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Saturday, September 18, 2021

On the Raggity Edge



You might have noticed that people are a little crazy these days.


It really shows up on the roads. People are doing everything from constantly running stop signs to road rage with shots fired. A road rage incident recently happened about 30 minutes down the road from me. That sort of thing used to never happen around here. According to the stats, New Hampshire is one of the safest states. What the heck does the rest of the world look like?


There are homeless people moving into the woods. They have no woods skills either. One guy pitched his tent in the middle of a trail. Someone else destroyed his stuff so he was wandering around with a large knife in his hand.


The weather has been mild for September in the Great North Woods. We’ve yet to even have a frost. That’s not going to last. In recent years there have been October snows that stayed on the ground until spring. People who are already having a bad time being homeless will be in a world of hurt.


People are losing it and it’s not pretty.


-Sixbears

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Ammo Update

 


Over the weekend I got to talk with two close friends who work in the firearms industry. They have many years of experience and both have worked for different companies over the years. The US firearms industry is not that big a club. A lot of the professional people know each other. My friends are in contact with a lot of people.


I figured these would be the ones to talk to about ammo shortages. In short, they have no solid answers.


Here’s what I could get from them. A certain percentage of the shortage is real. Part of the shortage is a result of the same type of thinking that caused toilet paper shortages. When people see it on the shelves, they buy it all. However, my friends would not even guess the percentages.


There are a lot of rumors out there, but real hard numbers and solid answers are in short supply. Your guess is a good as mine.


-Sixbears

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Supply Disruptions



There’s a lot of chatter out there about supply disruptions. There are broken links in the chain reaching from the factory to your house. Remember when they couldn’t find enough truck drivers? Well now they can’t even keep the trucks on the road due to the unavailability of spare parts.


Previously I mentioned the food supply issues and how knowing to make something tasty with whatever is available is a needed skill. Pro tip: stock up on spices while you still can and don’t be afraid to use them. The same basic ingredients, with the proper spices, can be anything from Mexican, to Asian, to Indian meals. It’s a quick way to get variety when you don’t really have many ingredients.


Being able and willing to fix things will make all the difference. Going down to the store for a replacement is no longer a guaranteed option. Fortunately, I’ve always had a tight budget and learned how to make do. One of my cars had a bad temperature switch for cooling fan. It was fine at highway speed what would overheat if stuck in traffic. The replacement part was expensive and difficult to find. Tapping a manual switch directly into the fan did the job for a couple bucks.


Another thing I’m glad I never got into was the whole decluttering thing. That “unsightly clutter” is where I get the parts and materials to keep my stuff running.


Given enough tools and junk you can make just about anything out of almost nothing.


-Sixbears


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Road to Nowhere

 


Normally by now my lovely wife and I would be nailing down our plans for winter travel. Instead I find myself getting the house ready for another winter. The fuel tank is full and a service guy will be out here in a few days. The basement door has been rebuilt and is now much more weatherproof. My solar electric system battery bank has been inspected and serviced.


Currently our only possible long trip will be out to Texas to visit the in-laws. We haven’t seen them in a while and it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to make the trip to New Hampshire. It looks like our niece will still be living with us and she can keep the home fires burning.


There is always the option to change our plans. We can have a vehicle loaded up and the house winterized in matter of hours if we want to. Bugging out is something we know how to do. One time we decided to go camping for a long weekend. My lovely wife and I were packed and gone in twenty minutes.


There’s a hurricane in the Atlantic right now. As long as the jet stream holds steady it should stay off-shore. Coastal areas will have some serious wave action to deal with, but here in the mountains we’ll be fine.



-Sixbears

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Tested

 


Last Thursday night my lovely wife came down with a cough and generally felt lousy. Friday morning we were in the drive through line at the hospital covid testing site. Both of us got tested. Their turn around had been 24 to 48 hours and you’d get the results. It took six days for us. We both tested negative. My lovely wife is mostly feeling better now. No idea what she had. I’ve been fine the whole time.


Apparently we isolated for a week for nothing. Better safe than sorry. I’d feel petty bad if I had something and was spreading it to others. The testing site has been getting slammed as cases are skyrocketing locally. The school district has remote learning back on the table. It was fun while it lasted.


