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Monday, October 23, 2017

Somewhere along the Cohos Trail

My lovely wife and I decided to take advantage of the good weather and went for a short hike. We did a section of the Cohos Trail in the Nash Stream area.

Cohos is the old spelling of Coos County. The trail crosses 170+ miles from one end of the county to the other. Much of it is in wilderness areas. Coos County is the largest county in the state of New Hampshire but has the smallest population. The county is geographically larger than Rhode Island, but has less than 32,000 people.

My lovely wife and I did a small section hike in the Nash Stream area. Then we went for a short drive to see more of the state forest. There's an interesting area where camps circle the high ground around a meadow. That meadow used to be a pond, until one day the dam broke. One of the camps is actually named, “Broken Dam Camp.”

I've been slowly strengthening my leg that had suffered a bad infection. My lovely wife is working on her ankle that was badly sprained during the summer. We didn't do a super long hike, but it's the longest we've walked over uneven ground since our injuries. Our legs held up and were not reinjured, so that's good news.

All in all, a fine day.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Old School Tweet

A friend of mine has starting sending me old school tweets. That's what he calls sending a postcard. He got to thinking that a post card was the original short form communication. His postcards are works of art, literally. One side has original art work. The other has a short message. Unlike something like an e-mail, these are getting saved.

Another friend just had his father's quality fountain pen restored. He actually uses it to write letters. What amazed me is that there still are people out there who restore fountain pens. There must be enough demand.

Some people restore and use old typewriters. It's not just hipsters either.

As for myself I was one of the holdouts for rotary dial phones. There was a real classic in my office. The old Ma Bell phones a sound quality that newer phones just don't have. When I went to an Internet based service the old phone was no longer compatible. It was hard to let it go. To be honest, if I had a lot of calls to make, I'd use a push button phone. Dialing with a rotary got pretty tedious.

We've had long distance communication for some time. However, back in the old days everything was written down and physically carried from place to place. Imagine how tough that was when writing was cuneiform on clay tablets. The switch to light weight paper must have felt like a great leap forward.

Now communication is fast, inexpensive, and all too often trivial. In the old days if you were going to write a letter, you put some thought into it. That's why it's so nice to get original postcards from a friend.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pacing myself

The digging for the water supply continues. After months of inactivity, I decided to pace myself. No sense getting injured again. It takes too long to recover. When you are young, you never think of pain killers. Later on, ibuprofen is your friend after a hard day of work. Lately, I've been at the point where I wonder if maybe I shouldn't take ibuprofen before starting the day. I haven't yet, but it has occurred to me. Instead I've decided to let sore muscles let me know when it's time to stop.

I am making progress and haven't hurt myself, so that's good. It's a little tricky digging on the side of a steep hill. The supply line can't be too much further down. That is, if I'm digging in the right spot.

Hope to wrap this up eventually and move on with my other projects. The boat trailer and the van will take a couple of days of preparation -nothing too major. That is, as long as it doesn't do something like snow. Anything is possible here in the Great White North.

My order of stainless steel clippy things for the sailboat's jib sail came in. The brass ones are pretty beat. I had tried some really interesting quarter turn polymer clips, but they were a bit too small for the sail. The stainless steel ones are rated for 700 pounds each, so they should easily do the job.

The weather looks pretty mild for the next week or so. The unseasonably warm weather has been a lucky break for me. I'll take what I can get.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Bad jobs worse than no job

A University of Manchester study shows that having a bad job is worse than not having a job. Unemployment is stressful, but the stress of having a bad job negatively impacts your health even more. The lowest stress factors were for those with good jobs.

Not that long ago it was expected that everyone would have a crappy job at some point in their life. Most people expected that it would be temporary until they were promoted to something better. It was looked at as paying your dues. Now people get bad jobs and stay there. My father-in-law started working for a company cleaning glassware in the lab. He only had a high school education. By the time he retired he ran his own chemistry department and had multiple patents. That type of upward mobility is rare these days.

So how do you avoid the pitfalls of a bad job, yet still survive? In some countries it's easy to stay on the dole for a very long time. That can be a trap too. Remember, the best health outcome is generally for people who have good jobs. The longer you are out of the work, the less likely it is you'll be able to land a good job.

If you have a crappy job, focus all your efforts on getting a better job. Be prepared to change companies. You might have to move. Whatever you do, don't get settled into that bad job. Avoid decisions that may require you to hold onto that bad job, like taking on too much debt. People can put up with a lot of they feel they are making progress towards something better.

However, be prepared to quit. There are a lot of unhealthy jobs out there. Either the job itself is dangerous and unhealthy, or the work environment is psychologically toxic. If you hate your boss and co-workers so much that you want to shoot them all, leave.

I know a lot of people who have either been forced into early retirement, or discovered their pension is inadequate for their lifestyle. A lot of people end up working crappy jobs later in life. That just plain sucks. There are strategies around that.

Savings are great, if you've got them. Unfortunately, often times any savings are wiped out in the months leading up to retirement. Medical disability retirement is notorious for that, especially in the US. A person has a medical condition, so in the months and years leading up to their forced retirement, they work less. Less money ends up in the pension fund. Then they get sicker or injured and out of pocket medical expenses drain what savings they have. They may even have to pay for a lawyer to get their benefits.

Companies often find ways to get rid of people before they reach retirement age. A good friend of mine in his late 50s just got let go. There's one business in the area that is so bad that when someone actually makes it to retirement it's a surprise.

So what do you do when you find yourself in that situation? My friend who was let go has savings and few debts. His wife still has a good job. He's got time to find a new job he likes and would be more than happy to make half what he was making in his old job. His lifestyle won't change much.

