Archive for the ‘Preparations’ Category

What would you want to do without?

September 18, 2009

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

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

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

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

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

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

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

Do you know how lucky you are

August 29, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rule #2 – plan for their absence.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © even in the rain.

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

Bugs

July 31, 2009

Bugs can drive you nuts.  If you spend any amount of time out of doors than you know that bugs can drive you nuts.  I was out walking today.  It was 90 degrees and 100% humidity.  The bugs, skeeters, were so bad that I had to put on my rain jacket and hood.   Even if your plans don’t entail being outside for any period of time you need to prepare for it, because the one thing you can be certain of is that reality will differ from your plans.   You never know what may force you our of your home and into the great outdoors.   Anyone that has spent some time outside will tell you that the bugs are at their worst during dawn and dusk.  One time we were out afield and as the sun started to set the mosquitoes came out.  We had to stop set up our tent and nap and hideout for a few hours until dark.  By then the bug couldn’t fly and it was safe for us to come out of our Eurekas.   Slapping at bugs can be a draining experience too.  Bugs constantly at you, at you, at you can wear you down physically, and more importantly, psychologically.  Insects can spread disease.  They can give you infections.  You need to prepare to protect yourself against any insects in your neck of the woods.  Bees and such don’t bother me too much.  I’ve been stung more times than I can count.  At this point I kind of enjoy the pain.

Leeches and ticks are two more insects that one needs to be careful of.  You need to know enough to give yourself the once over and know how to remove them and treat the location of the bite.

Candles, lamps, Mosquito magnets, lights and bug zappers – I never thought that citronella worked.  It does smell kind of nice though.  it would be good to burn a citronella candle on a cold, snowy January day to remind me of the summer.  Not so good for chasing bugs away though.  The black bug lights don’t work either.  The mosquito magnets work well.   Mosquito magnets are like pools and boats though.  You’d rather have a neighbor with one than own one yourself.   Bug zappers attract bugs like moths that are attracted to light.  Bug zappers zap the wrong kind of bug.  Mosquitoes like carbon dioxide.  The drawback with all of these but the small citronella candles is that they’re too big to carry any distance.

Bug sprays and ointments – these work well, DEET is the best, but some folks are allergic to it.  You may try putting some of the stuff on your clothing, cap and shoes rather than skin.  There are some repellents made from natural ingredients.  I don’t think that these work as well as the DEET.

Ultrasonic – I don’t think these work either.  These are the ones about the size of a lighter and work off of battery power.  They generate some ultrasonic noise that is supposed to scare insects off.  I don’t think these work either.

Physical – bug nets, head nets, long sleeves and long pants – If you live in bug country you need to carry a bugnet in your bug out bag, get home bag or whatever bag it is for you.  These work great.  The drawback is if it’s hot out you’re wearing more clothing.

Sometimes when I’m out in the woods I’ll break off a small branch from a white pine and just use it like those Shite Iranians who practice self-flagellation.  It may not be the best method but swinging a little pine branch around my head sure does seem to work.

First aid supplies – just the basics here.  Some folks like to use tweezers for ticks.  Other use a blade of some type to force udner the tick.  Me, I just grab it by its body and yank.  You have to make sure that you removed the head of the tick too.  Otherwise you can end up with an abscess.  So you need the basics too like: antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, tweezers and alcohol.   People have told me that if you put vaseline on a tick that it will release its bite and back out.  It hasn’t worked for me.  Neither has the hot method though either.  Don’t forget instant cold/ice pads for bee stings.

Edit: I should have mentioned that diatomaceous earth is good for intestinal parasites.  It’s also good for water filtration and has some use in the garden too so you should make sure to get some and store it.

Don’t be afraid of the bugs.  You can’t swim without getting wet.  GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

q3This is a mulberry that’s just about ripe.  Kind of a bad year for berries of all types it has ocurred to me.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of knowing a mulberry tree you really are missing out on something.  I really like the taste of mulberries.  They do have a lot of teeny tiny seeds though like a cane berries.  The trees are pretty small and in a good year have so many berries that you can set a tarp up under the tree and shake the tree to make the mulberries fall into the tarp.   Eating the fruit is supposed to be good for a fever and a root tea can be made to combat weakness.  Notice the heart shhaped leaf.

And some blackberries.  This is really a beautiful time of year in New England.  I’m telling ya going for a ramble in the woods and seeing wild berries along the way, a nibble here and a nibble there.  It’s a beautiful thing, man.  You have to GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

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Protect your stuff

July 20, 2009

This is a $20 solution to saving you a whole lot of grief.  If there is only one thing you should accomplish in the next week this should be it.

First, scan your important documents like: birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, adoption papers, wills, power of attorneys, health care proxies, deeds, titles to cars, insurance policies, DD214’s, and at least the first page of the bank statement from each of your bank or investment accounts.

Next, empty everything out of your wallet – credit cards, debit card, driver’s license, VA card, gun license, professional license, health insurance cards – and scan them.

Then purchase a large jumpdrive.  I think that I got a 16MB one for about 20 bucks.  Back all of your documents and pictures from your PC or Apple to the jumpdrive.  Make sure you also copy over everything you scanned.

Finally, buy a waterproof match container from WalMart.  I paid 99 cents for this one.

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Stick the jumpdrive into the waterproof match container, seal it and find someplace safe to put it.  You may want to store it someplace different than your home, maybe at your office, locker, in your car or with your BOB.

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Be disciplined about it and do a backup of your data at least once or twice a year going forwards.  Protect your stuff.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

This is crown vetch growing in a nice summer field.  This is what I will dream about during the cold, dark days of our New England winter.

P1010001I think it may be called crown vetch because each little group of flowers looks like a purple crown.  Vetch is a legume, which means, like peas and beans, it puts nitrogen into the soil.  That’s right legumes convert nitrogen from the ear and leave it around their roots.   Legumes improve your soil.  Also, because most legumes have good roots they help to keep soild friable.  If you plant legumes in your garden at the end of the season don’t pull the plants up by their roots.  Cut them at soil level so that the part of the root where the nitrogen is fixed remains in the soil.  Livestock can also graze crown vetch.  I know those pretty purple flowers look tasty to me and I only have one stomach.  Ahhh, the smell of summer.

Pee and Poo

June 18, 2009

No one likes talking about them……….. except for seven year old boys and me.  We had termites.  The termites liked our bathroom so we had to rip everything out.  When is the last time you’ve been without a bathroom for more than a week?  Using buckets and bags sucks. Think you could get your wife or SO to squat outside for a week or more?

You best start thinking about how to make life easier for the females in your life should the SHTF and you are having a tough time getting rid of your own.  Because if you don’t make life easy for the females in your life, they won’t make life easy for you.  What are your preps for the brown and yellow stuff?

When we used to go canoeing on the Saco River in Maine it was beautiful and we were able to drink the untreated river water.  Not so much any longer.  Last time I went, all along the river banks were piles of toilet paper in various stages of decomposition.  Don’t be like that.  It’s dirty, nasty and puts others at risk of illness.  Dig your own hole for your own crap.  Dispose of your waste responsibly.

It got me to thinking that my preps in the liquid and solid waste disposal areas has something to be desired.  How about you, what is your plan and backup plan for bathroom needs? You need to take this seriously as it can develop into a major problem.  Crapping outside in the winter isn’t a plan.  Your butt needs to be cleaned a lot more frequently then your firearms.  Plan accordingly.  If you are spending more time in the gun department of Wal-Mart then the toilet paper department, IMHO, your priorities are reversed.

You need to be careful where you go to the bathroom.   Pee and Poo attracts flies and insects and animals and vermin.  Then you got disease and have to be careful where to plant your garden.p009518vr03

You can use a bucket with a toilet seat attached to the top or make a seat out of some scrap lumber.  This is probably the cheapest solution next to a plain bucket and bags.

Then you need to dispose of your stuff there are generally two ways water or burying.  We’re fortunate in the Northeast.  We have so much water around here that even if the town’s pumping station is down we can pour water into the toilet tank and flush.  Water also keeps the smell drowned out.

There are different ways to burp013058hz08y it too.  Some composting toilets use sawdust.  You go to the bathroom in a fancy bucket and then cover it with a cup of sawdust.  The sawdust is carbon for the nitrogen in your stinky stuff and when Poo and Pee are mixed with sawdust the three are supposed to compost quickly.   So the theory is that you keep layering everything into some sort of disgusting lasagna and then you empty the bucket into a compost heap.  Layering some regular garden lime in there too would be a good idea too.

You can also dig a latrine far away from where your pad is.  Stay downstream from your source of water.  You basically dig a hole, cover it with some sort of bench/seat and you are in business to do your business.  When it gets kinda full, you top it off with soil and dig a new hole and move the bench/seat to the new spot.

You can buy a camping toilet too.  They’re obviously more comfortable than buckets and bags,but you still need a solution for where to dump the holding tank.

Coleman

This Coleman unit seems pretty good and Coleman usually makes a decent product. Amazon The Coleman unit pictured above also has a fresh water tank for flushing.

