Archive for the ‘Practice’ Category

Get out at night

March 3, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s a nice picture of raindrops.

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

Getting out

March 16, 2009

Don’t think that you can buy a bunch of new equipment and let it sit around in your basement unopened until you need it.  You might think that you are all set because you have purchased sleeping bags, a camping stove, a tent, maybe some sleeping pads and a lantern or propane heater.


You need to learn how to use your equipment.  Firing it up once to see that it works is the bare minimum.  You need to get out and use it.  Setting up a tent that you haven’t set up before can be a difficult thing.  And it seems like the tent always needs to be set up after dark or at dusk while in a hurry.   Stoves and lanterns are all different and you have to learn how to use them, how to fill them and how to start them up.

If something doesn’t work right, or is broken, you don’t want to learn about the failure when you are depending upon that piece of gear to work right.  You need to get everything out once in a while and make sure it works right.  Do any maintenance that the equipment may need.

If you camp you are already ahead of the game.  If you haven’t camped in five or ten years or even longer then you better make sure everything still works.  Check to ensure that the tent isn’t dead due to mold or moths.  Did you leave Coleman fuel in your stove or lantern a decade ago?  Well you better empty it out, fill it with some fresh fuel and make sure you can still get it started.  You don’t want to wait till your lights go out before you find out whether or not works.

If you’ve never camped then that gear in your closet is useless until you try it out and can be 100% certain that you can use any of it in the dark.  Yup, you need to be able to set up your tent, get your stove and lanterns going in the dark.  You need to be able to set up or break camp in the dark.

In addition to learning how to use your gear and making sure that your stuff still works the other advantage of using your gear is that it should get you out into the field.  While you are in your home or car you control everything.  Out in the woods there is no such thing as control.  You have to learn to take what is given to you and make do. Enjoying your equipment in the field is different than using it in your backyard.  Each is good, but you’ll get more out of using your gear afield.

“Those who get the most out of a given situation are those who make the most out of the situation that they are given.”

So getting out and about will toughen you up a bit.  Spend enough time outside and it won’t matter what the weather is.  The weather won’t bother you ever again.  Rain, snow, sleet, wind, heat, humidity, none of it will bother you.  You’ll learn how to dress for different weather.

So what to do?  Plan a walk about on a nice day.p1010005

Today was a nice sunny day.  It was kind of windy, but it was around 45 and this time of year 45 is warm as May.  In the fall 45 feels cold.  We took a nice walk in the woods with friends of ours.  I got to go someplace new.

The first trail went along the base of a small hill and on the other side was a slow shallow river.  We walked in maybe a mile or two to an old stone lock.  Believe it or not up until the 1840’s crops and other commercial goods used to be moved up and down this river.


So the whole point was to get outside, get some exercise and make a nice little lunch.  Over there is the lock that they used to raise and lower the water level.

We brought a stove with us and made up some grilled sandwiches, a spicy Italian sausage and a duck breast.  It was a win win day.  Got outside on a great, sunny day.  Got some exercise.  Got to cook some stuff outside and develop skills in the process.  After a while cooking outside is the same as cooking at home.  I can’t think of anything that I’d make at home that I wouldn’t try to cook outside.


Here is Cookie doing what he does best, cooking.  That’s why he is called Cookie.  Any of you old enough to remember watching the old westerns?  Remember Cookie was the cook on the chuckwagon?  Anyways, that’s Cookie leaning over the stove.  He is a great guy to bring on camping trips.  In fact he usually plans all the meals.  Imagine planning 3 meals a day for 15 guys along with snacks, drinks and so forth.  He does it all then tells us that’ll be $20 each.   Not only that but Cookie cooks everything too.  You’ll wake up in the morning and there is a pot of coffee already going and 30 egg sandwiches made and waiting for the eating.  The strange thing is that a lot of times Cookie is also one of the last to go to bed.


Here is a picture of a duck breast on the left and a hot Ital sausage on the right.  Nothing like the smell of food being cooked outside.  The fresh air makes everything taste better.  All that duck fat had Cookie and me wishing that we had a potato to throw in there.

So you need to Get Out Everyday, try out your gear, get some exercise and make some tasty grub.


March 4, 2009

A bunch of years ago I studied this martial art called Kali.  It was strange stuff so I figured I’d write an entry about it.  Martial arts are good ways to stay in shape and learn useful skills.  Some of the more traditional martial arts even have healing systems included in them.  Big problem with all of them is if you have to pay someone to teach you.   Anyways, this Kali system is from the Philipines.  I only took it fora year or so and if you ever studied any of the martial arts you know you could do it for two lifetimes and still be a beginner.

