Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Tacticool Toolbag Primer (Revisited)

I make my living fixing stuff. I love it. I love what I do. If you would have asked me 15 years ago if this would be my profession, I would have told you "No way in Hell, Jack!" Honestly, it's crazy how things change.

Tools are a passion of mine. Growing up in and around my Dad's garage, especially when I was told to clean the dang thing, I looked at a lot of tools and learned about them and what they could do. By being around my dad and brother fixing stuff I learned through osmosis and sometimes instruction on how to repair or build things. These guys built skyscrapers. There is nothing they could not handle, and they always had the best tools for the job.

I may very well have become an iron worker if my dad encouraged it, or would have joined the military if I wasn't dissauded at a young age. But as life has it, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. The life of a preparedness-minded maintenance dude agrees with me.

Anyway, above is my emergency response bag. This is the one I have at home. I have one at work that is nearly identical with some minor differences. At either location, I can handle 85-90% of maintenance problems that arise. Everything from electrical to plumbing to carpentry to whatever. Usually, there's a tool in the bag that will do the trick.

I got the idea for the tacticool electrician style bag from our excellent HVAC guys, who have to climb on roofs and other places every day to do their job. We all have tons of tools, but the essentials are left in the bag for when duty calls. Excitedly, I put one together at work and then began building one for home about three years ago. The contents are, in my opinion, essentials listed below for your consideration:

1.) Hexnut drivers (Standard). You never know know when you'll need one of these. I keep these on hand because they are solid and keep me from running to grab the ratchet set too often.

2.) Screwdrivers. An obvious must. I prefer Klein Long Shanks. These are #2. At work I also have tiny small #2s for the occasional tight spot. And tiny regular and philips screwdrivers for opening electronics, repairing glasses, and what not. Also included above is an awl. It's the pointy thing next to the screwdrivers.

3.) Volt Tester: It tells you if an outlet or wire is hot. Above is a red GB instruments product. It works, sometimes. In the future I will purchase one by Fluke, because I simply don't trust the GB.

4.) Multimeter: Reads voltage, amps, etcs. As one electrician told me, always double check with the multimeter to see if a wire is hot, even if you've used a volt tester first. You just never know.

5.) Tape: I keep electrical tape on hand, as well as white and yellow tape for water and gas plumbing respectively. I don't carry plumbers putty in the bag, simply because if I need that, I usually need a whole bunch of other stuff, and I keep that in a seperate dedicated plumbing tool box. Also good to have if you are working with gas is some of the gas-bubbly. It's basically a liquid that you put on a fitting, and if it bubbles up, you know you have a leak.

6.) Safety glasses: The ones above are tinted. It's good to have a couple laying around. Don't risk jacking your eye if you can't find them. That's why it's good to have more than one, especially when working with wood.

7.) Wire Strippers: A necessity if you are working with wire. Mine are Kleins

8.) Drywall saw: When you need it, nothing else suffices. Similarly, I keep two box cutters in the bag, in case one gets misplaced.

9.) Extra screw driver: Just in case. Has multi-sized heads.

10.) Mini-Crow bar/nail puller: Perfect when you need to bash something. Or get out a nail you can't reach with a hammer.

11.) Hammer: An absolute must. I prefer a 16 ounce Estwing. Well-worth every penny, especially when you gotta do a lot of pounding.

12.) Spark igniter: I keep one on the bag in case I need to access a torch. I don't use it much, but it looks bad ass hanging there.

13.) Pliers: Sidecutters, Diagonal cutters, and needlenose (both long and short, if possible). I like Klein's. Channelocks are good too.

14.) Adjustable Wrench/Channelocks: I grew up just calling them Channelocks, because that's what my dad and brother owned. You need 2 different sizes. 12 inch and 8 inch. That should handle most issues related to plumbing, unfastening, or what have you.

15.) Flashlight: Duh. Sometimes you will need to see in a place where it's dark. I have a simple mag lite in the bag, although I should probably eventually switch it to an LED maglite.

16.) Metal File: Especially handy for plumbing with copper, or working with any type of metal for that matter.

17.) Adjustable mirror: These things are like two bucks at Autozone. They are very handy for inspecting unaccessible spots. This is the most recent addition to the bag.

18.) Tape Measure: Another essential. I also like to have a small level in the bag, but right now it's on my framing belt.

