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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: THRIVE Food (Sponsored by Briden Solutions)

Dwight from Briden Solutions was nice enough to send us some samples of THRIVE food products that he sells. Besides the THRIVE food line and InCaseOf products, they list other items they carry such as;
  • 72 Hour emergency kits for home, office, vehicles, and custom kits for other needs
  • Unique food & water storage containers, including the 125 & 250 Gallon Super Tanker and Gamma stackable food storage units
  • Bulk food storage systems and products including organic and non-organic
  • Dry pack foods
  • Time based food storage packages - 1 month, 3 month & 12 months
  • Outdoor, survival, camping, hiking and preparedness gear
Visit their online store to see everything they have.

It's very refreshing to see a company, specifically a Canadian company, that is selling these products under the umbrella of practical preparedness, not fear-mongering end-of-the-world propaganda. I connected with Dwight through email and have had nothing but excellent service from him. Speedy replies and honesty - and I like that.

I had heard of THRIVE products before - specificcally when researching the MKS MRE packages we recieved. I didn't know what to expect when I had the package in hand, but soon after I opened it up I understood the attraction to this type of food storage system.

(Join our ongoing discussion regarding this review HERE.)

I think it's important to note that this type of product is marketed as a 'system'. You can buy shelving units designed for it's storage, entire meals that come canned in coffee-can sized containers.

I got 3 items to try. A packet of crystallized eggs, a tin of TVP Taco mix and a tin of Broccoli soup mix.

The thing that threw me off was the sound the tin of TVP made when I shook it. Sealed off, the mix inside rattled around like a maraca. I didn't know what to expect from a 'food' that could make that kind of noise, but was supposed to at least simulate a meat product.

We opened it up with our kitchen can opener. as soon as the seal broke open, a slight hissing sound released the odour inside the can. I'm not going to say it smelled bad, it just smelled. It kind of smelled like a mix between meat and armpits. I hate to put it like that - but that's what it smells like. I think it's a mix of spices creating that aroma.

The instructions - if you need to read them - are very simple. Boil some water and mix it up real well. I'd imagine most of the THRIVE products are like that. The Taco mix blended well, it soaked up the water and formed a meat-like substance in very little time. The smell didn't go away, but it wasn't that bad at all. We remarked that after a week without food - this would smell like heaven.

We tried the mix dry - it was just like bacon bits - my buddy even commented that it would make a good topping on a baked potato or a salad.

We dug in first when it was hot - without any supplement and without a chaser. It was good!

Even though I know it's not 'meat' in it's typical form, it sure tasted like taco mix. I told my wife that I could make a batch of this stuff and put it on a nacho spread and nobody would be the wiser.

After tasting it straight up, we dipped some chips into it with hot sauce - I would eat this as a snack. It's pretty good.

Cold, it's not bad either. It's not the greatest but in a pinch, it'd be an excellent choice.

The other thing I was surprised to find was the price of a single unit of this mix.  At 14 bucks per tin, I can see a definite value in this product. A lot of times survival sites overlook the value of preparing for a more common type of emergency. Let's say you lost your job - hard on cash - this could be a great food source for your family during a tough time.

Next we tried the broccoli soup. Even tasting it dry, we concluded that it would even make a good seasoning on it's own - hell, we were going to try to make a chip dip out of it. Past that, we added it to boiling water and mixed it in well.

Both my wife and buddy tasted the soup. They both really enjoyed the soup. It boasted a rich flavour and a nice thick texture. It looked, smelled and tasted exactly as you might expect from a soup like this.

Everyone who tasted the soup agreed that it was something that could be eaten on a regular basis. It's easy to see how a product like this could be split up into multiple packages for storage. You could easily split a can of this stuff into multiple packages and vacuum sealing them up in single serving packets for later. I understand that it has a five year shelf life when it's opened, but I would be worried about the can falling open - I guess maybe you could reseal the container with tape.

