Archive for November, 2008

The market

November 29, 2008

I just heard that the market had its best five day rally in 75 years!!  It’s like saying that the US hasn’t experienced this much peace since December 6, 1941.

Hmmm, 75 years.  2008 minus 75 = 1933.  What was going on in 1933?  This is a bear market rally.  I still don’t think that we’ve hit bottom.  Although stringing together a few days of moderate gains does look good.  Anything is better than the volatility we’ve been seeing of late.

The Exodus

The Exodus

“P log biggest 5-day percentage gains since the 1930s, even as holiday sales look bleak”

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/sns-ap-wall-street,0,1561555.story

The economic news is still too bleak to think that we’ve hit bottom.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  The stock market highs of 1929 weren’t hit again until 1954.  The Great Depression lasted for years and years.  What we are experiencing is another “slow slide.”  However, this time we’ll be lucky if it’s as slow asa the Great Depression.  I think technology may speed our slide along.  To think a year ago that the market was at 14,000.

The layoffs start in earnest next year.  The government cutbacks start in earnest.  The closings and bankruptcies start in earnest.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  Monthly layoffs are in the 1/2 a million range.  There are 10 Million Americans looking for work.  Continuing unemployment is at a 26 year high.  We are beginning to see civil unrest in China, Argentina,  Thailand and soon to come to a country near you.

The future of the US$(dollar) remains uncertain.  We can’t continue to dilute the basket for those who invest in the US$ without some sort of negative outcome.  Newton’s Third Law tells us so, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

I agree with others that the next year will be an extremely trying time for the United States.  Most likely, food, shelter and water will be more important to you a year from now then they are today.  Act accordingly.  Food, water, shelter and warmth.

Beautiful

Beautiful

Just a beautiful fresh water mussel shell.  Edible of course if the water is clean.

Lean to

Lean to

Just a lean to I found in the woods.  Some kids probably built it for fun.  It doesn’t look very waterproof, but a tarp or space blanket over the top could change it into something quite livable.  Wouldn’t want to spend much time in it, but with a tarp over the top you could probably spend a few nights in it without too much discomfort.

It reminds me, I was out walking a few weeks ago and I came upon a young couple washing up in a stream.  They seemed down on their luck.  Who among us is so far removed from being out on the streets.  Don’t ever delude yourself into thinking that you are safe or secure.  Respect those who have less than you do.  Treat everyone with kindness.

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Thanksgiving

November 27, 2008

Today we’re Thankful for all that we have, remember those that have less than us and those that are away from their families sacrificing for all of us.  Let’s remember all of those who were thrust into terror half a world away.

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Go fourth ID. Stay safe.

This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the
restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,
that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's
Restaurant.

You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in.  Havin' all that room,
seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
have to take out their garbage for a long time.

We got up there, we found all the garbage in there, and we decided it'd be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump.  So
we took the half a ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW
microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed
on toward the city dump.

Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the
dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving."  And we had never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off
into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.

We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
decided to throw our's down.

That's what we did, and drove back to the church, had a thanksgiving
dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the
next morning, when we got a phone call from officer Obie.  He said, "Kid,
we found your name on an envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of
garbage, and just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And
I said, "Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope
under that garbage."

After speaking to Obie for about fourty-five minutes on the telephone we
finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down
and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the
police officer's station.  So we got in the red VW microbus with the
shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the
police officer's station.

Now friends, there was only one or two things that Obie coulda done at
the police station, and the first was he could have given us a medal for
being so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and
we didn't expect it, and the other thing was he could have bawled us out
and told us never to be see driving garbage around the vicinity again,
which is what we expected, but when we got to the police officer's station
there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was
both immediately arrested.  Handcuffed.  And I said "Obie, I don't think I
can pick up the garbage with these handcuffs on."  He said, "Shut up, kid.
Get in the back of the patrol car."

And that's what we did, sat in the back of the patrol car and drove to the
quote Scene of the Crime unquote. I want tell you about the town of
Stockbridge, Massachusets, where this happened here, they got three stop
signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the
Scene of the Crime there was five police officers and three police cars,
being the biggest crime of the last fifty years, and everybody wanted to
get in the newspaper story about it. And they was using up all kinds of
cop equipment that they had hanging around the police officer's station.
They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and
they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was to be used as evidence against us.  Took pictures of the approach,
the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to
mention the aerial photography.

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail.  Obie said he was going to put
us in the cell.  Said, "Kid, I'm going to put you in the cell, I want your
wallet and your belt."  And I said, "Obie, I can understand you wanting my
wallet so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you
want my belt for?"  And he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangings."  I
said, "Obie, did you think I was going to hang myself for littering?"
Obie said he was making sure, and friends Obie was, cause he took out the
toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took
out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars roll out the - roll the
toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape.  Obie
was making sure, and it was about four or five hours later that Alice
(remember Alice? It's a song about Alice), Alice came by and with a few
nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back
to the church, had a another thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat,
and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court.

We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back
of each one, sat down.  Man came in said, "All rise."  We all stood up,
and Obie stood up with the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing eye dog, and he
sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing eye dog, and then at the
twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles and arrows
and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing eye dog.
And then at twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with circles
and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one and began to cry,
'cause Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
blind justice, and there wasn't nothing he could do about it, and the
judge wasn't going to look at the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy
pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us.  And
we was fined $50 and had to pick up the garbage in the snow, but thats not
what I came to tell you about.

Came to talk about the draft.

They got a building down New York City, it's called Whitehall Street,
where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected,
neglected and selected.  I went down to get my physical examination one
day, and I walked in, I sat down, got good and drunk the night before, so
I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning.  `Cause I wanted to
look like the all-American kid from New York City, man I wanted, I wanted
to feel like the all-, I wanted to be the all American kid from New York,
and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up, and all
kinds o' mean nasty ugly things. And I waked in and sat down and they gave
me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the phsychiatrist, room 604."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill.  I mean, I wanna, I
wanna kill.  Kill.  I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and
guts and veins in my teeth.  Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill,
KILL, KILL."  And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and
he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down
yelling, "KILL, KILL."  And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,
sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

Didn't feel too good about it.

Proceeded on down the hall gettin more injections, inspections,
detections, neglections and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me
at the thing there, and I was there for two hours, three hours, four
hours, I was there for a long time going through all kinds of mean nasty
ugly things and I was just having a tough time there, and they was
inspecting, injecting every single part of me, and they was leaving no
part untouched.  Proceeded through, and when I finally came to the see the
last man, I walked in, walked in sat down after a whole big thing there,
and I walked up and said, "What do you want?"  He said, "Kid, we only got
one question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre,
with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all
the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever
go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten
colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on
the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want
you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's
where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after
committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly
looking people on the bench there.  Mother rapers.  Father stabbers.  Father
rapers!  Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me!  And
they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the
bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest
father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly
'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me
and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?"  I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay
$50 and pick up the garbage."  He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?"
And I said, "Littering."  And they all moved away from me on the bench
there, and the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean nasty things, till I
said, "And creating a nuisance."  And they all came back, shook my hand,
and we had a great time on the bench, talkin about crime, mother stabbing,
father raping, all kinds of groovy things that we was talking about on the
bench.  And everything was fine, we was smoking cigarettes and all kinds of
things, until the Sargeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it
up and said.

"Kids, this-piece-of-paper's-got-47-words-37-sentences-58-words-we-wanna-
know-details-of-the-crime-time-of-the-crime-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-
you-gotta-say-pertaining-to-and-about-the-crime-I-want-to-know-arresting-
officer's-name-and-any-other-kind-of-thing-you-gotta-say", and talked for
forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said, but we had
fun filling out the forms and playing with the pencils on the bench there,
and I filled out the massacre with the four part harmony, and wrote it
down there, just like it was, and everything was fine and I put down the
pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the
other side, in the middle of the other side, away from everything else on
the other side, in parentheses, capital letters, quotated, read the
following words:

("KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?")

I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to
ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm
sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench
'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women,
kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."  He looked at me and
said, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprints
off to Washington."

And friends, somewhere in Washington enshrined in some little folder, is a
study in black and white of my fingerprints.  And the only reason I'm
singing you this song now is cause you may know somebody in a similar
situation, or you may be in a similar situation, and if your in a
situation like that there's only one thing you can do and that's walk into
the shrink wherever you are ,just walk in say "Shrink, You can get
anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.".  And walk out.  You know, if
one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and
they won't take him.  And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an
organization.  And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and
walking out.  And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement, and
all you got to do to join is sing it the next time it come's around on the
guitar.

With feeling.  So we'll wait for it to come around on the guitar, here and
sing it when it does.  Here it comes.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

That was horrible.  If you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud.
I've been singing this song now for twenty five minutes. I could sing it
for another twenty five minutes.  I'm not proud... or tired.

So we'll wait till it comes around again, and this time with four part
harmony and feeling.

We're just waitin' for it to come around is what we're doing.

All right now.

You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Excepting Alice
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Da da da da da da da dum
At Alice's Restaurant

A. Guthrie 1966

Urban survival

November 23, 2008

Went to The Big City the other day.   Cities are great.  There are museums, schools. colleges, bars, restaurants, shows, sporting events, but they can also be dangerous places.   Remember, statistically speaking your greatest threat comes from those who know you, not strangers.  Well really it’s auto accidents, falls at home and fire.  All the same you need to be prepared for any contingency.  I worked in The Big City for years and took public transportation so I do have a frame of reference from which to speak.

So here is my list of tips and tricks to stay safe when visiting The Big City in no particular order.