19.) Wood chisel: At work I also keep a metal pin/chisel as well for the unexpected, but for home it's just not practical. Has many good uses.

20.) Screw Tackle Box: This thing is great and keeps commonly used items organized. I always keep plenty of wire nuts, self-tapping metal screws, washers, and drywall screws in minel. I also have a miscellaneous section with a a hodgepodge of oddball screws, nuts and nails. You just never know when you are going to need something, and there is a special victory in not having to run to your shed or Lowe's to grab it when you find it in your bag.

One last thing: You need a good solid, 18volt cordless screw gun. I carry it seperately, as well as a small "bit" book, that contains multiple bits and drivers. Definitely a must have at some point. I am among the masses who needs to upgrade

My final advice is to not skimp on your tools. As for me, I had a few already, bought the bag, and then dedicated $20.00 from each paycheck to load it up until I was satisfied. I didn't take long before I was ready to rock.

Other tools make there way in and out of the bag as needed, but the ones listed above are the ones I view as essential to have on hand. A tool bag such as the above is also nice because it's easy to carry into battle and you can see what you've got at a glance. Stuff falls to the bottom from time to time, but if you love your tools the way I do it's refreshing and inspiring to reorganize.

Peace Out,


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Knee Deep...

I've been MIA from my usual haunts this week, as I've been standing knee deep in insulation--blown-in AND batts--at work, not to mention rest of the debris. We are doing an office retro-fit and I am everything from day laborer to project manager on this job, from dawn to dusk.

It will be good to get this one out of the way. There's been a lot of build up over this project, and once it's over, life as a maintenance guy, I hope, will become somewhat normal.

Anyway, I wanted to post up and say yo, what up.

Peace Out, homies.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hitting the Spot

I've had it in my mind for a week or so that I would be returning to West Va. for my birthday, specifically to Lost River State Park.

What I did not intend until the last minute was going the long way, and by long I mean roundabout. The scenic route. The one you take only when you get lost or are going somewhere else. Yes, that would be the route I took.

I gave the map a cursory look on Google, but neglected to zoom in. The road Atlas I looked at while at the truck stop was little better. In fact, I thought I had gained clarification. Only when I stopped to ask for further clarification just short of Orkney Springs did I realize the breadth of my (mis)adventure. I recalled a certain unmarked fork in the road, where I zigged instead of zagged and chose the path less traveled. We nearly turned back, but my intrepid and understanding wife, wanting me to get it out of my system and have a good birthday, convinced me otherwise.

I'm glad she did. I enjoyed our return to the park immensely, despite the length of the trip. The cool thing is we got to see parts of Va. we've never seen, much of which was simply breathtaking and some of which was reminiscent of "The Road." The stretch of 42 from Woodstock to Basye is one to remember for sure.

Anyway, Lost River is my favorite state park, an isolated oasis of tranquility and beauty. It is way the hell out for sure, but worth it in spades. I can't say enough about this place, and many others in West Va. So in keeping with the spirit of keeping a place like this unknown and unsullied, let me just state for the record that West Va. sucks and Lost River is the place where unwashed rednecks hang out with banjos.




Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In case you haven't noticed...

The world is circling the drain.

Greece goes belly-up and the DOW drops a grand? 1.5 trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see. Bailouts here, there, and everywhere. Here a trilion, there a trilion. What the hell is a billion anymore, really? And we are supposed to be pissed about CEO bonuses?! Give me an FN break.

If there was an event to signal that the light has gone from hazard yellow to "Oh shit!" red, it was the Greece/Dow plummet. At least for me. Either way, the fact is that every first world economy in the world is in the red, and the world is starting to notice. Our own country is bankrupt. The full faith and credit of the United States is presently a fiction that others choose to believe so things can chug along as if nothing is wrong, but the fact is that the system is so corrupt that eventually the only way left to go will be a systemic collapse.

Combine the above with the fact that terrorists are still on the hunt and hell bent on destroying America, and our problems don't get any smaller. If you've ever been at sea, this is the moment you say to yourself, "We're in the shit!" You realize that you are in the middle of the rough sea, with no end in site in any direction. Yet you chart your course nonetheless and weather the storm as best as possible.