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People seem to love this one available at Amazon.  It holds five gallons of waste and around three gallons of fresh water for flushing!!  You still need somewhere safe to dump the holding tank once it’s full.

TP, chemicals, lime, sawdust, TP, TP, TP, bags, bags, bleach, shovels, sawdust, soil, so don’t be caught with your pants down.  Don’t run out of toilet paper.  As long as you protect TP from rodents and wet it will last a long time.  You also can’t have too many plastic bags in different sizes and shapes.  And no matter what the Big Gee Government says it ain’t getting any cheaper.  Deflation my Ass!

And this guy earns an honorable mention with his Bumper Dumper.  It connects to the trailer hitch.

Bumper Dumper

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Anytime you can sit outside, take a crap and shoot a bird is fine in my book.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! Even if only to take a dump and shoot a turkey.

p1010011Some wild berries.  You can spot em by their thorns and strange colored branches.  They really stand out.  Make a mark in your memory where they are.  Then the race is on between you and the birds.  Try to come back for them when they are ripe, but wait too long and the wildlife will get them.  Mash some of them up with some red wine or Chambord and put it on pound cake.  Maybe add some fresh mint.  Make a cordial by soaking berries and vodka for a while.

P1010015This is a typical New England trail.  Narrow and overgrown.  You can see how thick the woods are around here.  No shortage of water.  You could probably dig a well ten feet deep and hit water.  You obviously aren’t taking any 200 or 300 yard shots at some mule deer or mountain goat.  When the woods are fresh this time of year you can feel all of the plants breathing.  The air is as clean as it is after a thunderstorm.  Come the fall all the leaves will be brown and down and the woods will be open, only separated by bare naked trees.

Jerusalem artichokes

May 2, 2009

Jerusalem artichokes are a great plant.   Each plant can grow 7 or 8 feet tall.  They have yellow flowers like a sunflower, but rather than having only one flower like most sunfowers, 450px-sunroot_top1a single Jerusalem Artichoke plant can have 10 flower buds on it.  It’s not the flowers that we are interested in though, although they are nice to look at.  It is the root, or tuber of the plant that we want.

I live in USDA zone 5-6.  Of course even on my own small slice of land I have microclimates.   Jerusalem artichoke grows great around here.

So this is one of my favorite times of the year, because all the plants are waking up from their winter slumber. The apple and peach trees are blooming.  We’ve had a run of unseasonably warm weather so everything is blooming very early.  It’s actually kind of dangerous because our true frost free day is between the middle and end of May, so if we get a frost after the fruit trees bloom then a lot of next fall’s fruit could be lost.

p10100011So I saw some Jerusalem artichokes coming up on a patch of land out front.  You  can see what they look like.  Kind of pointy, lance like leaves covered in hair.  If I remember right, the stems are also kind of hairy.  Over the course of the summer these little green plants will grow 7 or 8 feet tall.

Jerusalem artichokes don’t make a bunch of seeds like sunflowers.  Jerusalem artichokes spread underground through rhizomes.    The rhizome is what we eat.    Jerusalem artichokes can become quite invasive if they like their environment and are left to spread.

I had maybe a ten square foot area out front that p1010005had these little puppies coming up from last season.  Yup, they can stay in the ground right through cold New England winters.  Dig em up when you want to harvest them, as long as the ground ain’t frozen.  So I wanted to dig some up to replant in different areas and also have with dinner.  Go ahead and click Gon the picture to expand it.

You can see that from a small plot, that I don’t do anything to, you can get a fair harvest.   Each of the roots looks kind of like knobby gingerJerusalem artichokes like poor, sandy, dry soil and full sun.

p1010009Here I cut one in half so you could see the nice white inside.  See they look like knobby ginger.  You can use Jerusalem artichokes just like you would use potatoes.  The thing is Jerusalem artichokes don’t contain starch like potatoes.  They have inulin (whatever that is).  But it’s good for diabetics because the inulin isn’t converted into sugar like starch is.

I peel them first, then I slice them and use them like water chestnuts or steam them with salt and butter.  They taste pretty good, kind of like a potato, but sweeter.

I wanted to dig them up to replant some of them in a couple other spots on my property.  I’ve heard that the Indians, errr Native Americans, used to plant them all over the place so as they traveled from hunting ground to hunting ground there would be Jerusalem artichokes already there growing for them and supplying a ready food source.  So I decided to plant them around some of the places that I walk.  So I’ve doing some guerrilla planting.  I’ve been planting them along the edges of fields, powerlines and anyplace else that looks dry, sandy and sunny.   This summer and summers going forwards they will continue to spread.  I’ll remember where they are and I can dig them up whenever I please.  Kind of like the original prepper Johnny AppleseedDo you got that!?!?! If you are able to start planting food crops in your neighborhood in the woods, roadsides, parks, ponds and lakes. Just like diversification is good with your financial portfolio, you should also diversify your garden.  Spread it out.  You do have to be careful though not to plant any food where the real owner may spray chemmies on your food.  You can find Jerusalem artichoke tubers for sale on the Internet. Buy a few now and you will have them forever.

Get outside everyday!!

And while I was ambling and rambling I saw some of blueberry bushes blooming.  If we don’t get some cold weather it’s going to be an early season for everything.

p1010010Years ago I used to pick wild mountain blueberries and make homemade wine.  It was actually pretty good.  Just goes to show put enough sugar in anything and it will be palatable.  You do have a lot of sugar squirrelled away don’t ya? I still have a bunch of waterseals laying around.

Backpacking

April 27, 2009

Went backpacking this past weekend.  We headed to Mount Greylock State Park.  At just about 3,500 feet Mt. Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts and it’s part of the Appalachian Trail.  So we donned our 45 pound packs and hit the woods.  Unlike car camping when you can bring anything and everything that you may ever want to use, backpacking is way different because when you backpack you carry everything with you – food, tent, stove, sleeping bags, water.

The weather was especially nice for this time of year, but because it was well into the 80’s we had to drink copious amounts of water.  It was impossible to drink enough water.  The trees didn’t have any leaves on them yet so there was hardly any shade even in the woods.  We ended up hiking 12 miles the first day and just two miles the second day.  A twelve mile hike with 4,000 foot change in elevation is pretty tough.

Backpacking is a great way to figure out whether or not you are able to bug out big time if the need arose.  When you backpack you think about the weight of every single thing you carry. This is the trailhead where we headed up from.

p10100031That peak in the distance is the destination.

I see a lot of stuff on the Internet about folks thinking they’re going to bug out with their molle bdus and what nots.  I see some folks write about carrying a full battle load of ammo, something like 12 or 15 30 round mags.  Hahahahahahaha!!!!! You gonna carry your eight pound AR15 too?  Hahahahahaha!!!!!  HAVE YOU EVER TRIED IT!?!?!?!  Ammo is freaking heavy.  Guns are heavy.  Magazines are heavy.  I had a S&W model 60 and 20 rounds of 357 and that was heavy.  When you are lugging stuff on your back every ounce makes a difference.

You may be carrying 15 full 30 round mags, but then you won’t be carrying enough food, water or gear.  It’s gonna be one or the other.  You will have to make decisions about what can fit and what you can carry and what will need to be left behind.  Me?  I’d rather have a change of clothes, some raingear, a tent/tarp, stove, food, maybe even a saw or camp axe then my binky gun.  I think I’d use my camping gear a lot more then my binky gun.

This is the lean to we stayed at.

p1010006We set the tent up on 1/2 of the lean to.  My other buddy slept outside in his bivy sack under the stars.  It was a great spot.  The elevation of the lean to was about 2,200 feet.  The view from the lean to.

p1010007There was a roaring stream, Pecks Brook, about 50 feet from the lean to, so we had the pleasure of listening to rushing water the whole time we were there.  In the lower left hand corner of the picture is snow, more to follow about that later.

Although we could have probably drank the water right out of the streams because there was plenty of melting snow and ice, we filtered it just to be safe.

p10100091It was an MSR Sweetwater filter.  I haven’t used this brand/model before, but it was easy to set up, easy to pump and easy to store.  The water also tasted great.

This was a very difficult hike.  Mt. Greylock is a steep mountain.  Not only is it steep, but the top 1/3 of it was still covered in snow and ice and due to the big ice storm from the beginning of the winter the trails were covered in brush and the tops of trees that snapped off under the weight of ice.

Right near the summit was a cool stone.

p10100132So because there was still so much snow and ice on the trails it was real slippery.  I was with two friends and each of us fell at least once.  I bashed my arm pretty well.  One buddy fell and slid maybe five or eight feet and bashed his side pretty good.  I’m still applying triple antibiotic to my rock rash.

p10100161At the top is a war memorial to veterans.  This picture is a view from the top of the stone memorial.  That road you see there is for people to drive to the top.   The DCR ranger that we spoke with said they were getting money from FEMA to clean up after the huge ice storm.

