Tips & Basics

Reno Air Races. 2023 National Championship Air Races

This weekly Snippets column is a collection of short items: responses to posted articles, practical self-sufficiency items, how-tos, lessons learned, tips and tricks, and news items — both from readers and from SurvivalBlog’s editors. Note that we may select some long e-mails for posting as separate letters.

To start, reader Tom H. wrote:

“Just a quick note of interest, 2023 National Championship Air Races – Final Flag was carried live at Reno Air Racing Association’s website on YouTube. Sunday was the last day of the races after 59 years at Reno Stead Airport (RTS) where you will see everything from bi-planes (modern), original WWII AT-6 [trainers], and P-51 Mustangs to small passenger jets race. This is what Red Bull wishes to be. There are usually military jets and demo teams as well, not to mention static displays of all types and vintage military and civilian aircraft.  A recent addition is the STOL Drag Races- yep, Alaska bush aircraft flying a set distance <2mi, min altitudes, min speed, land, stop, turn take off, and land on a set line. Descriptions are on RARA’s site.

The back story on the race’s demise is the NIMBYs who built their home and most recently factory and warehousing adjacent to RTS property lines, then raised Hades with anyone that would listen – County, insurance, etc. to run them out. Yes, there have been tragic accidents with lives lost, but that goes with the sport and type of racing.

Sadly the lessons learned: folks with enough money and persistance will prevail when due diligence isn’t done.”

JWR’s Reply:

I remember making trips out to Stead, where we had our drone development lab, when I worked as a technical writer for Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). That was back in the early 2000s. Back then, there were hardly any houses near the airfield.  But gradually, the housing developments marched their way north out of Reno. The same NIMBY story gets repeated again and again.  Shooting ranges are another example. The rifle and trap/skeet ranges were there first, but then, inevitably, newcomers begin to complain about pre-existing noise. Typisch!

o  o  o

SaraSue offered this snippet:

“I got lab work done this past week and thankfully my anemia has not worsened.  I was overwhelmed with the farm, and now I’m feeling like there’s a better rhythm going.  I’ve learned to work an hour, rest an hour, work an hour, rest an hour, and so on.  I’m in bed early and up early.  My part-time farm hand who works just a few hours a week makes a huge difference.  I’ve also learned how to better prioritize.  I get wrapped up around the axle if things aren’t perfect, and in reality, things are actually running very smoothly considering it’s a one-man band.  I have to remember to not react emotionally, but logically think through each task or project.  I like to ask myself, “Will an animal die if you don’t do this?” Of course not!

I harvested the rest of the elderberries and discovered that Canadian Goldenrod grows here profusely.  It’s something I normally purchase for a tea blend.  At $35 per pound, I’m thrilled to be able to harvest as much as I want, and not have to buy it.

I made some other farm decisions, which always makes me laugh at myself.  I decided to not sell one of my milk cows, and decided to raise Idaho Pasture Pigs.  A farming friend decided to get out of pigs due to an upcoming move and I am able to purchase her small herd (a boar, his buddy, and 2 sows) at half the normal pricing.  They are only three years old, and in excellent health.  I went over the farm infrastructure in detail and decided the farm can handle these animals just fine with few adjustments, along with the two piglets I am already raising for meat.  The piglets are adorable, totally trained now, and are a joy to be raising.  They don’t stink. They don’t tear up the pastures.  They require very little grain.  And get along well with the cows.  I think the pigs think they are cows, actually.  LOL.  Most of the animals are very low maintenance once things are set up properly.  I bring in supplemental hay from a neighbor, as required.

Additionally, a neighbor is selling part of the family farm, about 100 acres, that adjoins mine.  I went on a tour of the property.  The biggest problems with the property are: lack of water, everything is old (2 old homes) and in need of repair, and the land runs up the hill, wooded, with rock underneath, not fenced, but a beautiful big barn that was built to last forever.  There are a couple sink holes on the property as well.  It would take too much work to turn that place into a working farm.  And, to top it off, the homes face the main highway in this area.  I like being tucked back in the hills.  I’ve learned a lot from SurvivalBlog in assessing property potential and realize that this property would be more than I could handle.  I even thought maybe I could purchase the land that adjoins mine because there is a plateau of pasture, but again, water, fencing, etc., is a lot of work.  I need to stay focused on this farm, that I’ve put a lot of work into; it’s beautifully laid out, plenty of water now, and it functions very well.  I think I’ll stay put and keep going.”

o  o  o

My #1 Son Jonathan sent this news from South Africa:  FBI helps Mpumalanga cops arrest man in connection with robbery of US tourists near Kruger Park. A pericope:

