Archive for the ‘Medicinal plants’ Category

Our future, the future

August 14, 2009

Those of us living in the reality based world expect the economy and the economic outlook of the average person to get worse over the coming years.  Sure there’ll be ups and downs for as one of my favorite writers writes, “the market doesn’t zig and zig; the market zigs and zags.”

A formerly homeless man was arrested and charged with injuring two homeless people when he threw a Molotov cocktail into the large concrete pipe where the victims were staying, Lynn police and fire investigators said.  Brian Bowman, 28, admitted throwing the lighted Molotov cocktail into an unused concrete sewer pipe in a vacant lot at 229R Lynnway around 1:30 a.m. June 26, while the victims were inside, according to a fire investigation report.

The catalyst of this firebombing, other than economic hopelessness, was an argument at some point over the victim allegedly stealing the perpetrator’s fishing gear.  If you are homeless and/or hungry I imagine that fishing gear is pretty important to you.

I generally have had no problems with homeless people.   I treat the homeless as I treat everyone else that I may meet.

So prepare yourself for increased violence and less compassion.  Hungry people will burn you alive for a few hooks, bobbers and lead sinkers.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

This is purple coneflower, purple echinacea.   Purple coneflower is used to stimulate the immune system.     The best parts of the plant to use are the roots and the tops.  You probably know where some purple coneflower grows.  It was widely used by Native Americans.

y4It’s best taken at the first onset of symptoms of illness.  I’ve also read that it can be used for disorders of the skin because the plant contains some cortisone like properties, but I’ve never used it topically.

y3You can squeeze the plant and use the juice or make tinctures and teas from the roots and tops.  Either way it’s a nice addition to your garden.  I also love the geometry of the flower.

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Check it out! Personal security and pokeweed.

August 6, 2009

Check it out. We go through our life like automatons.  Not the way to be.  Be conscious and aware of your surroundings and each of the thousands of little decisions you make every day.  Don’t be a bystander in your life.  Be an aware and willing participant.  Check it out.

Think of how many things you do automatically everyday.  Really, stop for a second and think of them all.  Stop it.  Slow down and stop and before taking any action ask yourself why, whether it is necessary and should be done.

An example may help to bring it to life.  You wake up every morning to the sound of your alarm clock buzzing.  Then you pour a cup of coffee into your travel mug.  You go outside and get into your car.  You drive the 27 1/2 minutes to work.  Then you park your car and head into the office building where you work.   Five days a week you go into the lobby of the building and push the up button for the elevator.    The elevator door slides open and you step inside to push the button to the eighth floor. Only then do you realize that there are already two unsavory characters inside of the elevator.  The doors slide closed and the thugs move towards you.

Before getting on an elevator, check it out.  Don’t get on automatically.  Check it out. Look in the corners where someone could step out of view.  If there is someone on there that you don’t like the looks of then don’t get on.  Point being, make a decision whether to get on the elevator or not.  Don’t just do it without thinking about it.  Don’t be looking down at your Blackberry, morning newspaper or cell phone.  Look up where you are going.

Same thing for getting off the elevator.  When the doors swing open just don’t step out.  Have a looksy first to make sure that the floor isn’t on  fire or taken over by zombies.

If you are in the city and flag down a cab.  Well I know you must be white because cabs don’t stop for black people.  So there you are a white guy flagging down a cab.  The cab pulls over, you open the door and get inside.  Before getting in a cab check it out.   Make sure that the hackney license is hanging and that the driver looks safe.  Check it out.

Parking garages and parking lots are a couple of other places that you shouldn’t be acting like an automaton.  If you just pulled in and parked your car check out the garage before unlocking your car door and getting out. [You do keep your car doors locked correct?!?!] While you are sitting in your car look around.  Observe if there are any posts around you where someone could hide or a large van someone could be behind.  Look in your review mirrors to see if anyone is around or approaching your car.   Shut off your car and listen.   Once you open your car door have another look behind your car and listen to see if you hear anyone approaching.  Only then should you get out of your vehicle.  Point being don’t just pull into a parking garage and jump out of your car like some hayseed rube.  Stop and think about what you are doing.

