Archive for the ‘Wild edibles’ Category

Purslane or spurge

September 1, 2009

This is going to be a very important blog entry.  Purslane is so important and so tasty that it deserves its own entry.   These two plants, purslane and spurge are very widespread.  Purslane tastes really good. Other than wild berries I think that purslane is my favorite foraging food. Learn this plant.  It could save your life.  Purslane grows near you.

This is purslane. b4It has red stems and kind of fat leaves.  It kind of reminds me of a succulent like a jade plant.  Purslane used to be a garden plant, but now it has escaped and even grows out of the cracks in my driveway.  It seems to like sunny, sandy soil.  Interestingly enough purslane is also very nutritious as it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, like seafood.

In nature it seems like similar plants grow near one another.    For example, the cure for poison ivy, jewel weed, grows near poison ivy.  And spurge grows near purslane.  You don’t want to eat spurge.  This is spurge.

b5Like purslane, spurge kind of has red stems too, but if you look closely you can see that the stems of spurge are more woody and thin.  Spurge radiates out from the center in a circle.  Purslane is an erect plant growing upright.  Spurge crawls along the ground.  Purslane has thickish jade plant like leaves and spurge leaves are thin growing across from one another on the stem.

Here’s another shot:

b1At the top is purslane and at the bottom is spurge.  You can see the difference right? I’m telling you purslane is one of the best wild edibles that you can forage.

This lemony, crisp nutritional powerhouse is neither, it’s actually a succulent. This accounts for its resemblance to a jade plant, and its water content. Many describe it as similar to arugula or spinach. It’s less bitter than arugula and less tannic than spinach. It can be prepared in many of the same ways as either.  In terms of nutrition, it’s a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. More good news: recent research has confirmed that purslane is one of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. “Purslane is one of the richest sources of ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which is a precursor to DHA. In other words, if you can’t eat fish, purslane helps fight heart disease and stroke, too.”

Did you get that, if you can’t eat fish eat purslane to fight heart disease and stroke.  Easting purslane is like taking fish oil.

b6And the spurge plant ripped up on tossed on my driveway.  Now spurge is a weed and I shed no tear as it meets a drying death.

b7And purslane and now you have to be able to identify purslane and its close non-edible neighbor spurge.  Also, when you break a spurge stem it emits a white sap.  You can always ID spurge from it’s milky white sap.

Purslane also has a ton of medicinal properties,

Purslane has long been considered of value in the treatment of urinary and digestive problems. The juice has diuretic effects. 2 Purslane is also considered to be a “cooling aid” and cleansing stimulant of the kidneys, helpful in the bladder for urinary tract infection. The plant’s mucilagenous properties make it useful in GI problems. Besides having vermicidal properties, purslane has been reported to possess antifungal effects, with marked activity against the genus Trichophyton. The phenolic constituents of the plant exhibit antimicrobial effects.  Purslane, placed in animal feed, prevents diarrhea as well as provides immunostimulation in patient. Other sources mention purslane as effective in treating hookworms and amoebic dysentery. Clinical dataPurslane in a combination mouthwash demonstrated antimicrobial as well as anti-inflammatory effects. Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or sunburn may benefit from purslane. Other uses of the plant include a poultice for backache/dysmenorrhea; 1 neuropharmacological actions; and in cosmetics as a gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) source.

So GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY © and find yourself some purslane.

Advertisements

Health Insurance Inc.

August 20, 2009

On August 17, 2009 the DOW went down something like 180 points.  Most stocks tanked.  However some stocks performed pretty well that day.  People that are generally in favor of more competition.  Some people also think the government does a lousy job at most things.  I’m still amazed that I can send a letter from here to Alaska for 44 cents and that it will get there in a few days.

So Obama had a plan to allow the government to set up a health insurance program that could introduce some competition into the private marketplace.  In case you haven’t noticed there isn’t a whole lot of competition in the health insurance marketplace.  It’s basically run like an oligoply.  That is there are few players due to high barriers to entry.

So people that are generally in favor of competition and think the government does a sucky job are opposed to the government competing with private health insurers.

You can imagine how fearful private health insurance corporations are of the government offering services.  Just like drug dealers who don’t like other dealers trading on their turf, private health insurance corporations are deathly afraid of losing business to government.  They want to protect their own trade.  Remember private companies like Aetna, CIGNA and Humana care about profits before all other things.  Your health isn’t even a second though.  First thought is profits and the second thought is shareholders.

So on August 17, 2009 the market tanked.  It went down 2% or so.  This was also the day that Obama said he would take the public option (government offered insurance) off of the table, or so the rumor mill swirled.

What stocks do you suppose did great on the day when most others fell, health insurers.  As soon as the public option was removed from consideration the health insurers rebounded because they know that they don’t have to compete.  Sorta like a drug dealer that caps his competition.  When everyone else tanked Aetna, CIGNA and Humana all had a banger of a day because competition was stifled.  Each of these stocks went up about 5% on a day that the broader market was hit by large declines.

Don’t be a tool of for profit health insurance corporations.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

I written about burdock a few times and explained the many medicinal uses of it so I figured I’d show a couple pics of second year plants in flower.

p1010002Do you recognize these burrs/  Have you pulled them off of your dog or yourself after a ramble in the woods?

p1010003Well now you can spot this plant and now you know that the roots from the first years plants and the young leaves are both edible.  So supermarkets even sell burdock root.  Also, burdock root is a major ingredient in may traditional Chinese medicines.

