News roundup for Fri, Mar 12, 2021

Seas have risen over 8 inches since the 19th century, and nuisance floods (AKA abnormally high tides) are increasing in incidence in coastal cities. Some coastal cities are having nuisance flooding for a third of the year—this kind of flooding is costly if not dangerous, and likely to increase in intensity as time goes on.

Can you start a fire with a compass?

It’s a well-known fact that a magnifying glass can concentrate sunlight enough to burn things. Many survival experts recommend keeping a magnifying glass in your fire kit, as well as buying a compass with a built-in magnifying glass in order to start fires without using consumables. But a recent Facebook post called that idea into

News roundup for Tue, Mar 9, 2021

The Texas agriculture sector is down 600 million dollars after winter storm Uri. These losses could compound already rising food prices. Citrus was hit the hardest. Rooftop solar is a disruptive industry—it could be the nail in the Texas power grid coffin, or it could save it. Texas doesn’t yet have solar incentives like other

Eggs in a Cup

Review: OvaEasy egg crystals are a tastier alternative to powdered eggs

Since starting here at The Prepared, I’ve become something of a powered-egg connoisseur. Eggs were hard to come back last spring, so I tried some powdered eggs from American Family Supply. Those were gross, so I tried again with the Augason Farms scrambled eggs. Those were… somewhat less gross. I then taste-tested most of the

News roundup for Fri, Mar 5, 2021

Food prices are rising precipitously. Commodities like metal and grains are also getting more expensive. This is being felt the most in developing countries, but just like the pandemic, this problem will quickly spread to the West. Semiconductors and other electronics supplies are in serious bottlenecks. This is something to pay attention to because it’s

Why YKK zippers are the brown M&Ms of product design: look at the little details to judge overall gear quality

A ‘pro tip’ for evaluating the quality of a piece of gear is to look at the small details, such as zippers and stitching. Cheap-minded manufacturers will skimp on those details because most people just don’t notice, and even a cheap component will often last past a basic warranty period, so it’s an easy way

Opening a can

Four basic ways to open a can without a can opener or specialized tools

You wouldn’t expect something as simple as opening a can of food to be controversial. Musician and podcaster John Roderick recently had to flee the public spotlight after tweeting about sending his daughter on a six-hour quest to open a can unaided. A Twitter thread went viral after Jean-Michel Connard talked about the foibles of

News roundup for Tue, Mar 2, 2021

The Right to Repair and open-source software movements are growing—John Deere and other companies hold their customers hostage behind software licensing for updates and fixes the lack of which bricks heavy machinery. Farmers must choose between getting nickel and dimed to keep their tractors running or hack their own equipment. Prepping goes mainstream v. 500.0—This

Dallas at night

What does it mean that Texas was “only minutes from grid collapse and weeks of darkness”?

In the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, Texans spent a week in darkness, leading to dozens of deaths from freezing cold, hundreds of carbon monoxide poisonings, and multiple second-order effects like water plant failures and communication outages. News headlines have talked about “how Texas was only 4 minutes and 37 seconds away from total grid

News roundup for Fri, Feb 26, 2021

When John Kerry starts waxing catastrophic about climate change, maybe some folks should listen… according to him global carbon emissions need to be cut 45% by 2030. We’d need a global space race of sorts to get there. I’m not terribly confident we can achieve this goal–some green-energy-minded countries are dumping nuclear and using coal

Aminopyralid contamination is a growing gardening problem

Imagine undergoing the backbreaking labor of tilling your garden, mixing in compost and manure, and planting, only for your precious lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers to curl up and not produce. Maybe this has happened to you, and if so, chances are it wasn’t your fault. An herbicide called aminopyralid has contaminated many common organic

News roundup for Tue, Feb 23, 2021

Texas is still reeling after last week’s massive, state-wide power and gas outage. It wasn’t just the inability to keep warm that created problems—water pipe bursts did historic damage to homes and businesses. Here’s a pipe burst map from Austin: Plumbing aisles are packed in TX, as you can imagine: Pipe bursts coupled with people

News roundup for Thur, Feb 18, 2021

The massive cold front over much of the US is causing catastrophe and crisis in Texas, home to more than 29 million people. People are experiencing freezing temperatures inside their homes as the state’s energy grid and gas pipelines have failed. Approximately 4 million people have suffered from power outages during some of the coldest