Kali is basically stick fighting.  There are also empty hands and edge weapons training included.  You work with a partner and you do flowing drills where you try to flow seamlessly from one move into the next.  Having only done it for a year I was always one step out of time like trying to do the electric slide at a wedding.  There are single stick and double stick drills.  Each stick is made from rattan and is about two feet long.  The butt of the stick can be used to grab limbs and the tip of the stick when swung can carry good force.  One drill you may stand across from your partner who also has two sticks.  Your partner swings at you and you block the swing with you own stick and maybe strike with the stick in your other hand.  Then they block and strike.  There is a lot of footwork in Kali.  There are no single moves.  Everything is a strike, block, trap, strike.  Then you can put the sticks down and do basically the same thing with empty hands.  Because of the flowing from one move into the next it translates into a good system for self-defense.  After a while it’s almost like a dance.  The sticks click clacking against each other also have a rhythm.   So the different drills become more natural.  Ever wonder why we sing our ABCs, because it’s natural.  I also find that when I’m doing something natural instead of mechanical it’s much easier to put weight and momentum into strikes.  I still keep my sticks in the trunk of my car.  Once in a while when I’m walking away from the public’s prying eyes I’ll practice as I’m walking or work out on a tree for a bit.

Hey all martial arts are good.  We can debate about this or that, but they all have strengths and weaknesses.   Although I studied Okinawan karate with an amazing teacher, I’m not a big fan of the real traditional arts.  If you want to learn how to fight in a phone booth and make the most of hip rotation Okinawan is the way to go.  The traditional arts just seem to move too slowly for me.  Like every other aspect of my life I focus on what works and discard the rest.  If you do Brazilian Ju Jitsu don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s the end all and be all.  Ditto for MMA.  They all have rules and if you practice fighting by rules then you’ll fight for real the same way.  You have to be careful when training because muscle has memory too.  If you train to never strike to the eyes, throat or balls, if you train to not bite a chunk out of your opponent, not fishhook or not pull hair, strike to the back of the head or spine or stomp a hand then when the fighting is for real you won’t be prepared to fishhook, bite, pull hair, grab nuts and twist or strike to the eyes, nose or throat.  Do you practice finger locks and breaks?  The way you practice is the way you’ll react.

You can’t really explain Kali though so I figured I’d just post a video from YouTube.  If you watch the video try and follow the footwork, the hip rotation to get strength into strikes and the flowing from one move to the next.

Did you check out the video? Pretty cool looking stuff, huh?  I also studied Systema which is a Russian marital art taught to the Russian special forces.  This stuff was really weird.  They could use the harmonic distortion of your body to actually rub you down to the ground.  You know harmonic distortion and how vibrations get larger and larger?  Well you throw a punch and these guys that study Systema take that motion and somehow multiply it and actually rub you right down to the ground.  It’s crazy stuff.    I really enjoyed studying Kali.  It was fun.  Because you don’t fight alone, working with a partner for most drills is a good way to do things.  So get out there and practice.  Practice makes perfect.  Buy a video or two and find a partner to practice with.

Here’s a good one.  I was Getting Out Everyday and I come down this path and you see that nice old stonewall and that nice old juniper right in the center of the picture?  Well there was a herd of deer standing there staring at us.  I’d say there were probably 5-6.  I think someone spooked them and they were moving and we inadvertently headed them off at the pass.  In my experience cows are curious.  I think deer are the same way.  The deer seemed to all be looking us over.   So I’m getting my camera out and of course Green Eyed Dog can’t control himself and splits.  He chases one deer one way and the other deer go the other way.


You can see Green Eyed Dog taking off to the left like a banshee after the deer.  If you click on the picture to expand it or look real close at the oak tree farthest to the left you can see the deer running for it’s life.  You can see it’s head and it’s hind leg.  It’s body is hidden behind the tree.  I took some other pictures, but my camera has a delay so I missed all the other deer.  The air was thick with the smell of the deer.  Have you ever been in the woods and smelled wildlife?  I’m telling you the air was thick with the scent of deer. Man, we have so many deer around here that they’re like pests.  Not a lot of people hunt here and WTSHTF I think that our game will be more plentiful in the suburbs than in the more rural areas where everything large and small will be killed, cleaned and cooked in a week.

survival fantasy

February 26, 2009

So as is the case, I Get Outside Everyday.  I was out walking the woods the other day and one of the places I go to regularly to Get Outside Everyday is a little mountain not too far from my house.  If you’ve been following my blog then you know that this place is more or less my temple/church/sacred place.  This isn’t meant to disparage your holy, special place, this is just my special space.  I have a special connection to it.  It may sound odd to you but the spirits that came before us still inhabit the place. Please don’t listen to others and kill, inhibit, depress, keep down or deny all of your animal instincts.  Learn to listen to your instincts, nurture them and allow them to grow and get stronger.  The difference between a new cop and an old cop is experience, instinct and knowing enough to listen to instinct.