1. Don’t be out when the bars shut down.

2. Listen to the hair on the back of your neck.

3. Don’t be afraid to cross the street or change direction if you don’t like the looks of someone walking towards you.

4. Don’t fear the homeless, beggars and pan handlers.  Don’t act afraid of anyone.

5. Don’t be afraid of looking someone in the eye to let them know that you see them and acknowledge their presence.  Don’t stare.  Don’t be a threat, but it’s okay to look them in the eye and be firm.

6. Don’t appear to be a tourist by looking at maps or guidebooks as you walk down the street.  Don’t stare at the tops of the big buildings like you’ve never seen a skyscraper before.

7. If you wear a backpack be aware that people can come up behind you unzip it and take your stuff.

8.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Don’t have your IPod turned up so loud that you can’t hear someone coming up behind you.  Don’t be talking on your cellphone to the point that you can’t hear people coming up behind you.

9.  If something or someone doesn’t feel right, move along, and fast.  Example, if you’re on the subway or a bus and you don’t like the looks or actions of someone on the bus or train either change cars or get off at the next stop and do it fast.

10.  If you take public transportation maybe sit near the driver.

11.  If you hear someone approaching fast from behind, stop and look behind you.  Let them know that you see them.  If you don’t like the way they look, if they make you nervous, prepare yourself to fight and move to the side so they can pass you by or go into a store or restaurant.

12.  If you  can be armed, then be armed, a firearm, taser, stun gun, collapsible club or mace.  Otherwise keep your keys, a pen or an umbrella handy.  Know that you can use your jacket, backpack or messenger bag as a weapon.

13.  Don’t have a lot of jewelry showing.  Don’t dress too fancy.  You don’t want to be wearing a $20,000 fur jacket or have a $4,000 handbag with you.

14.  Wear shoes that you can run in.

15. ALWAYS, always, always have a flashlight with you.  Ever been in the subway, a broke down elevator or the basement of some big building when the lights go out?  You  might as well be blind.

16.  If you go somewhere that you check your coat with the cute coat check girl please take your keys out of the pocket of your jacket and keep them with you.

17.  Anticipate, attackers jumping out of dark doorways or from behind parked cars or trucks.  As you are walking around think where attackers could hide.  By anticipating the unexpected you remove the surprise factor.

18. Know your way around.  Plan where you are going and how you will get there before you start wandering aimlessly around.

19.  Don’t be afraid to yell commands at anyone that threatens you, “Get the F@ck away from me” or “Backup!!!” or “Leave me alone.”  I like “FREEZE!!!!!!”  Don’t be afraid to yell for help either or grab someone else to get them yelling too.   You don’t have to be tough, you just don’t want to be the easiest target on the street.

20.  Don’t ever go with someone you don’t know.  If someone wants to drag you someplace else, make them kill you there.  The only reason they want you to go somewhere else is to do even worse stuff to you away from the publics’ prying eyes.

21.  When you buy stuff be careful of flashing your money.  Be aware of who may be watching you count money from your wallet or bank roll.

22.  Be aware of drunks.  Drunks are unpredictable.

23. Don’t be a stumble drunk or someone will roll you.

24. Look into the back seat of your car before you get into your car.

What’d I forget?

Walking pics-

Rosehips

Rosehips

This is the fruit of a rose.  They’re called rosehips.  They make a nice tea or syrup.  I like this picture.  I like how the drops of water (it was a rainy day) hang down from the rosehips.  They are very high in vitamin C and as you can see the fruit remains on the plant throughout the winter.  I’ve also seen an aperitif made from rosehips by filling a jar with the hips and then pouring in vodka or grain alcohol.  You then turn the jar over once or twice a day for a week.  Add some sugar to taste and you have a nice fortifying drink.

Deer poo

Deer poo

This is deer poo.  It looks like rabbit poo doesn’t it, but much larger.  What’s there to say?

Compost

November 21, 2008

Got compost?  You have to start composting.  Even if you don’t garden stop wrapping your kitchen scraps in plastic to be buried for 1,000 years in some landfill.  Collect your scraps and dump them in the woods.  Stop paying to have your leaves dragged away by the town.  Dump them in a pile in your yard.

Happy compost

Happy compost thanks to Google Images

And if you do garden, you can’t be successful at it if you don’t compost.  Compost is gold.  You can’t have too much compost.  If you garden please start trending away from water soluble fertilizers and move to organic fertilizers.  You can spend a ton of dough on fancy composting bins, but you don’t need to.

Compost is just decayed organic matter and composting is basically just piling all of your organic matter up and allowing it to decompose.  Bacteria and other creatures work their magic by breaking leaves, grass and lettuce down.

What you basically do is a make bins to hold your organic waste like grass clippings, kitchen scraps, prunings and leaves.  I have three bins.  One bin is almost done compost and ready to be spread on the garden, one bin is about halfway through composting and then I have another bin for fresh organic matter.  To collect kitchen scraps like eggshells, coffee grounds, seafood shells, carrot peels and scraps from making salads we always have a plastic bag from the grocery store on the counter.  Other people use a little rubbermaid or tupperware container.  One bin is made from three pallets that are tied together with wire to make up three sides of the bin.

Compost bin made from pallets

Compost bin made from pallets thanks to Google Images

My other two bins are made from chicken wire wrapped around metal posts.

Compost bin made from chicken wire

Compost bin made from chicken wire thanks to Google Images

Then you pile everything up in your compost bin.  All of your leaves, grass clippings and kitchen scraps go into a pile and over time it all decomposes into beautiful compost/soil.

scraps - thanks to wikipedia

scraps - thanks to wikipedia

You can see this is the beginning of compost.  You can see leaves and other large chunks of stuff.

The best way to make compost is to layer materials.  First understand, that there is nitrogen material (green stuff) and carbon material (brown stuff).  You want to have much more brown stuff than green stuff in your pile.  A ratio of 20:1 or 25:1 of browns to greens works best.

So as we all know compost happens.  Over time organic matter left alone will decompose.  Just look at the floor of the forest.  So how to speed it up.

Compost needs five things – browns, greens, bacteria/creatures, air and water.  I start by putting some branches in the bottom of the pile to let air circulate from the bottom.  Then I start piling in grass clippings, leaves that I raked and scraps from the kitchen.  You can end it here.

If you want to speed it up I also shovel in a thin layer of garden soil.  Because oak leaves have a lot of acid in them I also add a layer of crushed limestone to the pile.  Finally, to really get things cooking I put in a few shakes of 10-10-10 all purpose organic fertilizer.  If you get everything just right your compost pile will start to “cook” and the internal temperature of it can get to over 100 degrees.  At real high temps the heat can kill weed seeds and plant pathogens.

Cooking compost heap - thanks to Wikipedia

Cooking compost heap - thanks to Wikipedia

This heap is really cooking.  To get a pile really hot though it needs to be a good size, probably over four feet tall  and four feet wide.

You also want your piles to be moist, but not wet.  I think the piles should feel like a damp sponge.  If it gets too dry give it some water.  Maybe build a depression in the top of the pile to collect rainfall.  Sometimes I put a metal post down through the center of the pile and spin it around to make a hole going down through the center of the pile so water can get to the inside of the pile.

I also like to turn my pile over every once in a while.  Every time you turn it, the turning moves the stuff from the outside of the pile to the inside and stuff on the inside of the pile to the outside.  Then the heap will start to cook anew.

finished compost - thanks to Wikipedia

finished compost - thanks to Wikipedia

Some good resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compost

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composting

http://www.compostguide.com/

http://www.wikihow.com/Compost

My pics from the woods-

Crab apples

Crab apples

These are edible, but they may be too tart to be palatable to you.  I guess it all depends how hungry you are.  They do have a lot of pectin so you can make great jam or jelly from them.  Boil them strain them and sugar them.  As you can see there are gobs of them.

Coyote crap

Coyote crap

And this is coyote crap, I think.  You can tell it’s not domestic dog crap by the way it looks.  Looks pretty fresh, huh?  You  can tell that this beast eats different stuff than Alpo.

Another reason….

November 20, 2008

… to hate the Democratic Party.

mccain_lieberman_hug41

The embrace thanks to Google Images

Another perfect reason is because of the way they handle Joe Lieberman.  Here you have a guy, Senator Lieberman, who loses the party primary in his home state switches parties and runs as an independent, beats up the fairly and justly nominated Democratic senatorial candidate from his home state and gets re-elected by the fine people of the Nutmeg State who would shoot themselves in the foot if they had a cap gun.

“Although enraged by his campaign attacks against Barack Obama, U.S. Senate Democrats will allow Sen. Joe Lieberman to remain chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid emerged from a closed-door caucus Tuesday morning and told a large crowd of Capitol reporters that Senate Democrats voted 42 to 13 against punishing Lieberman.”http://www.newstimes.com/ci_11015976

This has nothing to do with Senator McCain and everything to do with Senator Lieberman.

Then Honorable Senator Lieberman campaigns for the Republican presidential candidate and makes many nasty and ugly comments about the Democratic presidential candidate.  With friends like this who needs enemas?

So how do the feckless Democrats handle it?  Do they kick him out of their caucus?  Do they remove his committee chairmanship? Do they do anything at all?

Nope.  They do nothing.  They allow someone to spit in their face, try to burn their house down and they allow the lunatic Lieberman to dance away scott free.  What do you think the marching lock strap Republican Party would have done if a sitting Republican actively, openly and forcefully campaigned for PE Obama?  They would have been gutted, skinned and their body parts would have been scattered to the four winds.

The Democrats?  Nothing.  I won’t vote for candidates from a party that can’t even keep its own kids disciplined and under control.  It’s like an army that is allowed to rape, pillage and loot because the command won’t keep them under control, or a country that is so undisciplined that it allows secret prisons and the torture of suspects.

Once again disgusted with the Democrats.  Joe please just disappear.  Just ride off into the sunset and retire in Lake Bona Vista Acres.