Guns at protests

August 18, 2009

Good.  In case you haven’t seen it, a man carried what looks to be an AR at a protest in Phoenix, AZ. art.obama.gun.pool That’s fine by me.  I think it’s good to exercise our rights.  I also think that it’s good for those in government to be aware that the forceful overthrow of government is always an option.

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) — A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.”

I understand that some folks are concerned.  I figure some people who are opposed are just anti-gun or gun control nuts.  I don’t care about them.

Then there is probably another group of folks who are concerned that carrying guns at political protests can lead to violence.  I understand their concerns.  I hope that those in power are concerned too.

gun-at-town-hall-chyron

And at an Obama town hall meeting in New Hampshire another protester had his sidearm openly displayed.

Once again I think it’s fine and appropriate for American citizens to be exercising their rights.  I also think it’s important for our elected representatives to understand that change can be forced too.  Most Americans were against the bailouts for Wall Street, yet our congresspeople ignored MILLIONS of phone calls and emails and letters and went ahead and bailed out big finance and big insurance.

It’s great for people to get out and protest things.  I wish more Americans took to the streets to petition the government for a redress of our grievances. Be careful though folks, cops being what they are, don’t allow yourself to be drawn into some unnecessary conflict with the blue enforcers of government policy.

Those we elect need to know and understand that they will be held accountable.  Law is in the books.  Order comes about through the ongoing threat of force.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!!! ©

This is lamb’s quarters.  It is definitely one of the more tasty wild edibles.  Some stuff is good to eat and I’ll grab whenever I run into.  Stuff such as berries, the blueberries, the blackberries and mulberries.  Yum.  Then there is other stuff that is genuinely good to eat to, stuff like lambs quarters, dandelions and purslane fall into this category.  Then you got a whole lot of stuff that just ain’t that good and I’d only eat if I was hungry.  Anyways, back to the point at hand, lambs quarters.  This stuff is in the second category.  it is good to eat anytime.  Lambs quarters is the pale looking plant with the leaves shaped like goose feet.  that’s also another name for lamb’s quarters – white goosefoot.

q10Here is a better shot of a lamb’s quarter plant.  Some of the ways I spot this plant are the whitish leaves that seem kind of waxy and the hollow stem.  It can grow 4-5 feet tall and gets massive seed heads on it.  These plants develop so many seeds that Indians used to collect the seed and grind it to flour.  You can also boil the seed and make a sort of oatmeal from it.

q9Wildman Steve Brill writes, This European relative of spinach and beets, which grows throughout the North America, bears large quantities of edible, spinach-flavored leaves you can collect from mid-spring to late fall. It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber.”

Lamb’s quarters grows everywhere.  I guarantee you that if you don’t know what it is there is some growing within a few hundred yards of where you live – city, country or suburbs and you consider it a weed.  You want to eat the youngest leaves or the smallest leaves from the top of the plant.  This is a great plant to start foraging with because it is easy to ID and really does taste great.  In addition it could keep you alive.  This is a real tasty wild edible.  Get yourself some field guides, positively ID the ones in your neighborhood and try it out.

Legalize it!!

July 27, 2009

The time has come to legalize It.  It being marijuana.   “Calif. tax officials: Legal pot would bring $1.4B”  Think Cali can use that kind of money?  How about your own state?  Hell, even the Republican governor has admitted to smoking pot at one point in his life.    “The Equalization Board used law enforcement and academic studies to calculate that about 16 million ounces — or 500 tons — of marijuana are consumed in California each year.” WOW!!

So on the one hand states are missing out on billions in tax revenues, on the other hand enormous sums of money are being spent by the federal and state governments to further perpetuate the illegality of marijuana.  Billions are spent every year to keep a plant illegal.

“In 2007 the Department of Justice reported that there were 1,841,182 drug arrests in the United States; the report also stated that there were  more drug abuse arrests than any other category of offenses. Marijuana arrests accounted for 47.4% of the drug abuse arrests. This allows us to estimate that about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests were for possession.”

This is not only an economic issue for state governments, but it is also a liberty issue for private citizens.  Consenting adults should be able to do pretty much anything they want that doesn’t impact others.   The cops like it though.  The seizure of private property prior to conviction and roadblocks are further intrusions on citizens’ rights.  Why give the cops another reason to interact with citizens.

Pot also isn’t the gateway drug anymore than milk and cookies.  How many heroin junkies started with milk n’ cookies?

Since pot was first criminalized do you think a single person has been denied due to marijuana’s banned status.  Kids in elementary school and prisoners in jail all have access to the illegal weed.  Goes to show all the money spent on cops, prisons, judges, and brand spanking new cop toys is wasted money.  Prohibition does not work.  Prohibition puts a substance in the control of criminals and drives up the market price.

Making pot illegal only serves to benefit: cops, prisons, lawyers and politicians.  The fastest way to cure all of the violence in Columbia and Mexico and American cities is to take drugs out of the hands of criminals.  How do we accomplish that overnight? LEGALIZE IT.

So there you go six simple arguments to legalize It.

1. issue of personal liberty and self-determination, legalizing It would help to limit Big G Government intruding into our private affairs.  Why give them another excuse?

2. It isn’t nearly as dangerous as those with beholden interests make it out to be;

3. opportunity cost of lost tax revenues;

4. direct costs of keeping pot illegal;

5. indirect costs of giving kids a permanent record and the loss of student loans;

6. the ineffective War on Drugs has been an utter and total failure.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

d7

Pretty gold finch feather.  I saw blue jay feather yesterday that was as blue as the bluest sky.   Really pretty amazing.  We were sitting outside the other day and four yellow finches were flying around us putting on an acrobatic flying show.

