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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Missing the ambulance



I must admit, there are times when I miss the ambulance/camper conversion. The other day a bunch of ambulance conversion videos popped up in my YouTube suggestions. There were some pretty good ones. Then I think back at all the money I would have had to put into mine. That takes some of the sting out of letting it go.

One of the features that was really useful was being able to dry camp just about anywhere. When traveling it was nice to be able to stop somewhere, crawl into the back and get a good night’s sleep. My lovely wife and I saved a fair bit of money on hotels.

The Chevy Blazer lacks that ability. Sure, theoretically we could fold the backseat down and stretch out in the back. The problem with that is what the heck would we do with our gear? Right now our camping stuff pretty much fills up the back.

However, we will be towing the boat. We could pull into a an overnight parking spot and spend the night in the boat’s cabin. We even have the use of the boat’s head if we needed it. It’s not something I’d like to do for too many nights in a row, but it would work well enough for a trip from New Hampshire to Florida.

The van’s solar electric system and refrigerator/freezer was moved right over to the Blazer. I’ve been using it all summer. It’s pretty neat being able to do groceries and not worry about frozen food thawing out. When set to freeze it had no difficulty keeping ice-cream frozen all day. When grocery stores are far way, that’s a neat trick.

Sometimes I get nostalgic about the ambulance. We had a great seven years with it and loads of adventures. However, I try not to get to attached to vehicles. It was time to move on.

-Sixbears

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sigh of Relief



I went and done it. I closed out my Facebook account. There are various reasons. However, one of the big ones is that social media makes people depressed. Who wants that kind of stress?

So what was the straw that broke the camel’s back? My lovely wife was off visiting family in California for most of August. She had limited access to Facebook. After she got home and logged on, she found plenty of things to get upset about. There’s a lot of hate and stupidity on social media.

If people need to get hold of me, they’ll have to find some other way. If I’m not important enough for them to contact me directly -well, then it is what it is.

So my decision was a form of mental health maintenance. That fact that I’m suddenly flying a little more under the radar is just an added bonus.

-Sixbears

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Back from the left coast



My lovely wife is back home after spending most of August in California visiting family. I picked her up in Boston Tuesday night. While in MA we visited family. The two of us made it home just after dark Wednesday.

It turns out that some house plants need to be watered. Who knew? Her succulents survived, as did the one plant on the kitchen table. Being right in front of me day after day, that one was watered . . . once.

Well, the garden was watered regularly. The best thing about most gardens is that they are outside. We got a fair amount of rain this month. If my lovely wife had put the house plants outside before catching a plane they might have stood a chance. Apparently I’m not much of a houseplant guy.

In other news I see tropical storm Dorian is now hurricane Dorian. Right now it appears the storm may hit somewhere around central Florida. Strength could get up to category 3 or even higher. A few outlier models have it going as high as a five. Frankly, a two or three is plenty high enough.

If you are in hurricane territory, keep your eye on developments. (I’m taking to you Spud.) It’s really too early to make a solid prediction where it’ll make landfall. It’s not too early to check your storm preps and correct any deficiencies. If you have a bug out plan, make sure your vehicle is fueled up and ready to go.

If you do bug out, I have no idea what to do about your houseplants.

-Sixbears



Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What about Podcasts?



Yesterday I went into the reasons I’m not doing a YouTube channel. However, I’m not so opposed to doing a podcast. I love doing this blog, but there are some of my interests that would work better as a podcast.

Unlike a YouTube channel, I have most of the gear necessary to do a podcast. There are a few conditions that would have to be met before I went down that road.

One condition is having someone else involved. It’s pretty weird to just talk to yourself. For me, podcast formats work better when there’s people to interact with. Another big condition is having someone who’d be really committed to doing it.

Some years ago a friend approached me about doing a podcast. I set up computers with the necessary software and bought audio equipment. I did a fair amount of research and looked into how the business of podcasting was done. My friend’s life got complicated at that point and we didn’t go ahead with it.

Frankly, I don’t want to do all that setup and research again. Conditions and requirements must have changed since then. Things move fast on the Internet.

Who knows, it could happen. I’ve been told I have a face for radio so I’ve got that going for me.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

No YouTube Channel for Me



A number of people have asked me if I’m going to start a YouTube channel. In short, no. It’s a huge time commitment. To do it right requires an investment in good equipment. Then there’s the big issue that YouTube can’t be trusted not to demonetize your channel. Too many people have put in time and effort building a channel only to have it destroyed by YouTube.

