Friday, October 26, 2007

Learn How To Make Dozens of Useful Knots With This Animated Website

The easiest way in the world to learn how to make knots is by watching how it is done. Clear instructions accompany the step by step process of selecting the right knots for the job, all the way through the creation of each knot. offers the clearest presentations of how to make an amazing variety of knots for every imaginable purpose: fishing, boating, household, decorative, search and rescue, climbing, scouting and more.

You can even control the animated step by step instructions just by moving your mouse along the row just beneath the animated photos. This way you can repeat any of the steps as many times as you wish.

This EZ learning tool is just so cool! It is now a constant feature on the sidebar of this blog. I'll want to play with it, every time I come here to post...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

FEMA Getting Ready For Catastrophic New Madrid Earthquake Events to Hit America's Midsection

Instead of mainly considering disasters in a generic kind of way, FEMA is now concentrating on specific potential disasters, such as "...devastating earthquakes beneath San Francisco and St. Louis and catastrophic storms in South Florida and Hawaii..."

Well, at least they realize which one of these four contemplated disasters would be the most devastating and crippling to the United Sates: The New Madrid Earthquake.

Here's how the dollars are being spread at the moment: "The federal government spent $5 million to develop the Florida plans, about $17 million for the New Madrid plan, $1.5 million for Hawaii and $1 million for northern California."

When the New Madrid fault blows again, it will be tragically spectacular, because of all the people now living in harm's way.

When it last blew near St. Louis, Missouri in the winter of 1811 and 1812, the walls in the White House cracked and the tremors rang church bells over 800 miles away...

Because of the high population now living along the fault line, a New Madrid earthquake will bring the entire midsection of America to her knees...

It is an expected event.

Here's part of the news article:

FEMA Shifts, Draws Own Disaster Plans

By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is quietly drawing up plans for a handful of disasters: devastating earthquakes beneath San Francisco and St. Louis and catastrophic storms in South Florida and Hawaii, FEMA's chief said Thursday.

In a departure from its traditional expectation that states develop such responses, the agency is forming "base plans" for responding to specific calamities, FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

FEMA officials expect to finish plans for a massive Bay Area quake by the end of the year and are at work on another response blueprint for a large quake on the New Madrid fault, which runs from southern Illinois to northeastern Arkansas and lurks beneath St. Louis, Paulison said.

FEMA also is preparing for a Category 5 hurricane in the Miami area and has nearly completed response guidelines for a failure of the 143-mile dike around Lake Okeechobee, northwest of Miami, he said. About 45,000 people live in flood-prone areas around the lake.

Also, the agency recently began assembling response plans for a catastrophic hurricane in Hawaii, Paulison said....

...The federal government spent $5 million to develop the Florida plans, about $17 million for the New Madrid plan, $1.5 million for Hawaii and $1 million for northern California.

Friday, October 19, 2007

NOAA Weather Radio For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Here's an informative excerpt from the folks at NOAA. Go here for more information and a diagram:

The material provided is intended as general information on how NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) can be used as an emergency warning tool for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It is not intended to be an all inclusive listing of how the system can be used, what products are available, or an endorsement of any product or vendor listed herein.

In several cases there are complete off-the-shelf NWR receiver based systems available that will perform the required emergency warning function as they come from the box. In some cases, where a home alerting system is already in place, the NWR receiver can be connected to the existing alerting system, much the same as a door bell, smoke detector, or other sensor. In other cases, persons with some electronic skills can purchase the NWR receiver and other components and assemble them into a system designed to meet their own special needs.

In simple systems, alarm devices can be directly connected (hardwired) to the output of the NWR receiver. In more complex installations, using wireless and wired remote modules, connections are made through devices that allow more remote and versatile placement of alarms. Alarms may require external power from batteries or modular power supplies. Care should be taken that the complete alerting system works when commercial power has failed. See the block diagram (below) for system layouts.

The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment and systems listed herein and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts, or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS.

