Friday, September 30, 2022

Part Deux

As of the time of this blog Hurricane Ian is heading out to sea. It’s projected to come back and hit somewhere near the GA/SC border. Ian could be either a strong tropical storm or even a low grade hurricane. Judging from what I know of the area, my guess is that flooding will be the main issue. Drainage in the Low Country is poor at the best of times. 

But wait, there’s more. The weather makers out in the Atlantic and the Caribbean are still active. There’s the possibility of more strong hurricanes. Hurricanes are not limited to one per customer.

Ian made landfall on the island of Cayo Costa. There’s a nice state park there (or was there, don’t know for sure yet.) After my dad passed away in Florida my lovely wife and I bought at a sailboat and spent a week anchored in Pelican Bay. It was a good peaceful place to get my head together. We’d paddle the kayak to the park and hit the beautiful beaches. The dog got to walk on the forest roads. Dolphins visited us every day. I’ve fond memories of the place. I hope they will be able to restore it. 

We are still waiting to hear how our friends in the area made out. Communications are spotty right now.  There’s one couple who might have tried to wait it out at their place in Nokomis. I hope they went somewhere safe. 

We had a pretty mild hurricane season until now. Ian ended that with a bang. 


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Last out of Dodge

I can’t help but watch the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian. You really do not want to get caught in the cross hairs of something like that. It got me thinking about  bugging out in general. 

If you leave early there’s a whole lot less drama. There’s time to get your plans in order. Any outstanding business can be dealt with ahead of time. The roads have normal traffic. There’s fuel available. Restaurants are open. Hotel rooms are available. 

If you are late to the party you aren’t bugging out. You are a refugee. Some years ago my sister-in-law and her family waited until the last minute to evacuate from a Texas hurricane. The spent hours stuck in traffic. They had no resources. If it wasn’t for a church group that took them in they’d have been in really bad shape. As it was an already stressful situation became even more stressful.

There’s a YouTube channel I was following. The guy is a Russian opposed to Putin’s war. For months people were advising him to leave Russia. When the reservist call up was announced it got real to him. The fact that a guy in his late 40s could be called up finally got him moving. Good thing he was relatively well off by Russian standards. In US dollars it took him about $2000 to wrap up his affairs in Russia. A plane ticket to Uzbekistan cost him $5,000. The five guys in front of him were stopped at the airport from leaving. By the grace of God he was allowed on the plane. (I’m guessing it took a few other things too.)

Getting out at the last minute is extremely stressful. There’s only one thing worse. Being one of those who don’t make it out at all.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Property in Florida

My parents retired to Florida some years ago. I was offered a “free” trailer in a retirement park when my dad passed. I politely refused. The monthly park fees and maintenance would have been a real strain on the budget. Don’t even get me started on the price of Florida insurance. 

Another Florida option we seriously considered was to keep a boat in Florida year round. We’d live on it during the cooler months and put it on the hard during the summer. That would have been less expensive than the whole trailer set up -if we picked our boatyard carefully. However, we’d still be worried about it during hurricanes. 

Right now we rather like just being visitors to the state. There’s some excellent camping, especially in state and Federal parks. We also enjoy bringing our sailboat to Florida. It would be nice to have a slightly bigger one, but it would still have to be trailerable. It’s pretty hard to avoid a 500 mile wide storm sailing in a boat that goes 6 knots. On a trailer a boat could 60 knots down the highway. When it’s time to get out of Dodge speed is a virtue. 

My lovely wife and I have spent a lot of time in Florida, but we don’t want to own anything there. It’s difficult when home base is way up in New Hampshire. One more thing. If you think Florida property insurance is high now, just wait until the bills come in from Hurricane Ian.

Hope my Florida readers have evacuated to safety or are well hunkered down. 


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian

Buckle up buttercup. This one looks bad for Florida. It’s going to hit Florida as a major hurricane. The west coast of Florida and the Panhandle may take the brunt of it. That’s a lot of Florida. It will be a major rain maker over a much larger area. That’s a real problem in a part of the country where elevation is measured in inches, not feet.

I know the west coast of Florida fairly well. My lovely wife and I sailed small boats up and down the west coast. The coast is pretty low and wide open in a lot of areas. There’s not much to provide any protection. We love the Gulf side of Florida. It a bit more laid back than the east coast. 

Tampa Bay is going to be a problem. That area hasn’t been hit by a major storm in some time. It’s been built up a lot since. No matter where the storm makes landfall, the sea rise and rainfall will cause major problems. 

People in the potential path of the storm should have really assessed their situation by now. Personally I’d already be on my way to western Kentucky. If you wait until the last minute there’s a much greater chance of things going wrong. Fuel could run out. Traffic jams and accidents cause delays. If your vehicle has a mechanical problem you need time to fix it or find other options. 

Once this passes through Florida the danger won’t be over. All that energy has to go somewhere. There will be flooding over a good part of the Southeast and probably into the Mid-Atlantic coast. It’s too early to predict how that will sort out so people in those areas best stay informed.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Up on the mountain

Over the weekend I visited a friend who lives in a neighboring state. While I live out in the woods, he really lives out in the woods. At least I get some basic services. He’s so far out in the woods that the only traffic is from hikers. 

Many years ago I helped set him set up his first solar electric system. It was tiny, but since his only other electric power came from a 1000 watt generator, it was a help. Now he has a much upgraded solar  electric system and a more powerful backup generator. 

There is no cell phone service. To communicate to the outside world he has a Hugesnet satellite system with their phone option. It’s a big power draw on his off-grid power so he’s looking into Starlink. In the past he just remained isolated, but now has responsibilities. People need to get in touch with him. 

The cabin has gravity fed spring water and wood heat. He put in a fairly large propane refrigerator. His partner likes to freeze a lot of berries and they needed the freezer space. 

Gardening is a problem. There are so many wild animals that it’s a real struggle to keep them from eating everything. They harvest a lot of berries and apples, but that because they produce so heavily that even the bears can’t eat everything. 

It was good to get together, hang out around the campfire, and eat some burgers. It was nice to see what they’ve done with the place. 


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Useless upgrades

One of my banks just “upgraded” their mobile banking system. I tremble in fear when then do. 

The first issue is that the new software always takes longer to install than they allow for. That’s followed up with a protracted debugging period. 

This upgrade was extensive enough that they required a whole new banking app. Here’s the thing, I rely on mobile banking when traveling. It also came in handy during the covid lockdown. The worse thing that can happen is being far from home and locked out of my accounts. That happened a few years back and it was a mess. It never was straightened out until I came home some months later. If I’m physically camping out in their office they tend to focus much better on finding solutions. 

Good thing I have backup plans for travel money. Nothing worse than being far from home and without access to funds. 

The big snafu this time is their mobile check deposit. The old system, once they got the bugs out, worked really well. The new software is difficult to use. Worse yet, it will credit the deposit for a few days then reject it for being out of focus or some such thing. The error kicked the check out last Friday. Now I have to wait until Monday to see if the new deposit went in. 

Fortunately I’m home right now and can always go into the bank to sort things out. 


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Not all reservists are equal

People hear that Russia is mobilizing 300,000 reservists and it sounds impressive. It’s a lot of people, but how good are Russian reservists? In short, not very. They were probably not very well trained when they were active duty. After their active duty time they’ve done no further training. The Russian logistics have been terrible. How they are going to outfit another 300,000 is anyone’s guess. 

Contrast that with the United States National Guard. They actually train and keep their skills sharp. In 2020  The Guard had 58 field artillery battalions. That’s 57% if the Army’s field artillery. They could be activated and be effective from day one. The Army counts on them to be ready so makes sure they are.

Now contrast those Russian reservists with the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainians are battle hardened, highly motivated, well led and well equipped. 

My advice to Russian reservists is make sure you have a nice clean white T-shirt. Your best bet of battlefield survival is to make that T-shirt into a white flag and surrender. 


Friday, September 23, 2022

Made my choice

Last Monday I got the new covid booster. You do what you want. I used to argue vaccines with people but I don’t anymore. Some of the people I argued with are now dead so I guess I won that argument? Don’t feel good about it though. 

There people who have very valid reasons for not getting the vaccines so there’s no need to shame anybody. You do what you want.

My reaction to the new vaccine was a bit worse than the previous versions. Got the shot on Monday and my arm was a bit sore at the injection site, but not sore enough to take anything for it. Tuesday I felt a bit under the weather. It was like the way you feel when you are just starting to get a cold but aren’t really sick yet. Wednesday most of that feeling was gone. By Thursday I was 100%. Previous shots just gave me a powerful need to take naps. 

Here’s the thing, I’m not normally big on getting vaccines. I don’t get the flu shot. However, I’m in enough high risk categories that it made sense to me to take a chance on the covid vaccines. When I actually caught covid while in Texas felt like five days with a mild cold. Beats the heck out of dying. 


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Putin’s Nuclear War

Nuclear War (and this time I really really mean it.)

Putin appears to be desperate. At the rate their victories are happening the Ukrainians will be in Sevastopol in no time. His decision to call up reservists is very unpopular in Russia. Mothers don’t want to send their sons off to die. 300,000 out of shape, barely trained and totally unmotivated troops won’t turn the tide. That’s even if they can be outfitted with anything better than Mosin Nagants. 

He’s doubling down by the shame votes to incorporate the conquered territories into Russia. That way an attack on them will be an attack on Russia itself. The West isn’t buying it. Not only that, why should Ukraine limit themselves to fighting on their own territory? There are transportation and communication hubs in Russia proper that are perfectly valid military targets. 

Russia doesn’t have what it needs to win this war. What it does have is nuclear weapons. The problem is that they are not the weapon for the job. Even tactical nukes don’t make much military sense. Ukrainians are very good at dispersing their troops and only bringing them together when needed for an assault. When that happens they are too close to Russian troops to safely use nukes. 

Use of strategic nukes is a suicide pill. Maybe Putin is suicidal, but I doubt the rest of the Russian government is. I don’t expect this conflict to go nuclear. If the major European capitals go up in radioactive flames I’ll be terribly embarrassed.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Electric Car Future

Tesla Megapacks are giant lithium ion batteries used in power plants for backup. One recently caught fire at a California power plant and a shelter in place order was issued. Burning lithium batteries are pretty darn toxic. There’s some serious downsides to lithium ion batteries.

Fortunately they don’t catch fire everyday. Then again, almost all electric cars on the road use some version of lithium batteries. The thing about cars is that there are lot of them on the road and on any given day a significant number of them crash. The thought of electric cars on fire sounds pretty scary. To me they are no more scary than gasoline cars.  People don’t realize how dangerous gasoline actually is and we manage to deal with gasoline car crashes. 

Right now there are some serious issues with lithium powered cars. Two big ones are the rising price of lithium and the limited supply. One would think that would put the brakes on transportation electrification. 

In the long run it won’t. Lithium is a big deal now, but it won’t be forever. There are plenty of potential alternatives. Many of them use cheaper and more common elements in their construction. It’s only a matter of time before the better ones get commercialized. 

It won’t be that hard to transition to better batteries. Electric cars and trucks will become more common. Personally, I won’t buy one until they are available fairly cheaply on the used market, but that’s just how I roll. Normally I prefer someone else to take the depreciation. Not only that, by then we’ll have a pretty good idea which batter technology will go the distance.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Stabilized Gasoline

Just about everyone knows you have to use a stabilizer in gasoline before storing it. You might have heard claims that gasoline can last up to three years that way. It can . . . sorta.

Gasoline starts to degrade pretty much right off. Stabilizer slows it down but doesn’t stop it. Gasoline with ethnol breaks down faster than non-ethanol. The more volatile compounds disappear first. 

So what’s that like in the real world? Recently I decided to use a small amount of stabilized gasoline that’s been sitting for a year. My scooter had about a quarter tank of fuel. The addition of the old gas brought it to about half a tank. That’s about a 50/50 mix of old and new. The scooter is a 2014 Honda PCX 150 with electronic fuel injection. There was a noticeable drop in performance. The engine seems to hesitate somewhat and a couple miles per hour dropped off the top end. The next time I go riding I’m going to top off the tank with fresh gas and that should take care of the issues. 

The lack of those volatiles in old gas are really noticeable in small engines. Small engines like those in chainsaws are really hard starting. Frankly, those small engines can be hard enough to start under ideal conditions with fresh gas. 

There’s another issue most people don’t even think about. Stabilizer itself has a shelf life. An unopened container is good for about 5 years. 

The problems with keeping gasoline usable for long periods of time is one of the reasons I don’t store a lot of it. Rotation is the key. Normally gasoline doesn’t sit very long before it’s used. It was unusual for me to have even a little bit of one year old gasoline. 

Another thing to consider is that storing gasoline is dangerous. That’s a whole other blog post though. In short, I don’t store anything in the house, basement or outbuildings. It’s basically in a small storage container separate from the house that can be locked.


