s not too much point into running out to buy a new one.  As Pappy used to say “Speed limits don’t change for new cars.”   Bills – especially insurance – do.

Clothes are that way, too.  How often do people really wear out clothing compared with how much waste there is in “Fashion?”  Fashion died a decade ago in case you haven’t noticed.  Part of the Great Stupidfication of Social Media.  God help us that successful people look that way.

It really comes down to a matter of what you buy and its Enjoyment Quotient or its Usefulness Quotient.  Divide a thing’s price by its real personal value and you quickly see what has a high payoff and what doesn’t.

Prepping is all  fine and good, but let’s not forget the useful stuff than makes like easier in good times and bad.  Here are some things I try never to run out of:

1. Cream of Mushroom Soup.  This is my #1 prepping food after the rice, oatmeal, and Chinese Egg Noodles.  Why?  Versatility.  Go to the store, buy some cheap cut of meat (beef, pork, poultry – it doesn’t seem to matter), toss it in a skillet and dump a can of cream of mushroom soup on it.  A generous dash of  tarragon, maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper and a tiny dash of nutmeg.  If the meat resembles beef, a teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet. Looks better.  Maybe a tablespoon of wine, too.   Serve with rice, potatoes, noodles, over toast, or whatever turns your crank and a glass of wine.  You are now fed  – loaded some resveratrol to fight aging – and it’s comfort food that will “stick to the ribs.” Under stress it doesn’t take much stirring or supervision or (and the important one to me) work.

By the way, try using oatmeal instead of the conventional pasta, rice, or potatoes as your dinner starch.  Surprisingly, it’s not bad.  Cheap as hell. Fiber out the….  With the right gravy it has something like the “mouth” of dressing.  Toss in a handful of sage and poultry seasoning and who knew?

2 Distilled Water: (The rest are in no particular order, by the way!)  We can’t count the ways, but the main uses are for a personal cleansing (fasting with water-only) and for filling batteries.  Howevert, distilled water is also great for a steamer, humidifier, and to use as a simple “emergency eye wash.”  Yes, prevents scaling in an iron, too.  Remember when people ironed clothes and took pride in appearance?

3. Fingernail Machine:  This has absolutely nothing to do with prepping unless you’re doing a TV show.  But, these new USB rechargeable fingernail machines are dirt cheap on Amazon.  Picked one up for Elaine – just $17!  A HAIRBY Electric Nail File Drill Machine, Rechargeable Manicure Pedicure Tool Buff, Polish, Smooth, Shine Fingers and Toenails (Include 6 Rollers, USB Charging). Damned if I can figure where to get replacement wheels for it, but the price was irresistible.

Tried it out on my nails, after all it is a power tool, right?  Why, I could pass in the Bay Area, lol!

What’s going on in the power tool world right now is manufacturers are ditching “wall-warts” for charging.  USB cables are cheaper.  For to the shop, I picked up the non-girly-girl analog, a $22 Tacklife PCG01B 3.7V Li-on Cordless Rotary tool – Three-Speed with 31-Piece Rotary accessory Kit, USB charging Cable, Collet Size 3/32-inch(2.3mm) – Perfect for Small Jobs.  Along with the supplied parts toss in an 80-piece buffing assortment and you can polish  anything.  That plus a tub of Dremel’s fine polish compound and you’re ready to restore old radio gear OR sport salon-looking nails.  The sanding wheels beat clippers for smooth finishing of ragged fingernails.  The Big Dremel is a bit much for such lowly work.  Although, in a “nail emergency” real men can use a belt sander with great care!  (Burns like hell, otherwise!)

I’ve been looking forward to the demise of “wall wart chargers” for a long time. USB cables offer lower parasitic load for those of us on solar or a mix.

4.  The Adhesive Collection:  Oh, yeah.  One small box with an assortment of Elmers white glue, a six-pack of metal-sealed super glues, some SuperGlue gels, some Duco or Testor’s model glue, and for woodworking, waterproof TiteBond. A tube or three of J-B Weld and a can of Bond-O, five-minute epoxy, ShoeGoo and contact cement are a good starter set. Fresh PVC pipe glue every winter for plumbing issues.