There was also a little pond near the top with hundreds of frogs in it, doing their reproductive thing.  The music they made was beautiful.

p10100171Do you see all of the froggies floating?  The ripples at the top of the picture is from two frogs dancing.  After we got to the summit we decided to hike the ridgeline, so we went across the ridge over three other smaller peaks and then down into the canyon and back to our campsite.

A view on the way down looking at the top.

p1010019To the right of the radio tower you can make out the veterans memorial.

p10100202I like these little paths that folks make.  You can see a little snow still in the woods.

I’m telling you the hiking was extremely treacherous.  The mountain is steep anyways which makes it tough, but near the top that old snow and ice made it almost impossible to get any traction.  It would have been very easy to break an arm or leg or crack your skull.  Then like I wrote above, because of the ice storm the trails were covered in brush and debris.   To go 10 feet forwards on the trail we would have to go off trail bushwhack and then try to hook up with the trail up ahead.  It would have been very easy to get lost.  It took much longer than we expected and we had to walk further and harder than we expected due to all the trails being obstructed every five feet.

What happens is you are walking on the trail and it’s blocked off with the tops of some trees that snapped under the load of ice so you try to parallel the trail.  The problem is you think you go back on trail, but you are actually following a dry stream bed or animal trail, before you know it you are far off the trail and good luck to ya.

p1010029This is one of the waterfalls right by our campsite.  We got to listen to this the whole time and we didn’t have to go too far to get fresh, cold water!!  Added bonus one of my buddies brought a few oil cans of Heineken.  He tossed the beer in the stream earlier and when we got back it was like 45 degree.  That was one of the best beers that I’ve ever had.

And a pretty stream near the bottom.

p1010032So what lessons can be applied to survival situations:

  • Carry water, carry lots of water, carry different ways to purify/filter water, carry containers that can be filled with water.
  • Bring a compass and map and GPS.  Stop frequently to mark your route so you always know where you are.  It is very easy to get lost in the woods even on trails.  The trail you think you are following may not be a trail at all.
  • Use walking sticks hiking or ski poles.  Using these things helps you keep your footing and takes a lot of stress off of your knees.
  • If carrying long arms and gobs of ammo is part of your plan when you GOOD then you better try it out first.  Go ahead, load yourself up and start walking.  When you carry your load upon your hips and shoulders every ounce makes a difference.  Leave the 200 rounds of ammo behind and only bring what you need.  I’d rather carry a filter, cookware and a mess kit,  a fixed blade, a camp axe or saw, a stove, a sleeping bag, tent and first aid kit than a bunch of bullets.  Ammo weighs a lot!!
  • Have a few different ways to start fire.
  • Carry more food and water than you think you need.
  • The terrain and obstacles can change drastically.  It was 85 degrees and perfectly sunny outside and we were battling snow and ice underfoot.  Be prepared for the unexpected.
  • If you go with others, it’s a bad idea to let any one person carry all of any single thing i.e. every one in the group should carry some water, some food, some way to start a fire and so on.  Things get lost and people get separated from each other.    If someone carrying all the food was to fall into a stream their pack would be dumped like a lead weight so they could swim to shore.  Say bye bye to your food in that case.  Split everything up.
  • Just because it’s a warm day doesn’t mean that you won’t hit snow and ice at higher elevations.  Prepare for it.
  • You could look at a map of the terrain, but still not know what to expect.  You could have walked your path of escape 100 times and still be surprised by damage that last year’s ice storm cause.  Point being it took us three times as long as we expected it do because of all the branches and trees obstructing the trail.  Nature isn’t static.  It’s forever changing.  You have to expect everything to take longer than it should.  If you expect it to take you 1/2 a day to hike home or to your bug out location, plan on it taking a whole day or two and pack enough food/water/clothes to be out on the road for a day or two, not the 1/2 day expected under perfect circumstances.
  • Forgot about this one – if you have bad knees or elbows you should wear a brace of some sort.  I like an elastic one on my right knee.  It helps a lot.  You may also want to think about leaving a brace, if you use one, in your BOB, backpack or GOOD kit.

So more than eight good hours on the dusty and we’re back at camp eating, telling stories and watching the fire.  Happy trails to you – may you not have stones in your shoes, know thirst or the buzzing of flies.

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First aid kit

April 1, 2009

I think that I have a pretty good first aid kit.  I bought a basic one for maybe $15 or $20.  Then  I added more equipment to it over time.  It’s more than just a first aid kit.  I actually put it together to address many different types of emergencies.  My first aid kit is 8″ * 6″ *3″.  It weighs about a pound.

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On one side – First aid guide, large gauze pad, medium butterfly, large butterfly, small, medium and large bandaids, fabric bandage for fingers, extra large and extra, extra large bandaids.

p10100072The other side-

  • Abdominal pad, more gauze, tegederm dressings, a pack of iodine swabsticks (for before you cut someone.) Assortment of sutures – vicryl 3-0, mono 3-0, ethilon 4-0 and monocryl 3-0

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  • packs of Advil, tube of Neosporin (I like the Neosporin because it’s a triple anti-biotic so more effective than a solo), the other small tube is Lidocaine 4%, some small packs of Bacitracin, in the green plastic rectangle are Orajel toothache swabs, the blue caplets are diphenhydramine HCL (benadryl – drowsy inducing anti-histamine) you can use the blue ones as a sleep aid too, the red tablets are pseudoephedrine HCL (non drowsy anti-histamine) and Tavist-D  which, in my opinion, is a very strong (drowsy inducing) anti-histamine.

p1010009

  • On the left are Nexcare disposable thermometers.  I highly recommend buying some of these if you ever find them, the purple thing is a travel toothbrush, a pair of scissors, a small pair of forceps, superglue, the small purple jar is a dental filling repair, the small blue one is for tooth caps or crowns, a small sliding razor, nail clippers, a sewing kit, dental floss and first aid tape

p10100102In the center pocket-

  • anti-septic wipes, castille soap towelettes, sting wipes (benzocaine), alcohol pads, some qtips in a baggie, a 1/2 dozen or so rubber bands, acetaminophen, neomycin, tongue depressor, moleskin, cotton applicator, burn gel, sppol of thread and needlep1010011
  • cold compress, two tubes of petroleum jelly, sterile scalpel blade, rubber gloves, bic lighter, oral analgesic (20% benzocaine), lousy pair of tweezers, safety pins, dental floss, roll of gauze, disposable razor, alcohol spray, tube of toothpastep1010012

One pill bottle contains Amox-Clav which is a good strong anti-biotic.  You can die of an infection in a day or two so it’s important to have some sort of anti-biotic

The other pill bottle has buffered aspirin (good for stroke and heart attack) as well as pain, fever and swelling, chlor trimetron anti-histamine and Immodium for diarrhea

Getting out pics.  True I was driving when I took these, but still they were too good to pass up.  You may have to click on the pic to expand it.

deer1The deer have a nicer house then me.  Can you count five does there? They must be eating landscaping.

deer2

And the peepers are out. Spring has arrived.230px-h_crucifer_usgsThere is nothing like being in the woods at night and hearing thousands of these guys calling out.  It’s truly a caucophony.

Non-perishables

March 29, 2009

I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to run out of anything.  What is survival, but being prepared for the unexpected.  The feeling of being able to get a new razor, soap or bottle of hydrogen peroxide out of storage in priceless.  I love being able to go into the pantry or closet and grabbing what I need.

I’ve always been a bit of a squirrel storing nuts for the winter, but over the past 18 months or so as I’ve seen what the future is that is facing us, I’ve geared it up a bit.

You will be amazed at what you can gather by dedicating $5 or $10 a week towards preps.  You’ll really start paying attention to prices and if you buy things on sale you can have six months of toilet paper and a years worth of razors in no time.

A week or so ago I did an entry on food to store.  So I figured that I’d put together a list of some non-perishable items that you may want to have stored up.

As you start making purchases I’d start with things that are most important then move to the less important and finally when you have a good amount of stuff stored start to think about buying things to barter.  I consider anything that is imported as being good to barter with.  I fear the day may come when it may become near impossible to get imported goods.  That’s one thing that I try to prepare for.

I think a good way to figure out what you need is to look around each of the rooms in your house and figure out what you go through in six months or a year.  Make lists.  Everything I list below is non-perishable so you really can’t have too much of the stuff.  With the way paper assets have been performing over the past ten years and the rate of price inflation I think you’d get a better return on your money buying non-perishables than putting it into the stock market.  Besides I know a roll of TP bought today will still be a whole roll one year from now.

