Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Hurricane Bill and beach survival

August 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surviving the beach:

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

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

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

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Oral surgeon and health insurance

August 12, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! ©

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

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

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

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

Light Pollution

July 1, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

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

Don’t be lulled

May 12, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

Start with Getting Outside Everyday.

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

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

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Big News and torture

April 24, 2009

First, the Big News, remember when Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch at the behest of the US government?  “Mr Lewis Bank of America’s chairman and chief executive, also knowingly hid the state of Merrill Lynch’s “staggering” losses from shareholders at the behest of former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.” Mr. lewis didn’t want to takeover Merrill because of Merrill’s “staggering losses” but he was forced to after being “threatened” by Fed Chairman Bernanke.

“…Paulson and other policymakers may have resorted to breaking securities laws in order to protect a fragile financial system, according to Peter Sorrentino, “Everyone involved knew that was a clear violation, that’s material non-public information, so basically we just closed the rule book during the crisis and said we don’t care, we need to keep the lights on, and we’ll deal with that manana,” Sorrentino said. “Logic went out the window and they were just acting out of fear,” he said. It was “completely panic mode.”

THE WOLVES ARE IN CHARGE OF THE HEN HOUSE.  THEY DON’T GIVE A CRAP ABOUT US.  ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THE PERPETUATION OF THE  SYSTEM. PRESERVE THE STATUS QUO AT ALL COSTS.

Next:

Do you support Iran waterboarding the American reporter/agent being held by Iran?  Why not, Iran accuses her of being a spy.  If the US can waterboard suspects Iran should also be able to. Iran should drug her, put creepy, crawly bugs on her, keep her awake for a week straight, put lightsticks up her butt, electrodes on her nipples, dry fire a pistol at her head, slam her up against a wall, water board her 180 times in a month, let vicous attack dogs bark within inces of her face, strip her naked and let her freeze than pile her up with other naked detainees and not feed her for a week. I support Iran doing this to the captive reporter, poor Ms. Roxana Saberi.

If you support the US using torture, or if it helps you to justify and rationalize your own barbarism or bloodlust, “extraordinary interrogation methods”, and you don’t support them doing it to us, then in my opinion you are a hypocrite or lack reasoning skills.  I’m always open to argument so convince me why it’s ok for US, but not for them.

Which gets me to the issue once again of torture.  The US should not torture suspects.  It puts US citizens at risk of also being tortured by others.   US CITIZEN Jose Padilla was tortured and drugged.  I also believe that we need to get to the bottom of who authorized it, hold those folks accountable and put an end to the practice so others are not put at risk.

Torture – coming soon to a FEMA camp near you. Then I will be laughing at you as you meekly cry, “…but…but…but…..I meant you can only torture them and not US.”  Hahaha!!  Give them the power and they will use it.

GM is shutting down over the summer. Was this part of the plan that GM management had to present to the government in order to get taxpayer funds?  If not, just think how poorly GM must be run if they weren’t able to predict less than six months beforehand that they would have to close plants down for the entire summer.  Wild.  They should declare bankruptcy.  You couldn’t run a convenient store like that and stay open.

Just think how this summer may look with tens of thousands more facing temporary layoffs and putting more economic demands on the already bankrupt states.  Will the last one out of Michigan please turn off the lights?

Finally, the government is going to force some consumer friendly credit card regulations to reign in the worst abuses by credit card bastards.  Charging someone an interest rate of 25 or 30% is usurious and should still be illegal.  From Marketwatch: The House bill would take actions such as:

Marquette National Bank v. First Omaha did away with the ability of states to regulate out of state credit card companies.   That was the beginning of the end for the American consumer.  I don’t think that the proposed bill goes far enough.  I want blood from the bloodsuckers.

One last thing, The number of first-time jobless claims rose by to 640,000 last week and continuing claims are again at the highest level on record, the U.S. Labor Department said in its weekly report on Thursday” and continuing claims also set another new record at over 6,000,000, more than double last year’s rate at this time.  That’d be a 100% increase.

