Thursday, March 31, 2016

Survival Food in the Cold North

This is the starving time of the year here in the Great North Woods. Picture life hundreds of years ago before food was easily transported around the globe. To survive a northern winter food grown in the summer would have to last until things started growing again. Sometimes harvests were poor and not enough was stored. There's not a lot of wild foods available in the early spring.

One readily available food is rock tripe. Rock_tripe Lichens that grow on rock don't sound very appetizing. To be honest, the best thing that can be said about the flavor is that they don't taste terrible. Kinda reminds me of eating dead leaves.

So what's the attraction? It's readily available and actually quite nutritions. There are records of arctic expeditions surviving on nothing else for months at a time. Beats starving to death.

Many years ago I did an experiment about this time of year in the western mountains of Maine. I tried to live off the land in the mountains. For three days my diet consisted of rock tripe, a little bit of edible moss, and spruce tea. The spruce tea was the high point flavor wise. It's also one of the few good sources of vitamin C in the winter time.

The rock tripe was collected from the rocks, cleaned, and double boiled. The first batch of water was poured off as rock tripe contains acids that help them eat rock. (sounds more appetizing all the time, doesn't it?)

Actually if it was finely chopped and added to a hearty soup you wouldn't mind the flavor at all. All by itself for days at a time it gets pretty boring. However, not nearly as boring as starving to death.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Short Term Thinking

The USGS just released an earthquake hazard map. For the first time it includes earthquake dangers caused by fracking.

Here's what drives me nuts. The quake danger will be with us for a long long long time. That's a huge cost. The benefit was a short term boost in hydrocarbon production. The oil and gas companies got the profit and the people who live on the land will have to pay for it forever.

The nuclear power industry is another case of long term hazard for short term benefits. A nuclear power plant's life is measured in decades while nuclear waste is dangerous for thousands of years.

Those are two big examples, but there are superfund sites all around the country where toxic materials linger in the ground and water long after the industries are gone. Few think about such things -until your grandkids test for high levels of lead in their blood.

There are hazardous sites that will probably outlive our civilization.

Of course, we all live in the short term. If we don't survive today it doesn't matter what dangers the future will bring. That's why people in third world countries cut down every tree within walking distance. Sure, a forest in the future would be of huge benefit to the environment, but dinner needs to be cooked today.

Unlike other creatures on this earth, we can extrapolate into the future the costs of todays actions. We don't have to have the same fate of mindless creatures exceeding the carrying capacity of their surroundings. Now all we have to do is live like the big brained critters we are. Let's use those brains for good instead of short term profits.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hunkering down

My lovely wife and I are hunkering down and sitting out bad weather. The rain, snow and freezing rain is supposed to continue until Wednesday. Really glad we don't have to drive anywhere. The downside is that we are no excuse not to do chores around the house, including catching up on paperwork.

The woodstove is working really well. I'd purchased a ton and a quarter of compressed sawdust fuel blocks for the stove. We were going to use it up last fall but had to change our plans and went down to Florida in September. Those bocks were piled in my mud room as they have to stay dry. The downside is that they really are in the way as I'd expected to have used them up by now.

When we first opened up the house I used on our oil furnace to keep warm. I haven't relied on it for years. The controls on the the furnace never worked right when powered off my solar electric system so it's tied into the grid. That's fine, except when the grid fails. That's when it's nice to have the woodstove.

So I'm warm, comfortable, and . . . ready to go somewhere. As much as I enjoy being home, a big part of me wants to roam around. I've tried to go for long walks with the dog but no matter how bundled up I get, I'm still cold. Just not acclimated to the north yet. No doubt once the sun returns I'll be in a better mood.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Violence after the election?

With the current state of division in the United States people wonder if there will be violence after the election. Let's face it, no matter who wins, a lot of folks are going to be displeased.

The big question is, what are they going to do about it?

Consider that most people aren't invested enough in the process to even vote, so we are already at a minority of people willing to do anything. Factor in the people who don't believe in violent solutions and the number goes down. Add those folks who are law abiding and the number shrinks again. Throw in the timid and the apathetic and it's a pretty small number.

