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Friday, July 19, 2019

To the Sea!

My lovely wife and I went on a little road trip to the coast of Maine. We connected with friends. Next day we went for a walk along the ocean. Later we did some shopping at Hamilton Marine.

There’s only so much sailboat shopping that can be done in the mountains of New Hampshire. I had quite the list and gave the state of Maine a financial boost. Got everything from a new mast antenna cable to bottom paint -and a bunch of stuff in between.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Back to Martial Arts

My old martial arts instructor has come out of retirement. That’s pretty exciting. He’s spent the last couple of years working on a whole new system.

I had the chance to work out with him and a couple of his old students. This is all part my getting into better physical condition. The new system is great, designed to strengthen joints and encourage heart health.

It’s also focused strongly on effective fighting. Moves have been paired down and simplified. A lot of martial arts has become more focused on the art part and less on the martial. Our sensei acknowledges the new system doesn’t look as pretty. It’s designed to work in smaller spaces and concentrates on effectiveness.

We trained outside on uneven ground with the distraction of mosquitoes. That’s a plus in my book. In the real world fighting doesn’t just happen in antiseptic dojos. We even got to practice a poker game gone wrong fighting scenario using improvised weapons. How cool is that?

This chance to workout with my old teacher has been a godsend. My strength, flexibility and balance really took a hit when I was sick. I’m now strong enough to be able to work on getting stronger. Sometimes we are too sick to work on getting healthy. Not only is this great for my body, it’s going to be good for my state of mind.

Way back when I suffered lung damage and had to leave the fire service, this teacher is the guy who got me back into better health. He had a lot of exercises designed to strengthen my lungs. After two years of training with him, I was well enough to go back to college. Working with him and a couple of the old students was great and I’m looking forward to a lot more of it.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Prepare by doing

Back when I was a kid my family was into canoe racing. We acquired our fair share of trophies and ribbons. There was a paddling team that had developed a special series of exercises to prepare for races. Those guys looked in great shape. They had fantastic precise technique. Dad and I left them in our wake.

They asked us what exercises we did to train. What we did was paddle rivers . . . a lot . . . as hard as we could. As dad figured it, if you wanted to get good at something, do that thing as much as possible.

With that in mind, all the sailing I’ve been doing on my small lake is good practice for this coming fall’s sailing adventure. It’s not perfect as there’s no tides, currents and shoals to deal with. It does offer good practice with variable winds, busy boat traffic, anchoring, and lots and lots of tacking and sail adjustments.

Normally coastal sailing doesn’t involve a lot of tacking. Even when sailing into the wind, one usually does a few long tacks rather than a lot of short ones. That’s a lot more efficient. Should I ever be in a narrow channel with a dead engine, all that small lake tacking practice will come in handy.

My lovely wife and plan on doing some sailing along the coast of Maine, so that’ll be perfect. Looks like we are canceling our Lake Champlain plans. A number of the lake’s bays are suffering from toxic algae blooms. People’s dogs have died from contact with the water. There’s no need to take a chance while that’s going on.

We also have some trips planned to some large wilderness lakes. That should be fun -and good practice too!


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Knocking off the projects

I started out the day figuring out my boat trailer lights. They weren’t working when I launched the sailboat. Since the boat ramp is really close to my house, I took a chance and drove it over anyway. Before taking the boat any distance that had to be fixed. Fortunately it just an issue with the trailer plug. A little clean up, some careful trimming with a knife and it was good to go.

The afternoon project involved my pole saw and my small battery powered chainsaw. Some trees came down in my trail to the lake and had to be cut up. Then there was a large tree branch hanging out over the water. In the past my sailboat drifted to it and the mast and rigging got tangled up. My polesaw was just barely long enough to trim the branches. Working overhead like that can be exhausting.

I did a few little boat projects, but then ran into a major issue. The wind had kicked up and it was perfect for lively sailing. Just as I was about to take the boat out, my lovely wife came down the trail and joined me. It’s like she could sense the boat was going to leave the beach. Enough progress had been made on the projects. There’s no sense living on a lake if you don’t take advantage of it.

We had enough wind to allow us to push the boat a bit. There were a lot of pontoon boats, bow riders, and kayakers on the water. Technically a boat under sail has the right of way, but in reality one has to keep their head up, especially when sailing close to hull speed.

