COVID Victory

A good friend, and very smart fellow, posted on the Webs that he is scared. I felt like writing a response. I too have felt a level of concern that periodically grows to alarm. I’m going to write this to him but I hope someone else might find it helpful too.

Brother, I love you. You are a good man and these are uncertain times. We have loved ones who depend on us and we have worked to create a durable safety for them. However, the environment has shifted in ways that no one living has seen before. It is not that this shift is going to End The World As We Know It. The problem is we are accustomed to engaging our environment with a level of understanding and confidence that is not presently possible. When it comes to protecting what matters most there are two fronts. The first is an invisible killer whose behavior we do not fully understand. It’s a little like having a ghost out there hitting people in the back of the head with a lead pipe. The second is the impact this killer has on services we trust our lives to.

Fortunately we know some things about the killer’s behavior. We can take concrete steps to reduce our exposure e.g. washing hands, getting sleep, social distance, etc. We cannot eliminate COVID risk but we can look for meaningful ways to improve our percentages.

The impact the killer has on services like grocery stores and hospitals is alarming. People ravaging stores of their water and toilet paper (WHY?) presumably so they can build TP forts at home, hide in them, and wait out the virus. My sweetie went to Trader Joes yesterday to grab some food for dinner and the place was nearly empty. She just walked in and walked out again. This didn’t bother her much because we saw this coming and took steps to deepen our pantry. If your pantry is a little shallow do what you can to beef things up. You can start copy canning now (Eat what you store and store what you eat). Also, take notes now of what you wish you had done earlier to read when this has passed. You have a perspective you won’t have later. This illness could overwhelm our medical services and that puts us at greater risk to everything and that takes me to my concluding point.

We cannot protect ourselves completely. We cannot even protect ourselves to the degree we are normally accustomed. Responsible living is doing what we can with what we have and getting on with life. Moments will come when our limbic system will shout at us, “YOU’RE EXPOSED.” It may even shame us for not making different decisions in the past. Well, both those things may be true. Write down and take note of the decisions where you did not make good use of the information you had and acknowledge your exposure. You can tell your limbic, “Yes. These are uncertain times and we are vulnerable in ways that we have not been in the past. I have done what I can and will keep doing it.”

You know that I’ve had a rough go of it the last couple years. I have made a careful and ongoing study of Proverbs 3:5-6. The first half of verse 5 has been my focus lately. What does it mean to trust? Does it mean we can count on Him giving us what we want? Can your little one rely on you indulging her whims? No, but she can trust you to act for good. Trusting, fully and deeply trusting God is a harrowing venture. His context is so much greater than ours that we know in our bones he will not be our sugar daddy. What we know is when we are exposed and when we see danger coming He is counting on us to do our best, but we are in His hands.

Made in USA

Continually updated

There are some great lists out there of US products but I wanted one I could reference that was organized the way I wanted. I also don’t want to restrict origins to just the US. The point for me is to cast my consumer votes for thing made in places, ways, and by people I want to support from materials I trust. This is about supporting places that treat workers well and aren’t under governments hostile to my country. This means Italy, Israel, and Ukraine would be perfectly fair game for the list.

I also include places that may sell some but not all American made products. For example, Filson makes the fantastic, all-American, Makinaw Cruiser but they also sell shirts made in East Asia. To make this clear I use the following legend.

  • (A) All products are American made
  • (M) Most products are American made
  • (S) Some products are American made


  • (S) Filson
    • You just have to watch. Some items are made in the US. Some are made in the US from imported materials but some of the imported materials are made in places like Scotland.
    • Rugged outdoor clothing and gear as well as consumer based garbage. Great warranty but decidedly overpriced. However, somethings, like the Tin Cruiser, you buy once and cry once.
    • Also check eBay.
  • (A) Round House
    • Work wear
    • Their prices seem roughly comparable to Carhartt and Dickies. Have not used any of their products but imagine they are of similar quality to Carhartt and Dickies.
  • (M) Triple Aught Design
    • Almost everything is made State-side and all is made very carefully. Some of the materials are sourced globally but they are committed to quality.
    • Tactical and outdoor clothing and gear for both men and women


  • (A) Norton’s U.S.A.
    • A uniquely American general store”
      • Selling only American made goods!
    • They sell a large variety of goods. They shipped some silicone spatulas across the country for $6 with no issues. Will buy from them again.