That doesn't mean there won't be violence, but it'll be limited. Handfuls of people aren't going to violently overthrow the establishment.

The biggest root cause of revolution is people missing meals. The whole Arab Spring coincided with drought and food scarcity. Hungry people are angry people. We don't even need the circuses, just the bread is enough to keep most folks in order.

While revolutions have taken place due mostly on political grounds, they are rare. I don't see it happening this time around either.

Even a major economic collapse won't be enough -if everyone is getting enough to eat. Smart governments do two things to stay in power during troubled times. The first is to make sure everyone has enough food. The second is to give young males something to do. During the depression the government had many different programs to put young people to work. The pay wasn't great, but it was something. Also, the way things were set up most of the money went back home to their folks. I bet those families really encouraged their young people to stick with the program.

Of course, another way keep the young people busy is to go to war. That can be risky, as most of those young people will come back and will know how to kill. If conditions are still bad after the war those folks just might take things into their own hands.

In short, the conditions on the ground aren't conductive to full blown generalized violence. On the other hand, if idle youth start missing miles, head for the hills.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Harvesting the junk pile

Snow and freezing rain finally came to an end Saturday morning. The sun came out and temperatures rose into the low 50s. It felt wonderful to see the snow melt away. Perfect weather to knock off a project from my list.

It was a good day to tackle the brickwork around my stove pipe. I'd hopped to be able to repair it, but in the end everything got ripped out. The old red break was replaced with commercial firebrick for industrial boilers. A few years ago a friend of mine worked as a boiler maker's apprentice and scored some left over brick. I knew the day would come when it would come in handy.

Originally the brick was going to be used in a rocket stove project, but I decided to invest in a kitchen cook woodstove instead.

To the untrained eye it would appear that there's some junk stuffed under my deck and in my basement. It's not junk, it's just treasures that haven't found a use yet.

Hope everyone has a happy Easter. I'm spending it with friends and family. The weather here is cold, but the people are warm.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Focusing on the Domicile

So it's freezing rain right now and there's still fresh snow on the ground. Welcome to spring in the North Country.

I am getting anxious to get some home projects done. It's much more fun to think about sailboat projects, but the house is crying for attention. In the six months we were away the deck has really gone downhill. Maybe if I'd been around last fall and finished the repairs I'd started it would still be usable. The smart thing, but not the cheap thing, will be to replace most of the structure. While I hate to spend the money, we do spend an awful lot of time on our deck so it'll be worth it.

There's a chimney project that I hope to do over the weekend. The weather should be warmer so I can shut down the furnace while doing repairs. I've also been waiting for my shoulder to heal up a bit more before working with brick. The repairs need to be done before starting up the kitchen woodstove. There are still plenty of heating days left before the really nice weather gets here.

The garden area need work before planting. Rock walls need to be reconstructed to keep the garden from falling into the yard.

The beach area really could use a good boat dock.

I've saved up materials to build a small greenhouse. Perhaps it'll get done now as the price of food is high and the darn materials are in my way.

Okay . . . I know I said I wasn't going to think too much about sailing, but the little Ooze Goose scow really needs a sailing rig . . .


Friday, March 25, 2016

Not trusting the idiots

When my wallet was lost I took a chance that it would not be found and the credit and debit cards used. Financial institutions want those cards shut down immediately. Those same financial institutions cannot mail replacement cards to me down to Florida. Rather than trust them not to screw up I delayed reporting.

Once safely in New Hampshire I walked into my local credit union and reported my cards missing. Since my wife's cards have different numbers they should have been able to keep her's active while replacing mine. It took three employees working together to “figure it out.” Yesterday we learned that a bill my lovely wife tried to pay denied the card. Yep, the credit union shut her cards down.

The next day I got my replacement debit card in the mail but there's no sign of the credit card from the same institution. I suspect the local credit union is now staffed by folks who couldn't make the grade at the local Dunkin Donuts.