The following are general questions regarding use of NWR by people who are deaf or hard of hearing:

QUESTION: What good is a radio to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

ANSWER: The voice broadcast of NWR is of no value to people who are deaf and of limited value to many people who are hard of hearing - very little of the audio information broadcast can be understood by individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss.

However, other non-verbal information is imbedded in these broadcasts that can provide timely, critical warnings of life threatening events to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The NWS uses something called Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology to send warnings of imminent severe weather or other hazard conditions from any of 122 Weather Forecast Offices directly into homes, offices, public buildings, churches, hospitals, nursing homes, and to many other locations using the National NWR network of transmitter stations. At least 97% of the American population is covered by NWR. The NWS is working toward a coverage level of 95% in every State.

Special NWR SAME radio receivers can be programmed to set off an alarm for specific events (tornado, flash flood, toxic spill, evacuate, etc.) and specific locations (your county) of interest to you, the listener. Some receivers are also equipped with special output connectors that activate alerting devices - bed shakers, pillow vibrators, sirens, and strobe lights or other alerting systems.

Those who use hearing aids or cochlear implants equipped with telecoils may also be able to use Aloop technology to listen to NWR broadcasts. Many receivers are equipped with external output connectors that will accept a Aneckloop. The Aneckloop creates an electromagnetic field that couples the NWR receiver to the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant, allowing the user to hear the broadcast. FM, infrared, and loop based Assistive Listening Devices can also be used. There are also some hearing aids and cochlear implants with adapter cables that can connect directly to the output of an NWR receiver.

QUESTION: How does it work?

ANSWER: Forecasters at your local NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO) decide that a severe weather event is occurring or about to occur, or local authorities determine that a hazardous event (nuclear power plant problem, a chemical or biological accident, etc.) has occurred and is a threat to the local populace. The information is immediately input into a computer at the local WFO and immediately broadcast by NWR transmitters that cover the areas at risk. Digital codes are added to each broadcast identifying the event (tornado, flash flood, local civil emergency, etc.) and the location (Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Anne Arundel Counties). When the Warning is received by an NWR SAME receiver, the receiver turns itself on, sounds an alarm, activates a warning light, writes a short message (TORNADO) on the display, and activates any external devices (strobe lights, sirens, vibrators, etc.) connected to the receiver.

QUESTION: What should I do when I receive a Warning from NWR?

ANSWER: If the Warning is for a Tornado or Flash Flood you should immediately take steps to protect yourself. Every household should have an emergency plan in place that includes pre-established actions that need to be taken to lessen the likelihood of injury or death. These may include moving to the basement, a special safe room, or lower, interior levels of your home during a tornado or evacuating to higher ground along a pre-established, safe route during a flash flood. Household emergency plans can be developed with assistance from your local, county, or state emergency management office and or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

QUESTION: Where can I get additional information about the event that caused the Warning to be issued?

ANSWER: The NWR SAME Warning message broadcast you receive also triggers the Emergency Alert System at your local television stations. The message is also immediately available on the internet at sites accessible from the NWS Home Page at Either or both of these sources of text information can be monitored to get additional information, if you can do so without putting yourself at risk. There are also numerous sources of emergency information supplied by Email by various commercial telecommunication service providers on cell phones, pagers, and other personal digital devices, however, these may not be as timely as the NWS services.

QUESTION: Where can I get the necessary equipment and what does it cost?

ANSWER: NWR SAME receivers with features useful to people who are deaf and hard of hearing, such as an output to activate external devices, an LCD display, and battery back-up power are manufactured and/or sold by several companies, including Radio Shack, Midland, Recom, Homesafe, and First Alert. Connecting some of them to external alarm devices requires knowledge of electronics and some electronic technician skills for proper installation. However, there are systems that have been assembled, tested, packaged, and marketed by Silent Call, Harris Communications, Compu-TTY, and Homesafe that are simple to install and use. The cost of a basic NWR SAME receiver is $50 to $90. Systems packaged with external alarm devices start at $100.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and NOAA collaborated on the development of an industry standard and a certification program for Public Alert (NWR capable) electronic devices that include displays and external alarms useful to deaf and hard of hearing people. Purchasing a Public Alert certified NOAA Weather Radio assures that you are getting a high quality receiver, however, you still need to make sure it works for you in your location and that it is able to activate any external alarms you want to use.