144,000. BTW just to fire the other barrel what is up with 144,000 Alaskans voting for Senator Ted Stevens?

Stevens thanks to the AP

Stevens thanks to the AP

These people, ideologues to be sure, voted for this guy even after he was convicted of basically stealing money from the people of Alaska and the citizens of the United  States.  If you voted for Stevens you either didn’t know he was convicted and shouldn’t vote because you ain’t informed or you shouldn’t vote because you don’t have a shred of sense and are guided by party politics and not principle. 1/2 of the voters of Alaska voted for a convicted felon.

I mean come on.

“Stevens says he’s deeply grateful for his 40 years of service in the Senate.  The 85-year-old Stevens lost his bid for a seventh term after he was convicted on federal corruption charges.”

http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/president/34737699.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr

Sprouts

November 19, 2008

Do you sprout?  Sprouts are great.  Maybe it’s not as exciting as grinding your own grain or guns, but hey you guys can shoot it out over the last few cans of peas at the 7-11and I’ll be safely sitting at home reading my books munching on fresh sprouts.

You can grow sprouts in the dark in a cool area.  How many other ways are there to grow something fresh even if you are locked in your house for an extended period of time?

You can sprout all different kinds of seeds.  I like a mix with some radish or arugula seeds in it so there is a little bite to the sprouts.  Find a mix that you like.  I like something called the French Mix.  The seeds I sprout have 35% protein, amino acids and vitamins and minerals.  That’s 35% protein that grows in a cool dark place in less than a week!!

Sprouting seeds is easier then making pie.  Basically all you do is measure some seeds into a jar and rinse and drain them twice a day.  I rinse them in the morning and then sometime after dinner.  In less then a week you’ll have a jar full of sprouts.

Bell jar and sieve top

Bell jar and sieve top

This is what you start with, a standard Bell jar and a top that has holes in it to drain the water.  I bought this green drain top and you can get them in different sizes.  Before I bought one I just punched a bunch of holes in a metal top and used that to drain the jar.

Seeds

Seeds

This is my one pound bag of French seed mix.  It’s made up from: clover, arugula, radish, fenugreek, cress and dill seeds.  This one pound bag would probably sprout enough seeds to fill a 55 gallon drum.  You can get seeds, a jar and a drain top for less than $10.

Seeds in the jar

Seeds in the jar

This is a few tablespoons of seeds in the jar after the first rinse.  Just dump a couple spoonfuls of  seeds in the jar, add water, put the top on and drain the water.

Day two

Day two

This is day two.  If you look closely or click on the picture you can see that these babies are already sprouting.  They look kind of like chlorophylic little tadpoles.  Can you see their little white “tails?”

Day three

Day three

This is only day three and you can see that the sprouts are getting some volume to them and beginning to fill the Bell jar.   Rinse, drain and stick back into the cabinet.

Day  four

Day four

Now we’re really cooking.  Rinse, drain and stick back into the dark cool cabinet.

Day five

Day five

Just about ready.  They’ll be ready tomorrow morning.  Rinse, drain and stick back in cool, dark cabinet.

Day six

Day six

The jar is full enough.  I’m going to clean them up now.  I put in a little too much seed.  They could have grown another day maybe, but the jar is full so I’ll finish them up.

Sprouts in a bowl

Sprouts in a bowl

I dump the sprouts into a large bowl and fill with water.  I then agitate the seed hulls off of the sprouts.  The hulls float to the surface of the water.  You can see the hulls have all been washed to one side of the bowl.  The hulls are all that brown stuff on the left side of the bowl.  The hulls aren’t bad for you, they’re just a little crunchy and get caught in between your teeth so I wash them out.  I then drain the bowl and away go the hulls with the water.

Sprouts in colander

Sprouts in colander

Last, I rinse and drain them in a colander.  Then I store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.   I usually also put a paper towel in the plastic bag too to absorb excess moisture.

That’s it.  If you don’t have sprouting seeds as part of your preparations, you have a hole that needs to be plugged.  Sprouts are a great way to introduce fresh produce to a canned, dehydrated or dried diet.  If there is a pandemic and you don’t want to leave your home for a week or two or a month then sprouts can give your body the fresh stuff that it will be craving.  They’ll help to keep you regular too.

I like these folks a lot.    I have no interest in the company other than them providing great service, great advice and a great product.  Plus, I think that they’re hippies so they get a few points for being anti-establishment.

Sproutpeople

http://www.sproutpeople.com/

Patches

November 18, 2008

thanks-to-robert-ariail

Patches and cutoffs.  Whatever happened to putting a patch on a hole in your jeans and cutting the legs off a pair of jeans to make shorts?  I think that summarizes some of the problems with the United States today.

patching-jeans

patching-jeans

We no longer do this.  We just throw the jeans out and buy a new pair from Walmart.  When I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we always had patches on our jeans.  We liked the patches because it gave us a chance to personalize our jeans.  I remember picking out different iron on patches because my mum didn’t like to sew.

cutoff jeans

cutoff jeans thanks to Google Images

How about shorts now?  Now we all buy some shorts from some store.  Back then a pair of cutoff jeans or cutoff corduroys would have done  and been good enough.  Now?

What’s happened? Are Americans too good now to patch a pair of pants or make a pair of cutoff shorts?  Are we spoiled or too proud?  Very few of us will try to repair something prior to throwing it out and purchasing a replacement.  I always feel satisfied when I’m able to lengthen the useful life of something that I use.

I hope that’s not who we have become as a nation.  We need to get back to our roots.  We need to reuse, recycle and reduce how much we use.  The fact is most of us don’t know about sacrifice, but we’re going to learn.  Americans, pride cometh before a fall.

pics-

wild aster

wild aster

This is wild aster.  I apologize for the fuzziness, but it was a little windy that day.  Native Americans made a tea from the flowers and roots.  The tea was applied to the skin to treat poison ivy and drunk to treat fever.  I think the most popular use was to use the flowers as a smoking tobacco.

rabbit poo

rabbit poo

G20

November 16, 2008

You know they were talking about us.  You know that they did.  They talked about us behind our backs.

G20

G20

You know they discussed the US$ and what to do with it.  As we all wake up on a Sunday morning and talk about errands, what to have for dinner and who is driving the kids around.   This afternoon maybe we’ll watch a game and crack a beer.

Kind of wild when you think that as we sit at home The Powers That Be are deciding our futures.  Does anyone believe that the IMF, World Bank and US government are looking out for the workers’ best interests?  We’re cogs in the machine.  Expendable.  They talk about us behind out backs.

I personally think something will eventually have to give with our currency. It’s not unprecedented.  FDR seized gold in 1933 to revalue and Nixon unilaterally moved off the gold standard in 1971.

Every time we expand the money supply it reduces the value of dollars already in existence.   The holdings of anyone that has dollars or dollar denominated investments is reduced by increasing the money supply.

I imagine that those countries that hold US debt probably aren’t too happy to see the way that the Bush Administration has expanded US debt over the past few months.  It makes it more unlikely that they’ll ever get paid back.  I imagine that the rest of the world isn’t too happy to discover how a lack of regulation and oversight in US markets is dragging down the rest of the world.

And I think it’s that reality, that the US is never going to pay back all of the money that we owe, that is compelling the G20 to meet.  We’ve become a Third World country, a banana republic if you will, unable to pay our debt.  The interest alone is hundreds of billions of dollars every year.

So what to do?  As I wrote above, I think something is going to have to eventually give with our currency.  Maybe we come out of the G20 meeting with one world currency.  Maybe the G20 move away from using the $ for international trade or oil.

Putin - look into his eyes to see his soul

Putin - look into his eyes to see his soul

“PM Putin suggests Russia China ditch dollar in trade deals.  We should consider improving the payment system for bilateral trade, including by gradually adopting a broader use of national currencies,” Putin told a bilateral economic forum.  He admitted the task would be tough, but said it was necessary amid the current problems with the dollar-based global economy.”

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081028/117991229.html

Dr. Paul on the Global Financial Summit

Behind the scenes, a far more fundamental fix is being discussed — the possible revaluation of gold and the birth of an entirely new monetary system.”

http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/the-g-20s-secret-debt-solution-27996

“The Single Global Currency Assn. urges the G20, meeting in Washington this weekend, to initiate research and planning for a Single Global Currency. The Association’s President, Morrison Bonpasse, wrote to IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to urge such a step in order to “achieve the primary goal of the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference and the primary goal of the IMF: stable currency around the world.”

http://efinancewire.org/10141522/single-global-currency-assn-urges-g20-to-initiate-research-and-planning-for-single-global-currency.html

Nothing substantial may happen this weekend, due to US government being in a state of change until PE Obama is sworn in, but the G20 will meet in another 100 days.  Maybe that’s WTSHTF and the decisions that President Obama makes are as VP Elect Biden said of those future decisions, “they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound…”

Nature pics –

Wild grape

Wild grape

This is wild grape in winter.  It’s a climbing vine.  Notice the reddish bark and the way the bark peels.    Those are tell tale clues that it’s grape.

Another way to tell what you are dealing with is grape and not some other vine like Virginia Creeper

Grape tendril

Grape tendril

is by looking at the tendrils.  Notice this tendril is forked, that is there are two curly things coming off of the one tendril.  Can you see that?  A forked tendril means it’s grape.  As you must know grape is great for jams, jellies, making wine and eating the fruit fresh.  I bet you could even cut the vine and drink the water that drips from it.  That’s probably unnecessary though because in my experience grapes only grow near water so if you see grape you can assume that there is water very close by.

Wildlife

November 14, 2008

Yesterday morning was the Full Beaver Moon.

