Wednesday, February 29, 2012

127 Hours movie review - 5/5 stars

Watch my quick and dirty movie review of 127 hours

I stumbled across this movie by accident while channel surfing - (hundreds of channels with nothing good on!)

I thought to myself, Hey I haven't seen this yet, the synopsis seems interesting, might as well give it a go.

I'm glad I did because 10-15 minutes into the movie and I''m hooked.

This is a story of survival, where a man basically has to save his own life using only what he had on him, which wasn't much to begin with.

It's based on a true story about Aron Ralston. It's set back in 2003 when he went trekking out into the canyonlands of Utah for a dayhike. Even as an experienced outdoorman, he neglected to tell anyone where he was headed off to that day. He didn't have a mobile phone on him - not that he would've received any signals out there anyway.

So he's descending down into a narrow chasm when the rocks give way from beneath and sends him hurtling down. His right arm is pinned by an immovable boulder and keeps him there for the next 5 days with very limited supplies: a dull knife, some water from his hydration bladder and water bottle, a little bit of food, a headlamp, a camcorder and a camera to name a few.

James Franco did a fantastic job with this role considering he was pretty much alone in the majority of the film. It was just him and the camera. He managed to exude cofidencce in one frame and be vulnerable in the next. He was likeable and believable in the part.

The director did an amazing job with capturing it all. The shots were carefully placed, I think, with varying angles to convey space (or lack thereof), claustrophobia, desperation, panic, suspense, and even a bit of hysteria. His use of montage for the flashbacks and hallucinations was well done and not over the top. It maintained a good balance when the scene got too "heavy."

I highly recommend this film. If you like outdoorsy, survival type movies, put this in your must watch list. You'll end up viewing it more than once. Even if this is not your type of movie I think you'll still enjoy all the elements of it. Watch it at least once.

ApocalypseHub gives this flick a 5 out of 5 stars

Lessons learned from the movie:
1) always tell someone where you're going
2) always carry a good quality pocket knife
3) carry more food & water than what you need, just in case
4) outdoor adventures are safer with the "buddy system" in place.

Go watch it and let me know what you think.

Editor's note: I really should stop filming screencasts when I'm tired. I'm a lot more high energy than this in person. =/ (oh well, live and learn)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Winter EDC (Everyday Carry) Clothing Basics

Clothing is just as essential as any cool gadget under the sun so I wanted to highlight some of the basics of my winter outdoor gear.

I like to keep things classic and simple. It needs to be comfortable, functional, and of course, look good. In general when I'm in the market for outerwear, I look for something that's durable with plenty of pockets. For shoes, I always go with comfort since I practically walk everywhere.

Keep in mind, my winter gear is based on my geographic location - the Northeast, in the city, where the temps can drop below freezing and we get the occasional snow/icestorm.

Here are a few essentials:

1. Vest (medium weight, waterproof) - very versatile addition to any wardrobe in my opinion. I actually use this all throughout spring and autumn seasons as well. Excellent for layering.
2. Army boots (lined, waterproof, non-skid soles) - always good to have a pair of high boots if you live in an area that gets accumulating snow. The lining definitely helps with the insulation.
3. Hiking boots (waterproof, non-skid soles) - better for trekking around the city, although a bit heavier and chunkier than I prefer.
4. knit hats - very affordable accessory, I have a good handful of these in different thicknesses and designs.
5. Heavy duty ski-gloves - very warm, weather-proof addition. These types of gloves usually come with a clip that you can use to secure on a carabiner on your coat or pack.
6. fingerless gloves - medium weight gloves that I use daily. Good for casual use. I have another pair that is more flexible - it can transform into a pair of mittens.
7. Scarf - another great accessory to have, very affordable, and it comes in various sizes.
8. NorthFace Hyvent parka - very warm. I have a 2nd pair in a different color. Plenty of pockets, hooded, with adjustable cuffs. I have other coats (wool blend - more formal, and a couple of leather ones 3/4 length)

Anther essential that I forgot to include in the vid are my thermal shirt and pants. Another excellent layering component. It provides an extra layer of warmth while keeping sweat and moisture away from your kin. And of course, you can't forget about a thicker blend of long socks.

Once you have the basics covered, it's easy to build upon that.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hunger Games Trailer (New TV spot)

Just wanted to post the latest Hunger Games trailer:

Out on theaters March 23, 2012.

The film adaptation is based on book 1 of the Young Adult trilogy by Suzanne Collins. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it.

Official movie site:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meet the Preppers (on Animal Planet)

With all the talk about NatGeo's Doomsday Preppers, there's another show that I happened to catch the other night called Meet the Preppers.

This one's focus is just on one family, giving us a glimpse of their daily routine. Not sure if I watched the first episode or if I missed a few.

I thought it was a bit strange that it's on the Animal Planet channel, but whatever works. I was actually watching Pit Boss when it came on right after.

My first thought was: "Cool, another prepper show!"

So naturallly I watched the entire episode.

Interesting show, overall. I'm still on the fence on this one. For this episode, there's parts I liked more than others. I thought the drill with their prepper neighborhood group was a great idea.

The whole "let's kidnap our own kids to test their skills"  is a bit too extreme IMHO but in the end the way the two girls handled the drill was impressive.

Also when they were setting up the workshop / garage and organizing the supplies, I thought hanging up the guns in that manner seemed too exposed and way too easy for intruders to access it but that's just me.

So I'm probably going to set a reminder for the next episode and watch that too.