QUESTION: What should I do if I’m interested in using NWR to get warnings of life threatening weather or other hazards?

ANSWER: Satisfy yourself that your area is vulnerable to weather or hazard conditions that warrant expenditure for an emergency warning system. The National Weather Service believes that NWR receivers should be as common as smoke detectors. Visit the NWS web site at to learn more about NWS and NWR and to determine if the area in which you live is covered by NWR. The web site has very specific information, including coverage maps, state and county listings, and codes needed to program receivers.

QUESTION: Where can I buy an NWR receiver and accessories for the deaf and hard of hearing?

ANSWER: Contact one of the vendors listed below. Purchase an NWR receiver or system only with the understanding that if it does not work in your area that it can be returned for a full refund.

Vendors of NWR Specifically Packaged for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Silent Call - 800-572-5227 -
(Download catalog, page 12-14)

Harris Communications - 800-825-6758 -
(Search on Weather)

Homesafe, Inc. - 800-607-6737 -

QUESTION: Is anything being done to improve the delivery of warnings of life threatening events to people who are deaf and hard of hearing?

Yes, there are currently efforts under way that will have a direct impact on warning systems to serve the deaf and hard of hearing.

The NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS) provides the direct delivery of text warning messages via Email by subscription. This provides Email delivery to any device (pager, cell phone, PDA, PC) capable of receiving text Email. Messages are selected by event type (tornado, flash flood, etc.) and issuing office (Washington, DC, New York City, etc.) and can be used to supplement NWR SAME warnings or to get specific information on severe weather anywhere in the country.

NOAA and the Consumer Electronics Association developed a standard (CEA-2009) and a certification program (Public Alert) based on NWR SAME technology. Most Public Alert certified devices are able to provide an alarm output that can drive devices to warn the deaf and hard of hearing. Public Alert certified devices are currently available from a number of manufacturers.

NOAA NWS has initiated a Weather Radio Improvement Program that includes greatly improved access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

All of these innovations have direct, significant application to deaf and hard of hearing warning improvement.

NWR Alerting Equipment

NWR Receivers with NWR SAME and an Alarm Output

Special receivers that can tune to NWR frequencies and trigger an auxiliary output on the basis of a received All Hazards warning from the NWS for a specific event in a specific state and county. Items with an asterisk (*) can be purchased as a system with external alarms (bad shaker, strobe, siren, etc.). Items in bold type are Public Alert Certified. Items in italics are out of production, but still may be available.

First Alert WX-167 Homesafe 2000HS* Midland 74-200
Homesafe 2005HS* First Alert WX-67 Radio Shack Model 250
Radio Shack Model 262 Midland WR-30 Radio Shack Model 258
Midland WR-300 Midland WR-100 Radio Shack Model 261
Reecom R-1650 First Alert WX-167 Radio Shack Model 249
Silent Call WX-67S* Midland R-300 Reecom-1630

Power Module Interface or Signaler: Converts the output of the NWR SAME receiver into a signal that is carried by electrical wiring in the home or by means of a wireless transmission that can be received anywhere in the home.

Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules) Alertmaster AM-AX, AM-DX
Sonic Alert DS 700 Silent Call X67T*
Silent Call SC-DOT1003-2 Compu-TTY KA300TX

Remote Modules or Receiver: Receives the signal from a Power Interface or Signaler and coverts it into something that can activate an internal or external alarm.

Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules) Alertmaster AM-RX2
Sonic Alert SA 201 & 101 Compu-TTY KA300RX
Silent Call SC-REC09214, SC- REC1001-N

Alarm Devices: Converts the alarm signal into visual, audio, or mechanical form that is more easily sensed by a person with a hearing disability. (Some of these do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, but may be useful in special circumstances.)