So without further aye-dee-eye-eee-you (adieu)-

  • Toilet paper – TP gets its own bullet point.  You do not ever want to run out of this stuff.  You know how much it sucks using leaves or a newspaper when you’re in the brush.  Imagine if hot water ever becomes a luxury.
  • Plastic bags – you cannot have too many of these.  I’d get heavy contractor grade bags and food storage bags, ziploc bags, sandwich, quart and gallon size and kitchen trash barrel size.
  • Paper towels and napkins
  • Paper plates, plastic cutlery, plastic cups – if your water is limited then using disposable stuff to eat with can save you gallons of water.
  • Food wraps like foil and plastic wrap.  When you buy foil get the biggest roll you can because you pay less per square foot that way.  If you want to get the smaller 75 sq. foot rolls in case of barter than once you’re all set in other areas go right ahead so you can give a few of the smaller rolls to friends and neighbors.
  • Wine and booze.   The big 5 liter boxes of wine are good to store.  Because they’re boxes they stack n’ store easily.  Store both red and white.  Great to cook with too.  I also have stored some Jamesons, rum, tequila and of course vodka.  Booze doesn’t go bad so I also have some 1/2 pints of various booze to trade with.
  • Batteries – lots and lots of batteries.  Don’t forget to store the 9 volt batteries too.  The 9 volts go into smoke and CO detectors and if the lights ever go out we’ll all be using candles, lanterns, wood stoves and fireplaces.  You definitely want to be able to keep your smoke and CO detectors going.  The lithium batteries store a long time, up to ten year I think.  Other than that you need to be careful not to buy so many that they’ll go bad before you get the chance to use them.  I really like the new rechargeable batteries.  Get lots of these.  Also a good idea to get some solar powered battery chargers.
  • extra bulbs
  • canning jars, rings and lids

Then you got stuff in the bathroom –

  • I store lots of disposable razors.  You know I’ve tried the generic brands, but they don’t seem to work as well as the Gillette brand.  I’m not big on brand names either.  The generics seem to stick to my face and the Gillettes slide smoothly.
  • shaving cream
  • toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash – if dental care becomes hard to find or you lose you dental insurance oral hygiene will be key.  Hell, seeing dentist sucks so take good care of your mouth.
  • First aid supplies – peroxide, alcohol, qtips, band aids, ointments and salves, chapstick, lots of gauze pads, tape, hot and cold packs
  • feminine hygiene products listen guys your ladies may not be on board with you prepping so you may have to man up and buy extra stuff for them.  Just look what is under the bathroom sink and go buy a pack of 72 or 100 and store them somewhere.
  • Nail clippers – a nail clipped now can save a ton of agony and infection later.  Store a few extras.
  • baby oil, baby powder and epsom salts
  • petroleum jelly

Cleaning

  • sponges
  • steel wool & sos pads
  • dish soap
  • window cleaner
  • simple green, pine sol or whatever you use

Clothing -get extras for everyone in your household

  • Get a few extra pairs of jeans, get the wearguard or carhatts and store them somewhere.
  • Ditto for an extra pair of sneakers and boots.
  • I like big rubber boots that come up to my knees.  They’re great for walking right across shallow rivers  or through mud and crap.
  • can’t forget socks, underwear and tshirts

Miscellaneous stuff to store, trade or barter

  • shoelaces
  • sewing needles, thread, buttons, velcro, snaps
  • safety pins

Fire starter stuff –

  • strike anywhere matches, lighters, butane fuel, zippo fuel, extra flints
  • fire starters
  • fire steels

Lighting-

  • lanterns and mantles
  • oil lamps, wicks &  oil
  • candles, candles, candles

Hardware

  • have a toilet repair kit and an extra wax ring or two – this just makes sense for the everyday living too
  • motor oil, brake fluid, tranny fluid, coolant
  • extra bulbs for the car too
  • duct tape, electric tape, teflon tape
  • nails and drywall screws
  • epoxies and glues
  • wire, ropes and strings

Some people like to store tobacco.  I don’t smoke any longer and the leaf goes bad over time so I don’t store it.  Might be worth storing rolling papers though.

This is a cattail that is dried out and exploded.  You can see what fine fire starter it is.  You can also make a pillow out of it or use ir for insulation.  p1010003All parts of the cattail are edible so it is one of our best wild edibles.  The young roots, the young stalks, the young flowers (before they mature like the one pictured above) and even the pollen are all edible.  Because cattails are so widespread, easy to identify and a great source of food even in the winter you should familiarize youself with them.

Are you pissed yet?

March 23, 2009

As many as 50 people a week arrive at the tent city and the authorities estimate it is now home to more than 1,200 people.

tentcityI generally don’t like using profanity because it doesn’t lend much to one’s argument, but WTF is wrong with our country?  I mean really what is wrong with US when we can print up Billions and Billions and Billions and yet we have people living out of tents like a third world nana republic. PD*27349658

It’s mind boggling to me.  Don’t bother with your high and mightiness holier than thou either.  If you don’t realize that it can happen to anyone at the drop of just about anything, you soon will.

Cut the size of the freaking military by 80%, let’s move out from 120 of the 132 countries that the US has military bases in and let’s allocate some funds to getting this country up and working again.    I believe in the goodness of humankind.  I believe that most folks want to work.   My issue is that I believe if the military is too large that we will be more likely to use it.

To demonstrate how the system is rigged against the lunchbox and 401k crowd, I was watching CNBC on March 19, 2009, Rick Santelli was remarking about the Fed’s announcement that it would buy US Treasuries.  Santelli said that about an hour before the Fed’s strategy was made public that folks started buying boatloads of options.  Do you get that – stop – about an hour before the Fed made the announcement some special folks who were in the know, who had advance notice of the Fed’s move, the Chosen Ones started buying options on the bonds.   Santelli also said he couldn’t figure out what he missed that made it apparent to some other folks that buying the options on the Treasuries made sense.  In other words some people were given a heads up and acted on it.

This is the link – go to about 6:50 in the video.

Look at the video.  It’s rigged man and we are all being ripped off.

Due to computerized trading it would be easier to track down the culprits than it would be to make a pie crust.  Think it will happen?  Not on your life!!  Why?  Because if you are tied in tight enough to get advance notice of what the Fed is going to do than the Government has no interet in tracking you down and holding you accountable.  If you are in the publicly traded markets make sure you look at it no differently than going to the casino or the track.

The markets are rigged and fixed.  If you aren’t in the know you are nothing more than a rube strolling the games at a traveling carnival show.

And as you toil away to bail out the banks the banks are sticking it to you mister.  Imagine that,  they need help from US to stay afloat and what do they continue to do, nickle and dime everyone of us to death.  They must have whole departments whose sole job is to come up with ever new and inventive fees.   The banks  come to you with their hands held out and then they have the balls to charge you late fees, over balance fees, statement fees and ever fees to pay by phone.  They are leeches.  Let them die on black top in the hot sun.

If you aren’t already mad enough as is, have you guys seen this, “At least 13 companies receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a lawmaker said Thursday.”  Don’t you know only the Little People the Lunchbox and 401k crowd has to pay taxes?

Met a guy in Walmart at the ammo cabinet.  We were both waiting for the clerk to come and unlock it so we could get our goodies.  As we’re standing around this absolute stranger to me says, ‘People are nervous.   Everyone is buying ammo.  They’re expecting riots.‘ This is where we are at today.  Plan for it.  In addition to brass I got toilet paper and plastic cups.

Get outside everyday and you will be blessed with discovering new things.  I was out walking and we saw this little guy hard at work.

p10100051Kinda cute, aya?  He had no fear of me or my dog, but we do come in peace…..for now.

p1010008This guy was industrious and had no time to spare for even a small howdy do.

Food and misc.

March 19, 2009

Looking at the pantry got me to thinking why not do a post on the food I have and why I choose what I did.  Some folks like to store buckets of wheat.  Me?  Not so much.   I don’t think that I’ve ever bought a bucket of wheat in my life and I hope that I never have to either.

My stores mostly are based on canned foods.  Granted by having a large portion of your food preps based on canned goods that you are giving up the ability to pack it and move fast if need be.  Face it canned food weighs a lot.   Do you have a bunch of GOOD can openers?   Did you see my excellent and the best entry ever ever ever on can openers?

My plan though is to stay in my house.  Only if my town became unsafe because of environmental or security reasons would I decide to bug out.  Other than that though my house holds all my stuff so I’d rather stay put if possible.   It would have to get really, really bad for me to blow off the jobs and hightail it out.  The other downside is that prepared canned foods have a ton of salt in them.

I’ve been buying extra food for about 18 months now.   You obviously want to eat your oldest stuff first and you need a system to ensure that that happens.  I have a Sharpie pen. You should buy one too.  Anytime I get back from the market I write the month and the year on the can, box, package or bag.   That way you can be sure to be on a FIFO system. You also need have the discipline so when you use something you write it down so you remember to replace it.

One of something is none of something.  Now you got two of somethings and you can start to talk.

Now just checking out my food let’s try to tell you what I generally have so you don’t forget anything.  I don’t mean to rag on the buckets of wheat folks, but buckets of wheat?  I don’t even like whole grain bread.

