Archive for the ‘Skills’ Category

Get out at night

March 3, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s a nice picture of raindrops.

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

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Learn your area of operations

November 12, 2009

Learn your area of operations.  I was out the other day strolling about and I realized how well I know my neighborhood and the town that I live in.  I know the streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, creeks and seasonal water.  I know the woods and fields.  I bet you could blindfold me set me down anywhere within a five mile radius and I could point to it on a map.  You should be able to do the same too.

You have to learn you neighborhood well.  You should know what wild foods are edible and where and when they grow. There is only one way to do it.   Walking is best because you see much more than you do driving.  When you are in a car you don’t even notice all of the little hills that you go over.  When you are walking or riding a bike you notice each and every hill.   Similarly, when you are whizzing by at 45 mph you can’t really check out the landscape, flora and fauna (15 points using flora & fauna in the same sentence).

When you are walking you’ll begin to notice what the same plant looks like at different times of the year.  I usually walk a lot, but with the sun setting so early during these short winter days it’s tough.  Still walking is the best way to learn the area.  Take your time. Look around.  Really open your eyes.  When you see something don’t just look at it and take it for what what it is, but ask why or why not.   Zen.  Keep an eye out for where water may be, places to stash stuff or hide if need be, places to camp or forage, keep an eye out for things you can use now or at some time in the future.   When you see those red canes leaning over in the winter remember to come back in the summer for sweet berries.  Figure out where the electrical substations, powerlines, water and sewage treatment, refineries, chemical plants, factories, police, hospitals, fire stations, reservoirs all are.

You should own some map books of your state and the surrounding states. I’m not a big fan of the folding state maps.  They’re ok, but they don’t show enough detail for me.   mapI like these Delmore maps by state.  They show all the detail you really need, but it doesn’t list the name of every side street and it’s not a real detailed topographic map.  Delorme maps do have topo lines, roads, highways, campgrounds, natural and man made attractions, state parks, recreational areas, lakes, rivers, streams, railroads and trails.  You should own a map book like these Delorme ones for your state and each of the contiguous (5 points) states.  You also need a book for each of the states that your bug out plans call for you to traverse.  Like I said these map books are great all purpose maps, but for going afield I like the the old 1:24000 USGS maps.  The USGS topo maps are what I use when I go hiking.  They show as much detail as you could ever want.  They even show seasonal water.

If you don’t know how to read a map that is one skill you don’t want to delay learning.   Having a map and knowing how to read it can mean the difference between sweet, sweet life and a cold and shivering or gaunt and starving death.  GPS units are great, but have a compass and know how to use it.

I guess what I am trying to say is GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!©

Doing what I now do. Notice all the seals in the water and moi is the only one standing?

tThe waves are supposed to be 10 foot tall this weekend because of Ida.

Scrapings from a woodpecker.  This stuff id light up pretty well with just a firesteel I bet.  You’d never see this pile of sawdust driving around.

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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.

Hurricane Bill and beach survival

August 26, 2009

I was up in the Pinetree State last weekend.  I’ve picked up surfing.  I’m not sure what that has to do with suburban survival other than getting exercise, GETTING OUTSIDE EVERYDAY and keeping safe around the ocean.

In case you haven’t heard Hurricane Bill swept up past the northeast last weekend.   CNN reports, “Girl dies after wave knocks her into ocean.” A young girl, along with 2,000 other spectators, was with her dad and closer than she should have been when a large wave swept her and like ten other people from the rocks into the surging sea.  The father and another kid were rescued by the Coasties, but tragically this young girl was killed.

Most beaches were closed to swimming.  A little south of where I was, Hampton, there were numerous rescues. In other places people standing on slippery rocks to get a better view of the monster waves were knocked over.  Some people got broken bones.

In Massachusetts a man fishing was swept out to sea and drowned.

When I got up to Maine on Friday night the waves were maybe 3-4 feet.  That’s a pretty good size wave.  Saturday morning they were maybe 4-6 feet and building all day.  Sunday the waves were maybe 8-12 feet with a few even bigger.

I’m telling you a 2-3 foot wave is big.  When these waves are pushed into shore by a hurricane they are big, powerful and fast.   A 12 foot wave can snap a surfboard, tear a board leash or smash someone into the rocks or the sand.

Many people don’t understand the strength of the ocean.  I’ve surfed a bunch this year.  I’m in the ocean a lot, a lot.  I know my limits though.  I’m not going to paddle out with 10 foot waves.  There were some real good surfers there though that were experienced enough to be out there.  They make it look like fun, but it’s also very tough, a lot of work and takes much experience.

If you don’t know what you are doing, if you don’t spend a lot of time in or around the water and if you aren’t a strong swimmer, you better have a real healthy respect for the ocean and what she can do.  And those who do spend a lot of time around the ocean do have a healthy respect for her.