When you hear a knock at the front door do you just answer it without asking who it is? Don’t. Stop, think and check it out.  Ask who is there.  Even better get a peep hole or look out a window to see who it is rather than giving yourself away by asking, ‘who’s there.’  Even when you get back to your own home don’t just unlock the front door and rush inside, pause for a second before entering.  Have a look to make sure that the place isn’t ransacked or filled with smoke.  Every time I exit the bathroom at my house I open the door and before stepping out into the hallway I look both ways.  Laugh if you want, but I won’t be surprised.

So I hope that you get the idea to not just walk, but to really look, observe and think about where you place each foot for each step that you take in all aspects of your life. Anytime that you are entering or exit a building or vehicle you should stop, wait, look and listen.    Live deliberately.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Pokeweed.  This is the stem from a pokeweed plant.  It’s big and green and thick and beefy.  You can see the leaves are big succulent looking ovals.

q12Pokeweed can grow  eight or ten feet tall.  You can see the leaves are smooth and toothless.  Here is the bloom of the pokeweed.

q7Eventually each of these little white flowers will develop into a green berry about the size of a pea.  The berries are kind of flatish with almost like a cross on one end.  Then the berries ripen into a really pretty purple color, almost black.  The berries are used to make a natural fabric die.  One look at the ripe berries and you’ll know why they make a good die.  I’ll post some pictures of the ripe berries in a few more weeks once they ripen.  All parts of the mature pokeweed plant are poisonous, but the young shoots make a tasty green.  You need to cook the young shoots in a couple changes of water to get the poisons out.  You c an’t eat this plant after it is 6 inches tall so you need to be able to spot the young growth poking up at the beginning of the spring.  So you can eat the young shoots after boiling them in at least two changes of water.  Anything this poisonous also has medicinal uses.  The roots were poulticed for arthritis, swelling and inflammation.  A poultice made from the root is so poisonous that it’s used for scabies and ringworm.

“If some of y all never been down south too much
I’m gonna tell you a little about this so that you’ll Understand what I’m talkin’ about …

To understand what we talking about
Down there we have a plant that grows like a turnip green
And everybody calls it poke salad … poke salad
Used to know a girl lived down there and she’d go out
In the evenings and pick her a mess of it, carry it
Home and cook it for supper, cause that’s about all they
Had to eat, but they did all right.

Down in Lou’siana,
Where the alligators grow so mean,
There lived a girl that
I swear to the world,
Made the alligators look tame

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a workin on the chain gang
I mean, vicious

Her daddy was lazy and no count
Claimed he had a bad back
And all her brothers were fit for
Was stealin watermelons out of my truck patch

Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her mama was a workin on the chain gang
A wretched, spiteful ( (?))

Every day ‘fore suppertime
She’d go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess o’ poke salad
And carry it home in a tote sack

Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
Cause her Mama was a workin on the chain gang

Sock a little poke salad to me
You know I need me a mess of it

Sock a little poke
Sock a little ah ah ah
Sock a little oh oh oh
Sock a little ah ah ah ah ah ah

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny”

Poke Salad Annie by David Hallyday

Jewel Weed

August 4, 2009

Jewel Weed deserves its own post.  This is a very useful medicinal plant.  It works

04This is what the plant looks like.  See the kind of oval toothy leaves and the yellow flowers.

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These are the stems of Jewel Weed.  See how they look kind of ratty with most of the new growth happening at the top of the plant.

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The stems look kind of like green straws of water if that makes sense.   Also notice how at the bottom of the stem it’s kind of red and the roots start above the soil.

They  call it Jewel Weed because rain water collects on the leaves and is supposed to look like little jewels.

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This is a good picture of the Jewel Weed flower.  See the jewels of water drops on the leaves.

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d4See how the flower look like old fashioned lady’s slippers or elf shoes with a curled toe.  If you look real close you can see that the Jewel Weed flower has little orange spots.

Jewel Weed typically grows in kind of shady wet spots.  It can frequently be found growing in the same habitat that poison ivy does.