This started as a simple evaluation of fire starting options for taking on a day hunt. It exploded into a pretty comprehensive list. If I’m missing an option shoot me an email, message, or leave a comment.

I found there are lots of products available for getting fires started.  If you simply want to start a fire, everything listed here will work.  However, not all the options are equally good in all circumstances.  Some don’t work in the wet and some don’t work in the cold.  Some require two hands to operate and some require a level of finger dexterity that cannot be counted on in an emergency (e.g. being stranded in an ice storm).

I am looking at options for the following scenario: I am at 4-5k feet, in the woods, carrying a small daypack, hunting or scouting from a base camp I am intend to return to by nightfall. The weather has turned cold (as low as 12F) and/or wet. For some reason, perhaps an injury, I’m not able to return to base camp. I can only use one hand and the fingers on that hand are cold and not nimble. I’ve probably pushed myself too hard and finally realized I need to make my current location survivable until the morning. 

It is in this scenario that I am judging the the tools below. I plan on bringing a total of 2 or 3 of these options/combos. 

I’ve divided the items into 2 rough categories, Spark and Tinder. 

Spark – What starts ignition. Some Sparks, like road flares, are both. If they start on their own I’ve categorized them here. 

Tinder – What will catch the Spark and hold the fire long enough to light the kindling I’ve gathered. 

Because the list grew much faster than I expected and and became so long, I’ve put my conclusions here at the top. You can find the products mentioned in my conclusions below, in the list.

  1. The application affects the tool choice. There are some options on the list that are a bad fit for my day hunt but are great options, for example, a downed fighter pilot.
  2. Many of these tools are fun and “neat” but few are solving unaddressed problems. They strike us as cool and exciting but after the excitement wears off we see they are like many other products, and some are not actually as good.
  3. Finally, after all this I’m planning on bringing the following:
  • Bic and inner tube
  • Ferro rod and Vaseline cotton balls
  • Buddy Burner
  • Zippo

I really liked the Lightning Strike system. It works well and is an intelligently planned out system. However, for my application it’s too expensive, large, and heavy and I think all the holes it fills (for my application) can be filled by the Zippo.  However, I could see applications where it would be very good e.g. vehicle emergency kit.  It’s still spendy though.

Cool Finds

I am going to be getting a rope lighter.  They’re just cool and properly old school.  Cheap too!  Who knows, maybe it will bump one of my choice tools out from above.

[UPDATE: I have purchased a rope lighter. You can find them for cheap on eBay (~$6) and as far as I can tell they are all pretty much all the same. You have to burn the end of the rope and get it black at first but it reliably catches the spark from the wheel. I will be getting one (or more) for each vehicle. The rope is cotton and needs to be kept mostly dry. I have not found it to be affected my body posture while riding in my pocket. However, it stinks like burning paper when you light it. It is not terribly unpleasant but it is an obnoxious aroma, unlike a Bic/Clipper.]

The buddy burner was a fun find and really a reminder. I was first introduced to this in the Cub Scouts with the Hobo Stove. It worked well.  That will be fun to get back to and build for my application.

Esbit/hexamine/trioxane stove.  While researching the Esbit tabs I found there are some really cool little stoves out there for them and that with these stoves, a few Esbit or trioxane tabs, and a pot-propping wind screen I could have a light stove setup that might be suited to my day hiking.  It can get cold up there and a hot cup of something just might be the ticket. I’ll have to do a cost benefit analysis contrasting a little stove setup with just carrying something like the Stanley 20oz Thermos full of hot water/coffee.

And now, here is the list!