There was a very heavy undertow on Sunday.  It was so strong that it was hard to stand knee deep in the water.  So I’m standing there and two little girls come into the water.  They are maybe 7 or 8 years old.  They are waist deep.  I have my eye on them because if either of them lose their footing they are going to be carried wherever the ocean feels like taking them.  So a minute of so later their fat, middle-aged father comes into the water.  I can tell he is a stranger to the ocean because he grimaced from the cold and pulls his arms over his head like the little girls.  Just then foam from a big wave comes and sweeps one of the little girls right off of her feet and maybe 15 feet down the beach.   I know if one of the girls gets carried away this fat guy will not be able to chase her down so I tell him that it is a very dangerous day with big waves and extremely strong undertows.  Luckily they got out of the water.

Surviving the beach:

  • You have to watch out for riptides and undertows.   A riptide is just the water that has been pushed up onto the beach by the waves flowing away from the beach.  Undertows usually move more or less parallel to the beach and back out to sea.  As you stand in the water you can feel an undertow pulling at your legs.  Riptides occur at low points of the beach.  The waves come in leaving a bunch of water on the beach that needs to flow out.  If there is a low point on the beach then the trapped water will find that low point and flow out to sea like a river.  At low tides you can sometimes see where a riptide can happen because at low tide you’ll see little streams of water flowing out.  Well at high tide with big waves lots of water will be rushing out of those little streams creating strong currents out to sea.  You can’t fight undertows or riptides. The ocean will win.  You need to relax and not fight the current.  Your number one goal is not to get tired floundering around.  If you tire you drown. Then because riptides flow perpendicular to the beach you should try to direct yourself parallel to the beach.  Swim easily, smoothly and gently sideways and out of the rip.  Don’t even try to swim back into shore until the current is finished trying to pull you out.
  • Stay away from rocks or be extremely careful on them.  Rocks that look black are particularly slippery.   Many people fall, bang their heads and then drown.  Wet rocks are real slippery. Rocks that are regularly beneath high tide will have barnacles on them.  Barnacles are sharp and will cut you. If you fall off a rock into the ocean you will have to crawl out onto barnacles in order to get out of the water.  It’s not fun.
  • If you can’t swim don’t go in the water. There can be sudden drop offs and hidden objects.  And if you can’t swim and lose your footing; well then you’re in trouble.
  • Always observe.  Check out the water to see if there are any rocks.  Sometimes when I’m in the surf there are large pieces of wood and other trash floating around.  Get hit by a big tree branch and it may hurt you.  Is there any sea life, jellyfish or man-o-wars?  Surfers? Then be aware of where they and their boards are.
  • Know when high and low tides are. That way you won’t over extend yourself and be on a sandbar with the tide rushing in all around you.  If the tides come in fast you can easily find yourself surrounded by water.
  • Waves look like fun and are a lot of fun, but they can be dangerous.  You can escape waves by taking a breath and diving under the crashing wave.   If you are at a beach with waves treat it like a baseball game and watch the waves.  Don’t stand in the water with your back to the surf or you could get surprised and knocked down.  You can’t fight waves either. If you find a wave crashing on you then you just need to go with it.   Loosen up and just let the wave carry you.  You will pop to the surface when it is done with you.  Don’t stiffen and try to fight it. If you find yourself carried out by the current you may be able to ride a wave in.  Just go with the rhythm of the ocean.
  • Be careful where rivers meet the beach and ocean.  The currents at the mouths of rivers can be particularly treacherous.
  • Know which way the wind is blowing and be aware. If you are on a raft or a float and there is are offshore winds you can get blown away from shore pretty quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid or too embarrassed to yell for help.  People drown because they didn’t yell for help.
  • Protect yourself from the sun and weather. It may mean SPF30 and an umbrella or a long sleeve shirt and hat.  If it is sunny make sure to have sunglasses.
  • And for the love of God watch your kids at the beach. Things can happen very quickly.  Watch your kids especially if it is a beach with surf.

The beach is a great place and you should GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © but know the dangers and risks so you can avoid them.

p1010011Crazy, huh?  They’re like parrots of the north.  If you watch dragonflies closely when they are flying you can sometimes see them catching flies.  You can actually see the dragonfly open its mouth in mid flight and gobble a mosquito.  It’s what they do.

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Oral surgeon and health insurance

August 12, 2009

So I had a root canal done a couple of months ago.  It really sucked.  I had some issue in my mouth so I go to the dentist.  They tried to cap one tooth on the top.  That didn’t work, but I still had to pay for it.  The cap wasn’t done right so it was banging into a tooth on the bottom of my mouth.  Each time the teeth clanged together it hurt like an SOB.  So I had to go back to the dentist again who now told me that the tooth on the bottom, the one below the new cap that she just put in, needed a root canal.  She sent me off to an oral surgeon.  BTW if you ever get a root canal done when you leave the surgeon’s office you’ll be feeling fine because of the Novocaine.  When that Novocaine wears off though you’ll be writhing in pain in the dark on your bed.  So on your way home from the surgeon, get your pain script filled and take the Vicodin or Percocet right away even though you feel fine.  Don’t wait for the pain before taking the Vicodin.