Monday, September 19, 2022


Inflation is bad in the United States right now, but it’s even worse in the rest of the world. Blame post covid shortages and the war in Ukraine. There are going to be some serious shortages of even basic items. Energy and food are the big ones. You can get by without a new cell phone but nobody wants starve and freeze in the dark. 

I can’t believe how much I’ve spent recently on meat. That’s going to come to an end soon. There’s a farmer at my local farmer’s market who sells top quality local meat. Right now I’ve been stocking up a little bit before the market closes for the season. Next month, if all goes well, I’ll be adding some wild game to the dietary mix. 

We’ve had a fairly mild September temperature wise here in northern NH. That’s not going to last much longer. It won’t be long before I shut down about half the house for the winter. This week I’m building a custom door to keep the heat from going upstairs. I’m also closing off heating ducts and draining plumbing in those areas. 

The oil furnace guy is coming over to service it for the season, but I’m not even sure I’m going to use the furnace. I might  pick up a few containers of off-road diesel to use in an emergency as it’s basically the same as heating oil. My primary energy source will be wood, with an electric heat backup. Electric heat isn’t cheap, but even with recent rate hikes it’s no worse than heating oil. Of course, it helps that I can supplement my electrical needs with solar electric. 

Another thing I’m doing is looking at all my expenses and cutting out the ones that aren’t worth the price. Even little things like subscription services can add up. Often people sign up for something, start automatic payments, and then hardly use the service. Once you identify those they are easy to cut out. 

It’s going to be an interesting winter. 


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Hurricane season isn’t over

The east coast and Gulf of Mexico have been lucky this hurricane season. At the start of hurricane season it appeared it could be a bad one. So far it hasn’t been. Conditions such as dry Sahara air kept hurricanes from developing. Wind conditions have also kept any developments away from the mainland.

Now we have the storm Fiona which is continues to strengthen. It is expected to reach hurricane strength as it passes close to the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. That’s bad news for Puerto Rico, but it’s projected to swing out to sea before hitting the mainland. 

The slow start to hurricane season could be causing people to relax their awareness. That would be a mistake. Conditions could change and the mainland could still get clobbered this year. The longer we go without a hurricane the less people are prepared. 

So how does this concern someone who lives in the northern mountains? A lot of my friends live in hurricane country. There are also a lot of people who’ve moved from the frozen north to the sunny south. They’ve never experienced a hurricane. Many don’t have a clue what to do. 

A few years back one of my uncles bought a house in Florida. He never got a chance to move into it. A hurricane scrubbed it right off the slab. So what did he do? Yep, he rebuilt right on the same spot -and he almost lost it a second time. A hurricane was projected to directly hit his area but took a sharp turn to the north in the last few hours. He ended up living the rest of his days in that house. Personally, I’d have probably not bought there in the first place and definitely not rebuilt. 

In conclusion, don’t let the slow season cause you to relax your guard. 


Saturday, September 17, 2022

People not pawns

For political purposes GOP Governors have been shipping migrants to blue states. A group of migrants were tricked into getting on an airplane that dropped them off at Martha’s Vineyard. That would be the work of DeSantis, using human beings as political pawns. 

Once there the immigrants were treated like human beings. They were given food, clothing, and shelter.  Even lawyers volunteered to give them free assistance. Looks like DeSantis inadvertently improved the lot of those poor folks. That wasn’t his intention. He’s just plain mean.

That’s one of the more troubling aspects of political discourse these days. It’s just so damn mean. Too many groups of people are dehumanized. Once dehumanized it’s easy to justify taking away their god given rights. 

Migrants are treated like vermin. Guess I’m vermin too as it was all that long ago when a lot of my ancestors were migrants. With the exception of those who where already here when the Mayflower arrived. That group of people haven’t been treated very well either. For a nation built on immigration we’ve got a lousy system of dealing with migrants. Neither major party have a very good record there. 

Migration is a huge filter. It takes a lot of daring and courage to leave your home country behind. It would be a darn shame to let all that courage and determination go to waste. Given half a chance those are the people who make this country great. I can see how a lot of native born don’t want to compete. 

Nobody’s doing much for the homeless population either. Is that any way to treat your fellow Children of God? It’s a national shame how so many of those homeless are also vets. That’s another group treated more like pawns and less like people. 

Call me crazy, but I’d much rather feed people than shoot them. That’s one of the reasons I’m so big on preps. It’s not about just getting me though tough times. It’s nearly impossible to survive as an individual or small family group. Like it or not, we are all in this together. 