My checkbook checks have all finally dried out. They are the type of checks that make a carbon copy when you write and the checks are stuck to the carbons. They can be separated using a sharp knife and almost all the checks are now usable. No one has refused to cash a salty, slightly wrinkled check.

Then there's the post office. The local branch did not know how to stop forwarding my mail. The larger branch in town said they would take care of it. They did, sorta. All my junk mail and magazines made it to my house. All the first class mail kept getting forwarded. Only took one more trip to the post office in town to sort that out.

On a positive note, my permanent driver's license arrived about a month earlier than the state said it would.

My computer and printer are now shaking hands and playing nicely together. All it took was throwing out the Window's program, installing Ubuntu and letting that connect with the printer. It was faster than trying to sort out why the Windows drivers weren't working the way they were supposed to. With the printer and scanner working properly, I can now print out forms and scan documents needed to replace other things lost in the shipwreck.

I got a scare when my cloud storage showed there were only three photos in storage and nothing else. Hundreds of photos and documents were missing, including the most recent draft of a book I'm working on. Fortunately, later in the day it was all there, so I downloaded copies of everything. Cloud storage saved me when my computer went for a salt water swim, but now I don't trust that completely either. In fact, I'm almost at the point where I'm going to print everything out, to heck with the inconvenience and cost.

My lovely wife and I are sticking close to home. There was enough fresh snow on the ground that the town plow came through. Later in the day it turned to freezing rain. We decided there wasn't really any place we needed to be. Good weather to sort out paperwork. I am so hoping for sunshine.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

The fear trick

The easiest way to manipulate someone is through fear. It's no secret that those who'd like to have power over other people use fear.

Fear makes us stupid. Think of decisions in your own life that you made when afraid. I bet you are a little embarrassed by most of them.

When I see a politician trying to use fear to get elected, I think: here's a person trying to get me to do something stupid.

Fear works -until it reaches a point where someone stands up and says something like “you should be ashamed of yourself.”

For example, take McCarthyism, the Communist witch hunt that ruined so many lives. Finally, Senator Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine Republican, gave her "Declaration of Conscience" speech to the Senate. It was a strong case for free speech rights. Personally, I think she caused a lot of people to step back from their fear so they could think clearly again.

There's hope. If the country could come to its senses during such a fear filled time, there's hope for us today. As divisive as things are in this country right now, they were worse in the past -and got better. All it takes is for people to stop being so afraid and to use their brains again.

Emotion is easy. Thinking is hard, but at least you are in control of yourself, instead of being controlled by the manipulator's fear.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I'm still replacing paperwork lost in the shipwreck. Today it was my concealed carry permit. A New Hampshire permit cost $10 and is good for 4 years. The replacement cost is also $10 so many people just fill out forms for a new permit. There's a year and a half left on my old permit so I just went with a replacement rather than fill out the paperwork and wait a week or two for approval. A lot can happen in a couple weeks.

My gun safe key is still missing, but I have a few handguns kept somewhere else so I'm not in a terrible hurry. If I was I'd drill the lock out.

Phil from the Vulgar Curmudgeon Blog suggested using the phone camera on my cell to try and take a photo of the serial numbers on the back of the safe. I was able to blindly reach my hand between the building studs and take a bunch of random pictures, about 20 of them. Three of them had partial shots of the information tag and it took all three of them to reconstruct the serial number.

The safe company is very cautious about handing out replacement keys. They have a form that must be filled out an notarized, plus they want a bunch of paperwork. Rounding up all that stuff will give me something to do while the search for the key goes on.

Security is on my mind today since I woke up to a terror bombing in Belgium. My prayers are with the Belgium people.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sorting electronic stuff out

Computers annoy me. Sure, they are great labor saving devices, except for when they are not. Today was one of those days. This is the day I finally got fed up dealing with Windows, wiped the computer clean and installed Ubuntu, a version of Linux.