  • Matches
    • Strike anywhere
      • +Light
      • +Cheap
      • -Require fine motor skills
      • -Not very windproof
      • There is some discussion whether they are as good as they used to be.  They can be made waterproof, while stored, by dipping in wax.  I’ve also seen suggestions for using nail polish and turpentine.
    • Weather/water proof
      • +Light
      • +Cheap
      • +Can be water proof and wind proof
        • There are many brands and they are unlikely to be equally good
      • +Elevation and temperature insensitive
      • I’ve seen a few versions and used a couple brands but they seem to have similar construction.  They have a wood match stick but extend the match head farther down the stick, i.e. roughly halfway, and that is what keeps it burning.  Some burn under water.
  • Lighter
    • Zippo
      • +Pretty light
      • -Fuel evaporates -> needs maintenance
      • +One handed operation
      • +Can be operated with gross motor movements
      • +Highly wind resistant
      • +Does not require properly prepared tinder
        • E.g. will light a piece of paper, twigs, scraps of cardboard, etc.
      • +Burns for a long time
        • Could be left burning as fire is built over and around it.
          • This could be dangerous and is NOT recommended by Zippo. I’d only do this in some kind of emergency and then fish the lighter out once it was no longer needed.
          • This may also wreck the lighter.
      • -Must be somewhat warm to work
        • Can be kept warm by storing near body
      • This is a surprise entry. I came across it quite by accident and realized it’s a strong contender. The issue for me is understanding the fuel requirements. Since I have one already I plan to fuel it up and see how many weeks it will last. In an emergency where everything is wet I could light it and build the fire on top of it, like the Überfire below. That’s pretty compelling to have Spark and Tinder in one package. As you’ll see, it won’t burn as hot as the Überfire but it will burn long. 
        • UPDATE: I have found that once filled and left closed and unused a standard Zippo will reliably last a week of being carried in the pocket. My practice is to refill it every 3 days or so at camp. The cold definitely affects it but so far it has worked reliably if kept in an interior pocket close to my body.
      • Alternate butane inserts:
      • Sealed case – will slow fuel evaporation and keep water out
    • Bic/Clipper
    • Rope/Trench/Sheppard’s Lighter
      • +Cheap
      • +Fairly light
      • +Neither temperature nor altitude sensitive
      • +OG Cool factor
      • +Completely wind resistant
      • ? Is it water resistant? UPDATE: kind of
        • I asked a retailer and got a non-answer.
        • Given that the rope is 100% cotton it is sensitive to water to some degree.  However it is the charred end that is lit and the charred end may not be particularly water sensitive but I’ve not pushed that yet.
        • On a Ray Mears show he briefly discusses this device and mentions that the rope was traditionally treated, I think with saltpeter, to make it work better in the wet and damp
        • I have not used it in the rain but I think it would work even when damp, just not soaking wet.
      • -Needs tinder i.e. will probably not light a candle
      • Not sure where to rate it on a scale of fiddlyness.
        • Does require fine motor skills
        • BUT probably could be operated with two pairs of pliers and a pant leg
      • Everyone seems to be selling the same Rope Lighter with a couple exceptions.
  • Road flare / Fusee
    • +They burn in almost all conditions, once started, even under water (but not if held horizontally.  See FAQ below for more).
    • +Does not require properly prepared tinder and can skip some of the collection of smaller pieces of wood.
    • +Can double for signaling 
    • -Dangerous to handle
