In the salt mines…

November 7, 2014 by

NaCl.  Salt is life.  Salt seasons and preserves.  In Rome soldiers were paid in salt.  The word “salary” is derived from salt.  When someone is good at what they do we say that they are worth their weight in salt. Not that long ago salt was treasured.   It’s only in the past 100 years or so that salt has been widely available.

Whether you’re pickling, smoking or drying your food you’ll be relying on salt to work its magic. Salt keeps food from going bad.  One time I cured a pork tenderloin with salt and spices and hanging it in a cold closet.   I made kim chi and sauerkraut a couple of times.  No vinegar.  It’s all lacto fermentation due to salt working its magic. So it’s important that you have enough salt stored to last you through whatever you think may happen.   Some areas have salt mines deep under ground.  The remnants of ancient oceans.

There are a many different types of salt.  I like kosher salt for most uses and some flaky salt to finish things with.  The flaky salt adds some nice texture on top of foods.  Then there’s pink salt for curing foods and rock salt to met the ice or make ice cream.  I think sea salt is extra good because of all the good stuff in the sea!,204,203,200_.jpg

I don’t run ads or get money for clicks or anything like that.  When I give my opinion, good or bad, it’s based on my own experience untainted by commerce, or any great understanding of the subject matter at hand.  That’s the great thing about opinion.  A friend loaned me the book, Salt: A World History. I really enjoyed reading it and think it would make some good winter reading so go fetch it from your local athenaeum.

Anyways, salt can be one of those things that’s tough to find in times of crisis.  And like batteries, flashlights, lighters and many other things tough to make at home.  Unless of course you live near a salt deposit or the ocean.

I live near the ocean and being one curious individual I took it upon myself to do some experimentation. I wanted an evaporation table.  Something that could hold seawater so it could evaporate under the sun.  One thing I’m good at is creative solutions using junk that is laying around.  Who needs a screw when you have a nail or a hammer when you have the side of an adjustable wrench?

There was an old table or sorts sitting out back unused. First step I tacked on some strapping that was also laying around out back looking for something to do and tacked it all around the sides of the table to form a sort of raised edge maybe 2″ high.   Next, I bought some black plastic sheeting and laid it inside of my table, brought it up over the edges and tacked it down. I walk down the end of my street to the beach and filled up a clean 5 gallon bucket with some water being careful to go out a bit to get good clean water.  I’d also suggest only gathering water when the wind is blowing offshore so any skunky junk is blown away from your area of collection. I poured the seawater into the table.  I happened to have a bunch of adjustable metal screens also laying around in the great “out back” so I covered the table with those to minimize any bugs and bird droppings.  After a few sunny days the water evaporated and the table was lined with beautiful sea salt.

This was my second summer doing it.  Last year I filled some fancy jars with the sea salt, decorated them a bit and gave them out for Christmas presents.  So what I’ve learned from being a two season salt farmer.

  • Salt farmers like low humidity, sunshine, long days and drying winds.  I’m right on the coast of New England.  Our summers are short and humid.  It still works as you’ll see below.
  • Originally I just had the black plastic on the wood of the table.  I thought to myself if I can add some mass under the black plastic it will hold the heat of the sun better and evaporate the water faster. So at the beginning of this year I added maybe 1/2″ of sand on top of the plastic from last year and than relined the table with fresh black plastic sheeting.  The addition of just that little amount of geothermal mass has really speeded evaporation along.
  • You’re better off pouring in a smaller amount of water, maybe 1-2 gallons at a time and as it evaporates adding small amounts.  It seems like it takes forever when I poured a full 5 gallon bucket in all at once.
  • An old credit card worked well for me to scrape the salt into a pile for harvesting without ripping the black plastic.
  • I tarped the table during rainy weather but the salt still got dirty.  If you know rain is coming don’t get greedy.  Stop adding water to the table.  Let it dry up and collect what you have.
  • Don’t get greedy.  Harvest what accumulates before it gets dirty.  In my area it seemed like it was best to collect the salt after 7-10 gallons evaporated.
  • Clean the table after every harvest.
  • For some reason the salt this year tasted much stronger than last year’s.
  • I figure that I get about 21-28 ounces of beautiful flaky sea salt for every 8-10 gallons evaporated.
  • This stuff, well I don’t sell mine, sells for a lot of money!  I’ve seen tiny amounts of gourmet labeled sea salt for sale for $10+!

This is the table all assembled.

You can see the screens on the table.

You can see the screens on the table.

The screens pulled to one side.  Pretty good amount out of 8 gallons.

The screens pulled to one side. Pretty good amount out of 8 gallons.

The salt all pushed to one side.

The salt all pushed to one side.

A takeout food container brimming with beautiful, white, tasty, sea salt!

A takeout food container brimming with beautiful, white, tasty, sea salt!



Morning has broken.

Taken with my cell phone camera.

Taken with my cell phone camera.

ISIS and silver

September 13, 2014 by

Who really gives a crap about ISIS? The best way to make them ISIS irrelevant is to publicly ignore it.  Any loss of life is terrible and I feel badly for the Sotloff and Foley families, immediate and extended.  Let’s face it though both Sotloff and Foley were adults who chose to pursue dangerous jobs in dangerous places.

What does James Foley’s mother expect? Her son voluntarily accepted a dangerous job and I’m sure he knew the possible risks involved.  Does she expect the US government to tell her that they were planning a secret raid? But for her son’s decisions she would not be mourning now.  It’s not the government.  It’s not the POTUS.  It’s not the military.  It was her son’s decision to pursue his craft the way he wanted to.

ISIS must be laughing at us.  We lose two people and we’re all up in arms over it.  How many folks do you figure are killed every day in Iraq and Syria?  It’s really quite disproportionate – the loss of life compared to our reaction.  By making a big public deal out of it, with the POTUS giving prime time speeches we look weak.  Our public face should be a poker face as if we could care less.  While behind the scenes we work to annihilate them.  It’s the same thing with mass murderers.  By giving them publicity we pump them up and motivate copy cats too.  Ignore them, or at least appear to ignore them on the public stage.

I think it was a dumb move to even allocate resources to the secret raid.  Foley and Sotloff got themselves into that fix it ain’t the responsibility of Uncle Sam to risk more lives to get them back.  Air strikes sure.  Special forces ops sure.  But I wouldn’t even waste my breath on making any public statement. Let’s not do anything to make ISIS famous.  Let’s work towards quietly eradicating the threat behind the scenes.

BTW keep your eye on the price of silver.  If you like silver as an investment or to store wealth I think the prices are going to get back to where it may be worth buying some.  The price of silver has been falling and it’s trading well below its 200 DMA.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls to a five year low around $15.  Not advice, but personally when it starts to move to the below $18 range I’ll begin dollar cost average purchasing.  I do think that there is a lot of upside over the long term to silver.

Fragile Food Supply

August 26, 2014 by

-8e8e802f0968bddcEmpty shelves. In case you don’t know it, our food supply is very fragile. Deliveries to your local supermarket can stop at anytime for more reasons than you can imagine.  Supermarkets don’t carry too much inventory either.  They depend on deliveries to keep the shelves stocked with all of the pretty bows and peppermint sticks that we Americans demand. 