5.  The Picker-Upper:  I keep a squeeze-trigger “picker-upper” in my golf bag because picking up things off the ground in East Texas (play golf in the rough) can be a life-changing event; bugs, scorpions, and snakes.  The older we get, the less inclined to drop down on all fours to grab around for stuff.

If you’re married, better spring $39 bucks for the two-pack: EZ Reacher Outdoor Reacher Pro, 40″ L, 2 Pack.  Besides the golf bag, ours have fished out a million small screws from the shop floor, under the battery bank of the solar power center, small things in “sketchy” areas, and Elaine used it last week to fish part of the cat’s watering bowl out of the bushes.  Seems the hose got a little zealous…and spiders live in bushes.

6.  Hex-base Drill Bits:  Love my impact drill driver. And popping these puppies in – because of their hex-bases – it literally a snap. 

For $10-bucks, Bosch has a set that will punch in 9 of the most common sizes: Bosch 9-Piece Impact Tough Titanium Drill Bit Set, TI9IM.

7.  Hex-Socket Adapters: These too will change how you work on small engines (and big ‘uns, too):  Just $6: QST 8Pcs Socket Adapter Impact Hex Shank Drill Bits Bar Set 1/4″ 3/8″ 1/2″ Bits New(8P 1/4″ 3/8″ 1/2″).

It’s like having an impact wrench for everything – without the air hose and compressor noise.  Get the oversized battery pack for your impact driver, too, and you’ll be good to go.

8. Wart Remover:   People never seem to remember this when they kit out for prepping.  But, if you are planning for more than a month, and are over 30 or so, be sure to put in wart remover.  Warts love skin that doesn’t get washed all the time, and is hot and moist.  Which sounds like what you could expect in a number of prepping scenarios.

Should the SHTF for real, finding a doc may not be practical so a couple of cheap bottles of wart remover makes sense.  Most are made of an ether-base and evaporate quickly so plan on a 5-year rotation for this item.

9. Can Anyone Ever Have Too Many BandAids?  No! But, don’t forget to toss in another 6-pack of the SuperGlues sealed in metal because it’s faster to super-glue something closed than stitch it.  Burns like three shade of hell, but get’s the job done.  Also works to put a temporary patch on a pet injury – one of those Texas Outback secrets to get an animal stable before transport to the Vet in town for real doctoring.

10. 300-Foot Measuring Tape: This is one of those homesteading tools people don’t think much about.  It also gets a work-out around here for measuring low-band HF radio antennas.  You have no idea what a PITA it is to measure a 120-foot antenna with a 25-foot tape.  Screw that.  Step up with $21-bucks for an Open Reel Measuring Tape – 300 Foot Reel Fiberglass Tape Measure – Retractable Blade For Carpenter, Construction, Workshop, Building, Projects, Crafts, Handyman, Landscaping, And Hardware -By Katzco.

Piece of cake to lay out gardens and such.

BTW, how many preppers do you think know that to square-off four corners, you even-up the diagonal measurements?  No need to become a Mason to learn this one but it’s an important thing to know because if you don’t start with an absolutely square foundation the whole rest of the building will turn into a miserable task of endless cut-and-fit because NOTHING will be square.  If you get the foundation, floor and walls in square and right-angled, the rest of house-building’s a walk in the park.

Take your time laying out foundations or suffer forever.  Ask how I know….

11.  Ammonia, Chew, and Old Spice:  Ammonia is one of the backwoods treatments for bug bites.  I mentioned last week, so it chewing up some tobacco and smearing it on (though it looks like you’ve had an “accident” lol.)

Old Spice aftershave, smothered on pant legs discourages chiggers from hopping aboard.

Some chaw and Old Spice in your kit?

12.  50 Packs of Microfiber Towels: You can pick this up from Amazon and use them for everything.  In the Office which includes the ham radio and electronics benches, I use them for cleaning, keeping camera optics sharp, wiping down the silicone work surfaces (with isopropyl alcohol which cuts rosin leftovers from soldering).  When you buy the BIG packs, the 11 by 11’s are cheap enough so that you don’t feel bad throwing one away when you, oh, use it to wipe up caulking….