    • -Small flares are a little on the heavy side and big flares are definitely heavy.
    • For more information on flare use go to:
    • There are road flares and marine flares.  Road flares are meant to be lit and set on the ground whereas the marine flares are intended to be held in the hand for signaling.  I haven’t been able to get a read on the weight for either but the road flares seem large and heavy.  I think I have seen small flares but not for sale.  This option looks like it is worth further research.
  • Fire steel/Ferro/Ferrocerium Rod
    • +Light
    • +Small
      • Or at least can be
    • +Wind, water, elevation, and temperature insensitive
    • -Generally requires two hands
    • -Needs properly prepared tinder
      • I.e. a sheet of paper won’t likely get started on fire with a ferro rod the way it could with a lighter
    • Which one?
      • There are many options available.  While I like the idea of a hefty ferro rod, the mysterious pigmonkey recommended the the smaller Light My Fire Scout.  When you don’t have strong evidence to the contrary, you would be wise to follow pigmonkey’s recommendations.  Too, the Scout is supposedly to be issued to Swedish soldiers who train extensively in the cold.  It’s probably equal to my environmental challenges. 
  • Lightning Strike
    • +Wind, water, elevation, and temperature insensitive
    • -/+Big
      • It takes up more space but makes it easier to use with impaired dexterity.
      • There is also a Mini Strike which is smaller but still kind of big
    • +Self-contained kit of striker and tinder
    • +Can be operated one handed
    • +Not terribly dependent on fine motor skills
    • +Focuses shower of sparks
      • Will probably require fewer attempts to get fire started
    • -Needs properly prepared tinder
      • E.g. a sheet of paper won’t likely get started on fire with the Lightning Strike the way it could with a lighter
      • +Comes with very good tinder
  • Blast Match
    • +Wind, water, and temperature insensitive
    • +One handed operation
    • -Technique dependent
    • -Requires fine motor skills to apply the correct amount of pressure to striker
    • -Requires very firm object, like a log or rock, to press striker against
    • -Needs properly prepared tinder
      • E.g. a sheet of paper won’t likely get started on fire with a ferro rod the way it could with a lighter
    • -Requires pretty significant force to operate.
    • I’m disappointed in this product.  I had hoped it was a spring loaded striker that functioned like a stiletto, where you pressed the ferro rod into the housing and with the press of a button the rod would spring out showering an area with sparks.  As you can see from the video it is exactly the opposite.
  • SOL sparker
    • +One handed sparking (Prepping the tinder may need two hands)
    • +Cheap
    • +Light
    • -Needs properly prepared tinder
      • E.g. a sheet of paper won’t likely get started on fire with a ferro rod the way it could with a lighter
    • -Included tinder needs to be fluffed up
      • Fine motor skills required for the gauze cylinders
      • Could pre-fluff the tinder
        • -?Would it stay fluffy?
      • Could be used with other tinder
  • Zippo – Emergency Fire Kit
    • +One handed sparking
      • Once the lid is off
    • +Contained system
      • Holds tinder in handle/body
    • +Floats
    • -May need two hands to open tinder container or get cap off striker
    • -Tinder (stored in device) needs to be fluffed up
      • Fine motor skills required to fuzz up the little pellets
      • Could pre-fluff the tinder
        • -?Would it stay fluffy? Especially in it’s little container
      • Could be used with other tinder
      • Is tinder water proof?
        • Probably not since they advertise how the system keeps the tinder dry.
    • -Needs properly prepared tinder
      • E.g. a sheet of paper won’t likely get the fire started the way it could with a lighter