Of course everything had to be backed up before doing major computer brain surgery. While I can't say the installation was trouble free, it went pretty darn good. I like dealing with an operating system that doesn't constantly need updated virus protection. It will take a little while to get the bookmarks and passwords all sorted out, but it's worth it.

My cheapo tracfone died in the salt water, as did my Kindle Fire tablet, and a hand held marine gps. Those three things are now replaced with one device: a Motorola 3G smart phone from Republic Wireless.

The cheap plan allows full function with wifi, unlimited talk and text, but minimal data. The phone is optimized to run with wifi. One bonus is that it's possible to use my cell phone for talk and text at home where there is no cell tower connection but good wifi. The kindle app replaces the Kindle reader. A chart app replaces the marine gps. A bonus is that the chart app also works with Active Captain, giving more information than charts alone can do. The phone is also rated to withstand being under 3 feet of water for 30 minutes -and that's not counting the protective case.

My lovely wife and I have decided to let the service on her StraightTalk phone lapse. This might freak some people out, but we can function just fine sharing one cell phone. The phone itself has seen better days and has started to act wonky -not all the time, but it will choke when you try to rely on it.

Electronics are nice and all, but I also got a new notebook. No, not a notebook computer, a real notebook. It's a nice one with quality paper and leather bound. That's where all the really interesting stuff is kept.


Monday, March 21, 2016

The joys of laundry

One of the things most of us take for granted is being able to do laundry at home.

If you are going to be on vacation for a week or two, odds are you won't do much laundry, if any. Us nomads have to do what we can.

The first thing you learn is that you never have enough quarters. Go right to the bank and turn a bunch of $10 bills into rolls of quarters. You are going to need them.

When we picked marinas and campgrounds, it was always a bonus if they had laundry services on site. Laundry is bulky and heavy so you don't want to carry it any further than you have to. If you do end up in a regular laundromat you'll probably meet an interesting bunch of people. If had some fascinating conversations while the clothes went round and round -that is, the times the other customers spoke English.

We did learn a few tricks while on the boat. One of the other boaters at a good free anchorage had loaded up a backpack full of dirty laundry. I knew there were on laundromats on the island so I asked where she was headed. She was going to do her laundry at the fancy marina just down the road. Nobody ever bothered her.

A few days later my lovely wife and I did the same thing, except I also took a shower at their facility. We did have lunch at their attached restaurant so I figure it was all good.

The same lady who showed us the marina trick used to take her laundry to the fancy hotel on the island. She went in the back and used the hotel machines. Everyone working back there only spoke Spanish and nobody challenged her. She got away with it for about 6 months before management caught on and kicked her out.

Laundry can be done in a bucket using salt water. Joy dish soap will suds up in sea water. Wash in salt and rinse in fresh if you've got enough. We didn't so I just used salt water for everything. Salty clothes didn't bother me at all -it was the price of anchoring in a beautiful remote area.

During our stay in the Bahamas I hand washed some of my clothes. Our sunny 6th floor balcony was ideal for drying clothes in a few hours. My wardrobe was pretty limited so it worked out quite well. Sure beat the heck out of hauling around another suitcase.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

In half a year

With the exception of a quick trip north to bury my father's ashes, my lovely wife and I have been gone for about 6 months. A lot happens in six months. If you live it day by day it seems not much changes.

Six months is about as long as my lovely wife wants to be away from our home in New Hampshire. Beyond that too much changes, especially the grandkids. Skype is nice, but it's not a hug.

Houses have been built and others torn down. People have married, divorced and some have died. Stuff happens. Five of my friends are in the process or have just completed writing books. Must have been the winter for it.

While it was a mild winter, it was a pretty crappy winter for outdoor activities. Instead of snow it would turn to freezing rain or just plain rain. That's not very good weather if your thing is skiing or other sports. I think that's why so many people seem to have put on weight this past winter.

I know I'm not getting as much exercise since I got back. We walked around the lake one day, but since then the weather has been too bad for my liking. The warm southern climate has turned me into a bit of a softy. Just didn't feel like a brisk walk with strong winds and temperatures in the teens. Much nicer to sit by the warm glow of a computer monitor.

We all know what happens to the best laid plans, but I'm thinking about what to do next winter. Right now it looks like we might stay as late as Christmas, then head south. However, I am kicking around some really outside the box ideas for a bit of adventure.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

How's that outrage working for you?

No matter who gets selected, I mean elected, president, plenty of people are going to be angry. Really really angry.

People, no matter their political affiliation, really want things to change. They don't want business as usual. The very last thing that the powers that be want is to upset the apple cart. Expect political shenanigans to prevent the American people from having a real say in November.

In the past, the entrenched powers usually got their way. They don't expect things to be different this time around, even if they are currently running a bit scared.

Our nation has reached the stage where just muddling through is not going to work. Real systematic changes are going to be needed to get through the challenges facing us.

The economy is not doing all that well. There are some huge storm clouds on the horizon. No, they are looming overhead. China is not going to be absorbing exports from the rest of the world as everyone hoped. It's laying off people and trying to keep wages low. With the world's biggest population country in contraction, it has got affect world trade.

Automation is replacing more people, not just in manufacturing. Ever use a self check out line or those little pay at the table machines at restaurants? The logical solution is a guaranteed basic income, among other reforms. Let's see how far logic gets us this time around.

Sure, the stock market looks like it's doing well. Frankly, it doesn't matter. The stock market hasn't been a true reflection on the real economy for some time. There are two economies. One is the real economy that produces goods and services. The other is a paper economy consisting of financial smoke and mirrors. The paper economy might look good, but the real one . . . not so much.

For some time the system has been kept going with band-aids, spit, and duct tape. That can't go on forever, and we know that things that can't go on forever eventually don't.

As the facade crumbles exposing the ugliness beneath the surface. Areas as diverse as the energy sector to immigration are in turmoil.

Things are going to get interesting. What's a person to do with their anger and outrage when things unravel? Well the last thing you want to violent overthrow. Just look at the mess the whole Arab Spring has made. Yes, those countries were ruled by bad dudes, but the chaos that followed was worse.

Work for a political solution, but prepare for disruptions. Now is the time to get your house in order. I don't want to burn it all to the ground, but I do realize there are plenty of outraged people who have nothing to lose.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Gun Safe

A lot of stuff went to the bottom of the ocean when we lost our sailboat on the shoals. There many little annoying things about losing most of my personal items. The latest hassle stems from losing my key ring.

In short, the key for my gun safe was on that ring. The good news is that I dropped a key off with my daughter before heading south. The bad news is that we haven't found that key either. So far I've tried three different keys that look like the one, but no joy.

There are serial numbers on the back of the safe that would allow me to order more keys. Unfortunately, the safe is lag bolted to 2X4s. It might be possible, using fiber optics or mirrors to view those numbers. Chances aren't that great of that working but it's worth a shot.

The best bet for now is to keep pawing through my daughter's collection of keys. My other options are picking or drilling out the lock. Drilling is a last resort as I'd really like to keep using the lock. A safe without a lock defeats the purpose of having a safe in the first place.

At least I've got a couple self defense weapons not in that safe. They are locked away in a secret hidden area in a different part of the house. Never put all your eggs in one basket.


Thursday, March 17, 2016


Leave a house shut down for six months and there are bound to be issues. Sometimes it's the little things like discovering a mouse nest among the cook books. Actually, we have very minor issues with vermin this year. One year I discovered a squirrel had gotten in and made a mess of everything in my cupboards.

Other things can be more annoying. Today's plan was to get the kitchen woodstove running. It didn't happen. There's some mostly cosmetic brickwork in the kitchen where the stovepipe enters the chimney. It shifted just enough to pull the pipe out of the chimney and it can't be fixed without tearing out the old brickwork. That's going to be a tedious job.