So don’t get too down on yourself if you get laid off as you got lots of company.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

I was out walking and I saw some deer out feeding in last year’s corn field.  I wanted to walk closer to them to see if I could get a better picture.  I had the dog with me and he isn’t as patient as I am.  I was able to walk maybe within 100 feet of them.

p1010078Can you see her?  You may have to click on the pic to expand it.  So I’m trying to walk slowly, take a few steps and stop, take a few more steps and stop.  There’s no cover for me so I’m not too hidden, just moving slowly and trying to appear uninterested in them.  How would that be for a shot!!?!  Oooo, I love venison.  I know she’s probably too small.

p1010079You see these two puppies staring back at me  and the dog very interested in us?  So my dog can’t contain himself anymore and there you go….

p1010080…the little whitetails running for cover.

Cop shot

April 18, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get outside everyday!

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

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

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


First aid kit

April 1, 2009

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

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

p10100072The other side-

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

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

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

p10100102In the center pocket-

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you pissed yet?

March 23, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Misc.

March 11, 2009

We got some snow last week so I went back to that abandoned ski area that is not too far away from my house.  I hiked up and skied down eight times.  I was beat.  One trail is through this awe inspiring birch forest.

sk2This place is like magic.  If I was to die here and be buried amongst these trees that would be ok.

It was most likely the last day it was possible to go out skiing for me so I wanted to be sure to take advantage of it.  Here is the trail through the birch.

skYou can see the huge office buildings in the background.  This a heavily populated area a couple of minutes off of a major highway. You wanna know what I don’t get?  I was hiking/skiing for maybe two hours and I didn’t see another soul.  It was a beautiful, sunny day, the first warm day since November and I didn’t see another person enjoying the out of doors.  People – you need to GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!

Here’s another trail I was skiing down.  I’m telling you that I was pushing it by squeezing out one more day skiing.

sk3You can see my tracks on the right hand side of the trail looking up.  If you aren’t familiar with snow you can see that you really don’t need very much in order to slide stuff (skis, sleds and goods) over it.  And sliding stuff is much better than carrying stuff.  You can see it was another beautiful day spent outside doing stuff and getting exercise.  You figure that exercise is a form of prepping?

The pussy willows are blooming.  sk7And I saw so many deer rubbings.

sk4How many deer rubbings do can you count in each of these pictures?

sk5Then not too far from my house is a local farm where they grow their own grass fed beef.  I don’t know about any of you, but grass fed beef in New England isn’t too common a sight.  This beef is so good.  It’s some of the best that I’ve ever had. Plus I’m able to shop locally.  You need to shop locally whenever it makes sense and you can.  Get to know the farm stands in your area. Believe me you don’t want the Super Walmart to be the only source of food in you area.  You need to give the little guy the business.  Join the local chapter of the organic farmer’s association in your area.

The beef is a bit more money, but it goes right into the hands of a family that lives near me and it is a great product.  These guys taste great.  Thank you cows.

sk11I get to see my food and watch it eat.  I like that.  No ugly feed lots or slaughter yards.  Doesn’t my food look content?  Thank you guys.  I really appreciate your sacrifice.  The family also sells maple syrup that they boil themselves.  I can’t stand fake maple syrup like Mrs. Butterworth’s.  That’s not maple syrup.   It’s corn syrup.    Don’t be a rube spring for the good stuff.  It lasts forever.

Things are breaking down in Russia.  I saw an article in Newsweek about it.

“Now serious unrest seems imminent despite those autocratic moves. “We are expecting mass unemployment and mass riots,” says Gennady Gudkov, a former KGB colonel and current chairman of the Duma’s Security Committee. “There will be not enough police to stop people’s protests by force.”  The Kremlin evidently sees worse trouble ahead. In December it shelved plans to retire 280,000 Army officers (part of a sweeping military reform). A long-expected reduction in the number of Interior Ministry troops was also abruptly canceled. At the same time, the Interior Ministry set up a special command center in Moscow, packed with surveillance equipment designed to deal with street unrest. The Duma, on Kremlin instructions, added seven new articles to the criminal code. One expands the definition of high treason and espionage to include advisory “and other” assistance to foreign and international organizations; another makes “participating in mass disorders” such as the one in Vladivostok a “crime against the state.” More sinister still, defendants accused of the new crimes can only be tried by a special court of three judges, not by a jury—a system reminiscent of the Stalin-era troika courts that sent millions to the Gulag.

And like the bailouts in the US that favor wealth holders more than wage earners, “major beneficiaries of both handouts include oligarchs like MMK’s owner, Victor Rashnikov, and Russia’s current No. 1 billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, owner of the AvtoVaz auto plant.”