Next, we tried the eggs. This was an actual powdered food - and on the surface I wasn't very excited to try it out. After I thought about it, it's no different than pancake mix or any baking mix. We portioned enough into a bowl and added the right amount of water. It mixed well and cooked exactly like scrambled eggs.

We tried it soon after it was finished cooking. It tasted exactly like scrambled eggs and had the consistency to match. I'd buy this to supplement my food storage - even just to break the monotony of canned foods and pasta. It's good stuff with a decent shelf life.

You can find these products in the Briden Solutions store by following the links below. I'd recommend emailing them with any questions I may not have already answered in this review. It's worth the investigation - this stuff is really a decent buy, even just as a supplement to your existing foodstocks. I can see the value in this canned food as well for the struggling family. If you've come into a situation that is tight on money, these products could add some needed nutrition to your diet, with the quantity to stand above bargain bin canned goods.

Dwight was available to respond to a few questions I had - I hope this offers a little more information about his company and the products he offers.

Briden Solutions officially began in the summer of 2009. Much of our Emergency Preparedness knowledge and experience was developed in the 10 years leading up to that. After quietly guiding and coaching many through the maze of both Short Term and Long Term Emergency Preparedness products and strategies, an opportunity came to team up with some of the leading experts in the Emergency Preparedness Industry and carry our knowledge and guidance to even more people. We jumped on it.

We are a group of people seriously passionate about helping people become better prepared, and through our company, Briden Solutions, we are able to channel that passion. Our underlying goal is to teach and help as many others as possible to prepare themselves effectively and efficiently. We are Canadians ourselves – operating from beautiful Cochrane, Alberta, just 10 minutes west of Calgary. We know first hand how hard it can be to find quality supplies in Canada, and because of such, take great pride in helping our fellow Canadians get the supplies they need.

Why do we carry the Thrive line? In looking for food storage you will find that the majority of companies provide food storage meals. Pre-packaged, pre-seasoned, pre-everything meals in a can. Now I understand the efficiency gain in this type of thinking, but it only partially serves the emergency preparedness goal. What if when it hits the fan, I don't want to eat 30,000 servings of beef stew? Since the Thrive line is based on individual food ingredients, I can take several individual ingredients and make any meal I want, and the next meal, do the same thing, and create an entirely different meal. This helps to battle what is called 'appetite fatigue' - a real but fairly unknown bodily concern where after so long of eating the same item, no matter how hungry you are, your body will refuse it. So one can store the Thrive products with their amazing shelf life for long term emergencies, use them in daily cooking as the cans have a great open shelf life as well, or both. With the Thrive line, its like having a grocery store in your pantry, with items that won't go bad in a couple of days, and you can make whatever you want for a meal. Of course, the products are amazingly high quality, taste great, and compare very well price wise to fresh store goods.
Until August 15th, Briden Solutions is offering an exclusive deal to all CivilianSheepDog readers, any order of $100 or more will receive a free box of 50 Aquatab water purification tablets. Just place your order online on their website, and then email them with your order number and let them know you saw this deal here.



Thursday, July 28, 2011

Civilian Sheepdog - Philosophies - Gear Testing

Field Testing - just get out there and do it!


I managed to get a few days off and took the time to get out and do a couple of things. I wanted to accomplish a few things on my way to Rockwood Conservation Area; geocaching, enjoying the sights and field testing some of the gear I've acquired.

It's not difficult to test the gear - all you have to do is get out and use it. I took all of my hiking gear and all of our camping gear. We got a new MEC tent, the Tarn 3, along with some new lightweight cookware and a few other odds and ends.

I was absolutely blown away to find success rate of our dollar-store stoves. I found them at our local Dollarama for a buck and a half each. They are made of some kind of medium grade metal and come with 12 tablets that fit the description to be hexamine fuel, but there was no labelling to determine exactly what they were.

When used in conjunction with my army-surplus-store canteen set, I was actually able to boil water in about the time it took for the tablet to use up it's primary energy. Once it was burning a little flame, I poured the water into some hot chocolate mix and was thrilled for the utility I had found in this little purchase. Now, the water wasn't boiling so much that I would trust this method alone in disinfecting any pollutants in the water, but it's absolutely perfect for cooking. Given the price, I'm ashamed to have not bought 5 or 6 of them.