Okay, now that you can spot Jewel Weed you gotta know what it’s good for.  The juice from the Jewel Weed stem is good for skin stuff like poison ivy, mosquito bites and bee stings.  If you have a skin issue Jewel Weed can probably help to heal you.   The juice can be squeezed right out of the stem onto your skin.  The plant contains lawsone which is known as a anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine.  “A 1957 study by a physician found it effective in treating 108 of 115 patients.”  Foster and Duke, Peterson Field Guide (2000).  I read that you can eat the cooked young greens, but I’ve never tried them. z I bet they would be good because the plant reminds me a bit of spinach.  I’ve always thought of the plant though as a remedy for skin ailments.  All you do is rip up a stem and squeeze the juice (like from an aloe) and spread it on your rash, bite or sting.

Now go forth and GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

d8One last picture of the Jewel Weed.  See how the top has been grazed off, most likely by deer.  Remember this plant.  It’s mroe effective than Calamine.

Health care tort reform and yarrow

July 29, 2009

Part of health insurance reform is tort reform.  We hear a lot of people talk about tort reform and how tort reform is necessary.  I worked for three years in a very prestigious plaintiff’s litigation firm.

Three big points to make.

1. Everyone is against lawsuits until a battery explodes in their face, a stairway collapses under their feet, a surgeon leaves forceps inside your belly or a radiologist misses a radiolucent lump in your brain.  Then as soon as someone perceives that they’ve been hurt they come running to a lawyer to fix their problem.  My point is that just like government provided economic benefits, you are against the other guy’s, not your own.  You want tort reform for them, not for you.  Look at the example of Tom Delay (Scumbag-TX), when his own father was hurt they wasted no time filing a lawsuit. Not to be out done you also have the example of Rick Santorum (Dirtbag-PA),

“Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., says that the No. 1 health care crisis in his state is medical lawsuit abuse and in the past he’s called for a $250,000 cap on non-economic damage awards or awards for pain and suffering. “We need to do something now to fix the medical liability problem in this country,” he declared at a rally in Washington D.C., this past spring.  But Santorum’s wife sued a doctor for $500,000 in 1999. She claimed that a botched spinal manipulation by her chiropractor led to back surgery, pain and suffering, and sued for twice the amount of a cap Santorum has supported.”

So just like I said everyone is for reform as long as it only restricts the other guy and not you personally.  You should see how people come running to lawyers as soon as they think they have “a case.”

2. The plaintiff’s bar accepts cases on contingency.  You know what this means?  Contingency means that a lawyer gets paid only if she wins.  The lawyer getting paid is contingent on them winning the case.   This is a big deal.  Expert witnesses in cases can cost $5,000 or even $10,000 for a single day!!  Plus they always want to be put up in the most expensive hotel rooms.  A big case can go on for two or three years.  There has to be depositions, which are expensive.  Maybe the lawyer wants some of his own testing done or he ma need to hire a PI to do some footwork.   Plus there can be tens, hundreds or even thousands of hours put into a big case.

The whole time that the case is pending the secretary needs to be paid, rent needs to be paid, insurance needs to be paid, utilities need to be paid.  You get the idea.  All of this money is out of the lawyer’s own pocket.  If he loses the case he not only is out all of his out of pocket expenses, but he never gets paid for his time.  ZERO.

So lawyers will only accept cases that have a very good chance of being successfully pleaded.  A lawyer will not accept a marginal case, because they can work for years and pay tens of thousands of dollars in out of pockets expenses and than never get paid because they lose the case.

Would you work on contingency?

3. It is very difficult to win a case.  The jury pool has been pretty well corrupted.  The insurance industry, big business and their paid servants in Congress have been sure to inform everyone of run away jury awards, the hot coffee case and every aberrant two standard deviations out of the norm award.  It is very tough to win a jury case.  Questions of doubt are answered in favor of the defendant.  The plaintiff needs to convince everyone.  The defense just needs to convince one.

Don’t easily give up your right to seek a redress for your injuries.  Those of you opposed to government involvement in the health care system, those who cry socialism, are you prepared tohave the same government set caps on lawsuit damages?  It’s a bad idea.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is yarrow.  It used to be called names like soldier herb or knight’s wort because yarrow can stop bleeding.  Yarrow is one of our most useful herbal remedies.  It is particularly good for women and the problems they may have related to menopause and menses.   It is worth reading up on.