The other option is to downsize aggressively. Reduce your living expenses to the point where you don't have to stress about the bills. One guy I know lived pretty hard and fast after a divorce and blew through his savings in two years. Now all he has is his small pension. These days he works out in the gym, plays his guitar with friends, and takes his dog for long walks in the woods. It's cheap, he's in good condition, and his mental state is better than it's been in years. He'd rather live that way than work a crappy job for more money.

There's a certain stigma to being unemployed, but it's healthier than a crappy job. A lot of so called unemployed people are still very busy. They may barter their time and skills for things they need. Many work odd jobs off the books. Are they gaming the system? Maybe, but nothing like the millions of dollars big business gets in tax breaks and subsidies from the government.

Your health is at stake here. Don't get trapped in a crappy job until it kills you.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The never ending well project

I put in a long day on the well project. When my buddy came over we happened to flush a lot of red gravel out of that section.. That got me thinking. The red gravel is only at the top two thirds of the hill. That must mean the break is in that part. Earlier I suspected the break might be where I had to spice it years ago, but the soil is much darker in that section and none was in the line.

Long story short, I went into town and picked up 100 feet of ½ PEX plastic pipe. I stuffed as much of it as could down the water line. I'm guessing it went about 40 feet or so. Measuring the remaining line will tell me how far down the blockage is.

Then it's a matter of taking a tape measure and figuring out how far down the hill the break is. That's where the line break should be located and the place to dig. If I'm lucky I'll be able to cut out the bad section and splice in the ½ inch PEX.

½ inch line cuts down the flow some, but it's enough. In fact, my temporary surface line is just ½ inch hose. Still has enough volume for showers and laundry.

The fun continues. By the way, all the suggestions and comments have been helpful. Thanks.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Are you looking forward to the collapse?

Someone recently asked me that. In short, heck no. Just because I have a few more preps than most people doesn't mean I want it to happen. For goodness sake, I'm 59 and fairly comfortable. I've figured out how to get by in the world we have. I could probably go a long ways in a fast collapse situation, but that would be by virtue of my isolation and keeping my head down. That, and the ability to live on bugs and tree bark if necessary.

It might have been more interesting back when I was 18 and full of myself. Of course, I'd probably have ended up dead within six months -or some kind of primitive warlord. That's how things shake out in a fast collapse situation. The most likely outcome would have been dead. Young idealist people who take up arms don't usually turn out well.

For large segments of the population a slow collapse is underway. The middle class is running faster just to stay in place. Young people are really getting the short end of the stick. Working low wage jobs while carrying a large student debt is not sustainable. They have little investment in the system. Heck, if they organized they could crash the financial situation by not paying their student loans all at once.

Income disparity is very bad right now. When 8 people have more wealth that the poorest 4 billion, something is broken. It's been getting worse. Fewer and fewer people will continue to control more and more -if this goes on.

There are some serious challenges, economic, environmental, energy issues, disease, and so on. In a lot of sectors we are already in a slow collapse. It's not everywhere and everybody, but problems have a way of worsening each other.

Is there no hope? Actually, there are some positive signs. People are fighting the good fight, searching for patches and fixes. Solutions tend to be incremental over time and aren't particularly sexy. Often they aren't very satisfying, but as long as they are good enough, we keep on keeping on. Gradual change over a long period of time is change I can believe in.

While I have preps, I'm hoping to only need them for fairly normal disruptions, things like storms and financial set backs. While the whole world crashing and burning is exciting, I'd rather have a nice cup of coffee and a good book.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Day of Discovery

My friend came up to help me with my water line issues Monday afternoon. He brought a pressure washer. Together we were able to really clean out the supply line. After over forty years there was plenty of grit built up in the line.

It went a lot quicker with two. Also helps that my friend is 20 years younger than me and in good shape.

We never did restore the full pressure to the line. Thanks to there being two of us, he was able to observe the well while I was watching the system in the basement. I saw little build up of water pressure in the house system. He was able to notice that even though I wasn't getting much water, the well steadily dropped. Working alone I never noticed that as the well had time to recover by the time I got back to it.

That tells me there's definitely a leak somewhere in the line. The next step involves pick and shovel work. I know just where I'm going to start too.

Years ago there was a shallow well pump house about 15 feet from the well. The surface pump would push the water up the hill. That worked fine when the place was a seasonal cottage. In the winter the pump house had to be heated to keep everything flowing. Back then the power went out all the time, so the well pump was constantly in danger of freezing.

That shallow well pump was replaced with a submersible pump. The line in the pump house had a splice put in it and buried. I'm going to dig up that splice. The connectors are usually the weak point in a water line.

This is where it gets interesting. If I find the problem is with the connectors, they get replaced; job done. If that's not the problem I'll take the line apart so I can test both sides. If the leak shows up in the 15 foot section, we'll dig that up and replace it. If the problem is in the 50 foot long section, then I move to plan “C.”

I'm not going to dig up 50 feet of line with cold weather nipping at my heels. However, today we discovered that we can fish a smaller line down the pipe, as long as there are no splices. We pushed a good 30 feet of line down the pipe as a test. Getting another 20 feet or so down the line looks doable. I'd have to buy a longer line, but that sure beats digging trenches in the snow. I would not have full volume, but it should work at least as well as the surface line I'm using now. That would get me though the cold weather.

All in all, while we didn't solve the problem, progress was made. I think we figured out how to proceed. My buddy will be joining me again when the day warms up a bit. During the cold hours of the morning I'm going into town to get more parts.

At least I know more than when I started.