The owners of the Market Basket supermarket chain in my area are having some sort of family argument.  Because of that the employees have walked out.  Market Basket is a good size company with 71 locations.  I read that it’s losing $80Million a week. 












Did you ever think that your supermarket would dry up like a puddle on summer pavement? Once the deliveries ceased it took maybe 2-3 days for the supermarket to get cleared out. The shelves look like this in spite of the fact that there are still many other places to buy food.  

Labor disputes, the whims of Capitalism, storms, spike in gas prices, earthquakes, devaluation of the $US, war, power failures, plague, floods, you name it.

Around here we have two other supermarkets we can frequent.  They both suck though.  The prices at Stop and Shop and Shaws seem much higher to me. It seems like everything costs a dollar more than at Market Basket.  For me it sucks because I’m spending probably $20-30 more a week because I have to go to either Stop and Suck Me Dry or Shaws Paws In My Pockets. 473178_29075-20140721_MarketBask3








I’m lucky though I still get to choose and see shelves stocked with pop guns, pampoogas, pantookas, and drums checkerboards, bizilbigs, popcorn, and plums.  Granted I have to pay a bit more.  My pain just reminds me how spoiled and lucky I am due to our wonderful supply chain.  But it’s a fragile thing with lots of moving parts that need to inter-mesh.  How about if you’re not as lucky as the folks in this area that have two fall back supermarkets, albeit sucky ones? How about if your next closest place to stock up is 20, 30 or 50 miles away? How about if there is no other place to stock up?

Meat, vegetables, toilet paper, oil, soap, toothpaste, salt, coffee, flour, sugar, water, eggs, bread, milk, batteries, chips and HoHos ain’t like electricity where you can take for granted that when you flick the switch that the lights are going to come on.  Electricity ain’t like electricity either.

Lesson to be learned, plan accordingly.  I try to keep enough extra of the essentials so if I had to hole up here for a spell I’d be okay. You can find the lists out there on the Internets.  It’s a good idea to keep a few hundred dollars in small bills around too.  And tell me where you have it hidden. 


It’s summer time.  It’s always summer somewhere so here’s a shot of me wakeboarding at sunset.


Fenix MC10 Anglelight

April 19, 2010 by

The Fenix MC10 Anglelight has become my favorite flashlight.  Out of the maybe 10 flashlights I own it’s my favorite.  Although it is expensive with a cost of around $50.   At 125 lumens on the highest setting it’s real bright.  The MC10 runs on only one AA battery.  You can’t put lithium batteries in it for some reason.  It is very small too with a 4″ length and width of maybe 1 1/2″. You know when you get a quality tool or a well made firearm?  You know how you can feel high quality engineering?  That’s the feeling this itsy bitsy light sends.  The particulars of why this pretty light won my heart:

  • It has a clip on it like the old GI anglelights.   Unlike the clips on the old Army lights though this clip is a real grabber.  The other nice feature that someone obviously thought of with the clip is that it turns a full 360′ around the flashlight.  This means that you can clip it to just about anything and turn the light to face in the direction you want.  Got that?  Because the clip rotates you can clip the light to the inside of a pocket so if it falls off it falls into your pocket.  Clip it to the inside of you jeans pocket, point it at the ground and both hands are still free.
  • The head of the light tilts from 45′ down to 45′ up.  So you can clip the light to your pack or a pocket and pivot the light down towards the trail or set it on the ground (yes it stands on its base) and point the light up at whatever you may be working on.
  • It’s waterproof to a degree.  It ain’t a dive light, but it won’t melt in the rain either.
  • It has a bunch of settings – high, medium and lo and then a sos and fast strobe.   Switching between settings is a little tough.   You first set the main function i.e. constant or strobe then you hold down the switch to change between the setting within that function.  Get that you hold it down to switch between settings.  Strange.
  • It has a built in metal loop so you can hang it and it also has a place where you could attach a lanyard.
  • The other kind of neat little feature is that it has sort of a lens cap that when you flip down diffuses the light from spotlight to flood.

Anyways, the MC10 is pretty small, very bright and adaptable to meet almost any need.  If I could only bring one flashlight and size was a factor (Anyone who says size isn’t a factor is a liar.  Haha.) this would be the light.  But ask me the same question bout a gun and it’d be my S&W 317.  In this picture here if you look closely you can see that the little lens cover light diffuser is flipped up.


Went to a local farm where they have a section set up to nurse sick animals back to life and I saw this nice set of  hooters. It is a beautiful time of year in New England.  This a picture taken from the top of a little knob. It’s a big sky day.

You wouldn’t know it by looking but there are hundreds of thousands of people between here and the horizon.

Justified Shooting

April 7, 2010 by

This is Paul Langone an off duty private security guard.  Back in October of last year a psychiatric patient came to see his doctor at a medical building at Massachusetts General Hospital.   This man was obviously sick and suffering from a severe psychiatric illness which really makes this a tragic story all the way around.

For no apparent reason the patient began to stab his doctor with a knife that had a four inch blade.  The victim doctor started to scream and two other doctors came to her aid.

The perpetrator slashed one of the doctors so both doctors ran to seek cover.    Meanwhile our hero, Mr. Langone, who incidentally also was a Golden Gloves champ a decade ago, was summoned by the doctor’s screams.

As he arrived at the scene of the assault he saw the patient standing over the doctor actively stabbing her.  Mr. Langone unholstered his Glock 27, identified himself as a SPO and ordered the patient to stop the attack.  The patient being in the throes of some “event” charged Mr. Langone who shot one time hitting the patient.  The 40 at this close range didn’t drop the patient so Mr. Langone had to fire two more times hitting the patient in the stomach and head.  This ended the attack.  The patient died from his wounds.

It took six months, but finally the DA decided that the shooting was justified. So see, sometimes we in Massachusetts do get it right.  I feel bad for the patient who was killed too, and his wife and kids.  Mental illness is a real disease, but it’s a good thing that Mr. Langone came to intervene.

Another person saved by a licensed gun owner.  Had Mr. Langone been a resident of the City of Boston he very likely would not have been granted a LTC in which case the doctor would have most assuredly been killed.  Mr. Langone’s father relates speaking to the doctor’s husband who allegedly said “if my son got there any later, he feels his wife would not be alive.”  Not only was the presence of our hero necessary, but let us not forget that the ability of a willing hero to be confidently armed was also a necessary component.

You know not a day goes by that I don’t see a news report where I say to myself if only those victims were armed or trained.


Pretty huh?

A license to kill our own

March 9, 2010 by

What do you think?  Do you think a secret committee of government staffers can vote on who lives and who dies?  Stop and absorb that please.  Were you up in arms about the so-called Obama “Death Panel?”  Were ya?  Well it’s happening right now……

I saw an article in Newsweek, Can Intel Agencies Kill Americans? Pretty troubling to think about.  It’s another example of the slow deterioration in our fundamental right to be safe from our own government.  The director of national intelligence testified that United States intelligence agencies can assassinate United Citizens. It’s alleged that “… strikes specifically targeting Americans must first be approved by a secret committee made up of senior intel officials and members of the president’s cabinet.

Our right to due process is guaranteed to us by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It reads in part, “..nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  This clause is in the Constitution to prevent the government from killing its citizens without some sort of due process.   We’re supposed to know what the government accuses us of, be able to present a defense and have a disinterested arbiter weigh the evidence.  Allowing a secret committee to decide who lives and who dies is something we all should fear.  That is an out of control government.