This is the flowerhead of staghorn sumac.  I posted a winter picture of it back when snow was covering the ground.  You’ve seen these before haven’t you.  Usually you see them in areas that have been previously disturbed.  Like me.  The plants are kind of hairy.  Like me.

d9

You can make a sort of lemonade from the red berries by picking off the red flowerhead and soaking a bunch of them in cold water.  Use maybe 6-8 flowerheads per big pitcher of water.  Always use cold water and then strain it through  a coffee filter or something to strain out all of the little red hairs.  You can add sugar if you want to. “Of 100 medicinal plants screened for antibiotic activity, this species [staghorn sumac] was most active, attributed to conetent of gallic acid, 4-methoxygallic acid, and methyl gallate.” Foster & Duke, Peterson Field Guide.

Gay marriage & wild grapes

July 22, 2009

This is a sensitive topic I know.  The grapes come after the waxing philosophical.  If you don’t want to be subjected to my mini-rant on gay marriage then skip below to the GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY part.  Last chance to leave or skip down to the Wild Grapes part before you are subjected to the rant.

I knew that you couldn’t resist reading the rant.  You don’t even know if I’m pro or con gay marriage.  I’m not gay.  I don’t care who is.  I live in Massachusetts.  Gay marriage has been legal here for more than five years.  Massachusetts is the same now as before gay marriage was authorized.  That’s right, my straight marriage isn’t under attack.  The streets aren’t filled with militant gays and lesbians.  Things are as bucolic as ever in Massachusetts.  Heck, if you were a space alien visiting from another galaxy you wouldn’t have any clue that gay marriage is allowed.

A couple of points to make here:

1. Allowing loving people to marry each other doesn’t mean the end of Western Civilization.  The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is just as screwed up now as it was before gay marriage became legal.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  I think the present Speaker of the House is under indictment just like the last Speaker of the House.

2. What business is it of anyone’s which adults can marry which adults?  MYOB!! The gays want nothing to do with you or your kids.  I think they would like nothing better than to be left alone.  While I’m at it I think the Mormons got a bad rap too.  I don’t know why someone would want more than one spouse, but more power to you.

3.  Gays aren’t indoctrinating anyone into the lifestyle anymore than you were indoctrinated into being straight.

4. Your way of life, our way of life, the straight way of life is not under attack.

5. No one is going to force any church to solemnize a gay marriage.

6. Just like the American Revolution and Civil War were fought more over economics than principal, recognition of gay marriage has more to do with economics than anything else.  It has to do with access to health insurance, survivorship benefits, health care and pensions.

I’m not sure that this is a state’s right issue, any more so than if a state refused to recognize marriage between different races or ethnicities.    I do agree that marriage has always been relegated to the states.   However, just as laws against miscegeny were struck down by SCOTUS in 1967 in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, so should state laws barring gays from marrying.

I like to mind my own business in the hopes that others will mind their own business too.  If the gays don’t bother me, which they usually don’t, then I won’t bother them. Deal?

After five years of legal gay marriage in Massachusetts I can tell you that you have nothing to fear from gays getting married.   At least to me life seems the same.

Hey you are free to disagree with me.  Reasonable people can disagree, as long as no one is getting hurt.  Oh, and in a survival situation no matter how you feel about gay marriage pro or con, I hope you know to keep your opinion to yourself.  Opinions can be dangerous things.  It’s usually much safer to be agreeable and bide your time.  Speaking out can get you killed.  It’s better to be a survivor than be right. In a survival situation  stop worrying about being right and focus on surviving.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY! © Now for the wild grapes.  I was out walking the dog through the woods and saw some wild grapes in a little clearing.  It would have been easy to walk right past them, but like I always preach, you gotta keep your eyes and your mind open.   Your mind has to be open to observe what your eyes are seeing.  It is easy to look right past things without seeing them.

P1010004So what is there to say about wild grapes.  They’re pretty easy to ID.  You can see the stem is kind of reddish purple.  If you look closely the stem almost looks like paper peeling up in a few places.

Another good way to tell wild grape from Virginia Creeper is because grapes have a three lobed leaf. I don’t know if lobe is the correct word, but if you look you can see that the leaf is genuinely divided into three segments.

P1010008Virginia Creeper which looks like wild grape, but shouldn’t be eaten has a five or seven lobed/segmented leaf.  I think you can drink the water from cut grape vines too, but if wild grape is growing you know that there is water nearby.  Wild grapes don’t grow where it’s dry.

I liked this picture too because it looks cool, but also shows another good way to ID wild grape.

P1010007Isn’t this a beautiful picture the way the light is shining through the canopy of grape vines?  Go ahead and click on it to make it big.  So anyways another good way to ID grape is because its tendrils, those are the things that grab onto to other things to climb.  It’s the grape’s way of getting more into the sun.  Anyways, the tendrils on wild grape are binary.  See how there are like four or five pair?  Wild grape tendrils grow in pairs. Plus the fruit looks like grape and tastes like grape, tart grape, but grape.  I used to spend a fair amount of time hunting and picking wild grape and then making wild mountain grape wine – strong and sweet.  Oh, and watch those seeds.  I’ve yet to find a seedless wild grape.

There now you have a bunch of ways to positively ID wild grape: bark, tendrils, leaves and fruit.  You can see this fruit isn’t quite ready yet, But the race is now on between the birds and me.  BRING IT ON TWEETY!!