A family of three loons seems to like our sailboat. They always come over and visit. We also had a couple of osprey diving for fish right near us.

By the time we put the boat away we were pretty beat. It was all I could do to struggle back up the hill to the house and to cook a late dinner. All and all, a productive and fun day.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Population crash?

It’s common knowledge that over population is a major problem. The world has only so many resources.

What most people don’t realize is that populations can crash and go into steep decline. If we think about that happening we think of possible causes like war or plague. Populations decline rapidly when people are actively being killed off.

It doesn’t have to be that dramatic or even all that noticeable to the casual observer. Numerous countries are dealing with the problems of a rapidly aging society. Japan, Russia, and most European countries are not growing. It’s expensive to have kids and people no longer rely on them in their old age. We also no longer need a dozen children to run the farm. The United States would be in population decline itself if it wasn’t for immigration.

There are countries that are still growing, but as women in those countries gain freedom and education, they have fewer children. Demographic shifts from increasing population to declining population can happen in a relatively few years.

Artificial chemicals in the environment have been reducing fertility rates. It’s possible we may just poison ourselves to death. In industrialized countries, male testosterone levels have been plummeting.

Changes in population have some serious political ramifications. We all know that China’s one child policy had unintended consequences. Due to cultural preferences, a majority of families decided to have a son instead of a daughter. Now there’s no enough marriage age women for all those young men.

Russia’s decline has military issues. As they years go by, they’ll have fewer and fewer young men available for service. They may be at the point where if they want to achieve military goals, they’d better do it soon. In ten or twenty years, they might not have enough men in uniform.

Immigration in the United States has kept our numbers up. The population is becoming browner and less Protestant Christian. That will only be a problem is they don’t feel like real Americans. In the past the country has been able to assimilate foreigners and they’ve adopted American values. As long as the country can continue to do that we’ll be fine.

Many animal populations go through boom and bust population cycles. We might not be as isolated from the rest of the natural world as we’d like to think. Creatures that exceed their environment’s carrying capacity often crash to extremely low levels. Something to think about.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

2012 When the lights almost went off

A friend of mind came over to visit. He is former military. The subject of an EMP type attack came up. The military is retraining certain crews on how to do things the old way. The thought is that if the satellites and electronics got knocked out, they’d still able to function.

I pointed out how close we came to a solar storm in 2012 that could have wiped out the electronic age. The coronal mass ejection from the sun was estimated to have been as powerful at the storm that caused the 1859 Carrington event. Back then our most sophisticated electronics were telegraph systems. The jolt from the sun set telegraph stations on fire.

That strong of a solar storm would have sent us back to something like the 17th century.

Here’s the thing, the storm of 2012 actually did happen. We were just lucky that the earth was not in the path of the storm at the time. We missed it by something like nine days.

I jokingly pointed out that had that solar storm hit earth, we’d be having our conversations are a campfire. That caused us to pause for a bit. Then we thought . . . campfires are nice. That wouldn’t be all bad.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Winter prep

People who live in cold northern climates know that summer is the time to get ready for winter. You don’t start looking for firewood when there’s snow on the ground. In the old days it was a matter of life or death. If you didn’t have your firewood and food stored by the end of summer, you might not survive the winter.

Currently we have the advantage of ships and trucks bringing goods from all over the world. Instead of counting turnips to see if there will be enough until spring, we can eat bananas from South America.

This year my efforts are going towards being ready to head south for the winter. I now have a tow vehicle for the boat. My lovely wife and I are doing repairs and upgrades to the sailboat. Our camping gear is sorted out. We are knocking off the jobs that have to be done before we leave.

I’ve made it very clear to people that if you need my help for something, it better before October. That might seem like a long ways out, but it isn’t. Time has a way of slipping by. My fear is that by the end of September everyone will remember they need my help with something. That could get interesting.

With that in mind, I’m hoping to get all my critical stuff done before the end of August. That gives me a little leeway if things are delayed. It would be just my like to have two weeks of steady rain when there are outside projects to do.

Just to complicate matters there are still some jobs that need to be done just in case I’m stuck up north. Anything from a family emergency to a health crisis could change my plans. With that in mind I’m also making at least some minimal preparations for winter. You never know.