Adding A New Page: My Reading List

At the top of my site, under the TraceMyPreps banner, it reads ‘Home’ (which is the page you are currently on), ‘About Trace’, and ‘Check Here…”. Hopefully you’ve looked at those pages. Today I’m adding a new page: ‘My Reading List’.

While I know there are many, many good books out there, including many more we need to get; my list is the books we currently have in our library. Feel free to suggest additional books in either the comments section or on the TraceMyPreps FB Page.

So, without further ado:

What I’m Reading Now
The Eagle Has Crashed by Ted Lacksonen

What I Read Last
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

Prepper / Survivalist Novels

  • Lights Out by David Crawford
  • The Eagle Has Crashed by Ted Lacksonen
  • One Second After by William R. Forstchen
  • Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (my review)
  • Patriots by James Wesley Rawles
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Change series by S.M. Stirling

Medical References

  • Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook
  • Delmar Nurse’s Drug Handbook
  • Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green
  • Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, natural remedies for ancient ills

Gardening References

  • Gardening For Dummies
  • Practical Herb Garden by Jessica Houdret
  • Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew


  • Joy of Cooking Erma Rombaur and Marion Rombaur Becker
  • The Woman’s Day Cookbook by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
  • Fix-It and Forget It Cookbook Feasting with your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck
  • Dutch It! by Archie and Linda Dixon

Home Repair

  • Straight Poop, A Plumber’s Tattler by Peter Hemp
  • Home Improvement For Dummies
  • Photovoltaic Systems published by American Technical
  • Solar Water Heating by Bob Ramlow
  • Basic Electricity by Milton Gussow

General Prepper Resource Books

  • Hoyle’s Rules of Games
  • Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
  • Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide by Sean Brodrick
  • Tom Brown’s Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival by Tom Brown, Jr.
  • Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian

(Wednesday 1/17/12: no post, site blacked-out in support of the SOPA protest)


Product Review: Gerber EAB Lite Utility Knife

When I was 8 years old, and became a Cub Scout, my grandfather gave me my first pocket knife. Since then I’ve carried a knife almost every day of my life (when I was a kid we could have a knife at school). For the last few years I’ve carried a  Benchmade 930 Kulgera. I love my knife and I don’t like to use it to cut cardboard (which quickly dulls it), sticky stuff, in the dirt, etc. – I will if I have to, but I’m not happy about it.

I first heard about the Gerber EAB Lite on The Survival Podcast (Episode 611). EAB stands for Exchange A Blade. The Gerber EAB is a folding, lightweight, utility knife that uses a standard size utility blade. It was described as a knife that was so compact and convenient that you could easily carry it–in addition to your normal every day carry knife–and have it available to use for those dirty jobs. Once the blade is dull, change it by either flipping it around or exchange the blade for a new one (like a traditional utility knife).

I decided to go ahead and buy one – it only cost $12. When I got it home I was very pleased. It’s a nice looking tool, very compact, with a good pocket clip. The blade is kept in place with a set screw so it won’t come loose; to change it you will need to remove the screw (but it can even be done with a dime). It clips and fits nicely in the right side watch pocket of my Carhartt jeans. The folded knife could also double as a money clip; when folded it looks very innocuous – most people would never notice that your money clip is actually a knife.

I was so impressed with this knife that I bought three more, one for: Sarah, Ryan, and Chanse. I stocked up on extra blades, 100 utility knife blades costs less than $15; with that you could change the blade of your knife each week for almost two years. Because of the durability of the handle and the razor sharpness of the utility blade, you could easily use it for anything from cutting carpet to skinning small game to minor surgery (it’s sharp enough, but not clean enough). All you do to keep sharp it is change the blade.

I still carry my Benchmade everyday, but now I also carry a second knife: a Gerber EAB Lite. (Repetitive and Redundant)

Stats for the Gerber EAB Lite

  • Open Length: 5.1”
  • Closed Length: 2.85”
  • Weight: 2.5 oz
  • Handle Material: Stainless Steel

(Disclaimer: I have no association with this product or any dealer or manufacturer. I researched and bought the product to add to my preps and I wanted to pass along the experience I have had with it.)

(Wednesday: My wife, Sarah, guest posts and answers the question she frequently hears, What Do You Think About All This?)

Book Review: Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, was among the original TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know it) novels. It was written in 1959 about 1959. It was a time of national prosperity, racial segregation, and during the peak of the Cold War. A time of peace, but when people lived daily with the threat of global nuclear war looming.

Then it actually happens, with almost no warning, the Soviets launch a preemptive full-scale nuclear strike against the United States and its allies. To the survivors, including the people in the small Central Florida town of Fort Repose, it was just known as “The Day.” The day when everything that was and everything they knew, changed forever.

Our protagonist, Randy Bragg, is the scion of a once prominent local family. Before, he was living a quiet life with very little purpose. After, he struggles to find his role as he becomes responsible for his brother’s family, then the neighbors – both white and “colored”, and ultimately the town. Randy has a couple of days warning (from his high-ranking military brother) and tries to stock up on extra supplies. It was insightful to see what he thought was important and what he didn’t get. He also tries to warn some close friends, but the response he receives, “So here comes our local Paul Revere . . .  What are you trying to do, frighten my wife and daughter to death?”, would probably be similar to the denial we’d see from family and friends.