I always feel blessed when I see wildlife.   You have to keep your eyes and ears open.  You need to train yourself to be able to spot things out of the ordinary.  The easiest way for me to explain it, what works for me, are patterns.  The woods have patterns to them.  Everything looks a certain way.  An example, it’s not normal to see vertical objects in the tree canopy.  When see you a vertical object it’s probably something out of place like a bird sitting on a branch.  If it’s not a windy day and a bunch of leaves overhead bustle then it’s probably a squirrel jumping around.  If it just rained you can listen.  If you hear a bunch of drops fall from a tree then some animal probably shook the tree.

I was out walking the woods the other day and about 50 feet off the trail through some thick brush I saw a big pile of sticks.  Now, it’s not normal to see a big pile of sticks in the middle of the woods unless someone, or something, put them there.  Not to brag, but most people wouldn’t have seen it and for that 1/2 of 1% that did see it, most of them wouldn’t find it interesting enough to investigate.  You gotta be curious about the world that surrounds you.  You gotta remember too that I live in the sub-urbs.   All the pictures you see were taken close to my home.  There are probably 1,000,000 people in a ten mile radius and my own town has 50,000+ inhabitants.  I mean there are malls, Starbucks, auto dealers, Walmarts, mattress stores, cell phone stores, office buildings, gas stations, fast food places and malls. Did I mention malls, the soon to be boarded and shuttered malls?

My point is there is nature wherever you live and I would bet dollars to donuts that everything I post pictures of are close to your home too.  Get out and look around.

Pile of sticks

Pile of sticks

It was getting dark so I apologize for the pic’s lack of clarity.  This is what I saw, so I bushwhack off of the trail into the woods.  And upon closer examination-

Chewed stick

Chewed stick

I would say this looks like a stick that beaver have chewed through.   See, lots of people see this stick that’s been chewed off  and don’t even realize that it’s telling them something.  They don’t care or more likely they lack Curiosity, Inquisitiveness and Situational Awareness.    These three traits:  Curiosity, Inquisitiveness and Situational Awareness will help you survive any situation.

Remember, ‘many men saw the apple fall from the tree, but only one asked why.’  And that man who was curious enough to ask why was of course, Sir Isaac Newton.

And another-

Chewed sticks

Chewed sticks

So here you see a small clump of trees that beaver have gnawed trough.   Be curious.  Ask yourself questions and try to guess at the answers.  I’d say these were chewed up maybe last summer or fall.  I can guess at this because if you look, it looks like there is a season of new growth coming up out of the stumps that the beaver left.  If you look real close you can even see the little striations from the beavers’ teeth.  Some of these trees are maybe 4-5″ in diameter.  Imagine a beaver dragging one of these trees through heavy brush.  Not easy.  That is one hard-working beaver.

Now some shots of the beaver den.

Den1

Den1

Click on the pic to expand it.  It’s worth it.  And another-

Den2

Den2

Click on the pic to expand it. This thing was big, maybe 15 feet across and maybe poked up four feet above the surface of the water.   Remember, within 1/2 mile of this beaver den are many, many homes, a supermarket, restaurants, gas stations, auto dealers, town hall, public safety offices, major roads, schools and the soon to be boarded and shuttered malls.  The beaver den was big and an unnatural object in the woods.  The green in front of it is actually some sort of algae covering water.

Curiosity

Inquisitiveness

Situational Awareness

So if you don’t keep your eyes open enough to spot a beaver den off trail in the middle of the woods, how do you expect to see the Zombie hiding behind the pillar in the parking garage late at night?  Please don’t be one of those folks that stands in the middle of the aisle in the supermarket, or at the bottom of the escalator or right outside the exit of some building.  That is a lack of Situational Awareness.

I like beaver (no jokes please, kids may be watching).  They’re industrious.  Industry is something lacking in the world today.   Beaver mate for life and live in family units.

The MIT class ring has a beaver for it’s logo.  I’m not a grad of MIT nor is this my ring.

mit-class-ringI’m told that beaver can’t stand the sound of running water and that’s why they make dams.

Swimming beaver

Swimming beaver

“The beaver is North America’s largest rodent and is built for life in the water. Adults can be up to four feet long and weigh over 60 pounds. The beaver has webbed hind feet and a large, flat, nearly hairless tail. It uses its tail to help maintain its balance when it is gnawing on trees. It will also slap its tail against the water to signal danger or to warn away predators. The beaver has short front legs with heavy claws. Their rear legs are longer and their webbed feet help propel them through the water when they are swimming. When the beaver is under water, its nose and ears close up and a special membrane covers its eyes.”http://www.nhptv.org/Natureworks/beaver.htm

Work on your Curiosity, Inquisitiveness and Situational Awareness.  What you want some homework?  Ok, for those that want extra credit.  For the next few days when you go out and about and you see other people out and about, really try to observe them.  Make mental notes of the way they are dressed, their shoes, their clothing, who they are with, what they are doing there, if they  are carrying parcels what’s in their bags or boxes, how old they are, how tall, how much they weigh, the nationality, guess what they do for a living.  Look at their pockets and guess what may be in them, are their pockets bulging.  Check out their belts.  Is there anything hanging from them, a cell phone, a beeper, maybe something more nefarious.  Are they wearing jewelry, a wedding band, a watch.  Is the watch, ring, jewelry nice and expensive.  Really, observe things.  Open your senses like you never have before.  Make a game of it.

So get out there, beat the bush and find some beaver.

Geocaching

November 12, 2008

This is really a cool thing, and it’s free!!  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s like going on a treasure hunt.  It’s called Geocaching.

gps

gps

You go online at http://www.geocaching.com/ and enter a zip code or an address or GPS coordinates and you get a list of geocaches for that area.  Each Geocache is basically a hidden box that you need to find.  It’s free to join, and unlike the library there are no late fees.  You can read through the descriptions.  Once you pick one that looks interesting to you you then enter the coordinates into your GPS and start walking through the woods in search of the cache.   Some of the caches are compound so you first have to find one location and then there may be a riddle or some question that needs to be answered in order to get the clue to go to the location of the cache.  Something like, ‘with your back to the stonewall look at the rock between the two old aspens.’ Then when you get to the location you need to start looking for the cache.  You look in hollow logs, stumps, under rocks.  There are all different difficulty levels.  If you need an extra clue you have to decrypt the clue using a decryption key.  One cache took us three tries to finally find it.

cache1

cache1

Here is a cache hidden in an old stonewall. So you find the cache, you reach under the rock overhang and clear the leaves from the old ammo can.

Eureka!

Eureka!

There she is with the rocks pulled away.  You pull it out and open it up.

What a cache looks like

What a cache looks like

Inside each cache is a small notebook and a bag of tschochkes.  You write a little note in the notebook, the date, maybe the weather, who you are.  Then you take one of the little toys, figurines, coins, key chains, dice or whatever and in return you leave a different valueless little tschochke.

Tzotches

Tzotches

So you take one of these things and you leave another useless thing.

The notebook

The notebook

This is the notebook that you sign.

At http://www.geocaching.com/ you can then record your adventure.  Some of the caches are located in historic areas or have stories associated with them, like maybe a family lived there that was killed by Indians or Henry Ford paid for the monument.  People post pictures of their experiences.

Any reason to get outside is a good reason.  And geocaching is a great reason.

My pics from walking about and then an example of a geocache.

You know what this means?

You know what this means?

Does this help?

Does this help?

Huh, do you know what it means?  More to follow tomorrow….

Here is an example of a geocahce from South Carolina:

Traditional Cache Guarding the Hollies
A  cache by The Scout Master Hidden: 10/18/2008
Size: Small (Small) Difficulty: 1.5 out of 5 Terrain: 1.5 out of 5 (1 is easiest, 5 is hardest)

Greyed out links are only available to Premium Members.

N 34° 51.739 W 082° 15.915 [Other Conversions]
UTM: 17S E 384347 N 3858504

In South Carolina, United States [View Map]

Print:
printer Simple (No Logs) | printer Driving Directions

Download: [Read About Waypoint Downloads]
| | |
Please note: To use the services of geocaching.com, you must agree to the terms and conditions in our disclaimer.

<!– Description written by The Scout Master: –>This is a relatively simple cache. The 1.5 diffuculty rating is due to the soon-to-be-huge muggle factor.

You are searching for a large pill bottle, 5.5 inches tall and 2.3 inches across. It contains small trade items, a pen, log, and is large enough for small Travel Bugs and regular Geocoins.Please be stealthy. The best access is to turn off Pelham Road onto Old Boiling Springs Road, between the CVS and the Hardees, go down that road a short diatance, and turn right into the area.
>>>>>FTF Honors go to….Basset Hounds!!!<<<<<

Additional Hints ( Decrypt )

Decryption Key
A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M
-------------------------
N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z
(letter above equals below,
and vice versa)

Zntargvp, vafvqr (Decrypted Hints)

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Long underwear

November 11, 2008

Just finished doing my exercises.  I do between 9-12 sets of 30 pull ups and 30 dips.  On other days I do work with barbells.  If I do some kind of strength training 3-4 days a week, that’s good.  I walk, bike ride or ski everyday.    Mens sarna in corporo sarno.

My walks in the woods don’t come without some pitfalls.  I just pulled a tick off of myself.  It wasn’t bitten in for the requisite 24 hours so I should be safe from any tick carried disease.  Gotta keep an eye on it though.

Ok, then long underwear.

You gotta have long underwear.  When I used to work in a hydroponic greenhouse I used to wear what I called “Greenhouse Armor.”  When you do greenhouse (casa verde) work you need to start early in the morning because by 2, 3, or 4 in the afternoon it’s too hot to work inside the house.    So how to dress.  As the day went on you’d strip down to a t-shirt and jeans.  I’d start the day with a t-shirt, long underwear, t-shirt, long underwear and probably one or two sweatshirts and a heavy flannel shirt jack.  In the mornings, at 5:30 am, it could be 20 degrees outside and you are constantly going in and out of the greenhouse (70 degrees or warmer) so you need to be able to constantly adjust your clothes/underwear/comfort factor.

