Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Just bought my first autoknives ("switchblades", for those whose knowledge of pocket knives is limited to having seen West Side Story). Both are "out-the-fronts", a Microtech Scarab and a Lightning. They're very similar, except that the latter is a quarter of the quality and a tenth of the price of the former.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Having done some bushwacking in Africa and South and Central America, I appreciate good machetes. They are to jungles what axes are to northern forests. They don't translate well to our hemisphere, though. They're meant for yielding, green vegetation, and they're made light so that they can be swung for hours at a time.
This is an Indonesian style called a "golok", and made by Condor Knife and Tool in El Salvador. It's got a relatively short (14"), heavy blade. Comes with a well-made leather sheath, and weighs about two pounds total. It'll fit in a pack, and isn't too awkwardly long on a belt. It'll zip through green hardwood saplings with a drawing stroke, and can be batoned through fairly impressive diameters. No idea what kind of steel it is, but it's hard enough to hold an edge without being difficult to sharpen. For clearing brush, building shelters and processing enough firewood for a tent stove, it's a pretty good tool. Works well as a drawknife, too. It's the first machete I've come across that I would consider carrying instead of an ax on my canoe camping trips.
The handle is walnut, and comes a little thick, so I've been reshaping it. After using it a while, the high spots become apparent and I file them down. Once it's comfortable, I'll refinish it. It's a very practical design that allows for a loose, non-tiring grip with no worries about it sailing out of your hand. It's got a full tang, so no worries about it breaking, either. Three brass pins and a brass-lined lanyard hole give it a classier look than any plastic handle could.
The information collected here comes from the USDA, Brigham Young University's Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science, the Utah State University Cooperative Extension, and the Church of Latter Day Saints website on 'provident living'. Those crazy Mormons, they're really into food storage, and they're nice enough to share their knowledge with Pagans like me. I also learned quite a lot from a professor in the Food Science Department at Utah State, whom I contacted with some questions and who was very patient and helpful.
Long-term emergency storage foods are meant to keep you alive if you had almost nothing else to eat. That means water, wheat and other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, baking soda and cooking oil.
Sugar or Honey: 30kg (66 lbs)
Salt: 4.5kg (10 lbs)
Dry Beans: 36kg (80 lbs)
Powdered Milk: 27kg (60 lbs)
Olive Oil: 10 liters ("extra virgin", i.e. unrefined. Shelf-life of about 2 years) and/or
Probably the most effective and still practical long-term food-storage packaging method is with oxygen absorbers and metallized plastic (Mylar) pouches.
Another thing that might be handy to know about PETE bottles is that they can be used for solar water disinfection by ultraviolet radiation. It's as simple as filling them with water and setting them out in the sun for a few hours. Not even glass can be used for that, since although it's transparent to visible light, it's opaque to ultraviolet radiation.
Shelf life is one thing, palatability is another. Thirty-year-old food could keep you alive, but you might have to be some kind of hungry to eat it. According to the aforementioned professor, properly packaged dry foods will remain nutritionally stable (except for vitamins) for "dozens of years", but begin to be unpleasant to eat after about the decade mark.
Our current tentative plan is to store salt, sugar and baking soda in PETE bottles without oxygen absorbers. They should last, for our purposes, forever.
Wheat does not need to be stored in a low-oxygen environment, but a couple weeks of such an atmosphere will ensure that no bugs are present. We store it in PETE bottles with oxygen absorbers. ("Hawaiian Punch" gallon bottles are our favorite containers. We don't drink it, but the folks at our local recycling center save them for us.)
Everything else is probably best in Mylar pouches with oxygen absorbers.
We also stock up on necessities that require high technology and have a long shelf-life, like razor blades, medicines, soap, shampoo, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
After about ten years, we plan on using our stores - converting them to fresh eggs by feeding them to our chickens if nothing else - and replenishing them with fresh stock.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Our leaders no longer even discuss actually reducing our national debt, only how much deeper to go into it. If you've been losing sleep worrying that we might be heading for a fiscal disaster you can relax now, because it's here. Social Security is broke. Medicare is broke. The Obamacare freight train hasn't even hit us yet, and it's already broke.
Prediction: we'll raise taxes, inflate the currency, and then default on entitlements. The only question is when.
Speaking of entitlements, and to make matters worse, we've trained a huge percentage of our population to depend on social welfare programs and to think of work as an undesirable lifestyle choice. When the Mailbox Money stops arriving the inner-city people whom the politically-correct media refers to as "youths" will riot like they've done in Watts, Detroit, Washington D.C., Miami and New Orleans.
As politically-incorrect journalist Fred Reed puts it, "Imagine a black kid of seventeen in Detroit... He has never read a book, and never will. He doesn't know where England is, or Africa, or the United States. His mental world is small beyond the imagining of the literate. He has no grasp of government, and has never heard of any author. He cannot do simple arithmetic. He has perhaps never seen a checkbook, and will never have one. He doesn't watch the news. If he did, would not understand what he was seeing...
Of history, the kid knows only that blacks were enslaved by whites. He cannot approximate the dates of the Civil War... and cannot name a single country in Africa, but he knows that blacks were stolen from their homes and very badly treated.