Good thing the old oil furnace still runs. It's been so long since I bought heating oil that my account was no longer in the local dealer's system. With heating oil prices down it was a good time to get the tank filled. The combination of a mild winter and low oil prices caused the company to be desperate to get me a new account. They even did an oil delivery a week earlier than they first said they could. All I had to do was to suggest I'd go with another company. With the furnace keeping the house warm I can take my time fixing the brickwork for the woodstove.

The house is dry, warm, the lights are on, Internet running, and we've hot and cold running water. There are some little problems, like the water supply line for the downstairs toilet being plugged. I do have a whole second bathroom for goodness sakes. (built back when I was raising 3 daughters) Fixing that water supply looks easier than the woodstove brickwork so it moves up the list.

There are hassles with shutting down a house for the winter, but being able to travel makes it worth it.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Reckless Youth

It's said that the time to take chances is when you are young. Lately I've been seeing these posts from older people who wish they'd taken more chances when they were young.

Baby Boomers look back from positions of security and wonder why Millennials don't take more chances. Here's just one reason: student loans. Hard to be footloose and fancy free at 22 with $100,000 debt. Any small screw ups can set a young person back for life.

Most of the drop out generation dropped back in. It wasn't that hard for the majority of them. The economy was booming. Many had families willing to financially help them get back on the road to respectability. You know who it was hard for? Kids from poor families with minimal education.

I remember there were plenty of solid reasons for being careful when I was young. As a kid from a blue collar background I knew I had to play my cards right to acquire the things of adulthood: a wife, children, a car, and a house. Financially there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for mistakes. Sure I could have hiked the Appalachian trail or gone on an extended wilderness canoe trip, but I chose responsibilities instead. No regrets.

There are young people today more than willing to shoulder the responsibilities of adulthood but lack the resources to make it happen. Often the path of least resistance is sort of an extended adolescence. The big milestones are out of reach so might as well find pleasure in other things. At the very least, the pleasures of full adulthood are postponed if not denied completely.

Older folks say they wish they took more chances when they were young. Maybe they should have, but what's to keep them from taking chances now? Personally, I am in a better position to take risks now that my children are grown and on their own.

The last thing I'm going to do is to criticize younger people for making the decisions they are making. I assume they have pressures I don't fully understand. Encouraging Millennials to take risks may just be some sort of elder angst. They wish to live vicariously and make up for their cautious youth.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Where are we now?

So there we were, heading down Rt. 75 towards the Everglades. We had reservations at a couple of campgrounds down there. My lovely wife and I got to talking and came to the conclusion that we wanted to head north instead of south. Basically, we missed family and friends.

At the next exit we did a 180 and headed north. My lovely wife worked the cell phone and canceled our reservation. We decided to spend a couple nights in the Ocala National Forest. After that we camped four nights in South Carolina at a nice campground right on the ocean.

Eventually we made our way to my oldest daughter's place in Massachusetts. From there it was to southern New Hampshire to visit friends. After that we came to stay the night at my second daughter's place in the Great North Woods.

My son-in-law and I went up to the house to turn the power and heat on. The next day my lovely wife and I moved back home. The cold water is already up and running, but the hot water side of the plumbing will wait until tomorrow.

The place seems to have survived the winter fairly well. Almost all the snow is gone, but the lake is still frozen. The house needs some cleaning and organization, but that will happen soon enough.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Temporary Break

I'll be out of communication range for a week or so. No worries. Posts will resume when I'm back to civilization.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Tiny Houses and the Man

Volunteers built tiny houses for the homeless in LA. Recently the City of LA removed as many of them as they could find.

That freaks me out on a number of levels. Apparently, LA would rather have people sleeping on the street than in their own tiny house. Can't have those bums living in their own place with a door that locks and a secure place to keep their few possessions.

I'm guessing that they can't allow tiny houses to become normal. There are plenty of people who aren't homeless who'd like to live cheaply in a small tiny house. We are all supposed to pretend that everyone can work good paying jobs and buy normal sized houses. Heck, we supposed to pretend that everyone wants to live a “normal” life. Those little houses could drive down property values.