And don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that some of these people don’t deserve to die, but I don’t think having a group of government officials casting votes on which American citizen should be assassinated is the way to go.

As long as I’m alive I will still  GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

I thought this was a fitting picture for an entry about an overly aggressive government.  In addition to this fire tower with all kinds of antennae on it there are a bunch of other towers at the top of the mountain.  If there were so many people that wanted to hurt us don’t you think they would blow up or cut down some of these towers.   By destroying one of these towers you could create a huge disruption for minimal effort.   Sure, there are lots of bad, evil, mean people out there, but not so many that we need to live in fear or abrogate our rights.  While your government wants you to think that you need to fear the other people, it’s your own government that you need to fear.

After a light snow.  Just a white pine with a little slush on it.  If you look at the slope of the land you can see that this is a pretty steep area.  I like hills.  I went to Indiana one time.  It was way too flat for me and there is no ocean either.

Get out at night

March 3, 2010 by

Just got back from taking Green Eyed Dog for an evening stroll up the mountain.  I had two flashlights with me, but I didn’t switch them on.  If you don’t get out at night and go exploring you are missing out on another world.   Don’t complain about the darkness.  There really is nothing to fear in the dark or of the dark.  Little kids are afraid of the dark and want their nightlights left on.

If you think you are going to bug out you may want to consider bugging out at night.  You’re less visible at night and there are less folks out who can be a witness to your actions.  It’s easier to remain concealed at night.  During hot times of the year you can save your water by only moving when it’s dark out.  You may be laughing at me, but you only get better at stuff by doing it.  You should get used to walking around under darkness, navigating under darkness and being comfortable outside alone at night.   Ever go camping by yourself?

Chances are that there are no animals, two or four legged, stalking you.  Relax. Then again you never know.  Actually I saw this Must Read article in Outside Magazine – Canis SoupIt’s the story of the Eastern Coyote, how aggressive it is due to interbreading and how adaptable a beast it is.  Two coyotes set upon this beautiful young woman DURING THE DAY and killed her.  It’s a good article click the link.  If you are out in the woods you should read it to learn how the coyote thinks.

Anyways, what may be familiar to you during the day may look strange at night.   The sounds of the night are different too.  The hum of the day is gone.  If you open your ears to hearing you can absorb much more at night than during the day.  Listen to the flowing water, the frogs, crickets, families fighting, what other folks are watching on tv or the siren in the distance.  Allow your other senses to take over.  Smell the air.  Close you eyes and listen. There is an entirely different world of wildlife during the night then during the day too.

And please do not use flashlight or headlight, you probably do not need one.   Light reflects off of just about everything: rocks, clouds, snow, river, fields, streams and lakes.   The ambient light alone on a normal evening is normally bright enough for me to find my way down paths through the woods at night.   Even on moonless nights there is generally enough natural ambient light go out walking.  Granted, I live in a fairly urban area so even in the woods there is light from shopping malls, houses and streetlights.  And if you saw my light pollution entry you know that light travels a very far distance.  Your eyes also have a natural mechanism to adjust to the darkness.   If you do get out at night just give yourself a few minutes for your eyes to adjust.   Sometimes it seems like it can take up to ten minutes for my eyes to totally adjust to the dark.    Usually the only times that I’ll have to switch on a torch is if I’m heading down a particularly steep or rocky area.   Like any muscle, your mind or brain the more you rely on your natural night vision the stronger it will get.  If you use a flashlight as a crutch you will never be able to get along without one.  So go exploring at night.   Get to know your way around the neighborhood and wild areas around you at night.

So whether it’s day or night, night or day – GET OUTSIDE EVERY NIGHT

This picture was taken maybe 150 yards from the top of the mountain looking east at dusk.  This is a pretty heavily populated area but you wouldn’t know it by looking at this picture.

And here’s a nice picture of raindrops.

If you look real close and maybe click on the picture you can see Green Eyed Dog up ahead.  He’s willing me, His Master, to move faster.  Green Eyed Dog lives in the moment.  He has no use for digital cameras or photos.

Knife sheath

February 15, 2010 by

Natog over at TEOTWAWKIAIFF had a post a couple of months ago about a guy that makes aftermarket knife sheaths.  I have a Knives of Alaska Bush Camp knife.

Here’s the knife with the original sheath.  Nice knife and nice sheath.  It’s a good knife.  It has a nice thick D2 tool blade and a full tang.  It’s always done what I ask of it, but it came with a leather sheath.

Don’t get me wrong it’s a nice leather sheath. but leather cracks.  So I wanted to get something more durable.  On/Scene Tactical is the place for aftermarket sheaths.   He didn’t have a sheath for my knife so I had to send him the knife and he custom made a sheath for me.

I never bought a separate sheath for a knife before.   It cost $35.00, which is a lot of money for just a sheath.  Most of my knives cost less than $35.00.  The company is located in Canada so you need to fill out a special form at the Post Office.  It also took about two months for my new sheath to arrive.   This is the sheath I received from On/Scene Tactical.  It came with a belt clip that I attached to the sheath and an extra belt loop.

You change the belt clip/loop with the two phillips screws you see.  I like clips because I’m more likely to take the knife or gun with me if it’s sheath/holster has a clip.  If it’s easy to take, it will usually get taken.  I plan on attaching a  piece of cordura to the sheath to hold a firesteel.   You can see how I did it with my Rat3 here

This seems like a much more rugged set up to me now.  It’s a great fit.  The knife will stay in the sheath upside down.  I knew that the knife would outlive me.  Now I have a sheath that should also outlast me.  On/Scene Tactical I have good stuff to say about them.


Some Asian Bittersweet choking some bush on a bluebird day.  Look how blue that sky is.  Could anything be any bluer ever? And a nice trail. Aye?

This is pretty tough skiing.  So get off of your fat ass and walk around.   Get some exercise, some fresh air, blow the stink off of ya and get that old heart beating.


February 9, 2010 by

You must have seen video of Sarah Palin giving the keynote at the Tea Party Convention.  It was a real Hell fire and brimstone sort of speech.  Well did you see Sarah Palin had notes written on her hand during an interview following the event? “In her appearance at the Tea Party Convention, Sarah Palin mocked President Obama for his reliance on a teleprompter — while relying herself on a more rudimentary memory aid: notes scribbled on her hand.

I don’t like Sarah Palin, I never have.   Seriously though why is she still around?  How can anyone consider her a serious candidate for any public office. Think she ever read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution beginning to end?  I don’t.  Come to think of it I’m not sure if you have either.  Well have ya? Click links above.  Remember the Katie Couric (whom I also can’t stand) interview when Palin couldn’t even name a single newspaper? Couric – ‘what newspapers do you read?’ Palin – ‘all of them.’  Puhlease.  [Transcript Link here read 1/3 of way down.] If Palin was 65 and matronly she would be done, as in stick a fork in her.     Pretty girl and men fall over themselves.  Men are such pussies.

It means nothing to me that she had to use notes for an interview.  It’s how she went about it.  Sarah Palin is a sneak.  This was also after she criticized President Obama for using a teleprompter.