$20-bucks for Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloths – Pack of 50 Towels.  Elaine got her own pack…

13.  Bar Mops:  Another household cleaning item that’s cheap is bar mops.  I don’t know why people buy spendy towels when these do everything in the way of shop projects:  $17 for Utopia Towels Kitchen Bar Mop Cleaning Towels (12 Pack, 16 x 19 Inch) – Pure Cotton White Kitchen Towels, Restaurant Cleaning Towels, Shop Towels and Rags – Bulk Bar Mop Set.

I’ve learned two things:  Buy a separate set for the wife (so yours don’t ‘evaporate’) and keep the shop towels in a used bin of their own and wash when the wife’s out shopping or lunching…Delete evidence of washer use, of course. Dry before SHE gets home.

14. Solvent Kit:  There are all kinds of solvents for all kinds of problems.  You may have a few of these, but a really completely prepped home has one or more of each:

  • Goof-Off
  • Mineral Spirits
  • MEK
  • Acetone
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Paint thinner
  • Crown JD.M.64 Qt Japan Drier
  • Whiteboard clean
  • PVC Cleaner (the ONLY thing that does a good job of picking up spilled PVC  “purple primer” that seems to create gravity anomalies whenever it’s used).
  • Krud-Cutter
  • Lamp Oil
  • Dawn soap
  • Borax – which is a good lathe lubricant for some metals
  • And Washing Soda.  Washing soda and a battery charger removes all rust when used with a sacrificial anode.

There are more, but the point is there are lots of solvents and they should all be stored in a non-moist area, locked up, and no smoking or sources of sparks (including light switches, grinders, and outlets) nearby.

15.  A Great Bathrobe and Slippers:  A couple of years back, I got Elaine and I both lab coats for our various projects.  These run under $25 each and you can look at something like the Professional Men Lab Coat (White, Medium) For Laboratory With 5 Button Closure, 41 Inch Kick Pleat – Poly Cotton Material.

They are also available in kid sizes, so if you’re turning the little darlings loose with paint sets and they aren’t changing into grubbies, this might be a way to save money on replacement wrecked clothing.

Lab coats are OK in summer as bathrobes, but in the winter step up for something big, bulky and fuzzy.  A man’s bathrobe to my way of thinking ought to be extra long, with a hood and 100% terry to absorb water.  But these are matters of personal taste, just saying now’s the time to keep an eye out for winter comfort.

Good time to by wind-blocking fleece, too..

Key Points: 

When you spend money, buy something that will make your life better or easier.

Don’t buy logo-brand goods.  I think the only logo brand item I own is a Lincoln wire welder than has some kind of NASCAR sticker on it.  Doesn’t matter a damn bit when welding and no, I don’t have delusions of being a pit boss.  How utterly ridiculous.

Sometimes, like with a 5-pound great bathrobe, you may have to pay $100 bucks for something really good.  Relax – take the pleasures where you find ’em and will get some use out of them.

Is that any kind of a “prepping” ‘tude?  You bet.  Given all these items, even if the times become uncertain, we’ll be warmer, safer, more grounded, more productive and well-fed.

Write when you get rich,

34 thoughts on “Prepping: The Old Man’s Comforts”

  1. adheasive.. great one to keep in your kit.. (both on Amazon)


    for quick clot.. this is one of the more useful things to keep around that you hope you never have to use.. if you want bandages then take your 4 by 4’s and dip them in vinegar.. then drip dry and dip in the chitosan powder let dry.. then package.


    you can also use cayenne pepper to.. both work great..

  2. Forget the wart remover George simply get a burdock leaf and squeeze the juice on the wart, within 3-4 days it will simply dry out and fall off,an old Native American remedy….

  3. Under #14 did you mean “Goo-Gone” rather than “Goof-Off”? If there is a “Goop-Off” it’s probably the same thing as “Goo-Gone” and either can be replaced with WD-40. Oils, even peanut butter, will dissolve adhesive residues from stickers and other things like the old gum in the hair problem. The only problem I’ve had with WD-40 is that it leaves a slightly gummy residue on stored items such as firearms over time so, in that situation, wipe it clean an use an appropriate oil for storage.

