Off the west coast of Mexico, hurricane Willa has intensified to a Category 5. Holy smokes! That's a powerful storm. While it's probably going to weaken somewhat before making landfall . . . Holy smokes! Just goes to show there's plenty of heat energy in the oceans yet.
Currently there are no classifications higher than a Cat 5. However, scientists have been contemplating adding a 6th. When your measurements are no longer adequate, something has changed. In this case, changed for the worse.
I am concerned for our neighbors to the south. The storm is going to affect a considerable portion of Mexico. Later, it's going weaken, but will still impact parts of the United States.
Currently there are no major tropical storms forming in the Atlantic and Caribbean. That doesn't mean we are off the hook. Hurricane season has a ways to go yet. Not only that, it's possible to have a hurricane beyond the “official” season.
Usually there is a rush to recover after a storm. At least that's the narrative in the mainland United States. Once the roads are open and the power is back on we think everything is fine. Of course, if you were a US citizen in Puerto Rico, your “recovery” took a heck of a lot longer.
Just having utilities back and debris cleared away does not make for a recovery. There are businesses that never reopen and people who never rebuild. Of course, there are those who do not survive the storm. Their families will never be the same. Also, mental issues can linger for years and years. Let's face it, there can be a lot of trauma from such a storm.
So I'm praying for my brothers and sisters in Mexico. I hope they survive in good shape.
Canada has legalized marijuana, the largest nation to do so. That should be interesting.
I'm located in New Hampshire, a state that has not legalized recreational pot. All around us, Canada, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts have some form of legalization. I wonder how long it will be for New Hampshire to get on the bandwagon.
The state does have provisions for medical marijuana, but it's a pretty clunky system. Outlets are limited and doctors who take Federal money cannot recommend it. However, it has been decriminalized, so anyone caught with small amounts only face a relatively minor fine. Frankly, the cops I've talked to rather not deal with pot at all. Unless you are growing a field of it for sale, they'll mostly likely leave you alone.
That's handy for those who find medical relief from the weed. “Illegal” pot is cheaper and much easier to get that the regulated stuff -for now. However, you take your chances on quality.
Personally, I'm not going to start smoking pot. With the condition of my lungs I'm not going to smoke anything at all. However, I do know people who find medical relief from pot. It seems pretty silly that the Federal government is still telling people what they can and can't do in their personal life.
"Civilizations in the final stages of decay are dominated by elites out of touch with reality. Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth."- Chris Hedges
So how about a few simple changes. How about we limit what CEOs can earn to something like five times the amount the lowest worker makers. Believe you me, before long those CEOs will find all kinds of ways of raising wages for the lower paid person.
Want to have good schools? Outlaw private ones and make the elite's kids go to the same schools as everyone else. In no time at all public schools would become amazing.
How about we all have the same medical insurance that Congress has? If that's too expensive and will break the budget, then they can suffer along with everyone else. How long do you think it would be until they find a way for the nation to afford it?
Want to fix Social Security? Make it the only pension that Congress qualifies for.
Do these suggestions sound radical to you? If they do, then reflect on how you've been conditioned to accept your peasant status.
Friday a good friend and myself went for a walk in the woods. I wanted to show him an area I'd come across a few years ago. It had been a while since I'd been there myself. Last year it was impossible to get in that area due to bridges being closed. Well, I supposed I could have bushwhacked ten miles or so. That didn't happen.
It took a while to find the place, but it was so beautiful out on the woods we didn't mind. However, eventually I found the area and we spent some time taking it all in.
When we started out that morning he had a bad back. My foot was bothering me. I'm seeing the doctor today in fact. After a few hours in the woods, we didn't feel bad at all. It certainly was well worth the effort and did much for our physical and mental health.
We'll be going back there soon too. In fact, we pretty much have to. Before leaving, we set up a game camera. Can't wait to see what sort of critters are running around out there.
So . . . everybody set for the next economic crash? It's coming. Don't know when, but it's getting closer.
How do I know? There's always an economic crash. That's the way the economy works. Don't believe me? Study History. Oh, by the way, before every crash in in the past, folks were sure that “this time it's different.”