The PTB better realize that using the poor and bail out the insanely wealthy is a recipe for social collapse.

Kali

March 4, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

d

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

Let there be light

January 24, 2009

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

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

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

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

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

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

Speaking of cheap crap…

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

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

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

This is a cool light.

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

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

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

Here’s another nice little light…

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

Not done yet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.

Sealskinz

January 23, 2009

I love these things.  oversockpkg1If you spend any amount of time outside you need to get yourself a pair of SealskinzSealskinz are some sort of hightech sock.  They’re rugged and keep your feet dry through the worst of weather.  With a pair of Sealskinz any pair of boots, sneakers or shoes become waterproof.  Anytime that I go skiing a put a pair of these on and my non-waterproof boots are made waterproof.  No doubt they are expensive, but what’s the cost of wet, cold feet?  I think that they are about 15 bucks a pair.  I seem to remember I got three for thirty.  The same company also makes gloves and other products. legintank I did use the gloves one day when I used a wetsaw to cut tile outside during the winter.  The gloves did a very admirable job.  After six or seven hours of cutting tiles the gloves did eventually soak through, but even then they kept me fairly warm.  If you hunt, ski, hike, fish, mountain bike or camp you should check out Sealskinz.  And besides working well, they are made in the USA!!

And YOU need to get outside everyday…

q111I like this picture because you can see the crap that some little creature has been cleaning out of the hollow of this tree.  Seems like it would be a good place for a snare if one was in a desperate survival situation.

was5Just an old chimney where a homestead once was.  Now the snow covers the ancient footprints.

The Four Agreements

January 20, 2009

Has anyone ever heard of the Four Agreements?

The Four Agreements isn’t just a wonderful book, it’s also a way of life.  I think everyone can try to apply the concepts to their life.

4abookIn a nutshell there are four rules that we should try to live by.  Humans have a tendency to make everything about themselves.  Each of us thinks that we are the center of the universe and everything is about us.  Sorry to break it to you folks, but the world will keep on spinning no matter what happens to you, me or anyone else.

So here they are:

“1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”

For me I think number 2 is the toughest.  When I run into rude or mean people sometimes I make the mistake of thinking that it’s about me, or something that I may have done, it’s usually not.  Most likely the rude or mean person has something else going on in their own life and is just projecting their anger onto others.  And who doesn’t like to gossip.

In heavily populated areas as things start to degrade and earning a living gets tougher and tougher people are going to get more aggressive and act out more.  With declining availability of resources we’re all going to get on each others’ nerves more and more.  People are more likely to act out and behave poorly.  Young folks, guys particularly, have this whole thing now where they have to act project a “hard” personna.

We need to develop thick skin.  We need to learn to walk away from conflict and truly turn the other cheek.  We need to control ourselves to prevent the escalation of a simple misunderstanding into a shooting or stabbing.

To keep ourselves from being drawn into unnecessary conflict we have to learn not to take things personally.

Apologize and back away. Swallow your pride and walk away.  You don’t always need to be right.

And if you’ve done all of the above and conflict is inevitable and unavoidable than gut the bastard, bleed him slowly and bury him in a deep grave with lime.  And shed no tears because you did everything that you could do.

Get outside everyday –

p1010051The Four Agreements and this post are all about developing thick skin.  In other words we need to be like ducks and let the rain drops just roll off of our backs.  Get the picture?  Quack.  Notice that Mr. Mallard in the right foreground is eating a french fry.  We never through food out.  Someone somewhere will be happy to have it.  Please don’t throw organic stuff out in plastic bags where it can’t decompose.

mountain2Becoming better at anything is a struggle.  Here my friend is struggling to stay vertical. Most assuredly by struggling he is becoming a better skier.  Whether it’s shooting, gardening, sewing, cooking, canning, reading or doing math you can only get better through practice, sweat and struggle.  Every blister is the reward for hard work.

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!

Mr. Anonymous

January 8, 2009

Our government likes to spy on us.    Not only do they like to spy on us, but even worse, they DO spy on us.

Due to § 215 of the Patriot Act the FBI can just draft a National Security Letter, without any judicial oversight, and go into your local library or bookstore and demand all of your records.  http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/26/politics/26patriot.htm

Fortunately the average librarian has more balls than the average congress person. Think about that.  Librarians care enough about your privacy to fight for it and congress people?  Ha!