You know that you have to understand how to dress in layers, right?

As I was taking pictures for this post I realized that “Insulation” was a better title than “long underwear.”

Traditional-long-underwear-top1

Traditional-long-underwear-top1

This is the long underwear that everyone is probably familiar with.  These are 100% cotton and have the waffle texture to them.  This stuff is ok if there is no chance of getting wet or sweating.  There is an old saying that bears repeating, “cotton is death.”  And it is.  If you wear cotton and it gets wet you can die.  Wet cotton loses its insulative properties and will wick the heat right out of your body.

Traditional-long-underwear-bottom

Traditional-long-underwear-bottom

This is the 100% cotton bottoms that go with the traditional top.  Not bad, but remember “cotton is death.”  It’s fine to wear in a greenhouse or to the office or to go shopping, but if you sweat or cotton long underwear gets wet, you have a problem.

union-suit

union-suit

This is the traditional union suit that served folks well for so many years.  It’ll keep you warm, but once again being 100% cotton you can’t let it get wet.  The benefit is that it is very warm.  I don’t like it because it isn’t easy to adjust in case you get heated up.

Trapdoor

Trapdoor

This is the best part of the union suit.  When you gotta go you don’t have to take the whole thing off.  You just have to be as nimble as a Russian gymnast.  I’m not a big fan of the union suit.

light-poly-pro

light-poly-pro

This is the stuff I love.  It’s made from poly-propylene.  This stuff keeps you warm and wicks moisture away from your skin where it is free to evaporate and keep you from getting wet.  The downside is some people say it holds body odor.  Personally, I haven’t found that to be the case.  The other thing I like about this style is that it has a small zipper in the front so it makes it easy to adjust your core temperature by zipping it up into a turtleneck or down.

light-poly-pro-bottoms2

light-poly-pro-bottoms2

These are the polypro bottoms that go with the top.  This stuff is great.  It wicks the moisture from your body and keeps you warm.

thumb-hole

thumb-hole

Another reason I like these polypro tops is because they have a thumb-hole.  See that little hole with the blue thread at the top and bottom?  Watch this……….

thumb-hole-in-use

thumb-hole-in-use

You see that?  Now when I stick my arm through other layers of clothing the underwear doesn’t get pulled up to my elbows.  It’s also nice as a second layer over your palm and a first layer over your wrist.  If you are playing in the snow, it keeps the snow from going down into your gloves or up your forearm.

heavy-polartec-top

heavy-polartec-top

The polypro tops come in different thicknesses.  I’m not sure if you can make it out, but this one is much thicker than the one I posted above.  This top is 100 weight polartec.  I use this for ice-fishing and down hill skiing.  Once again, it has that nice zipper and the thumbholes.

polartec-top

polartec-top

This is where I started thinking to myself, maybe this is a post more about insulation then long underwear.  Anyways, this is a soft Polartec top.  No pockets, but it fits loose, has that zipper I like and keeps you warm even in the event it gets wet.  You want your inner layers to be made of material that wicks moisture away from your skin.  The brand of this orange top is Columbia.  I think I paid $30 for it.  It was kind of pricey, but it’ll keep me warm for years.  Orange in the woods isn’t as bright as you may think.  Orange is a naturally occurring color in nature.  You don’t see too many pure black things in the woods.

polartec-crew-neck

polartec-crew-neck

This is basically a Polartec sweatshirt.  It has pockets.  I got it from Campmor.  I’m sure I wouldn’t have paid more than $15 for it.  Wicks moisture and keep you warm even if it gets wet.

fancy-wind-proof-top

fancy-wind-proof-top

This is a fancy, wind proof top made from polyester and nylon.  The main thing here is that it stops the wind from penetrating your body.  Wind will suck the heat right out of you.  This particular top isn’t very insulative, but it stops the wind dead.  I got it from the very expensive store that’s a cooperative.  I don’t buy anything there unless it is on the clearance rack.  I paid $30 for this, marked down from $150!!!  I can’t imagine anyone paying $150 for it, but it was worth the dirty thirty.  This time of year I’d wear a poly pro top, this windbreaker and then my Filson canvas jacket and I’m good to go.

polartec-zip-top

polartec-zip-top

This is a polar tec zip top that I also got from Campmor.  It’s heavier than the poly pro long underwear.  It’s more like an intermediate layer, not right against your skin, but between the inner layer and your outer wear.  I like being able to zip it into a turtle neck or zip it down to cool off.   The pockets are pass through pockets so I can pass the hip belt from a pack right through it if I wanted to.  It also has a cord to tighten down the waist to keep stuff from blowing in and heat from blowing out.  You should be able to get something like this for between $20-$25.  It’s well worth it.

wool-sweater

wool-sweater

This is a plain old wool sweater.  I love wool.  it keeps you warm even when wet.   Wool sweaters come in all kinds of shapes, colors and sizes.  I have a bunch of wool sweaters.  Good ones will last a very long time.  I’d like to buy some wool long underwear, but at $50+ for each piece it’s way too expensive for my wallet.

thinsulate-lined-jeans

thinsulate-lined-jeans

These are Thinsulate lined jeans.  The Thinsulate is great.  These jeans will keep me warm no matter what.  Almost.  The downside is that jeans are made out of cotton so if they get wet they don’t keep you warm.  They keep you cold.  Thinsulate though keeps you warm even if wet.  I’ll only wear these if it’s very cold and dry or if it’s wet I’ll wear them under Gore-Tex.

Anorak

Anorak

This is an anorak from LL Bean, that I got on sale because it was an irregular.   If I’m engaging in some high activity pursuit that I’ll be sweating doing then this is a great piece to wear.  Throw on a polypro top, this anorak and my jacket and I’m good to go.  The other nice thing with the anorak is that it has an adjustable hood so I can wear a hood inside of a hood if I want to and the pockets are pass through pockets which is good for a hep belt from a backpack.

down-sweater

down-sweater

This is a down sweater.  I got this from Campmor too.  It’s Campor’s own brand.  There is no need to pay for the “Northface” brand.  I got this sweater for probably $50 and it works great.  Down is good.  The downside of down is that it doesn’t keep you warm when wet so you either wear it under Goretex or only in dry conditions.

My walking pics of the day-

deer-track

deer-track

More deer tracks.  What’s there to say?  Just get out there and start walking your woods.

cranberry2

cranberry2

This is wild cranberry.  They grow low in marshy, boggy areas.  You can spot them by their low growing habit and teeny, tiny leaves.  Here’s another picture-

cranberry4

cranberry4

You can see a few cranberries in this one picture.  Cranberry is good stuff.  Cranberries are high in vitamin C and are good for your urinary tract.  They stay good even when buried under the winter snows and can be dried and crushed to powder.  They also make a great addition when you cook grains, cereals, baked goods or roasted meats and poultry.

Heat or eat?

November 10, 2008

I know I get a fair amount if Republicans on this site.  I apologize if what I am about to say you find insulting.  If it makes a difference I don’t hold Democrats in much greater regard.  Two sides of the same coin as far as I’m concerned.  I hope that we can disagree about politics, agree about survival and the economy and still remain friends.  Even if what I say angers you please scroll to the bottom to look at my pics of the day – a deer rubbing and staghorn sumac.

“As January 20th draws near, some of you may be anxious about finding a new job, or a new place to live. I know how you feel. (Laughter.)”

President Bush 11/6/2008

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/11/20081106-1.html

What’s funny about that!?!?!?  He has no idea, not a clue, how I feel.  I tend to think that Bush has never sent out a single resume.  I’ve sent out hundreds.

Somehow Bush and the Whitehouse press corp think it’s funny to be looking for work or a place to live.  To me, it shows such a lack of understanding of what most of us face everyday that it is breath taking.  People are hungry.  People are looking for work.  People are losing their houses.   People have to choose between heat or eat.  Bush’s statement wasn’t only not funny it was callous.  What else would you expect from someone who never had to get their hands dirty, worry about meeting their bills or finding a job.

I really think that the economy is tanking.  If you have a job hold onto it.  Kiss your boss’ butt.  I heard on CNBC the other morning that retail sales are way down at the Abercrombie (-20%) and the Gap (-16%).  This is the beginning of the end.  It’s beyond a doubt that this will be the worst Christmas season for retailers ever. http://www.forbes.com/equities/2008/11/06/retail-october-closer-markets-equity-cx_mp_1106markets41.html

Seeing how around 65% of the American economy is consumer based and retailers do the vast majority of their business during the Christmas season there are not good tidings ahead.  Consumers are forced to pull back their spending because growths in productivity haven’t trickled down as growth in wages.  The owners get richer and the workers get poorer.  http://www.epipolicycenter.org/blm-stagnant_wages_and_rising_inequality.pdf

In October Ford’s sales plunged 30%, Chrysler’s 35% and GM 45%.  This is bad. 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081103/ap_on_bi_ge/auto_sales

I also just heard that the $25 Billion already given to the auto manufacturers by the Republican administration (socialism?) won’t be enough and the manufacturers are coming back with open hands.  http://www.forbes.com/equities/2008/11/06/retail-october-closer-markets-equity-cx_mp_1106markets41.html

Credit is still tight for most everyone.  Home values are falling and home equity loans are being shrunk.

For the past 20 years, the last two “expansions”, we relied on consumer borrowing.  That dog don’t run no more.  No auto loans.  Student loans are tough to come buy.  Lines of credit and so on.