In my case there would be a huge learning curve. I don’t even video things with my cell phone. A major issue is the fact that I could either do things or do video. Here’s an example how that works. This past spring my daughter and her husband bought a classic tow behind camper. They were looking for a fixer upper that they could seriously glam up. They found one for a good price, but it certainly needed a lot of work. At first they thought it would be pretty neat to document the whole thing and put it on a YouTube channel. Then they realized how much filming slows the work down. Instead of spending all that time filming they put all their energies into the rebuild. The camper was ready for Independence Day camping. Had they tried to video everything my daughter estimated the project would have taken two years. They’d rather go camping.

I don’t have anything against being on YouTube. In fact, there’s video of me floating around out there already. I was part of panel discussion that was filmed. All I had to do was show up and open my big mouth. Other people provided the cameras and the expertise.

A few people have come to me with various ideas for YouTube channels. A lot of those ideas were brilliant. Here’s the issue, just about everyone has at least one very good idea for a video. Few people have the drive and ability to make good video day after day.

-Sixbears

Monday, August 26, 2019

No Light Bulbs?



There I was cleaning light fixtures and replacing burned out light bulbs. Well, I thought I was changing light bulbs. The only bulbs left in storage were for flood lights. It was over an hour round trip to get bulbs. That’s why I normally have a lot of stuff in storage.

It’s not just light bulbs, of course. I’ve a fair amount of electrical parts kicking around. The same goes for plumbing supplies. If I had to go into town every single time a project needed doing, it would take forever.

When we think of emergency supplies we tend to think of food storage. That makes perfect sense as we eat seven days a week. That’s not to say that storage of other items aren’t important too. For example, if a storm sends a tree branch through a window, do you have what you need to do a temporary fix? It could be as simple a being able to screw a piece of plywood over the hole, but it’s necessary to prevent further damage. If it’s during the cold of winter it’s doubly important to have needed materials for a patch.

One category that people tend to under stock is medical supplies. Most med kits are fine for a quick patch before heading to the emergency room. However, there are times when you can’t make it to professional medical care. Even a relatively minor wound can require a lot of bandages over time. You really do not want to skimp on treatments that help prevent infection.

This time around I was able to drive into town and get what I needed. It got me thinking that I should have better organization and inventory control. Light bulbs are not big deal, but other items certainly could be.

-Sixbears

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Our Economic Illusions



The economic news on Friday was pretty interesting. Apparently a couple tweets from the President can drop the stock market over 600 points. If the system was logical and sane, it would be impossible for that to happen.

Of course, the stock market has never been rational. People invest using their emotions as least as often as they use their brains. What do you expect from a system that runs on the “greater fool” system. The idea is that someone even more foolish than you will pay more.

Money itself is an illusion. The almighty dollar only has value because the government says it has value. Don’t even get me started on currency manipulation. In spite of all that the system mostly works.

Mostly.

Sometimes everyone loses faith and it ends in tears. Maybe the fact that a few tweets can upset the system so easily is a sign that the faith isn’t too strong? There’s always another financial crash coming. Timing though -there’s the rub.

While much of the economic system is an illusion, parts of it are very real indeed. Our International trade battles have consequences. The disappearance of retail has consequences. The closure of manufacturing plants have consequences. Savings rates, pensions, interest rates and a whole lot more have real effects on the individual.

One of the reasons I’m taking care of a lot of little things right now is that the systems could have a real glitch. My fear is that we’ll look for the man behind the curtain and no one will be there.

-Sixbears

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Repair or Chuck it



For the last couple of weeks I’ve been going through my “needs repair” stuff. If it can’t be repaired it goes right in the trash. That clears up a lot of clutter.

I happened to be in North Conway New Hampshire where there a lot of shopping outlets. A couple of my old camping stoves needed parts to go back in service. There are a number of outdoor stores in town. In the past it was no problem to get what I needed. Not this time. Nobody stocked any repair parts. I guess there’s more money to be made in selling new things.

A couple of quick repair jobs have turned into scavenger hunts. I’m pretty sure those parts are available on-line from somebody. It would be one thing if the stoves were something exotic. That’s not the case. One’s a Coleman stove and the other is a MSR, very common brands.

While I was there I wanted a couple of Ferro rods (Ferrocerium) for starting fires. It took a while to get across exactly what I wanted. The second clerk got it, but only because he once bought a knife that came with one in the package. Nobody had those in stock either.

It’s said that retail is dying. I’m trying to do business with these people, but when they no longer stock what I want, on-line is the next best option.

-Sixbears

Friday, August 23, 2019

International Kids



Raising kids to be successful in this competitive world is tough. It seems if you can’t enroll them in the proper kindergarten their prospects are ruined. A friend of mine is concerned about getting her daughter into the right college. The daughter’s SAT scores are excellent, but she only graduated sixth in her class so they are worried. How crazy is that?

Then there’s the issue of which college to apply to. The daughter wants to go to an Ivy League school. While the parents are well off by local standards, they aren’t Ivy League well off. It’s not even about the academics as many lower tier school provide excellent educations. The issue is that Ivy League schools provide connections that translate into high paying powerful jobs.

Personally I’m appalled at how rigid things are these days for kids trying to get ahead. No wonder anxiety is sky high among teenagers.

On the other hand, I see kids that were raised differently. Their parents traveled all over the world while the kids were growing up. It might be due to jobs, being in the military, or just a sense of adventure like wanting to sail around the world.

Kids grow up exposed to multiple cultures. Sometimes they end up speaking a number of languages and have friends from all over the world. They are perfectly comfortable hitting the ground in a strange country and quickly adapting.

So what happens to these kids when the grow up? Generally they appear to turn out just fine. While their school transcripts, if they exist at all, are a mess, it doesn’t seem to limit them much. They have a wealth of experiences that cannot be acquired in a school at any price.

-Sixbears

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Road Food



I’m generally pretty frugal when on a road trip. However, there’s one area where I tend to blow the budget. I eat too much road food.

It’s really bad when one considers that for many of these road trips I’m going camping. Food and cooking gear is right there with me. So what’s the problem?

One of the big issues is the weather. Often I’m traveling during the cold of winter or when it’s raining. That’s not exactly picnic weather. Sure, I could have a sandwich and munchies in the vehicle, but that’s not much of a break.

A lot of my travel is done during the night. Traffic is lighter. A 2 a. m. picnic at a rest area would be pretty odd and often uncomfortable. It’s so much easier to pull into a 24 hour truck stop and get a nice plate of fat, salt and preservatives.

My food travel stops are more than about food. At least half of it is for a physical and mental break. A walk to stretch the legs is not just nice, it’s necessary. Being waited on is pleasant. If we stop at a Cracker Barrel, my lovely wife will check out the store part to see what’s on sale.

While I’m not going to totally eliminate stopping for road food, my plan is to cut back on it. At the very least it should be easy to start off with some sandwiches and a thermos of coffee. Cooking up a dehydrated Mountain House meal is quick and easy with little mess. The food’s of pretty good quality too.

Maybe stopping for just coffee now and then would be enough of a break and a lot easier on the budget.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Bunkers of the rich and famous



Sales of luxury doomsday bunkers are up. One of the big trends is to turn decommissioned missile silos into hideaways for the rich and famous. Interesting how those who’ve screwed things up for the rest of us are buying bolt holes for hard times. Should society collapse they plan on escaping to their bunkers with media rooms, swimming pools and fine wines.

Frankly, I’d rather take my chances on the outside with the radioactive zombies.

Take a number of rich highly entitled people who are used to getting their way. Now cram them all together in an underground bunker. No matter how big it is, it won’t be big enough to contain all those massive egos. Their skill sets and favorite pastimes involve stabbing people in the back to get ahead. Everyone will be striving to be the Alpha Wolf. That’s going to be fun, I’m sure.

Will they have their security people with them? What’s to prevent the elite from being eliminated by their own Praetorian Guard? Just like the Roman Emperors of old, their biggest threat will be very people trusted to protect them.

If they survive the bunker, then what? At some point they plan on returning to the surface. How will that work out? Any idea how the survivors will treat them? They will have to face people who’ve been strong enough and clever enough to survive. (Perhaps ruthless enough?) There are always survivors. How do think that reunion will play out? Are you going to bet on the hardened survivors or the pasty cave dwellers?