Strobe Light
Radio Shack 49-527 Homesafe Kit*
Harris HAL-2737 First Alert WX-TRS*
Harris DATA-1005 Reecom R1603
Silent Call X67-S* Midland 18-STR

Radio Shack 49-490 or 49-488

Bed /Pillow Shaker
Harris SA-SS120V, SS-SS12V , NFS-BV6670
Silent Call X67-V*, Homesafe Kit*

Appliance module
Radio Shack (X-10 Powerhouse Modules)

The above are available from the sources listed below:

Radio Shack - See local store

Harris Communications 1-800-825-6758*

NFSS Communications 1-888-589-6670

Potomac Technology 1-800-433-2838*

Homesafe, Inc. 1-800-607-6737**

Midland Consumer Radio 1-800-241-8500

Silent Call 1-800-572-5227**

Compu-TTY 1-817-738-2485 or 1970 (TTY)**

Sima Products 1-800-345-7462**

*Vendors of Silent Call, Homesafe, Compu-TTY, and First Alert packaged systems for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Other websites for NOAA Weather Radios:*

The National Weather Service does not guarantee the proper operation of any of the equipment or systems listed herein and is not liable for any damages as a result of non-receipt of alarms, alerts, or warnings from these systems. Inclusion of a product in this document does not imply endorsement by the NWS.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How To Do Laundry When There Is Little or No Water

Whether you are camping or in a crisis event such as a natural disaster, laundry can be a challenge when water is in short supply. This cheap and easy no-soap, no-rinse way of getting your clothes clean really works!

Here's how it's done:

Add about 1/2 cup of ammonia to a sink or bucket of water, swish things around, let the clothes soak for up to a half hour. Scrub where needed, swish the clothes around, and repeat scrubbing and swishing until the grime is lifted. Remove the clothes from the water, wring out, then hang dry. No rinsing is needed. Use a little more ammonia for heavily soiled clothing. Repeat if needed.

Somehow, the ammonia seems to help prevent redeposits of dirt and grime onto the clothes. The ammonia smell will evaporate as the clothes dry, and they come out smelling and looking fresh and clean.


Brush off the worst of the dirt and grime. Turn underwear items inside out. At night, lay the clothes outdoors where the dew will fall on them. Early in the morning, hang the clothes up in full sun for a few hours.

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

How To Rescue Leather From Mold and Mildew

Here's what I do for mildewed leather...

Remove the mildew with a cloth that has been dipped in vinegar, and wrung out. Repeat applications with fresh clean cloths and vinegar, until all traces of mildew are gone. Take care not to allow the leather to become soaking wet with vinegar. The vinegar acts as a strong fungicide and mildewcide, but it will not harm or weaken your leather. After cleaning the leather, replace the leather's natural oils with a light coat of Neatsfoot oil or Jojoba oil rubbed in and buffed with a clean dry cloth. If the leather was badly mildewed, add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to it (see below).

After the vinegar treatment, this trick will kill every last trace of mildew, and will help keep the mildew from returning:

Add about 15 - 20 drops of Tea Tree oil to a tablespoon of Neatsfoot oil or Jojoba oil. Apply a light coat of this mixture onto the leather. Buff it into the leather well. This may darken the leather somewhat, depending on the amount of oil absorbed by the leather. If this is not desirable, add Tea Tree Oil to a small amount of vinegar, and dampen a soft cloth with the mixture. Buff it into the the leather.


The Tea Tree Oil and vinegar odor will disappear soon.

Buy the best quality Tea Tree Oil you can find. The cheapo off-brands are made with weaker strength stuff, they just don't seem to work as well as the older more established brands... Tea Tree Oil and Jojoba oil can be purchased at any well stocked health food store.

Neatsfoot oil is a leather preservative and conditioner that can be found in most hardware stores, farm supply stores, or here

Use more drops of Tea Tree Oil if the mildew was abundant or longstanding. Do not allow the oil to come into contact with plastics (plastic unfriendly).