Circuit City is closing 175 stores.  Linens and Things is gone.

NYC is laying off 500 workers.  Indianapolis may lay off 400 teachers.   Dallas laid off 300 teachers.  Bf Goodrich is laying off 500 people.  18,000 people were laid off in the financial sector in October.  16,000 were laid off from the auto industry. Motorola is laying off 3,000.  Michelin laid off 240.  All the newspapers are laying people off.  Yahoo employees are facing some imminent layoffs and it goes on and on. http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/081107/economy.html

Don’t forget all that money injected into the economy by the Republican administration (Bernanke, Bush & Paulson).  Production is going down so we have less goods.  We also have more $’s out there.  So we have more $’s chasing less goods.  The inevitable result will be rising inflation.  I know right now we are facing deflation, which is a more significant problem, but inflation is coming back.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  The layoffs start in earnest Q109.  Hold on tight.  Most people have no idea what lays ahead.  Prepare for the worst and expect the best.

More happy stuff, my pics of the day-

deer-rubbing

deer-rubbing

This is a deer rubbing.  This is where some buck rubbed the bark off of this small juniper with his antlers.  I think that they do this to mark their territory and also to scratch the fuzz off of their antlers.  when you see a rubbing you know that there are deer populating that area.

Staghorn sumac

Staghorn sumac

This is Staghorn Sumac.  You gather these berries, soak them in cold water and strain the mizture through a clean t-shirt to make a fine tasting lemonade type drink.  In the Mideast the berries are used to season shish kebabs.  The tea is also good for coughs.  Root tea was used to stop bleeding.

My GHB

November 7, 2008

My walking pic of the day-

Fox scat

Fox scat

I believe this to be fox scat (crap).  The fox diligently placed it on top of a rock so everyone in the woods could see it and smell it.  Fox like to do this with their scat.  Notice the seeds in it.  It looks like this fox has been eating berries.

I keep a bag in my car to provide stuff that I may need if I end up having to walk home.  I’m usually no more than 20 miles from home and usually not too far from my car.   I don’t anticipate having to spend more then one night away from home.  Probably not even.  So my Get Home Bag is designed around these specific needs: walk no more then 20 miles and only having to spend 1-3 nights away from home.  I also have a fair amount of stuff in my car that isn’t shown.  That’s another post.

The first thing you need to do in the event of having to run home is to make yourself safe.  After that, you need to unpack everything you have with you, your pockets and the contents of your Get Home Bag (“GHB”).  Take an inventory.  Figure out what you have and the multiple uses that each item has.  Slow down.  Bad decisions are made in haste.

This is my get home bag.

Get Home Bag

Get Home Bag

As you can see it’s a waterproof SealLine 20 liter bag.  I have other bags in my car that I can put it into in case I want to go incognito.  Carrying the SealLine bag through urban or suburban areas would attract unneeded attention.  I usually have a black messenger bag with me that I could stuff the SealLine bag into if I needed to.

The contents:

GHB1

GHB1

Here we have a survival blanket that has all kinds of survival tips written right on it.  Even though you know everything, when you are under stress you forget or can’t recall stuff.  It’s good to have everything written down.  Next are a few rubber gloves, a dust mask and toilet paper in a zip loc bag.

GHB 2

GHB2

Here are a few large plastic bags with a rubber band around them.  The yellow thing is a reflective survival sleeping bag.    A cheesy tube tent and cheesy rain poncho.  I keep them packed in their plastic bags because it’s good to have bags in the brush.

GHB3

GHB3

Here is a NuWick candle in a can.  Packed inside of the can are the wicks and a lousy pack of matches.  NuWick should supply waterproof matches with its product.  NuWick knows it’s a survival item so they shouldn’t get chintzy with the matches.   The thing in the zip loc bag is an alcohol lamp/stove.  The black thing is a small pot/large cup to heat stuff up with.  The handles collapse around the pot.  The thing with the yellow handle and black rod is a flint fire starter.   The shiny silver thing is an old fashioned waterproof match holder packed with strike anywheres and a piece of course sandpaper for striking.

GHB4

GHB4

Upper left corner are two sets of plastic cutlery wrapped in plastic wrap.  Inside the zip loc bag (I love bags.) is a survival saw.  You can’t depend on these things, but it’s light, cheap and small so why not pack it?  Don’t depend on them though.  If you think that you will HAVE to use a saw on your way home get a better one.  You can rip the rings off the end of these survival saws with a teeny bit of pressure.  Bottom center is a small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer.  Bottom left corner is a Platypus bag wrapped with a rubber band.  It’s basically a collapsible canteen.  The Platypus bags can be boiled, frozen and rolled up very small.  These things are great.

GHB5

GHB5

The silver thing in the black case is a small radio.  It picks up AM/FM/TV and shortwave.  It’s digitally tuned.  I think I got 2 for $20.  When I’m walking home I want to be able to listen to the news.  The other thing is a headlamp.

GHB6

GHB6

Here is a shank of parachute cord.  It can be stripped down and the inside strands used for whatever.  In the middle is a shank of poly rope.  At the bottom is a little roll of duct tape.

GHB7

GHB7

At the top is a Swedish Mora knife with a sheath that has a nice belt clip.  The knife is very sharp.  It was only $9 or so from Smoky Mountain Knife Works.  A Gillette disposable razor and a cheap slingshot.  Also, floating around the bottom of my GHB are probably about 50 ball bearings.

GHB8

GHB8

This is a Survival Straw.  These things are great.  I can drink out of a puddle if need be.  You can get cheaper ones, but they are probably just filters.  In which case you may also have to treat the water with bleach, iodine or other chemicals.  This Survival Straw has some sort of silver in it that also kills the bugs and viruses.  This is the kind to get.  http://www.thestrawoflife.com/.  You can find it cheaper so look around.  Once again, save the bag it comes in and the directions.

GHB8

GHB8

This is the food I carry in my GHB.  On the left is a bag of raisins and brown sugar.  It’s like the ingredients for hooch in the can.  On the right is more food double zip locked.

GHB9

GHB9

The zip lock food bag unpacked.  At the top two packs of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, a pack of tuna, the black round thing is a small glass jar of honey, two gold and black packets of Earl Grey tea, four or five hard candies, a pack of Top Ramen, four things of Cup a Soup, the things running vertically are three packs of soup bouillon.

GHB10

GHB10

This is a one liter Nalgene type bottle.  It came packed with first aid supplies.  I got it for about $10.  Of course I had to supplement it with more stuff.

The bottle unpacked is below:

GHB11

GHB11

A pair of tweezers, a cheap compass, a bag with wet naps, an orange cheap whistle, a small roll of first aid tape and a red Bic lighter.

GHB11

GHB12

On the left in the little baggie are first aid type wipes, antibiotic, burn and stingeze.  At the top the little blue pills are an anti-histamine, to the right is a pack of Advil, in the middle anti-biotic Neosporin, a bunch of brass safety pins and at the bottom is a little shank of poly string.

GHB13

GHB13

Here we have a bag with assorted bandages and gauze pads, a pair of scissors, in the center is a disposable razor knife.  You know the kind it has like ten blades that snap off.  The bottom left is a small zip loc bag rolled up and secured with a rubber band.

GHB14

GHB14

At the top left is a triangle bandage in a bag.  The top right is a small pack of tissues.  Bottom left is a bag of anti-septic towelettes.  The bottom right is a small container of aspirin and Immodium.  You have to know not to take aspirin if bleeding is a risk, but to take aspirin in the event of stroke or heart attack.  if you didn’t know this you are weak in the first aid area and need to bone up.  Not trying to be critical.  I just am by nature.

GHB15

GHB15

At the top left are eight Micropur water purifying tablets.  The top right are some disposable brush ups to keep your teeth clean and get rid of foul tastes or just make you feel more human.  The bottom right are 4.0 Ethilon sutures.  The bottom right is a first aid guide.  I’m pretty good with first aid, but under stress I may not be thinking right so it helps to be able to read.  Keep directions.  An example, you may be suffering from hypothermia and not recognize it because one of the symptoms of hypothermia is confusion.  You start reading your little first aid guide and realize that confusion is a sign of hypothermia.  Light then dawns on marble head and you recognize that you need to take corrective action.

GHB16

GHB16

The last items in the one liter bottle is a pack of straight needles and a spool of black thread.

You get that pics GHB11-GHB16 are the contents of the red one liter bottle.

You need to occasionally unpack everything so you know what you have and also to check the batteries.  The whole thing weighs about ten pounds and measures 18″ * 9″ * 8″.

Cost = Priceless.

Mens sarne incorporo sarno.

Never leave home without

November 6, 2008

I thought it would be cool to show folks what I usually have when I leave home.

In the car I have my Get Home Bag (“GHB”), a rainjacket, a pair of hiking boots in a zip loc bag, a few flashlights and a couple of lighters.

watch

watch

This is just a standard, quartz Citizens watch.  The main thing for me with a watch is that it needs to be waterproof.  I also like a watch that shows the date.  You can also use an analog watch as a compass, by pointing the hour hand at the sun, halfway between the sun and the 12 on the watch is your south coordinate.  For better directions, http://www.onebag.com/popups/wcompass.html.

Wallet cellphone

Wallet cellphone

Self-explanatory, wallet & cellphone.  Boring, huh?  I have a pay as you go cellphone.  I don’t like locking into some “plan” where you have to pay $50 or $100 a month.  Sounds like a plan to go bankrupt to me.  I don’t give my number out to a lot of people.  I usually use it for ordering pizza or calling when I’m running late.

spitfire-photon

spitfire-photon

All this stuff clips on the biner that is my key chain.  The Spitfire is a brand of mace.  I like this kind because it’s a natural aim and it sprays out a cone.  You can also replace the mace canister with a compressed air canister for training or if you spray a lot of bad guys you can buy replacement canisters of the mace.  As you can see it’s not much bigger than a disposable lighter.  Buy some for you wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, brother, boss, neighbors and friends.