Goldman Sachs & magic mushrooms

July 16, 2009

WTF.  Goldman Sachs is the poster kid of what is wrong with our country.  The blogosphere is alive with folks ranking on Goldman Sachs and with good reason.  First, you have the revolving door between industry and government where folks like Summers, Rubin, Geithner, Paulson, Neel Cash n’ Carry, et al work in private commerce, then they get jobs in the public sector where they change private commercial interests into  public policy then it’s back through the revolving door into private industry to rake in the big bucks.  Or as the NYT wrote, Government Sachs:

“While many Wall Streeters have made the trek to Washington, there is no question that the axis of power at the Treasury Department tilts toward Goldman. That has led some to assume that the interests of the bank, and Wall Street more broadly, are the first priority. There is also the question of whether the department’s actions benefit the personal finances of the former Goldman executives and their friends.”

So this private firm, Goldman Sachs, owned by private investors gets an enormous public bailout totaling BILLIONS of dollars in public funds.   Predictably Goldman Sachs stock goes up,  enriching each private investor.  This was an enormous transfer of wealth from the pockets of hairdressers, grocery baggers, carpenters, teachers, cops, doctors, pet groomers and lawyers into the pockets of the owners of Goldman Sachs.

“Goldman Sachs Group Inc executives sold almost $700 million worth of stock since the collapse of rival Lehman Brothers last year, the Financial Times said on Monday. The newspaper said that most of the stock sales took place while the biggest U.S. investment bank was bailed out by the government with $10 billion of taxpayer money, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

You got that?  Goldman Sachs was sucking because it overextended itself.  The taxpayers bailed it out.  Stock prices went up and executives sold, profited on the backs of taxpayers.

When my business went belly up.  I got no bailout.  I sold everything I had, barely held onto my house and paid the debt off.  In 2007 three bigshots at Goldman each took home more than $70,000,000 in pay EACH.  Then a year later they come to American wage earners with cup in hand.  Ska-Rew!!

So last year right around Thanksgiving Goldman was trading at $52.  Since then on the backs of wage earners it has tripled in value.  Who is getting the benefit of that gain?  It sure as hell isn’t the American wage earner taxpayer who generously contributed to bailing out Goldman.

And of course Goldman is back to paying out million dollar bonuses to the select few while the vast majority of Americans are still suffering through a personal financial crisis.

I’m really not qualified to write on Goldman, for that I turn to someone much better educated than me, Mike Morgan.  I strongly suggest reading Mr. Morgan on a regular basis.

“Shame on Meredith – Today she prostituted herself in her nauseating glowing remarks about Goldman Sachs. What Meredith failed to point out, was exactly how and where Goldman Sachs is making their money . . . on the backs of pension funds, endowments and other fiduciary money that they are manipulating and front running. I should also mention, Meredith has failed to even hint at the problems facing Goldman Sachs as a going concern.”

Then I hear that some trading software was stolen from Government Sachs and that this software would allow the owners to manipulate the marketplace“The 34-year-old prosecutor also dropped this bombshell: “The bank has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.” So Goldman admits to having software that can manipulate markets. Let’s see what happens to them.

Make no mistake about it, there are a very few individuals at the top of the food chain who are running things for their benefitEverything else – Republican, Democrat, Palestinian, Israeli, white, black, gay, straight, pro-life, pro-choice is nothing but frosting.  The real nuts of the matter to the powerful few is the accumulation of wealth and power.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! ©

Okay folks, any mushroom experts out there? I saw this pretty little mushroom so I figured I’d share it.  I think that it is amanita muscaria aka magic mushroom.  I’m not certain because I don’t see the rings around the stem, but I do think that I see the universal veil near the base of the cap, but no rings on the stem.  Any of you know for sure, or have a better educated guess than me?

05This is some summer raspberry growing near my house.

q6

Sorrel or clover

July 6, 2009

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

P1010006

And another picture of clover.

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

Now here is wood sorrel.

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

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

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

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.

Termites Part Dos

June 12, 2009

Got termites?  I hate those little evahl white bastards.  Well what was supposed to be a simple tile change out, you know rip out the old and cement in the new, turned into a major rehab.

P1010050It may be tough to see without clicking on the picture, but in the lower right hand corner you see that stud closest to the right?  No not me that wooden piece of crap hanging from the ceiling.   All the way to the right.  It’s gone.   Imagine our surprise when we ripped out that old vinyl bath liner.   We started at 8AM Sunday and the plan was to rip out everything and rebuild what we needed to all before quitting time that day.  Well the bathroom wall spilled into the drywall in the living room, then the living room floor.  We stopped at 8PM and we were still only 90% done with the demo and didn’t even start reframing.

p1010052You see kind of in the middle of the picture by that single blue tile, so you see all of that chewed up wood that those little evahl white bastards made?  Those studs were like dry newspaper.  You could literally put your finger through the studs.  I’m also happy to get that black mould out of the house.  That can’t be good for you.

So we obviously had to keep ripping out in every direction until we found no more little evahl white bastards.   So now we had the exterminator guy out – cha ching.   Another trip to Big Sucky Orange Store – cha ching.  The plumber – cha ching.  Big Sucky Orange Store – Cha Ching.    Debris disposal – cha ching.  All the tradespeople I know hate the fixtures and supplies that Big Orange Sucky sells.

If you haven’t done the Gee-See thing, general contractor thing that is, then you don’t know how tough it is to coordinate things.   People show up before materials or with the wrong tools.  Surprises come up. E can’t be done until A, B, C and D are finished.

So if you think you have termites, don’t mess around call in a professional.  The little evahl white bastards can wreck your house.

trmvsantWe didn’t get any swarms.  They also say that you can see termites mud tunnels outside of your house.  Termites don’t come for wood; they come for wo0d and water.  So if you have a water leak, or suspect a leak, fix it before the wood frame gets wet and becomes a target for termites.  Make sure there are no wood products like firewood or wood mulch right up against your house.