Breakdown of food stores:

  • I have some prepared foods like chili, soups, ravioli, beef stew, corned beef hash, chicken ala king, sloppy joe mix and those sort of things.
  • A good pile of canned tomatoes – the big 32 oz. cans and an assortment of smaller cans of sauce, paste, stewed, chunks, cans with chilies or basil.  Also, have spaghetti sauce in jars and you know what the spaghetti sauce that comes in cans is great.  It’s real tomatoie.  The canned spaghetti sauce is cheaper than the glass jarred sauce too.
  • Then you need veggies like green beans, french cut beans, carrots, spinach, asparagus and corn.  I like Chinese food so I also have cans of water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chow mein mix and bean sprouts.  If I can’t buy my number 5 with fried, eggroll and chicken fingers than I’ll make it myself.  Don’t forget jars of salsa.  I also like Goya salsa verde, salsa roja and Mexican salsa.  They come in little cans, but it’s good stuff.
  • Then there are the canned potatoes, both whole and sliced.
  • You gotta have your fruits so have a variety of fruits in cans and the little plastic tubs.  Stuff like mandarin oranges, pears, fruit cocktail, pineapple,peaches, tropical mix with mangoes (!), applesauce and a good assortment of canned fruit juice, coconut juice and coconut milk.
  • Get a shelf with proteins on it like canned roast beef, canned chicken, some small canned hams, tuna, also that real tasty Italian tuna in olive oil, Spam, potted ham and Vienna sausage.  Get some cryovacced sausage that can be stored at room temp.  Can’t forget about the anchovies, sardines, canned crab, oysters and smoked trout.  Seafood is high in fatty acids that are good for you.
  • You know you need a good pile of spaghetti, pasta, egg noodles, rice, Chinese and Japanese noodles.
  • Boxed stuff like ramen noodle and macaroni and cheese.  The ramen noodles are incredible.  They are so small and so cheap and I don’t think they ever go bad.  I like them.  They can be spiced up by adding spices, proteins or veggies to them.  Add a can of tuna to mac n’ cheese and all is good.  Also in here would be the hamburger helper, boxed scalloped and au gratin taters along with stove top stuffing.   Don’t forget about bags of soup mix.  These things are great too.  A package of soup mix, 8 cups of water, a can of this or that and you can feed 10 people if you had to.  Charity, helping and assistance are a good thing.
  • Canned beans of all sorts.  My favorites are small red beans and garbanzo beans.  Cans of baked beans are good too.  You can make a nice spread from mashing garbanzo beans.
  • Also have some dried beans.
  • Some snacks like crackers, granola bars, poptarts, bags of chips, pretzels, and cans of pretzels, chips and tater sticks.   Can’t forget to get chocolate pudding and chocolate bars.  Some old fashioned popcorn is a great snack too.  It pops fast in a little hot oil.
  • Then there are the drinks.  I like juice so I have canned juice concentrates.  I water them way down because corn syrup is death.  Also need tubs of Tang, ice tea, funky red stuff, lemonaide and whatever you may like.  Tea is great because it tastes good.  Plus you  can teas for specific ailments or if you can’t sleep or have a cold.  Don’t forget powdered milk if you like milk.  Coffee and teas and non-dairy creamer. Hot chocolate.
  • You need your spices: garlic and onion powders, lots of black pepper corns.  Don’t ever buy pepper that is already ground.  You don’t have to know why, just don’t do it. Get peppercorns and smash them yourself, with a hammer if you need to.  Walgreens sells already filled salt and pepper grinders for a buck a piece.  So you hhotsaucecatalog_2046_7327548ave chili powder, dried herbs like: oregano,  Italian, rosemary, basil, thyme, dill, crushed red pepper and so on.  Any special rubs you may like.  I like Jamaican jerk and Paul Prudhomme redfish magic.  If you like grated cheese on your pasta you better buy a bunch and store it.  The dry kind in a jar can last a long time.
  • You also need your sauces and condiments like bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, hot sauces, terriyaki.  I like things spicy so I have Tabasco, Franks, Buffalo, Siricha (that is Sriracha to the right.) It’s from Vietnam and it’s spicy and flavorful.  Don’t forget relish, pickles, jalapenos, pepperoncini and other hot peppers.
  • Sweeteners – I like that natural brown sugar for my coffee.  You need maple syrup and honey.   I don’t think honey ever goes bad.  Also try to get a good pile of sugars both brown and refined.    I like molasses so we got some molasses.  Might as well put jams and jellies here too.
  • Don’t forget gravies.  A gravy will make anything more palatable.  You can buy cans, jars and packages of gravy that you just need to add a cup of water to and heat.  A can of roast beef, a pack of gravy, a cup of water and some egg noodles or rice and you got a good dinner.
  • Salt gets its own bullet point. You need lots of salt.  Salt will last forever as long as you don’t let it get washed away.  Salt can be used to pickle things and cure things.  You need lots of salt.  Near the ocean you can at least make some salt through evaporation.  Inland I don’t know.  Get a variety of salts: pickling, kosher and iodized.  You should also get some one pound containers because that size would be good for bartering if it ever gets that bad.  You should make sure that you have salt and pepper in your bug out bag.  Store pounds and pounds of salt.  I’d say you need to think in the tens of pound range for storing salt.
  • Vinegar also gets its own category. Vinegar can be used to cure and pickle things.  Vinegar is also a great all natural cleaner.  Get cider vinegar, red wine, distilled and balsamic.  You can get most of them in gallon containers for small money and vinegar lasts a very long time.  I’d say you need to think of vinegar in gallons.
  • Baking stuff like flours and packaged goods like pancake mix, corn bread mix, Bisquick, bags of pizza mix and yeast.  The bags of pizza dough mix are great, under a buck on sale.  Might as well throw in the corn meal, oatmeal, corn starch, evaporated milk and such other things in this category.
  • Fats – I like olive oil a lot so I buy it by the gallon when it goes on sale.  Olive oil can last a long time if it is kept cool and in a dark spot.  You also need to get lots of corn or vegetable oil.  By it by the gallon and keep it in a cool dark spot.  You need fats in your diet and it makes clean up easier which may save you water.  Some folks like canned butter.  I don’t have any, but I’d like to try it.
  • I’d also give bouillon it’s own category.   There are all kinds: chicken, beef, fish and pork.  You can add bouillon to rice or make your own soups from scratch.  A few cubes, a box of elbows, cans of corn, beans and tomatoes and you got some minestrone soup.

Get outside everyday.  Got a day off midweek last week so went skiing with a friend.  It was my first and only time downhill skiing this year that I didn’t hike up in order to ski down.  The tickets were $62 each!!! But, but, but, but they got six inches of snow the day before and this day promised to be sunny, warm and not too much wind.  it was a great day.

sk17The ski area we went to was Mount Sunapee.  That’s Lake Sunapee there that you are looking at.  You probably can’t make it out, but there are still ice fishing huts on the ice and snow mobile tracks criss crossing the lake.

When we pay that much, which we never do, we make sure to get as much out of the day as possible so of course we got there well before the lifts opened.  The lifts generally open at 9, but we were lucky to be riding up at 8:55.  We skied until 1:30 or there abouts, ate lunch outside on a picnic table and back on the lifts by two.  The lifts close at 4 and we managed to still be riding the lift after 4.

sk22

We were the third persons on in the morning when the place opened and the third from the last in the afternoon when the place closed.  I bet we skied over 35,000 vertical feet.  We’ve both been skiing a long time.  It’s good when you go with someone that skis like you do becuase you can ski the same trails without holding eachother up.

The right thing

March 14, 2009

I got to thinking as I was waiting in traffic.  I was in the long line on the right waiting to go straight.   There were no cars in the left lane to make a left turn.  So you know what happens next, some Ass cuts past everyone waiting and then cuts back in to the lane on the right.  Pissed me off!

So it got me to thinking about doing the right thing.  It’s tough because I see so many people that don’t choose to do the right thing seem to get ahead.  We see tax cheats appointed to presidential cabinets.  There are wheelers and dealers taking billions in bonuses after driving companies into the ground.  People who bought more house than they could afford get a bailout from those of us who didn’t.  We see scam artists cash out with billions in offshore accounts.

It’s hard to continue to try and do the right thing sometimes.  I try to treat every person I meet fairly and act decently in every transaction no matter how small.  Seeing how it seems like just about everyone else these days is looking to lie, cheat and steal their way to the mansion on the hill.  It seems like everyone is looking to exploit every angle all of the time.   One can start to wonder why bother playing by the rules.

Does it seem to anyone else that more people are behaving more badly more often?  There are a lot of rude people out there.

This doesn’t bode well for our society or us, the constant slide into disregard for rules, manners, chivalry, politeness and law.   Men feel no need to hold a door for a lady or an old person.   People disregard saying please or thank you.  As a country we arent’ even really suffering.  Our supermarkets are open.  You can go to Walmart to buy your Cheap Chinese Crap and then call in an order to Pizza Hut.  We still get our mail six days a week.   Banks and markets are open.

The reason I say this doesn’t bode well for us is because I still expect things to get much worse than they are currently.  (Don’t be fooled by the current suckers rally.) If people are behaving so poorly now just think what’s gonna happen when their ATM card doesn’t work, the supermarket shelves aren’t quite as full or they’re out of gas but it’s an odd day and their license plate is even.  (Who remembers that?) The people that are behaving poorly now are going to freak out if things get bad.   Hell, normal polite churchgoing folks will freak out.  And when things get bad enough for Sarah Palin to freak out I don’t want to be around her.