Uhhh, in case you’re under 20 years old, in the old days OUR Government needed a search warrant, but that was before we were trying to protect our ostensibly free society’s freedom by chilling our very freedoms.

Or OUR  Government can get a “Sneak and Peek” search warrant under § 213 of the Patriot Act, again with very limited oversight, and search your house like creepy, crawly burglars and never even notify the property owner of OUR Government’s trespass.  http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/academics/profiles/dwilkes_more/37patriot.html

Or how OUR Government gets all hot and bothered listening in on all of our phone calls, checking all of our Internet activity and scanning our banking records.  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1966132,00.asp Seriously man, I’m not making this stuff up.

Then Our Government takes all of these petabytes of data that Our Government collects on us and they sort it and sift it.

The NSA is in charge of the data mining program that Our Government is running on all of us citizens. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120511973377523845.html?mod=hps_us_whats_news

If you told me ten years ago what the coming decade had in store for our privacy rights I would have thought that you were out of your mind.  “Never in the United States!” I would have said.

So with that simple background you’ve been warned that you are most certainly being watched, recorded and analyzed.

I know that I’m already on some lists due to my associations with some groups and believe me I’m not talking anarchists, white supremacists or militias.  If you belong to any political group at all you are under suspicion. The Feds are doing it and as someone on another blog pointed out (sorry I forgot who otherwise I’d credit you) the states are doing it too.

So what to do?  Just as you should never voluntarily consent to a search, no matter how nice those LEOs seem, we’re usually better off by trying to cover our tracks a bit.  I mean why make it easy for Our Government to collect data on us.

I’m no computer wiz, but I know that it is easy to track my Internet history.    When you access a website it’s easy to tell where you are geographically located.  Every computer has an address/phone number associated with it and it’s tracked with no effort at all.

You leave little breadcrumbs everywhere you travel in cyber space.

I recommend using anonymizers.  An anonymizer will help to cover your tracks a bit.

You can pay $ to buy an anonymizer or you can download a free one.  Here are some free ones that I’ve used.

http://anonymouse.org/

http://www.hidemyass.com/proxy/

http://www.shadowsurf.com/

http://www.proxyforall.com/

Shhhh and keep it moving along please.  Nothing to look at here folks.  Keep it moving.

Pics- Just Get Outside Everyday.

33

About a third of the way up (click on the pic) in the center is some hawk that we saw.  It doesn’t look like a redtail to me, but I guess it could be his winter colors.  This bird was maybe 18-20″ tall.  That is one big MFR bird. Click on it to see him puffed up in all of his delicious raptor magnificence.

xc1Just a beautiful snowy field.   Those snow coverd pines are dreamlike.   Mmmm.  Mmmm.   Good.

Headlamps

December 27, 2008

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

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

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

Princeton Tec

Princeton Tec

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In summary (just my opinion):

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

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

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

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

5. Check that ratchet mechanism.

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

7. Check the waterproof factor.

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

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

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

p1010107Who coulda been wordworking outside in the snow?

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

Our government

December 13, 2008

For the people, of the people and from the people.  Interesting concept in dreamland.  Application of our supposed democratic republic in reality though, well that’s something different.

From the movie Independence Day:

“PRESIDENT: I don’t understand. Where did all this come from? How did this get funded?

MOISHE You didn’t think they actually spent ten thousand dollars for a hammer and thirty thousand for a toilet seat, did you?”

Do you?

Article I, § 8 of the Constitution is pretty clear, Congress gets to spend the money.  It’s part of the separation of powers.  That’s why the line item veto is unconstitutional.  Allowing the president the authority to veto specific items in an appropriations bill is akin to empowering the executive to controlling the purse strings. Clinton v. City of New York, 524 US 417 (1998) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_v._City_of_New_York

The Constitution requires bicameralism (both houses of congress have to approve a bill) then the bill needs to be presented to the chief executive for him to sign, veto or do nothing(pocket veto).  There aren’t that many options.

If you prefer to keep your head buried in the sand then stop reading now and go read the comics.  I call them the way I see them.

So what happens when things get fakakta (that’s yiddish for pooh, not Winnie.)?  That was the problem with Iran/Contra.  Congress didn’t approve the action or the financing so there were no checks and balances in place.  No oversight.  The president at that time did it all.