I'm not sure exactly what the fuel is, but I'll surely be buying a few boxes of hexamine tablets for the future use of this stove.

I also got the chance to test the limits of my new knife, the Ontario Rat 1. It performed very well and was called upon to actually help a neighbouring campsite get some wood shavings ready for a fire. I used the knife in unison with my axe to prepare firewood for them, as they had nothing to use to split open the wet wood they were using. The knife performed well and will easily supplement my current wilderness EDC.

My Columbia raincoat stood well against the rain until the very end. I had wet arms because of rain getting in through my wrists, but overall, it was very secure. I felt a little hot wearing it as we packed up camp, but over all it was great protection from the elements.

I tried to start a fire with one of my homemade paraffin wax firestarters.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the use of this item. I could have made it wrong, but I could have built a fire quicker without relying so heavily on it's use. Sure, in the bush with nothing else to light, this would be a godsend... but on the campsite with a bunch of cardboard in the back of my car - I would skip the use of a homemade wax-based firestarter. Maybe to add in, especially after a rain or while using wet wood, but overall just an 'extra'.

A homemade tool that did work, however, were the two vegetable oil lanterns I had brought along. Both burned very bright and actually provided a little source of heat under the lean-to tarp I had tied above our picnic table. Lit up, they both provided an excellent source of light at night time. Enough so that my wife and I could play cards on the table. They did produce a distinct odour and you'd have to keep that in mind if you wanted to use them indoors - but besides that, I won't go camping without them again.


Sure. It can be difficult to get out there sometimes. We all have lives that get in the way of the 'extras'.

It's important though, to know you're gear. It's also important to know your limits.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: c:geo

"c:geo" is an app that can be found for Android devices on the marketplace - it's for geocaching. What is geocaching?

Let me explain.
Scan this to download c:geo.

Geocaching is a game played around the world. The rules are pretty simple.

Go get a GPS - and yes, the one built into your Android is more than enough. Go create an account at the site listed above and look for a cache near your current location... then go find it!

Some are a little more difficult than others to locate, but you'll be surprised when you see how many caches are near you. My wife and I found our first cache this past weekend. It was a little container painted to camouflage it's appearance from local 'muggles' and hidden behind a rock. Inside, we found a log book and a bunch of trinkets. If you take a souvenir, you have to leave another item of equal or lesser value in there - like a keychain or something.

Thats it! A global game of treasure hunting, aided by GPS technology. It's really a lot of fun.

Now - c:geo is an Android app that saves a lot of the frustration in starting this awesome hobby. It logs you into through an interface that offers a few really useful tools. For starters, you can just hit the 'Nearby' button and watch your device pull up all of the caches local to your current location. Next, you can select one and input it directly into your on-board GPS.

There's even a feature to see any other active 'droid' cachers in the area. Neat.

So, what practical use does geocaching have besides being super fun?

To hide a cache succesfully in the eyes of the geocaching community, it should be in an area free of  'muggles'. In other words, you need to practise stealth and camoflauge to keep unwanted hands away from your stash. In taking up geocaching, you can practise hands on land navigation, wood/trailcraft, fitness based hiking and more.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: CRKT Minimalist

I have to hand it to CRKT - this is a really cool knife. I received this knife to review as part of a group from a private collection. It was different than the rest of the folders - and very unique.

"Nasty..." - it was all I could think to say when drawing the blade from it's Zytel sheath. Really sleek, barely noticeable when slung around the neck on a simple paracord loop. The kind of knife I could see fitting really well into a 'multi-day hike' scenario. It just sits in it's place until it's needed, and when you give it a little tug, it's ready to go.

Fixed blade, full tang - the knife only comes to a few inches long, and the sheath is only about an inch and a half wide. It's really small, hence the name - minimalist.

The blade comes with a little lanyard already attached and it's quite well done - nothing sloppy or 'rushed' about it.

