Monday, July 28, 2014

Home Front: Sea Levels

originally posted as  @Fenstardeluxe southbank-flood1
I live "by the Bay", the beach is a 2 minute drive from my house. When I dig in my garden, my soil is predominantly sandy. When it rains, I often loose internet (though that might be more to do with the wiring that Alexander Bell may have let his less than competent cousin install, rather than out location's fault).

originally posted as @Fenstardeluxe southbank-flood2
All of this plays a part in my thinking, especially considering prepping, when I consider my pathways too and from home in my day to day life. This is accentuated when we get exciting weather  as we did on June 24, when high winds and low pressure pushed the Yarra River back in from the Bay, causing it to burst its banks.

This was only a minor inconvenience, nothing like the flooding seen by the Hurricane Katrina storm surge,  or the far more ruinous flooding that frequently occurs in places like Bangladesh
but still gave me pause to think.

@MEL_J_84 southbank-flood3
There is a lot of talk about the validity of the human climate change arguments, and its affect on both sea levels and the propagation of that climate change. I'm going to come out and say it, I'm satisfied with the assessments I've read thus far. I'm convinced.

What it will all mean in practical effects, I'm not yet certain of, one way or another, but I think we will start to see a lot more ruinous weather. Perhaps not Split Second bad, for a while, but not good.

There are even some good references out there using GoogleMaps topographical information to offer predictions as to how sea-level rises will affect low laying areas. Check it out, and check out where YOU live in relation to this. Melbourne is renowned for being built beside a swamp and having several water ways diverted through its CBD, leading to some spectacular historical images. It's quite a sobering thought to wonder what might be coming, in just a few short years.

My recent holiday to Fiji reminded me of this even further, with that Pacific islands sand beaches, like so many others I have visited over the years. So many low-laying islands that are at risk of simply being inundated.

This island I visited would have only been 4m above sea-level at its peak, and being an all-sand and coral outcropping, would face erosion threats even before succumbing to sea levels reaching that height. 

With news of the glacial ice-calving at the Poles and other alarming news, it bears dwelling on. What will happen when the water rise? Where will you be, what will you do? Will it be a gentle swell, or a surge that cuts you off from home?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Z-Medica QuickClot Sport bandage

You may recall a while back I tried to get my hands on QuickClot kit by Z-Medica as a part of the ITS Trauma kit but ran in to all kinds of export-issues, where the military grade kits were not for distribution outside of the USA.

I never gave up looking though, and found an alternative supplier, Urban Conquest who, whilst they didn't supply the military-grade versions of the impregnated bandages, with the variety of formats and including x-ray tracking strips and the like, still offered the basic properties of a blood-clotting treatment in a vacuum packed and irradiated sterile package. It looks as though they may no longer stock them however. However, Survival Supplies Australia stock similar (and more advanced) products.
The active ingredient in these products is a kind of clay or clay-stone, albeit in a very high-tech version of it, kaolin or zeolite to rapidly clod bleeding, with out any harmful side effects.

The fibers of otherwise standard medical gauze are impregnated with this material and apparently on application, it rapidly promoted clotting. Some products (in the military and EMT lines, are set up to be deposited deep within penetrating wound cavities such as gunshot and shrapnel wounds, and are reported as being able to stop arterial bleeding. How Kaolin works.

Given the chemistry involved, it should be noted that when working the clotting agent can heat up, something for both patient and responder to be aware of.

I got hold of two different sizes of kit, two of the 25g pouch (3.5" x 3") or 50g pouch (4.75" x 4.75") . I have one of each in my EDC pack, and whilst have not cracked on out to use it (thankfully, no heavy bleeding has presented itself for me to treat any time recently) I like having them there. The 25g pouch is small enough that it can slip into a pants front-pocket and pretty much vanish.

The compact nature of the kits very much lend themselves to having some on hand for any outdoor adventure, where you don't want to be left bleeding through bandages until you can get more serious medical assistance. For those of us who either live adventurous lives, have adventurous families or both, these might be well worth adding to your EDC as well. You never know when you might be called on to plug a hole.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: QuickLock

There are times when you really don't want to be walked in on: when rifling through a filing cabinet at the Watergate Hotel, getting a couple of hours rest in a cubicle hotel in Bangkok Airport or trying to stay away from the prying eyes of toddlers having well deserved intimate moments with delicious company, or just don't want to be disturbed whilst having a movement...

Sure, door locks are good, but there are any number of ways to slip around them. Sometimes a little bit more security is needed when you are distracted or otherwise engaged and not ready to repel boarders. Especially when it's not your own home and castle.