Here's the funny thing. Those who are most prepared for the crash feel a lot more worried than those who don't have preps. If you know how bad it could be, you realize how hard it is to prepare.
Do you know what's really dangerous? There are more and more people who would welcome an economic crash. The system has always been rigged in favor of the rich and powerful. It used to be that the elite used to try and somewhat hide that fact. Now they really don't care what Joe Average thinks.
Joe Average will be more than happy for the elite to lose their billions. He's going to suffer too, but a lot of Joes out there are beyond caring.
How can I say the economy is going to collapse when so many economic indicators look good? Things looked great on October 28, 1929. On October 29, 1929 we had what has become known as the official start of the Great Depression.
In short, it would serve everyone well to have some basic survival preps set aside. Just as important, be mentally prepared for sudden changes. If I'm wrong, you haven't lost anything. What if I'm right?
We've had a lot of high winds and cold temperatures lately. It makes me glad that the house solar electric system has been working well. When a storm is predicted, I top off the battery bank from the grid. That way if the grid goes down I'm starting with a full charge.
There's wood for the kitchen stove that keeps the whole house warm. There's plenty of food storage. It's nice to have to go anywhere if we don't want to. With snow predicted, it's a relief not to be out driving on icy roads.
A couple days ago we had high winds. The grid didn't go down, but we lost Internet service for about 12 hours. That's annoying, but it gave me an excuse to relax and read books -not that I need a special excuse to do that!
I've a doctor's appointment at the end of the week. Since I'm hanging around the North Country for a while, I might as well get some minor annoying things attended to. I hate to go to the doctor's. It's never been my favorite thing. Lacking any kind of insurance I wince at the expense. However, if taking care of small issues now saves me major problems later, it'll be worth it.
I'm what is known as a “bad” patient. I ask too many questions and make up my own mind about treatments. Sure, I'm stubborn, and it sometimes causes problems, but it's that stubbornness that's kept me alive. Mistakes by doctors is the third biggest killer of patients. If I avoid doctors, I avoid that high risk situation.
This a time for taking care of long delayed business. It's also a time to figure out what we want to do next. Nothing's off the table. My lovely wife and I even discussed the possibility of moving to Spain for a time. That just goes to show nothing is off the table when we brainstorm.
By the time this posts at midnight, I'll have completed over three days of fasting. I've only had water and the occasional cup of black coffee. The fast will probably wrap up in 12 to 24 hours.
So why fast? There are supposed to be a number of health benefits. Most recently I'm checking to see if fasting helps heal bacterial infections. Don't get me wrong, I've got an appointment to see a Dr.. However, healing does seem to be somewhat accelerated. By the way, fasting is supposed to only be good for bacterial infections. To fight viral infections you need calories.
I do it from time to time as a way of resetting my body. Your mileage may vary. This is by no means medical advice. Some people should definitely not fast. However, in my own somewhat unscientific observation, it works for me.
So how do I feel? Pretty good overall. I've been walking around and doing things. I've chopped wood, ran errands, and generally went through my normal day. I would not want to run a marathon, but a brisk walk is very sustainable. For me it's actually easier to fast than to diet. A little food is worse than no food. I'm a lot less hungry during a fast. The key thing is to drink a lot of water. Whatever you do, don't fast without drinking. That's a quick trip to medical mayhem.
During day two of fasting I cooked a roast chicken dinner for the other people in my house. Day three my lovely wife and I had dinner at a restaurant. Actually, she had dinner. I had a cup of black coffee. How hard was it to be around food while fasting? A bit harder, I'll admit, but I was determined to live as nearly normal as possible -and do it with a smile on my face.
Because I have some experience with fasting, I know how well I can function without food. There's no need to panic. Of course, I'm a pretty fat guy so there's plenty of calories in the bank.
Serious long distance backpackers have always been concerned about the weight of their pack. In recent years high tech materials have slashed the weight in everything from tents to the backpack itself. Some hardcore hikers even forgo the use of a stove and mess kit. They eat all their meals cold.