Jojoba oil also makes an excellent rust inhibiting gun oil. The mildly nutty aroma will vanish and won't spook game...Some Native American tribes already know this. Machine gunners in WW II also appreciated the high heat tolerance and superior lubricating properties of Jojoba oil...

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How To Skin a Snake, Make Beautiful Snake Skins for Belts and Hatbands, and Prepare Snakemeat for Cooking or Freezer

Warning, this is rather graphic, and not for the fainthearted!

Here's how I do snakes, for the meat and beautiful skins.

First, I lop off the dead snake's head and bury it deeply, then I pour a little ammonia over the "grave" so that critters I care about won't get the notion to dig it up and play with it.

Then I hang the headless snake upside down for a few hours to bleed out. When the dripping is done to my satisfaction, I take the snake down and lay it flat. I start at the cut off head side of the snake with my knife just barely under the skin, at that exact spot where the row of belly segment "scales" meets the skin on its back. Then, CAREFULLY, ziiiip down with a super sharp knife blade. Not too deep! I don't want to poke any stinky innards. Then I do the same thing on the other side of the belly scales.

Next, carefully separate the meaty part of the snake from the mess of innards with a super sharp knife. Slide the packet of innards off, nice and easy, without rupturing anything or else, phew-ee! I find this part easier to do when I am wearing rubber gloves. For some paranoid reason, I always look around the innards for any possibility of baby snakes that might have been about to be born, had I not shot mama. They can bite, too.

After the innards are out, rinse the snake well, pat dry with a cloth. The top skin can then be peeled off in one piece. I use a dull knife to help "move" the skin off the meat, wherever it is needed. 'tis too easy to mess up a pretty skin with a super sharp knife.

You might find the most interesting things in snake bellies. I have pulled a full grown rabbit out of a 6 foot long eastern diamondback snake. The rabbit still had live "wolves" or bots squirming under its skin...These big ol' bot grub looking things are larvae of some kind of fly. The darned things will grow large under the skin of a rabbit, squirrel, dog, other critters...breathing out of holes chewed out of the host's hide. Some can get almost as big as half your thumb in length, and about as big around. I don't know why folks call them "wolves". I just call them disgusting. We don't generally shoot rabbits and squirrels for food during the "wolf" season, late spring and during summer. After the first few frosts, critters are generally parasite free. But for Mr. Rattlesnake, it was open season for rabbits.

That was weird, but the weirdest darned thing I ever saw in snake innards, was a snake's own beating heart. The rattlesnake was shot at 3 pm, here it was 9 pm, six hours later, and the heart was still beating, even though it was cut out of the snake's body. Stranger still, eight o'clock the next morning, the heart was beating, but barely. I am not making this up.

Speaking of snake reflexes, they continue moving for a while after they have been skinned. Something about removing the skin exposing nerves, I guess. If this bothers you, pop it into a bag, and freeze it for about a half hour or so.

A well done snakeskin makes a fine belt or hatband

After the skin is off, I use a dull knife or serrated rib bone or clam shell to get off every bit of whatever is not classified as "skin". Rinse well. Wash the skin by hand with detergent or soap. Rinse well. Rinse it some more. Pat the skin dry with a clean cloth.

Make a mixture of half glycerin/half boric acid (you can buy both at a drugstore). Coat both sides of the snakeskin with this mixture. With tiny nails, gently stretch and tack the edges of the skin onto a board. I like to put a length of wax paper between the skin and the board. The wax paper should be positioned so that the edges of the paper can be wrapped around the top side of the skin. This helps to conserve and hold the glycerin mixture in place, next to the skin.

Leave it like this for a couple of months. Longer is even better. Every couple of weeks, wipe off the glycerin/borax mix and renew it with a fresh application.

I have done the same thing using automobile antifreeze, instead of glycerine. I didn't care for the slight green tint on an eastern diamondback rattlesnake that I tried it on. It would probably work pretty good on a darker snake, though.