Survival isn’t something that is kept in the closet till TSHTF.  If you are prepping and waiting for that one big event so you can run into your magic survivalist phone booth and emerge as Super Survival Dude with your BDUs, molle gear, battle vest, main battle rifle and 30 30 round magazines strapped to yourself well you’re missing out.

My brand of Suburban Survival is something that is thought about every second of everyday. Walking in parking garages, being out late at night, walking the woods, paying bills, food shopping, doing repairs around the house, getting the garden in, caring for animals/livestock, cooking, camping and so on.  Survival isn’t something that you wait to do or look forward to doing in the future.  Survival is everyday and every aspect of your life, or it should be.  It is for the creatures of the woods and the dog laying at your feet or the cat in your lap.  What does Forest Gump say, “survival is as survival does.”

Anyways, at the top of this mountain is a fire tower.  There is usually a hole cut into the fence so people can crawl through the hole and climb the tower to take in the view, but the government workers wired all the holes shut.  In order to gain entrance I had to crawl, shimmy under the fence.  Here’s the hole I wriggled through.  It’s less than two feet tall I’d guess.


You can see the mark that I made crawling under it.  No I don’t advocate trespassing, but the way I figure the companies and government that put up this tower and fenced it in are akin to the companies and governments that took over the land of the Native Americans.  Fencing me out won’t work.  This land is my land no matter what the Deed says on it.   Don’t fence me in. I will not be denied.  Which reminds me do you have wire cutters and bolt cutters as part of your preps? If push comes to shove the ability to get in or get out could save your life.

So it got me to thinking, how many of you are prepared to wriggle through a hole in a fence or crawl through the snow? Stop and think about that.  When is the last time you did it? My point is, that it’s fine to write/blog/talk about survival and guns and shooting zombies, but if you ain’t ready, willing or ABLE to hit the snowy ground and wriggle under a fence then you are delusional.  You will become a victim or fodder.   It’s fine to have fantasies though.  And if you are too fat to crawl over or under a barb wire fence then you got other issues that need to be addressed.  Remember what happened to Ned Beaty in Deliverance.  Don’t delude yourself into thinking about being Survivor Man if you get winded going up one flight of stairs. You ain’t gonna make it.  When’s the last time you carried 20 or 30 pounds on your back, walked a few miles or even got muddy?   Face reality and recognize that you’d be better off learning a valuable skill so that others want to keep you around.  Nursing, medicine, first aid, cooking, sewing, fixing, building, growing, crafting or smithie will all make you more valuable.  Survival and survivalism isn’t blogging or surfing the Internet.  It’s tough, hard dirty work.  Having cold feet for hours on end is physically and mentally draining.  When is the last time your feet have been cold for a whole entire day? Prepare yourself for that.  Just for kicks try not to use your cell phone, television, computer, car or electricity for one single stinking day and see how you like that.

That’s all I’m saying, survival isn’t about preparing for the balloon to go up.  It’s about taking care of yourself and being able to run a mile if you have to.  It’s about having some extra stuff in storage.  It’s about being able to garden, cook, hunt, fish or defend you or yours if need be.  It’s about growing your situational awareness and animal instincts and listening to both

So I wriggle under the hole in the fence and climb up the fire tower.  It was a really nice, but very windy day.  The steps were icy and the tower was a swaying.  And because it was near sunset I was blessed with a beautiful view.

a12Because this mountain is the highest point around all of the companies have put up antennas to allow us to use our electronics.  You can see that the summit now looks like an electronic porcupine.  It was a great day and a great sunset.

So Get Outside Everyday and get muddy, crawl through the leaves, smell the woods, learn to walk with pebbles in your boots, fall down and bounce up,  skip a meal once in a while, allow yourself to get thirsty, develop some callouses.  Prepare and you will be rewarded.  Although I’m a big fan of buying stuff, preparing is more than the sum of what you can purchase.  Toughen up.