It has no serrations and nothing really fancy about it. It's handle is carved to fit my hand perfectly, and I'm sure a lot of you would say the same when holding this little gem. The full specs can be found below.

Open Overall Length 5 inches
Weight 1.1 ounces

Length 2 inches
Thickness 0.1 inches
Material 5Cr15MoV
Blade-HRC 55-57
Finish Bead-Blast
Grind Hollow
Style Wharncliffe
Edge Plain

Material Polished Micarta

The knife fits a certain philosophy of use perfectly. Beyond that, it's a really neat show-off-piece and definitely appeals to my own personal second-kind-of-cool mentality. It's really sharp, even for a used blade and this leads me to believe one of two things; either it takes an edge very well or holds it's edge very well - both commendable traits in any blade. At about thirty bucks new - how do you NOT own this knife already?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First Aid Kit - a systems approach

How do you build a first aid kit?

Do you plan for everything in every kit?

A project I've taken on lately is re-configuring my various first aid kits to weed out the unnecessary items and to double check my own training as it relates to the items in each kit.

So, if you build a kit that you ONLY bring to the range - what would it look like?

Would it be different than the kit that ONLY sits in your hiking bag?

Are you absolutely sure of how to use every item in your kit(s)?

Can you retrieve a specific item blindfolded?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review: The Wolf and the Sheepdog - John Smith - Part 2

Well, I've finished the book since the last part of this review, and not much of my opinion has changed, if at all.

John deals with some scary situations. He regularly finds himself face to face with society's predators. While he usually comes out on top, I wonder what kind of long-term effects these encounters will pose on his psyche. But maybe that's, the difference - because I don't think it will have much effect at all.

I'm grateful for guys like John. I'm grateful because it's his sacrifice that enables me to lead the life of relative saftey that I do. I'm glad to have met him (even if only online) and look forward to his contributions to this site.

Below is a short interview conducted through email with John, to give a broader look at his mentality regarding his profession and his creative works.

-For those considering a purchase of this book, what can you tell them about yourself and this book?

I am a serving police officer in Canada and have over ten years of experience. Through my years of policing I have found strength from this career and it is amazing the growth of character that can occur when you are involved in a career that has a good probability of injury or death from another human being.

My book, The Wolf and The Sheepdog is a collection of short stories, each short story relates to a situation that I have experienced. I write in first person narrative so the reader can experience the calls through my eyes, picking up the sights, sounds and smells that the call delivered to me. By publishing the book under “fiction” allowed me to express my emotions in vivid creative detail.

-For someone considering a career in street policing, what advice could you extend to 'prepare' them for the challenges that lay ahead?

Working the street is the most amazing place to be if it is truly your place. What I mean by that is a lot of people join policing with a very unreasonable expectation of what the job entails. The street is a fast paced, violent and dangerous atmosphere and if you want to go out there and be a lone cowboy it is not a place for you. Police function on tactics and these tactics involve a pack mentality. Sure the calls come that you are working one man and you have to handle the situation solo but in a major city backup is always close.

The other side of the coin is that if you a slacker or a coward, well policing is not for you also. By not taking your calls or by being a coward you are placing the extra work on your team mates and if cowardice is your vice, you take the lives of others in you hand. Every call you go to is a gun call because we bring a gun to it, if you don’t want to fight to the death to save others, find another job.

Policing will change you because you will see the dark, predatory side of human nature. Educate yourself on post traumatic stress and its symptoms, because if you are a hard working officer that is eager to get to work you will see the worst calls and in the end we are all human beings. Post traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation, so the more you know about the back lash of adrenaline and stress the better you are to cope with it.

To be prepared get educated on the reality of policing, get and stay in top physical shape, learn to fight and build a strong warrior mindset. 

If you have these, this job will be the most amazing thing to experience in your life.

-For someone considering a career on the other side of police work, what advice can you lend to the people wanting to work in the 'ivory tower'?