This is where it’s going to get crazy, and quite frankly unbelievable.  I don’t want to believe it.

What am I trying to get at?  What if I told you that elements within our government may be running illegal drugs in order to fund black operations?  Do you get that, that rogue elements within our government could be running illegal drugs in order to fund operations without congressional approval or oversight?  It’s illegal.

Now the president’s “extraordinary rendition” program is well known.  You know the program where we take suspects and fly them out to countries like Eqypt and Syria in order to be tortured.  Yup, that’s right we even outsource torture now.  You might ask yourself why if Syria is on the list of those who get a lump of coal do we send prisoners there.  Interesting, huh?

“Outsourcing Torture – The secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program.” http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/02/14/050214fa_fact6

So you got that so far?

So what would you think if some of the CIA planes that were used to transport suspects to be tortured in Syria or to Gitmo were later found crashed with tons of cocaine on them?  Well I hope you’d find that interesting to say the least.

Let me put it together for you again, elements within our government may be smuggling illegal drugs in order to fund black operations without congressional oversight.

I’m sorry to maybe open your eyes to what your own government is doing.  It’s terribly disheartening when we have spent so much $ and ceded so many of our civil liberties to the War on Drugs to only discover that our government could be at the center of it, or at least directly involved.

Do you doubt it, then let me know.

“MEXICO CITY (AFP) — A private jet that crash-landed almost one year ago in eastern Mexico carrying 3.3 tons of cocaine had previously been used for CIA “rendition” flights, a newspaper report said here Thursday, citing documents from the United States and the European Parliament.  The daily said it had obtained documents from the United States and the European Parliament which “show that that plane flew several times to Guantanamo, Cuba, presumably to transfer terrorism suspects.”

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j6QonBKKMo2gw1e3ql-xUcQEZbVg

This is some crazy Shiite, huh?

CIA Torture Jet wrecks with 4 Tons of COCAINE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oszATUJ4IRE

The last rays of sunlight glint off its wings of the plane, which looks for all the world as if it were carry potentates from the US Department of Homeland Security to a conference on drug interdiction at a posh Cancun hotel.

Except this plane isn’t carrying diplomats or FBI agents…

Instead, it is loaded with 128 identical black leather suitcases, each tightly packed with cocaine, an incredible quantity of cocaine, 5.5 tons in all. Stenciled on the side of each suitcase was a single word: Privado.

Inside the suitcases, the packages of cocaine were stamped with different symbols: a scorpion, a star, a horse, among others, as though they were going to different drug gangs for onward smuggling up through Mexico to the U.S.”

http://www.madcowprod.com/08232006.html

“A Beechcraft Super King Air 350 (N675BC), registered to a suspected CIA front, Aviation Enterprises, Inc. of Wilmington, Delaware, was recently spotted alongside a Russian-made AN-124, suspected of being a major drug transport cargo plane, in Colombia.

The “specially configured” King Air flew from Tampa to Guantanamo Bay on October 22, 2007. From 2002 to 2006, the King Air was registered to Prewitt Leasing Inc. of Bedford, Texas.”

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_wayne_ma_080401_is_cia_using_renditi.htm

The Real Drug Lords
A brief history of CIA involvement in the Drug Trade
by William Blum

http://www.serendipity.li/cia/blum1.html

The Holidays

December 4, 2008

No one wants the stupid crap that you feel you need to buy for them and no one wants to buy stupid crap for you.  Stop it. No one wants another tie. When you give something to someone else you’re basically telling them to buy something for you.  Stop it.

grinch_santaPlease don’t buy into it.  At this point no one should be buying anything that isn’t a necessity.  If it doesn’t make life easier for you or help you to prepare for the future than you don’t need it.  No more electronics.  No more exercise equipment that you don’t use.  No more video games.  Even rethink toys for the kids.  No more crap that sits in the basement, draws, attic or trunk of your car unused.

Don’t get caught up in thinking that there needs to be a ton-o-pile of gifts under the tree.  Don’t make yourself crazy.  The world is changing.

Give to your heart’s content, but be practical.  Give stuff that people can use, that makes them safer or will help them to be prepared if our banks close or supply lines go down.