They've got nothing on our ancestors. After the last ice age, hunters traveled the land with a pretty minimal kit. More often than not, they would make the tools they needed instead of carrying them everywhere. Archaeological records show how they'd dress a mastodon after killing it. Using a couple of big rocks, they'd break one of the leg bones a special way. It would make a saw like tool that they could use to skin and cut up the rest of the beast.
Indigenous Americans used canoes to travel everywhere. They could build them really fast and well. Sometimes, instead of carrying a canoe between bodies of water, they'd just build a new one as needed. Natives knew the value of having skills over things. They could build everything from hunting and fishing gear to clothes and shelter -all from local materials.
These days there are people who can survive using the junk that washes up a beach. I've seen video of people building solar water distillation equipment from empty soda bottles. When we think of living off the land, we think of using natural resources like stone and wood. In our polluted world it's sometimes easier to use plastic and aluminum cans.
While I've practiced bush craft skills, I certainly would not turn my nose up at anything found that makes survival easier.
It really struck me how fast hurricane Michael went from a tropical storm to a Cat 4 hurricane. According the Weather Underground, rapidly intensifying storms are becoming more common.
That has a huge bearing on hurricane preparation For example, it occurred to me that if I had a sailboat near Panama City, there would not have been time to move it. In fact there wouldn't have even been time to prepare a sailboat for rough conditions. Before a storm, the accepted practice is to remove the sails and as much stuff from the deck as possible. That includes things like biminis, solar panels, paddle boards, dinghys and anything else. Extra bumpers and lines are also deployed. Of course, none of that would have mattered when the whole marina gets rubbed out.
It's a major consideration for my future plans. I don't want to put money, time and effort into a boat only to lose it in a storm.
Currently we have only a partial picture of the situation in the Florida panhandle. Significant areas are communication dead zones. We won't really know how bad things are there for some time yet. I'm also betting that there will a significant number of hurricane related deaths that will go uncounted. We know that happens. Just look at Puerto Rico. I've sources that tell me it happened in southern Florida when hurricane Andrew hit. There were large migrant communities that just disappeared. These were mostly undocumented people living out in the boonies. Let's hope people got out of Michael's way in time.
If hurricanes are going to grow quicker than before, we'd better be prepared quicker than before.
I ran into some folks I know who are heading out to Arizona soon. They used to winter in Florida, but last year's hurricane damage to the Keys inspired them to try someplace else. I guess they must have liked the southwest.
Personally, I've never been to Arizona. My lovely wife and I drove as far as New Mexico one winter, but that was far enough for me. The dry southwestern air was not good for my damaged lungs. Some folks benefit from dry air, but humidity actually helps my condition. Go figure.
It looks like Florida will be going through another long recovery. People soon forget about hurricanes once they are no longer in the news. Recent hurricanes caused massive damage that with have to be dealt with. There are parts of Florida in dire need right now. Relief vehicles are hampered by damaged and blocked roads.
Damage to highways are messing up transportation networks far beyond where the hurricanes hit. In some cases commercial trucking prices have risen by 50%. (according to NPR)
In the short term, New Hampshire is looking pretty good. It's going to be cold and there will be snow, but that's normal. The region knows how to deal with it. I'm relieved to have finished my emergency water line insulation project. That should hold me for the winter. There's firewood in the yard and heating oil in the tank.
My lovely wife and I may head down to somewhere in the southeast, perhaps by late winter or early spring. That is, if everything is in decent enough shape down there. It doesn't take long to throw our camping gear in the car and hit the road.
There's a chance for snow this morning. So what am I doing? Working on a water line.
I had some setbacks and delays while trying to fix the old line. Digging was difficult, rocks and tree roots. Then just to make it interesting the trench filled with water. I probably should have started the job earlier in the year, but it just didn't happen. Frankly, the job grew bigger than what I estimated.
With time pressing, I had to come up with a plan B. It's impossible to get heavy equipment to the site as it's a steep wooded hill with unstable areas. Last year I buried a second water line, but not as deep as was really needed. It work until -30 Fahrenheit temperatures at the end of December. Then we closed up the house and went camping in Florida.