Off to the oral surgeon I go.  I had an initial consultation that cost $100.  Then two additional treatment visits were needed.  The first treatment visit they drill it out and put in a temp filling.  Then you come back a week later, and if everything looks ok, they take out the temp filling put in something more permanent and off you go.

So because I have dental insurance I had to pay something like $750 and the rest would be covered by the dental insurance. That is what I was told by the surgeon’s billing office.  As far I was concerned that was the deal I accepted.

The numbers: $100 for the initial consultation, then I paid $375 after I left the first treatment visit with the deal being I’d pay the second half, $375, after the final treatment visit.  The insurance company pays the balance of like $750, so the total surgeon’s charge is around $1,500.

About a month after I was treated I got a check in the mail from the surgeon’s office for $68.  It represented a refund of some overpayment.  That was more than two months ago.

Yesterday I get a call from the billing folks in the surgeon’s office, the dental insurance decided not to pay something and they want me to pay back the $68 that shouldn’t have been remitted to me.  They’re waiting to hear back from the insurance company about the rest of the money.  The billing person told me that the insurance payment can be yanked back and I may end up owing more money.

I told her that’s not the way it works.  I never agreed to an open ended contract and that I can’t agree to something if I don’t know what it is.  The most basic rule of contract formation is mutual assent.

So the billing lady tries to explain to me that if they hear back from the insurance that some of the root canal isn’t covered that I will be billed.  I told her again that’s not the way it works.  I paid my bill in full as required by their office policy at the time that the services are rendered.   I told her it’s not right that three months later they can bill me $100, $500 or $1,000.  I never agreed to that.

Imagine bringing your car to your mechanic or having a plumber out to your house.  They give you and estimate.  You look the estimate over and based upon their assurance say, ‘fine, complete the job.’ Then three months later you get a bill from your mechanic or plumber looking for an additional $500 or $1,000.  That’s not the way it works.  The only contract I know of that can be changed at the whim of one party are credit card contracts, but that’s because they are credit card bastards.

And that is why we need healthcare reform.  Has anyone else ever been given the run around by a health insurance company?

You know who is most against healthcare reform, health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Don’t be a tool of their vested interests.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I look out of a window at home to the backyard where the pool is and I see something or someone floating in it so I go to investigate.  I pull a lot of froggies out of the pool because we need to be careful with our amphibian friends.  Turns out it wasn’t a frog at all, but a….snapping turtle.  He must have made is way into the pool during the rain the night before.  Turtles can’t use pool ladders.  Eventually he would have tired out and drowned so I rescued him.

y6Here Mr. or Mrs. Turtle is in the recycle bin from the town.  The recycle bin is maybe two feet long so you can see that this was a good sized creature.  He was not too happy about being caught.  So I stuck a knife into his brain cavity, boiled him up and made some terrapin stew.  NO I DIDN’T.  JUST KIDDING.  Actually I dropped him off at the Terrapin Station to catch a lift home.  No, just kidding again.

I actually ran him up behind the house to a large vernal pool where he probably came from in the first place.  Here he is getting dumped on the ground, making one final hiss at me and slithering back into the water from whence he came.

y5You can see his open mouth hissing at me.  I think he was pretty old because his shell was covered in algae.  It felt good to save some little creature’s life.

Jewel Weed

August 4, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now go forth and GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

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

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.

Night vision

July 8, 2009

If the first thing that you thought of when you read the title was night vision goggles or sights (it was wasn’t it?) then, IMHO, you may be relying too much on technology and not enough on developing your own skills and body.  No it’s not what you think, Gen 25.4 thermal infrared high-tech, big military contractor big bucks stuff.  Night vision for us po’ boys is what happens after you’ve been out in the woods under the stars for a few minutes.  It’s the natural adjustment of your eyes to limited light.  It’s great if you can afford the big ticket battery operated stuff, but seeing how I can’t, this entry will be about the free night vision.  This isn’t to disparage the high tech, but batteries die, goggles get lost or left behind and equipment breaks.  Sure it’s great to have a GPS unit, but you should also have a compass, be able to find direction with an analog watch or by tracking the sun.  Get my drift?  Learn to rely on your body’s natural responses.

When you get out from under artificial lighting at night your eyes will start to adjust to the darkness so that you can see better.  It takes a couple of minutes to start the process and after about 25 minutes your eyes will be fully adjusted.  Even on real dark moonless nights your eyes will adjust as best they can.

The first thing you need to do if you find yourself outside at night is to stop.  Stop walking.  Stop moving.  Stop and give your eyes 2-3 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If the lights ever go out due to EMP, solar flares or more pedestrian causes like equipment failure or thunderstorms you should be used to moving around in the darkness.  If you spend all of your life, 24/7, under artificial lights and sitting in front of a TV or computer screen then if you find yourself in drowning in the dark you may feel uncomfortably blind, or worse, maybe even freak out.  You should spend enough time in the dark, that you are used to the dark, both physically and psychologically.   Just like exercise makes a body strong, spending time in the dark will make the darkness your friend.

One of the best ways to do this is to get out and walk at night.  You also need to practice walking in woods at night without lights, because if you can do that under a dark sky and be comfortable, then you can walk on a street or sidewalk in the dark too.  When is the last time you made a point of getting out at night? Now it is summer now.  It’s a great time to get out and ramble the woods and meadows. Get out and listen to the creatures of the night.  Get used to finding your way at night without light.  Learn to embrace the dark.  Your world is dark for half of your life so get used to it and use it to your advantage.

When I ski in the woods at night, very rarely do I put my headlamp on.  If there is snow on the ground it helps to reflect the ambient light.  With a moon and snow on the ground sometimes it is so bright that I cast a shadow.

As long as you walk with the aid of lights your eyes will never adjust to the darkness and you’ll miss seeing the world around you.

One problem with using lights at night is that it sets your night vision right back to zero.   Another problem is that a flashlight or headlamp will light you up at night like a Christmas tree.  If you are walking at night and using a flashlight, I’m also out walking, but I won’t be using a flashlight.  I’ll be able to see you walking with your artificial cone of light from hundreds of yards away.  You might as well be wearing a glow in the dark bullseye.  Even better if you have a headlamp on, then all someone need do is aim two feet down from that and….

If you are out walking at night using your flashlight and you come upon someone else walking don’t shine light in other peoples’ eyes.  It will ruin their night vision and piss them off.  If I’m out doing my own thing, minding my business, enjoying the woods, of course I won’t be using a flashlight to light my way.  I’ll have one (or many more) just in case, but I won’t have it on.  Please if you come upon me don’t shine your stinking bright light in my eyes.  Don’t be rude, either shut your light off or point in down at the ground while we pass each other.  Most likely I’ll see you coming from far away because of your cone of light and I’ll step off the trail into the woods.  I’ll be quiet and just allow you to pass right on by.  You’ll never even see me.

I can’t count the times I’ve been in the woods at night and seen and heard bright and loud people coming my way and I have just ducked off the trail a couple of feet and laugh silently as they obliviously walk right on past me. You’ll never even know that I’m there watching you, unless I choose to let myself be known.  Don’t be ignorant of your surroundings.  Keep those flashlights and headlamps off while walking at night. So get out and practice.  Get used to walking in the dark without the use of battery powered technology.

GET OUTSIDE EVERY NIGHT!!!

Okay, the digital camera is MIA so we got some old night pictures to post.  Here is Running Bear taking a breather while SKIING AT NIGHT SANS LIGHT.

Snow5And here is another buddy with Green Eyed Dog getting ready to take the downhill WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL LIGHT.  The only light is the flash from the camera.  Trust me this grade is much steeper than it looks, and it’s on cross country skis, at night, without flashlight.

ns2Just do it.  Get out there at night without headlamp or flashlight.  Wait a minute or two for your eyes to adjust and learn to be as comfortable walking around in darkness as you are during the day.

Be vewy, vewy quiet

June 23, 2009

In general I think the human race, and the world which holds us, would be a far better place if the human species was to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening.  My dog speaks very little, but when he speaks he really means what he says.   Being a man of few words he seems to do just fine.

Just like when you take martial arts or yoga you learn how to breath deeply, you also need to train your senses to take in all that they can.  Maybe you watch, but don’t see, or listen, but don’t hear.  One of the best ways of opening your senses is by laying still.  Just stop.  Stop it.  You can’t listen when you’re making noise.

A refrigerator running all the time adds a constant din to your environment.  And I bet that because you are so used to your refrigerator yelling at you 24/7 that you don’t even notice it.  Try to sit at home without running a TV or radio.  Instead of welcoming or accepting unnecessary noise into your life, be aware of it and at least make a conscious decision whether to have the noise join you.  Don’t let noise be a home invader.  Invite it into your life, or keep it off.

Life in the 21st century is already fast enough without constantly being surrounded by noise.  Civilization emits a loud hum.  Unneeded noise adds stress to your environment.

The next time you are walking outside no talking on the cellphonePut away your Blackberry.  If you run or ride your bike listening to music try to keep the tunes off for a while.  Take that stupid Blue Tooth thing out of your ear.  It makes you look like an idiot anyways.  Hey, friends are honest with each other, right? No texting either.

Think what noise you are subjecting others to.  I know you listen to the most awesomest, bestest rap music ever, but please keep it below 80 decibels.   Sunday morning at 07:30 probably isn’t the best time to weed whack your lawn.  And I know you are proud of your custom Sportster, but your neighbor may be trying to put their sick kid to bed.

Listening more will greatly improve your situational awareness.  Next time you’re outside just stop everything and listen to the birds.  How many different bird calls do you hear?  Listen and than try to watch where the sound is coming from.  See the bird?  Listen to the neighbors yell at their kids to turn down the music.  Listen to what your neighbors are watching on TV.  What are the people in line in front of you talking about.  You’ll be amazed what you hear once you start listening.

I’m not saying that you need to take a vow of silence like some monk.  The next time you speak, pause before you do so and really think about what you are about to say.  Ask yourself is each word necessaryIs it really what you mean to sayBe deliberate with your words.  Choose your words carefully.

When someone is speaking with you, you know having a conversation just listen as deeply as you can.  Breath in what they are saying and stop your mind’s racing thoughts of everything other than what the speaker is saying.

Pass it on, shhhh.  Really, please shhhh.

G E T  O U T S I D E  E V E R Y   D A Y!!

So headed back to the ocean this past weekend.  The waves were good.  I’m trying surfing.  So we have some ocean pictures.

P1010007Here you gots your standard beach pea.  These things grow in the sandiest beach sand imaginable.  And this is the fruit of the beach pea.

p1010008I’ve never eaten them, but I understand that you can boil them and eat them while still hot.  They don’t look very good to me.  I’d have to be pretty hungry to try these peas.

p1010011And here is a beach rose, rosa rugosa.  And the fruit of the beach rose is a beach plum.  Also known as rose hips.

P1010013These beach plums are super high in vitamin c.  They’ll ripen to a nice rich red color.  You can make a tea from them.  I’ve known people to make a cordial by stuffing a mason jar full of rose hips, adding a lot of sugar and topping it all off with good vodka or grain alcohol.  You turn it over every day for three weeks and then drink it down yum.  I bet homemade beach plum cordial would be good for a cold or sore throat.  Folks also make beach plum jelly.

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.

Assembly Required

June 5, 2009

This blog has to do with suburban survival so I sometimes deal with boring things, like BEING ABLE TO READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

Have you ever put a gas grill together?  I bought a relatively cheap gas grill that cost under $100.   The last time I put a grill together I screwed up one of the left legs and one of the right legs and ended up having to take almost the whole thing apart before I put it back together with left and right legs in the appropriate places.   I wasn’t going to let them happen again.

memorial day 0919Here I have everything laid out on the picnic table.  The label on the box said it would take 35-45 minutes to put the grill together.  It took me 20 minutes to unpack and organize everything.

The other thing that helps me when I do some assembly project is to turn the thing the same way as the drawing in the direction.  It makes it easier to make sure that I am putting left where left is and right where right is and front to front and back to back.  Got that?

I also find it helps to  slow down and move deliberately.   The old adage measure twice cut once, holds true.  Read the instructions slowly and carefully.   Then read them again.  You almost want to cross things off as you do them to make sure that you don’t miss anything.

memorial day 0927The fasteners were well organized.  I took a break to go to Home Depot for something else.  Altogether I would say it probably took me between three and four hours from beginning to end.  And you’ll be happy to know that it works fine.

So remember –

1.) Before you start to assemble something new make sure that you take everything out of the packaging, organize the parts and familiarize yourself with them.

2.) As you assemble the thing orient it so that it is turned the same way as the drawing/pictures in the assembly instructions.

3.) Slow down and move deliberately.

4.) Read the instructions slowly and carefully

Get Outside everyday!

You have to know what this is –

memorial day 098

You may notice that it’s starting to look a little dark out in the picture.  Please don’t be afraid to go out walking in the woods at night.  The woods are another world at night.

I don’t do the religion thing.  I don’t care what you do or whether you do anything at all.  But this dandelion flower to me is like Proof of God.  I don’t even like the word “God” because it is too limiting.  But looking at this perfectly symmetrical flower you just know that there has to be a Major Force at play.    It’s like a perfect geodesic dome.  Then you think that it is a way for the plant to propagate.  And in order to do all that it had to look nice enough to attract bees and other buzzies to pollinate it.  Amazing.  There is your Proof.

And since we are on the subject of dandelions you do know that the dandelion is mighty yummy.    The flowers make a brightly colored dandelion wine.  Imagine cracking a bottle of dandelion wine during a cold January day.   I like the young leaves added to salad.  People say dandelion leaves can be bitter, but they’re not as bitter as arugula.  If they’re too bitter for you just boil them a bit.  Some folks dip the flowers in batter and fritter them up.  Root tea has a ton of medicinal uses, but you would know that if you read my entry on field guides and had your own field guides.  And I’ve read that you can roast the root till brown, grind it and use it as a coffee substitute.

Fire steels

May 29, 2009

I just bought some firesteels off the Internet.  I got them from  Firesteel.com.  If you don’t know what a firesteel is, it’s basically a piece of a metal rod that when scraped makes a shower of sparks.  You take the edge or back of your knife or a scraper of some sort and kind of scrape it hard along the side of the firesteel at an angle and you’ll get some sparks.  The more practice the easier it is for you.  With one of these you can always get a fire going.  You know that you want to have multiple ways to start a fire.   A firesteel can be another tool in your fire starting kit.

Another good thing about firesteels is that they work even when wet.

p1010010I bought a set of five for I think $15.  One will go in the Get Home Bag, one in the camping Rubbermaids and I sewed one to my knife sheath.  Check it out.

p1010012I had some cordura cloth that I sewed into a little pocket just large enough to hold the firesteel firmly and I attached it to the sheath.  Pretty slick, huh?  I hope I never need to, but if I do need to desperately start a fire, the firesteel will make it easier than a fire bow.  I have been successful using firesteels to start fires.  You really need to use a different type of tinder when using a firestell though.  Lint, the stuff from a dryer, milkweed fluff, steel wool, cotton balls or something else that is light and fluffy will usually do the trick.

Like most guys, I like to start fires.  There is something very satisfying about starting a fire without using matches or a lighter.

If you buy some firesteels, like everything else, you need to practice using them before you depend on them.  So get some firesteels, put me in your tackle box, tool box, hunting kit or GHB and practice.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! Some of the reasons this is my favorite time of year, the days are still getting longer, flowers a blooming and the air is heavy with the sweet scent of flowers. Do you recognize this plant?  Maybe you have mallow growing in your garden.

16These are nice pictures of a Musk Mallow.  The leaves are edible and nutritious.  Like okra the plant contains a mucus that can thicken soups.  Leaf and root teas are used for coughs, bronchitis and as an anti-inflammatory.    A poultice can be put on wounds.

17Have you bought your own field guides yet?  What are you waiting for?  I just picked up a new one that someone recommended; thank you M.D. Creekmore.

Bore snakes

May 24, 2009

Away camping this weekend so short post.  Is it camping if you have a refrigerator, cable and a bathroom, but also have campfires, smores, cook over the fire and still kind of rough it?  Hope to go surfing later today.

I like bore snakes.  They make cleaning my firearms easier.  The problem is that you need a different size bore snake for each caliber you have.   I slide a wet patch through a couple of times, then a clean patch and then the bore snake. You can see from this nicely labeled picture that I found on the Internet…

Presentation1that is has a two floss areas, a brass bore brush built right in, a weight to help it slide through the barrel.  They fit good and snug too.  If you haven’t tried a bore snake, give it a go.  You should be able to pick one up for about 15 bucks.

Get Outside Everyday!!

P1010006This is Jack in the Pulpit.  Pretty distinctive, aye?

My favorite field guides

May 17, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P1010004

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

P1010001

My life

May 7, 2009

Okay, kinda limited stuff going on so just a day in the life of Abraham.  It was a crappy day the other day so I went to the gun club.  I like crappy days because there aren’t a whole lot of people there so I’m able to do my own thing.  When there are lots of people at the club you have to wait for everyone to get synced before you can do your thing.  You know everyone sets their targets at the same time, walks back to the table at the same time, shoot, make safe, gun on table, back to targets.  It’s way too robotic for me and I don’t do well with rules or structure.

So there I was at the 25 yard pistol range.p1010003I wanted to use up some old 38+P that has been banging around in my pockets for a while and in my Model 60.  I also wanted to try out some Corbon 38+P before carrying it everyday.  I’ve heard that the Corbon is a good self-defense load.  It should be, I think I paid like 20 or 25 bucks for 25 rounds!!     DO NOT EVER LOAD YOUR EVERYDAY CARRY WEAPON WITH AMMO THAT YOU HAVE NOT TRIED OUT!! What’s nice about being there when no one else is, is that I can get up close to the target and shoot from three yards, five yards, seven yards and the table too.  I can shoot at different angles also.   I also wanted to try out a couple kinds of .22 subsonic ammo that I had to see if it made little enough noise to shoot in my neighborhood or along the powerlines.  It’s still noisy, but more of a pop than a crack.

g039Next I went over to the 50 yard range and used the Saiga with the reddot and with the iron sights.  It’s tough to shoot at 50 yards without optics.  I can see the target, but I’m basically aiming at the top, bottom, middle or corners of the target.  My eyes are only so good.  Always fun to use the Saiga.  Living in Massachusetts I’m limited to ten round mags, but that’s ok by me.  If I’m ever in the situation where I need a 30 round mag, my first instinct will be to go the other way.  I can’t say enough good things about the Saiga.  It’s not a tackdriver, but it is rugged, rugged, rugged and battle proven.  You can bury it in mud and it will shoot the mud right out of the barrel and out of the ejection port.  It also has very little recoil and shoots a very popular cartridge.  No problem hitting the paper every time at 50 yards. Stop your laughing!

Like most people, one of my first jay-oh-bees was as a dishwasher/busboy.  Everyone should spend some time working in a restaurant or as a housekeeper (I did that too.).  It gives you an appreciation of things and how to treat everyone as equals no matter their station in life.  Anyways, I’m a 13 year old kid, riding my bike to work, working until 11 or 12 at night and riding my bike home.  Hahahaha, imagine kids today doing that!?!?!?!  So on my first day of work, my boss says to me, ‘I don’t care if you come in late.  I don’t care if you leave early.  I don’t care if you are mean to customers. But always, always, always make sure that there is a frosted mug for me.’  This restaurant has been open for more than 30 years.  That’s a long time for a restaurant.  I drove by the other day.

p10100021Yeah, that’s the greenshoots of maybe a new business opening, NOT!  And to quote that genius Freddie Mercury, “And another, and another, and another one bites the dust.”

Get outside everyday!! This is a great time of year because there is so much coming to life.

Here is a mushroom called Hen of the Woods.  I don’t eat mushrooms except in hot n’ sour soup.

p1010050They like to grow on old stumps and trees.  It’s edible, but don’t take my word for it.  Get your own field guides and do the research for yourself.

Here is some more wild edible called fiddleheads.  You ever eat these?  I’m not a big fan of these either, but I guess that just means that I wasn’t hungry enough, aya.

p1010002You can see there are probably 100 of them in this single picture.  They’re baby ferns.  You scrape the fuzz off of them and prepare them like asparagus, but don’t take my word for it.  Get your own field guides and do the research for yourself.

Here is some burdock.  Burdock is one of the most medicinal plants going.  It’s a biennial.  Eat the root or the young leaves.

p10100012You can even see one of the old seedpods laying there.  When you or your dog comes home with these things stuck to you or it, you know there is something edible nearby.  Get a fieldguide and read up on burdock.

Then we have some real yummies coming up too.  I hope you know what these are.

p10100051These are some wild strawberries.    I will remember where these are and try to beat the wildlife to them, but don’t take my word for it.  Get your own field guides and do the research for yourself.

I also saw some wild morels.  This is a pic from Google Images, but this is what they looked like.  I didn’t have my camera with me at the time.  This is a beautiful picture though.   Morels are so distinctive that when you seem them you know it.

morels300pxI went back two days later with my camera to take a picture and some other SOB got to them before me so they were gone.  Morels are some of the most prized wild food going, but don’t take my word for it.  Get your own field guides and do the research for yourself.

So the big lesson today –

  • Practice what you preach. Don’t count on anything that you haven’t used or practiced with.  Once again, it’s great to plan what you may carry, but have you actually tired it?  Crap is heavy.
  • Get a bunch of field guides, at least three or four.  Read them, peruse them and study them. You will be amazed at what you begin to recognize when You Get Outside Everyday. Seriously, you’ll look at a book and be like, ‘wow, I know I’ve seen that’ and next time out you’ll be saying to yourself, ‘hey there it is acorns, pine needles, blackberry or burdock.’

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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Cop shot

April 18, 2009

I always like to say that the only thing worse than cops is knowing that we need them.

Now anyone that’s been reading my blog for a while knows that I’m not a big fan of the police.  They watch what I do.  They inspect me.  They stick their big blue noses in my business.  They wait for me to screw up so they can hassle me.  They’re dying for a reason to interact with me and prevent me from going about my business.  They’re hunters hunting innocent (as well as guilty) citizens.

That being said, a cop was shot a few days ago in Massachusetts.  They got the three alleged scumbags that did it.  I wish that the police shot them all right then and there.  When someone shoots a cop it shows such a disregard for the rules of our civil society that they need to be put down like a rabid raccoon.  If they got the right guys than he is done, execute him or store him in a shabby cell where can can spend a miserable lonely life until he dies, hopefully hungry and cold.

Unfortunately, as the economy continues to deteriorate I expect there to be more violence against the police.

So I thought it would be a good time to post a Powerpoint presentation that the Oakland PD and Coroner’s Office put together after that criminal in Oakland murdered those four cops.  Please note I don’t endorse the Orange County Sheriff Coroner’s Office and they don’t endorse this blog.  Maybe you can learn something.  The last of the slides definitely has some good advice.

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And LEOs although I’m not a big fan of the needless interactions with citizens, I respect the job you do and please stay safe out there.

Get outside everyday!

I was out doing my walk and saw three turkey vultures sitting in a couple of trees.  I knew they were turkey vultures by their red heads.  These things are really large birds with maybe a 5-6 foot wingspan.

p1010068And here’s a good shot of the three of them.

p1010071Some people think that they are ugly because they look like vultures.  I think they look just the way they should..perfect.  They eat carrion which I love.


Civil disobedience

April 4, 2009

I have been involved in a number of protests over the years.  I love a good march or protest. I’ll try to tell you what I know about how large groups of people react so if you ever g20decide to cowboy up and actually exercise your constitutional right to peaceably assemble to petition the government for a redress of your grievances as opposed to sitting on your butt pecking away at your keyboard you may know how to behave.  Then again you may be just walking past a demonstration and get caught up in it by either the demonstrators or the police with a giant fishnet.  That’s right during the 04 Repub convention in NYC the police used snow fence like a fishing net and scooped up everyone on the street.

g20-3Plus, I bet over the coming years we see more and more public displays of disaffection.  So even if you don’t plan on going to a protest you may nevertheless find youself caught up in one.

g20-1First, if you want to be safer you are better off in the center of the crowd.  More action happens on the edges and periphery.  Stay in the center of the crowd and you will be less likely to get grabbed by the cops or hurt by anyone.  You can see that the young gents to the left chose to disregard my advice and they are on the edges of the crowd.  The guy on the ground was obviously rewarded for his efforts with a thump and a lump on his head.

Always have an escape plan.  Be wary of being with a crowd in a narrow street or alley way.  A big crowd of people can act as one big wild animal if they get startled.  You do not want to be in the way of a stampede of people trying to escape teargas or rubber bullets.  Always have an escape plan.  Look for a doorway or even an alcove built into the side of a building that you can duck into.  Whatever you do do not fall down.  If you have to, look for a big planter or base of a statue that you can climb up on.

If you are there to protest don’t allow yourself to get herded into a Free Speech first_amendment_zone1Zones.   This is the free speech zone from Boston 2004.  What you thought the whole country was a free speech zone. Haha.  Like I said you better get off of your butt and cowboy up.  A Free Speech Zone is basically a cage where the authorities want all of the protesters to go.   Whether you are pro or con on whatever the issue is the authorities want to stick you in a cage.  Don’t let it happen.  You will be in a closed in area who are in favor of issues that you are opposed to and no one that you want to influence will be around to see you.

Look for the authorities.  Beware of who they are.  Cops and feds too will dress up in plainclothes and infiltrate the crowd. It’s not hard to spot them if you open your eyes.  They look like cops who are dressed as protesters.  Some of them will even have earbuds.  You know the look, short hair, overly muscled, shirt is untucked but looks very out of place, like it’s the first time the shirt has ever been untucked.   Cops have even been known to instigate a problem.  If you can, identify the plainclothes authorities.

7077744Marching takes a lot of energy and water.  Make sure that you bring your own bottled water to stay hydrated.    I’d also suggest bringing safety glasses,  a bandanna or better yet an n95 or n100 mask.  if the tear gas starts going off you can soak the bandana in water and cover you face.  Safety glasses will help with tear gas, mace or flying objects.  I’d also recommend bringing some easy food with you like granola bars or fruit.

I’ve seen quite a few citizens bloodied in the streets of London.  I’m not generally a fan of attacking the authorities and I do feel badly for the Bobbies, but I think it’s about time the citizens start to strike back.  It’s not right that the Bobbies bloody woman and hit folks in the head for being on the streets protesting.  Maybe a few rocks, sticks on molotov cocktails might put the balance of power back into balance.  That’s the breaks when the authorities hurt citizen, the authorities best expect to get hurt by said citizens.

I don’t know enough about William Ayers to condemn the guy.  I’m not sure how instrumental he was in the wicked deeds of the Weather Underground.  That being said the guy is now an academic.   Ayers was hired by a Boston College student group to speak on the state of democracy in America.  The Boston College administration canceled the event. Think about the irony. I’m not a fan of Ayers and I’m not going to defend what he did during the 60’s.

My point is, what does it say about the state of big D Democracy in the United States when someone who is supposed to speak on Democracy has the even canceled because it offends “The Administration.”  No need for a speech.  I think we were all taught a lesson.  Want me to teach it to you?  THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA that the authorities don’t allow you to have!

BTW what do you call someone who destroys private property and shoots at uniformed officers of the state?

You know, you got that word in your head?  Do you?  What do you call folks who destroy private property and shoot at agents of the government?

Well how about our forefathers that threw cases of tea overboard into Boston Harbor and shot their muskets across the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts.

I don’t like Ted Stevens.  I don’t like his politics.  I don’t like his bridge to nowhere.  In my opinion he is a dirty politician.  None of that matters. Our government hid evidence and tried to prevent witnesses from testifying. That’s more than wrong.  It’s tyranny.

Get outside everyday!

p1010043Mmmmmm, gorgeous babling stream with moss covered rocks.  So lush.  So plush.  The sound was equally as pleasing as the sight.

p1010046I love the way the roots of this old birch are like tentacles coming up from the earth to grab the ground.  I like the way the roots have become covered in bark to protect themselves.  What a grand tree.

Getting out

March 16, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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