The exterminator is going to use termite baits dug into the ground.  There are wooden disks made from wood pulp and a insect growth regulator that keeps the little evahl white bastards from reproducing.  The bug killer will also use spray in some areas and drill some holes through the bathroom floor and inject poisons down there too.  The liquid insecticide they use he said was the same as is in Frontline that some folks put on their dogs and cats.  He said the Frontline was at least ten times stronger than what he uses.

The positive thing is that now I’ll have a nice new bathroom.  Plus I was able to take out all of the old fiberglass insulation and replace it with nice new fluffy thick insulation and also get rid of all that black mould.

So this used to be the wall between the bathroom and the living room.

p1010059So it all had to go.  Also had to rip up a wood laminate floor – Pergo by Manning.  Pergo sucks.  Pergo sucks. Pergo sucks.  Don’t buy Pergo.

Then you got the wall all framed out.  Is it me or has l umber gotten real expensive?

P1010064

Which reminds me, going to the bathroom outside sucks.  Plastic bags and buckets suck.  Not having a hot shower sucks.  Think about how your preps are in the bathroom, bucket and shower department.  Maybe you need to plan for these critical areas.  A dirty ass doesn’t only stink; it’s also unhealthy.

Get Outside Everday!!!

P1010042If you had your own field guides you would know that the multitudes of green berries on this plan don’t make it a greenberry plant.  You would know that this is a blueberry with gobs of immature blueberries.  Go ahead and click on the picture to expand it.  Quite a few berries, huh?  Once they ripen and turn blue you can pick them and dry them in the summer sun.   Should be next month when they start to get pickable.  I used to make wild mountain blueberry wine.  It was a deliciously sweet syrupy concoction.  Then you got ya blueberry pancakes, fritters, waffles, crepes, cookies, muffins with duck breast or pork or in a salad.

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.

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.’

Jerusalem artichokes

May 2, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get outside everyday!!

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

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

S&W model 317

April 14, 2009

This will be my review of the S&W model 317.  I like the 317 it’s a basic eight shot revolver.  It’s made out of some new alloy so it weighs less than a pound.  Some of you may know it as a J frame model meaning that it is a small revolver.  It is very concealable – small and light.  I’ve seen some people call it a “kit gun.”

p1010051What I like about it is that it is small, holds eight shots and is .22 caliber.  I have nothing against semi-autos, but semis are kind of fussy.  You need your magazine otherwise your semi is can only be used as a club or a stone.  Semis are also a bit choosy about what kind of ammo they like.   On the downside, and it’s a biggie, it’s just a little .22 so you won’t be doing any big game hunting with the 317, but that’s not why you carry it with you.  And forget about finding any speedloaders for it.  Another downside is that it is tough to find holsters for a 3″ barrel J frame. This is a Bianchi.  I like IWB for everyday concealed carry, but this Bianchi is comfortable for being out and about.

p1010056If big brother ever comes a knocking they’ll be trying to outlaw the big, bad, scary semis and most likely lever actions, pump and revolvers will be left still legal.  If you own another J frame revolver you can use the little 317 for target practice and still become more proficient with your center fire.

Being a .22 I can carry a lot more ammo.   Ammo is still cheap for it too.  You can get 50 rounds for $2.50 and get 500 round bricks for 25 or 30 bucks.  An old pill bottle filled holds a pretty fair amount and assortment of ammo.

p1010057If you go backpacking this little pistol packs away unnoticed and you can carry a ton of ammo that’ll  meet most of your needs.  This is what the empty bottle holds.

p1010058You can see there are some mini-mags, short subsonics, short hypersonics, lr subsonics, hollowpoints and even some shotshells.

The 317 shoots fine.  It has an adjustable rear sight and a fiber optic type of front sight.   It’s not the most accurate, but within 25 yards it’s plenty accurate for my eyes.  I can’t imagine trying to hit anything beyond 25 yards with the 317.  I can shoot hundreds of rounds through it before my hand even starts to think about being tired.  It’s great for shooting at jugs and such.    If need be you could harvest plenty of game with it.

If I could only take one firearm with me and I had to get out of dodge you know this may be it.  Hide it anywhere.  It weighs nothing.  Extra 22 ammo can be bought ANYWHERE.  You can carry thousands of rounds.  The round is fine for squirrels and birds and even some larger game.

There’s a great review of the S&W model 317 by Jeff Quinn here.

Get outside everyday!! This is the flower of skunk cabbage.  If you live in the northern US near water I bet there is some growing near you.

p1010048I like the way the flower looks.  To me it looks like a bird eating something.  A pretty plant, especially in the spring when there aren’t even any leaves open on the trees yet.

Skunk cabbage is a weird plant.  The young leaves are edible, but first you need to thoroughly dry them as in dehydrate very well in the sun or a dehydrator.    If you fail to dry or dehydrate thoroughly, as Wild Man Bill says, ‘it will feel like 1,000,000 tiny pins prickling your tongue.  OUCH!!  Boiling doesn’t destroy the stinging substance, only thorough drying of the young leaves.

p1010047The upside is that because skunk cabbage contains so many active substances in it that it has many medicinal properties.  The ground root was used for toothaches and the ground leaves for itching and rheumatism.  A root tincture was used as an expectorant too.  At high doses though it is poisonous so you gotta get your own books and do your own research.

Non-perishables

March 29, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then you got stuff in the bathroom –

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

Cleaning

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

Clothing -get extras for everyone in your household

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

Miscellaneous stuff to store, trade or barter

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

Fire starter stuff –

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

Lighting-

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

Hardware

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

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

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

Unemployment

February 19, 2009

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

What do you do next?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get outside everyday!