Anyone else catch it? What did you think?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Your Prepper Profile? (Check out this method I use)

Latest vid in which I use mind-mapping software to organize my thoughts on projects. It's applicable to pretty much everything including prepping. Feel free to use this method - if you want to share your results with me that's cool too.

This is a rather rudimentary version, something I just put together in a couple of minutes...but it works. I plan on expanding on each component to further drill down into a more focused area.

As I've mentioned in the screencast this rather simplistic analysis method has actually helped me figure out a more concrete goal as far as preparedness efforts.

Without revealing too much, the one main component that dictates what I can or can't do currently is location:

We are city / urban, apartment dwellers (for now).

Which means unless there's mandatory evacuation in a major emergency situation we're pretty much gonna be holed in and hunkered down right here.

The need for an evac bag is still there but I need to devote some time with the "Get Home Bag / Kit"

It also poses a challenge to storage space availability.

Current goals in a nutshell:
1. To acquire skills, knowledge
2. Experiment with storage solutions
3. To acquire multifunctional, versatile gear

Will keep informal updates as I go forward with this.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chevy Silverado Superbowl Ad 2012

Cool commercial. I guess I'm not gonna make it. I drive a Toyota 4-Runner. =) 

The Walking Dead Returns with Nebraska; Walking Dead Video Game In Production

Season 2 Episode  8 of The Walking Dead entitled "Nebraska" picks up where it left off. I thought it was a solid return to a (at times) painfully slow first season.

My favorite scenes?
Rick finally stepping up as a leader and taking a stand (Excellent trigger finger action). I know he's the voice of reason, but I really wish he'd just give Shane a taste of some knuckle sammich. Oh wait, Maggie gets to do that (She's on my favorites list now). Daryl calling Lori Olive Oyl (she does nothing for the group but cause friction, plus her constant questioning of Rick's decision making capabilities really irks me.)

By the way, they're coming out with a game too.

An episodic video game to be released nine chapters with the first one currently planned for an early 2012 release for PS3, XBOX 360, and PC.

Watch PLAYING DEAD, a video series that takes you behind the scenes of the creation of the game.

Here's some screenshots to whet your appetite:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee (Food Preps, EDC, Ultralight Backpacking, Dayhikes)

Don't underestimate this coffee in a packet - this stuff is pretty strong. This would be suitable for the morning rush. Unlike the Trader Joe's instant coffee packet I reviewed recently, this one doesn't come prepackaged with the sugar or creamer already mixed in. You'll have to supply it yourself.  Regardless, this is definitely worth picking up as a part of your food preps, EDC, ultralight backpacking or camping gear, dayhikes, road trips, etc.

This particular one is sold in packs of 3 per pouch. It varies from time to time depending on where you get it. I've seen this sold by the checkout counters in retail stores. It's also available online, of course, in larger batches and a variety of other flavors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gadget Preps: My Digital Prepper Library

Being fairly new to prepping, I feel that acquiring knowledge and new skills is more important than having a lot of cool gear. 

One of the first things I did was to create a reading list of sorts. Shelf space is very limited for us being in a city / urban setting and I didn't want to crowd our place with clutter.

Solution? I've loaded my Android tablet with pdfs / epub / mobi files for use on either the Nook, Kindle, Aldiko or ezPDF reader apps.

I've used this in conjunction with Dropbox where I store the ebooks to save space on my chosen device. I always double backup my files (just in case!) so I also store the files in a microSD card which also enables me to access the data in any compatible device.

Not only do I use this for prepper / survivalist / bushcraft books, I also use it with fiction books. It's been a great way of keeping everything organized and accessible.

So far I have probably a bit over 20 books (and growing) in my prepper digital library. If I read a book that I really enjoy, I purchase a print version of it as well.

With the price point for a standard ereader now as low as under $100 for either the Nook or Kindle (you can get a decent starter Android tablet for around $200-250), I highly recommend adding this to your preparedness / prepper arsenal.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rothco Medium Transport Pack (Everyday Carry)

I picked this up recently at a local army and navy store after doing some research online. I was on the market for a backpack because my messenger bag puts too much strain on my right side.

I have another backpack that's seen better days - I can haul a bunch of textbooks in it but offers very little back support. Initially I was unsure about getting this one because it seemed too tactical-ish for use around the campus but went with it as soon as I saw it at the store.

First impressions: Nice looking pack, true to its "medium" transport size. I can see why some reviews deemed it too small - I think if you're between 5'4" - 5'10" tall this backpack should be just about right.

I've only been using this a little over a week but here's what I think of it so far:

Comfortable shoulder straps with multiple adjustments
Sternum and waist straps offer extra support
Narrow profile with the compressions straps
plenty of pockets and compartments
has room for hydration bladder
expandable (MOLLE)
Cost - $40

Poor stitching in one of the interior pockets.
No interior hooks where I can put my carabiner / keys
no exterior side pocket for my water bottle
zipper pulls are not ykk metal tabs

Despite its shortcomings, this backpack is holding up to my expectations. It's been easy on my back during the commute back and forth. I can easily haul a large textbook,  a binder/notebook in the main compartment. If you need to carry more than 2 textbooks, you might have problems getting that too fit in this. I haven't tried loading up my 17" laptop but I don't think it'll fit at all. I was fully aware of this when I bought the product.

Keep in mind this is my first tactical-type backpack so I'd say this is great for entry-level buyers. I use it mainly for school but this would definitely come in handy for traveling as well as dayhikes.

I'll do another update review of it after a month or so of usage but for now here's a short vid I made: