Archive for January, 2009

Coleman stoves

January 30, 2009

I figured I’d follow up my other entry on Coleman lanterns with one on Coleman whitegas stoves.    Coleman makes rugged equipment.  It’s not unusual to have one of the old greencolemanstoves last for generations, really generations.  You can keep your European fancy equipment.  I’ll stick with Coleman.  Doesn’t just seeing it bring back memories of crackling campfires, ghost stories, smores and swimming in freezing lakes?

Anyways, these big green two burner stoves are great.  You can cook anything you need to on them.  One burner can boil water while the other burner is cooking up your meat sauce or bacon on one and eggs on the other.

As I’ve said before I like whitegas.  It seems stable to me and stores a long time.

For this entry though I’m going to focus on My Leetle Friend, my Peak 1.  The Peak 1 is great.  It’s small enough to throw in a backpack and hike miles and miles with, but it boils water pretty efficiently too.  A little fuel seems to go a long ways.  I’d say a full tank in the stove and an extra pint of fuel in a fancy metal container is enough to last for an entire weekend of winter camping for two – melting snow and heating meals.

BTW if you want to save on fuel, once you have some water in a bottle just keep adding snow to it.  The water already in the bottle will melt the newly added snow so you don’t have to use the stove to melt more snow.

Anyways, the Peak 1 has little legs in the bottom that fold out.  First things first, flip out the three little legs.stvYou just flip those puppies down.

Next stand it rightside up.

stv1Say hello to my leetle friend!”  You unscrew that cap to fill it with fuel.  Unfortunately, this stove only takes whitegas.  Coleman also makes dual-fuel stoves that will burn unleaded gas too.  All you do is unscrew the cap and fill her up.  Be careful not to overflow.  Funnels are a big help here.  Once you have it filled, retighten the cap.  Keep an extra cap in your house or gear.

Just like with a lantern you need to pressurize the fuel.

stv3This is the pump handle (just like the lantern).  Turn it counterclockwise and pull it up.  See the little black flame control lever? It’s all the way to the left in the off position.

stv5Then making sure that your thumb covers up the little hole in the top of the pump handle you pump it up.  It may take 5, 10 or 30 pumps.  It depends on how much fuel is in the tank.  Once you feel some good resistance slide the handle in and twist it clockwise to lock it into place.

Next up, turn the fuel lever to counterclockwise to open up the fuel line.

stv2This is the off position, but just like the little drawing shows turn it the other way to open it up.

Next I light a match and get ready to turn the stove on…

stv6Then you turn the black flame adjustment handle to the right to the Light Hi position.  Now you should start to hear the hissing of the gas being forced out.  If it doesn’t sound a little scary you may have to pump it up some more before lighting it.  Now touch the flame to the burner and she should light.  It will sputter.  Until the generator (that little brass tube over the burner) gets heated up the stove will sputter and burn funny.

stv7Now you need to repressurize the tank so unscrew the pump handle and give it another 10 or 15 pumps till you feel resistance again.  I also slide the flame control (the black handle) back n’ forth a few times.  It seems like if you turn the stove down low and then up high a few times it helps to really get it going correctly.  So go high – low – high – low – high – low.  I don’t know why, but it seems like it makes it catch good.   You may have to pump it a few more times.  You’ll know when it’s going good.  It kinds of makes a whooshing or shooshing noise, like a little jet plane.

If you notice where the burner is there is a metal windscreen.  It’s that thing divided into four quadrants.    This keeps the flame from being blown out by the wind.  That’s good.  Especially because it’s integral with the stove.  Good feature.  Look for a integral windscreen on any stove you buy.

Once you are done using the stove you shut off the red fuel lever and let it die down.  It will take a minute or two for the flame to totally die out.  The stove will remain hot for awhile too so you can’t pack it up right away either.

  • Another reason I like this stove is that it is small enough to pack up inside of my pots and pans.  That way my cooking gear acts as a metal container for the stove.  It nests nicely right inside of them, then the whole thing goes in a ditty bag.
  • Another good thing with the stove is that it gets going fast and doesn’t make smoke so if you want to lay low you can cook at night or during the day without fear of being detected.  Doesn’t leave a trace.  Safer to use then campfires when the woods are dry.
  • The fuel is widely available.  The cost has literally doubled though in the past ten years.
  • If you decide to buy one I’d get a dual or multi fuel stove.
  • My stove clogged up from a lot of use so I was able to buy a replacement generator off of the Internet.  I like this.  The parts are widely and easily available.  And if I can take it apart and put it back together so that it still works fine anyone can.
  • As I wrote above this stove is rugged.  I’ve dropped it and its gone rolling and comes out ready to drink fuel and piss fire.
  • BTW the big two burner classic green stove up above basically works the same way – fill it, pump it, turn it on & light it.   Once you get one burner lit you turn on the other burner.
  • Even the fancy European gas stoves work the same way basically.
  • Remember when you take the fuel cap off it will hiss in your face because it will depressurize.  Try not to wet yourself.  Kidding.
  • You really shouldn’t use these in unventilated areas because you can die.
  • If you don’t have an alternative way to prepare meals than your kitchen stove adding one of these to your preps would be a good thing.
  • During the summer when the house is way hot, I’ll use the big green two burner out back to prepare dinner so I don’t heat up the house any more.

Follow up to my seething rage from yesterday about the financial system, “…the New York comptroller reported $18.4 billion in 2008 bonus payouts at a time when taxpayers’ money was shoring up a financial system in crisis”  WTF! WTF!! WTF!!! They take money from people that got laid off, people that get paid by the hour, people that earn weekly wages or are collecting unemployment and redistribute it up for millionaire and billionaire BONUSES!!  This is BS of the highest magnitude.  We barely make ends meet and our freaking government is taking money out of my pocket and sending it up the food chain.  WTF kind of trickle up economics is this!?!?!  Something is gonna break between the bailouts going to bonuses and Citigroup’s fancy jet plane.

Gittin out pics-

sweet-birchThis is sweet birch also known as black birch.  Notice the striped bark.  As it gets older it becomes rugged and crevassy.  And another picture.

sweet-birch-1Notice the way the smaller branches look and kind of reach away from the tree.

Anyways, you’d recognize black birch by the way the stems and twigs smell.  They smell like wintergreen.    You can make a nice wintergreen tea from the little branches.  Because it tastes so nice you can use the twigs as a sort of toothbrush to get rid of bad taste in your mouth.  The active substance in the twigs is the same compound as in aspirin.  A little tea will  help to dull minor aches and pains that you may have too.  If you’re hiking and kind of sore and you see a black birch you could take a few little twigs and chew on them to dull you aches and pains.  You could make a tea to help reduce a fever.  I bet you could even make a tincture from the bark and alcohol and apply it to sore muscles or stiff joints.  Just like medicine though, too much of a good thing can make you sick or worse.  Native Americans had zillions of uses for birch bark.  I think I read that you could even make a flour from the seeds.

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Worse than welfare

January 29, 2009

During the typical day I’ll check out the stock market a few times.  Okay, five or ten actually.  So yesterday the bankers, shysters and con men get all excited that more government slop is going to fill their troughs and the market goes up 200 points.  What does it say when the only positive news is more corporate welfare to bail out the same cheats that drove the economy off of the cliff.  All it does is reward bad behavior and poor decision making. I can’t imagine why the DOW isn’t at 4,000.  Where is my bailout!?!

Get used to it!

Get used to it!

Earnings are terrible and look to be worse for the forseeable future.  The only thing keeping the market afloat is the promise of more corporate welfare.

Then this morning new unemployment numbers come out.  More Americans are collecting unemployment now than anytime since they started keeping records in 1967.  That’s 4,800,000 people out of work.  But lo n’ behold upon closer reading you actually see, “The total released by the department doesn’t include about 1.7 million people receiving benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program authorized by Congress last summer. That means the total number of recipients is actually closer to 6.5 million people.” WTF!?!?

So for some fakakta reason the government doesn’t count people that receive extended benefits as receiving continued benefits.  1.7 divided by 4.8 = 35%.  So the number reported, even if you believe the numbers, is 35% under reported because the government doesn’t count those who receive extended benefits as “continuing to receive unemployment benefits.” Does that make sense?  I’m sure confused.

What’s real important that everyone will basically understand, except for the government, is that those 1,700,000 people who are receiving extended benefits (although they’re not counted as “continuing to receive unemployment benefits”) have been unemployed longest.  These are people who already ripped through their initial 26 weeks and now are going through extended bennies.  Then when they use up their seven weeks of extended bennies they fall off of the screen altogether.  Nice.  And believe me in this economy being unemployed for 6 or 8 months or a year is nothing.

The unemployment picture is much worse then they let on.  Ask around yourself.  You’ll get an answer.

Really ask around and then comment below what you come up with-

  • are you unemployed?
  • is someone living with you unemployed?
  • do you know anyone not living with you that is unemployed?

Then comment.

Then earlier this week I see this story, “National Association of Realtors: U.S. home sales rise, but prices plunge.”  So Lord knows you can’t believe the realtors because no matter what they want to make their commission.  With the realtors everything is just like CNBC, “BUY! BUY! BUY!”

So today another story comes out, “The Commerce Department said Thursday that new home sales fell 14.7 percent in December…This is an awful report…December’s sales pace was the lowest on records dating back to 1963.

How do you reconile the National Association of Realtors’ report with the Commerce Department’s report?  You don’t.

How many bottoms have been called by the talking heads on cable?

Does anyone believe tha that the real unemployment rate is 7.6% as reported by the government?  I’m looking for more work.  Many of my firends are looking for more work.  I know gobs of people who have been laid off in the past year.  I’m 45 and I never remember it being like this.  You?

I trust the Shadow Stats site much more than the official government numbers.  This is what it really looks like.  What’s important to recognize here is the increasing growth rate.

And the CEO of Ford thinks that we’re close to a bottom in car sales and he now expects a slow recovery.  Is he on crack?   Unemployed people don’t buy cars.  People worrying about getting laid off don’t buy cars.  And there are only two types of Americans today those that got laid off and those worried about getting laid off.  Period! Why does he still have a job?

It all a confidence game.

We all know what’s going on and that’s why we all look at websites and blogs like this one and many others.

My expectations – more layoffs, more bank failures, the US$ will be devalued or we will have one world currency with the expressed goal of making international trade easier and at some point we will have massive inflation.

You wanna know something I wish I bought more ammo.  Not that I’m done.  You will get a better ROI from buying ammo, guns, canned goods, food, batteries, supplies, tools, first aid equipment, water filters, cord wood, seeds or anything else than putting it into a bank, bond or equities.  I know PMs are kind of expensive now, but I think (IMHO) that there is much more room for them to go up then down.  Especially if you plan on holding for a few years.

I also expect at some point that getting items from overseas will be very difficult.

War is often seen as the answer by economies and governments in trouble.  Personally, I think this is shaping up to be much worse then Great Depression v.1.

Don’t be fooled.  You know as well as I do that the collapse is accelerating.  Act accordingly.

Aarghghghghg!!  Sorry for the rambling rage.

You know by now I find peace in nature.

iceThis is a big old oak totally covered in ice from yester’s storm.  No matter what happens to any of us the world will keep on spinning.

ice2This must be the northside of this tree.  It’s all mossy, plus there is a a little mushroom growing right up through the bark.  Pretty cool, huh?  This teeny, tiny mushroom is a survivor.

Coleman whitegas lantern

January 28, 2009

I hope you know how to use Coleman whitegas equipment, but if you don’t this entry is for you. Coleman makes all kinds of products for the outdoors.  Let’s focus on Coleman’s whitegas appliances in general and Coleman whitegas lanterns in particular.  As far as I know all of Coleman’s whitegas stoves and lanterns run basically the same way.  As a fuel, I like whitegas.  It seems to last a long time, i.e. it doesn’t go bad, and in my experience works pretty well at cold temperatures.   I’ve used both whitegas stoves and lanterns winter camping and never had a problem lighting them.  I have had problems with propane stoves in the cold.   You don’t have to buy some European equipment.  Coleman is proven bulletproof.

This is a Coleman Peak 1 lantern.

lantBecause it’s a dual fuel lantern it will run off of whitegas or unleaded gas.  Flexibility is a good thing in just about all circumstances.  It’s really designed for backpacking because it’s pretty small.  I’d say this model holds maybe 1/2 pint of fuel and can run between 3-5 hours depending on how high you turn it up.

Coleman also makes a two mantle (more to follow) lantern that burns as bright as any electric light in your house.  Downside it uses more fuel and is quite a bit heavier.  The two mantles are great for car camping and canoeing.

The parts-

lant1The white thing that’s hanging in the glass chimney area is the mantle.  This is a one mantle lantern.  Two mantle lanterns have two mantles hanging side by side.  The mantles are fragile so you can’t bang the lantern around too much or you’ll be replacing a lot of mantles.  In this picture the brass thing to the right of the mantle is the generator.  Fuel gets sucked up from the tank, heats up in the generator, gets turned into a mist then mixes with air in the glass chimney area and ignites which makes the mantle glow.  Till the generator gets heated up Coleman stuff doesn’t work right so don’t worry if it sputters a bit when you first light Coleman whitegas equipment.

The silver metal thing facing front is the pump.  This is how you pressurize the fuel in the tank so that it gets forced up to burn.  You turn it counterclockwise to loosen it and righty tighty.

This is where you pour the fuel into the tank.

lant2You notice how this cap has a strap attached to it so I can’t lose it?  They sell extra caps for a reason.  Either make sure that you have a strap or buy some replacement caps.  Otherwise I guarantee that you will drop it and lose it.  I can see it happening to me, drop the cap on the ice and the cap unimaginably lands on its side and rolls 45 feet like a Tiger Woods putt right into the only hole on the ice for 1/4 mile in every direction.  It’s one of those strikes of bad luck that you couldn’t do again if someone offered you a million $’s.  But I digress…

After you fill it with fuel and replace the cap tightly….lant3Then you unscrew the pump handle and pull it up.  You place your thumb over the little hole on top of the pump handle and pump it a bunch of times, maybe 5, 10, 15 or 25.  It depends on how much fuel is in the tank.  You’ll feel it get tougher and tougher to pump as you pressurize it.  Don’t force it, but you want it to be pressurized so don’t stop until you feel resistance.  Then at that point you push the handle all the way in and tighten it up.  Remember, just like in politics, righty tighty and lefty loosey.

lantOn the left you see the control knob.  It’s that black thing.  You kind of have to push it into turn it.  The way it’s pointed now, 9 towards 3, is off.  You push it in and turn it so that it’s pointing 3 towards 9 to light it and all the points in between control the brightness. I didn’t mention it earlier, but you see that nice metal handle?  That’s nice and useful.  To remove the glass chimney you stretch one side of the metal handle out of the hole it sits in then you pull the cap off and then you can remove or replace the glass.  Just like the Chiltons manual says, “Reassemble in reverse order.”

So you finished filling it, pumping and now you know how to turn it on.  Light your match and stick it through this hole in the bottom of the glass chimney area

lant41So you got your lit match stuck up the hole, now you push in that black control knob and turn it all the way to the light position.  You should hear a hissing as the pressure in the tank forces the fuel up the generator and out the mantle.  You may have to get your lit match right up close to the mantle.  Be careful not to poke your match through the mantle though. The mantle will kind of glow and sputter. Coleman stuff takes a few seconds to really get running the way it should.

At this point I always find it’s a good time to give the lantern a few more pumps so unscrew the pump handle, pull it out, thumb over hole and give it a few more pumps.  Notice how the glow on the mantle changes?  Learn from it.  Screw the handle back in and if it seems like it’s pretty well caught you can use the black knob to turn it down a bit.   You may have to give it a few more pumps.  As long as you have a whitegas unit lantern/stove going you have to pay attention to it and pump it every once in a while.  It takes a little while to get used to it.  After five uses you’ll be an expert.

lant6Pretty bright, aye?

To remove the glass chimney-

lant711First you pull one end of the wire handle out of the hole it sits in.  Then bend the other side of the handle out of its hole.  Now that the handle is free.

lant8Then remove the black cap from the top of the lantern.

lant9Then you  can remove the glass chimney to get to the mantle.  Replacing a mantle is fine work.  They sell two kinds, ones that you need to tie and ones that are already looped through and you just have to pull the threads to tighten the loop.  The latter is easier to use so those are the ones I prefer, but if you have good eyes and good fingers you can save a few cents and get the kind that you need to tie yourself.

  • Other manufacturer’s may be fine.  I have Coleman.  I like Coleman.  The only problem I had with a Coleman product was when the generator on my little hiking Peak 1 stove got clogged from years of use.  I was able to buy a new generator for $15 and fix it myself.  Easy to do.lant7
  • The first time you use a mantle lantern out of the box you have to do something kind of strange to it.  You need to set it on fire.  No, not the lantern, the mantle. These are the mantles.  You want to have at least four times more mantles than you ever think you may need.  I have some in the box that I store the lantern in, but I also ducktaped some to the bottom of the lantern too.  If you are camping or on a river there will always be someone who forgot to bring an extra mantle and is looking to get one.  So the first time you use the lantern you have to tie a mantle to the outlet where the gas is emitted.  Pull the metal handle out, remove the cap from the top of the lantern and tie the mantle on where it belongs.    Then replace the glass and cap.  Now the neat thing, you light the brand new mantle on fire. No fuel needed.  You just stick a match through the ignition hole and set the new mantle ablaze.  Let it burn out.  It will keep hanging there.  I’m still amazed how you use the ashes of the mantle as a filament.  The mantle ash is what glows.  I don’t understand it, but it works.
  • Remember it operates under pressure so if you go to remove the fuel cap it will hiss at you as the pressure is released.
  • YOU CAN ONLY USE WHITEGAS EQUIPMENT OUTSIDE.

Get outside-

p29Just a little snowy cabin in the woods.  I’m liking that stone chimney.

p35

I’m lichen this picture.

It’s wrong.

January 26, 2009

Torture is wrong.  I know some may disagree with me.  I’m against torture for a number of reasons: I don’t think that it is effective, it’s illegal, I think that it lowers our moral standing around the world and I think it puts our service people at risk.  One day when I was driving I saw this sign and liked it.

p1010003Sign in front of the local Quaker Meeting House.

1. Torture doesn’t work.  I know that someone will say anything to end pain and suffering.  That’s the crux of it.  Even in an imaginary ticking timebomb scenario like you see on 24, a committed terrorist is just as likely to give bad info to end his suffering as accurate info.  Then we have a ticking timebomb and the good guys going off in the wrong direction.  It’s tough enough to find a needle in the haystack without making the haystack any larger.

2. Torture is illegal.  Our constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment.  There is no doubt that torture is cruel and unusual.  We’re trying to get info by applying cruel and unusual physical and mental mistreatment.  Torture is also illegal under UN conventions and international treaties that the US is a party to.  Holding a gun to someone’s head or waterboarding are both forms of mock executions and therefore illegal under both US and international law.

3. Torture lowers our standing around the world.  At one time the US was the shining beacon of hope.  Not so much any longer.  Now our major export appears to be weapons and war.  At one time we would speak out against rogue regimes that practiced torture, now we engage in the same acts that we once decried.  It’s pretty tough to condemn others who torture when we do the same stuff and send our captives to places like Syria and Egypt to be tortured.  Now we even outsource torture.

4.  It’s a race to the bottom.  If we torture their guys than how can we legitimately complain when they torture our guys.  When we engage in torturing captives it places all US citizens at greater risk.  As someone who still carries the scars of torture, ask Senator McCain about torture.

Is there anything we won’t do?

winter24Taking a rest.

winter4It’s tough to see here, but this is what we call a bowl.  We like to ski bowls because you can go side to side and downhill the whole time.  It means a longer ride and more turns for less effort.  Right before this picture was taken I took a good spill.  I was skiing down one trail, crossed another trail, went over the lip of this bowl, followed the fall line where a little frozen stream runs and then did a face plant.  Oh well.  No falls, no balls.

Let there be light

January 24, 2009

Here’s another gear review.  This entry will be about flashlights.  Please note that I do not have any advertisements on the blog so I am free to give my truthful opinion as I am beholden to no advertisers.   I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $100 or $200 on a good flashlight.  BTW if you have stuff to add, if I made any mistakes or you have any recommendations, please post a comment and I’ll add it into this entry so we can get a real good flashlight article going.

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

  • Filament – these are the old fashioned bulbs, with the little filament wire that glows, they use a lot of juice, I don’t think they’re very bright, they cast kind of a yellowish glow, generally don’t last a long time and are sensitive to shock, as your batteries die the light from these bulbs really weakens.
  • Xenon – I think this is a gas that they pump into the bulb, it glows brighter than a regular filament bulb
  • LED – a computer chip controls how much juice these use, batteries will last ten times longer with an LED light than a filament bulb, because there’s a chip a lot of them have multiple settings, LEDs will last for up to 10,000 hours, I think the new LED’s are real bright.  Some cast a yellow light and others a whitish light, because there’s a chip as the batteries die the level of light remains pretty constant.  The really paranoid (me among them) know that LEDs are sensitive to EMP attack so we have different type of bulbs…I’m not….. saying anything…but….just in case.

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

p22This is really a nice rugged light.  You operate it with a switch under the lens.  It’s a light made for SCUBA diving so it is as waterproof as waterproof can be.  The strap is also rugged with a rubber sleeve over it.  As I said, it takes four C cells so it’s kind of heavy.  The batteries do wiggle around a bit, so if that bothers you you could put in a little rubber washer or a slice of inner tube to take up the extra space.  It is a very bright light throwing over 200 lumens.   It is easy to light up the tops of tall trees or  the edge of a field 200 feet away.   If I’m out walking at night sometimes I feel I’m being watched by creatures (you will develop this sense if you spend enough time outside.) so get outside everyday.) so I’ll flick it on and shine it at the treeline or up the river and I can’t tell you how many times I see eyes staring back at me.  This light will freeze the creatures in the paths.  Except for that heron a few weeks ago.  I felt bad about making him fly at night.   This will set you back around $35.00.

p72This is a cheapo emergency all in one unit – flashlight and radio.  It runs off batteries, a grinder, DC converter or a little PV cell that runs on top of the handle.  Not bad, but kind of cheap.  I think I paid maybe 20 bucks for it.   Everyone should have something similar in their emergency kit. You just can’t count on this cheap crap to work so have a backup.  Typical Walmart unit.

Speaking of cheap crap…

p14Here’s some more cheap crap.  Upper left is a $10 LED that takes three AAA batteries.  I’ve never been a fan of the multi-LED lights.  This one proves the point.  Not a fan of the 8, 15 or 80 LED lights.  More stuff to go wrong. Get one good beam.  At the bottom is a plastic filament bulb that takes two AA batteries.  Another poor excuse for a tool.  Upper right is the old fashioned Rayovac double D filament bulb flashlight.  This thing was fine 10 or 20 years ago.  Maybe it’s fine to trade or barter with, but I would never want to depend on it.  Spend your money on something more rugged, waterproof and that will last.  For the same price or a few bucks more you can get a real light.

This is another must have, even though it is also cheap crap.

p19I like this.  It’s one of those shake lights.  There’s a copper coil and magnet inside of it.  When you shake it the magnet slides back n’ forth past the copper coil and somehow creates electrcity to charge the battery.  In other words this baby doesn’t take batteries.    Can’t depend on it because it feels cheap, holds a charge a short time and isn’t very bright, but it’ll be better than TP when the batteries are dead and the store shelves are empty.  I think this was probably around $10-15 at Walmart.  Everyone should have a shake light too.

This is a cool light.

p15I know I just said it, but these things are cool.  It’s a PAL light.  It takes a 9v battery, which I’m not a fan of, but the light makes up for it.  It has four settings – dim, bright, strobe and always on. You get that, even off it is always glowing dimly? Crazy huh.  Even when you shut it off the light glows dimly.  It’ll glow in this “sleep” state for a year.  It makes it easy to find in the dark.  I keep a couple on bookshelves and such and they actually work as a mini-nightlight and if the power goes out makes it easy to find.  Ever have a tough time looking for a flashlight in the bottom of your pack?  This is the light for you, because it will always be glowing dimly calling to you, like a beacon or your muse.  It will glow in sleep mode for a year.  It doesn’t cast a heavy, bright beam even in the high setting, but it’s plenty for most close work or to find your way.  Like I said even in the sleep mode it’s bright enough to find your way down the hall.  It seems pretty waterproof in it’s heavy rubber case.  They come in a few different colored beams too.   The one I bought came with a magnetic attachment and a belt loop.   I think they’re around $15.     I have a blue one.  I’ve thought that it may even be possible to set the strobe function put it on the dashboard and maybe be able to get through traffic faster.  If you like flashlights this is a must have.

p16This is a Princeton-Tec Impact XL.  It takes four double AA batteries.  It’s a LED light.  You turn it on by turning the bezel so it takes two hands to operate.  It casts a sweet, pure, white beam.  It’s very bright and very waterproof.  You see it also comes with a nice lanyard.  Almost as nice as the lanyard on the Underwater Kinetics light up above.  There’s a story here.  About a year after I bought the light it died on me.  I was pissed.  I think it cost about $20-25.  For 25 bucks it better last more than a year.  Who has the receipt for anything a year later?  So I send Princeton an email explaining the situation and forget about it.  Maybe a month later I get an email from them apologizing for the delay (some people left the company or what not) and they give me an RMA to send the light back to them and they’ll send me a brand new one.  I did and they did.   Got that?  They sent me a brand new light!! I can’t say enough good stuff about customer service like that.  You just don’t see that these days.  Good product and good people.  Not the brightest light, but great for camping or hiking.

p20These are two Pelican lights.  The top one takes two C cells.   The bottom one takes three C cells.  Both operate by turning the bezel i.e. two handed operation.  They both come with nice lanyards.  Notice the bottom one also has a spring clip on it.  They are both waterproof.  If you look right behind the bezel on the bottom one you’ll see a round thing with two black stripes.  That’s some sort of pressure release valve in case I’m ever 20,000 leagues beneath the sea.  Not very likely, but kind of interesting.   Both are filament bulbs.  Both are extremely rugged.  The top one is rated for use in explosive environments.  It has so many letters on it – MSHA, class 1, division 1, group D, UL, FM approved, P, SA AUS EX 1145X.  This is like THE safety light.  It also has two built in slots on it that you can run some strapping through to lash it to something.  I can’t say enough good stuff about Pelican products.  They are made work tough for everyday use.  Firefighters use Pelican lights.  You can drop these from a ladder or into the pool and they keep going.  If you’re not familiar with Pelican, the next light you get make it a Pelican.  They are both plenty bright for 90% of what you may need to do.  They’re reasonably priced too.  I think each of them was maybe $30 or so, maybe a bit more.  Not tactical lights though, but buy a Pelican and you won’t be disappointed.  Pelican makes tough, simple work lights.

Here’s another nice little light…

p12This is another Underwater Kinetics light.  This little light takes two AAA batteries.  It’s very small.  It’s rated at seven lumens, but I’m telling ya it seems a lot brighter than that.   Because it’s so small and offers great brightness for its size, this is a great light for backpacking.  This and a headlamp would be adequate for any hike.  It’s operated by turning the bezel too.  It’s also waterproof.   It comes with a keyring and that black thing is a clip that can be clipped to a cap or a pack.  It’s an LED light.  I have yet to change the batteries in mine.  The LED just barely sips the power from the triple AAA’s.   Batteries last a very long time.   I like this light.  It’s a nice clean, white beam.  If you want to travel very light and have a flashlight that gets the job done this is the ticket.  You can’t light up the other side of the football field, but if you want to read, BBQ or find your way down the trail this will do it.   I think this light ran about $15.    You won’t be disappointed adding one of these to your kit.

Not done yet…

p11This is your basic Xenon tactical light.  It was more than I like to spend on a flashlight.  I think it was about $40.  It’s bright.  The switch is on the tailcap.  You either push it or twist it for constant on.   It only has one setting.  It takes two of the lithium 123 batteries.  These batteries are expensive.  The batteries only last an hour or two too.  Not a bad light, but not my favorite.  It’s a standard size (1″) so it can be mounted on a firearm.

p18This is a real nice Rayovac metal flashlight.  It’s made much better than the crappy orange one pictured up above.  This one takes three C cells.  It’s an LED light.  The batteries last a very long time becaue of the LED.  There are rings that make it fairly water resistant.  It’s nice and bright.  It also has a rubber sleeve around the body that makes it comfy to hold in the hand.  There is a hole on the tailcap that you can slide a lanyard through.  I think this light was maybe $25.  I like this light.  It’s big enough to bash someone in the head if need be.  You can see it’s operated by a button on the body of the light.  This is the light I use most when I walk the dog around the block or have to check something outside.  It sits on top of my fridge.  The downside is that the body isn’t squared off anywhere (it’s round) so it will roll of the fridge or under the car if you put it on the driveway.

p17Hooahh!  This is the famous Maglite.   This light is an old fashioned filament bulb.  It is made like a tank.  It takes three D cells.  It’s fairly bright, but not really.  These lights are made really well.  It will outlive me.  It has an extra bulb built into the tailcap.  There is only one setting.  The switch is on the body.  It seems water resistant, but not waterproof.  This light has mass and would be an effective weapon.  It extends my reach by a foot.   My light is very old at lest 15 years.  It still works great.  Only had to change the bulb once.  The batteries last a fairly long time.  LED kits are also available for these lights.  These are the lights that cops used to use.  They’d hold it over their heads, shine the light in your eyes to blind you and then lower the boom on your noggin.  This light is round so it will also roll away from you just out of reach.  There is no place to attach a lanyard on this light.

The rest of the lights are from Deal Extreme .  This is a great place to buy good cheap lights made in China.  The lights are shipped from China.

p101These two lights are some type of fairly new LED lights called CREE lights.  They are unbelievably bright.  Make a CREE your next flashlight.  These run on one AA battery.  You can see they’re only about 3-4 inches long. These lights probably run $15-$20 each.  As I said they’re very bright and one AA lasts a long time.  I usually load mine with lithium batteries.  These lights each have one setting only.  You turn them on with a tailcap switch.  They both come with lanyards.

p81These are two more lights from Deal Extreme.  I think each of these lights is maybe $20-$25.  These both are also CREE lights so they are very bright.  I’d say as bright as Surefires and alot less money.  They both operate by a tailcap switch.  They both have rubber rings on the fittings so they are pretty water resistant.  Although made in China the threads feel pretty good to me.  Both of these lights have a great feature.  They come with an extension tube so they have multiple battery configurations.  You can see the extension tubes in the picture.  You can see one of the red waterproof seals too on the tube on the left.  The extension tube on the right also has rings, but they’re black so you can’t see them.

The one on the left runs on either one AA or you screw on the extension tube and it will run longer on two AA batteries.   It also has four settings in this order – low, medium, high, crazy ass blinding strobe like a Japanese cartoon and a unique  SOS strobe …—….  Without a memory though you have to flick through them all every time.  So say I want to use the crazy ass blinding strobe on some BG I first have to click through low, medium and high to get to the crqazy ass blinding strobe.  Not so good.

The one on the right runs on one 123 lithium or screw in the tube and a pair of AA’s.  I use lithium AA’s.  It’s bezel is crenalated, that is it has a scalloped surface that’s good for striking BG’s in the brow.  This light won’t roll away from you.

p9This is another light from Deal Extreme with the extension tube screwed in.  It’s also a bright CREE LED.  This one runs off of one 123 lithium or two AA’s.  It has the tube screwed in now.  Comes with a lanyard.  Operates by the switch on the side of the body.  Bright enough to blind.  The bezel on this one has some really nasty crenalations on it.  Wouldn’t be a problem splitting a brow but good with this one in your hand.

Abraham’s Rule number 15,347.7564 of  living – when you start finding flashlights in the pockets of jeans in the dresser you have enough flashlights.

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.

Went skiing

January 23, 2009

Foot of powder! Got finished early today so I went to an old abandoned ski area this afternoon.  It was my first time downhill skiing this year.  abandoned41These are my old skis.  It’s funny when I go to a commercial ski area people are always marveling at my skis.  They say, “wow is Kneissl making Red Stars again.  Those are retro.”  No, they’re just old.  Goes to show if you hold on to anything long enough it’ll come back into style.

Anyways, I thought it would be neat to post some pictures from my afternoon.  This ski areaabandoned21 was first opened during the 40’s and shut down in the 80’s since then the trails have all become overgrown.  It’s maybe a half hour from my house.  The picture to the left is the view of the front looking up.

abandoned3

The picture underneath is the view from the top.

It’s only about 300 vertical feet, but I walked up and skied down five times.  Pretty tiring.  You can see in the background of this picture that it is a major metropolitan area.  Check out the houses on the hill across the way.

abandoned5

This is one of the old lift shacks.

abandoned6

This is one of the trails down.  As you can see it runs through a gorgeous birch forest.  The nice thing about skiing this way is that I didn’t run into another soul while I was there.  I was surprised because it was a beautiful day and it’s pretty close to a couple of colleges.  What’s wrong with college kids these days.  On a nice Friday afternoon I would have definitely been out playing and not studying.

abandoned81

This is looking up one of the trails from halfway down.  abandoned17

If you ski you understand how nice this is, especially when you consider that the only charge is the effort to walk uphill.

Another trail down with a foot of almost totally undisturbed powder.  Starting tonight thousands of people will be headed north to sit in their car for three hours to drive to ski areas.  Then Saturday and Sunday they’ll be paying $70 or more each for a lift ticket at some big, crowded, noisy commercial ski area.  And I promise you that there won’t be a foot of powder either.  Folks, take advantage of recreational areas in your neck of the woods.

And of course while I was there I spotted some edible plants.  This is burdock thistle.

abandoned7

You must have seen these seeds.  It’s like they’re made out of velcro and stick to your pants and your dog’s fur.  I think people eat the roots of Burdock before they go to seed like this plant obviously has.  I think it has a lot of medicinal properties too.  Do you have a edible or medicinal plant book?  I’ll remember where this plant is so that I can harvest it in the spring if I want to.

abandoned16

And of course you know that these are the seed pods from Staghorn Sumac, right?  These seeds are used a lot in middle eastern cooking like kebas and pilaf.  They also make up a nice cooling lemonade type drink.

By now you know the refrain, “Get outside everyday.”

Sealskinz

January 23, 2009

I love these things.  oversockpkg1If you spend any amount of time outside you need to get yourself a pair of SealskinzSealskinz are some sort of hightech sock.  They’re rugged and keep your feet dry through the worst of weather.  With a pair of Sealskinz any pair of boots, sneakers or shoes become waterproof.  Anytime that I go skiing a put a pair of these on and my non-waterproof boots are made waterproof.  No doubt they are expensive, but what’s the cost of wet, cold feet?  I think that they are about 15 bucks a pair.  I seem to remember I got three for thirty.  The same company also makes gloves and other products. legintank I did use the gloves one day when I used a wetsaw to cut tile outside during the winter.  The gloves did a very admirable job.  After six or seven hours of cutting tiles the gloves did eventually soak through, but even then they kept me fairly warm.  If you hunt, ski, hike, fish, mountain bike or camp you should check out Sealskinz.  And besides working well, they are made in the USA!!

And YOU need to get outside everyday…

q111I like this picture because you can see the crap that some little creature has been cleaning out of the hollow of this tree.  Seems like it would be a good place for a snare if one was in a desperate survival situation.

was5Just an old chimney where a homestead once was.  Now the snow covers the ancient footprints.

General malaise

January 22, 2009

I have a general malaise.  I’m expecting something.  I’m anxious.  I’m anticipating.  I’m just not sure what.

Something is gonna break.  Something is gonna give.

I fully expect the economy to get much worse.  I get my news from a really large variety of sources and I don’t see any hopeful economic news on the horizon.  I expect the employment picture to dim.

I do expect some eventual civil unrest in the US.  As people continue to lose their jobs, homes and health insurance we’ll all be under more stress.  More people will go hungry.  More people living in their cars or with friends and relatives.  The government safety net will be stretched to the breaking point and perhaps beyond.

To have a contract you need to have an offer and an acceptance.  In my opinion the social contract has been breached.  I grew up in a time that offered US citizens much hope.  If you accepted the offer educated yourself, learned a trade or skill and worked hard you could get ahead.  Not so much anymore.  It’s getting more and more difficult to get ahead.  Heck, it’s getting damn near impossible just to maintain one’s standard of living.  Without the carrot of upward mobility being dangled in front of citizens’ faces it may get tough to keep people motivated and working for the system.  I mean why borrow, struggle and bust butt only to end up in the same place you would have been had you just checked out of the societal expectation and made a go of it in less traditional means.

What do you tell the college senior who is graduating with tens of thousands in debt and no job prospects?

What do you tell the 65 year old who has been saving towards retirement for 50 years and now that retirement seems ephemeral and fleeting?

What do you tell the parent who no longer has health insurance for her kids because she was laid off?

Maybe our expectations have been too great.  Maybe we asked too much of our country.  Is it even possible for every successive generation to have an ever greater standard of living?  To use the hot term of the day, is perpetual growth “sustainable?”

Poor, hungry, dissatisfied and anxious people have always been the catalyst for revolution.    The US and the world are in for some enormous changes over the coming years.  I expect nothing less than our very way of live to change, whether or not some people think that the American way of life is “non-negotiable.”

Prepare for the unknown.  Gather your acorns.  Build your nests.  Find peace in nature.

winter23This is a cool rock.  This large rock is sitting at the very top of a little rocky knoll.  How’d it get there?  How’d it get higher than anything else around it?  A glacier deposited this rock 10,000 years ago.  The glaciers came down from the Great White North bringing with them rocks, gravel and sand.  When the glaciers melted or retreated back up north they left all sorts of things behind.  This rock is a good example of glacial erratic that could have been dragged for thousands of miles to its final resting spot.

winter26Just a nice picture of the winter sky and clouds moving along.  I like the sun’s halo.

Give him a chance

January 21, 2009

First, I didn’t vote for Obama.  His kind of change isn’t great enough for me.  Even if successful, the change he espouses is too incremental.

We need major change to get regular folks back on equal footing with business.  We need changes to the tax code to make it fairer to wage earners.  We need to get the government out of our personal lives.  We need to shrink our military by 80%.  We need to close most of our foreign garrisons.  We need to fix the education system.  We need to decouple health insurance from work.  And that’s for starters.

Anyways, I see a lot of comments on the Internet about Obama.  Most of them are wrong.  He was accused of taking official acts before he even took office.  I’ve seen comments praying that he fails.  Hoping that his administration flounders.  Lots of snide comments about being the second coming, the chosen one, racial derisions and so on.

People are worried about another assault weapons ban.  A bill was introduced by Rep. McCarthy (whose husband was murdered on the Long Island Rail Road) in February 2007 to again criminalize scary, black guns and many others too.  (Something I’m against.)  The bill has been languishing in the House of Representatives for two years..  There’s been no action.  As currently written there is a grandfather clause, “…shall not apply to any firearm…which is otherwise lawfully possessed on the date of the enactment of this subparagraph.”  Personally, I don’t think that Obama will trifle with such matters as long as the economy, Iraq and Afghanistan are boiling over onto his stove top.  I hope he doesn’t.

As a Constitutionalist I also don’t think that Obama will rely on presidential signing statements as much as his predecessor.  Obama said that he doesn’t think a president should use signing statements to change the purpose of a law or to avoid enforcing certain aspects of the law, “I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law.

Will Obama be everything to everybody?  Probably not.  Thus far though he has shown an amazing willingness to govern from the center and populate his circle of advisors from both sides of the aisle.

We all know that our country is in pretty rough shape.  I’m not going to rehash all of the bad news – the layoffs, the financial system, the federal deficit, housing and so on.  The American people haven’t changed.  I still think that we are resilient and will be able to think, engineer, innovate, create and work our way out of this.  Will it be easy?  No.  Will it be fast?  No. Will our futures look like our pasts?  Most certainly not.

Listen, like it or not we are all in this together.  We are all citizens of these United States.  All of our futures are intertwined.  If Obama fails we all fail.  No man is an island unto himself.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”John Donne

I guess all I’m trying to say is not to have your mind made up too soon.  As humans we need to be able to accept new information or facts, integrate them into our belief system and adapt.  The number one rule of survival is to be flexible. If your mind is already made up, you need to ask yourself to find out how open you are to accepting new information and how well you may be able to adapt to a changing world.  During windy days it’s better to be a young, flexible willow than an old oak.  Ask yourself which is more likely to survive.

Think about it as if you were serving on a jury.  If your mind is already made up then you haven’t given the facts and arguments fair consideration.  All we’ve seen so far are opening arguments.  I’m not saying you have to wait four years, but you really should give the guy a fair chance.  Only you know what that means to you personally.

The call to action:

Please give Obama a chance to see how he will govern.  Please pray for his success because we all depend on it.  Please hope that he guides our country fairly and judiciously.    Please pray that he can guide us successfully through these dark times.  Pray that his [sic] can keep us safe from all enemies foreign and domestic.  All of us need to join together because the future of our Republic depends on it.

Here is hoping for a new and brighter day-

was7Beauty is everywhere if you just open your eyes to receive.  Just a snowy field.

The Four Agreements

January 20, 2009

Has anyone ever heard of the Four Agreements?

The Four Agreements isn’t just a wonderful book, it’s also a way of life.  I think everyone can try to apply the concepts to their life.

4abookIn a nutshell there are four rules that we should try to live by.  Humans have a tendency to make everything about themselves.  Each of us thinks that we are the center of the universe and everything is about us.  Sorry to break it to you folks, but the world will keep on spinning no matter what happens to you, me or anyone else.

So here they are:

“1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

For me I think number 2 is the toughest.  When I run into rude or mean people sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that it’s about me, or something that I may have done, it’s usually not.  Most likely the rude or mean person has something else going on in their own life and is just projecting their anger onto others.  And who doesn’t like to gossip.

In heavily populated areas as things start to degrade and earning a living gets tougher and tougher people are going to get more aggressive and act out more.  With declining availability of resources we’re all going to get on each others’ nerves more and more.  People are more likely to act out and behave poorly.  Young folks, guys particularly, have this whole thing now where they have to act project a “hard” personna.

We need to develop thick skin.  We need to learn to walk away from conflict and truly turn the other cheek.  We need to control ourselves to prevent the escalation of a simple misunderstanding into a shooting or stabbing.

To keep ourselves from being drawn into unnecessary conflict we have to learn not to take things personally.

Apologize and back away. Swallow your pride and walk away.  You don’t always need to be right.

And if you’ve done all of the above and conflict is inevitable and unavoidable than gut the bastard, bleed him slowly and bury him in a deep grave with lime.  And shed no tears because you did everything that you could do.

Get outside everyday –

p1010051The Four Agreements and this post are all about developing thick skin.  In other words we need to be like ducks and let the rain drops just roll off of our backs.  Get the picture?  Quack.  Notice that Mr. Mallard in the right foreground is eating a french fry.  We never through food out.  Someone somewhere will be happy to have it.  Please don’t throw organic stuff out in plastic bags where it can’t decompose.

mountain2Becoming better at anything is a struggle.  Here my friend is struggling to stay vertical. Most assuredly by struggling he is becoming a better skier.  Whether it’s shooting, gardening, sewing, cooking, canning, reading or doing math you can only get better through practice, sweat and struggle.  Every blister is the reward for hard work.

Play the odds…

January 17, 2009

The leading cause of death for folks between one year old and 44 years old is unintentional death.  2,836 people 65 and older died of nutritional deficiencies in the US in 2005.  Between the ages of 10 and 34 suicide is a leading cause of death.  Anemia is the 13th leading cause of death for kids from 1-14.

Anyways, I was out skiing and got to thinking.  We live in a risky world and living is a terminal disease.

All good preppers worry about stuff and try to prepare for the unknown, but just like going to the casino, we need to work the odds in our favor.

The numbers say that most people die of heart disease and cancer.  Nuff said.  I’ll cover three things here: unintentional deaths (boohoo), homicides (Boo!) and suicides (bahbah).

Now let’s look at unintentional deaths.  Here we see that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death.  Your greatest chance of dying early is due to MV accidents.  Personally, I don’t see the point in bullets, beans and bandaids if you don’t wear your seatbelt.  BTW I am against seatbelt and helmet laws.  Freedom lets each of us choose to be as stupid as we want.  When I was doing motor vehicle and personal injury work I saw people get thrown from motorcycles and have limbs amputated by traffic signs.  At 30 or 40 mph a traffic sign is a razor blade.  Saw someone get ejected from a car and be decapitated.  (That left a mark.)  Your car is a piece of crap.  The seats are barely attached and if you get hit hard enough from behind will be ripped right out at which point your body and the seat become bullets looking for a backstop.

brokerexeThe next leading cause of early death is poisoning.  Almost 24,000 people a year meet their maker due to poisoning deaths!! Wow!  Lesson here is to make sure that stuff is labeled correctly.  If you are 35-54 you have a greater likelihood of dying from poison than in a car accident.  Surprising.  Poisoning is then followed up by falls, suffocation, drowning and fires.  Lesson here is to be careful with ladders, roofs, trees, climbing anything and on stairs.  Suffocation I have to believe is mostly work related, maybe people cleaning out tanks, furnaces and coolers. Maybe choking on prime rib is in this category.  Do you know the Heimlich? Most drowning deaths are related to booze so don’t drink and swim.  (That’s a tough one.) Wear a lifejacket or have one within reach for everyone on the vessel.  Fires?  Like I always say no bullets, bandaids or beans until you get smoke and CO detectors and a fire extinguisher for your lily pad.

Next up is homicides.  You have a greater chance of falling to your death or dying of unintentional poisoning than you do of being murdered.

homicide

Most murders are committed with firearms. Over 600 people were murdered by being suffocated – ewwww.  One hundred and fifty seven people were burned to death, 89 were poisoned, 49 had their head held under water, 38 people were run over and 18 people were pushed off of a building or cliff.  Wow.

You’re more likely to be murdered by someone you know than a stranger.  Men are more likely to be murdered than women.  Women are more likely to me murdered by a partner.  Booze is usually involved.

We also tend to kill our own kind so if you are white don’t worry about the young black kid with baggy jeans killing you, worry more about your own brother in law or ex-whatever.  Most murders are in the 15-24 age group.  It’s the second leading cause of death for this age group.  The younger you are the more likely you are to meet an early death due to murder.

Lesson here – be careful who you invite into your house, be weary of drunks, avoid the streets after midnight and watch your kids.

Next up Suicide.  Almost as many people commit suicide with a firearm (17,002) than are murdered by all means (18,124).

suicide

Over 7,000 people commit suicide by suffocation, 700 people leap to their deaths, 375 people drown themselves, 160 commit self immolation and 113 people drive their cars into a tractor trailer, stonewall or big ol’ tree.  Strange.  Lesson here, reach out to someone and keep your firearms and ammo locked up.  BTW I’m pro freedom of suicide (?).  Hey, I figure if we can’t choose when to check out what do we really control.  If you want to talk life insurance or what not post a comment and I’ll rebut.

Remember when you add up all the unintentional deaths, suicides and homicides it’s much less than all the other causes such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  So those of you……..well……you know what you need to do.

I used to be an accountant.  I like numbers and statistics.  Terrorism didn’t make the top 20 in the US.  It probably wouldn’t even make the top 100.

If you want to run your own report here’s the link, http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncip/leadcaus10.html.  Before you go off half scattered though – when you get to the drop down menu change “number of causes” from the top 10 causes to top 20.  Then when the data table comes up check out the colored blocks by various type it makes it easy to look at how different causes of death change by age group.  At the top of the table you can click on the age groups to see what your age group is most at risk of dying early from.

ws5Just a nice picture.

q2This is Queen Anne’s Lace aka wild carrot.  You gotta be careful, careful here though because it looks very much like poison hemlock.  Queen Anne’s Lace is hairy and hemlock is not.  The clusters of Queen Anne’s Lace also bundle up more than poison hemlock.  Poison hemlock stinks and Queen Anne’s Lace doesn’t.  Don’t become a statistic you need to get at least two or three field guides to cross reference.

I didn’t plan this….

January 16, 2009

but here I am.  I actually had another really great post, but watching the Market yesterday compelled me to write this. Market manipulation.

I don’t believe it.  I just don’t.   I believe that the markets in their current Bush/Bernanke/Paulson incarnation (incantation) are rigged beyond our wildest dreams (nightmares).was4

…..pour a shortie of Mr. Jameson’s.

So yesterday before the market open I’m paying attention to the Rah Rah Boys on CNBC and watching the Dow futures (down).  At 8:30 another horrible employment number came out and the market reacted.  It continued the same down trend that began around the New Year.  By high noon the market slides maybe 200 points and even goes below 8,000 for the first time since November.  Seems like strong downward pressure to my layman’s eye.

Then magically around 12:30 pm an uptick develops.  I know we’ve had a bunch of losing sessions so something had to turn at some point, but I don’t believe it.  Not this fast or this strong.

The story was that the senate was going to vote on an additional release of $350,000,000,000.  This is old news.  If the market is so forward looking it already should have adjusted for the rest of the TARP $.   That there is additional taxpayer money in the trough for the slopping isn’t a surprise to anybody.   Maybe my tinfoil hat is too tight, but it seems like the work of little green men or the President’s Working Group. Not sure which though.  I’m no expert, but this seems like manipulation to me.

What new information came out between the market open and 12:30 that caused a 250 point uptick?  I for the life of me can’t figure out what would cause a 250 point positive swing in the course of three hours.  Nothing.   If the church up the road ran a bingo like this they would be shut down.  Government manipulation of the markets.

What happened mid-session to cause this huge change in momentum?  Tell me if you know.

Don’t be fooled.  As near as I can tell the trend is down for the short and medium term.  Long term?  I don’t know where we end up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually something has to give with our currency.  I don’t know what’s right for you, but I don’t have any money in stocks that I don’t consider gambling money.  The news is all bad: earnings, consumer confidence, housing values, foreclosures, loan defaults, unemployment, retail, the federal budget deficit, the economic health of the states, our manufacturing base, the quagmires overseas, the money supply, the jobs outlook, availability of credit, GDP.  Make no mistake we have a ways to go still before we turn the corner on this one.

And why is taxpayer money being used to pump up the stock price of banks?  Why are public funds being used to bail out stock holders?

I still haven’t received a satisfactory answer.

SCREW THE BANKS! Not a one ever cut me the least slack.

q3This is halfway down one trail looking up.  You can see my tracks.  Yum.  Conditions have been so perfect.  Four inches of ice covered by three inches of dry powder like they see in Steamboat.   In Steamboat they call it champagne powder.  Here we we just thank our lucky star and take advantage of it

q12This is the other half down.  Trust me it’s steeper than it looks.  Sometimes you have to put your hands and poles into the boxing guard position to protect your face and kinda crunch through the smaller branches.

Wood stove

January 15, 2009

For those of you that haven’t used a woodstove this post will be about my woodstove and how I get her going.  Hopefully, it will let you know what I do and don’t like about my stove and also provide the basics about the parts of a stove and how to get one running.

A woodstove is basically a metal box.  They all have a vent where air comes in to burn and then the smoke is vented out the back through the stovepipe.  There aren’t that many moving parts.

  • A “valve” on the stovepipe that controls how much smoke (and heat) goes up and out.
  • A “valve” on the front of the stove that controls how much air is allowed in.  The more air you let in the faster your wood will burn.  There are all sorts of vents.  Some slide and some turn.
  • The firebox.  This is where you load the wood.
  • A handle of some sort to lock the door of the stove closed.

ws13This is my wood stove.  It’s obviously a Nashua.  This company is out of business now.  This particular stove is a big, honking wood stove.  It’s 32″ long * 22″ deep * 35″ tall.  A nice feature is the window so you can see the fire burning.  The knurled metal round things on each side of the Nashua sign are the vents that let air into the stove.  You spin em just like a screw.

ws24Spin em counterclockwise to loosen them and let more air in and spin them clockwise to let less air in.  This is one of the front vents fully open. Notice the space between the back of the vent and the stove.  That’s where the air rushes in that feeds the fire.

ws23This is the other front vent fully closed.  Notice how the back of this vent is snugged tight against the front of the stove.  No space = no air = no fire.

ws11This is the vent on the stovepipe.  This vent controls how much smoke and heat go up the pipe and out.  Imagine a metal pie plate attached to this thing on the inside of the stovepipe.   The metal pie plate runs the same way as the handle.  In this position the pie plate is turned vertically, just like the handle.  This is the full open position.

ws12This is the same vent fully closed.  That pie plate that runs the same way as the handle is now perpendicular to the stovepipe (parallel to the floor) so in this position the pie plate is totally blocking the stovepipe.  This would choke any fire burning in the stove.

ws26This is the handle to the door of the stove.  This is the locked position.

ws28And you flip the handle counterclockwise to unlock the door and open it up.

A neat thing about my stove is that there is a built in fan.   My stove is actually double-walled with an air chamber in the middle, outlets on the front and a fan and inlet on the back of the stove.  It sucks air in the back, that gets warmed in the hollow channel and then gets blown out the front.  This thing cranks!!

ws18This is one of the outlets on the front of the stove.  There is another one on the other side.  When the stove is heated up and I plug the fan in it blows out hot, hot air  at a high volume.

ws17

This is the fan on the back of the stove.  It makes a bit of noise, but it’s not too bad.  It really heats the house.

ws19This is a looksie at the inside with the door flung open.  Pardon the trash, but when you have a stove you start collecting stuff that burns well.

If I’m driving around and I see some fool citizen that pruned his trees, collected fallen brush and then tied them up and left them at curbside for the trash guys to pick up I sure as spit stop and throw the stuff in my car.  It’s beautiful, like a little bundle of campfire that some fool put together all nice and pretty, tied it with a bow and left it for picking.  I don’t get people.  You’re gonna cut branches, bundle em, tie em and haul em out to the street for the town to pick up??  It makes no sense to me.  Save all of our frigging tax $$’s and burn em on your own lawn or garden or haul em out back and dump em in the woods.   Make a stick pile for wildlife.   But I digress. Pallets burn well.  Keep your eyes open for free pallets.  My eyes are always open for foraging stuff.

This is my system.  Building a fire is like cooking – everyone does it differently.  Also like cooking, when you build a fire you want to have all of your ingredients together before you start the fire.  All I do is crumple up a bunch of newspaper on the bottom of the stove.  Don’t scrimp here.  I use at least 1/2 an entire issue.  Then I put a piece of wood running horizontally along the bottom of the stove.  You can’t see the horizontal base log because it is totally covered by crumpled newspaper.  Crumple up more newspaper on top.

ws20Lean some wood on the first piece you put in there.  Maybe a couple of smallish pieces leaning on the whole thing.  More newspaper.  Fire likes to run along the edges of stuff so the more edges (more little pieces and broken and splintered) the better.  Really, you gotta act like you are building a blaze because you are.  Plus, I always feel ashamed if it takes me more than one match to get a fire going.  Any fire.  Even if no one else is looking.   I guess the moral is to build every fire like you only have one match.

Don’t light it yet.  You need to make sure that the vent on the stovepipe is all the way open so make sure it’s pointed vertically and running parallel to the stovepipe.   You also need to open the vents on the front of the stove all the way.   When you first light the stove you want as much air as possible rushing through it.

Now after all the vents are open I light the paper, close the door and flip the handle to lock the door shut.  I then walk away and leave it alone for 10-15 minutes.

ws25Upon my return the fire is usually going.

At this point I’ll open the door slowly just an inch.  If you open the door too fast you’ll get a back draft of smoke in your face and the room.  So you open it an inch, wait a few seconds then open it slowly the rest of the way.  I’ll bang all the wood down a bit and spread out the coals and then I’ll load it up.  I pack it fairly tightly.  Leaning wood works well.  You don’t want to pack your wood in like you’re building a brick wall.  You want some air spaces between the logs.  Close the door.

Now I’ll turn the stove down a bit by turning the vent on the stovepipe diagonally so it isn’t fully open or fully closed.  I’ll spin the vents on the front down a bit too.  The secret here is the perfect balance between intake and exhaust so you get the maximum heat while burning your wood as slowly as possible.  Don’t goof on me, but it really is like the Zen of burning.  I mean once you get past that initial burst of heat when you first get it going you want to turn it down nice and low so that the pile of wood in there is just simmering slowly.  Like cooking.

After a few hours when it’s time to load the stove again you have to open the vent on the stovepipe again before you open the door.  Otherwise when you open the door the draft will be reversed and smoke will come into your face and room.  It becomes habit – open vent on stovepipe, flip handle, open door an inch, wait a couple of seconds and then open door rest of way.  Spread the coals out.  Load it.  Shut it.  Lock it.  Close the stovepipe vent down a bit again by turning it diagonally.

Summary:

  • The whole thing with a wood stove is air movement.  You gotta get the air in your house moving around.  I have two other fans that I sometimes use in addition to the built in one in the stove.
  • Humid air holds more heat than hot air.  Get a humidifier or put teapots on the stove top.  I think humid air is better for humans to breath too.
  • My stove is kind of big so it takes a while to heat up, stays warm a long time and burns a lot more wood than a smaller stove.  It can burn for 12 hours on one load of wood.  I’d rather have one small one at each end of the house, but then there are two fires to feed.
  • I think having a stove is great.  It’s a different kind of heat.  It really feels warm, like the old fashioned radiators.  I’ve never been a fan of forced hot air; there’s no radiant heating.  It’s also a good backup to the forced hot water oil system.  Even if the electric goes out the stove will still heat up a good 1/3 of the house.
  • Another way to cook when your whatever else is on the fritz.
  • I clean my own stovepipe.  It’s not that big a deal.  The brushes are cheap.  You definitely don’t need to pay anyone unless you have a high or steep roof.  It just takes a bit of serious monkeying to get it apart and really serious monkeying to put it back together.  Make sure you wear crap clothes and spread a tarp out.
  • Be careful with the ashes.  They stay hot a long time and jeesh even if you think that they are out don’t ever empty them into a combustible container.  Wood ash is high in potassium and it’s an alkaline like lime so I add it to my compost and directly on the garden (out of season cuz it will burn roots and plants).  Wood ashes are also used to make lye to make soap.  Do not burn shiny magazines or Sunday circulars.  The inks used in shiny stuff is bad.  Anytime you deal with wood ash, or any fine dust, make sure you wear a dust mask.
  • Make sure you got the safety stuff – fire extinguisher and smoke and CO detectors.
  • Build every fire like you only have one match.  All that means is to make sure you got all of your kindling, fuel, paper and whatever else all together before you light it.  Just like cooking, you don’t want to get halfway through cooking something and realize that you need to run out to the store.
  • Every stove is different.  They’re like women.  You need to get to know one before you can handle her correctly.  And with a stove learn that balance between intake and exhaust.
  • Be leery of stovepipes that twist and turn.  In my experience you are always fighting to get a good draft going.
  • Having a woodstove is work.
  • You know what else looks good to me are those soapstone stoves.  They’re supposed to hold heat a long time.
  • Not a fan of the pellet stove.  They seem too specialized to me.  I mean they work fine as long as you got electric and pellets.

I’d recommend that everyone get a wood stove.

By now you know the chant, ‘get outside everyday.’

ws3This was my first skate of the season.  Someone abandoned a fishing hole.  Made me wish that I brought my traps and stopped for some shiners.  Stuck the hockey stick in, hmmmm, about six inches.  That’s pretty thick.  The ice was really nice and smooth.  Nice efficient way to travel.  One kick and you can glide 6, 7 or 8 feet.

ws2These guys had a fire and a bunch of traps set up.  My buddy told me that they got a five and a seven pound bass.  We skated around the whole perimeter of this lake.  I love the rythym of skating, skiing and biking.

Survival in times of despair

January 13, 2009

I thought this article was interesting.  A couple of good things to learn from.  I posted the article first with what I think is the marrow of the story bolded.  Then a summary at the end so we can learn from others’ experiences.

War strains Gazans’ survival skills

Bombardment has badly disrupted flow of electricity and water
The Associated Press
updated 7:52 p.m. ET, Mon., Jan. 12, 2009

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – In 17 days of war, Hisham Abu Ramadan has fallen into a new routine.

He gets up before dawn and goes to his mosque, not just to pray, but to charge his cell phone, since it’s the only place in the neighborhood with a generator. After prayers, he gets in line at a nearby bakery, where as many as 150 people are already waiting to buy bread.54d3920e-2f88-4003-b006-9ffdf1b06e33widec

“We’ve gotten accustomed to this life,” said Abu Ramadan, 37.

Others face a tougher time.

In Khaled al-Dali’s two-room shack in the Shati refugee camp, 21 people — half of them relatives who fled the fighting — take turns sleeping because there aren’t enough mattresses to go around. Without fuel, the family cooks on fires made from trash. He has sold most of his furniture to buy food.

Gazans have become adept at coping with conflict, including curfews, street clashes and, most recently, severe shortages created by an 18-month border blockade by Israel and Egypt.

But Israel’s unprecedented assault on Gaza’s Hamas rulers — with nearly 900 people killed, some 3,400 wounded and tens of thousands displaced — has strained even their survival skills.

The massive bombardment has badly disrupted the flow of electricity and water, already stop-and-go before the start of the war. Israel has cut Gaza in half, cutting north and south off from each other.

Scarce goods
During the short daylight hours, shoppers crowd the few open stores and outdoor markets in a hunt for scarce goods, from diapers to dairy. At dusk, streets quickly become deserted as civilians retreat indoors, for fear of being mistaken for militants by Israel’s military.

“Everything is difficult now — eating, drinking, moving,” said Mohammed Saleimeh, 26. When electricity comes on in the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, the women in his 20-member family rush to bake bread. When water comes on, they wash the cloth diapers they now use instead of disposable ones.

In southern Israel, Hamas rocket barrages have also severely disrupted life, sending people rushing into shelters when air raid sirens go off. Many businesses have closed and classes have been suspended, but residents have adequate supplies of food, electricity and fuel.

In Gaza, the ability to cope largely depends on how much of a buffer, in food and cash, families had going into the war, and in part on their ties to Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Mohammed Awad, a senior Hamas official, told the movement’s Al Aqsa TV on Sunday that 25,000 people on the Hamas payroll, from police to civil servants, have received their December salaries.

Hamas members said the money is being paid in cash, with Hamas activists making the rounds to distribute it. A man with a trimmed beard was seen handing out money from a suitcase in the hallway of a building in one Gaza City neighborhood, then asking employees to sign a receipt.

Abu Ramadan is a former member of the security forces ousted during Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, and still draws his salary from Hamas’ rival, the West Bank government of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He can still afford to buy drinking water and fill up the tank on the roof of his high-rise in the Sheik Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

Electricity outages
But electricity outages are constant — power came on Sunday for the first time in eight days. So he heads to the mosque each morning to charge his cell phone, instead of praying at home as he did before the war.

His family of five eats lentils, beans and canned foods. Tomatoes are available, but have tripled in price, to 75 cents a pound. Only 20 of 47 bakeries are operating, according to the bakers’ union, explaining the long lines for bread.

In the Shati camp, al-Dali, 33, was already broke at the start of the fighting, struggling to feed his wife and seven children, ages 5 through 14. A few days ago, he took in his sister, her husband and 10 children, who fled shelling outside their home close to the border with Israel.

Escaped with just clothes on their backs
They escaped with just the clothes on their backs. On Monday, al-Dali’s sister Salwa, 42, was stirring a pot of lentils and rice on a fire of paper, cardboard cartons and other debris. The refrigerator was empty, except for a few onions and tomatoes.

Salwa said she added extra salt to the cooking water in the belief that it would help rid it of germs. Many Gazans have taken to boiling drinking water too, since local water authorities warned of deteriorating quality last week. She said she tries to feed the kids as late in the day as possible so they don’t go to bed hungry.

Al-Dali said the food will last until Tuesday, and he doesn’t know where the next meal will come from. “I have no other business but to secure something to eat, water to drink and some wood and paper to warm them during the night,” he said. “I feel ashamed of myself. I can do nothing for them.”

In Zahra City, a complex of high-rises south of Gaza City, school teacher Jihan Sarsawi said she now washes in a bucket because running water is scarce — but only if there’s no shelling.

“I’m afraid they’ll shell the building and I’ll be undressed, which would be really embarrassing, so last night I slept in my clothes, without bathing,” she said.

Sarsawi also abstains from food and drink from sunrise to sunset every Monday and Thursday. “It lengthens out the food rations,” she said.

Supply shipments disrupted
Israel has allowed some humanitarian aid convoys to enter, but the shipments and distribution are often disrupted by fighting. As many 88 percent of Gaza’s residents now require food aid, and the three-hour lull in fighting that Israel allows for humanitarian aid to move around Gaza is not sufficient, said Helene Gayle, president of the international aid agency CARE.

Gaza economist Omar Shaban, who lives in the town of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, said his house gets six hours of electricity a day and running water twice a week, for about eight hours.

He has a small garden where he occasionally plays football with his sons, ages 10 and 16. Central Gaza has suffered less destruction than Gaza City, and Shaban said his family manages to get out of the house almost every day, for trips to the market or relatives in town. Most shops are closed, he said.

Supermarket owner Zaher Abdel Hadi in Gaza City said he’s selling mostly on credit now because people are broke or can’t get their money out of the bank because of a long-standing cash shortage.

“No one is leaving empty-handed,” he said of his customers. “We have to be brothers in this war.”

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28627492/

  • If the power is out and you have a generator you best expect to share your power with others.
  • Those who had stocks and supplies going into the war are best positioned now.
  • Even in the total chaos that is Gaza there isn’t apparently a lot of Zombie hunting going on.  Sorry guys you’re gonna have to put away all of your tactical, molle and BDU crap.  Firearms are apparently very low on the actual survival list.
  • Most shops are closed.
  • Canned goods are key.
  • Tens of thousands bugged out.  I wonder to where.  Do you have family/friends located somewhere else that you can bug out to?
  • The safety of drinking water is now a concern.  Do you have filters, purifiers or a way to boil lots of water?
  • With spotty electric service candles, batteries, lamps and lanterns are needed.
  • Have a bucket to wash in?
  • You’ll sell your furniture or whatever else to get what you need.
  • Cell phone service is still available.
  • There isn’t widespread looting.  Doesn’t seem like you have to worry about the Golden Horde coming for your stuff.
  • Survival becomes a 24/7 occupation.  Like seagulls you are constantly scavenging for what you need to eat, to stay warm or to drink.  It never ends.  It never stops.  You never relax.
  • There is a psychological element, especially for men who feel they need to provide for their families and parents who have kids to care for.
  • You shouldn’t have seven kids (any kids) unless you can take care of them.
  • Banks are closed.  Do you have cash, precious metals, jewelry or skills to trade?
  • Being close to the PTB makes a difference.  If you know those in power you get better treatment.  Do you have a government job?

At least in Gaza, urban survival in times of warfare seems more about being a seagull or a pack rat than about being a soldier.  What this means is that you have to lose the mindset, ‘what do I need’ or ‘what can I use’ and start looking for things of intrinsic value.  In other words even though you may not need it, it may be worth grabbing because you can trade it for something else.   Start thinking like a trashpicker and less like gunner.

Git outside-

ws10Time to spread the manure.  The farmer is racing to get it down before it snows.   Boy does this smell.

ws31This is one of the ways up.  It’s no ski lift.  This is really steep.  Too steep to ski up.  We remove our skis and hoof it up this hill.

Farmers Associations

January 12, 2009

I love the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA).  We all know that it’s good to hang out with like minded people so that we can exchange ideas and learn new stuff. leftheader(Come to think of it it’s good to hang out with people that you don’t agree with too so that you can exchange ideas and learn new stuff. Hmmmm.)

Anyways, I’ve been a member of NOFA for a long time.  If you are interested in growing food, food safety, organics or eating healthy (who isn’t?) you really should join the state chapter of your organic farmers association.  Just Google your state name and “organic farmers association.”

My member ship is $35 a year.  They also offer low income memberships.

Why I like being a member i.e. what I get out of it:

  • Quarterly issues of the Organic Farmer – it covers food, organics, government issues and hints, tips and tricks to grow more stuff using better methods.  The last issue had a great 8 page section on mulches.
  • Six issues of the state chapter newsletter.  These have ads for jobs, land and swaps.
  • Annual Organic Food guide that tells ya where all the organic farms, markets, stores and suppliers are located locally.
  • Discounts on the Summer and Winter Conferences – more below! This is what got me thinking about writing this blog entry.
  • Discounts on the Practical Skills Workshops – more below! Ditto.
  • Discounts on the group bulk order – Man, this is the coolest thing.  If you are an organic gardener you know that you don’t feed plants.  Please do not feed the plants. Organics is all about feeding the soil.  Water solubles are bad.  Minerals and stone dusts are good because they don’t get washed away and break down slowly.  (Sorry that’s another blog entry.)
  • Anyways, the deal with the bulk order is that you get to join together with other members and due to economies of scale buy stuff on the cheap.  I’m able to order composts, organic cover crops seed, sets for onions and potatoes, organic fertilizers, organic pest control supplies, all kinds of organic soil amendments like azomite, granite meal, gypsum, colloidal phosphate, potting soils and all kinds of other useful things too.

Now for the nuts of this entry……….

The best part of being a member of the Association are the conferences and Practical Skills Workshops.  For example, the Practical Skills Workshops run throughout the year.  Each one probably costs 40 bucks or so.  They cover such things as: High Tunnels for Season Extension, Breadmaking with whole grains, Cheesemaking, Solar Hot Water, Shamanic Plant Journeying, Biodiesel,  Draft Horses, Veggie Oil Car Conversion, Rustic Stick Furniture, Draft Horses *Advanced*, Composting Toilets, Tofu and Tempeh, Organic Home Lawn Care, Foraging for Wild Edibles, Making Soap with Goat’s Milk with soap-making, Couples Massage, Medicinal Herbs, Yoga for Farmers and Gardeners, Cheesemaking #3! – (ADVANCED*) making difficult cheeses,  Winemaking, Canning your Garden, Seed-saving : keeping your favorites for next year, Tinctures, Salves, and Lotions.

And that’s just this year!!

At the Winter Conference.  There are maybe 30 different classes on things like what I listed above plus: beekeeping, raw milk, nutrient dense crop production, raising pigs, pastured poultry, plants and plans for an organic garden, nursery management, pest and disease control and so on.  The conference runs all day.  There are classes from 8:30-10, 1-3 and 3-5.  During each time slot there are maybe 6-8 classes offered so you just choose which one to go to.  So I can go to three different classes during the day.  There is also a potluck lunch where all the attendees make something depending on the first letter of your last name and we all break bread together.

The Summer Conference is basically the same deal, but we take over a college/university for three whole days and nights.  There are dinners and contra dances and raffles and entertainment and things for the kids to do too.

Probably one of the best reasons to join is that you get to plug into the community of farmers, growers and gardeners so if you have crop, garden, plant or pest problems there is a whole network of supportive people anxious to exchange info ideas, tips and tricks.

I can’t stress enough how good it is to join your state’s chapter of the organic farmers association.  It’s a no brainer.

IMHO what you learn about growing food, storing food, growing animals and building soil is more important than all the guns and ammo in the world. Chance of shooting Zombies = .000001%.  Chance of putting good organic food on the table = 100%.  Don’t be a dullard, play the odds.

Git outside everyday-

p1010100I was out skiing through the woods off piste (I like saying, “off piste.” It means “off path.”) and came upon this rather large pile of deer poo.



Hamas

January 11, 2009

arial

A good book

January 10, 2009

A good book to have is Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs.

home4schoolgear_2028_17435632This is a must have.  To me it’s as important as band aids.  The color pictures that accompany each description help a lot in identifying plants.

The book makes it easy to find stuff.  The contents are organized by flower color, then shrubs, trees, woody vines, ferns, grasses and grasslike plants.

I don’t like Amazon, but this is a cool feature to check out a book, http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0395988144/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link.  Click on the link and then click on the menu on the left hand side and you can look through the book.

The best part of the book is Index to Medical Topics in the back of the book.  Here you can look up symptoms and ailments and get a list of plants that will help your illness.  Just a quick run through and I don’t know what 1/2 of these are: abdomen, abortifacient, abrasion, abscess, aches, acne, adaptogen, Addison’s disease, afterbirth, ague, alcoholism, allantoin, allergenic, alpecia and there is another page and half of just bad stuff that starts with an A.

Stop and think about that for a second.  If you have a headache you look up headache and see that you can use prickly poppy, virgin’s bower, passion flower, pink lady slipper and maybe another 30 plants.

To be able to cross reference ailments and plants is invaluable.

My gripe is the same with this field guide as with all the others, there is a lack of pictures for out of season plants.  You know it’s fine to identify a plant by the flowers as long as the plant is flowering, but most plants only flower for a month or two out of the whole year.  How do you identify it when it doesn’t have flowers on it?

And that is why you need multiple field guides, to cross reference the same plant.

When I eventually write my field guide each plant will have four pictures, a picture from each season, to go along with it.

All the books in the world about the outside will do ya no good if you don’t Get Outside Everyday!

x9You gotta look closely at this picture.  Click on it to expand it if you got old eyes like me.  There are a TON of deer tracks here in the snow.  The four brown leafy areas in the foreground of the picture are where deer slept.

x8Ahhh, sweet, sweet carnage.  Not that I have bloodlust or anything, just taking in the circle of life.  I was out following some coyote tracks on my skis for maybe a mile (?) when I came upon this bloody scene in the snow.  I’m guessing Mr. Red Squirrel met his demise and Mr. Coyote had a warm meal.  Any thoughts?

Get outside every day!

Mr. Anonymous

January 8, 2009

Our government likes to spy on us.    Not only do they like to spy on us, but even worse, they DO spy on us.

Due to § 215 of the Patriot Act the FBI can just draft a National Security Letter, without any judicial oversight, and go into your local library or bookstore and demand all of your records.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/26/politics/26patriot.htm

Fortunately the average librarian has more balls than the average congress person. Think about that.  Librarians care enough about your privacy to fight for it and congress people?  Ha!

Uhhh, in case you’re under 20 years old, in the old days OUR Government needed a search warrant, but that was before we were trying to protect our ostensibly free society’s freedom by chilling our very freedoms.