Did you see the way she glanced down at the notes sheepishly?  It just feels dishonest to me.  She acts like a middle-school student cheating on a vocabulary quiz.  What bothers me most is that she thinks she is pulling a fast one on us.  She is a cheater and a sneak.  Palin and Bill Clinton should marry.   How do you feel about Sarah Palin writing crib notes on the palm of her hand?


Some cool looking bark on a cool looking cedar or juniper I’d guess.  I didn’t check the tree out when I took the picture.  Do you know?

And here’s a trail from one of the abandoned ski areas that I frequent.  Unfortunately all of the snow has melted since I took this picture.  More is on the way Wednesday though I hope.  Skiing really doesn’t get any better than this.

Just get out of your office, house, condo, cabin, cottage, home, shed, apartment, pad, monkey cage or kennel every day.  Really walk around a bit get some fresh air.

Terrorism and privacy

January 26, 2010 by

Took me a while to get around to this, but it’s been percolating through the dark recesses of my troubled mind for some time now.  You have all heard of the Christmas Day Panty Bomber.

I don’t get it.  Since 9/11 there can be no doubt that the government is snoopy snooping to a greater degree in each of our lives.  If we fly we need to take off our shoes and belts.  I couldn’t even carry a little Swiss Army knife into my state capital.  You know the gubmint is capturing, tracking and analyzing all of our banking, phone, credit card and Internet activity.    Anyways, I feel as though the government is imposing itself into private aspects of my life since 9/11.

So the father of the Christmas Day Panty Bomber actually called up the authorities to alert them.  U.S. government officials tell The Associated Press that the Nigerian man charged with trying to destroy a jetliner came to the attention of U.S. intelligence in November when his father went to the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, to express his concerns about his son.”

I just don’t get how if the government is collecting all of this information, our privacy is being diminished, we’re being watched and taped more often and more inconvenienced rather than less, how they let this guy get on board a plane.  I mean why the hell do we put up with Big Brother getting bigger every day, week and year if there if there is no benefit in it for us.   I want to know what the hell they are doing with all of this information that they are collecting if they can’t even use it for its intended purpose.   I know the government has infiltrated meetings of peace activists.  Maybe the information is being used to track political enemies or for commercial gain.  One thing for sure though, it doesn’t seem like it’s making us any safer.  When one is looking for a needle in a haystack I never got the point of making the haystack insurmountably large.  Privacy, with the ease and speed that information is transmitted,  is too easy to destroy.

Why do we stand for Government trespasses?

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. B. Franklin, 1759


It’s that time of year.  It was a beautiful weekend.  Saturday was cold, dry and sunny so there was maybe an inch or two of fresh snow on hard pack.  Sunday was 40 or so so the snow was all soft like mashed potaters.    I like skiing abandoned ski areas.  I like skiing through trees.  I like to walk up and ski down.   This is a picture of the trail where the t-bar used to run.  You can see the big rusty old pole with the wheel at the top that the cable used to run along.   The trail is a bit overgrown.  This trail is maybe five feet wide and, trust me, it is much steeper than it looks.  In fact if you don’t ski you may not even be able to see a trail running straight down the hill.  This truly was first tracks, not even footprints.

And here is another nice trail.  I am always literally dumbfounded that I hardly ever run into anyone else when I am recreating in the out of doors.  If you ski you gotta appreciate how nice this trail is.    If you look at the horizon you can see massive office buildings and neighborhoods of houses.  Amazing to find hidden little jewels like this in the center of suburbia.  There were some footprints, but I was the first person to carve some turns.

And there is not a less crowded , better or cheaper ski trail in all of New England.  So for your own mental and physical health GET OUTSIDE EVERY DAY!!!

Healthcare and the big senate race

January 20, 2010 by

Well by the time you read this we’ll know who won the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat.

I don’t get it.  Healthcare is broke.  Maybe not healthcare, but the way it is administered and paid for.  Personally, I believe that at a minimum we should have a public option.  I would really like to see universal coverage.  I think it would save money.  Imagine if all the the capital being drained out of the system by for-profit providers was instead funneled into patient care.

I hate insurance companies.  Do you think that a for-profit insurance company’s interests and your interests are congruent? I’d propose that they are not.  I’d like to see the profits used for care.  That’s just me though, evidently, as every time the Democrats try to address the issue, the other side, Republicans, are able to put the scare of change into American voters and derail change.

So I saw that Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown may pull out an upset victory for Ted Kennedy’s old seat over his rival  Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.  I don’t like either one of them.  I don’t think he is bright enough to be one of 100 in charge of such things as the tax code, making law and treaties and judicial appointments.  I think he is way over his head and not ready for prime time.  I also don’t like his stance on pot.  Brown thinks it should remain a Class D.  I think it should be legalized.  He is against gay marriage.  I couldn’t care less who gets married.  He doesn’t believe in providing basic human rights to those detained by the US Government.  I don’t like the precedent it sets and think everyone should have the right to confrontation, putting the burden on the state and  against cruel and unusual punishment.  As for Coakley I also see her as a lightweight, plus I didn’t like her involvement with a notorious Massachusetts court case that may have imprisoned an innocent man and sent a family through hell.

If Coakley, the Dem, wins the Dems retain control of the senate and Obama’s platform rolls on, for what that is worth.  If the Repub Brown wins than the Dems lose their filibuster proof majority and Obama’s healthcare plan has a tougher row to hoe.  Because this is an election with national implications, and I live in Massachusetts, I have received no fewer than 30 phone calls in the past few days.  Now I know how folks in Iowa and New Hampshire must feel.

So anyways, they expect the Republican to win.  Guess how the stock of health insurers reacted.  They went up.

Rising health care stocks led the market higher as the prospect of a logjam in Washington eased concerns that profits at companies like insurers and drug makers would suffer. Among health stocks, insurers Aetna Inc. rose $1.30, or 4.2 percent, to $32.66 and UnitedHealth Group Inc. rose $1.38, or 4.1 percent, to $35.13. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. advanced $1.15, or 2.9 percent, to $40.62 and was the biggest advancer among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials.

So if I was writing copy, which I do no longer, I think I’d write something like: A vote for Republicans is a vote for Humana or Don’t let Cigna down vote for Brown . Do you like?  Can someone tell me what the Republican healthcare plan is?

Don’t be a tool for the health insurers.  They are middle men standing between providers of services and consumers of services.  Think for yourself.

And most of all GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! I don’t care who you are, you have 15 minutes to spare to take a walk outside or sit under a tree and watch the clouds move across the sky.

Another abandoned ski area not too far from my house.  Massachusetts has hundreds of abandoned ski areas.  This one was called Cat Rock.  We already had a coating of snow and the other night we received an additional few inches.  A fresh coating means fresh tracks so I had to get out for an hour or two.  I grabbed my 30 year old Kniessel Red Stars and headed out.  To paraphrase Bob Marley, ‘my feet are my only chairlift.’  Yup, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down.  Like chopping your own wood, hiking to make your own turns seems to feel better.  At least to me.

This is the main trail looking up.  I’d guess it’s maybe a few hundred yards long with a couple hundred feet of vertical.  It’s actually fairly steep.  Like I always say, much steeper than it looks.  You can see I got first tracks.  And uhh no it’s never groomed – rocks, grass, shrubs grow where they may.