In other medical news I actually signed up for medical insurance again. It’s a slightly better plan the last one I had and for a bit less money too. It’s still a crap plan, but I won’t get refused treatment if something happens. Sure, they can’t turn you away from the emergency room, but they don’t have to do follow up tests and treatments. When I was in the hospital a couple years ago there were tests that just were not done as they required me to prepay before doing them. My doctor was extremely frustrated by that as she wanted to practice medicine to the best of her ability.


In other news the hurricane remnants will not make it over the mountains and will turn out to sea. The Northeast is not prepared for flash floods and tornadoes. I’m glad I live up in the hills.


Hurricane Ida has passed through the Gulf states and now the real problems begin. How do you deal with over a million people who need water, food, shelter, and utilities? This was one of those instances where bugging out was most likely the best thing to do. Even buildings that survived multiple hurricanes in the past were destroyed. Authorities will have to try to move the people to other states as they can’t bring in enough supplies to keep everyone alive. It could get nasty and my prayers are with them.


Buckle up. Interesting times ahead.


-Sixbears



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Some Updates



It’s been a busy summer. Early on we were stuck down to Concord NH for a week as my lovely wife got picked for Federal jury duty. After being isolated for so long it felt weird to have to be out in pubic. Worse yet, it was for a civil case with no good guys. Picture the sleazy bank vs the sleazy land investor.


After that we spent lots of time with family and that was wonderful. 


 


I’ve been riding the scooter a lot. Still knocking off sections of the New England Backwoods Discovery Route. There are plenty of back roads around here that are a joy to ride. Good fun and it goes a long way on a gallon of gas.


Speaking of gas, I’m making sure my vehicles and a couple of jerry cans are topped off. Also ordering a heating oil fill up. Hurricane Ida will be taking down more oil production that Katrina did.


If you are anywhere near the projected landfall it’s time to get the heck out of Dodge. This is shaping up to be a major hurricane. I’m praying for those people, but prayers go better with a ride out of the area.


-Sixbears




Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Supply Chains and Expectations

 


Your experience with supply chain disruptions and shortages depends on where you live and what you plan on buying.


My area of northern New Hampshire is a known food dessert in the best of times. It’s gotten worse. A few days ago the food section of the nearest Walmart was half empty. They were out of some very basic items like eggs. A much smaller store had them, but they get a lot of supplies from more local sources.


One underrated survival skill is the ability to cook a wide variety of foods. A good cook can take whatever is available and make something good tasting out of it. At one time I said, only half joking, that I did so much with so little for so long that I could anything with nothing. That goes for more than food, of course.


It’s been well publicized that there have been shortages of everything from computer chips, to foam to even lubricants. If you were shopping for a new vehicle or an RV you know all about it.


So what’s going on? Why are we so vulnerable to supply chain disruptions? Blame late stage Capitalism. Capitalism is very good at selecting more and more efficient ways of doing things. That’s great, but it comes at cost of making the whole system more fragile. For example just in time manufacturing is efficient because it eliminates the cost and expense of warehouses full of parts. Unfortunately, when there is a disruption the whole line shuts down.


Toyota is smarter than most companies. While they benefit from the just in time system, they don’t use it for all their parts. They’ve identified key parts, like computer chips, that need to stockpiled to prevent manufacturing shutdowns. It makes them a bit more resilient to fluctuations.


Going into the winter I’m planning having at least three, maybe four, ways of heating my house. Keeping warm is a basic need that I won’t gamble with. Do I expect heating oil and gas shortages? Not in particular, but it’s something that could always happen.


-Sixbears

Monday, August 23, 2021

Henri



New England isn’t used to hurricane prep. I did a few things like taking in anything that could become airborne. As for the rest of my hurricane preps, there wasn’t much to do as we are always prepped here.

As it turns out we might not even get much rain here in northern New Hampshire. A lot of weather systems don’t make it over the White Mountains.

We are all doing fairly well here. Health precautions have paid off. I am recovering from a leg injury but it’s not big deal -and it has nothing to do with my scooter. It was a freak encounter with a suitcase that tore a fair bit of skin off my shins.

Hope all are doing well.

-Sixbears

Friday, June 4, 2021

Adventure Travel on the Cheap



I went and bought myself a toy -a 2013 Honda PCX 150 with only 1600 miles on it. A friend gave me a pretty good deal on it. 


 


In this photo the bike is at the top of Evan’s Notch. It’s a great little twisty road on the border of NH and ME. Good fun. The road also happens to be part of the Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route. It’s a 1300 mile route that goes from ME all the way to the PA border. I’m knocking out the NH and ME sections in a series of day trips. The rest of it will involve camping along the way.