The only thing I can say is do your time on the street (at least ten years) and never forget where you came from. I can understand why police officers change when they get promoted, hell; I changed when I became an officer. Their roles have changed but they always have to ask themselves, “Have I become that guy. That guy who I always called an Asshole when I worked the street?”.

I always ask myself if I am being fair with the civilians I deal with and if I am treating them properly. It takes a lot of will power to forget the last call and start on a clean slate with every person I meet.

The brass expects us to be fair, professional and exercise discretion when we deal with the public but the guys at the top seem to forget that they need to lead by example.

-Maybe it's not the same for everyone, but what are some techniques you've developed to 'decompress' from a traumatic experience?

The top decompression technique for me is exercise. I train hard, keep myself in good shape and keep trying to sharpen my skills. Being physically fit allows your body to handle the increased heart rate caused but stress and adrenaline. A high level of strength is also required to professionally deal with violent offenders, especially those offenders that are chemically addicted and / or have insanity issues.

The next thing that I would recommend to anyone is write down your experiences, bleed the emotions out of your body that you have hidden away. I cannot explain what happens when you write, I can just tell you from personal experience that the hidden suffering that you carry leaves you.

I also work at building my warrior spirit; I am a follower of the Bushido philosophies, a set of rules that were developed by the Samurai’s hundred of years ago. I find that the closer I follow my moral compass the stronger I feel, but following the path of right and wrong is a hard one. It is defiantly easier to put your head in the sand, to brush things under that carpet but if you take a stand and fight for it, becoming stronger is the only out come. 

I know that choosing the right action is always harder to do but in the end it is the right action. When I breathe my last breath in this world I know that I have worked hard at doing what is right and have constructed healthy emotion boundaries with friends, enemies and family because I stood up for what was right.

-Have you changed at all since writing this book?

When I wrote The Wolf and The Sheepdog I had no intentions of publishing it, it was mere fate that it was published. Writing The Wolf and The Sheepdog unlocked a lot of hidden emotions that I did not know were chewing away at me, emotions that were stirring up waters inside of me that should have been calm. Because of writing this book, jotting down my personal inner most feelings and showing the raw side of my emotional being, I have walked away a healthier and happier person.

Review: Adventure Medical EMT Shears

Made a trip out to the Burlington, Ontario 'Mountain Equipment Co-Op' location and picked up a variety of new gear.

As I was walking through the camping section, I noticed a few pairs of EMT Shears on the shelf. I've been looking everywhere for a pair of these, more for my 'range' kit, or the FAK that I bring with me to the shooting range. I couldn't believe that I could find these things, and at the price point that I did. At six dollars per pair, I picked up 2 pairs. One for my range kit and another for my camping / hiking bag.

Both kits currently have the 'shoppers drug mart' first aid scissors in them, which work well - but don't even touch these things in terms of performance. The shears are built to get through fabric quickly, and that's exactly what they do. I folded over a heavy winter sock once in half and the shears slit them right up the middle. I'd imagine these would easily cut through seatbelts, nylon webbing or winter coats.

I'm not so familiar with the brand, but at six bucks per pair - these absolutely work as an easy and practical upgrade to your first aid kit - regardless of what system your kit is attached to. They're not professional grade, but certainly an upgrade from the drug store special. Next time you're at MEC - grab a few pairs and supplement your kits.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Knife Review - Ontario RAT 1 Folder

The Ontario RAT - 1 folder is a discount folding knife option from the Ontario Knife Company.  The specs of the blade are as follows:

Blade Steel: AUS-8
Blade Length: 6 Closed
Blade Thickness: .120 inches
Overall: 8.620 inches
Handle Material: Ergonomic Nylon 6 handles
Blade Color: Satin Finish
Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock

I generally try to avoid discount blades as they have failed me in the past.  This blade, however, has proven itself.  The blade is quite large and fits in the hand well.  The ergonomics are well balanced and help the knife to feel like an extension of the hand.  This blade comes out of the box extremely sharp and the AUS - 8 allows for easy maintenance.