The shallow bury line will have do one more time. However, it's now covered with thick panels of high density foam insulation. All the panels are in place. Now I'm in the process of covering them up with dirt. Some helpers are showing up to help so the job shouldn't take too long. The extra insulation should keep the water flowing.
My lovely wife and I were talking about our water options. Back in the 70s there was a well next to the house. At the time there were about nine or ten people using that little well. It did not supply enough water during a particularly dry August. That's when we went with the bigger well further from the house. The little well was filled in. We are thinking about redigging it and putting it back into service. It would easily supply enough water for two or three people. We don't want to rely on just one well anymore. The location is such that it could be pumped with a shallow well pump or even a hand pump. That's an advantage.
The snow is not supposed to amount to much and probably won't last. It is a sign of things to come.
I'm writing this blog post after the DOW has dropped 1300 points over two days. I waited an extra day to comment. Often the day after a big drop, stocks bounce right back. After two days, I'm beginning to wonder if this is a trend. Of course, by the time you read this, the stock market could have risen to new highs.
That's the problem with looking for trigger events. If every time you headed for the hills when the DOW took a tumble, you'd have taken a lot of unscheduled emergency trips for nothing. After a few days you'd have to come back and see if you still had a job. You might get away with that once or twice, but sooner or later you'd be out of work. While the world's financial market didn't collapse, your personal finances soon would.
Then again, what if the market keeps heading down? In spite of all the governmental manipulation, the economy has downturns. Sometimes they aren't too bad. Other times they are catastrophic. Recessions and depressions are pretty much baked into the cake. Nothing goes up forever.
If you are student of History, you've probably studied the Great Depression of the 30s. Most people think it was one horrible day in the markets then everything collapsed. It was actually a lot more complicated than that. There were ups and downs. At times, it looked like the economy was going to recover soon. Only over a period of months did it really sink in that a full blown depression was going on.
Our next depression may be like that. We could ease into a depression with a series of up and down moments of the economy. Months might go by before we admit to the reality of a depression. During the 30s, newspapers never used the word “depression.” Depressing economic news didn't sell papers.
Of course, this isn't the 30s. We live in a digital age where everything is connected and fast. Negative economic shocks could case a feedback loop that quickly locks up the whole system. We just don't know.
The only sure way to be “up in the hills” when an economic collapse happens is to live in them before bad things happen.
Hurricane Michael came ashore at somewhere around a Cat 5. It might have been just under, but close enough that it really doesn't matter. The weather folks are saying it's the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the US.
Last spring I drove across the Florida panhandle, but we didn't go down to the coast. We did spend some time there years ago. Maybe something like 12 years ago? At any rate, I remember seeing a lot of beach condos going up. Knowing something about construction, I was appalled at the shoddy workmanship. My guess is that those buildings must have suffered serious damage -if they are still there at all.
A couple weeks ago my lovely wife floated the idea of maybe heading down to that area this winter. I don't think it's going to be a good idea. Although it's too early to assess the coastal damage, it has to be bad. Waffle house was closing restaurants, and they almost never do that. The government actually has a “Waffle House Index” to judge how bad storm damage is.
It's way to early t0o inspect the damage. In fact, as this posts, there's still plenty of life in the storm. It's heading in GA. Not only will it still be strong, it's hitting areas that have not had to deal with hurricanes before. My guess is, that at the very least, there's going to be extensive downed trees and power outages.
This storm popped up quickly and intensified faster that most people were expecting. We are used to seeing a storm churn across the southern Atlantic. That gives time to prepare. Hurricanes that pop up in the Gulf historically don't get this strong. Being prepped is not all that big a deal if all you get is a tropical storm. Those who bugged out had to make their decision quickly and act on it nearly immediately. I'm really concerned for all those who've had to bug in because they ran out of options before they even realized it.
I hope people stay safe. This is a bad one. There's also plenty of hurricane season left too.
The weather warmed up into the 80s Tuesday -amazingly warm for October in New Hampshire. I decided we needed a break day. There's a new coffee shop a couple towns away that has some amazing food. After a nice lunch we went for a drive to check out the changing leaves. People come from all over to see the colors. I don't take the beauty of our area for granted.