02This is a nice shot to show you how you can identify yarrow.  Notice the leaves look fernlike.  Each leaf is almost feathery.  It’s latin name is something like millefoil.  The prefix mille means something like thousands, same prefix as millipede, because millipedes got 1,000 legs.  Well yarrow has 1,000 leaves, each leaf is like 1,000 sub-leaves.

Here is a pic of it blooming.

oDon’t confuse it with wild carrot.  The leaves and flowers are different.  A yarrow poultice is used to stop bleeding.  Yarrow tea is used for colds, fevers and internal bleeding.  It’s also known as an anti-inflammatory.  So get your own field guides and look up yarrow.  Yarrow is a must for your herbal remedy toolbox.

Sorrel or clover

July 6, 2009

Wood sorrel is a tasty wild edible.  It’s so common too that I thought I’d do a post about it.  Many people think wood sorrel is clover.  It’s not.  This is clover.  A useful plant in it’s own right.  You know what clover looks like.  See the round, globe like flower and the oval leaves.

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And another picture of clover.

P1010005See the round flower and oval leaves in groups of three.

Now here is wood sorrel.

P1010004You see the heart shaped leaves on wood sorrel.  The yellow things are the closed flowers.  When open the flower is simple five or six petaled.  Now look at the middle picture of the clover.  To the left of the clover is some wood sorrel growing.  You can see the heart shaped leaves.

The leaves of wood sorrel are sour tasting kind of citrusy.  I like them as a trail munch when I’m walking or hiking.  If you have a dry mouth a small handful of leaves will temporarily quench your thirst.  You can make a tea by steeping the leaves in some hot water.   The leaf tea is also good for fevers and UTIs.  A small handful or two of the leaves added to a salad will lend some freshness and zing.  Never over do it when eating wild edibles.  Only eat small amounts of anything you find foraging.  Chewing the leaves is also good for sore throats, mouth sores and nausea.

But don’t believe me, get your own field guides and GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

My favorite field guides

May 17, 2009

You gotta have a bunch of field guides.  There are field guides available on just about every subject of nature that you can imagine.  I have ones on: bats, animals, rocks and gems, birds, edible plants, medicinal plants, forests, different regions, plants and flowers and wildflowers. The Internet is also a huge resource.  I don’t know how we got by before The Googles were born.

When I walk in the fields and woods I’m always looking around, looking up and down.  If I see something that looks interesting to me and I don’t know what it is I’ll break off a branch or some leaves and bring it home to identify it.  If you do this too then you know that you need to have at least three or four field guides in order to be sure that you identified your subject correctly.

Some field guides will only show a plant when it’s flowering and many plants only flower for a week or two so if you want to identify it the other 50 weeks a year you may be out of luck.  Different field guides have different pictures or drawing and different descriptions.  That’s why it’s good to have a bunch of field guides, so you can cross reference.

One of my readers, (Yeah, I do have a few.) I thank each and everyone of you,  readership is the greatest form of flattery and I don’t ask you to buy my crap either.   Someone asked me to tell you what field guides I use so here it comes…

204670104Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants is by Wildman Steve Brill.  Mr. Brill is the guy that forages and gives classes how to forage Central Park, NYC.    Amazing how much wild food there is growing free and wild in Central Park.  There aren’t any color pictures in this book.  Heck, there aren’t any pictures at all, BUT there are good drawings.  This might not be a good first field guide to get, but it is large and the descriptions and uses of plants are great.  This guide is organized by season.  Mr. Brill is very straightforward he will tell you if a wild plant isn’t worth harvesting.  I particularly like some of the history of the plants that he tells the reader about.  There is even a section with recipes.  It’s 317 pages long and a big book maybe 8 1/2 * 11.

Angier Field GuideAngiers Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants doesn’t have any pcitures either, but the drawings are in color.  This guide is organized alphabetically, which isn’t a lot of help in identifying things, but that’s why you have have to familiarize yourself with all of your field guides, because then when you are walking you will see something that you recognize.  There are good descriptions in this book.  It is 255 pages long and small enough to put in a pack.