This morning, even the local conservative radio host, Christ Plante, who is awesome, was asking the question, how are you preparing for the seemingly turbulant times down the road? I wish I could have listened to the whole show, but the bottom line is that people are taking notice and taking matters into their own hands. One caller in particular said "I'm making sure my guns are clean and I've started my first garden." That's a good indicator of where we are at present.

Friends, now is the time to get your shit together, if you haven't already. Now more than ever. Now is the time. Once the economy collapses, that's it, there's no hitting the reset button and no turning back. Right now, in other places in the world, a collapsed economy is the daily reality, along with corruption, starvation, oppression, and disease.

People who say it can't happen here should remind themselves of ancient Rome before the fall, or of Byzantium, when the empire struggled to maintain its borders against their enemies (some of whom we are fighting now, mind you). While times may change, the human predicament most certainly does not. Barbarism is not bound by place or time, and extended times of peace and prosperity are the exception rather than the rule.

A new dark age looms on the horizon. Now is the time to overcome.

Over and Out,


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Some good news...

I looked again more thoroughly at the gun laws. It appears that the law I cited about shooting within 100 yards of a road was either a) an older law that has since been overturned/re-written; b.) in reference to a state law that allows individual counties to outlaw shooting up to within 100 yards of the road.

So this means I can shoot on my property.

I will still further research this and perhaps make an anonymous phone call to the county or to the sherriff.

This makes me very happy, as I sorely missed looking at the .22 hanging above my door and feeling like I could go out and shoot.

Also in good news, I finished the book project I've been working on. More about this later, if it actually gets published, but this means I have some money coming my way to spend, in part, on guns.

I would like to purchase a scope for the rifle (.300 WSM) and a new/newly used shotty. My budget scope is a Leupold VX-II for about $300. I need to do a little more research, but I
don't really see a need to shoot out farther than 500 yards (at this time). I could easily spend 2 or 3 times that amount, but it's hard to justify right now.

If I go this route, which seems probable, I am looking for an 8-shot Mossy Persuader, with the butstock. Something very tacticool. An end of the world pump gun. This will round out my arsenal nicely.

(Also on the docket is a .22 Marlin 60, whenever I can find an old school one around here. I will snap it up when I find it.)

Peace Yos,


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Severly F'n Pissed

Above, 10 acres in West Va. for $29,000, about 1-1.5 hours from here.

Yes, that's right. Here's why:

"Don't start! Tell him if he does it again I'll call the law!"

This was the response I received, shouted from somewhere on my northern neighbor's property, from the crackle of a the Marlin Model 80 .22 rifle.

Unfortunately, the law is on her side. In VA, you need to be at least 100 yards from the road to discharge a firearm. I was initially advised by my other neigbors, who are actually closer to our house, that it is ok to shoot on the back 50 since "no one around here really cares." Heavy D, however, who lives to the north is now suddenly upset by my occasional shooting.

These are the same people who shout all the time outside yelling at their kids/relatives/whoever for the whole damn neighborhood to hear. And now duddenly, my May Day salute is offensive.

There is a diatribe of expletives that wish to spew forth from my mowth/fingertips, but I will spare you the details. You see, it's not that they had a problem with me shooting that bothers me. It's that the manner in which the threat was delivered was totally disrespectful. If she had come over and said, "Hey Nick, I know we live in the country and all, but I am really uncomfortable with you shooting here, could you please stop?" I would have been more than cool and would have appreciated the vote of confidence.

That and they have had plenty of opportunities in the past to address me about their concerns. So, WTF? Now it's a problem? Passive aggressive doesn't fly with me. Not one bit.

"Then stay the hell away from my pears" is how I should have responded. Yes, they have confessed that they pick pears from our trees, occasionally.

So anyway, you can imagine that I was pissed by being corrected in this fashion. As so often is the case, it's not what you do, it's how you do it. Writing this out for the world to hear/read makes me feel better.

I am now dead serious about taking action to buy cheap rural land in west va, on which to hunt, zero my rifles and hang out as I see fit. There are no ranges in my locale to speak of, except the Izaak Walton League. But you have to be a member, you can't take friends, etc. In fact, most ranges out here tend to fall under the members only category. It's kinda gay, but understandable.

So anyway, that's my beef. All I needed was an excuse to bug out to West VA. Now I know I have one.

Peace Out,