We stopped at this park to take in the view and to walk the dog. There was a photographer with an elaborate camera set up right next to me. He came all the way from Virginia. My old cheap phone camera did not this area justice.
My lovely wife and I walked down to the river. We ran into a couple goose hunters. Once was working the flock from his kayak. The other was hidden in the bushes, hoping the flock would fly overhead.
As we turned to walk back to the car, the flock took off and headed down river. They got a few shots off and bagged at least one goose. There had to be well over a 100 of them on the river.
The projects took a back seat to our own New Hampshire appreciation day.
The best part of being home is having friends and family nearby -my tribe, if you will. Over the weekend we spent a couple of nights hanging around campfires. It's an activity that humans have been doing for thousands of years. No wonder it feels so good.
I'm a funny mix of extrovert and introvert. Being alone doesn't bother me at all. There are times I crave and need it. On the flip side, it's great to be with people sometimes. The key for me is finding that balance.
I'm a pretty independent person and hate to bother people. However, it's been pointed out to me that really should ask for help more. That's exactly what I've decided to do. Monday I actually had help with my water line project. We moved a lot of dirt, rock, and tree roots. Progress is being made.
Just as important, I'm getting some other ideas on how to approach certain problems. It's a relief to have the help. The clock is running and winter is coming. With the progress I we made on Monday I'm feeling a bit better about getting things sorted out in time.
I've been pretty concerned about the news lately. There's plenty of things out there to worry about. However, we should be concerned about the stuff that hardly anybody's talking about. One small example: has anyone heard about the US being behind a potential invasion of Venezuela? That might be just the thing to divert attention from the mid-term elections. At some level, everything is politics.
Then you've got to ask yourselves if there's serious things world governments are hiding from their populations. Leaders have plenty of incentive to hide massive problems. It's the only way to keep things running on an even keel. If Joe Sixpack knew something serious was about to happen, he'd worry about taking care of his family. That might mean he wouldn't see the point of going to work to make his corporate masters happy. There's incentive to keep the economy running smoothly as long as possible.
Do the elite see things coming down the pike? Look at the number of the truly rich who are doubling down on their personal safety. It goes from elaborate safe rooms to compounds with full security. Heck, when I see the richest people in the world building their own space programs, it gives me pause. Sure, every multi-billionaire needs a hobby, but setting up a colony on the Moon or Mars is something else. Looks like the ultimate bug out location.
A number of disturbing things have come to my attention, but I don't have enough facts to make them public. In fact, my information could be totally false. However, what does your gut tell you? Am I the only one who has an uneasy feeling about the future?
Normally this blog tends towards practical nuts and bolts sort of things. Due to my personal unease I've decided to voice my feelings and suspicions.
Going on low budget adventures is pretty much what I do. My lovely wife and I are on fixed incomes so we really need to stretch a buck sometimes. One of the big issues is mechanical failure. Doesn't matter if it's a land vesicle or watercraft. A major breakdown can suddenly change plans.
You may have received a good deal on an adventure vehicle. That doesn't mean you are home free. When your budget is tight, something like a blown transmission can be a real game stopper. I've rebuilt engines, changed clutches and torque converters. It's bad enough if such repairs have to be done at home. On the road, options are limited and sometimes one just has to hire professionals. None of those folks work for free.
Last year our van needed major brake work done. Estimates on what it would cost were all over the place. In the end, while it was expensive, it wasn't disaster expensive. Before we head out we have our vehicles checked out by professionals. However, after months of travel, anything can go wrong.
Having savings for emergencies is nice. We had enough in our emergency fund to cover last year's brake repairs. Sometimes it isn't enough. That's why I carry at least one credit card with a sizable limit. That gives us some emergency funds to get home. Ideally, it's worth fixing the vehicle and taking it home with us. In a pinch, it gives us other options.
Last winter my lovely wife asked me what we'd do if the repair was more expensive than the vehicle was worth. No problem, I said, we'd rent a car, pile our gear in it, and drive home. I'm not above abandoning a vehicle if necessary. Getting home again is the main thing.