The only solution to homelessness is to put people in homes. Duh. If you don't want people in tiny homes, put them in bigger homes. How about in your home? No? Then let they stay in a tiny house.

There are very few places that will actually let you build and live in tiny house. A common way around that is to build the tiny house on a trailer and register it as a vehicle. Even that has problems. My middle-of-nowhere rural town has an ordinance against living in a trailer long term.

There are a lot of people living in their cars and vans. They usually stay under the radar and are mobile. When an area gets uncomfortable they just move on. While the lifestyle works, you have to have enough income to keep a vehicle on the road. That requires a person to have a license, insurance, registration, and to keep the vehicle fueled and in repair.

A tiny house that stays in one place should be much easier and cheaper to take care of. The only problem is that no one will allow it to happen.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mace substitute and other defenses

Self defense while traveling can be problematic. The state of Florida recognizes my New Hampshire concealed carry permit. It's legal for me to transport a handgun in my car from my summer home to my winter home. Not every state along the way recognizes my permit so the handgun must be unloaded and locked away. Ammo has to be locked in a separate safe. That's not too handy in an emergency.

Mace is pretty effective, but laws vary from state to state and even from city to city. A good substitute for mace is wasp spray. It's pretty nasty stuff and often has a range of over 20 feet. If traveling with camping gear you can make the argument that you are afraid of insects while camping. You had no intention of using the wasp spray as a weapon. It was just handy when you were attacked.

Some folks like to travel with a baseball bat in their car. In the right hands a bat is fearsome weapon. If given the choice between a bat and a hunting knife in a fight, I'll take the bat every time. If you do carry a baseball bat, also carry a ball and glove. Your lawyer will thank you.

Most boaters have at leas one powerful spot light. They can blind an intruder, giving you a chance to land the first blow. Usually it's enough for a person on watch to spot any boat that comes too close. That lets any potential attacker know there's an awake and alert person on the boat.

I also like to travel with a couple of good long hiking sticks. For a few years I took private staff fighting lessons in a friends dojo. A kayak paddle can also do the job in a pinch.

Sometimes we must balance protection against the threat of breaking the law. Of course, in a serious SHTF situation, I'm going to use firearms. In the end, it's better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Away from the madness

Thursday my lovely wife and I will be heading out to do some tent camping. Where are we going? Here's a hint, the area has terrible cell phone service . . . and pythons. We want one last excursion into the wild before heading north. It will be nice to get away from the news for a while.

Our political system has been reduced to name calling and bullying. If a five year old came into my house and acted like those politicians I'd have a talk with his parents. If a 14 year old acted that way he'd get the boot. One can disagree without becoming disagreeable.

The economy is of concern. It's impossible for financial bubbles to be forever replaced by even more impressive bubbles. Eventually it all ends in tears, and if we are lucky, bankers leaping from tall buildings. Will the impending troubles bring the whole house of cards down? Darn if I'd know. Logic and reason would seem to indicate that it should have all unwound by now.

Of course, for many the collapse is already here. Just ask a Libyan, or a Syrian . . . or someone from Detroit.

The petroleum age is coming to an end. I used to follow a web site called “Life After the Oil Crash.” It shut down a few years ago, when the price of oil was heading into the stratosphere. He made a good argument that once Peak Oil hit it would be game over. Apparently he wasn't 100% correct.

Don't get me wrong, this boom and bust cycle could be a symptom of Peak Oil. One of the reasons oil prices are so low is that so much of the world's economy is in slowdown. What is definitely unexpected is the rapid adoption of alternative energy. Prices have come way down and production and efficiency is way up.

Some claim that alternative energy investment is another bubble. It could be, but that doesn't bother me. Capitalism has a long history in over investment in the “next big thing.” They will probably over build the alternative energy system. By the time they realize that a lot of people will have lost money. Boo Hoo. That doesn't bother me and do you know why? While some investors will lose their shirts, we'll be left with a really extensive energy system.

We do have the good fortune of living in interesting times. There's no excuse for being bored.