Some negatives about this blade are that the texture that is molded into the handle scales is very shallow and the slightest amount of sweat / moisture between the hand and the handle will encourage it to slip.  Also, the thumb stud is rounded.  This rounded end makes it slightly challenging to deploy the blade.

As for a POU (Philosophy of use), I feel that it is just a little too bulky to be an every day carry knife.  This knife would find it place in a hiking / day pack or even as a reliable duty blade (for all of our LE and military friends) 

It's not fair to any $35 blade to expect perfection.  It becomes more of a pro/con balance and this blade ends up being more than worth it.  

For a in depth review and a good look at the blade, you can watch a review I did on the blade below.

Thanks for reading guys and check back often for more reviews!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: Kershaw Skyline

Kershaw Skyline
I got the Kershaw Skyline as part of a bunch of knives from a private collector to review. Out of the knives I've got to review from his collection, this one sits on the top of my list. There's aren't many things I can see as a weakness on this model, but this one fits my philosophy of use for EDC almost completely. It's short, sweet and to the point - literally.

The knife's compact handle has a slightly bumpy texture that is flat black. It's got a shape that allows for a finger to slide into the slot just below the blade. The handle has a hole at the bottom for some kind of mancrafted lanyard or paracord attachment. The handle comes to a soft point on the bottom end and fits well in my hand. Some I'm sure would find this design to be too small - however, it fits my hands well.

The Skyline's specs can be found all over the internet and are as follows;

• Steel: Sandvik 13C26 stainless-steel with stone-washed finish
• Handle: Textured black G-10
• Blade Length: 3-1/8 in. (7.9 cm)
• Closed Length: 4-1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
• Overall Length: N/A
• Weight: 2.3 oz.

The Skyline is light, too. When it's in your hand, it heavy enough to feel like a solid tool but light enough not to weigh your pocket down at all. It's got a good, sturdy pocket clip as well - the standard that Kershaw has proven time and time again. The clip stays in place and is attached to the handle with two screws, a design Kershaw has implemented in quite a few knives - and one that adds value to those particular models.

This knife has dual thumb-studs and a flipper. I can't see any scenario where you'd have a difficult time deploying this blade in a hurry. It's smooth to open and locks in position with very little effort. You'd be surprised by how easily the blade slides out of position. With the flipper or the thumb-studs it almost feels assisted, but it's just that smooth.

The blade locks open via a liner locking system. It's tightly held in place with very little lateral movement.

Depending on your philosophy of use, this knife would fit well into almost any EDC role. I can't see many every day cutting tasks that would restrict your use of this particular model. It's sharp, drop point and swift to deploy - three characteristics that I think hold well to many every day cutting chores. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Review: The Wolf and the Sheepdog - John Smith - Part 1

No, it's not John Smith conducting the review. It's me - Bill, wish - whatever you've come to know me as. I'll be taking you deeper into the pages of The Wolf and the Sheepdog, a book written by one of the contributing authors on this site; John Smith.

Visit John's site to order a copy of the book or enjoy a little more literature about his works - HERE.

I should start this review out by saying that some of the material in this book caught me by surprise. I have years of working with young offenders and other delinquent types under my belt, and still I didn't expect the harsh reality of the dark corners so viciously represented by smith. I'll delve deeper into the intricacies of his writing style a little later, but I'll get some of the administrative stuff out of the way first.

The book is just about 400 pages - a compilation of literature written by John Smith - a serving police officer in an undisclosed 'major metropolitan city'. He writes about his 'hot calls' and some smaller 'thoughts'. Almost written as a freestyle poetry, some of the smaller pieces like "Self-Image" come across as tongue-in-cheek prose but definitely have poetic influence. He also makes mention of specific phrases in pieces like "Princess" where the references to the all-so-familiar cup of coffee are written almost as dramatically as the encounter with the princess herself.

The book rings in at just over 20 bucks. You can pick it up online from any of the sources listed below.




On the back of the book is a little blurb dedicated to one of John's artworks. You can get it as a print that is coated with a material to make it water resistant. When the print is purchased, ten dollars goes to Camp Carmangay - a day camp dedicating to providing positive experiences for troubled youths.