Also, saw a story in the news about  a Break-in suspect held at gunpoint by neighbor.  I like stories like this.  Mind you if the conscientious armed citizen was not there the scumbag burglar would have gotten away with it.  Get armed, learn how to use the weapons and prepare yourself to use deadly force if necessary.

There are sheep, wolves and shepherds.  Choose your own fate or have someone hand fate to you.

And here’s a blog that covers armed citizens savings lives and saving property –


February 5, 2009

Mace is cheap, small, easily concealed and anyone can learn to use it quickly and efficiently.    Many states don’t require licensing of mace either.   Mace can disable someone long enough for you to make an escape.

m80153_maceEase of use: Mace is easy to use.  It’s easy to deploy, aim and spray.  You  can give it to someone take them out back show them how to point and squeeze and they will be proficient enough to use it on their own.  Please don’t forget to explain to them about being aware of wind direction, wind speed and possible drift.  Like anything else you gotta try it before you try to use it under stress.   If you carry mace and have never used it, you should try it out today or stop carrying it.

Escalation of force: A good reason everyone should carry mace is that you can use it as another step in your escalation of force continuum. If you ever need to defend yourself with deadly force you will be second guessed. Unless someone is threatening you with a firearm you may be better off using mace and making an escape.  If mace doesn’t stop them then you might be able to escalate to deadly force.    If you are able to say that you used escalating force it will help to buttress your case later when you end up in court.  And regardless of zombie talk and video game fantasies, if you shoot someone you will end up in court.   If you are not familiar with the concept of escalation of force or use of force continuum please click on the links.

A use of force continuum generally goes something like this:

  1. Escape, remove yourself from the risk.
  2. Verbal command to stop.
  3. Physical command to stop.  Maybe something like holding up your hand in the halt position and saying “back off” or “give me space.”
  4. Use of empty hand techniques.
  5. Use of chemical weapons.
  6. Use of batons, clubs, keys, pens and the like.
  7. Use of deadly force.

This one on the use of force continuum from Wikipedia and this from some government authority in Australia.  Granted it’s Australia, but the info on p. 6 and the chart on p. 7 are worth looking at if you carry concealed.  I like the first model the most.  Unlike cops I always expect to be in the defensive position.  Point being you can’t use any more force than is necessary and chemical weapons should fit somewhere into your defensive model.

Barter and gifts: BTW I think buying extra mace for trade or barter is a great thing.  Mace is also great for gift giving.  I would be a lot more willing to trade mace han I would ammo.  You barter ammo and you don’t know if it’s gonna come back and haunt you.   Trading mace you don’t have to worry so much. Mace can also be stored a long time.

Get extra mace. BTW I should mention that mace is just a brand name like Kleenex or Bandaids.  There are all sorts of brands out there.  Get what works for you and fits in with your economic


My Choice: I personally like the Spitfire brand for a few reasons.  It has a key chain clip so it is always with me.  When I’m driving in my car it’s hanging right there.  It has kind of a cool clip so that if you need to deploy it you can yank it right off the key ring.  To spray it is a two step motion so you don’t have to worry about it firing by accident in your pocket.  The spray comes out in a cone so it’s easy to aim from any direction in any direction.  They also sell compressed air refills so you can practice with it.  Lastly, you can get refills for it so you don’t have to buy the whole unit again.

First Aid: If you spray yourself flush the area with lots and lots of water.  Flush your eyes with plenty of water.  If it got on your clothes remove them.  Get someplace with fresh air and hopefully a breeze.  Don’t rub your eyes or scratch your skin.  That will only rub it in and make it worse.  I’ve also heard that baby shampoo works well.

Get outside into the woods.  Stop.  Listen.

i1Big bird in a big tree.  Red tail hawk?

i3Little bird in little tree.

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.

Get outside-

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


I’m lichen this picture.

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.


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.


This is one of the old lift shacks.


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.


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.


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.


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.”

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.


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!

My 9/11 call

December 30, 2008

By now everyone has heard the story of that murdering, dirty, mad animal that dressed as Santa and then went to his in-laws house to shoot a little girl in the face and  murdered nine people in cold blood.

In case your house is the underside of a rock, “The embittered divorcee who dressed up as Santa Claus and murdered nine in a Christmas Eve massacre killed his ex-wife, former in-laws and three of her siblings, depriving 15 children of at least one parent.”

So the news ghouls are now broadcasting the 9/11 calls that came in from the house as Santa used his homemade flame thrower. ‘my daughter was just shot in the face.’

I’d like to write how my 9/11 call would have gone-

“I just shot Santa in the head can you please send some elves to clean it up. HaHaHa!”