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

v3

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

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

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

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

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

Coleman stoves

January 30, 2009

I figured I’d follow up my other entry on Coleman lanterns with one on Coleman whitegas stoves.    Coleman makes rugged equipment.  It’s not unusual to have one of the old greencolemanstoves last for generations, really generations.  You can keep your European fancy equipment.  I’ll stick with Coleman.  Doesn’t just seeing it bring back memories of crackling campfires, ghost stories, smores and swimming in freezing lakes?

Anyways, these big green two burner stoves are great.  You can cook anything you need to on them.  One burner can boil water while the other burner is cooking up your meat sauce or bacon on one and eggs on the other.

As I’ve said before I like whitegas.  It seems stable to me and stores a long time.

For this entry though I’m going to focus on My Leetle Friend, my Peak 1.  The Peak 1 is great.  It’s small enough to throw in a backpack and hike miles and miles with, but it boils water pretty efficiently too.  A little fuel seems to go a long ways.  I’d say a full tank in the stove and an extra pint of fuel in a fancy metal container is enough to last for an entire weekend of winter camping for two – melting snow and heating meals.

BTW if you want to save on fuel, once you have some water in a bottle just keep adding snow to it.  The water already in the bottle will melt the newly added snow so you don’t have to use the stove to melt more snow.

Anyways, the Peak 1 has little legs in the bottom that fold out.  First things first, flip out the three little legs.stvYou just flip those puppies down.

Next stand it rightside up.

stv1Say hello to my leetle friend!”  You unscrew that cap to fill it with fuel.  Unfortunately, this stove only takes whitegas.  Coleman also makes dual-fuel stoves that will burn unleaded gas too.  All you do is unscrew the cap and fill her up.  Be careful not to overflow.  Funnels are a big help here.  Once you have it filled, retighten the cap.  Keep an extra cap in your house or gear.

Just like with a lantern you need to pressurize the fuel.

stv3This is the pump handle (just like the lantern).  Turn it counterclockwise and pull it up.  See the little black flame control lever? It’s all the way to the left in the off position.

stv5Then making sure that your thumb covers up the little hole in the top of the pump handle you pump it up.  It may take 5, 10 or 30 pumps.  It depends on how much fuel is in the tank.  Once you feel some good resistance slide the handle in and twist it clockwise to lock it into place.

Next up, turn the fuel lever to counterclockwise to open up the fuel line.

stv2This is the off position, but just like the little drawing shows turn it the other way to open it up.

Next I light a match and get ready to turn the stove on…

stv6Then you turn the black flame adjustment handle to the right to the Light Hi position.  Now you should start to hear the hissing of the gas being forced out.  If it doesn’t sound a little scary you may have to pump it up some more before lighting it.  Now touch the flame to the burner and she should light.  It will sputter.  Until the generator (that little brass tube over the burner) gets heated up the stove will sputter and burn funny.

stv7Now you need to repressurize the tank so unscrew the pump handle and give it another 10 or 15 pumps till you feel resistance again.  I also slide the flame control (the black handle) back n’ forth a few times.  It seems like if you turn the stove down low and then up high a few times it helps to really get it going correctly.  So go high – low – high – low – high – low.  I don’t know why, but it seems like it makes it catch good.   You may have to pump it a few more times.  You’ll know when it’s going good.  It kinds of makes a whooshing or shooshing noise, like a little jet plane.

If you notice where the burner is there is a metal windscreen.  It’s that thing divided into four quadrants.    This keeps the flame from being blown out by the wind.  That’s good.  Especially because it’s integral with the stove.  Good feature.  Look for a integral windscreen on any stove you buy.

Once you are done using the stove you shut off the red fuel lever and let it die down.  It will take a minute or two for the flame to totally die out.  The stove will remain hot for awhile too so you can’t pack it up right away either.

  • Another reason I like this stove is that it is small enough to pack up inside of my pots and pans.  That way my cooking gear acts as a metal container for the stove.  It nests nicely right inside of them, then the whole thing goes in a ditty bag.
  • Another good thing with the stove is that it gets going fast and doesn’t make smoke so if you want to lay low you can cook at night or during the day without fear of being detected.  Doesn’t leave a trace.  Safer to use then campfires when the woods are dry.
  • The fuel is widely available.  The cost has literally doubled though in the past ten years.
  • If you decide to buy one I’d get a dual or multi fuel stove.
  • My stove clogged up from a lot of use so I was able to buy a replacement generator off of the Internet.  I like this.  The parts are widely and easily available.  And if I can take it apart and put it back together so that it still works fine anyone can.
  • As I wrote above this stove is rugged.  I’ve dropped it and its gone rolling and comes out ready to drink fuel and piss fire.
  • BTW the big two burner classic green stove up above basically works the same way – fill it, pump it, turn it on & light it.   Once you get one burner lit you turn on the other burner.
  • Even the fancy European gas stoves work the same way basically.
  • Remember when you take the fuel cap off it will hiss in your face because it will depressurize.  Try not to wet yourself.  Kidding.
  • You really shouldn’t use these in unventilated areas because you can die.
  • If you don’t have an alternative way to prepare meals than your kitchen stove adding one of these to your preps would be a good thing.
  • During the summer when the house is way hot, I’ll use the big green two burner out back to prepare dinner so I don’t heat up the house any more.