This is the same trail looking down.  At least here it looks a little steeper.  Not ideal conditions because we did get some rain and than it froze. The snow was crusty.  Still I was able to carve huge beautiful arcing turns.  Great fun.  A couple of snowboarders did show up after a while.  There’s a little trail on the side of the main trail where the rope tow used to be.  If you don’t know what a rope tow is it is a loop of rope that runs up the hill.  These things used to run over car wheels hung from trees and were powered by old tractors or Chevrolets.  You grab onto the rope snaking up the hill at 15mph and it yanks your arm out of your socket and pulls you up the hill.  Due to liability issues, you don’t see rope tows any longer.   It used to be the ride up could be more fun than the ski down.  This trail where the rope tow was is maybe five feet wide.  That is a good ski down!!  If there ain’t trees and ice it ain’t New England.    New England skiing the way it was meant to be!!

American economy

January 14, 2010 by

Been awhile.  If you are like me, most likely you don’t need anyone to tell you that the last decade from 2000-2009 was crap for the average man.  I don’t know if you saw the article in the Washington Post, Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers.

The writer, Mr. Irwin reports that “There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent.” Who among us either hasn’t been laid off or know someone who has been?

Tough to imagine digging out of this recession/depression/cycle when for the first time since they’ve been keeping track of such things that “Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999…”

The assets of the average man have also lost value.  Our houses are worth less now than just a few years ago.  If you bought real estate not too long ago than you are most likely under water too.  401Ks Hahaha!!  For all the public sparkle about the “Recovery” your stocks and mutual funds are also worth less.

I just read an article in Business Week The Disposable Worker.” The article laments that there are more of us working less full-time jobs that provides benefits.  One woman works as a customer service rep from her house.  She gets paid 25 cents a minute ($15hr) but only for the minutes she is actually taking a call and of course no benefits.  She is very grateful for the job.  Companies now hold all the cards and are trying to reposition payroll costs from the fixed to the variable cost category.  I work three jobs.  I’m not complaining.  I like it, but I work as a contract worker = no paid time off, no paid sick time, no paid vaca time, no pension nor 401k.  I have to pay my own taxes and both sides of FICA.  Then I also work as a part-time worker for a college.  Same deal.  No nothing.   It’s coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

It seems that most of the problems were due to easy credit.  Too much money available to build/buy too many unnecessary structures.  Up here in Massachusetts you can’t drive around without seeing dozens of signs for commercial office space.

And guess what, there are still dozens of projects in the pipeline.  In my town there is a new project that will create half a million feet of office space.  Right up the street there are 000’s of feet for rent.  Why in the world would anyone build commercial space when there are so many vacancies? I have  some friends in the trades.  People are still building brandy new houses.  Strange when I look in the paper everyday and see pages of foreclosures.

Don’t be lulled.  I think what you see is what you got – slow slide.   What I fear the most is likely to happen is an increase in energy prices.   For lots of people it may soon cost them more to get to work then they get once they are there.

It still is and always will be cheap as shit to GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!

Just a nice little old cross country ski trail.  I ski down on the left side of the footpath and make as many turns as possible. Yeah, I’m pretty good.  Beautiful winter day about 30 degrees out.  The ski down was so much fun I hoofed back up it a couple of more times to ski back down.

Another nice trail.  Trust me.  They are much steeper than they look.

Learn your area of operations

November 12, 2009 by

Learn your area of operations.  I was out the other day strolling about and I realized how well I know my neighborhood and the town that I live in.  I know the streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, creeks and seasonal water.  I know the woods and fields.  I bet you could blindfold me set me down anywhere within a five mile radius and I could point to it on a map.  You should be able to do the same too.

You have to learn you neighborhood well.  You should know what wild foods are edible and where and when they grow. There is only one way to do it.   Walking is best because you see much more than you do driving.  When you are in a car you don’t even notice all of the little hills that you go over.  When you are walking or riding a bike you notice each and every hill.   Similarly, when you are whizzing by at 45 mph you can’t really check out the landscape, flora and fauna (15 points using flora & fauna in the same sentence).

When you are walking you’ll begin to notice what the same plant looks like at different times of the year.  I usually walk a lot, but with the sun setting so early during these short winter days it’s tough.  Still walking is the best way to learn the area.  Take your time. Look around.  Really open your eyes.  When you see something don’t just look at it and take it for what what it is, but ask why or why not.   Zen.  Keep an eye out for where water may be, places to stash stuff or hide if need be, places to camp or forage, keep an eye out for things you can use now or at some time in the future.   When you see those red canes leaning over in the winter remember to come back in the summer for sweet berries.  Figure out where the electrical substations, powerlines, water and sewage treatment, refineries, chemical plants, factories, police, hospitals, fire stations, reservoirs all are.

You should own some map books of your state and the surrounding states. I’m not a big fan of the folding state maps.  They’re ok, but they don’t show enough detail for me.   mapI like these Delmore maps by state.  They show all the detail you really need, but it doesn’t list the name of every side street and it’s not a real detailed topographic map.  Delorme maps do have topo lines, roads, highways, campgrounds, natural and man made attractions, state parks, recreational areas, lakes, rivers, streams, railroads and trails.  You should own a map book like these Delorme ones for your state and each of the contiguous (5 points) states.  You also need a book for each of the states that your bug out plans call for you to traverse.  Like I said these map books are great all purpose maps, but for going afield I like the the old 1:24000 USGS maps.  The USGS topo maps are what I use when I go hiking.  They show as much detail as you could ever want.  They even show seasonal water.

If you don’t know how to read a map that is one skill you don’t want to delay learning.   Having a map and knowing how to read it can mean the difference between sweet, sweet life and a cold and shivering or gaunt and starving death.  GPS units are great, but have a compass and know how to use it.

I guess what I am trying to say is GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©

Doing what I now do. Notice all the seals in the water and moi is the only one standing?

tThe waves are supposed to be 10 foot tall this weekend because of Ida.

Scrapings from a woodpecker.  This stuff id light up pretty well with just a firesteel I bet.  You’d never see this pile of sawdust driving around.


Nazi Checkpoints

October 4, 2009 by

Drip, drip drip.  Chip, chip, chip.  The frogs in the pot don’t realize that the water is beginning to boil.

Citizens of the United States are supposed to be able to travel freely and not be subjected to unreasonable searches or seizures.  Although the Constitution doesn’t specifically mention “travel,” the right to travel has been a firmly embedded right since the Articles of Confederation guaranteed that “the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State.” There is also a long line of case establishing that states can’t treat newcomers differently than long-time residents unless the state restriction is necessary to serve a compelling state interest.

And in the 1999 SCOTUS case of Saenz v. Roe, 526 US 489 (1999) Justice Stevens notes:

The word “travel” is not found in the text of the Constitution. Yet the “constitutional right to travel from one State to another” is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence. United States v. Guest , 383 U. S. 745, 757 (1966). Indeed, as Justice Stewart reminded us in Shapiro v. Thompson , 394 U. S. 618 (1969), the right is so important that it is “assertable against private interference as well as governmental action … a virtually unconditional personal right, guaranteed by the Constitution to us all.” Id., at 643 (concurring opinion).

Then we all know, or should know, of course that The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…” The operative word being “unreasonable.”  Generally government can’t stop us or search our person without having some reason to do so.  Government can’t go on fishing expeditions.  Government is supposed to know what specific contraband it is looking to seize and particularly where that contraband is likely to be found prior to engaging in any search.  Government is not supposed to set up so called “dragnets” where it nets the innocent as well as the guilty.