If you don’t carry a firearm and have the stomach, time and patience to do so you are not doing everything that your fellow citizens, city and country require of you.  Our civil rights are like our bodies, if you don’t exercise them they atrophy.

Concealed carry is a huge responsibility.  One needs to practice enough to become proficient.  You need to learn the law so you know when deadly force is or is not defensible. You need to prepare yourself psychologically and understand that drawing a weapon instantly makes you an enormous target.

I wish someone at that Christmas party was armed and ready.  Maybe it wouldn’t have turned out differently or maybe it would have, but at least someone may have given them a fighting chance or enough time to make an escape.

There are sheep, shepherds and wolves.  What do you choose to be?

I was out skiing and saw some deer tracks so I followed them. Why not, right?  Wouldn’t you?

deer hole

deer hole

There may be an official name for this.  If there is please let me know.  This is a hole that a deer slept in the night before.  If you look closely (click on the pic) you can see that the deer was aligned vertically in the hole.  Its butt was at 12 and head at 6.  If you look real closely you can make out where its ear may have laid in the snow.

And one more-

p1010093You can see where its legs were under it too, the little hoof prints.

Remington 870 barrels

December 23, 2008

I know that everyone loves to look at pictures of firearms so here’s a blog entry on changing a barrel for the venerable Remington 870.  Anyone can do it.  The 870 has been in production for a very long time.  It is a pump operated five shot 12 gauge shotgun.  The thing is as nearly trouble-free as a firearm can be.  There are all sorts of aftermarket accessories available for the 870 too from different barrels, chokes, magazine extensions, lights, lasers and different stocks.  It can be adapted for just about any use.  There is also a huge array of ammo available for it.

The 870 with a 26″ barrel.  I’d call this a sporting barrel.  You can screw different choke tubes onto it –

sg1Notice the relatively long length of the barrel.

First you need to make sure that the gun is safe.

sgSafety on.  Then work the slide and you can see that nothing is in the chute.  Although it looks like nothing is in the chamber I always stick my finger in there just to be sure that my eyes aren’t fooling me.  Check twice, save a life.  You have to do this every time you pick up a firearm, put a firearm down,  pass it to someone else or get handed one from someone else.  I don’t give a crap if you just watched the guy at the range that is handing you a weapon  make it safe himself.  You have to make it safe yourselfEvery time.  Every time you pick a weapon up or put it down make it safe.  Make it habit.

sg2Next, you work the fore-end slide back halfway, or more, towards the receiver.

sg3Then you unscrew the magazine cap.  You can see the cap attached to the shoulder strap.

p1010064Here I’m getting ready to slide the new barrel in.

p1010065Here the new barrel is being slid into the receiver and over the magazine tube.  You have to make sure that the ring on the barrel goes over the magazine.  It really slides right in.  If it doesn’t you’re doing something wrong and just start over again.

Screw the magazine cap back on and you are almost done.

p1010067Notice the shorter 18″ defense barrel.  This is a cylinder bore barrel with a bead sight.  It’s much better for defensive purposes than the longer sporting barrel.  It’s easier to swing around and get on target, particularly in the small confines of a house.  Being short (me) the shotgun feels better balanced with a shorter barrel.

Before you store the firearm, check again to make sure it is still unloaded and the safety is still on.  Trigger lock it and place it in your safe.

Getting out pics-

xc1Beautiful snow covered field on a beautiful day.

xc5Heaven.  This is the ceiling of my cathedral.  Beautiful old white pines.  They’re probably 100’+.

xcSki buddy.  SMACK that branch with yo’ pole.

The range

December 10, 2008

Got bullets?  Do you shoot?

Went to the range today.  Perfect day for me.  It was nice and rainy so there wasn’t anyone else there interfering with what I want to do.  When there are a bunch of people it’s a drag, so rainy cold days are great because it keeps the weaklings inside.

25 yard range

25 yard range

This is the berm for the 25 yard range.  I sighted in my red dot on the Saiga and then went through of box of 38s and also went kapow kapow with the 12 gauge.    I like using the 38.  It just feels right.  I’ll shoot at different angles and ranges.  Do you practice?  I’m no expert.  I don’t even pretend to know what I’m doing.  If I had the dough I’d love to take a class or two.  I’ve also been meaning to sign up for the IDPA stuff.

After getting warmed up and sighted in a bit I moved over to the 50 yard range.