Follow up to my seething rage from yesterday about the financial system, “…the New York comptroller reported $18.4 billion in 2008 bonus payouts at a time when taxpayers’ money was shoring up a financial system in crisis”  WTF! WTF!! WTF!!! They take money from people that got laid off, people that get paid by the hour, people that earn weekly wages or are collecting unemployment and redistribute it up for millionaire and billionaire BONUSES!!  This is BS of the highest magnitude.  We barely make ends meet and our freaking government is taking money out of my pocket and sending it up the food chain.  WTF kind of trickle up economics is this!?!?!  Something is gonna break between the bailouts going to bonuses and Citigroup’s fancy jet plane.

Gittin out pics-

sweet-birchThis is sweet birch also known as black birch.  Notice the striped bark.  As it gets older it becomes rugged and crevassy.  And another picture.

sweet-birch-1Notice the way the smaller branches look and kind of reach away from the tree.

Anyways, you’d recognize black birch by the way the stems and twigs smell.  They smell like wintergreen.    You can make a nice wintergreen tea from the little branches.  Because it tastes so nice you can use the twigs as a sort of toothbrush to get rid of bad taste in your mouth.  The active substance in the twigs is the same compound as in aspirin.  A little tea will  help to dull minor aches and pains that you may have too.  If you’re hiking and kind of sore and you see a black birch you could take a few little twigs and chew on them to dull you aches and pains.  You could make a tea to help reduce a fever.  I bet you could even make a tincture from the bark and alcohol and apply it to sore muscles or stiff joints.  Just like medicine though, too much of a good thing can make you sick or worse.  Native Americans had zillions of uses for birch bark.  I think I read that you could even make a flour from the seeds.

Went skiing

January 23, 2009

Foot of powder! Got finished early today so I went to an old abandoned ski area this afternoon.  It was my first time downhill skiing this year.  abandoned41These are my old skis.  It’s funny when I go to a commercial ski area people are always marveling at my skis.  They say, “wow is Kneissl making Red Stars again.  Those are retro.”  No, they’re just old.  Goes to show if you hold on to anything long enough it’ll come back into style.

Anyways, I thought it would be neat to post some pictures from my afternoon.  This ski areaabandoned21 was first opened during the 40’s and shut down in the 80’s since then the trails have all become overgrown.  It’s maybe a half hour from my house.  The picture to the left is the view of the front looking up.

abandoned3

The picture underneath is the view from the top.

It’s only about 300 vertical feet, but I walked up and skied down five times.  Pretty tiring.  You can see in the background of this picture that it is a major metropolitan area.  Check out the houses on the hill across the way.

abandoned5

This is one of the old lift shacks.

abandoned6

This is one of the trails down.  As you can see it runs through a gorgeous birch forest.  The nice thing about skiing this way is that I didn’t run into another soul while I was there.  I was surprised because it was a beautiful day and it’s pretty close to a couple of colleges.  What’s wrong with college kids these days.  On a nice Friday afternoon I would have definitely been out playing and not studying.

abandoned81

This is looking up one of the trails from halfway down.  abandoned17

If you ski you understand how nice this is, especially when you consider that the only charge is the effort to walk uphill.

Another trail down with a foot of almost totally undisturbed powder.  Starting tonight thousands of people will be headed north to sit in their car for three hours to drive to ski areas.  Then Saturday and Sunday they’ll be paying $70 or more each for a lift ticket at some big, crowded, noisy commercial ski area.  And I promise you that there won’t be a foot of powder either.  Folks, take advantage of recreational areas in your neck of the woods.

And of course while I was there I spotted some edible plants.  This is burdock thistle.

abandoned7

You must have seen these seeds.  It’s like they’re made out of velcro and stick to your pants and your dog’s fur.  I think people eat the roots of Burdock before they go to seed like this plant obviously has.  I think it has a lot of medicinal properties too.  Do you have a edible or medicinal plant book?  I’ll remember where this plant is so that I can harvest it in the spring if I want to.

abandoned16

And of course you know that these are the seed pods from Staghorn Sumac, right?  These seeds are used a lot in middle eastern cooking like kebas and pilaf.  They also make up a nice cooling lemonade type drink.

By now you know the refrain, “Get outside everyday.”

Play the odds…

January 17, 2009

The leading cause of death for folks between one year old and 44 years old is unintentional death.  2,836 people 65 and older died of nutritional deficiencies in the US in 2005.  Between the ages of 10 and 34 suicide is a leading cause of death.  Anemia is the 13th leading cause of death for kids from 1-14.

Anyways, I was out skiing and got to thinking.  We live in a risky world and living is a terminal disease.

All good preppers worry about stuff and try to prepare for the unknown, but just like going to the casino, we need to work the odds in our favor.

The numbers say that most people die of heart disease and cancer.  Nuff said.  I’ll cover three things here: unintentional deaths (boohoo), homicides (Boo!) and suicides (bahbah).

Now let’s look at unintentional deaths.  Here we see that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death.  Your greatest chance of dying early is due to MV accidents.  Personally, I don’t see the point in bullets, beans and bandaids if you don’t wear your seatbelt.  BTW I am against seatbelt and helmet laws.  Freedom lets each of us choose to be as stupid as we want.  When I was doing motor vehicle and personal injury work I saw people get thrown from motorcycles and have limbs amputated by traffic signs.  At 30 or 40 mph a traffic sign is a razor blade.  Saw someone get ejected from a car and be decapitated.  (That left a mark.)  Your car is a piece of crap.  The seats are barely attached and if you get hit hard enough from behind will be ripped right out at which point your body and the seat become bullets looking for a backstop.

brokerexeThe next leading cause of early death is poisoning.  Almost 24,000 people a year meet their maker due to poisoning deaths!! Wow!  Lesson here is to make sure that stuff is labeled correctly.  If you are 35-54 you have a greater likelihood of dying from poison than in a car accident.  Surprising.  Poisoning is then followed up by falls, suffocation, drowning and fires.  Lesson here is to be careful with ladders, roofs, trees, climbing anything and on stairs.  Suffocation I have to believe is mostly work related, maybe people cleaning out tanks, furnaces and coolers. Maybe choking on prime rib is in this category.  Do you know the Heimlich? Most drowning deaths are related to booze so don’t drink and swim.  (That’s a tough one.) Wear a lifejacket or have one within reach for everyone on the vessel.  Fires?  Like I always say no bullets, bandaids or beans until you get smoke and CO detectors and a fire extinguisher for your lily pad.