If you  carry a handgun it’s important to also have mace.  I know people are going to rag on me for this, but….you just can’t whip out your firearm and shoot someone.   I guarantee that you will be second guessed after the fact.  God forbid you ever find yourself in the situation where you feel you feel you are threatened with deadly force.  First, you need to try and remove yourself from the situation.  Next, you need to use escalating force.  Mace is one step in the escalating force rubric.

The other black item on the keychain is a Photon light.  These thigns are great.  They throw a lot of light, last a long time and are about the size of three quarters stacked up.  I use it to help find the key hole in my car or at home at night.  Once again give one to everyone you care about. They ain’t cheap though.

cree-double-a

cree-double-a

This is a Cree double-A flashlight.  One AA lithium battery in this thing and it throws a ton of light and lasts a very long time.  You can see how small it is compared to a Bic pen.

I always try to have a pen with me too.

marbles-compass

marbles-compass

I don’t always carry this, but I like it.  It’s a brass marble’s compass.  When I’m wandering in the woods off trails I like to keep a general idea of my direction of travel.  This compass also has a pin on it so I can pin it onto my jacket so all I have to do is look down at it.  It’s usually kept in my car.

swiss-army-camper

swiss-army-camper

This knife is clipped to the biner with my keys, mace and Photon light.  This is a genuine Swiss Army Knife.  I’m not one for brand names, but the impersonators aren’t as good as the genuine Swiss Army Victorinox.  The Victorinox is made better and holds a great edge.  It’s worth the extra $5-$10 to get a better knife that you can depend on.  I like the Camper.  The picture shows what I think are the most important tools for me.  I need a knife with a wood saw.  I use it a lot.  Whether I’m pruning rose bushes out front or practicing my bushcraft the knife is indispensable.  I also need a corkscrew.  We like wine.  I don’t like pushing the cork down into the wine bottle.  There aren’t too many substitutes for a corkscrew when you need one.  I also find the tweezers and toothpick indispensable.  I personally think the Victorinox tweezers are some of the best tweezers going.  I lost track of how many thorns, prickers and slivers of glass I’ve pulled with these tweezers.

s&w-model-60-speedloaders

s&w-model-60-speedloaders

This is my S&W Model 60 with the .38 shells unloaded, two speedloaders and the holster.  The holster is a Bianchi inside the waistband holster.  When clipped on the gun and holster present an extremely small profile.  It literally disappears.  The speedloaders are HKS brand.  I generally carry Federal .38 + P hollowpoints.  The Model 60 also takes .357 ammo.  It only holds five shots.  I know I’ll catch grief for it, but I really like the Model 60.  It fits my hand like Goldilocks (just right), it tactilely pleasing, aims fine and makes it easy to collect the brass at the range.   I like the .38 ammo, because living in a populated area the .357 ammo is just too likely to penetrate and create collateral damage.  At the range I usually use plain old .38 ammo to practice.  Don’t worry, I also use self-defense loads to make sure I can depend on them.  All of you semi-loving folks, when using the Model 60 I’ve never had a round stove pipe, not feed correctly or drop a mag.  I like wheelguns.  The other thing is that I shoot slower and am more deliberative then I am with a semi.

Daily pics from my walks-

Big old fir

Big old hemlock

This is a big old AMERICAN hemlock.  I took this picture because of the strip running all the way down it.  This tree was struck by lightening and the lightening ran all the way down the tree tearing off the bark.  Indians made teas from the leaves of the AMERICAN hemlock, the outer bark and inner bark depending on the ailment.  Tea leave will cure scurvy.  If you live in Europe you need to be careful about not confusing the AMERICAN HEMLOCK with the European hemlock.    The EUROPEAN hemlock is poisonous as the Baird can attest to.  THANKS TO JIM RAWLES FOR POINTING THIS OUT TO ME.

Milkweed

Milkweed

This is Milkweed.  The tassels remind me of down.  You could make a fine pillow or mattress from this stuff.  In the background you can see dozens of other milkweeds in this particular field.  The root tea can be used as a diuretic, expectorant and for arthritis and asthma.  You can eat the young shoots, top leaves, young seed pods and young stems.  You need to boil them a few times thought to get rid of the sticky white latex.   Add them to boiling water boil for minute or so and drain.  Boil more water and add them to the boiling water.  Boil for minute or so and drain.  Boil more water and add them to the boiling water.  Do 3-5 times.  Don’t add them to cold water and then bring to boil.  Only add the plant to already boiling water.

What is suburban survival?

November 5, 2008

It just occurred to me that I’ve been writing this blog for a week or two and never really explained what is my idea of Suburban Survival.

First off some pics from my constitutionals-

Hawk

Osprey

This was an Osprey checking us out.  Look close, about halfway down from the top center, white body and black wings.  I had to check a few books and Wikipedia.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

This is a Great Blue Heron.  She likes to stand near the overflow and catch fish as they get washed over.  You can learn a lot about being stealthy by watching one of these things hunt.  This is a success story of modern environmentalism.  These great birds were almost wiped out by DDT until we banned the stuff.

Foliage water skiing

Foliage water skiing

These people are water skiing on a beautiful fall day surrounded by foliage.

Suburban survival is to me…this is just my perspective.  It may not be right for you or mesh with your worldview.

1. Mens sana in corpore sano.  This means a strong mind in a strong body.  Respect for self.  This means that you need to take care of yourself.  You need to eat right and exercise.    You need to read and try to become a better…whatever you are.  I try to be the best Abraham I can be.  Hey we all have vices.  Vices are good.  Vices reduce stress and help to blow off steam.  Nothing wrong with having a drink as long as you don’t let the drink have you.  Nothing wrong with playing X-box as long as you don’t let X-box play you.

2. Advance your skills.  Girls want guys with skills.  Strive to be a life long learner.  Read and practice.  If you know how to read and can follow directions you can do anything.  Anything.  Take a class on auto mechanics.  Not to replace your own timing belt, but to know if your mechanic speaks the truth when she tells you that you need your timing belt replaced.  Know how to use basic hand tools and do stuff around your home.

3. Learn about the world around you.  Learn about the bees, the plants, the paths and the people that occupy your slice of the planet.  Learn the different seasons and the plants and animals that occupy each.  Learn about the wild edibles that surround you.  This past summer I was always hopped up on purslane and red mulberry.  Yum.  You will be amazed at how many of the things that you consider weeds are edible or medicinal.  Stuff growing through the cracks in your driveway can be tasty.

4. Be adaptable.  The world is ever changing.  Don’t assume that the future will be like the past.  Don’t imprint your view of the world on reality.  Accept reality as it is and adapt to it.  Quick example here, you go body surfing on Cape Cod all of the time.  You always have fun body surfing and consider yourself an expert.  You fly to Hawaii and head off to body surf.  You are making a big mistake by imprinting your past experience on reality.  Hawaiian waves aren’t Cape Cod waves.  Read this book – http://www.deepsurvival.com/.  It’s about the mental component of surviving.  The mental component is mroe important than any tools or knick knacks that you may carry with you.

5. Waste not want not.  Be thrifty. Buy stuff on sale.  Don’t throw stuff out.  Just about everything has a second and third and fourth use.  Don’t be ashamed either.  I’m not above trash picking if I see something useful.  Heck, some folks in my town cut up fallen branches and bundle them up for the town to take away and dispose of.  When I’m driving around if I see one of these bundles of wood I’ll stop and throw it in my car.  It’s like an instant fire. Plan ahead.  I bought two cords of wood in June for $190 each.  Now they are over $300 each.  Plan ahead.  Beat the crowd.

6. Make lists and refine them.  Lists of what you want to do.  What you want to buy.  Where you want to go.  Become better organized and eliminate wasteful trips.

7. Buy enough to store some away.  Wait for it to get on sale then buy.

8. Redundancy.  One of anything isn’t enough.  Get extras.  The worst time to find out something doesn’t work is when you need it the most.

9. Balance.  Find a balance between work and play, prepping and not prepping, time by yourself and time spent with others.

10. Walk lightly.  Don’t be a big mouth.  Don’t attract attention to yourself.  I like to say that our cars are urban camouflage, no one would look twice at them.  Make sure your brake lights, headlights and turn signals work.  Don’t give the Man any additional reason to prevent you from moving freely.  Avoid bars late at night.  Avoid drunks.  Walk away from fights.  If someone is picking a fight with you it has more to do with them then you.

11. Be prepared for any possible contingency.  Learn some self defense skills.  Be prepared to defend yourself.  Learn how to shoot.  Carry some mace or a firearm.  When you go out make up scenarios in your mind.  Observe those around you.  When you go in somewhere look where the exits are.  Sit with your back to the wall.    Check out your surroundings.    Think who is with who and what they’re doing there.  If anyone makes you nervous leave.  Listen to the hair on the back of your neck.

12. Treat everyone you meet with respect.  I can learn something from everyone I meet.  Don’t expect everyone to like you.

13. Learn first aid and field medicine skills.  Have a great first aid kit.

14. Respect the world around you.

15. Learn about gardening and do it.  Compost.  Learn how to preserve food.

16. Learn how to cook good food from humble ingredients.

17. Learn basic outdoors skills – how to build a fire, fish, set up a camp, use a compass, dress for different types of weather, set a snare or a trap, track an animal, tie a knot, cross a stream, tell if the ice is safe, sleep outside overnight, learn some constellations, stars and planets, learn how to shoot a rifle, row a boat, SWIM, paddle a canoe, skate, cross country and alpine ski, ride a bike, pack a back pack, build a lean to, bake in a Dutch oven, chop wood and so on.