    • Peanut sensitives – like me and the kids – don’t do well with peanut oil!

      WD-40 rubbed on knees is an old jail-house arthritis and gout remedy. Back when, I’m told…

  4. An other great product for the shop is Aro-Kroil by Kano Labs it is far and away the best penetrating oil made makes for a great air tool oil also use it with some 0000 steel wool and it will remove rust from gun blue without damaging the bluing only trouble is you can only by it direct from Kano Labs

    • Kroil IS the best penetrant made. Aero Kroil is the aerosol spray version. The Kano people demonstrated it in the factory where my dad worked, ~50 years ago, by putting a couple drops in the palm of his work-hardened hand in front of the factory owner and the SF. After a few minutes, the oil began to drip off the back of Dad’s hand. He saw it, didn’t believe it (to his dying day, didn’t believe it, but also couldn’t explain away what he saw), but could find no place where the oil could’ve wicked around his hand. The shop bought a pallet…

      BTW Kano Labs has an Amazon storefront, and most Kroil products are available there.

  5. Hi, George,

    I agree with your inclusion of cream of mushroom soup on the important pantry item list, as I stock a lot of it. I would add to that list canned and frozen vegetables of various types, chicken broth, and onion soup both canned and dried, plus the many types of spices available.

    Good pillows, soft blankets, and a nice comforter are necessities, too. Since my husband and I believe that one should not depend upon one source of home power, we use electricity, gas, and wood as home power sources, plus passive solar. We also have sleeping bags, one each for warm weather and one each for those very cold nights; those bags are rated to 40 below. We camped for decades and used these bags. Another important item is a source of light, and the LED lights available nowadays are wonderful. Wish we had those back in the 1970’s when we were cave exploring, as a caver should always three sources of light. The lights available back then were cumbersome; carbide lamps, big flash lights, and wheat lamps.

    On another topic, I saw where the democratic senator from Hawaii truly did not realize that coming into our country illegally was a crime and thought that President Trump had arbitrarily made it so. Amazing, remarkable, and scary.

      • LOL, re: the democratic senator from Hawaii… you’ve been watching too much right wing-nut news. The topic in question was on the “zero tolerance” policy and the separation of children from their parents at the border. The fed official described the kids’ detention centers as “summer camps” to which the dem senator asked if he would send his kids there, to which the fed official said that wasn’t the point, they had committed a crime. That was the lead in to the “I’m confused” exchange – the senator blamed it on Trump’s policy change (no longer civil to criminal proceedings), to which the fed official responded “They were criminal proceedings when the Border Patrol prosecuted them. But at the conclusion of that process — once the individual came into ICE custody — they would go through administrative proceedings”. That’s when the senator said she was confused. The videos conveniently end at this point, so one would have to research what was said next (but since this was a highly partisan piece, it probably doesn’t add any support to the hatchet job).

    • I still have my carbide lamps from my caving days..great people fun times..
      When I was a kid we had carbide ceiling sister and I use to fight over who put the pebbles in and who put the water in..
      I think you can still buy them to from I think leemans country store.

    • Magic mix..

      2 cups of powdered milk
      1 cup of four
      Or 1/2 cup of flour
      1/2 cup of corn starch
      1 stick of butter
      Mix until it looks like corn meal or biscuick.
      1/3 cup is equivalent to one can of cream of whatever soup. Just add your flavorings.

      • Some recipes say four cups of powdered milk or two cups of powdered milk and two cups of corn starch and one stick of butter. I prefer a higher fat content in mine and a thicker soup base in comparison to the one with more milk. Enjoy its a favorite here and a lot cheaper than buying the canned soups. I tried using butter powder to.. That didn’t work very well.

  6. to stop bleeding quickly apply a moist t-bag
    and wrap the string around area if possible to apply pressure.great
    for oral bleeding and tooth extraction.

  7. The battery powered impact wrench is a great tool. I even pack it when going on road trips with the correct size socket for the lug nuts in case of a flat tire.