  • Inner tube 
    • +Light
    • +Cheap
    • +Can be used for many things
    • +Impervious to water
    • +Wind resistant once started
    • -Does not burn extremely hot
    • -Does not burn exceptionally long
    • +Does burn for a good while
    • This is my standard tinder and I keep it with my bic lighter.  In most circumstances it works great.  I cut a strip off the inner tube and light an end on fire.  It gives off some black sooty smoke but burns reliably and, if I have set up the tinder bundle properly, gets my fire started.
  • Vaseline Cotton Balls
    • +Cheap
    • +Light
    • +Small
    • +Burns for a good amount of time
    • -Can be messy if not stored correctly
    • -Must be stored correctly to keep it from becoming damp
    • +Easy to store correctly (Just get a sealed container that won’t react with the petroleum jelly.  Film canisters work great, pigmonkey suggests a ziplock will do too)
    • These are awesome but don’t head off into the wilderness until you have tested them and know they will work and how they will behave (You can fill them with too much Vaseline and then they’re hard, very hard, to light) .
  • Haxamine Tabs
    • +Cheap
      • Especially the Coghlan brand
    • +Burns for 5-10 minutes
    • +Can double for fuel in a stove
    • +Small
    • +Light
    • -Stinks!
      • The odor will permeate any container it is placed in.
      • Esbit tabs in the foil sealed packages are much better but can still stink a bit.
    • -Moisture sensitive
      • Moisture will encourage the tablet to break apart
        • This is a problem if they are not sealed while stored
    • -Sensitive to wind
      • Should use with a screen of some kind.
    • -Fiddly to get started
      • Does not light readily
      • One of the ways to get it to light is scraping shavings
        • This makes for two problems two problems:
          • Dexterity is required (probably with both hands)
          • Wind can carry scrapings away
  • Trioxane tablets – (MIL-F-10805D)
    • +Lights easily
      • Flame always works and a ferro rod will work though it may take a few tries.  The Lightning Strike will likely light them first try.
    • +Comes sealed which keeps tablet protected, contained if it breaks up, and may prolong storage life
    • -Comes sealed which adds a potentially difficult step to getting the tab out in an emergency
      • One may wish to pre-cut the ends to facilitate tearing open the package. tearing open a prepped package is likely able to be done with one hand and teeth.
    • -More recent version comes sealed in bars that can be broken into 3 pieces.  After breaking first piece off, the remaining 2 are no longer sealed.
      • Could be messy but I don’t imagine a few days exposed to the air will kill the remaining fuel
      • In an emergency in poor conditions you will likely want to burn the whole thing anyway.
    • +Does not burn with black sooty smoke (unlike hexamine)
    • -/+Apparently has half the BTU’s per unit weight of hexamine BUT puts out heat faster.  See video below for a comparison of both in boiling water.  The results in a nutshell are:
      • Hexamine 30g (2 Esbit cubes) took ~19 minutes to bring 20oz of water to the boil.
      • Trioxane 45g (3 individual pieces in succession, not a bar) took 14 minutes to bring 20 oz of water to the boil
    • +Burns for about 10 minutes per bar or 3+ minutes per piece 
      • The older, smaller tabs also burn for over 3 minutes.
    • -/+ Not exactly cheap but currently not so expensive that you couldn’t reasonably experiment with them before needing to use them.
      • It appears from my initial research that the exclusive source for these appears to involve the US Military.  There was a time, over a decade ago, when they sold for 15 cents per bar.  They cost much more now and if the military changes procurement they could become much more expensive or not available at all.  On the other hand, there may be a time when they are ridiculously cheap again.
    • +MIL SPEC states “There is no applicable shelf life for this part”
    • This actually seems like a viable tinder with multiple uses.  It looks like a reliable fire starter and a reasonable fuel for heating a pot of something.  The package adds fiddling to its use but its ease of lighting kind of makes up for it.  It is a lot more expensive than inner tube and cotton balls but it also appears to occupy a space closer to Uberfire.
    • Hexamine vs Trioxane video:
  • Magnesium
    • +Burns HOT
    • -Burns briefly and almost belongs in the Spark category
      • If you make a big pile it will last longer but not as long as a match
    • -Need two hands to efficiently make shavings
    • -Shavings are easily blown away by the wind
  • Tinder Quick 
    • +Sold as being wind and water proof
    • +Claimed to burn for over one minute 
    • -Need to pull tinder unit apart
      • Fine motor skills to tease apart
      • Likely need two hands
    • I guess these were/are used in MIL pilot survival kits.  They make sense to me for that application but don’t seem to be superior to inner tube and cotton balls for what I’m doing.
  • Napalm Tinder
  • WetFire
    • +Waterproof – can catch fire while floating in water
    • -Not cheap
    • -Must be shaved into small pieces to catch fire from ferro rod
    • -Individually packaged in plastic/aluminum like packaging that looks like a potential PITA to open.