What’s to keep the people outside from sealing the exits and plugging the air vents? Maybe the elite should put more effort into fixing the problems they caused than trying to run away from the consequences.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I Don’t Work Here



The other day I was in my local Walmart. There was exactly one staffed checkout lane in operation. Of course one of the workers tried to direct me to the self checkout.

“I don’t work here,” I said.

Then I got in line at the full service checkout. Now I’m wondering about how hard it will be to completely stop going there. One of the downsides of living way out in the country is the lack of shopping options. However, Walmart keeps encouraging me to find solutions.

They also keep running out of stuff. The other day they had no bananas. My gas station has bananas. Recently they were out of peanut butter. It wasn’t just one brand or size, they were out of everything. How does that even happen?

Walmart is huge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t fail. Sears and Kmart used to be huge too. Now they are a mere shadow of their former self and shrinking all the time. When the next recession/depression hits we are going to see a much faster contraction in retail. Companies are going to disappear right and left.

I’ve friends who never shop Walmart. However, they travel a lot and have more disposable income than I do. Frankly, it’s easy to make a statement when you can afford alternatives. Then again, just because it’s harder for me doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Walmart’s drop in service and products have been making the alternatives look better all the time.

-Sixbears

Monday, August 19, 2019

Prepper?



Some people who once were happy to call themselves Preppers are dropping the term. They are still about able self-reliance, food security, alternative energy, and being prepared. So why do they no longer use the term?

Apparently there are people who’s concept of prepping is to stock up on just guns and ammo. They expect to have to shoot their neighbors when times get tough. That’s a big difference from those who think working with a community is the best way to survive.

Personally, I’d rather feed a neighbor in need than shoot them. Sheesh, is it that hard of a choice? If your neighbors are that terrible maybe you should move. If, on the other hand, if you’ve moved a lot and your neighbors are always bad it’s not them it’s you. You are the jerk.

There have always been people who think the only thing necessary for survival in a collapse situation is having guns. They think a gun will get them everything they need. That attitude will actually get them killed as they will, rightly, be considered a threat to the community.

We live in a weird time. Lone wolf gun guys can connect with other scattered lone wolves across the planet. They reinforce their beliefs. The problem is that when it comes time to actually survive in crisis, what you actually have are the mixed bag of people around you. An under recognized skill is the ability to get along with people who aren’t like you.

Sure, I’ve got guns too, but it’s not the foundation of my preps. It’s the reality of living in the country. I’ve had bears try to break into my house. While I didn’t have to shoot any, it was good to have that option. Then there was time a groundhog was unusually aggressive. Suspecting it might have rabies, I shot the poor thing. Felt bad about it too, but rabies is serious.

To be honest, it is conceivable I might need a gun for household protection, but odds are that are quite low. However, when you live out in the country, it’s a long time before a 911 call is responded to. So sure, I have guns, but it’s certainly not the center of my lifestyle. At my house a person in need is much more likely to be greeted with a coffee and a kind a word rather than bullets.

-Sixbears

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Power Outage Protocol



When the power goes out at my house I have a protocol that I go through. Well, all the power doesn’t go out, just the few circuits powered by the grid. My first concern is how extensive the outage is.

First I look to see if my neighbor across the road has power. I think they are afraid of the dark so they leave their spotlights on all night. If they are dark, then I look across the lake. That side of the lake is powered by a newer more robust circuit totally separate from my side. If they are down the outage is fairly large.

Then I pull out my battery powered radio and check the local radio stations. Those are usually still fine and often can inform me on what’s going on. There have been times when even those stations have been down. At that point I switch to the short wave band and try to get some idea what’s going on.

Now I can add the text capability of my new Garmin Inreach device. It connects directly with satellites and is not reliant on cell towers. That will allow me to contact friends and family all over the world.

At one time I had satellite Internet, but it was expensive and had a data cap. When cable Internet became available I switched to that. The one nice thing about the satellite system is that I could power it from my solar electric system and stay connected to the world. While that was nice and sometimes handy, it was too expensive to maintain both Internet connections.

Back in the days before cell phones I used to disappear out in the woods for days at a time. I had this idea that the world could fall apart with I was away and I’d never know. Maybe I read too much Science Fiction as a kid. Still, there were times when I’d get out of the woods only to find there really were significant things that happened while I was away. None of them were earth shattering, but they brought home the idea that I really was out of touch.

While I like to disconnect from the world from time to time, I like to do it on my own terms.

-Sixbears



Saturday, August 17, 2019

Friends bearing gifts



A good friend of mine came up from downstate. He had some family business to take care of in town and stayed at my house. We had a great evening, went out to dinner and hung with family members. Good times.

He works for a tech company and brought up a couple of computers he didn’t need anymore. That was a huge boost for me. One needed a keyboard and a monitor, but I already had those in storage. It didn’t take too long to get it up and running and it’s a nice desktop computer now.

The other one was a small notebook computer. It had only been used to power a presentation at a conference once. I had an earlier version of that computer and loved it. It was a great travel computer. While small, the keyboard is large enough for even my giant fingers. The screen on this one is a little bigger than my old machine.

The computers are in like new condition. The desktop one was still in the original box and had never been used. The company bought it for a project that got canceled. They were going to throw it away. I’m glad my buddy thought of me.

Both computers run versions of Linux that I’m familiar and comfortable with. They’ll handle my rather basic computer needs just fine. It’s good to have friends.

-Sixbears

Friday, August 16, 2019

Increased Hurricane Risk



NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has released a prediction for an increased risk of above normal hurricane activity. That’s mainly due to the end of El Nino conditions.

We are well into the season and it’s been pretty mild so far. In fact, there’s nothing in the short term forecast to indicate hurricane formation. I am going to trust NOAA on this one though. We could get some heavy duty weather at the end of the season. That’s happened in the past. Don’t drop your guard due to it being fairly mild so far.

People who live in hurricane areas should already be aware of this. It’s people like me who try to plan trips down south who get caught flat footed. August through October is considered the peak hurricane season. Of course, it’s possible to get nasty hurricanes even at the end of December.

I’m planning a sailing trip around the third week of October so it could be interesting. That’s where being flexible will come in handy. There are contingencies lined up just in case things get lively. There is no sense launching a boat in front of a hurricane. Sailing right after a hurricane is not a good idea either, with the loss of navigational aids, marina destruction, debris in the water, shoaling and everything else.

My big advantage over bigger boats is that mine can easily be loaded up on a trailer and hauled out of harm’s way.

-Sixbears

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Recession/Depression



It’s said when someone else is out of work, it’s a recession. When you yourself are out of work, it’s a depression.

If anyone is paying any attention to the news you’ve heard about drops in the stock market. Maybe you’ve also heard something about an inverted yield curve. Depending on who you listen to, the economy is essentially sound or about to head into a deep recession. If I had to give odds, I’d go with the later. Everyone must make their own assessment. Just remember, when the US was entering the Great Depression, businessmen and politicians said the economy was sound.

As far as I’m concerned, one should always entertain the possibility of economic downturn. They always happen sooner or later. By the way, they also tend to happen more often during a Republican administration. Don’t believe me; look it up for yourself. That’s one more tick in the possible recession column, if you are keeping score.

I grew up in a dying mill town. Our town often did poorly when the rest of the country was booming. Economic hard times feel pretty normal to me. They are no reason to panic. However, now’s the time to assess your preps. There might be a rather narrow window of time to get things in order. If you were waiting to get prepared for hard times, I’d suggest you sort it out sooner rather than later.

You might want to give some thought for this next recession to be deeper and last longer. Better to be over prepared than under prepared.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sailing Practice



I’ve been doing a lot of sailing lately. It’s pretty easy to do with the boat right at my own beach. It’s been great practice for my planned trip down the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway) this fall.

Of course, there are differences between a mountain lake and a salt water waterway. Fortunately, I’ve sailed the western portion of the Florida ICW extensively. I know how to deal with the traffic, markers, bridges and all that jazz.

My lake sailing gives me plenty of practice with variable winds, heavy boat traffic, anchoring and mooring. The boat has been modified to make it easier to sail single handed. The lake has been a great place to test out those systems. Then there’s the fact that all those hours of sailing builds muscle memory. Practice makes perfect.

I can’t believe the trip is just a little over two months away. Where does the time go?

-Sixbears

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

SOS and Communication



My oldest daughter was pretty worried about me heading out on sailboat adventures. I’d been thinking about getting a Garmin Inreach device but her concern pushed me over the edge into doing it.