50 yard range

50 yard range

This is the 5o yard range.  You see the little black thing?  That’s the target.  50 yards isn’t really far, but it’s still tough for me to shoot accurately.  I mean if my eyes can’t make out the target other than the red bullseye it’s tough to be more accurate than my eyes allow.  I hit the paper every time which is smaller than a torso so I figure I’m doing ok.    When I use the iron sights the target becomes the same size as the iron sights so forget about making out the different scoring circles on the target.

I ended up hitting the target stand.

target stand

target stand

This is the stand that I hit.  I wasn’t that far off.  There was a target in the upper corner where I was aiming.  I was an inch or two off.  The reason I show this is because, being new to centerfire rifles, I thought it interesting to see the damage that one can do.  The bullet went right through the 1/4″ (?) steel rod holding the target.  It just sheared it right off.  I also took one shot at a small (8″ diameter) pine tree.  It went right through, small entry hole and a rather large exit hole.  Shoulda taken a pic of that too.  Now I know that the bullet would go right through the sheetmetal of a vehicle without a problem.  It might even exit the other side, in one door and out the other.

With my stand now damaged I shot at a one gallon plastic milk jug.  That’s always fun, to see the jug dance around.  Movement is good.

If you haven’t tried shooting, it’s harder than it looks.  Forget about shooting the gun out of someone’s hand or shooting somone in the leg.  That’s TV and movie stuff.  And that’s before you even add in stress and adrenaline.



This is the evahl black rifle.  Boo!!  Are you scared?  It’s a Saiga 7.62 x 39.  It’s build on the AK platform and comes from the Izhmash facotry in Russia. I’m guessing I’ve fired over 500 rounds through it, but less than 1,000.  It has never failed me.  I have never had a miss feed.    That’s a cheap red dot on top of it, not that cheap really.  It has kind of a crazy side mount for the scope.  I wish I got a red dot with the various reticles.  Oh well, live and learn.

Anyways, as we’ve all heard practice makes perfect.  Do you practice?  Do you have more than 1/2 a box of shells at h0me?

Edit: Since my schpiel on retail some more news has popped:

“Seven metro Detroit La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries start liquidation sales on Friday, another casualty of Michigan’s rugged economy.”

“Office Depot will close 112 stores”

The range

October 28, 2008

Just got back from the range. Kind of a bummer. I like going first thing in the morning on rainy, cold, dark days. I generally don’t like people. Not that I’m a loner. I just don’t like to interact with a bunch of people I don’t know. That’s why rainy mornings are good at the range. If I go on a nice Saturday there are a ton of people. Everyone is nosing about everyone else’s business, which I don’t like . I like to mind my own business fire off a few rounds and be done with it. When I go if other people are there everyone is interested in what everyone else is shooting and how everyone else is doing. Sometimes they want to trade firearms so they can try mine and I can try theirs. Then if you need to reset your targets you need to wait until everyone on the line is done, make your guns safe, leave them on the table and then all go down to the targets like a herd of cows and reset them all at once then everyone comes back to the line like a herd of cows. God forbid your target blows over or something because then you gotta wait for everyone else to finish and be ready to go back down. In other words it’s more fun by yourself. I get to do what I want, how I want, when I want.

The other thing I don’t get is bench shooters. These guys can shoot a paintball hanging by string at 100 yards. They’ll take five minutes to fire off one .22 round. They always shoot sitting down and straight at the target. I don’t get it.

I like to shoot from different positions. I say to myself how often will I be shooting from a sitting position with a bench in front of me? Not very often. Because of that I shoot standing and kneeling positions. I like to move around too. Depending on whether I’m using a rifle or a handgun I’ll get up close to the target, maybe 5-7 feet for a handgun and 25 feet for a rifle. Bam, bam, bam. Then I’ll move back a bit. Bam, bam, bam. Then maybe I’ll move to different angles. Bam, bam, bam. Then I’ll move diagonally backwards. Bam, bam, bam. Then I’ll fire a round and step diagonally back to the left, fire a round and step diagonally back to the left. I’ll try to shoot while moving forwards.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to move around when you shoot. You need to be able to acquire a target, shoot and move out of the way, acquire a target, shoot and move, acquire a target, shoot and move. Move closer. Move farther back. Move straight. Move diagonally. IMHO, shooting practice should not be from a static position.

That’s another reason I don’t like going when others are there. It cuts down on my fun and it proves to them that I am nuts.

If you only shoot from one position you are making a mistake.

OBTW, the bummer is that there were like 20 cops at the range this morning. Cops are nosey by nature so it wasn’t a good trip to the range for me.