After the snakeskin has absorbed a great deal of glycering and boric acid mix for a few months, wipe the skin with a clean damp cloth, and it will be ready for any project.

How I prepare snakemeat for cooking or freezer

I clean the skinless and gutless snake with heavily salted water, and rinse well before freezing. My favorite part is the "backstrap", the two rows of muscle meat on either side of the spine. This can be chopped up and cooked like shrimp, YUM!! The flavor is delicate like lobster, almost, but sweeter.

The rest of the snake I cut into segments, then boil it in salted water (about as much salt you would cook noodles with). As soon as the meat begins to fall away from the bones, I lift the segments out, let cool...debone the meat. This meat can be used in an almost unlimited variety of recipes. It can be added to Jambalayas, Gumbos, stews, sauces. It can be added with ingredients to make patties for frying...

Although I have only eaten rattlesnake, it is my understanding that all snakes are edible. Some are said taste better than others. I heard that water moccasins taste horrible, in a cod liver oily kind of way.

There is no venom in the meat. The only poisonous part of the snake is in the head. Long after the snake is dead, reflexes are still strong, and it can still inflict damage, however unknowningly. Extreme care must be taken with the business end of a snake, dead or alive.

By the way, you may find this difficult to believe, but I used to be deathly afraid of snakes and other 'thangs'... I learned (the hard way, of course) that the more I confronted my issues head-on, the more empowered I would be. With every exposure, I grew less and less afraid...although it was just a tiny bit less, each time.

Now lookit me!!! I'm eating my durned issues for dinner.

This copyrighted material may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This article is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #1: HOW TO SURVIVE DISASTERS AND OTHER HARD TIMES. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Homemade Vinegar is Fun and Easy

Here's how I make vinegar for making gourmet salad dressing, and poison ivy killer too.

For a recipe for making weed killer with vinegar, go here

Cover any kind of chopped fruit and/or fruit peelings & cores with water, in a clean widemouth glass container. This can be scraps leftover from home canning, piemaking, or general mayhem involving fruit.

Different fruits yield their own special gourmet flavors. A pear canning spree usually results in a nice salad vinegar with a delicate undertone. Apple peelings make a more robust vinegar. Experiment and have fun.

If possible, use rainwater, distilled water or water from a well or spring. Chemicals in tap water may interfere with the natural bacterial action that is needed to make vinegar. Cover the container securely with a cloth to keep out insects while allowing contact with air. Keep it in a warm dark place for a few months, stirring now and then to allow the topmost layer to work with the rest of the mess.

The wild strains of vinegar-making bacteria present in the air should colonize and feed on the sugars and starches in the liquid. After a few weeks, you will notice a vinegary smell. Allow the liquid to ferment until desired strength is achieved (smell, taste). Strain and pour into clean bottles.

For faster and better action, add a cup or so of Bragg's Vinegar or other natural unfiltered vinegar (from health food store) to the water before fermentation takes place. This promotes rapid growth of the good bacteria, while discouraging unwanted bacteria that could spoil the batch. I usually use a bit of my previously made vinegar for this purpose. The "mother of vinegar" sold by Lehman's and other back to basics stores, also helps to ensure successful vinegar making, by introducing a dense population of the "good bacteria" that converts sugars to vinegar.

Some tips:

You can make vinegar from just about anything that contains starch or sugar: Fruits, fresh or frozen fruit juices, berries, grains, roots, or even a 10% sugar water solution.

Do not use canned or bottled fruit juices, as they contain chemicals that prevent fermentation.

The 1999 July/August issue of Countryside Magazine has an excellent article on canning and general purposes:

This may be reprinted by you for noncommercial use, if the following credit is given:

This recipe is an excerpt from Mrs. Tightwad's Handbook #5 : QUICK SUBSTITUTES & EASY FORMULAS FOR OVER 100 CANT'-DO-WITHOUT ITEMS. For more information, see the left sidebar on this site: