Archive for the ‘survival’ Category

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.

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.

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.

p1010008

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.

Check it out! Personal security and pokeweed.

August 6, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poke Salad Annie
Poke Salad Annie
The gators got your granny

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

Poke Salad Annie by David Hallyday

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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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.

Light Pollution

July 1, 2009

The noise post from a while back got me to thinking about how thecity_at_night_1024 light each of us makes impacts others.   As you can infer from my blog’s tagline, “Suburban survival for the stupid“, I live in the suburbs, so there is a lot of light around here.   To see the Milky Way I need to get into the woods, beach or up to the great north.

If your neighbor has a big motion activated metal halide, that’s going to impact your space.  Your neighbor’s light will prevent you from seeing the night sky like you otherwise could if he didn’t have the gulag light blaring down on you.  Light can even make someone lose sleep.

At night light travels for a real far distance.   So a little light can have a great impact.  If you have a floodlight outside try to have some respect for your neighbors and how your floodlight can impact them.  If you are driving towards people walking at night dim your lights.

When you leave a room shut off the lights.  Shut off any unnecessary lights anytime you can.

Light_pollution_It's_not_prettyThis picture above is the night sky looking at Orion from dark skies and from the Orem/Provo, Utah area. (Courtesy of Light Pollution, Wikipedia.)  You can see how much light interferes with the environment.

Shutting off unnecessary lights also saves energy.  Which saves $.  You look at a picture of a city at night and you know that most of the offices with lights still burning in them are now empty.  The worker bees having left the hive hours ago.

As civilization and urbanization continue to spread the problem has definitely and will continue to get worse.  I wonder if the day may come when our kids’, kids’, kids may not even be able to see the stars at night.  20040921144929!Usa_night

This is a picture of the continental United States at night.  You can see the cities and highways all lit up.  And just because you don’t see your neck of the woods lit up, doesn’t mean that light pollution is not a problem around you. I can’t help but wonder how much of the light is necessary and being used right at the moment this picture was taken.  How much light is the on at dusk off at dawn variety.

city-lights-building-nightThis picture is just over the top.  Chances are fossils fuels were burned to light up this city like that.  And you can be sure that you can’t see s single star at night.

Okay, that was all the neighborly stuff, now for the Suburban Survival stuff.  The other thing about light is that, like water, it will find small opening to seep through.  Light travels out of windows and cracks under doors.  At night people going by your house will be able to see light leaking through small openings.   Light also lets others look into your house and if you look out you won’t be able to see them in the darkness.     Be careful of making yourself a silhouette.  Don’t make yourself a silhouette.  In other words be aware when there is a light behind you.  If the lights ever go out for a long period you best be careful to seal up all the cracks and hang thick blankets over the windows.  Through a towel under the door.  Being the only one in town with lights burning could turn out to be a dangerous thing.  Nothing wrong with having some extra stuff on hand to reduce the amount of light you emit: plywood for windows, duct tape, tarps, maybe some black paint, caulking.  Don’t forget over flat treeless terrain a lighted house can be seen for a very far distanceAnd to someone hungry, cold or hurt light means the end to all of their suffering.   You can also use it to your advantage because light will draw people like moths to a flame.

This last picture was taken during and after a large east coast power outage.  You can see how much of the house w lightnight sky is visible when the power is off, and how much is hidden whan the floodlights and house lights come back on.   If someone were standing in front of the window in that house, you’d be able to see them standing there plain as day.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

P1010001This bunny was even too small to eat.  Then again maybe I just wasn’t hungry enough.  I bet I got within ten feet of him.  What works for me is to not look at an animal as I’m approaching it.  Also, just like when fighting never approach straight direct, move at angles.

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.

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.

Water filter review

May 20, 2009

I bought a water filter called  the Pure Easy Camper’s Micro-Ceramic Filter.  The reason that I bought it was because of its diminutive size.    The filter only weighs three ounces and measures about 5 1/2″ * 1″ * 2 1/2″.  It will fit inside of a hardcase for sunglasses.  That’s pretty small. I wanted something that I could p6use when I want to travel really light.  I thought that a filter like this would be ideal for those one or two night solo camping trips.  When you don’t have a buddy to split the load with, you really need to pay attention to the weight of what you carry.

The other nice thing about this filter is that it filters down to .1 microns.  That’s about as an effective filter as I’ve seen.  The MSRs and Katadyns go down to maybe .2 microns.    I also thought it would be good in the Get Home or Bug Out Bag.   I paid $65.00 for it, which isn’t too bad for a filter.  It’s made from some sort of polymer.

So of course I had to try it out at home before depending upon it for a camping trip.  It was easy to assemble.  Not much to it really, just snap the tubes on.  The tubes are smaller than all of the other water filters that I’ve used.  The tubes are pretty much the same size as aquarium tubing, so you can’t pump a lot of water through them.p4

Here’s a shot of the filter with the tubes attached.  I should have placed a ruler next to it for scale, but remember it’s about the size of a pair of sunglasses. The intake tube has a little screen pre-filter on it.  It’s that little green triangular thing in the bottom left of the picture and it also has a float that you can slide up and down the tube to keep the pre-filter off of the bottom of the source of water that you are filtering.  It’s that kind of charcoal colored thing in the right side of the picture.

My first crack at filtering didn’t work out so well.  No matter how I tried I couldn’t get it to develop any suction.  I disassembled it, applied some silicon sealant and tried to prime it.  All to no avail.

I ended up sending it back to the manufacturer – Middleboro Water, LLC.  These folks were very responsive.  They said that they never had a manufacturing failure before.  They replaced it free of charge and FedExed the new filter to me free of charge.  Middleboro Water is a great company with great service.  Like I said no hassles (other than having to pay for postage there), no questions and I had the replacement filter within days.

Lesson here though, like I always say – is to try everything out before you depend on it.  Whether it’s ammo, a sleeping bag, stove, flashlight, firearm or a water filter.  You can’t depend on something if you haven’t tried it.

I tried the replacement filter in some stream water.   The  stream really wasn’t that dirty and I would consider drinking it untreated if need be – either let it settle in a container or dig a hole next to the stream and let the water perc up.  It did an adequate job, but I didn’t think the water tasted as “sweet” as an MSR filter.  This may improve with usage and time.  It also took an enormous amount of effort to get a glass of water, probably three minutes of pumping.  The pre-filter also clogs up pretty easily.  Next time I use it I think that I would tie a bandana around the pre-filter to act as a pre-pre-filter.  Strange enough, the collar that screws down to hold the pump handle in place kept coming loose while I was pumping.  Also, with just a little bit of use I could tell that the ceramic element was starting to get clogged i.e. it became increasingly more difficult to pump.

As you might expect due to this filter’s small bore and stroke, you have to pump a lot for the amount of water you get.  Not good for a group of thirsty people.  You have to pump maybe 200 times (although I wasn’t counting) to fill up a one liter bottle.  You have to pump much more with this filter than with other larger filters.  p7I’m thinking of replacing the aquarium type tubing with some wider surgical tubing with the hope of getting a better flow rate.

The filter also came with a nice little storage bag with pull ties on it, a little bit of sandpaper to clean the ceramic element with, some special silicone sealant and simple, easy to follow directions.

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It does disassemble very easily.  You just unscrew the collars and can pull up the pump handle and the ceramic element.  You can see how dirty the element got with minimal usage.  This is crap that you don’t want to drink.

All in all, the filter was a bit of a disappointment.  It will  get the job done, but it’s small size isn’t a big enough benefit to make up for its shortcomings.  I think that you are better off sticking to a normal size filterI like the concept and the company seems like a good company, but I would wait for the second generation to come out.  There are still a few kinks that need ironing out.  The company, Middleboro Water, LLC, did back up their product 100% so I would not hesitate to buy another of their products. Their service was also great.  I just think this particular filter needs a few more design improvements.

However, if you need to travel fast, light and solo the Pur Easy Camper may be the ticket for you, but make sure that you have a back up means to clean water too.

In summary, it’s a good filter for specialized purposes, (light and fast solo on foot travel) otherwise carry a larger filter.

Get outside everyday!

P1010101This little tree is a survivor.  Look at it growing through a crack in this rock.

And this was just a cool looking root that was all worn down.  It reminded me of a topo map.

p1010103

Don’t be lulled

May 12, 2009

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  The way I figure, although it may feel like the eye of the storm, is that we haven’t even made it through the first half of the mutation and eventual evolution of our economic system.  Someone much smarter than me once wrote something like, ‘evolution depends on multiple spontaneous mutations’ – debt restructuring, currency devaluation, hyper-inflation, continued deflation, mass job loss, public protests, government takeover of private business, scarcity of goods, rationing, foreclosures, tax protests to name just a few.   I think that is what we are likely to see over the coming years.  What we are lucky, or unlucky depending upon how you look at it, to be living through is the total evolution of our economy.

The market has been doing very well the past couple of months, but as far as I am concerned the fundamentals still suck.  A leap frogging in technology is the only thing I think that has the most remote possibility of rescuing us from the economic mess.  I just don’t see it on the horizon, but hey I’m just a regular guy trying to keep my head above water.   Twenty years ago who thought that we’d all have a computer.  That’s the only type of thing that I think can reverse our destiny.  You all can argue how severe the deflation will be and then how severe the subsequent inflation will be.

The President, the Media, the MSNBCers and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to put it back together again.  Everything is going to change.  What we do for a living is going to change.  How we get around.  How we grow and get food is going to change.  What we expect of our government.   How we live together.  The things that we’ve grown to value over the past 30 years – play stations, flat screens, SUVs, McMansions, huge vacation homes, easy airfare, tropical fruit in the winter – are going to lose importance.

This is a temporary uptick.  We are facing another leg down.

So take this temporary calm time to TCB.  Maybe there is dental work that you’ve been putting off.  You’ve seen the lists.  You know what to do.

Start with Getting Outside Everyday.

Went up to the Pine Tree State this past weekend and saw a bunch of birds.  You see those specks in the field?  Those are wild turkeys.  I’ve never had it, but I heard it’s real gamey.  So much so that you need to hang it outside for a few days to season it.  Wouldn’ mind giving  it  a try sometime with some bacon.  Bacon makes everything better.  Bacon and turkey are a natural combination, where the total is better than the sum of the parts.

p10And here’s another shot of these beautiful birds.  You need to click on these pictures so you can see the birds’ colors.

P1010016

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.


Oath Keepers

April 9, 2009

There has been a lot of brouhahah about the  Oath Keepers.  For those of you not familiar with the Oath Keepers it is a group of:

“Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”

So these brave folks have vowed to defend the Constitution even if it means disobeying orders from their superiors.

I don’t believe it.  Not that I don’t believe their good intentions, but no one knows how they will act when faced with the unknown.  Many a brave man turned tail and ran at the first shot fired.

Shall we look at some evidence and why I feel that the vow of the Oath Keepers can’t be relied upon?

So no, while I appreciate the Oath Keepers warm thoughts and well wishes I don’t believe that when push comes to shove they will disobey direct orders to do whatever is asked of them.  Talk is cheap.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful and I’m sure that the  Oath keepers are well intentioned, but based on the evidence – shooting unarmed people, shooting people in he back, wide spread beatings of citizens, seizure of legally owned firearms when people most need them taking pot away from dying people and on and on and on there is only one conclusion that any sane person can come to; that the authorities can’t be trusted.

And some news of the day – “The US government has admitted the nation’s power grid is vulnerable to cyber attack, following reports it has been infiltrated by foreign spies.” Are you prepping to live in the pre-industrial age?

And the Fed released the minutes from its last meeting, the economy is much worse than they let on and as you hopefully know the Fed downgraded its forecasts – “Sixty-three experts butted heads openly and were unable to decide whether the economy has just simply slowed more than expected, or is in the toilet — where it will remain for years to come.”

Don’t depend on anyone else to do what’s right.

Get outside everyday!!

An old stone dam built in the woods.

p1010063It’s difficult to get a sense of scale but I’d say it’s maybe 10-12 feet from the water to the top.

p1010065A nice piece of quartz sitting in the woods.

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.

School bus

March 5, 2009

It seems like whenever I drive in the morning or the afternoon I get stuck behind a school bus.  You know that feeling when you’re in a hurry and you get stuck behind the bus for what seems like three miles and 20 stops?  Why don’t kids have to walk to school anymore?  When I was in elementary school I walked 1.25 miles each way to school.  I was 6 or 7 years old and I was walking both ways to school.  Even in the winter.  When is the last time one of your lazy ass kids walked a mile?  I remember we used to try and take an unauthorized shortcut.  Even back then I hated the System and still do to this day.   It even made no sense to a six year old kid to have to take the long way. If Katie the Crossing Guard caught us taking the shorter unauthorized way there was Hell to pay.

These days you never see kids walking to school, except kids in the city.  Now it seems like every kid gets to take the bus, has a car or get his parents to chauffeur him.  What’s the problem with young Americans?  No wonder kids are so fat these days.  Walking to school is good for kids.  Kids don’t get nearly enough fresh air either today.  And not only does each kid get to take the bus, but the bus stops at the end of every kid’s driveway too.  In middle school I got to take the bus.  I hated it the whole time.  We even had to walk to the bus stop.

Which reminds me, you don’t see kids playing outside anymore either.    Sure you may see kids if they’re playing some organized sport like baseball or soccer, but I never see kids playing street hockey or capture the flag.  This isn’t good either.  My parents couldn’t drag us in from outside.

We have lost our pioneer spirit.  What lazy ass, fat, dumb American now has the guts to head out on a trip like Lewis & Clark? I read we knew more about the moon prior to Armstrong setting foot on it than Lewis & Clark knew about there destination.

We deserve what we reap.

I don’t like the whole school choice thing either.  Stop wasting money on shuttling every kid from one end of town to the other and spend the money on teachers, books and technology.   All cities and towns are poor enough, end school choice.  Even beyond the transportation issue though I don’t like school choice.  Kids should go to schools in their neighborhood.  If the local school sucks than fix it.

Stop driving your kids and make them walk or ride their bikes.    In the long run you’ll be doing your spoiled little darlings a favor.

So Bernanke comes out a week or so ago and says that the economy should turn around later this year then the Fed releases a report saying that the economy is worsening and the recession is deepening. Bernanke obviously has no idea what he is doing.  He isn’t even cognizant of what his own team is doing.  Is he tripping?

The weekly unemployment claims figure just came out – initial claims are still over 600,000 and continued claims are still over 5,000,000.  We’re supposed to be happy because they both dropped by a little bit.  Santelli had an interesting comment that although claims are the highest since 1981 (or something like that) that the workforce is much larger now than it was then.  I feel like asking him is the way we calculate unemployment the same?  No it isn’t.  The government massages the numbers down.  The good folks at Shadow Stats calculate an unemployment rate of near 18%.

My wife works with maybe eight other women.  Over the past year the husband or boyfriend of every single one of them has lost his job at some point.  Ask your own friends, family and neighbors and than let me know if you believe the BS government pablum about unemployment being at 7%.

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, which mean more attention than our Fed chairman, you know things are bad and getting worse.  Act appropriately:

  • Cut your expenses where you can
  • Diversify your income
  • Buy extra non-perishables every week – food, water, candles, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, TP, etc.
  • Stock up a bit on imported things that you buy (which means just about everything) – nothing wrong with having an extra pair or two of jeans, sneakers, boots, BVDs and jackets.
  • Get a firearm and learn how to use it
  • Learn some new skills
  • Get some camping equipment – stove, sleeping bags, tent, cookware, lantern, knives, axe, sleeping pads
  • Have an escape plan – local, state and out of state – make sure your family is in on it and knows what to do.
  • Have battery powered radio/tv/walkie talkies/flashlights and a bunch of batteries
  • Do some Internet research on Get Home Bags and Bug Out Bags.
  • Buy some extra propane or charcoal if that’s what your grill uses.
  • Get Outside Everyday!

Get out everyday!  This is the good and the ugly.

m1Here is the good.  Beautiful sunny, blue sky day.  I was skiing down this trail.  It looks steep, but it is twice as steep as it looks.  I took a good face plant.  Oh well, no falls no balls.  Believe me it was a trudge skiing to the top of the hill.  Although it was maybe 28 degrees out because the high March sun was shining the snow was sticking to the bottom of my skis.  The trail going down is on the northside so it was still fast.

This is the ugly.

m4Had to go into the city yesterday and I saw this smokestack spewing death.  The plume was blowing towards a residential area where poorer people live.  There are many three families and small apartment buildings right downwind of this balck crap.  If you want to talk about survival and you live near where something like this spews poison on you 24/7 move, at least move someplace upwind.  Forget about your survival kit and move someplace safer.

survival fantasy

February 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And here’s a blog that covers armed citizens savings lives and saving property – http://www.claytoncramer.com/gundefenseblog/blogger.html.

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.