Recently I've been saying that I can't be at all the places doing all the things. That's a recondition that one has to pick and chose. Anyone who's been faced with a weekend full of various activities in different places knows what that's like.
Of course, I'm not just thinking about a single weekend but life in general. Looking back on my life there are times when I wish I'd done more traveling, especially International traveling. Then again, there are experiences and skills I'd never had learned had I not stayed here in northern New England.
More importantly, marriage and children came early in my life. That changes everything. Those relationships need a person's time and energy. When a lot of my friends were having a good time, I had responsibilities. On the other hand, when they were dealing with younger children, mine were grown and independent. Life has trade offs.
So where is this going? What do I have planned next? I'm really not sure, but there are options. There are always options. Life never became automatic for me. Even when I did the same thing day after day, I'd always wake up and decide that's what I'd do. Once in a while there were times in my life when I'd wake up and decide to move onto something else.
Recently I was reading someone's post in a forum. He was going on and on about how burned out he was. The guy sounded like a world weary 80 years old. At the end he revealed he was at the ripe old age of 50. As a 60 year old, I was surprised and a little disturbed. A closer reading of his post indicated he'd been working so long on a goal that by the time he got close to it, he was no longer all that interested. Sounds to me like he needs to step back and reconsider things.
Right now I'm working my way through my list of things that must get done in the near future. After that, possibilities open up.
I was looking forward to getting back in condition this fall during my sailing trip. With that canceled, there's a need for enjoyable ways to exercise. Walking and hiking works for me. The problem is that I don't really have any comfortable hiking shoes.
It's hard for me to find comfortable shoes. My feet are a little messed up. The middle toe on my left foot was badly broken once and never healed properly. Right now the big toe on my right foot is giving me a hard time. It doesn't help that I take somewhere around a 14 or 15 sized shoe in a wide. Not a lot of people carry larger sized footwear
It's not that hard to order sandals that fit. Their sizing is more forgiving. That's great in the summer or winters in Florida. Sandals are not a good choice for winter in New Hampshire. The only thing to do is to order on-line. This time around I'm trying something from L. L. Bean. In the past they've had good footwear for me. Their boots are excellent, but prices can be a bit much. Since I'm going to be spending at least part of the cold weather up north, it's worth getting something decent to walk in.
During the afternoon I had a nice three hour hike with a friend. Due to my footwear being less than ideal, I was limping at the end. That's when I decided it's going to be worth it to spring for quality. Not long after getting home, a new pair was on order.
My lovely wife and I just came back from a weekend of camping. That was a fun thing to do for a few days. We also have gone camping for months at at time. So how does packing for long term differ from short term packing?
Not as much as you'd think. Start off by packing as if you'd been gone for a week or so. Make sure you have enough clothes for that amount of time. Have enough cleaning supplies to be able do laundry and dishes. Pack about a week's worth of food.
When you start running low on clean clothes, go to a laundromat. When your food starts to get low, go shopping. It's not that hard. Repeat as needed.
The thing is, most of us aren't going on a remote expedition. Even if you are camping in the middle of a National Forest, there's usually at least a small town nearby where the basics are available. In fact, a lot of camping areas have camp stores that carry some essential items. The selection may be poor and prices higher, but if it saves you a trip into town to buy something like bug spray, it's worth it.
Long term expedition camping is something else entirely. Packing for such trips require a lot more planning. Every ounce and inch of storage matters. Those trips are special cases. Even long range hikers like those on the Appalachian Trail don't pack that way. These days hikers pack light and plan on regular town stops.
Things are easier now than we first started camping. This past trip my lovely wife discovered she hadn't bought enough reading materials. We like to read in bed before going to sleep. No problem, she just downloaded a book onto the smart phone. I had dozens of books on my Kindle reader, so I was already set.
Of course, there's a lot more to long term camping than the actual camping. It takes some planning to make sure things are set back home before leaving. Then there's the normal “paperwork” of modern life: bills, banking, and business communication. Fortunately, all that stuff can either be simplified and/or dealt with using an Internet connection. That's a whole different blog post.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.