Emergency cold/wet weather fire starter

For that situation where you MUST get a fire started and the environment is against you.

  • Überfire 2oz.
    • +It looks like it works
    • -It’s $20-$30 PER FIRE.
      • This makes using it and understanding it an expensive process.  As an emergency fire source for downed pilots I think it makes a lot of sense, especially when you can collect taxes to pay for it. You may be able to smother it and use it again but then you have less burn time available for the next use.  It’s not a bad idea, and if I were sending a city slicker into the boonies, alone, I would throw one of these in his pack, but why would you do that to someone?
  • Buddy Burner
    • +Cheap
    • +Burns for a long time
    • +Puts out a good amount of heat and should be able to dry out wet, or at least damp, wood
    • +You can practice with it
    • -/+ Depending on the can you use it may be heavy and large.  However, you could get, And I would suggest getting, a screw top can.  For the price of an Überfire you can get a whole stack of screw top cans off Amazon.  
    • -Can be a little hard to get started.
      • My thought is to couple some other form of tinder, like the cotton balls, for starting, kind of like the Überfire setup.  This of course will require testing.
    • PRO TIP: many of the examples I’ve seen prepare the cardboard incorrectly.  Before you role it up you want to strip one side off the cardboard.  This will leave the other side and the corrugations.  Then it will roll up nicely.  Also think about sticking a birthday candle in the middle to help get it going.
    • I’ve got to say, while I think the Überfire  is cool, I think the buddy burner is almost as good and a fraction the cost.  If you have a tuna can, corrugated cardboard, paraffin, and access to a kitchen, you have what you need.

Stove possibilities

Stove possibilities discovered in the process of assembling this list.

#1216 – Sir Roger Penrose The Joe Rogan Experience

I don’t know how to describe the discussion but you have a materialist appearing to poke holes in the mechanistic arguments of consciousness. Absolutely no woo.

#1216 – Sir Roger Penrose

The Joe Rogan Experience

View in iCatcher!

Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford.

Article: Why Third Wave Anti-Racism is a Dead End

John McWhorter and I are not on the same page in a number of areas but he clearly nails it here. The one-to-one relationship that this third wave antiracism has to religion is clearly shown and discussed as are the actual implications of encouraging people to be fragile. There is a related podcast which I have not yet listened to (I need to get isolating or noise cancelling headphones for the plane) but given the excellent discussions they have had previously I’m willing to recommend it.

This is a very kind, generous, and rigorous article.

The article:

The Virtue Signalers Won’t Change the World:Why Third wave anti-racism is a dead end

The Podcast:

What is Third-Wave Antiracism? (Glenn Loury & John McWhorter)

“Check Out The Big ‘Strain’ On Brett”: GOP Commences Final Push for Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Vote as FBI InvestigationConcludes Morning Joe

Another current affairs program. They used to be a staple of my podcast listening but Joe and Mika fell victim to such a bad case of Trump derangement syndrome that it ceased being worth listening to. This is the first episode I’ve listened to (almost) in full in well over a year. They seem to be mostly back in their right minds.

Morning Joe

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the floor of the Senate to announce that the FBI investigation involving the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had been completed, and the findings will be shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.

According to sources familiar with this morning’s schedule, Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was the first to receive the FBI’s report, at 8 a.m. EST, for analysis. At 9 a.m., Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will then be allowed to view the findings.

The staggered release of the report will continue with GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m., Democratic members at 11 a.m., and remaining members of the Senate, afterward.

Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell has already set a vote for the continuation of Kavanaugh’s confirmation for Friday. If Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort survives this next round of voting, the Senate can then debate for up to 30 hours, placing the first opportunity for a penultimate confirmation vote on Saturday morning.

That being said, a handful of Senators, on both sides of the aisle, still remain undecided on the Kavanaugh vote — most notably, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Both of whom have been targets of vigorous protests in the halls of the Capitol Building, leading Capitol Police to block some areas of the building off from media and civilians.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been doubling down on his and his base’s support of Judge Kavanaugh, attempting to “fire up” his loyal supporters by feeding off of and exploiting their distaste and distrust of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Joining us with her new reporting, out today, is White House Correspondent for Bloomberg News Shannon Pettypiece. 

She’ll explain how Trump is “tapping in” to core conservative values by drumming up unyielding and intense support of Judge Kavanaugh and, in turn, drumming up GOP-voter enthusiasm a little more than a month before the midterm elections.

What’s more, new polling out from Fox News, this morning, is showing that support for multiple GOP senate candidates across the country is up, amidst the confirmation fight of Brett Kavanaugh, indicating that President Trump’s push has some political merit.

It’s Thursday, October 4, 2018. Welcome to Morning Joe.