The best things to give are those things you make yourself.  Can some pickles.  Make candles.  Make jars of dried pea soup mix or bread mix.  Give a neighbor a coupon for a free driveway shoveling or an oil change.  Don’t give your elderly mother something that will sit in her basement collecting dust.  Clean her gutters,  Wash her car.  Sharpen someone’s knives for them. Clean their gutters.

Clothing is good.  Tools are good.   Cookware is good.  Kitchen knives.  Camping gear.  Make a meal for those you love.  Freeze a lasagna or a casserole for someone that may be short on funds for food.  Give canned goods.  Give someone a book or two of postage stamps and some envelopes.  Mow a lawn.

If you’re worried that friends and family are ignoring the future rushing towards them then give them something that will make them more secure like flashlights, wind up radios, a book on Peak Oil or preparing, a first aid kit, a sewing kit, a home tool kit,  a bug out bag or survival kit or work gloves.  Reference books are always great.  How about a field guide of birds or animal tracks and a pair of binoculars?  A cookbook for a friend that eats out a lot.

Don’t waste your money.  Don’t get caught up in the commercials and commercialization of the holidays.  It’s not what you give that counts.  It’s what you think and feel.

People are hurting.  Even people you may not suspect are having financial troubles may be.  The last thing they want is something that they can’t use.  They may want paint to paint their house or get their brakes done.  Think what people need and may not be able to buy for themselves.

Spend time with family.  Instead of hitting the mall spend some time with your friends and family, speak to your kids or better yet play a game with them.  Instead of giving your group of friends a bunch of junk agree to forego it and have a pot luck dinner.

Please rethink what giving means in the new world that is evolving right before our eyes.

Blue heron standing on a stick you may have to click on the pic

Blue heron standing on a stick you may have to click on the pic

carnage

carnage

Big ol’ pile of fur in the woods.  Just my guess, but I’d venture to say that it appears a hawk or osprey done ate a squirrel.  Anyone have another guess?

The market

November 29, 2008

I just heard that the market had its best five day rally in 75 years!!  It’s like saying that the US hasn’t experienced this much peace since December 6, 1941.

Hmmm, 75 years.  2008 minus 75 = 1933.  What was going on in 1933?  This is a bear market rally.  I still don’t think that we’ve hit bottom.  Although stringing together a few days of moderate gains does look good.  Anything is better than the volatility we’ve been seeing of late.

The Exodus

The Exodus

“P log biggest 5-day percentage gains since the 1930s, even as holiday sales look bleak”

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/sns-ap-wall-street,0,1561555.story

The economic news is still too bleak to think that we’ve hit bottom.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  The stock market highs of 1929 weren’t hit again until 1954.  The Great Depression lasted for years and years.  What we are experiencing is another “slow slide.”  However, this time we’ll be lucky if it’s as slow asa the Great Depression.  I think technology may speed our slide along.  To think a year ago that the market was at 14,000.

The layoffs start in earnest next year.  The government cutbacks start in earnest.  The closings and bankruptcies start in earnest.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.  Monthly layoffs are in the 1/2 a million range.  There are 10 Million Americans looking for work.  Continuing unemployment is at a 26 year high.  We are beginning to see civil unrest in China, Argentina,  Thailand and soon to come to a country near you.

The future of the US$(dollar) remains uncertain.  We can’t continue to dilute the basket for those who invest in the US$ without some sort of negative outcome.  Newton’s Third Law tells us so, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

I agree with others that the next year will be an extremely trying time for the United States.  Most likely, food, shelter and water will be more important to you a year from now then they are today.  Act accordingly.  Food, water, shelter and warmth.

Beautiful

Beautiful

Just a beautiful fresh water mussel shell.  Edible of course if the water is clean.

Lean to

Lean to

Just a lean to I found in the woods.  Some kids probably built it for fun.  It doesn’t look very waterproof, but a tarp or space blanket over the top could change it into something quite livable.  Wouldn’t want to spend much time in it, but with a tarp over the top you could probably spend a few nights in it without too much discomfort.

It reminds me, I was out walking a few weeks ago and I came upon a young couple washing up in a stream.  They seemed down on their luck.  Who among us is so far removed from being out on the streets.  Don’t ever delude yourself into thinking that you are safe or secure.  Respect those who have less than you do.  Treat everyone with kindness.