Be careful who you trust.  Keep your preps to yourself.  Keep your mouth shut.  Make sure your kids, wife or husband, roommates, boyfriend or baby’s daddy also know to keep their mouths shut.  Make sure everyone can keep a secret.  You have to be considering not who you can trust in times of plenty, but who you can trust in times of hunger and thirst.  Forget about casual acquaintances or people you only know at work.  I see a lot of bad stuff go down between families, so you even need to think twice about trusting your own family members.   You know those cousins that ain’t quite right, well they ain’t quite right.  When people are hungry they will remember what you gots and they don’t.

Remember, in the end no matter what happens to you, no one can take your honor or reputation from you.  You only lose these by your own acts and deeds.  Treat others fairly and deal fairly, but keep you mouth shut.  Mind you business and keep it to yourself.  Keep others secrets too.  Don’t be a bigmouth.

So looks like my state is going to get some bailout monies.  A lot of it went to law enforcement. WTF!  Almost a billion dollars from the stimulus package is devoted to law enforcement.  It looks like spending for the funds is pretty much unrestricted so the cops are going to be able to buy more cop toys. I appreciate the job that the cops do, but enough is enough.  And the pension package law enforcement gets is crazy.  I saw an article in Forbes a month or so ago that basically said public sector pensions are killing us.  A cop is on the force for 20 years retires at 42 with a guaranteed inflation adjusted pension of $65K a year, full bennies of course too.

Enough is enough.  No more money on law enforcement, drug sniffing dogs, cameras or tactical gear.  Fine, the stimulus passed and the president signed it.  Spend the borrowed money on the people.  People who have lost their jobs, their homes are hungry or cold.

Quite frankly I think that we already are spending more than enough $ on law enforcement.  I came to this conclusion when I realized that cameras were being put up in the intersections around my town. I feel like they’re spying on me.  Oh, I know they tell me that the cameras make me safer.

Anyone else agree with me that law enforcement and the military are already large enough and get more than enough tax money!?!  We need to shrink our military by 80%.

Get outside everyday.

I have a feeling this is our last snow of the season.  I’m looking forward to getting the garden in the ground, but I really do enjoy the snow.

sk14Just a nice snowy trail.

sk16Who couldn’t like the way this tree looks? Goodbye sweet snow.  Well the seasons change an so do I.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!

March 1, 2009

This news just in 12+ inches of snow.  I couldn’t be happier.  This means at least another two or three weeks of skiing.  I love the snow.  I hate the snowplow, more below.  It can’t snow too much in my mind.  If I woke up tomorrow morning and there was four feet of snow on the ground I would be overjoyed.  I’m not afraid of being snowed in for what a day, a week or a month.  We’d be fine.

special_560x389Are you prepared for the electricity to go out?  Ready to live without lights, heat or a stove for a while?  Got flashlights, batteries and lanterns?  Warm clothing?  Have some fresh water stored or a way to melt snow? A way to stay warm when the heat goes out?  Sand, shovel and jumper cables in the car?  Have candles?  How about way way to open and heat your canned food without electricity?  Got activities to keep you busy – books, games, hobbies or battery radio? Wood, propane & C0leman fuel?   Maybe some booze or beers tucked away?

And look at this list not a single firearm, bullet or high capacity firearm needed.  Spend your money where you want.  Please don’t take this as a dig against firearms.  I love my guns and I think everyone should own a few and daily carry too, but a gun should be just one of the many tools in your toolbox.

Anyways, if you aren’t familiar with snowplows this is what happens, when the snowplows plow the street they leave a big, big pile of snow at the end of the driveway.  And if you aren’t familair with shoveling snow, snow is frozen water, water weighs a lot, shoveling water is heavy, heavy work.  So what happens is you shovel your driveway and just when you finish the plow comes buy again leaves an enormous berm of snow at the end of your drivway.  Everytime the plow comes by it basically plows you in.  So the system is shovel out and get plowed in.  Shovel out and get plowed in.

Unemployment

February 19, 2009

Okay, let’s say the Boss came into your office or asks you to come into hers and she says, ‘Well, times have been real bad.  We’ve all had to make cutbacks.’   BTW if the Boss ever shows up with someone from Human Resources don’t even wait for them to speak.  Just start packing up.

What do you do next?

I’ve been laid off a number of times.  I hate to say you get used to it.  You don’t.  It’s never easy, but there is something to be said for not being too vested in your job.   There’s also something to be said to burning bridges sometimes.  I mean who would want the bastard to have a way to get over to you.  Some bridges are best burned.  That’s just me though.  And I know it’s bad advice.

I can really feel for people, getting laid off is as shocking to a family as a death or divorce.   If you’ve been working the same job for 15, 20 or 30 years what else do you know.  You’d be like a prisoner who spent his entire adult life in prison and then upon his release steals a pack of gum to get sent back.  If you’ve been somewhere for 15+ years what else do you know?  Then if you have kids and get laid off…

Well what do you do now that you’re driving home and wondering how to tell your husband, wife, parents, girlfriend, boyfriend or roommates? Well in no particular order: collect unemployment, stay positive, assess the situation, network, budget/debt management, look for jobsdevelop a cash business, keep a schedule and exercise.

1. Collect unemployment – first things first.  Get in touch with your state’s department of employment assistance or transitional assistance or whatever government name they have for it and open a file.  if you can do it on-line then do it on-line.  If you need to do it by phone then make sure that your portable phone is fully charged before you call.  Use a speakerphone so that you can do other stuff while you wait on hold for an hour.  If they call, return their phone calls.   If you need to fill out a form or take a class then do it as fast as possible.  Keep track of who you speak with and what was said. You have time now.  If you need to keep a log of your job search then do it.   You’ll need to update your claim every week.  Make sure that you do it.  Otherwise your claim will be closed and you’ll have to start from scratch again.   Don’t ever lie to the unemployment people.  It’s a serious offense and even with everything they got going on now they like nothing better than to screw with you.  Don’t lie to them.  They have secret Government ways of finding out.  So treat collecting unemployment as a job.  You’re lucky to be getting it so make sure you do what they ask of you.  Check out what option you have for health insurance.  Maybe it’s COBRA or some state policy.

2. Stay positive – Tough to do when you’re worrying about your next meal, paying the rent or getting necessary medicine, but you have to do your best.  Maybe it’s going to church, temple or the mosque.  For me it’s walking my dog and spending time outside.  I’ve found over my short life that some people, places, events and things are energy vacuums.  You need to avoid energy vacuums.  If you know a particular person is going to give you hard time about something then avoid them.  If your mother or your ex always dumps on you then don’t give them the opportunity.  You don’t want to be sitting around all day with other unemployed people who are negative.  If they are positive and doing and going and making things happy or happening then that’s another story.  Avoid the energy sucks in your life.  You know who or what they are.

3. Assess the situation – Spend some time just figuring out where you are at and how you got there.    Where did you think you would be at this point in your life and where you are at.  What’s changed and what hasn’t.  Should you consider moving someplace different to increase your chance of finding work?  Go to school?  The state may pay.  Get some retraining or learn a new skill maybe.  Maybe you need to change your living arrangements or sell the boat and jet skis.  Don’t become an unwitting observer of your own life.

4. Network – Now is time to get out there.  Have any favors that people owe you or friends in position to hire you?  You need to speak with everyone you meet.  You never know where one simple hello may lead.  The more you do the more people you meet, so do more.  Just because you are unemployed it doesn’t mean that you should sit at home.  Volunteer at the town kennel or the senior center.  The Internet, Facebook and Myspace are great to network.    If you belong to any organizations or associations like the VFW, AmVets, Italian American Club, Masons or Order of the Arrow than work it.  Check on your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters.  Now isn’t the time to be hiding out in your mountain top bunker by yourself.

5. Budget/debt management – You have to try and get your finances in as best shape as possible.  If you have the where with all to write out a budget then do it.  Get an understanding of how much income you are taking in every month and what your monthly expenses are.  If you need to, for a week keep track of every cent you spend and write it down in a little notebook.  Set priorities for your bills and debts.  Make sure you put unsecured creditors last.  That’d be like credit card companies.  Try and figure out where you can cut back.  Forget about the coffee out everyday.   It’s bad for the environment anyways.  Forget about the lottery or going out to eat.  Only you know where you can cut back. Don’t ever go shopping without a listUse coupons if you have the patience.  Make shopping lists.  Sell your junk that is in your shed or closet.    Have a yard sale or post crap on E-Bay.

6. Look for jobs – Personally, I never like job fairs.  It’s like ants at a picnic.  Use the Internet and sites like Craigslist.org.  If you went to college check with the alumni folks at your alma mater.  Check USAjobs.gov.  Most states and municipalities are hurting, but they’re still hiring who they need.  Consider part-time work or a few part-time jobs.  I like the idea of having a number of part-time jobs, diversification of your income is good.    Looking for a job is a job.    You really should try and spend an two or three hours at least five days a week looking for a job.  It takes a lot of time and it sucks.

7. Develop cash business – If you’ve always wanted to “follow your heart” or try something different and never had the balls to actually do it, now may be the time.   I believe just about anyone can accomplish just about anything they set their mind to.  You can too.  If you’ve always wanted to write a book, become a taxidermist or whatever else it is, then think about turning it into a business.  Turn your hobbies into a business.  In our New Economy v.2 having an independent income stream will be a very good thing indeed.   Don’t get all crazy though and start spending a bunch of money you don’t have to make money.  If you plan on “investing” in tools, equipment or such for a new business, don’t do it without first developing a detailed business plan.  That said though, look around your house, you already have the tools for your hobbies, sports and recreational activities.  Teach people to tie flies.  Put in vegetable gardens for people.   Fix bicycles.  Tutor someone’s kids.   Babysit or take care of someone’s elderly parents.  Maybe run errands or clean houses.  Fix cars for folks.  Cook meals for working people so when they get home from work dinner is already made.  Specialize in small engine repair.  Catch fish and sell em to your neighbors.  Set up your own little farm stand or sell bouquets of flowers.  Maybe learn how to homebrew beer and wine.  Mow lawns or trim hedges.  Your imagination and other people’s doubts are your only limitations.  If you’ve had a desk job your whole adult life you’ll be pleasantly surprised how nice it is to do something different and maybe move around for a change.

8. Keep a schedule – You can’t be sleeping all day.  You may not have a paying job, but you can still be useful and contribute.  Try to wake up and go to bed the same times each day.  Don’t stay up all night playing video games.  Make Mondays be a drag and look forward to Fridays.  Clean the house.  Cook meals.  Go to the library.  Get out.    Keep busy and make your unemployment be like a job.  Make a schedule so you get out of the house everyday to get the newspaper, look for jobs or walk the neighborhood.  Make a list of things that need to be done around your home – filing, painting, cleaning, snaking the drains.   Have meals at regular times.  Set your alarm clock, wake up, shower and shave.  You too ladies.  You can’t start living like a pirate now, no matter how nice it sounds.  Unless of course it’s a pirate you want to be then be the best damn pirate you can, be the captain of other pirates and be a pirate’s pirate.  Anyways…

9. Exercise – This is a biggie.  You have to get some exercise everyday.  You have the time now so there is no excuse.  Exercise will relieve stress, help you sleep better and keep you healthy.  Ideally, You Get Outside Every Day so you get some fresh air and sunshine.  Walking is great exercise.  Explore trails near your house.  Do stuff around your yard.  If you are lying awake in bed at night worrying you aren’t exercising enough.

If you are not laid off yet: don’t get your personal identity from your job, arrive early, don’t surf the Net at work.  Start saving a little cash every pay period.  Pay down your secured debt as much as possible.  Whatever your job is, keep current on new trends or breakthroughs.  Take classes.  Start buying some extra food and other non-perishables like toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent and so on to store.  If you are working and having a tough time meeting your bills then make some changes while you still have steady income.  I’m not telling you what to do, but if you are still contributing to a 401k or 403b really think about what you are doing.  Especially if you are like me and don’t know what you are doing.  The days of buying and holding are behind us.

Get outside everyday!

I was out skiing.  There really isn’t much snow left but I know the last places that melt.

v3

Look how blue that sky is and the way the blue changes from kind of white near the horizon to bright blue of the heavens.  Crazy.  Anyways, this big field is actually sort of a bowl.  It doesn’t look very steep, but I guarantee if you aren’t a good cross country skier you will fall.  So when I ski this area I kind of follow the tree line on the left down to the bottom of the little slope.  At the bottom of this little hill is a good size pond.  It’s out of the picture to the right.  Then I ski back up and ski down again a bunch of times.

So at the bottom of the hill lo n’ behold what do I see………………but a………………

v5Chicken of the Woods! I don’t eat the stuff, but it is a good find nonetheless.  Believe me, what I eat is directly related to my level of hunger.  No offense, but I would eat you too if I was hungry enough.  And I would expect no less from you.  Anyways, Chicken of the Woods is pretty unique looking as far as wild edible mushrooms go.  I’m not one to collect mushrooms, but there really isn’t anything else that looks like this that is poisonous.   They grow on trees, even dead trees.  They’re orange and yellow.  They don’t have gills.  They’re best to eat when young.  You can cut the edges off of them.  That’s where the best taste is.  I read that you should avoid the ones that grow on conifers.  As with all wild edibles, test them first before eating in quantities.

YOU GOTTA DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH though until you are comfortable with what you know.  Don’t Eff around with mushrooms.  You have to put in the research time or you could die, and then what good will all those high capacity magazines do for you? Just kidding.  You  can keep them ………..for now.

v7Here’s another picture.  You’ve seen these haven’t you?  Google Chicken of the Woods and then commit it to memory.

Revolving doors

February 14, 2009
lynn

Deputy Defense Secretary Lynn

This one makes me puke.  Really.  The more things change the more they stay the same.  “In yet another violation of Barack Obama’s “strict ethics rules banning lobbyists from his administration, the U.S. Senate has confirmed a major defense industry lobbyist to be second in command at the Pentagon. The nation’s new Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn, comes directly from the lucrative world of big time lobbying for the world’s largest missile manufacturer, Maryland-based Raytheon Co. Incidentally, Raytheon happens to be one of the Pentagon’s biggest missile suppliers thanks greatly to Lynn’s efforts.

Prior to registering as a lobbyist Lynn worked as the Comptroller at the Pentagon under President Clinton.  So he’s in government, then lobbying for private interests and now back in government.  That’s just not right.  There needs to be some sort of time exclusion that prevents people from dancing between public and private interests.

WTF! WTF! WTF! Business has such a stranglehold on our government that We The People are being chokedBusiness as usual in DC for those whom we elect to represent US.  WTF!?!

changePutting a former lobbyist in charge of which defense contractors get what plum contract is one thing that both Republicans and Democrats agreed on, “was confirmed by a vote of 93 to 4 on Wednesday.”

They can’t agree on ANYTHING else, but when it comes time to putting a fox in charge of the chickens at least 93% of them agree it’s a good idea.  Of course, because it’s all about the money.  Money talks and BS walks.

At least one senator wasn’t happy, “Grassley, who voted against confirmation, called into question Lynn’s work as Pentagon comptroller during the Clinton administration. As chief financial officer, Lynn “advocated very questionable accounting practices that were obviously not in the public interest,” Grassley told his colleagues on the Senate floor.

Don’t be fooled by the differences between the two major American political parties.  There is no difference in the things that really matter.  Everything else is a wedge issue for those driven by their own ideology.  Don’t vote for ANY Dems or any Repubs.

And Carl Levin on the subject says that, “Lynn’s situation “is not unique,numerous nominees to senior positions in prior administrations, including nominees as secretary of defense, have served in similar industry positions.”  Yeah, that’s comforting.  How about a little oversight Mr. Levin.

And President’s Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex Speech, which I would argue is actually now the military/industrial/media/government complex.  There is a revolving door from government to business to media to government to media to business.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Mace

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

resspitfirepepperspray_2037_218097ources.

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 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.

Let there be light

January 24, 2009

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

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

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

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

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

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

Speaking of cheap crap…

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

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

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

This is a cool light.

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

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

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

Here’s another nice little light…

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

Not done yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.

Headlamps

December 27, 2008

I own three headlamps.   I’ll review them and tell you what I do and don’t like about each of them so if you are ever in the market you may be able to make a better decision.

Headlamps are one of the best things ever invented.  It lets you light the way or the project and still have your hands free to do what needs to be done.  If you don’t own any you gotta add one or two to your gear.

The first one is a Princeton Tec Solo with a Xenon bulb.  You should be able to pick these up for between $15-20.

Princeton Tec

Princeton Tec

The Solo is a good entry model headlamp.  It runs a long time off of two AA batteries.  It turns on and off by turning the housing for the lamp, like adjusting the beam on a Maglight.  A very important feature of all headlamps is a ratchet mechanism on the lamp so it can be pointed downwards and upwards.  Make sure that any lamp you buy can be ratcheted up and down because when you’re doing something in the dark you want the lamp pointing down at the ground and not up at the trees (unless you’re hunting raccoons).  Before you buy a headlamp work the light part up and down.  Try that ratchet out.  Does it feel cheesy or well-made?  Does it feel like it might wear out quickly and leave your flaccid light forever pointing down at the ground?

p1010069This is the front of the lamp.  Another reason this lamp is good is because it has a strap that goes over the top of your head too.  All headlamps have a strap that goes around the outside of your head, but another nice feature is having a strap that runs over the top of you head from front to back.  This allows the lamp to hang on better to winter hats and helmets.

p1010070This is the battery compartment for the Princeton Solo.  It flips up and stays attached because of a little flexible plastic strip.  In other words you can’t lose the cover to the battery compartment.  This is a nice feature.  The downside is that it doesn’t seem very waterproof, but I have taken countless faceplants in deep powder and I’ve never had a problem.  It may not be submersible, but if you end up doing a yard sale it’ll keep working.  The Solo is bright enough, but not real bright.  It only has two settings, on and off.  Good enough to walk with at night or change a tire, but not bright enough to ski or ride a bike at night.  When you get moving faster you need something that can shine our further.  As the batteries lose juice the beam also starts getting perverted, yellowish and dim.   The Solo is the medium weighing lamp.