“36 year old man arrested for the kidnapping and robbery of two American Citizens on holiday in South Africa, near Kruger National Park. The FBI assisted local Police and tracked down one suspect. Military grade signal jammer was also used in the kidnapping.”

o  o  o

Marc M. suggested this useful USCCA video: Personal Security In A Changing Environment.

o  o  o

R.T. sent this snippet:

“One of my most useful tools is one that a friend of mine and I used to make fun of. It is the oscillating saw and there are countless manufacturers of it in price ranges from $20 to well over $100.This tool is better described as a chisel saw, as that is the action that it makes. Tools are an important asset to preparedness and it is wise to not go on a tool-buying binge, but this one is in the category of essential. I cannot recommend a brand, I have owned a Rigid and a DeWalt and both are equally good; but I can definitely recommend the cordless version. Just in the last month I have cut square holes, removed mortar, cut PVC tubing, cut protruding nails, removed old dried window glazing, trimmed foam insulation and more. I include a photo of a selection of blades that Walmart sells, that I’ve never used, just to give an idea of the variety of blades available by many manufacturers. I also just learned that they can be sharpened, which is good to know as they are not cheap. There is of course a multitude of videos demonstrating the tool on YouTube. Project Farm and Stumpy Nubs are two good examples.”

o  o  o

Marc M. suggested this:

“Just a quick note on food storage based on my personal experience.

I wanted to put up some comfort food in the pantry so I loaded up pint jars with plain M&Ms, skittles,  and assorted hard candy.  I added an oxygen absorber and lid.  They are stored in a dark basement with typical room temperature.

Five years later (packed 2/2018)and about a dozen family members still can’t differentiate between old and new candy.  In particular, the chocolate remains in perfect shape.”

o  o  o

James O’Keefe sues Hawaii for First Amendment violations over ban on public photography in Lahaina.

o  o  o

Reader RogerRoger wrote:

“I endorse the author’s offering of information on the Bluetti 180 wholeheartedly.  This equipment chops the learning curve down.  There are however challenges and technologies that should be part of the conversation.

The first thing to consider is what is known as “California Western Style” construction.  Almost all modern houses are built this way and the method is based on the notion that conditioned air will always be available.  Humidity will make such a house unlivable in just a few seasons.   The mold will grow.  The author makes the point that it is very expensive to run your whole house AC system on solar.  It is true.  My thought is that I need to purchase and install mini-split systems strategically in the house to remove humidity taking advantage of the fact that hot air rises and cool air falls.

Same issue with refrigeration.  Very expensive to run the old school equipment on solar.  The technological innovation that is ground breaking it the brushless DC motor running the compressor in refrigeration equipment.  My ICECO two chamber chest freezer/refrigerator only pulls 44 watts on 12 volt or 24 volt.  The draw on 120 volt is 144 watts due to the inefficiency of having a transformer to take power down to 24 volts and rectify it.  There is similar efficiency in my Whynter 96 quart freezer.  These can be run on solar.

The downside of the brushless DC motor and the board that runs it is they are very vulnerable to fluctuations in power supply.  My Whynter freezer actually sits behind a 1500VA APC computer back  up battery and surge suppressor.  The ICECO chest freezer sits in my cargo trailer with batteries next to it and solar on the side and roof.  The other downside is the manufacturer will tell you the expected life of one of these is 6 to 8 years.  (In contrast my mother is still running the Sears upright freezer bought in 1968.)

A second technology that has impact on our situation is an HVAC smart switch.  They sell them for campers but have application on residential installed systems too.  There are, apparently, three parts to an AC system (or heat pump) that are normally turned on at once spiking the demand at about 27 or 28 amps. Smart Switch turns them on sequentially limiting the demand to 9 amps.  Patience at the thermostat is required but you have eliminated the spike in draw that increases costs so much.

My strategy is to have more than one solar system feeding my home with one of them being entirely portable.  No telling where we will end up.  So go get that solar “generator” and start learning.  Go see for information and kits.  A nice kid gives very deliberate patient instructions on installation.  They sell kits to accomplish certain things and they seem to be well designed in terms of capacity and safety.  Even if you buy none of the equipment, they highlight safety issues that must be addressed. Also, check out for a controller that will run your hot water heater directly off panels and prevent arcing.

My goal is to have three systems providing light, hot water, and conditioned air.”

o  o  o

And lastly, over at Tablet: Unsubscribe From Everything: You may think you’re not worth spying on. But to our government, we’re all terrorists now.  An excerpt:

“The real name of the game is data fusion. The government wants to collect tens of millions of tweets and cross-reference them with geolocations and credit scores, not so that it can protect Americans from Islamic terrorism or domestic extremism, but in order to exercise power.”


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