I picked up the Inreach Mini by way of Amazon. Reviews said it should only take an hour or two to set up. That was the theory anyway. In reality it took me about ten hours so far. Part of that is my own stubbornness. The last thing I want to do is to get customer support on the phone. I’d rather figure things out myself.

When I finally did break down and call, the process went much better. They couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working either. In the end they had to purge my account and rebuild it from scratch. That worked. Then there’s a program that has to run on either a Mac or Window’s computer. Normally I use a computer running Ubuntu. I was able to dig up an old tablet that runs on Windows and was able to do the job.

Right now I’ve got the basic functions working but I’m going to need my cell phone to do the final stuff. Turns out there’s a smartphone app that’ll make the final stuff go easier. Unfortunately the cell phone is across the country with my lovely wife right now.

I looked at a lot of emergency devices. For me, the price on this one wasn’t too bad. Of course, the SOS function is the critical part, but it also can provide two way texting and satellite tracking. It works anywhere in the world and doesn’t need cell towers.

Not only will it be handy on trips, it could be useful right at my house. There’s no cell service where I live so when the Internet goes down all communication is cut off. At least now I’ll be able to let people know we are fine or call for help if we are not.

-Sixbears

Monday, August 12, 2019

Someone Else’s Dream



The other day my lovely wife and I were watching Youtube sailing videos. No big surprise there. Here’s what did surprise me. One of the channels had put out a request for crew to help on a longer passage. My lovely wife asked if I wanted to go. While it was tempting, I decided to pass on it for various reasons.

Of course, they might not have wanted me, but there are a lot of boats looking for crew. I have some experience and being retired I’ve got the time. Odds are that someone would have wanted me along.

Here’s the downside from my point of view. Those trips are someone else’s dream. Some were tempting as they were going places I want to go to. However, being honest with myself, I realize I want to be sailing to those places on my terms. For example, I might be willing to wait a day or two for good wind conditions. A different captain may be in more of a hurry and decide to motor on through.

While it might be fun to crew on another boat, it would take time and money away from fulfilling my own dreams. How often in life are we working towards another’s dreams rather than our own? How many of us have forgotten our dreams entirely?

Helping someone else could be useful towards your own dreams. Someone may be looking for experience to see if it’s something they really want to do. Perhaps they are jumping at the opportunity to learn skills. That’s all well and good, but never lose sight that you are doing it for your own reasons.

-Sixbears

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Storm Delay


It seems just when I’ve got the time to do an outdoor project the thunderstorms roll in. We’ve had some strong storms. Saturday there was a lightning strike close enough that the house shook. I’m probably missing a tall tree somewhere on my property. I’m going to check it out later today. One night the grid power was knocked out three times. Those poor linemen had a rough night.

One of the things I’m looking to do is to pull the sailboat from the lake. The last thing I want is to be messing around with the giant aluminum lightning rod that the sails hang off of. It does not help knowing that statistically a lightning strike is more likely on a power boat -according to Boat US anyway.

All that rain, heat, and humidity started to turn my lawn into rain forest. It did dry out enough to cut it the other day, but then it started to rain an hour later. One thing about letting the grass grow long was the huge number of wild flowers that popped up. The yard was covered in bees. This year has has been good for bees in my area, which is a welcome change.

Anyway, I digress. Once the boat is back in the yard it’ll be possible to finish off the boat projects. It needs new bottom paint and some new hardware. With the mast down it’ll be easy to install the new radio cable.

There’s a whole completely self contained solar/battery box set up ready to be slotted into the boat. The old 6 gallon box that fit in the back of the cockpit was turned into batter/charge controller box. A flexible solar panel fits right on top of it. The electric motor and all the boat electronics can be quickly switched from one system to the other as needed. I’ll have to get around to taking photos one of these days.

We should be getting a break in the weather. With any luck most of those jobs will get done. Summer is going quickly.

-Sixbears

Saturday, August 10, 2019

I’m Back


Life has gotten interesting. Long story short, my lovely wife had planned on heading out to California to visit my daughter and grankids near the end of the month. Last weekend we discovered that they could really use her help out there sooner rather than later. Sunday she rescheduled her flight and left out of Boston on Monday.

Currently I don’t know how long she’ll be out there. She has a flight home scheduled near the end of the month, but could come back sooner if conditions change.