Eastern EdiblesGuide to Northeastern Wild Edibles by Kavasch has great color photos.  I think it’s out of print, but you can get used copies off of the Internet.  It is organized by season.  It has a handy feature, a ruler markings inside the back cover, not a big deal, but still a great addition.  It’s really a good guide.  This book is 64 pages and small enough to carry in a pack.

Audubon Eastern ForestsThis isn’t so much a field guide on edible plants as it is a general guide to different types of forests in the Eastern US of A, like Boreal, Transition, Deciduous, Oak-Hickory, etc.  It’s by the Audubon Society so it’s well written and the many, many color pictures are great.  For example, in the tree section there are color pictures of the trees and also drawings of the entire tree outline and the critter section has color pictures and maps to show where the critters reside to help ID them.  It’s 635 pages long and kind of big to carry backpacking for a distance.  Great for a day pack though because you can really have fun with it because all of the bases are covered: trees, birds, mammals, snakes, insects and spiders, mushrooms, wildflowers, butterflies and moths and amphibians.

New EnglandField Guide to New  England is another Audubon book.   This is a more specialized field guide as it is only for New England.  Although, I’m certain that many of the plants also grow near you too.  You can really learn alot about your natural surroundings from this book.  This book at 447 pages is small enough to pack with you.  Not a whole lot of info on edible stuff, but it’s a great all purpose field guide.  The pictures are great and there are multiple pictures on every page.  it’s broken up by: geology, habitats, conservation and ecology, weather (IDing clouds is pretty cool), the night sky (once again pretty cool), flora, invertebrates, vertebrates, park and preserves of the region.

The two coming up are probably the most useful to me.

Peterson EdiblePeterson field guides are good stuff.   In this one of Edible Wild Plants there is only a small section with color pictures, but there are a ton of very good black and white drawings.   If you don’t know what it is you’re looking at and you are trying to ID it the Peterson books make it easiest.  This one on edible plants is organized by: flowering plants, woody plants, miscellaneous plants, finding plants where and when they occur and food uses. The flower section is broken up by flower color and the woody plant section by type of leaf.  It also obviously tells you what parts of each plant is edible and how to prepare it.  If you need to forage this is definitely one book that you want to have. Each description also has symbols which makes it easy to tell a plant’s uses at a glance.  It’s 300 pages and small enough to pack.

Peterson MedicinalThe Peterson Field Guide of Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs has multiple color pictures on every page.  This Medicinal Plant field guide is organized by flower color, shrubs, trees, vines, ferns and grasses.   The good pictures make it easy to ID the plants.   Like the previous Peterson guide this one also uses symbols next to the descriptions to make it easy to see the uses.  The best part of this guide is the index to medical topics at the back of the book.  So if you have an ailment you can look it up and find a plant that may ease your symptoms.  The index by medical topic lists things like: abrasion, analgesic, anemia, anticancer, bites, dog, bleeding, blood purifier, carbuncles, cirrhosis, colds and you get the idea.  This book is another MUST HAVE.  It is 411 pages long and small enough to pack.

Get Outside Everyday and put your books into use.  I think the following two pictures are two types of wintergreen.  If you know for sure please let me know.

This I’m pretty sure is Wintergreen.  The next time I see it I’ll have to smell it.  It may be Pipsissiwa too.

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I looked this one up and I came up with Chickweed Wintergreen, but I’m not convinced.  It looked like Star of Bethlehem, but I know that’s not right.

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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.

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.

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!

Patches

November 18, 2008

thanks-to-robert-ariail

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

patching-jeans

patching-jeans

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

cutoff jeans

cutoff jeans thanks to Google Images

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

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

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

pics-

wild aster

wild aster

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

rabbit poo

rabbit poo

Getting out some more…

November 3, 2008

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

Juniper berries

Juniper berries

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

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

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

Deer tracks

Deer tracks

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

more deer

more deer

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

Deer grande

Deer grande

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

Blackberry canes in winter

Blackberry canes in winter

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

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

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