I saw these on the get a cheep-cool-thingy site, Zazz, and gave them a try. This is the QuickLock, and it is a remarkably simple piece of pocket privacy protection.

The idea is simple. You slot the long face of the mechanism into the door frame, with one of the "tongues" fitted into the recess where the latch (the bit that sticks out of the door) and strike plate (the metal plate fitted to the wall the latch fits into).

You then fit the accompanying steel bolt into the closest arm of the ^ shape opening, slide it as far down (and thus, close to the door) as possible.

This then makes a wedge that holds the door in place, preventing it from opening inwards, even if the handle is turned and the latch is let free, the tongue holds against the strike plate and door-frame, and the bolt snags the door.

This would  work for most if not any inwards opening hinged door, and is designed to work left or right. I found that depending on the thickness of the door, an distance to the latch-hole of the strike plate, there may even be some wiggle left in the ft, but it held even with some serious jiggling and shaking.

I'd not trust this against a solid boot, and any MOE tools other than lockpicks but for a casual traveler, who worries about someone else with keys coming in to a room you are sleeping in, or "taking a shower"
this might be just the ticket.

It folds up into a slightly more than credit card sized, but totally pocket sized kit, at 86 x 45 x 10mm and fits, without marks, in seconds. 

Certainly adds a modicum of security to hostel, motel or bathroom visits you may have, and would even give the velociraptors a hard time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Boker+ Tomahook

I have had the good fortune to lay my hands on a couple of Boker blades in the past, most notably, the American Kami - Boker MidTech Colubris the an example of the transition to production model from the artisan models such as the of the American Kami Super Colubris.  I like their work.

I was very fortunate to have been gifted this very pretty piece for my most recent birthday by one of my partners from Survival Supplies Australia. This is the Boker+ Tomahook and it sings to me.

Bearded axes are a piece of my heritage, and I'm always keen to a good solid one to add to my collection. The M48 Walking axe and it's little brother the M48 Ranger Hawk are two good examples, but as dedicated readers will note, I've had troubles with the design.

The Tomahook features a full length G10 handle bolted through with five hex screw, recessed bolts. The handle is inset from the edge, and rounded to leave a working steel edge running around the entire tool. For all your hammering needs.

With its broad wide blade I have spent some time chopping firewood and trimming our out of control acacia tree it is an highly effective as a hatchet. When prying apart packing pallets, I found that it can also be used as a lever, with its top edge being  sharpened like a chisel, for wedging in, and doing stripping cuts.

The back end of the axe
is a rather pointy tip works as a glassbreaker or pounding tool for times where you want to pound a hole, crack a rock or melon, but perhaps not leave a 14.3cm (5 5/8") axe-wound.
The 816g (28.8oz) axe is sprightly in the hand, both choked up behind the beard, or holding on to the tail end, single-handed, and is magic and menacing two-handed.

The SK5 steel is 4.5mm thick, and hardened to 57-60 HRC at the head, so I shudder to think of the problem this axe won't help to overcome.

It comes with a specially designed Kydex sheath with four eyelets for running lacing and attachment devices. It also features a friction catch, which holds the axe in very snugly, but also allows for a swift yanks and draw action.

I really liked receiving this, and liked waving it about and chopping my way through a variety of items. I can see this featuring heavily in my camping, wilderness adventuring and molon labe moments.

This is an exceptional piece, and well worth looking at if you're in the market for a solid tomahawk.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Propper Liberty bottle

First published on BreachBangClear here.
Many thanks to the Mad Duo and team for adding me as an auxiliary ... 'roo's on the barbie any time you rock up ...

My first item from a bundle of goodies from Propper that I am going to cover is their nicely branded "Limited Edition" Liberty Bottle. I've seen these good looking bottles in the past, but so far, had stuck to either my much loved but slightly unreliable 1L SIGG or the very reliable widemouthed 1L Nalgene.

The Propper Liberty Bottle makes a very nice addition to my collection, and let me tell you why.

Made from 100% recycled metal aluminium, with 100% recylcalable materials in the cap and bottle, the Liberty Bottles are both light, strong and friendly to the environment. Like the SIGG bottles, the Liberty bottles are formed from billet plugs, giving a seamless construction and are lined with a flexible and food grade coating, which ensures no flaking or chipping when the bottle itself is dinged and dented (as may happen with the hard wear some of us are guilty of putting our hydration systems through.

This coating exceeds FDA requirements and provides a non-toxic and non-leaching surface that ensures no heavy metal leaching or porous surface are present for bacteria to build up on, keeping them sanitary for longer.

The bottles are independently lab certified to by 100% BPA free, for those worried about that kind of thing.

The fact that that coating is white means that visual inspection of your bottle for both fullness, and skunge buildup is a lot easier than if it were a darker colour. I really liked this.

Three locking lugs on the rim of the bottle are not obtrusive enough to be a bother when either filling up the bottle, or drinking directly from the lip.

The taper of the bottle also acts to smooth out the pour, much like a wine bottle, all part of the design

The sports cap that came with my Propper Liberty bottle has some very nice design features too. The all-around silicone rubber plug fits both into the neck and also against the lip of the bottle giving a really good seal. I've had not a single drip from the neck once I worked out the "click" feel that indicated a full seal. The three inset channels take the locking lugs, and feature a slope and notch type system to hold the lugs snugly in place, with a 1/4 turn being all that's required to open and close the bottle securely.

At 700ml (24oz) this is a good sized bottle for me when I don't feel the need to carry a whole liter around.

That sports cap has a couple of other neat features. The circular dome just offset from the straw port is a vent. This means that the negative pressure put on your bottle by sucking on it doesn't pull that back through the mouth-piece (and your back-washing mouth...) further adding to the longevity of the contents, as well as making drinking much easier and more free. The straw itself is removable, and can be left out entirely, if you don't mind the "tilt-back" drinking style.

The silicone rubber nipple fits snugly against a ridge on the cap to keep it crud-free, and covers the vent hole when depressed. The lever also acts as a carry handle, and the whole assembly can be broken down to clean all the parts.

The only drawback I've found is that if I've let a cold drink warm up, or hold the bottle around any air-space, the heat of my hand can expand the air inside enough to make it spurt my drink up out of the straw when I flip the top.

Liberty Bottles cutting-edge cylindrical printers have done a great job on Propper's design, laying down graphics you can feel. I really liked that tactile diamondplate addition, and the surface material has taken a few drops and knocks already with no sign of wear.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: EDCpen

As first featured on here: the-ultimate-minimalist-everyday-carry-pen-edcpen

I was very pleased to be contacted by Kris of EDCpen who I've been following for a while, having missed out on his Kickstarter, but also by association with Brad of Tactical KeyChains, who has collaborated with Kris in the past.

Openly professing not being an engineer or product designer by trade, rather, Kris is a guy with a great idea. A former Infantryman and Paratrooper, who like me enjoys having a handful of EDC items which are practical and useful on a daily basis. Kris has gone the extra step, (in more way than one) and has produced a great item which I am pleased to share here.

The Kickstarter project that was produced to fund the production of these, and offered them in aluminium, brass and stainless steel. A later stretch goal brought forth a titanium option, which is what I was sent.

Fitted with a Fisher Space Pen cartridge the EDCpen gives a smooth writing action, and fits the hand snugly, even for a small pen, when unscrewed. You can see the threading and o-ring where the lid fits to the pen end, and the machined rings for grip towards the nib end. I found as a pen, this was a great fit, and haven't had any trouble using it. The ends feature similar fluted groves as those seen on the Ti2 Sentinel cache that Mike Bond puts out. I have a feeling there is a lot of collaboration between these guys, which is excellent, as it means there are awesome products coming our way.

The whole pen has been machined from solid titanium, with the cap having its lanyard loop cut deeply enough that there is no doubt that your cord would break before the loop, and the pen body itself seats the ink cartridge by having a countersunk threaded plug which screws in tightly behind the cartridge.

I can't imagine the situation in which this would come loose of its own accord in my use(perhaps being stuck in an engine casing) but it certainly didn't give me any worries. This thing really is designed to last a lifetime.I shudder to think what it would take to break this thing, and I'm confident that my body would go first.

I've covered a couple of "tactical pens" in the past, namely the S&W pen, and the CRL modular pen. The EDCpen is substantially heftier and hardier feeling than both.

It's solid construction, especially in titanium, give it a mass of 50g, ( 1 3/4oz) (53g with the included paracord loop), which outweighs the aluminium version of the CRL pen (at 42g) but as I said earlier, it sits nicely in the hand. The smooth finish of the pen lends again to it's heft and I found that the four fluted groves had just enough bite to their edges to give a good grip, without cutting in.

Why is this relevant? Because I always like to look at how I can use what I carry to combative purpose.

Having a 113mm x 12mm cylinder of titanium on hand just made me want to hit things, and I found that it most certainly does make an impression. These two divots were from one-inch-punch type strikes on a painted concrete wall. The pen didn't take even a smudge, the wall took two fairly impressive dents.

This was a great pen, and certainly worth adding to my EDC. It certainly lives up to its name. My only worry would be losing it, and with the included paracord lanyard, I've been able to have it looped through PALS/MOLLE, my belt loops and the like. This is a great example of someone taking a simple need, producing an elegant product and having a complete solution.

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