The next lamp is also a Princeton Tec.  This model is the EOS.  I don’t know where they come up with these names.  The EOS takes three AAA batteries.  You should be able to pick the EOS up for around $30.

p1010071That gray thing on top of the lamp is the on/off switch.  It’s easy to work even with mittens or gloves.  The EOS has an LED so batteries will last much longer than a filament type bulb, like the aforementioned Solo.  The EOS has four settings – full, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Obviously the batteries will last longer at the lower settings.  This is a good bright lamp.  I can use this when I ski down hills at night.  This lamp also has a ratcheting mechanism to lock the beam of the light up or down.

p1010074This is the battery compartment for the EOS.  It has a little screw that can be worked with your fingers.  This seems more waterproof to me than the Solo.  The cover is hinged and screw attached so that you can’t lose them.

p1010075If you notice the back of the lamp has two little slots so it is easy to remove the head strap.  This is good so that if the strap gets smelly, dirty or sweaty you can take it off and wash it.  The slots also make it easy to lash the lamp onto something else if need be.  Also notice that the EOS doesn’t have that strap that runs over your head from front to back.  There is just the one strap.  This single strap isn’t as secure as the lamps with both straps – around and over your head.  I think the EOS weighs the least out of these three.

The last headlamp is the Black Diamond Icon.  This is a great lamp.  It takes two AA batteries.  I put lithium batteries in mine. I think this lamp will set you back a little under 50 bucks.  What I don’t like about this lamp is that the switch is on the bottom of the lamp so it’s tough to get too.  Plus it’s tough to work with gloves or mittens.  So when you buy a headlamp check to see where the switch is located and how easy it is to work.

p1010077The Icon has LEDs and a Xenon bulb.  Each (the LEDs and the Xenon) has four settings for a total of eight settings – high, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Also notice the strap that goes over your head from front to back.  Unlike the other two headlamps the battery compartment for the Icon is at the back of your head.

p1010078This is the battery compartment.  Notice the thumb screw.  Both the screw and the cover are attached so that you can’t lose them.  This compartment seems waterproof to me and I’ve never had a problem with all of my face plants into the snow.

p1010079Notice the little slots on each side so that the strap can be pulled right out to clean or lash the lamp to something else.  It’s not real important, but still it’s a nice feature.

p1010080This is the front of the lamp.  The LEDs are on the side and the Xenon is in the middle.  The Xenon is really bright so it’s great for moving fast at night as it puts a good cone of light a pretty fair distance in front of you.  The LEDs are also bright, but not quite as bright as the bulb.  The good thing is that the LEDs will burn much longer than the Xenon.  Batteries last a really long time.  I’m talking probably 10+ hours for even the Xenon bulb.  The Icon is the heaviest of the three lamps reviewed here.

p1010082You probably can’t make it out here, but there is a little LED that burns flashing green or red depending on how much juice you have left.  This is another nice feature so that you aren’t caught by surprise.

In my experience these are all rugged lights.  Any one of them is a good purchase. I bought the Solo first and then a few years later got the EOS then a few years later got the Icon.  I didn’t consciously “upgrade” but you may find if you buy the cheaper one first that it may not be quite enough for you so you may want to jump right into something better than entry level.  The other thing is that with the Solo as the batteries fade so does your level of light.  The Solo’s lamp gets dimmer and dimmer.  I think the two newer lamps, the EOS and Icon, both have some sort of computer chip in them so that the level of light remains constant even as the batteries start to fade.  This is a real nice feature.  It keeps your light bright white instead of fading, sick, smoker’s teeth yellow.

In summary (just my opinion):

1. that extra strap that runs front to back is good.

2. get a lamp that has both filament and LED bulbs.  In case on goes out you got the other.

3. I like lamps that take regular batteries that can be bought at any 7/11.  Stick to AA & AAA,.

4. check the battery compartment to make sure that it stays attached and if there is a screw make sure that the screw stays attached too.  You don’t want to lose the cover or screw.

5. Check that ratchet mechanism.

6. Get the best light you can comfortably afford.  Otherwise, you’ll end up like me buying a better one a year or two later.

7. Check the waterproof factor.

8. Don’t get something so big that you won’t take with you.

9. All of my lamps are very easy to adjust, but check out how easy it is at adjust the straps of the headlamp you’re considering.

10.  I do like that chip or IC that allows the beam of the lamp to shine steady even as the batteries are dying so check to see if the lamp you’re looking at has a chip or IC.

p1010107Who coulda been wordworking outside in the snow?

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|p1010108Woodpecker.  Imagine making a living like this.  Seems like a lot of work for one or two little bugs.  I like how you can see the individual little spots where he chipped the bark away.  I can almost see him standing there pecking away at it.

$’s and sense

December 18, 2008

Have you been watching the US$ the past few weeks?  Wow.  The issue as I see it and I may be wrong, I’m not a currency trader, is that at some point the rest of the world will may lose its confidence in the “full faith and credit of the United States government.”  If that point is reached then we become like Iceland at best.

Riots in Iceland

Euro to $

Euro to $

So in the past 30 days one US$ went from being worth .78 Euros to .68 Euros.  Hmmm, run some numbers in my head .10/.78 = 10%+.  Think about that.  The US$ now buys 10% less in Europe than it did just a week or two ago.  Courtesy of http://www.x-rates.com/d/EUR/USD/graph30.html

US$ to Yen

Yen to US$

And the US$ is also obviously losing ground to the Japanese Yen.  In the past month the purchasing power of the US$ in Japan has also gone down by more than 10%.  http://www.x-rates.com/d/JPY/USD/graph30.html

US$ to Swiss Franc

Swiss Franc to US$

http://www.x-rates.com/d/CHF/USD/graph30.html

All are pretty precipitous drops.  What this means now is that anything that we buy overseas just went up in price by 10%+.  The good thing is that our exports became cheaper to the world markets.

usdi

USDI

This is the US$ index 90 day chart.  The interesting thing here is the red line.  The red line represents a 20 day moving average.  Notice the movement downwards. http://quotes.ino.com/chart/?s=NYBOT_DX&v=d3&w=1&t=l&a=20

It’s currently at 78 or so.  There seems to be support (magic hands) at around 70.  If it drops below 70 for a week or two I’d get real concerned.

Still our whole economy is a confidence game.  If the point comes that folks who purchase or hold US$ denominated assets lose confidence in the US government’s ability to back up the Trillions of US$’s being created by the outgoing Bush administration (not by PE Obama who hasn’t even been sworn in yet) then we are done.  The US government won’t be able to sell debt to keep our ship of state afloat.

Look at the rate of the drop and consider whether the point of loss of confidence has happened or is approaching.

Think about it.  Every $ created, and Trillions have been created by the current administration in the past three months, reduces the value of all $ already in existence.  It’s dilution pure and simple.

How would you react if you had huge investments, maybe your life savings like a 401k, in the US$ and the US government kept diluting the value of what you held?  Would you keep buying US$’s or would you be looking to cash out?

Our lenders are in a tough position though because if they dump too rapidly, others follow suit and it becomes a race to the bottom.  The trick is how to divest cautiously so that it doesn’t force down the value of what they remain holding.  Our lenders have a vested stake in propping up the US$.

As I wrote above though, expect everything that you buy that is imported to go up in price.  It’s not a bad time to stock up on imported items that you like.  Just about all of our clothing and footware are imported.  I like olive oil and coffee.  What do you like?

Still the critical issue is whether or not we reach a tipping point when the rest of the world loses confidence in the US$.  If that point comes then the flow of goods (including oil) into the US comes to a grinding halt.  We won’t be able to afford the fuel to run sorties over the 50 states.

Walkn about pics-

These boots are made for walking

These boots are made for walking

Please don’t be afraid of getting muddy.  Dirt is one of the cleanest things I can think of.

Glacial erratic

Glacial erratic

It may be tough to see in this picture, but there are a bunch of boulders.  They are glacial erratic.  Glacial erratic are giant rocks left behind by the last ice age. About 10,000 years ago Glaciers creeped down from the Great White North into my neck of the woods.   As the glaciers retreated or melted they left behind stones that were dragged far away from their origin.

p10100321

Sassafras in winter

This is sassafras in the winter (no leaves).   Sassafras is easy to spot when it has its leaves because the leaves look like mittens or hands.  The leaves got a thumb.  In the winter it can be spotted because notice how the bark is kind of smooth with spots of green?  Boiled sassafras roots make a great tea.  Mmmm, iced sassafras tea.  Just thinking of it reminds me of warm summer days.  The dried leaves are crushed to thicken soups, and if you live in mosquito land, gumbo.  I think down in swamp land they call the crushed leaves file’ powder as in gumbo file’.   The twigs make tasty toothpicks too.