  8. I use the Tiki Torch oil with Citronella in my oil lamps and lanterns. Not only for light, but helps keeps the flying bugs away and IMO burns a little brighter than kerosene.

  9. George, you didn’t mention slippers…

    Hold your nose on the logo and try L.L.Bean’s “Wicked Good” line.

    I have the Chukkas for around the house (hard sole, eliminates that painful oscar sierra moment when you step on a screw or pebble that escaped previous detection), and I have a pair of their slippers (soft-sole) with a short cowhide lace installed, which I carry in my GO-bag as woodsman’s moccasins, in case I ever need them…

    • Ah, the curse of age, no? Yep, damn fine choices.
      I tend to look for “Codfish” slipper. Moccasins in the winter, sometimes with thn soles, depending on weather.

      Mostly for me it’s either shoes off or a pair of Sketchers tennies with the velcro (being old is a great excuse, lol…)

      Elaine’s “house rules” may come to the office this fall – reduces floor cleaning work dramatically. No shoes more than 2-feet from the door…and that’s how we’ve lived – a hangover from boating days where there were absolutely no shoes on the boat except foul-weather boots and then in (look surprised!) FOUL WEATHER.

  10. Interesting column . . . what does one ‘keep stocked’ on a recurring basis?

    Totally agree on the mushroom soup – though I kept a box of powdered milk too and added more than usual for soup. Spices and dried onions, peppers, garlic. . . (Evaporated milk – and condensed milk . . . was told by Mom long ago that some people don’t know the difference.)

    WD40 is special, though it does have a distinctive smell – some smells are never forgotten! (Like blood – a ‘heady’, gets you in the back of the throat kind of smell that makes me look for who’s/what’s bleeding -) Re your peanut problem mentioned in another letter – more and more people are being affected – is it possible that one day peanuts will be ‘persona non grata’ for the public as a whole, and not just in school environments? Peanut butter is one of my ‘must have’ a jar of – it doesn’t need refrigeration, though I wish jelly/jam didn’t need it either . . .

    T-shirts, sweat pants, COMFORTABLE underwear, tennis shoes, warm sweater, knit gloves . . . comb, brush, nail-clippers, tweezers, SHARP hand tools – the list is personal to be sure!

  11. George, Although I have a picker-upper, too, I practice lying down on the floor every day and getting back up again, to make sure I can still do it. It is a big world view shift when you can’t get up on your own any more, based on my parents’ experiences. My thinking is that by practicing, maybe I can identify areas of weakness before they get too bad, maybe try an exercise. Falling is different, I know; there is an “emotional shock” component to it. I found out I just wanted to lie there for a minute and think about what aging really means!

  12. George,

    There are replacement wheels for sale on the page you linked for the fingernail machine.

  13. Hi, George,

    To Jeff, a right wing nut? Really? That was not all that was spoken during the ICE interview with the Hawaiian senator. George, I truly do not recognize the democratic party anymore. It sure isn’t like it was in the 1960’s. It has been overtaken by an agenda that includes socialists, communists, Sharia law, and pure lawlessness. It both alarms and saddens me, this anti-American attitude of theirs. Not to mention the new rallying cry,”All Trump supporters should be euthanized!” Amazing.

    • Nancy – absolutely a right-wing nut media outlet. I live near Seattle – what I’m sure many would consider the near-capital of leftism. Where are these people rallying for euthanizing Trump supporters? Where are the Sharia law supporters? The people that want lawlessness? I’ve never seen or met one. I’m sure there are some out there – you can bet as the conservative media finds them, they record it and broadcast it as some sort of mainstream/left opinion. But hey, you saw it on Fox, or Infowars, or read a Drudge headline, so it must be true, ’cause only people in “lamestream” media have biases. BTW, did you see last year when Alex Jones’ lawyer said he was a “performance artist” and that his persona on Infowars is a character he plays? How many times has Infowars been pushed on this site? Yup, no biases there…
      And are you serious about 60s Dems? Ever heard of the “great society” (sounds you lived it in real time)? The platform was education, medical care, urban/poverty programs, etc. Hmmm. Sounds a lot like what people rail as socialism/communism today…. but not to worry, today we have the most regressive tax system in perhaps 100 years, the high deficits during the peak economic cycle, and largest wealth gaps ever!