Normally someone would use something like a dual sport bike or an ADV adventure bike. That’s what normal people would do. Most of the route is a mix of paved roads and fire roads. There are some technical parts but I can easily avoid those short sections.


I’m a big guy but the scooter can still move along at 55 – 60 mph. That’s plenty fast for the paved sections of the Discovery Route. If I keep the speed down it does just fine on most dirt roads. It just can’t do deep water crossings or climb huge rocks. However, it can get close to 100 miles per gallon of gasoline.


This scooter is providing loads of fun. It’s more fun at 40 mph than my old KZ 900 was 80 mph.


The scooter came with the top box and some really nice saddle bags. A custom padded seat cover has been added, along with USB charging ports, phone mount, and padded hand grips. There’s also a place for my Garmin Inreach device for satellite communication and GPS tracking.


Do I look kinda funny, a big guy on a scooter? Probably, but I don’t care. If you want to look tough you ride something like a Harley. If you are tough you can ride anything you please.


-Sixbears


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Still Here



Some may be relieved, others dismayed. I’m fine either way.


It was a long long winter, but not really a terrible one. My immediate family got through the past year in pretty good shape. Everyone adapted.


Sadly, covid took a harsh toll on many others. I’m going to a funeral on Saturday for a victim.


Did I get a vaccine? Indeed I did. Was that a mistake? I don’t think so, but only time will tell. While the long range risks are not known, I do know I’m in a high risk group for dying from Covid. Having almost died from lung issues in the past, it’s not something I was going to mess around with.


There are a lot fewer covid deniers out there. Many were convinced by the scientific evidence. Others got sick. Quite a few deniers died.


There’s a lot of quarantine fatigue, but now is not the time for dropping precautions. Even though I’ve been vaccinated, I’m still taking precautions. There are enough new variants that it’s only smart to be cautious.


One of my good friends cannot take the vaccine for medical reasons. We’ve been getting together outside and keeping our distance. It was tough to do in the middle of winter, but that’s what we did.


It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in places like Brazil and India right now. I thought India might have had a handle on it, but they’ve just had a recent spike in infections that’s been horrific.


I’m in the process of planning a little solo adventure this summer -something different. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s going to be happening way out in the back country away from most people.


-Sixbears


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A big flash then nothing



My lovely wife and I were hanging out in our kitchen. It was lake, about 11:30 p.m.. The grid power did a little blurp and came right back -for about five seconds. Then there was a blinding flash and the grid was down for good. It was about 30 degrees and snowing.


Most of my lights and the water pump run on my solar electric system. I threw some more firewood in the stove, grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate. The flash had been so bright I was afraid it was ice pulling the wires off my house or something. Soon as I got outside I realized my whole side of the lake was dark. Everything around my property looked good, but there was a burnt electrical smell in the air.


My neighbor came outside and assured me she was fine and had enough firewood in the house to last for a day. She’s recovering from a broken leg so needs someone else to bring wood inside.


By 4:30 in the morning the grid was back up and running. I couldn’t believe they sent a crew out in the dark, in the snow, way out in the woods to fix it. Good service. It took most of the next day to get the Internet back, but that’s a different company.


During the daylight I walked down the road and found the problem. A tree came down on the power lines about 200 yards away.


Although grid and normal communications were down I was able to send text messages by satellite with a Garman InReach.


We were prepared for a long outage if need be, but I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with it.


-Sixbears






Sunday, February 21, 2021

Winter so far



Winter in New Hampshire’s Great North Woods hasn’t been bad at all this year. In spite of the polar vortex temperatures haven’t been awful. In fact, while we’ve had plenty of subzero temperatures, they pale in comparison to decades ago. Back then it would not be uncommon for a week where it never got above zero. -30 used to be common and -40 not unheard of. It never got that cold this winter.

Going into the fall we were in a slight drought condition. The northern part of the state received a lot of rain just before the freeze, bringing us out of drought. Snowfall, for this time of year, is moderate. Of course, we could get buried in snow during the month of March. It’s happened often enough in the past.  On the bright side there should be enough snow melt to keep ground water levels up.

Our solar electric system has significant battery storage. We can go some time without the grid or sun. Before every storm the battery bank was topped off from the grid. Even with heavy snowfall we’ve only lost the grid for short periods of time. It appears the utilities have done a good job preparing. Aggressive tree pruning has kept a lot of problems away. The times we lost the grid were generally due to collisions with power poles. Power was restored within hours.