For me, with my medical background, it was very interesting to read about Dr. Dan Gunn, the town’s only medical provider. About his initial struggles to take care of so many people, most of whom are still in denial. His knowledge that he has so little equipment and supplies and that once they’re gone, they’re gone. How he, the caregiver, pushes himself to almost complete physical collapse. And watching his naivety about his own safety, until he’s targeted for the drugs and supplies he might have.

As resources become scarce, cash becomes valueless. Even early on when it was still accepted for payment, stores quickly sold out and nothing new arrived. People barter for what they need; food, gasoline, ammunition, alcohol, precious metals, and even coffee become currency.

When the initial food stockpile is depleted, they struggle to produce their own. Randy laments, “The end of the corn and exhaustion of the citrus crop had been inevitable. Armadillos in the yams was bad luck, but bearable. But without fish and salt their survival was in doubt.” Some of their needs were obvious, of course they had to quickly locate a sustainable source of drinking water. But no one thought of what would happen when they ran out of salt, and the dire consequences. They had to provide their own security, not only against humans but also animals. They were creative how they rationed energy–fuel and batteries–and how they reacted when it finally, inevitably, ran out.

This book illustrated that mental and physical preparation are what are necessary to endure. Randy sums things up, “Survival of the fittest . . . The strong [and prepared] survive. The frail die. The exotic fish die because the aquarium isn’t heated. The common guppy lives. So does the tough catfish. . . . That’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Product Review: Emberlit Stove

In an emergency situation where hypothermia is a risk, my plan–using our BOB–is to quickly make a small fire, heat water, and get warm beverages into people. In our BOBs we have a good fire starting kit, containing: multiple ignition sources, multiple forms of fire starters, and dry kindling. We have a small cook kit, and carry instant coffee and hot chocolate. Having an efficient way to make a fire on a cold night can mean the difference between life and death – hypothermia can set in within a few hours at 40 degrees in a damp climate (i.e. most nights here in Western Washington). I didn’t have a camp stove in our kit, mostly to avoid the extra weight and bulk, and not wanting to carry extra fuel; I felt that our fire starting kit would be good enough to do the job. When I saw the Emberlit Stove it made me reconsider my feeling of ‘good enough’. I realized if being able to quickly and easily make a fire was one of my top survival priorities (and it is) that I needed a stove.

I looked at the Emberlit Stove some more and watched their video. I liked the apparent quality and strength, while balancing a relatively lightweight (11.3 oz) and very compact size. I ordered two from TSP Gear Shop, one for each of our primary BOBs.

our 2 stoves - left: assembled, right: unassembled

When the stove arrived I was immediately impressed by how small and simplistic it is. Unassembled it measures about four inches by five inches and stacks up less than a quarter-inch tall. It felt heavier than I had expected, but I think that’s because it’s so densely packed. It’s made of stamped, stainless steel sheet metal. It consists of three identical sides, a bottom, and a front piece; a total of five separate tabbed and slotted pieces.

The directions to assemble it are simple. The pieces are precisely cut and have very little tolerance. This is very good in quality and stability, but it’s also the cause of my one complaint: it’s a hassle to easily put together. With cold, wet hands and/or in the dark assembly would be very difficult. On the positive side, because of the way it’s designed it would be impossible to put together incorrectly.

Alison with Emberlit Stove

I assembled it and, using a fire starter and small twigs, we easily got a fire going. The front feeder port made it simple to maintain the fire, and the water boiled quickly. The wood burned with almost no smoke and only ash was left behind.

Because I wanted everyone in the family to get familiar with assembling it, and knowing that everything gets easier with practice, we had a Emberlit assembly night. While playing a card game, between hands, we took turns passing it around and each person practiced with it until we all felt proficient at assembling the stove. Sarah, Ryan, and I even tried assembling it blindfolded – that was hard and took a long time, but we were all successful.

Then, to add some stress to the learning process, we had a contest to see who could put it together the fastest. Each person had to sit on the floor, could not set the stove down until it was completed, and was timed. To put times into perspective, when we first got it in the mail Sarah and I, following the directions, each took about three to four minutes to assemble it. When we began timing ourselves it wasn’t long before everyone was able to complete it in less than one minute. Final results at the end of the night: Alison 3rd place with 34.9 seconds, I was 2nd with 27.4 seconds, and Ryan was the hands down winner at 18.5 seconds.

Aside from being a hassle to assemble, which can be mitigated with practice, I love this product. At $37, it’s well made, functions efficiently, is simplistic and would be almost impossible to break. Lastly, I want to mention the stove is made by a member of the TSP community, “By TSP For TSP”. I highly recommend adding the Emberlit Stove to your BOB.

five basic needs: 1) food, 2) water, 3) shelter, 4) security, and 5) energy

(Disclaimer: I have no association with this product or any other dealer or manufacturer. I researched and bought the product to add to my preps and I just wanted to pass along the experience I have had with it.)