Urban survival

November 23, 2008

Went to The Big City the other day.   Cities are great.  There are museums, schools. colleges, bars, restaurants, shows, sporting events, but they can also be dangerous places.   Remember, statistically speaking your greatest threat comes from those who know you, not strangers.  Well really it’s auto accidents, falls at home and fire.  All the same you need to be prepared for any contingency.  I worked in The Big City for years and took public transportation so I do have a frame of reference from which to speak.

So here is my list of tips and tricks to stay safe when visiting The Big City in no particular order.

1. Don’t be out when the bars shut down.

2. Listen to the hair on the back of your neck.

3. Don’t be afraid to cross the street or change direction if you don’t like the looks of someone walking towards you.

4. Don’t fear the homeless, beggars and pan handlers.  Don’t act afraid of anyone.

5. Don’t be afraid of looking someone in the eye to let them know that you see them and acknowledge their presence.  Don’t stare.  Don’t be a threat, but it’s okay to look them in the eye and be firm.

6. Don’t appear to be a tourist by looking at maps or guidebooks as you walk down the street.  Don’t stare at the tops of the big buildings like you’ve never seen a skyscraper before.

7. If you wear a backpack be aware that people can come up behind you unzip it and take your stuff.

8.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Don’t have your IPod turned up so loud that you can’t hear someone coming up behind you.  Don’t be talking on your cellphone to the point that you can’t hear people coming up behind you.

9.  If something or someone doesn’t feel right, move along, and fast.  Example, if you’re on the subway or a bus and you don’t like the looks or actions of someone on the bus or train either change cars or get off at the next stop and do it fast.

10.  If you take public transportation maybe sit near the driver.

11.  If you hear someone approaching fast from behind, stop and look behind you.  Let them know that you see them.  If you don’t like the way they look, if they make you nervous, prepare yourself to fight and move to the side so they can pass you by or go into a store or restaurant.

12.  If you  can be armed, then be armed, a firearm, taser, stun gun, collapsible club or mace.  Otherwise keep your keys, a pen or an umbrella handy.  Know that you can use your jacket, backpack or messenger bag as a weapon.

13.  Don’t have a lot of jewelry showing.  Don’t dress too fancy.  You don’t want to be wearing a $20,000 fur jacket or have a $4,000 handbag with you.

14.  Wear shoes that you can run in.

15. ALWAYS, always, always have a flashlight with you.  Ever been in the subway, a broke down elevator or the basement of some big building when the lights go out?  You  might as well be blind.

16.  If you go somewhere that you check your coat with the cute coat check girl please take your keys out of the pocket of your jacket and keep them with you.

17.  Anticipate, attackers jumping out of dark doorways or from behind parked cars or trucks.  As you are walking around think where attackers could hide.  By anticipating the unexpected you remove the surprise factor.

18. Know your way around.  Plan where you are going and how you will get there before you start wandering aimlessly around.

19.  Don’t be afraid to yell commands at anyone that threatens you, “Get the F@ck away from me” or “Backup!!!” or “Leave me alone.”  I like “FREEZE!!!!!!”  Don’t be afraid to yell for help either or grab someone else to get them yelling too.   You don’t have to be tough, you just don’t want to be the easiest target on the street.

20.  Don’t ever go with someone you don’t know.  If someone wants to drag you someplace else, make them kill you there.  The only reason they want you to go somewhere else is to do even worse stuff to you away from the publics’ prying eyes.

21.  When you buy stuff be careful of flashing your money.  Be aware of who may be watching you count money from your wallet or bank roll.

22.  Be aware of drunks.  Drunks are unpredictable.

23. Don’t be a stumble drunk or someone will roll you.

24. Look into the back seat of your car before you get into your car.

What’d I forget?

Walking pics-

Rosehips

Rosehips

This is the fruit of a rose.  They’re called rosehips.  They make a nice tea or syrup.  I like this picture.  I like how the drops of water (it was a rainy day) hang down from the rosehips.  They are very high in vitamin C and as you can see the fruit remains on the plant throughout the winter.  I’ve also seen an aperitif made from rosehips by filling a jar with the hips and then pouring in vodka or grain alcohol.  You then turn the jar over once or twice a day for a week.  Add some sugar to taste and you have a nice fortifying drink.

Deer poo

Deer poo

This is deer poo.  It looks like rabbit poo doesn’t it, but much larger.  What’s there to say?