18. Economy.  You have to know the difference between principal and interest.  Be able to balance a checkbook.  Understand the time value of money and the power of compound interest.  (Would you rather have $1,000,000 or a penny that doubles every day for 30 days?).  Know the risk of debt.  Understand how amortization works.  If you owe a balance to anyone call them and try to negotiate better terms.  If they’re not willing then search around for better terms.  Pay off your higher interest rate debt first.

What did I miss?

Suburban survival

November 4, 2008

What is survival?  To me it’s being prepared for anything, being open minded and keeping your six senses working enough to acknowledge the world around you and adapt to ever changing circumstances.  Having a grain mill is great, but we also have to live in the everyday, that is go to work, go shopping, pay bills and tend to the homestead.

This is a wild turkey feather.

Wild turkey feather

Wild turkey feather

Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird because he thought that the eagle was too warlike.

Today I went to the big orange box store and bought some insulation.  I framed out a walk-in closet a few years ago.  One side of the closet is basically an exterior wall and the other side of the closet is an interior wall where we hang out a lot.  I noticed this closet stayed pretty cold so I figured that I should insulate it.  I also notice that the interior wall where we hang out is pretty cold to the touch.  That means it chills the air in the interior room.

The nice thing about having a cold, dark closet is that I can use it as a root cellar.  I’ve cured homemade cured pork tenderloin.  Check out this recipe.  It’s the easiest sausage in the world and involves no cooking.  http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/special/1999/salt/loin.html.  I also store my root veggies in the cold closet.  When I make KimChi I store the fermenting bottles in the closet.

At the big box store I bought three rolls of Owens Corning Kraft R13 insulation.   I got the rolls that were 15″ wide which made it really easy to fit between the studs.   Kraft means it’s paper on one side.  R13 is the insulation’s insulative property.  The higher the R number the better the insulation.  Each roll cost about $10.  I had about 10 spaces between studs to slide the insulation into.  I kind of screwed up because I should have put the insulation in before I put up a bunch of pegboard for my tools, but I did not.  Luckily I was able to slide the insulation behind the pegboard and pull it up.

Owens R13 Kraft 15" roll

Owens R13 Kraft 15

It only took me about an hour and we will be more comfortable hanging out and also save energy.  Twenty dollars is a small price to pay.

Another product I like is the blow in foam insulation that comes in a can.  This stuff is great for electrical outlets and cracks near windows and doors.   You shake the can, spray it in to fill about 1//2 the cavity and as it cures it expands.   I highly recommend this stuff, but be careful not to over apply or the pressure it exerts on your windows/doors as it expands will make it tough to open or close the doors/windows.

Great Stuff

Great Stuff

With the cost to heat and cool being so great, you need to take advantage of every angle that you can.

Don’t be brave.  Use the correct equipment.  You wouldn’t remove a crew with a hammer or use a screwdriver as a chisel.  When working with insulation wear a mask, safety glasses, long pants and long sleeves.  When you shoot or use power equipment wear safety glasses and hearing protection.

So fills those cracks.  Fill those gaps.  Fill that empty space.

Some pics of a recent foray along the power lines.

Power line sunset

Power line sunset

Power line sunset 2

Power line sunset 2

There is beauty every where if you just open your eyes to receive.

Link Test

November 4, 2008

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More rambling

November 4, 2008

This is a wild fresh water mussel.  Some raccoon or heron reached it before I did.  where there is one there are more.  You can eat these things.  They are a good source of protein and would cook up nicely.

Fresh water mussel

Fresh water mussel

And a close up.  Seeing these tells you that the water is relatively clean.

Wild freshwater mussel 2

Wild freshwater mussel 2

I’m told that all shellfish in North America is edible.  That doesn’t mean if you pull something out of a polluted river that you should eat it, it just means that unlike shellfish in other parts of the world, shell fish in North America doesn’t make toxins.

This is pokeweed.  You can eat the young leaves in the spring time.  Ever hear that song, “Poke Salad Annie?”  The gators got her granny.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

You can only eat the shoots and leaves when they are young and you have to boil them in a couple changes of water.  You need to avoid the roots and any reddish stems because they are poisonous.  The Indians used a berry tea for arthritis and rheumatism and a poultice from the leaves for skin disorders.  The berries also make a beautiful dark purple dye.  The pokeweed plant is being researched because it may hold the key to curing cancer and HIV.

This is a large ant hill.  I usually don’t see them so big around here that’s why I thought it was interesting.  It’s a couple of feet across and maybe 10″ tall.

Ant hill

Ant hill

If you are hungry enough you would eat the ants.

This is a great article from Mother Earth News, http://www.motherearthnews.com/Real-Food/1984-01-01/A-Winter-Wild-Food-Feast.aspx.

You need to buy some field guides.  You can’t have too many.  When you find something that you want to identify you will want 2-3 field guides to cross reference.

Getting out some more…

November 3, 2008

There’s a lot of places I can walk to for some R&R right near my house.  There some power lines.  There was some Juniper growing.  Check out the berries.  They’re good with venison or lamb or even a roast beef.  They also use them to flavor Gin.

Juniper berries

Juniper berries

Just a little further up along the power lines I saw some bittersweet.    Being red and orange once the fruits split this stuff is tough to miss.  It has a lot of medicinal properties, but the fruit can be toxic.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

Just a little further along we saw some deer tracks. It rained pretty heavy a couple of days ago, so these tracks are new. I usually see tracks up there.  If you don’t know what ruminant tracks look like, they look kind of like a narrow heart.

Deer tracks

Deer tracks

Animals are like people. Actually the better way to think of it is that people are animals. Wildlife likes to take shortcuts when possible, just like us. If it’s a choice between heavy brush and power lines, the deer are gonna take the power lines. They’d rather take a bridge of some sort then get all wet. They get funneled into areas the same way we do, by fallen trees, stone walls, the neighbor’s fence and ponds. And more tracks…

more deer

more deer

And more…does this one look a little deeper to you?  Maybe she was larger?

Deer grande

Deer grande

We then ventured over to the pond.  On the way over there I saw some reddish/purple canes.  That’d be where I get some blackberries during the summer.  When you see this stuff you have to file it away and remember to come back to pick that sweet, sweet summer fruit.  Easy to spot because the canes have that purplish tint.

Blackberry canes in winter

Blackberry canes in winter

You have to keep your eyes open. Look up into the tree tops and look down at the ground. Walk slower if you need to. Stop and listen. What do you hear? If you see something interesting: a leaf, branch, rock, berry or bone bend down and pick it up. Bring it home and look it up in one the Peterson’s Guide Books that you have. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=peterson%27s+field+guide&sprefix=peterson%27s

You need to have one of these a bunch of these guidebooks to cross reference stuff.

You need to get out into the woods and walk around.

Economic matters

November 3, 2008

Everyone knows something is coming

We can all feel it. No one really knows what it is. One thing seems certain though that whatever the dark cloud that now hangs over us it has some huge economic component to it. I read something a few weeks ago on The Urban Survival website http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm about how the official unemployment number as reported is artificially low. The writer over there had a much simpler method of just asking your friends and family. In my circle the number of people laid off in the past year is over 15%. Ask what around do you come up with?

My anecdotal test which resulted in a 15% give or take unemployment rate, ties out nicely to a chart I saw on the Shadow Stat website, http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data.

Shadow Stats Unemploy

Shadow Stats Unemploy

You see that true unemployment is 200%+ the “official” rate.

Realistically we may have what a year at the most before all of our lives are different than we ever could have imagined before 9/11. Can’t you smell it in the air?

I agree with the Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Advisory Council Administration Transition Task Force Report that the most vulnerable time for our country is, “is 30 days prior to, as recent history has shown, and through six months after the change in administrations.” http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/hsac_ATTF_Report.pdf.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the markets lock up not too far in the future. At some point I figure something has got to give with our currency. I mean how long will be able to keep printing what amounts to worthless paper and sell it in the marketplace.

Fed & Treasury Totl Money Supply

Fed & Treasury Totl Money Supply

http://www.nowandfutures.com/key_stats.html

The other issue is the eventual inflation that will come about by this expansion of the money supply.

Our debt is already becoming unserviceable. We’re spending around $450,000,000,000.00 (Billion) a year just on interest. It’s simply unsustainable. At some point the purchasers of our debt will realize this and the big sell off begins. We then become like Iceland. No seller will ship goods to the US for any amount of our worthless paper.  I don’t have much optimism for our short-term economic outlook (five years).  Oh sure, there will be ups and downs, but our trend is negative.

it would be a mistake to assume that the availability of cheap imports will continue on indefinitely. Don’t count on the endless international supply chain to stay operative forever.

I think the thing to do is to prepare the best we can. You see it on all of the   website, tangibles.  Buy a little extra food every time you go shopping. Try to pay down your debt, or at the very least don’t allow your debt load to increase. Anyone in the markets may want to develop an investment strategy that leans towards asset preservation. Be good to figure out how to get a second income stream flowing if possible. Have enough cash around in case you can’t use you debit, credit or ATM cards.

Make sure you have enough food and water to hide out at home for a week or more. All the regular stuff for a storm: batteries, radio, flashlight, canned goods, water, can opener, candles, first aid kit, extra prescription medicines, maybe a firearm and ammunition, a generator if you can afford one, an assortment of small bills, an alternative way to cook, a personal hygiene kit, sleeping bags, water filter, toys for your kids, etc. You know the routine by now.  Learn a new skill.  Watch what you spend.  Get to know your neighbors.

I’m a big fan of getting any imported stuff that you normally use sooner rather than later.  I need to buy another pair of jeans or two and a pair of sneakers.   It’s a better investment than the stock market.