I'm on page 328 as of this writing, so I feel like I can give a pretty good idea of what the main ideas of this book include. Pending some big surprise at the end, I've got a good idea of some of the points John is trying to make.

There are a few recurring themes that I'd like to do my best to outline, though a lot of the material can be taken very subjectively. The stories recount the 'hot calls' or very intense out-calls that John has been on. Most of them deal with people suffering some sort of drug abuse and many end in violence. Fortunately, John's been the one to make it out on top of those experiences, even if it meant nursing a broken hand in the process.

It's a deep look into the invisible darkness that surrounds us. I don't mean to sound dramatic when I say that - but it's the truth. There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person, just people who make decisions. Some make decisions fueled by narcotic rage, others out of the kindness of their hearts. It's a fact of life - bad stuff happens. I'm happy to have guys like John out on the block, hunting the guys who want to do harm to me.

That's another part of the puzzle for John - the hunt. He makes reference to 'hunting' bad guys numerous times. He talks about stalking shadows - trying to track down the bad guys so good guys can sleep soundly, a clear reference to the Orwellian quote in the front few pages of his book. Most of his 'hunts' end in violence, easily the most hard-to-understand part of his work.

I say it like that because it's exactly how I feel. It's hard for me to understand the sheer brutality that John experiences on the street. I've had a few tussles here and there, but nothing like the insanity that John describes. That's a great thing to say - that I haven't had to deal with situations like that. I hope I never do - and I have guys like John to thank. He talks about violence like he enjoys it, and it's hard to understand as a joe-blow civilian. This is the line where some folks could have a hard time reading more without claiming 'use of force' complaints - and John is quick to address that issue as well.

We find ourselves at kind of an impasse with the police force in Canada. Post G20, we're quick to launch the police into debates of  'brutality' and 'use of force'. There definitely are times where certain police officers use an unnecessary amount of force, even on innocent people - we've seen it before. There are, however, times where the police have to use force - because after all, who else is really going to stop the bad guys?

It's a fine line, and one that John walks carefully, especially with the public-eye-sensitive executives in the 'ivory tower' offices at the police station. There's multiple stories that deal with 'eyes' on the street or, onlookers that will pose as eyewitnesses to whatever goes on. Those people often get so wrapped into groupthink that the first one to make a move will dictate the reaction of those around. If a guy speaks up about 'police brutality', the crowd will often over-emphasize the offensive actions of police. Likewise, if the first guy in the crowd tries to stop the police, unfortunately, the rest seem to follow suit.

John often talks about his 'animal'. This caged beast inside of him that rattles his very soul, snaps at the chance to hunt his bad-guy prey. I honestly feel bad for the sorry sap that has to deal with John's animal. I believe we all have some kind of 'animal' inside of us. It's only in very trying circumstances that we get to let him off the leash. John has harnessed this ability and writes about it fluently. He consistently refers to his 'animal' being let out on people who he believes deserve this type of punishment.

John makes reference in the beginning of his book to his almost therapy-like influence in the writing of this book. It's evident in his writing style that he does in fact find therapy in writing - and it's a good thing, I can't imagine keeping this kind of stuff in. During his description of really heated events, I can almost picture him slapping the keys on his keyboard, just to get the ideas down on paper. A few missed letters and errors in punctuation are perfect examples - like he's getting jacked up just thinking about these incidents.

The sheer violence and trauma of these experiences are behind my comprehension, and I hope it stays that way. John shares his thoughts on societal issues like homelessness, drug abuse, prostitution, familial abuse and more - he might come off as cold to some, but anyone who has worked in any type of social service will see the commonality in his views. He even writes on the importance of dark humour in unsettling situations, another implication of working with society's down-and-out.

In part 2, we're going to take another look at the book in it's entirety and a full interview with the author - John Smith.

Don't forget, we're giving away a free copy of this book - signed by John Smith!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Civilian Sheepdog - Positivity.

New video on youtube!