      • Where are these people rallying for euthanizing Trump supporters?

        “Reporters, Celebs Call Trump Supporters ‘Nazis,’ ‘KKK,’ Want Them ‘Euthanized’ After Tampa Rally”

        Where are the Sharia law supporters?


        The people that want lawlessness?

        “How would you describe the SOP of ANTIFA?”

        “The Great Society” has created over $20 trillion in debt while doing no appreciable good. It destroyed the family units of the vast majority of Blacks and poor Whites, and spawned the majority of our society’s current internal ills.

        France, Germany, and even the UK have larger and more-disproportionate wealth gaps than the United States.

        Sorry, sonny. You are doing a wonderful job of demonstrating your ability to parrot opinion that’s been spoon-fed to you, whilst simultaneously showing a lack of actual knowledge of politics, history, and overseas current affairs. That ability may make you sound cool with your peeps, but “it don’t fly” amongst people who’ve lived through and studied the things about which you attempt to comment…

      • Ray,
        Thanks for listing out all the talking points you have been fed by conservative media — you prove my point exactly. You get some wing-nut someplace (you know — your mirror image on the left, only probably better looking and more famous) that says something dumb, and you broadcast it from the loudspeakers and say “everyone over there thinks this”. I guess you didn’t notice that Trump Jr saying the DNC platform is the same as the Nazis platform. I’m sure that’s okay with you as he is calling it as he sees it, or maybe you just think he is correct? See, that would make you not only a partisan, but a hypocrite. Color me shocked.

        As to your uncited statement on Germany, France, and UK, I wasn’t sure so I did some quick checks, and according to the OECD and a separate 2015 Fortune article, US has the highest wealth gap in the world. I’m sure you can come up with something from someone on the Daily Caller or InfoWars though to contradict, or maybe you have some creative way to measure it, like “the richest man in the world is in the US, and there are people that make nothing here too, so that means the wealth gap is the greatest anywhere…” (feel free to use that one if need be, my gift to you). I’m pretty sure it will be about as high of value as anything else you have to offer.

  14. Hi, George,

    To Jeff: I read where some courts in Minnesota, with a large Islamic population, allow Sharia law, which subverts our US constitution. The lawlessness I spoke of includes the Clinton pay to play on the world stage, Clinton classified e-mails that were “sent somewhere by accident” and some of these were of a top secret nature, Fast and Furious that gave weapons to the Mexican gangs, the Bengazi disaster, and the deal with Iran that enriched several Obama players including John Kerry, plus Obama weaponizing the DOJ, the FBI, and the CIA through their top management, while colluding with MI6, just to name a few examples in case you forgot.

    Yes, I listened to the debate between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy on television; watched it with my parents. I remember Kennedy being shot, and I remember the civil rights movement and the Great Society promoted under Johnson. When I returned from a long backpacking trip, I read in a newspaper that Ford was now president. John Kennedy, M L King Jr, and Robert Kennedy were all killed during the tumultuous 1960’s. Those who do not know history are likely to repeat the mistakes that were made back then. No one should want to start a civil war here. I truly believe that our country never completely healed from the civil war fought during the early 1860’s.

    • Nancy,
      I don’t know – it’s tough for me to get excited about any of the things you listed. I believe most are just dog whistles to rile up the conservative base. Do you know how many investigations have been done on Benghazi and Clinton’s emails, for instance? Do you really think if they had something, anything, they wouldn’t prosecute? Or perhaps you think the “fix was in” even though it was all republicans doing the investigating (BTW, Mueller and Comey are Republicans, and Rosenstein is a Republican Trump appointee). In fact I’d bet big money that the DOJ and the FBI have many more right leaning employees than left leaning. Trump and his cronies are playing the only card they have: tearing down the reputation of the folks investigating them. If absolved, expect Trump to try to rapidly build it back up again. (See his team’s treatment of Cohen, who went from honest and honorable to a liar and scoundrel).

      I agree with you on your later points on the civil war & 1960s, but it doesn’t really address my point: the Dems platform then would be decried as pure socialism, etc, today.

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