He has in all likelihood never been out of Detroit, or perhaps his neighborhood. He has no contact with the larger society except through the police and television, where he sees whites leading glamorous lives in a wide world beyond his grasp...
He doesn't have a job or, if he does, it will be of a very low level with no future that he can see. There is a reason why cash-register keys in fast-food chutes have pictures of hamburgers and milk shakes instead of words, why the registers make change automatically. The kid in Detroit can't make change. Little commercial demand exists for the illiterate and innumerate who have very bad attitudes.
Which the kid has. He hates whites, whom he blames for all of his troubles and inadequacies. He hates Asians, who excel in school. It is an ugly hatred on a hair trigger and explodes readily in savage violence. The media play this down, hard, but what you pretend doesn't exist still does."
"Empresa inspeccionada" - Examined business
"En Mora" - In default
Friday, May 27, 2011
Almost all the bees in a hive are female, and only one of them, the queen, is sexually mature. These two hives came from Vermont. So most of the occupants aren't just immature females, they're liberal immature females consumed by righteous anger who don't shave their armpits. Every fall they evict all the males to starve and freeze. Sometimes they kill their queen and commit mass suicide. Sometimes half of them just up and leave. On their best days, they ignore me. Sometimes, for no discernible reason, they come boiling out on a mission to inflict pain. More than once my neighbors have seen me running around the yard screaming like a little Japanese girl being chased by Godzilla.
The advantage of pain-based training is that the learning curve is steep. The Department of education should station liberal Vermont girls with armpits that make them look like they have Gary Busey in a headlock in every classroom, to stab kids who make mistakes with little syringes of burning venom. Those delinquents would be ready for Princeton by about seventh grade. I don't know, maybe that's how China and India are churning out all those scientists and engineers while our kids major in 'Black Studies' and 'Gender Issues'.
Anyway, my experience with these hives combined with a careful reading of Winnie the Pooh has convinced me that bears are the predators that most of their defenses have evolved in response to. Anything that reminds them of bears sets them off, like "furry" clothing (sweaters or fleece), dark colors, rough handling and nocturnal prowling. When you mess with bees, wear smooth-textured fabric in light colors, do it close to high noon, and try to move like fluid.
If you open a hive at night, everybody's home and perturbed about being bothered after working hours. If you open a hive on a warm sunny day, most of the workers will be off gathering, and the nurse bees left at home will be relatively mellow. Even so, keep it brief. Bees are like snapping turtles and ex-wives: if you mess with them long enough, they'll find a way to get you. Plus, bee brood is sensitive to chills and dehydration. Instead of examining details in person, maybe take photographs that can be magnified and perused at your leisure.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Reflector ovens are designed for baking on a fireplace hearth or by a campfire. I've also had good results propping one against the metal side of my wood-burning tent stove. It doesn't seem to matter if they're shiny or dark, so don't bother polishing them, as some people advocate. Think of them as "trapping" heat rather than "reflecting" it.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
*This seems like a better way to make darts, from an old issue of Mother Earth News I just came across:
"To make the darts, all you have to do is lay one of the empty milk jugs on its side, and with the propane torch set at a low flame, carefully heat an area about the size of a quarter until the plastic turns clear. Then push the pointed end of the plumb bob into the soft spot and hold it there until the dimpled area clouds. Make several rows of cones in this manner (leaving a bit of room between each), and cut the dimpled wall from the jug. You can use a short piece of scrap tubing to separate the cones from the rest of the sheet. Just bevel one end of the conduit to a sharp edge, then place the plastic-points up-on your wooden block. Center the tubular cutter over each cone to be removed, and give the back of the tube a smart rap with the hammer.
Once you've freed a number of cones, it's easy to make darts out of them by pushing nails or wire stubs through the pointed ends from the inside. A dab of silicone sealant or clay set behind the metal will serve the threefold purpose of securing the point, sealing it, and giving the dart some necessary weight. A bit of research will help you to determine which combination of points and putty works best - though we're partial to drywall nails backed with silicone."
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Nothing constructive has come to me, but here's a summary of my random ramblings:
The stock market has doubled in the last 3 years and is just coming down from an all-time high. Seems like a good time to get out, not a good time to get in.
Precious metals likewise would have been good three years ago, but are also at an all-time high.
Serious inflation is at some point inevitable unless we stop deficit spending, and there's absolutely no indication that we will.
That makes debt a good thing IF you have an income that will keep pace with inflation. I don't have that.
A devalued dollar will favor companies who export, and hurt those who import. Trying to find export stocks, though, makes you realize how little the US exports these days. Apple would have been a great one last year. The whole world wants iPhones and iPads. But their stock is way up, too - another boat I missed.
Long term, oil and food prices are going to increase dramatically now that there are over 7 billion people on the planet. I just can't quite figure out how to invest in energy and food, though. Farmland?
Real estate and mortgage rates are low, BUT the ruling elite need money, and property owners are their bitches any time they want to raise taxes.
My Budweiser buddy says buy booze stocks - when times are good, people drink. When times are bad, people drink.
My banker neighbor says "tangible goods" that are not easy to manufacture and won't become obsolete or spoil and are easy to store are good investments, but what exactly are those? Gold is the obvious answer, but as pointed out above, that ship has sailed.
What will people want in the future that they can't make, that won't rot or go out of date, and that can be compactly stored?