Next up is homicides.  You have a greater chance of falling to your death or dying of unintentional poisoning than you do of being murdered.

homicide

Most murders are committed with firearms. Over 600 people were murdered by being suffocated – ewwww.  One hundred and fifty seven people were burned to death, 89 were poisoned, 49 had their head held under water, 38 people were run over and 18 people were pushed off of a building or cliff.  Wow.

You’re more likely to be murdered by someone you know than a stranger.  Men are more likely to be murdered than women.  Women are more likely to me murdered by a partner.  Booze is usually involved.

We also tend to kill our own kind so if you are white don’t worry about the young black kid with baggy jeans killing you, worry more about your own brother in law or ex-whatever.  Most murders are in the 15-24 age group.  It’s the second leading cause of death for this age group.  The younger you are the more likely you are to meet an early death due to murder.

Lesson here – be careful who you invite into your house, be weary of drunks, avoid the streets after midnight and watch your kids.

Next up Suicide.  Almost as many people commit suicide with a firearm (17,002) than are murdered by all means (18,124).

suicide

Over 7,000 people commit suicide by suffocation, 700 people leap to their deaths, 375 people drown themselves, 160 commit self immolation and 113 people drive their cars into a tractor trailer, stonewall or big ol’ tree.  Strange.  Lesson here, reach out to someone and keep your firearms and ammo locked up.  BTW I’m pro freedom of suicide (?).  Hey, I figure if we can’t choose when to check out what do we really control.  If you want to talk life insurance or what not post a comment and I’ll rebut.

Remember when you add up all the unintentional deaths, suicides and homicides it’s much less than all the other causes such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  So those of you……..well……you know what you need to do.

I used to be an accountant.  I like numbers and statistics.  Terrorism didn’t make the top 20 in the US.  It probably wouldn’t even make the top 100.

If you want to run your own report here’s the link, http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncip/leadcaus10.html.  Before you go off half scattered though – when you get to the drop down menu change “number of causes” from the top 10 causes to top 20.  Then when the data table comes up check out the colored blocks by various type it makes it easy to look at how different causes of death change by age group.  At the top of the table you can click on the age groups to see what your age group is most at risk of dying early from.

ws5Just a nice picture.

q2This is Queen Anne’s Lace aka wild carrot.  You gotta be careful, careful here though because it looks very much like poison hemlock.  Queen Anne’s Lace is hairy and hemlock is not.  The clusters of Queen Anne’s Lace also bundle up more than poison hemlock.  Poison hemlock stinks and Queen Anne’s Lace doesn’t.  Don’t become a statistic you need to get at least two or three field guides to cross reference.

A good book

January 10, 2009

A good book to have is Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs.

home4schoolgear_2028_17435632This is a must have.  To me it’s as important as band aids.  The color pictures that accompany each description help a lot in identifying plants.

The book makes it easy to find stuff.  The contents are organized by flower color, then shrubs, trees, woody vines, ferns, grasses and grasslike plants.

I don’t like Amazon, but this is a cool feature to check out a book, http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0395988144/ref=sib_dp_pt#reader-link.  Click on the link and then click on the menu on the left hand side and you can look through the book.

The best part of the book is Index to Medical Topics in the back of the book.  Here you can look up symptoms and ailments and get a list of plants that will help your illness.  Just a quick run through and I don’t know what 1/2 of these are: abdomen, abortifacient, abrasion, abscess, aches, acne, adaptogen, Addison’s disease, afterbirth, ague, alcoholism, allantoin, allergenic, alpecia and there is another page and half of just bad stuff that starts with an A.

Stop and think about that for a second.  If you have a headache you look up headache and see that you can use prickly poppy, virgin’s bower, passion flower, pink lady slipper and maybe another 30 plants.

To be able to cross reference ailments and plants is invaluable.

My gripe is the same with this field guide as with all the others, there is a lack of pictures for out of season plants.  You know it’s fine to identify a plant by the flowers as long as the plant is flowering, but most plants only flower for a month or two out of the whole year.  How do you identify it when it doesn’t have flowers on it?

And that is why you need multiple field guides, to cross reference the same plant.

When I eventually write my field guide each plant will have four pictures, a picture from each season, to go along with it.

All the books in the world about the outside will do ya no good if you don’t Get Outside Everyday!

x9You gotta look closely at this picture.  Click on it to expand it if you got old eyes like me.  There are a TON of deer tracks here in the snow.  The four brown leafy areas in the foreground of the picture are where deer slept.

x8Ahhh, sweet, sweet carnage.  Not that I have bloodlust or anything, just taking in the circle of life.  I was out following some coyote tracks on my skis for maybe a mile (?) when I came upon this bloody scene in the snow.  I’m guessing Mr. Red Squirrel met his demise and Mr. Coyote had a warm meal.  Any thoughts?

Get outside every day!