If you are seized you are not free to go about your business.  What constitutes a seizure can vary from state to state, but generally if there is a show of authority (men in blue, orders to stop, guns, flashing lights, badges and other such acts/things) and you yield to that show of authority/force than you have been seized and prevented from going about your business.

This is a confusing area of the law.  On the one hand the cops can set up drunk driving checkpoints because of the immediate danger that freaking dumb drunks pose to the rest of us.   On the other hand Indianapolis v. Edmund, 531 US 32 (2000) made clear, at least for the time being, that cops can’t set up checkpoints with the purpose of interdicting illicit drugs.  Interestingly enough the so called “Conservative Justices” – Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist were in favor of allowing random police stops of citizens going about their business. As Rehnquist noted in his dissent random law enforcement checkpoints are legitimate to “…checking for driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations, and because there is nothing in the record to indicate that the addition of the dog sniff lengthens these otherwise legitimate seizures, I dissent.”  Conservative my ass!!  He is a Republican.

My definition of a Republican: someone who thinks the government can do nothing right unless and until it comes to kicking in doors, searching, seizing citizens, legislating morality, law enforcement and the military and than the government can do no wrong. I’ve never been certain how some people can hold two mutually exclusive beliefs.  That’s me though.

Anyways, now that the foundation has been built: 1. we have the right to free intrastate and interstate travel and 2. we have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures let’s look at some startling violations that are happening as we speak.  Tipping point?  You decide.

Tipping point?  You decide.  Chip, chip, chip, drip, drip, drip.  The water around the pot of frogs slowly comes to a boil.


How many campfires did you sit around this summer?  I know one thing, not enough!!

37Here I am catching a crappy wave.

17So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and rip it up!!

Eminent Domain

September 30, 2009 by

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This clause of the Fifth Amendment is known as the takings clause.  It empowers the government to take private property for public use.  Maybe you know someone who had a few feet taken from their front lawn to widen a road or build a sidewalk.   The Fifth Amendment also requires that when governments exercise their right of eminent domain that “just compensation” is given to the owners of the property.   It allows governments to take private property for “public use” as long as just compensation is paid.

So the natural outcome is that we are all left deciding and defining what is “private property,” what is “public use” and what is “just compensation.”

Well a few years ago there was a big eminent domain case out of Connecticut, Kelo v. New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005). The long and short of it, the way I understand it, is that Big Pharma Giant Pfizer wanted to build a plant in New London.  The city established a private corporation to oversee development in the area.  The problem was that a bunch of people still owned homes and lived in the area.  The question became whether government can while exercising its power of eminent domain take private property from some people (the homeowners) and give it to other private parties (the New London Redevelopment Corp. that was representing private interests).  The big question became what was public use and whether generalized promises of future jobs and future tax revenues could qualify as “public use.”  The Court has slowly allowed “public use” to be redefined as public purpose.    If the effervescent promise of future tax revenues qualifies as a great enough benefit, just about any government taking of private property can somehow be rationalized as public purpose.

Or as Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent, “Once one permits takings for public purposes in addition to public uses, no coherent principle limits what could constitute a valid public use…”  Why not take any house or business if some developer or business is able to somehow show that by razing the existing home/business and replacing it with a new business that government may get sometime down the road the possibility of additional taxes?

I would ask, where is the public use?  How is the public able to use the plant that Pfizer wanted to build?  We can’t so there is no public use to my non-black robed eyes. The public has no beneficial interest in a privately owned plant.  To me it appeared that this was a land grab by government to further the interests of private industry.

Do you think that private entities offering the possibility of future jobs and taxes is enough of a public use to justify government taking private property? I don’t.

The City of New London won and the homeowners lost their homes.  End of story?  Not quite.

The case was decided in 2005 so what happened to all of the new jobs, new development and new taxes.  I want to know.

As Jeff Benedict wrote in the Hartford Courant,

A few weeks ago I visited the neighborhood, ground zero in the famous battle between the city and homeowners. Here’s what I saw: a sea of brown dirt littered with old rusty nails, broken bricks and slivers of glass — the only signs that people once lived there. Every home has vanished. Nothing has been built in their place. The neighborhood is a ghost town, a scarlet letter on the city’s forehead.

No new tax revenues have come.  No new jobs have come.  No new “public use” has come.

And in another follow-up story, AP writer Katie Nelson notes, “But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to bring up to 3,169 jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues?”  There are no new jobs.  There are no new taxes.  There is no public use.  They took the land, kicked the people out of their homes and gave nothing back.  Government is controlled by monied vested interests.

Like I always say, if it can happen to them, it can happen to you.  On notice is on guard.


p1010025Just a pretty summer pond.  In a couple more weeks these trees will be ablaze with color.  I was walking about and I saw some scraping at the base of a tree from where a woodpecker had gone to town.

p1010024So I thought to myself that these scrapings would be great tinder for a firesteel.  I didn’t get a fire going, but I guess the point is to always be aware and on the look out for what you may be able to use.

Now that summer is winding down I hope to get back a bit more to blogging.

What would you want to do without?

September 18, 2009 by

What would you want to do without: electricity, plumbing, sewer/toilet, hot water, refrigeration or heat?  Think about it.   These are the things that I consider modern conveniences.  Oh, sure you can boil water over a fire or warm your home with a woodstove, but it’s not the same as turning a up thermostat.  I like to read in bed because it helps put me to sleep.  Have you ever tried to read by candlelight or even a flashlight?  It’s tough.  Then when we redid the bathroom we were without a shower or toilet for almost two weeks.  I had to shower at other places and also used buckets and bags to dispose of, uhhm, solid waste.  It’s different than just flushing a toilet and saying bye bye.   Burning candles or kerosene in of doors is pretty sooty.  Heck, running a woodstove is dirty.  How about doing without watertight housing?

I guess the point is that one way you could look at things is to figure out what would be the hardest thing for you to go without and set your priorities based upon that ordering.   If you live in a dry, arid area like parts of the southwest than you probably would move water to the top of your list.  Someplace else like Maine or Minnesota well there is copious amounts of water, but planning to stay warm in the winter would have to move pretty near the top of your list.   If you live in the North Country and plan to burn wood to stay warm you best be chopping wood ten hours a week for every week during the summer. Believe me planning to stay in a tent for an extended period during the winter isn’t really a plan.

So have a plan to stay warm, stay dry, light your place, dispose of waste, boil water, do your laundry, stay cool and have potable water.  Think about what you may miss the most and apply a solution to that contingency.   Imagine if the power goes out for a week or the municipal water treatment plant goes down.  Consider having redundant systems in place for vital resources such as potable water.


I saw a dragonfly on a tree so I took a picture of it.  I like the yellow on its wings.

p1010021These things are like the jet fighters of the insect kingdom.

p1010022If you don’t spend any time outside then you may not know that this is a blaze.  This is how trails are marked.  This is the blue dot trail.  As you’re walking along a trail like the blue dot trail you keep looking for blue dots on trees or rocks and that’s how you plot your way.  Blazes come in all different colors and shapes.  There can be the red dash, yellow dot or the blue dot dash trail.