A deeper look at positivity as it relates to being a sheepdog.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Kershaw Groove 1730

Along with a few other toys, I received this knife from a private collection for review.

Upon holding it for the first time, it was clearly the heaviest of the handful of folding EDC knives I had gotten. It weighs in at 5.2 ounces. It's not so heavy that I would suggest you steer clear, but if weight is already an issue with your every day carry items, you might want to look further down the Kershaw line.

Beyond the weight, the Groove was the nicest to look at from the pack of blades I have here for review. The handle is silver and black, stylized with two finger notches up towards the blade. The blade itself has a ribbed design that ends just shy of the backside. A flipper on the outside edge allows the user to deploy the blade with ease, though one thing that I noticed was the lack of a thumb stud, even though the blade looks to have been shaped with one in mind. An afterthought maybe?

The knife fits comfortably in the hand and really feels like a solid tool - especially given the weight of the unit, it feels like a knife, not a toy. The pocket clip is held on directly to the handle via three screws, a design I've respected Kershaw for having in the past. It works and I've yet to find a Kershaw knife that has accidentally slipped out of my pocket for this very reason.

There are some holes drilled into the back side, but I think they are used more as an aesthetic enhancement than anything else. A hole drilled through both sides will allow for a lanyard attachment - a definite plus for the mancrafters out there.

The blade is held in place with a frame lock. It's very sturdy with no lateral movement at all. Technical specs are found below:

Steel:  Sandvik 14C28N stainless steel with 3-D machined grooves
Handle:  410 stainless-steel with G-10 overlays
Blade Length:  3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm)
Closed Length:  4 1/2 in. (11.5 cm)
Overall Length: 
Weight:  5.2 oz.

Some may find this knife a little large and heavy for use as an EDC tool but it all depends on the task. It's got collector appeal based on that second kind of cool that we hear so often of and surely has utility in it's handle shape and blade design. A good knife, but at around 95 dollars (as listed on Kershaw's site), you'll want to make sure it fits your POU before making the plunge.

Rope work: Bowline used for rescue work

Hello folks long time no see. Today as I sit here on the patio of my apartment enjoying my summer break I decided to do some knot work with regard to using a bowline for disaster rescue purposes.

The nice thing about the bowline is that the loop will not shrink under tension and the knot wont break easily so this can be used for everything from lowering supplies to people in collapsed buildings or like in the video attached ascending to a helicopter.

Here is a link to show you how to tie a bowline.

If you need a wider loop simply feed more rope through the "rabbit hole" that way when you cinch it the loop will be wider.

As well here is a video by David Burnell of covering the technique only he shows how to tie the knot if one of your arms was out of commission.

Hopefully this will mark my return to posting regularly on CS - everybody have a good day and stay safe.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

New contest for month of july!

Yes, we're hosting another contest for the month of July, 2011.

We've been given an autographed copy of John Smith's The Wolf and the Sheepdog - a fiction work regarding the 'hot calls' that the author has been on in his career as a major metropolitan law enforcement officer.

We'll be reviewing this book as part of a two part series: both parts will be posted here as they are completed.



As an added bonus, we'll throw in a hand made paracord project and a bunch of stickers. I'll post a picture as soon as it's wrapped up.

Rules are easy: Post on our youtube page or our facebook page replying to the following question; What makes a civilian sheepdog? The post with the most 'likes' gets the prize. I like to run contests on social networking sites for a number of reasons - but mainly because it takes the 'results' out of my hands. It's up to the community to find the winner. One post per person - make it good.


As far as our count goes, Dane Mahar is the winner of our latest contest with an astounding 106 votes for his Homeland Security setup.

Stephen Detoma came in a close second with over 80 votes.

As stated, the winner will pay shipping for this item, and with the Canadian Postal Workers back to work this week, we might even get it to him on time!

If for any reason the first place winner can't make ends meet, the prize will go to the second place winner.

Thanks to all who participated and keep a look out for our next contest featuring another paracord creation and a signed copy of John Smith's The Wolf and the Sheepdog.