Between lack of sleep, lots of driving, and road food I wasn’t feeling all that great myself. It took a couple days to feel fully human again. There have been a lot of things to catch up with around here. We’ve had a number of strong thunderstorms lately, slowing down my outside projects. With the heat and rain my lawn was well on its way to becoming a rain forest. More comfortable weather is predicted so I should be able to catch up on the important items.

-Sixbears

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Heads Up

Hi folks. Just a heads up that might have to take a few days off from blogging. I'm fine but have some things to deal with.

Back as soon as I can. Didn't want to just disappear.

-Sixbears

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Gardens and Farming



There’s a huge difference between having a garden and having a farm. Gardens are smaller than farms, but it’s more than a matter of size. In general, gardens supply food to a household. Some folks may sell their extra, but more often than not extra garden goodies are given away. Most gardens these days just supplement a household's diet. In the past, they may have had to supply a significant part or even all of a family’s calories. Garden’s are for subsistence.

Commercial farms, even relatively small ones, operate in the greater market place. The variety is limited, often growing just one type of plant. They are focused on the market and profit. Money from the farm has to run the operation and meet the farmer’s basic needs -at a bare minimum.

Farms are not really all that great as a hedge against collapse. When the economy tanks, we have the strange condition of hungry people who can’t buy food and farmers who can’t sell food. Everyone suffers. The farmer is tied into the world of markets and banks. They rely on supplies of fuel, fertilizer, seed, irrigation, pesticides, and machines. There’s a lot that can go wrong.

During the great depression the only reason a lot of farmers survived was that they were also gardeners. They may have grown a cash crop like wheat or corn, but also maintained a kitchen garden with a variety of veggies and fruits for the table. That doesn’t happen as much these days.

Personally, I’m really glad there are farmers out there supplying my needs. We have a small garden, but my lovely wife is a lot more into it than I am. Of course, in a collapse situation I’d be darn thankful that she dabbles in dirt.

-Sixbears

Friday, August 2, 2019

Burning Man



Yeah it’s that time of year again, when I take a poke at the Burning Man Festival.

First off, it’s a gathering in the dessert, in freaking August. Need I really say more?

Probably not, but here I go.

Okay, I’m a bit of a hippy at times. I’m all about getting together, having a party, dressing weird, and basically having a good time. So far, so good. The fact that you cannot charge for anything and it works as a gift economy is pretty neat. Add lots of strange of art and it sounds pretty interesting.

The price of admission isn’t cheap. It’s also out in the middle of nowhere so transportation costs are an issue. Then there are turn key camps that are set up for people -for a price. The Burning Man people are trying to deal with that sort of thing, but I don’t know how that’s working out. The people who go to the gathering tend to be very well off and mostly white. (What the heck are white people thinking, going out in the dessert in August?!)

The people who are all about experiencing free love and a money free event live in exactly the opposite fashion during their regular life. Often they are wealthy businessmen who’ve benefited massively from a capitalist system. They won’t give up a bit of their status either.

So why is Burning Man so popular? I think it appeals to that part of the human psyche that remembers our tribal past. People have the chance to shed their civilized veneer. Of course, all the sex and drugs have their attraction too.

There are other lesser known events out there that are worth checking out. (maybe with less drugs?) There’s nothing stopping people from getting together with a bunch of people and having their own event. That’s how Burning Man itself got started in the first place.

-Sixbears

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Induction Cooktop



My lovely wife has been bugging me to get an induction cooktop for years. They are supposed to be very efficient. So I do a little research and found one that looks pretty good.

I ordered on and it arrived in good condition. Now here’s why you read the instructions. We don’t use the cook woodstove in the summer. It appeared to be the perfect place to set a portable cooktop. The safety instructions warn not to place it on an iron table. The woodstove is mostly cast iron.

There’s supposed to be a 10 cm clearance from any metal surface. Here in America that translates to about 4 inches. There was a wooden box on my porch that raised it more than high enough for testing purposes.

I can see there’s going to be a learning curve, but it certainly boiled water quickly. Induction cooking works using magnetic fields that create heat in metal cookware. Good thing I have a lot of cast iron pans. There are a few random items that won’t work, like my glass sauce pan, but I knew that ahead of time.

Now all I have to do is to build something prettier than an old box to set it on.

-Sixbears