Sole of the jackboot of Government

September 4, 2009 by

The police are the sole of the jackboot of Government.  But what was supposed to be a day of fun at an end-of-summer festival ended abruptly when police shot Grose with a Taser in a dispute about where to end the parade route.”

There is some sort of end of summer parade every year in Glenrock, WY.  So some old guy was driving his antique tractor through the parade.  tractor.jog The parade always used to follow one route, but for some reason this year the police wanted to change the route and end it sooner.  The elderly tractor driver had different ideas and one thing lead to another.  Cops being cops with the insatiable appetite to exert their Authoratay couldn’t let an old man get away with something so they tasered this 76 year old retiree.

Luckily the community did the right thing.  The incident nearly incited a riot as outraged neighbors rushed to his defense. Now residents of this tight-knit town of 2,400 are seething over what they see as police brutality, and town officials are scrambling to ease the tension.”

If things like this keep happening, that is rightly or wrongly, people perceiving that the police, those that are paid with our tax dollars, money coming out of our families mouths, are abusive to citizens cops will find themselves in greater danger.  That’s the breaks.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Then there is another hicktown in Arkansas where the police have been running amuck.   The town of Jericho, Arkansas has 174 residents and seven cops.  Apparently the cops like to give out tickets because it helps them to bloat the size of the force.   Everyone seems to agree that the fire chief was in court to contest a ticket and the town’s seven cops were at the hearing some sort of scuffle broke out and the fire chief was shot in the back.


“JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic tick et, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police an d their speed traps. The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

I guess that’s the breaks.  What do you expect.  The police are your enemies.  And if you are a minority you better watch your back and what neighborhoods you dare to walk through.

Just one more before I go.  So this guy was driving and got stopped by the police for suspicion of drunk driving.  They gave him a breathalyzer and he passed.  He was below the legal limit.  The cop didn’t like the result so they took this ostensibly “free” citizen to the hospital where they proceeded to chain him down to a gurney and forced a catheter up his Willie Wonka.  Pause.  Think.  Let it sink in.

“A Breathalyzer test showed Lockard was under the legal limit, but Officer Brian Miller doubted the findings.  Lockard’s attorney said his client was shackled to a gurney and had a catheter inserted against his will.”

catheterGot that the police stopped an innocent citizen from free travel took him to the hospital, tied him down and catheterized him in order to force him to give evidence against himself.  There are so many consitutional violations here that I hope the victim files a s. 1983 claim and bankrupts the community.  So much for the presumption of innocence aye?  Have no fear I’m sure that the police department’s IA division will investigate and find no violations by the cop in question.

Imagine the police tying down your grandma, mother, wife, daughter or sister to a gurney and forcibly catheterizing her.  Stop.  Pause.  Think about that.


So don’t ever forget that the police are your enemies.  They will ask you questions and use your answers against you in a court of law.  They will try to trick you like carnies on the midway.  They will seize your possessions given the chance too.  If you are a minority you already understand that.

Lesson is to interact as little as possible with the men in blue. Any interaction with the police is likely to turn out badly.  Avoid them like the swine flu.  They want a reason to interpose themselves in your life.  They like nothing better than to get involved with you.  That’s why they hide there on the side of the road behind bushes and bridges, like miscreants, waiting to spring out, seize you and keep you from going peacefully about your business.  Given the opportunity that police salivate over they will take you out of your car, beat you, lock you up and seize your property.  It’s what they want.  It’s why they do what they do.

Be careful out there.

BTW do yourself a favor and look at my post about purslane.  It’s a wild edible that grows everywhere, even in cities.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! © Surf it, bike it, hike it, ski it, walk it, run it, swim it, watch it, ride it.  Just Rip It The Eff Up Every Single Day Of Your Life!!

Now it’s Labor Day Weekend go …

p1010029Just a pretty stream in Western Massachusetts.  There is something special about flowing water.



Purslane or spurge

September 1, 2009 by

This is going to be a very important blog entry.  Purslane is so important and so tasty that it deserves its own entry.   These two plants, purslane and spurge are very widespread.  Purslane tastes really good. Other than wild berries I think that purslane is my favorite foraging food. Learn this plant.  It could save your life.  Purslane grows near you.

This is purslane. b4It has red stems and kind of fat leaves.  It kind of reminds me of a succulent like a jade plant.  Purslane used to be a garden plant, but now it has escaped and even grows out of the cracks in my driveway.  It seems to like sunny, sandy soil.  Interestingly enough purslane is also very nutritious as it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, like seafood.

In nature it seems like similar plants grow near one another.    For example, the cure for poison ivy, jewel weed, grows near poison ivy.  And spurge grows near purslane.  You don’t want to eat spurge.  This is spurge.

b5Like purslane, spurge kind of has red stems too, but if you look closely you can see that the stems of spurge are more woody and thin.  Spurge radiates out from the center in a circle.  Purslane is an erect plant growing upright.  Spurge crawls along the ground.  Purslane has thickish jade plant like leaves and spurge leaves are thin growing across from one another on the stem.

Here’s another shot:

b1At the top is purslane and at the bottom is spurge.  You can see the difference right? I’m telling you purslane is one of the best wild edibles that you can forage.

This lemony, crisp nutritional powerhouse is neither, it’s actually a succulent. This accounts for its resemblance to a jade plant, and its water content. Many describe it as similar to arugula or spinach. It’s less bitter than arugula and less tannic than spinach. It can be prepared in many of the same ways as either.  In terms of nutrition, it’s a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. More good news: recent research has confirmed that purslane is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. “Purslane is one of the richest sources of ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which is a precursor to DHA. In other words, if you can’t eat fish, purslane helps fight heart disease and stroke, too.”

Did you get that, if you can’t eat fish eat purslane to fight heart disease and stroke.  Easting purslane is like taking fish oil.

b6And the spurge plant ripped up on tossed on my driveway.  Now spurge is a weed and I shed no tear as it meets a drying death.

b7And purslane and now you have to be able to identify purslane and its close non-edible neighbor spurge.  Also, when you break a spurge stem it emits a white sap.  You can always ID spurge from it’s milky white sap.

Purslane also has a ton of medicinal properties,

Purslane has long been considered of value in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems. The juice has diuretic effects. 2 Purslane is also considered to be a “cooling aid” and cleansing stimulant of the kidneys, helpful in the bladder for urinary tract infection. The plant’s mucilagenous properties make it useful in GI problems. Besides having vermicidal properties, purslane has been reported to possess antifungal effects, with marked activity against the genus Trichophyton. The phenolic constituents of the plant exhibit antimicrobial effects.  Purslane, placed in animal feed, prevents diarrhea as well as provides immunostimulation in patient. Other sources mention purslane as effective in treating hookworms and amoebic dysentery. Clinical dataPurslane in a combination mouthwash demonstrated antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or sunburn may benefit from purslane. Other uses of the plant include a poultice for backache/dysmenorrhea; 1 neuropharmacological actions; and in cosmetics as a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) source.

So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and find yourself some purslane.

Do you know how lucky you are

August 29, 2009 by

Do you know how lucky you are?  Each of us have our own problems.  Some more than others.  I don’t care who you are, we all have problems. So it got me to thinking how lucky most of us are.

It also reminds me how fragile our lives are and how the things we depend upon can disappear in an instant.

If it comes to you from somewhere else or takes a spider’s web of logistics to get to you it can be gone in the blink of an eye.   Things like blue jeans from China and olive oil from Italy can become unavailable.  Boots, shoes, shirts and underwear made in the Philippines may not be coming in those big shipping containers.  Cheap tools, generators, batteries and electronics from Asia could be next to impossible to find.    The day may come when lanterns, light bulbs,  masks, ammo and spare parts get scarce.   You may not be able to find oranges and pineapples north of 40′ in the winter.  Anything with a made in somewhere other than where you live could get real expensive.

Even those things close by could get undependable.  Electricity, hot running water, cold running water, telephone and cell phone service, natural gas, sewers and heat can all be interrupted.   It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have plans in place to have backup, redundant or substitute systems in place for as many of these things as you possibly can.

You could wake up in the morning and discover that the gas stations, supermarkets and banks/atms in your town are all closed too.  We are already seeing some governments closing and some towns shutting off street lights to save money.  This fall and winter we will see schools and colleges close due to the flu.

Rule #1 – don’t take things for granted.

Rule #2 – plan for their absence.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © even in the rain.

c1Some pretty blueberries ripe for the plucking.  Get yourself a field guide or two, GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY and start picking some wild fruit.

Hurricane Bill and beach survival

August 26, 2009 by

I was up in the Pinetree State last weekend.  I’ve picked up surfing.  I’m not sure what that has to do with suburban survival other than getting exercise, GETTING OUTSIDE EVERYDAY and keeping safe around the ocean.

In case you haven’t heard Hurricane Bill swept up past the northeast last weekend.   CNN reports, “Girl dies after wave knocks her into ocean.” A young girl, along with 2,000 other spectators, was with her dad and closer than she should have been when a large wave swept her and like ten other people from the rocks into the surging sea.  The father and another kid were rescued by the Coasties, but tragically this young girl was killed.

Most beaches were closed to swimming.  A little south of where I was, Hampton, there were numerous rescues. In other places people standing on slippery rocks to get a better view of the monster waves were knocked over.  Some people got broken bones.

In Massachusetts a man fishing was swept out to sea and drowned.

When I got up to Maine on Friday night the waves were maybe 3-4 feet.  That’s a pretty good size wave.  Saturday morning they were maybe 4-6 feet and building all day.  Sunday the waves were maybe 8-12 feet with a few even bigger.

I’m telling you a 2-3 foot wave is big.  When these waves are pushed into shore by a hurricane they are big, powerful and fast.   A 12 foot wave can snap a surfboard, tear a board leash or smash someone into the rocks or the sand.

Many people don’t understand the strength of the ocean.  I’ve surfed a bunch this year.  I’m in the ocean a lot, a lot.  I know my limits though.  I’m not going to paddle out with 10 foot waves.  There were some real good surfers there though that were experienced enough to be out there.  They make it look like fun, but it’s also very tough, a lot of work and takes much experience.

If you don’t know what you are doing, if you don’t spend a lot of time in or around the water and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, you better have a real healthy respect for the ocean and what she can do.  And those who do spend a lot of time around the ocean do have a healthy respect for her.

There was a very heavy undertow on Sunday.  It was so strong that it was hard to stand knee deep in the water.  So I’m standing there and two little girls come into the water.  They are maybe 7 or 8 years old.  They are waist deep.  I have my eye on them because if either of them lose their footing they are going to be carried wherever the ocean feels like taking them.  So a minute of so later their fat, middle-aged father comes into the water.  I can tell he is a stranger to the ocean because he grimaced from the cold and pulls his arms over his head like the little girls.  Just then foam from a big wave comes and sweeps one of the little girls right off of her feet and maybe 15 feet down the beach.   I know if one of the girls gets carried away this fat guy will not be able to chase her down so I tell him that it is a very dangerous day with big waves and extremely strong undertows.  Luckily they got out of the water.

Surviving the beach:

  • You have to watch out for riptides and undertows.   A riptide is just the water that has been pushed up onto the beach by the waves flowing away from the beach.  Undertows usually move more or less parallel to the beach and back out to sea.  As you stand in the water you can feel an undertow pulling at your legs.  Riptides occur at low points of the beach.  The waves come in leaving a bunch of water on the beach that needs to flow out.  If there is a low point on the beach then the trapped water will find that low point and flow out to sea like a river.  At low tides you can sometimes see where a riptide can happen because at low tide you’ll see little streams of water flowing out.  Well at high tide with big waves lots of water will be rushing out of those little streams creating strong currents out to sea.  You can’t fight undertows or riptides. The ocean will win.  You need to relax and not fight the current.  Your number one goal is not to get tired floundering around.  If you tire you drown. Then because riptides flow perpendicular to the beach you should try to direct yourself parallel to the beach.  Swim easily, smoothly and gently sideways and out of the rip.  Don’t even try to swim back into shore until the current is finished trying to pull you out.
  • Stay away from rocks or be extremely careful on them.  Rocks that look black are particularly slippery.   Many people fall, bang their heads and then drown.  Wet rocks are real slippery. Rocks that are regularly beneath high tide will have barnacles on them.  Barnacles are sharp and will cut you. If you fall off a rock into the ocean you will have to crawl out onto barnacles in order to get out of the water.  It’s not fun.
  • If you can’t swim don’t go in the water. There can be sudden drop offs and hidden objects.  And if you can’t swim and lose your footing; well then you’re in trouble.
  • Always observe.  Check out the water to see if there are any rocks.  Sometimes when I’m in the surf there are large pieces of wood and other trash floating around.  Get hit by a big tree branch and it may hurt you.  Is there any sea life, jellyfish or man-o-wars?  Surfers? Then be aware of where they and their boards are.
  • Know when high and low tides are. That way you won’t over extend yourself and be on a sandbar with the tide rushing in all around you.  If the tides come in fast you can easily find yourself surrounded by water.
  • Waves look like fun and are a lot of fun, but they can be dangerous.  You can escape waves by taking a breath and diving under the crashing wave.   If you are at a beach with waves treat it like a baseball game and watch the waves.  Don’t stand in the water with your back to the surf or you could get surprised and knocked down.  You can’t fight waves either. If you find a wave crashing on you then you just need to go with it.   Loosen up and just let the wave carry you.  You will pop to the surface when it is done with you.  Don’t stiffen and try to fight it. If you find yourself carried out by the current you may be able to ride a wave in.  Just go with the rhythm of the ocean.
  • Be careful where rivers meet the beach and ocean.  The currents at the mouths of rivers can be particularly treacherous.
  • Know which way the wind is blowing and be aware. If you are on a raft or a float and there is are offshore winds you can get blown away from shore pretty quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid or too embarrassed to yell for help.  People drown because they didn’t yell for help.
  • Protect yourself from the sun and weather. It may mean SPF30 and an umbrella or a long sleeve shirt and hat.  If it is sunny make sure to have sunglasses.
  • And for the love of God watch your kids at the beach. Things can happen very quickly.  Watch your kids especially if it is a beach with surf.

The beach is a great place and you should GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © but know the dangers and risks so you can avoid them.

p1010011Crazy, huh?  They’re like parrots of the north.  If you watch dragonflies closely when they are flying you can sometimes see them catching flies.  You can actually see the dragonfly open its mouth in mid flight and gobble a mosquito.  It’s what they do.