The Internet has sometimes been slow and would go down for short periods of time. This seems to correlate with everyone working and schooling from home. It also gets hammered pretty hard after dinner time. While that’s been annoying, the problems are relatively minor -for someone not needing full time service.

Thanks to being  isolated and avoiding people, we’ve been pretty healthy over all. I get more exercise when we travel south to warm weather. Part of the problem this year is that I injured my knees and they took a long time to get better. I’m finally getting back into walking.

Snow shoveling has provided a fair bit of exercise. Fortunately, I’m retired and don’t have to be anywhere in a hurry. If I take three days to shovel everything out, that’s fine. Often I’d only shovel a walkway and dig out the mailbox the first day. Digging out a car could wait.

I know it’s been a tough time for a lot of people, but we’ve been in pretty good shape. Personally, I’m comfortable living like a hermit. At least we aren’t putting a strain on the systems that other people need to get by.

-Sixbears

 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Everyone’s going camping



Right now we are experiencing some of the coldest weather of the winter. It’s been some time since I’ve had to deal with -12 with a -30 windchill. However, compared to winters of the past, it hasn’t been all that bad.


RV sales have been through the roof as people look for a safer activity during these interesting times. There aren’t enough campsites to go around. Even the dispersed campsites on Federal land are packed.


Forget about prime warm weather winter locations. Even before the new camping craze we found prices had gone up. Now they are worse.


If we were to spend some of the winter in the Florida Keys, we’d most likely have to do it on our sailboat. The boat’s small size and shallow draft allow access to places other boats cannot go. There is much to be said for being able to anchor in a remote place away the crowds.


Not that we are going south anytime soon. In fact, I plan on making the house more winter comfortable for next winter, just in case.


I have some camping and sailing plans for close to home this summer. When you know an area well, there are camping places hidden away from most people.


-Sixbears


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Obviously not in Florida




We aren’t in Florida this winter. Good thing we don’t need this car in a hurry. Maybe in a couple of months. We are using the Blazer this winter. It’s parked across the street in my other parking space that’s level with the road. Our travel has been very limited this year.


It’s actually been a pretty decent winter here in the North Country. Normally I travel south to avoid winter colds. However, with all the mask use and lock downs, my lungs are doing well.


My lovely wife and I figuring out what our future plans will be. Of course, the whole world is trying to figure out the future so we aren’t going to sweat it right now.


-Sixbears


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Well that silliness is over



As a prepper I’m all about helping people deal with threats. Usually it’s things like how to keep sheltered, safe, and to have the basics to sustain life. Part of that is being able to do proper threat assessment. If you live on the Gulf of Mexico, you probably should be thinking of prepping for hurricanes rather than blizzards.

Recently it’s come to my attention that a lot of people have a poor grasp of reality. Some of you really have to work on that. I’m genuinely concerned. Followers of Q come to mind. How many times do Q predictions have to be wrong before you catch on? It’s like being in an abusive relationship.

Back in the real world we have President Biden. One of the main reasons he was elected was due to the poor covid response. He’s working on it. While there can be some debate about the methods of tackling the problem, at least he acknowledges there is a problem. It’s a small step but I’ll take it.

It took about only a few days for Biden to sign away most of the previous President’s decrees. The only way to have lasting policy is to have the House and Senate actually do their jobs and pass some solid bills. It could happen, but I’m not holding my breath.

Personally, I am pleased with the new emphasis on environmental concerns. We’ve only got one planet so we’d better take care of it. Don’t show me out of work coal miners or pipe line workers. Show me some solar and wind turbine installers. The old economy was killing us.

Anyway, what I’d like folks to do is to remain calm during the next few months. There will be some challenges. The vast majority of them will be happening well above our pay grades. Hunker down and don’t do anything crazy. Crazy doesn’t end well.

-Sixbears

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Lock Him Up



Can we lock Trump up now? I would have been happy to let him go peacefully, but after his inciting an attack on the normal workings of Congress, it’s too much. His erratic actions are encouraging people to invoke the 25th amendment. Makes sense to me. Even though his term is almost up, his crazy hands are still on the levers of power.


If you still support him after yesterday, I can’t help you. Personally, I still have some faith in our democracy.


-Sixbears