Or OUR  Government can get a “Sneak and Peek” search warrant under § 213 of the Patriot Act, again with very limited oversight, and search your house like creepy, crawly burglars and never even notify the property owner of OUR Government’s trespass.  http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/academics/profiles/dwilkes_more/37patriot.html

Or how OUR Government gets all hot and bothered listening in on all of our phone calls, checking all of our Internet activity and scanning our banking records.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1966132,00.asp Seriously man, I’m not making this stuff up.

Then Our Government takes all of these petabytes of data that Our Government collects on us and they sort it and sift it.

The NSA is in charge of the data mining program that Our Government is running on all of us citizens. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120511973377523845.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news

If you told me ten years ago what the coming decade had in store for our privacy rights I would have thought that you were out of your mind.  “Never in the United States!” I would have said.

So with that simple background you’ve been warned that you are most certainly being watched, recorded and analyzed.

I know that I’m already on some lists due to my associations with some groups and believe me I’m not talking anarchists, white supremacists or militias.  If you belong to any political group at all you are under suspicion. The Feds are doing it and as someone on another blog pointed out (sorry I forgot who otherwise I’d credit you) the states are doing it too.

So what to do?  Just as you should never voluntarily consent to a search, no matter how nice those LEOs seem, we’re usually better off by trying to cover our tracks a bit.  I mean why make it easy for Our Government to collect data on us.

I’m no computer wiz, but I know that it is easy to track my Internet history.    When you access a website it’s easy to tell where you are geographically located.  Every computer has an address/phone number associated with it and it’s tracked with no effort at all.

You leave little breadcrumbs everywhere you travel in cyber space.

I recommend using anonymizers.  An anonymizer will help to cover your tracks a bit.

You can pay $ to buy an anonymizer or you can download a free one.  Here are some free ones that I’ve used.

http://anonymouse.org/

http://www.hidemyass.com/proxy/

http://www.shadowsurf.com/

http://www.proxyforall.com/

Shhhh and keep it moving along please.  Nothing to look at here folks.  Keep it moving.

Pics- Just Get Outside Everyday.

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About a third of the way up (click on the pic) in the center is some hawk that we saw.  It doesn’t look like a redtail to me, but I guess it could be his winter colors.  This bird was maybe 18-20″ tall.  That is one big MFR bird. Click on it to see him puffed up in all of his delicious raptor magnificence.

xc1Just a beautiful snowy field.   Those snow coverd pines are dreamlike.   Mmmm.  Mmmm.   Good.

Failure

January 7, 2009

Failure?  Really, what’s failure, but an unintended change of plans.

Nothing good comes easy.  I was out skiing the other day, and as is often the case when I’m in the woods, I got to thinking.  You come to a path with a fork, the easy way or the hard way.  It’s always easier to maintain the status quo – to keep doing what you are currently doing.  Keep the same job, stay in the same apartment, keep the same dirty habits and not sign up for that class that you always have thought of taking.

How many times did you fall from the horse when you were learning to ride?  How many times do you think an Olympic gymnast falls from the balance beam or smacks her chest into the uneven bars on her way to winning a medal?

Failure and struggle are the flames that harden our resolve.  I always thought that it is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all.  We need to be strong and sure enough to press on even in the face of adversity and failure. Once we set our compass we can’t allow anything to prevent us from reaching our goal.  Every path is filled with pitfalls.  Every shoe is filled with pebbles.  Even our friends and families sometimes try and dissuade us.  Really, sometimes those closest to us are negative influences towards positive change, but that’s another post.

Change and learning new things is tough.  It’s easy to sit home every night with your butt on the couch.  Changing takes time, effort, discipline and resolve.  Personally, I would rather fail ten times at something new than never to have tried to achieve in the first place.

Set your goals, develop a plan, harden your resolve, press on and achieve.  The decision is yours, you can be the log or you can be the wedge.

I like to say that, “You can’t make cookies without breaking some eggs.

And my father would say, “It’s only a failure if you don’t learn from it.”

If you are afraid of falling you’ll never ski.

Running Bear downhill

This is Running Bear skiing downhill.  Don’t try this at home kids.  Classic old fashioned NON-RESORT New England skiing.  The trail is greater than a 30 degree grade.  Notice the close placement of the trees.

p1010115Here Running Bear is close to the point of Operator Failure (“OF”).  Green Eyed Dog is a little concerned.

p1010116Here we see Running Bear has reached the terminal point of OF.  (It is funny when your friends fall, but only because I know he’ll bounce right back up.) Do you think that Running Bear is done?  Please don’t insult him.  No, Running Bear will get up, brush himself off and we will go on our way for more uphills, downhills and falls.

My point is that you can’t be afraid to fail and when you inevitably do, you need to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move on.  NEXT!

The Police

January 5, 2009

They’re not there to help you.  The police are your enemies.    The police are the sole of the shoe of the jack boot of government.  And they like nothing more than putting it into the back of a citizen as they grind the citizen worker’s face into the pavement.

There was an armed robbery at a car wash in Portland, Oregon.  http://www.katu.com/news/36878034.html The car wash attendant shot the hapless robber in the face with a pressure washer and the robber ran off.  Hahaha.  All’s well that ends well, right?081230_robbery_best

the hero
chris_truax210
employee/victim

The men in blue are summonsed  I guess to take a report and they must have run a background check on the hero slash victim slash vigilante. Well it turns out that the victim/vigilante had his own run in with the law seven or so years ago for a DUI.   So what do the police do?

They arrest the guy, the employee who saved the day, who saved his boss from being robbed.  They arrest the guy who chased off an armed robber without hurting anyone or getting hurt.  They arrest the guy who practices a little atom of street justice.  They arrest the guy who did what the police are incapable of doing.

Blah, blah, blah if you defend it or enable you  are are just as bad.  Save your excuses for someone who cares to enable the growing black cloud of government intrusion.  It ain’t me babe. (B. Dylan 1964)

Jeesh, maybe next time our hero (and other potential heroes who read the story) may not be so willing to get involved.

The police are your enemies.  The police have one thing in mind and that is to *uck with us citizens.

Clang, clang, clang go the handcuffs.  Spray, spray, spray goes the mace.  Bang, bang, bang go the bullets.  Fist, knee, elbow to the citizen’s face.

Don’t speak with them.  Don’t answer their questions because it will be used against you.  All the modern day police care about is making their numbers, busting citizens, throwing people in the can, getting the fines and fees and seizing as much property as possible.  Did you know that your local police get to keep the proceeds gained from the sale of seized property? Then they get to buy more cool black police toys.  Oh, how they like to use all of their cool black police toys because it makes them feel like big men.  You know the black police boats, the black police bikes, the black police ATVs, the black $500,000 command centers, their cool black tazers and so on.

Man how the police love to trot out their cool black police toys.  How they love to put on their elbow and knee pads, bust windows and kick in doors.

I have regular interaction with law enforcement and the court system.

My advice-

Our Great, Grand and Glorious Constitution protects us.  The cops need a reason to search your house.  They need a reason to pull your car over.  They need a reason to get you out of your car.  They need a reason to stop and question you.  They need a reason to search your person.

If the police show up at your house don’t ever let them in unless they have a warrant.

If the cops want to speak to you step outside and speak to them on the stoop/steps of your pad.  Once you invite the cops inside they’re like rats, rodents and roaches looking around your house for some reason to hassle you.  (Come on angry LEOs reading this post.  You know it’s true.  Help your fellow citizens.) They’ll walk away from the front hall of you place to explore other rooms too.  While you’re talking to the cop they’ll walk down the hall to the bedrooms or go into the living room.  You can’t let this happen.  Never let em in unless they have a warrant.

Cops are like vampires.  They can’t come in unless invited.

If you get pulled over remain polite, but answer as few questions as possible and answer as simply as possible.  Don’t tell them anything.  One answer, even if said innocently, leads to more questions.  Don’t give them anything to use against you.  They are professionals.  Anything that you say will make it into their report and then recited in court to be used against you.

I read a police report the other day, “I activated my blue lights and the Mercedes SUV drifted over into the travel lane and then drifted into the breakdown lane.”  BS!! See this is what they do.  What happened was that the officer activated his blues and the SUV pulled over just as he should have.  The way the officer is framing the facts though is that the driver of the  SUV did something wrong by ‘drifting’.

Don’t argue.

They need a reason to pull you over.  Don’t give em any reasons.  Check the lights of you car – brakes, headlights, turn signals and license plate.  Make sure that they all work all of the time.  Just like a pilot walking around his plane for the pre-flight check.  You gotta do it.  If you live in a must wear seat belt state then wear your seat belt or risk interacting with Agents of Our Government.  The cops are looking for a reason to pull you over.  Don’t give them one.

The answer to the question, “have you been drinking?” is always NO!  It’s not I had just one.  One never means one.

Don’t give them a reason to get you out of your car.  “I only had one” is enough of a reason to remove you from your car.  Then it gets easy for them – “unsteady on your feet, swaying, bloodshot eyes, smell of booze, thick tongued, slurred words.” They can make it up.  And they do. And they do.

DON’T EVER CONSENT TO A SEARCH.  NEVER. EVER. NEVER.

The answer to the puke, crap, piss question, “well if you have nothing to hide you won’t mind having me take a look”  is always – “I’d prefer not” or “do you have a warrant” or “I do not consent to a search” or “I’d like to speak with my attorney before I agree to anything.”  If possible voice your non-consent loud enough for passerby and witnesses to hear you.

If they threaten to bring a drug sniffing dog out if you don’t consent then let them do their job.  Your lawyer can argue about it later.  They need a reason to stop you, remove you from your car, prevent your free movement and get a dog.  If their reason isn’t adequate your lawyer may be able to get any evidence tossed later on.  Even if you have nothing to hide never consent to a search. We have to keep Our Government honest.

The big thing in our putatively free democracy is “Custodial Interrogation.”  Once you are in “Custodial Interrogation” all of your Constitutional rights kick in.  In most states the key whether you are in “Custodial Interrogation” is whether you are free to leave.  Therefore, the question to always ask any cop who is preventing you from going about your business is, “am I free to leave?”  Always, ask the cops that question, “am I free to leave?”  If you’re not free to leave then they gotta read you your rights.  If they violate this you walk.  We gotta keep Our Government honest.

A lot of innocent people are locked up every year.  A lot of innocent people get beat up by cops every year.  A lot of innocent people are hassled, have their possessions searched or destroyed or have their sacrosanct rights violated by the police every year.

If the police hassle you without a reason or if you feel like you’ve been a victim of police abuse then call the local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (“NLG”). http://www.nlg.org/

Interesting history with the NLG.  The American Bar Association didn’t allow black attorneys to join as recently as the early 20th century.  The NLG formed in response to that.  The NLG is the oldest national bar association that does not discriminate based upon race.

p1010110The view from the top of one of the little  “bumps.”

p1010112This is one of the trails down.  It is steeper than it looks.  This is expert cross country skiing.  Good times.