Friday, September 16, 2022

Not Just the Weapons

There’s a lot of blather about how Western weapons have turned the tide in Ukraine. I have to agree they’ve been darn effective. Hand held tank killers, better artillery, and precision munitions have turned the tide. 

That’s only part of the story.

If the west had done nothing the Ukrainians would still be fighting. Remember, when the invasion started they were busy building Molotov cocktails -as they didn’t have much else. The fight was going to go on due to the will of the people. The fight might have been partisans and slit throats in the dark at this point, but the resistance would have gone on. 

Politically Russia lost the war when NATO stood firm. Finland really put the nail in the coffin on that one. Russia did not want NATO on the their border and Finland is right there. Russia never did very well against Finland when it was alone. Check out the History of the Winter War. With the might of NATO behind them it’s all over. 

The weapons sent to Ukraine have been put to good use. As soon as better weapons were in their hands they went on the offensive. Given the tools Ukrainians certainly know what to do with them. 

However, it’s not just the weapons. It’s the will of a nation to stay independent. When the US left Afghanistan their government had much better weapons than the Taliban. What they didn’t have was the will to use them. Afghanistan is not Ukraine. In their History they were almost never governed by a central government. Tribal ties are more important. 

The West should keep supplying Ukraine with the weapons they need. Like their President said, he didn’t need a ride, he needed ammunition. Right now the Russians don’t need ammunition., they need a ride.


Thursday, September 15, 2022


Seasonal Affective Disorder. You can read the full Wikipedia article if you’d like:  In short, some people get depressed in the winter time when there’s a lot less light. As you’ve probably guessed it’s not much of an issue in Florida and a real problem in Alaska.

Here in New Hampshire we are more like Alaska than Florida. Our winter days are short and dark. 

To treat it you can get outside as much as possible and get what natural light exposure there is. It’s also treated with artificial light sources such as a light box. 

Personally I don’t SAD, which is real depression. However, those dark days do make me a little sad. I’ve found good bright full spectrum lights really help. 

What brought this to my attention recently was the purchase of new light bulbs for the kitchen. I went too cheap when I bought replacements. The cheap Walmart bulbs aren’t going to cut it. They appear weaker than their stated lumens and the spectrum is just weird. They made me feel crappy right after I installed them. No way would they get me through the winter. Next time I’m in town I’m going to upgrade to decent bulbs. It’s way cheaper than psychotherapy. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

I voted

Tuesday I voted in my local primary. No, you don’t get to know how I voted. That’s the beauty of a secret ballot. 

There was one interesting change in my town’s voting procedure. In the past we’d mark paper ballots. Then the ballots were scanned into a machine and counted. The beauty of that system was the paper ballots. In case of a recount there were actual physical ballots. This year they did away with the machine entirely and went to hand counting paper ballots. It’s not that hard to do, especially in the small town I live in. 

The reason they got ride of the machine count? The machine was getting old and the servicing company had difficulty getting parts. Rather than spend town funds on a new machine they decided to go old school. That’s the sort of frugality I expect from the Yankee farmers that make up much of the town leadership. 

To make the count work they needed volunteers from both parties to do the hand count. They had no difficulty getting enough qualified people for the job. Everyone, no matter the party, worked together to make sure the election went smoothly. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. 


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Canary in the Coal Mine

Back in the day before sophisticated tests miners would go down to the mines with a canary. If the canary keeled over it was time to get out of the mine. Canaries are more sensitive to bad air than the average human. 

Thanks to my time in the fire service my lungs are hyper sensitive to pollutants. I’m a human canary. Recently someone decided to spray on some bug repellent. Wind blew the mist my way and I thought I was going to die. In no time at all I was gasping for breath. The coughing was so bad my lungs hurt for days. 

I’m pretty sensitive to bad air. Fortunately I live in in New Hampshire, currently rated the #2 less polluted state. Only Vermont beats New Hampshire and I’m about 20 miles from the Vermont border. Living out in the country in a less polluted state probably saved my life. My lungs had a chance to heal to the point where I normally have a pretty good life. 

Even if you are in good health pollution takes its toll. That constant stress on the body doesn’t do anyone any good. People live with a level of low grade suffering that they sorta get used to. If you never feel quite right you might want to check to see how badly polluted your home area is. It’s worth moving to improve your quality of life. 


Monday, September 12, 2022

Harvest food storage

It’s that time of year for me to stock up on potatoes. If you can I recommend you do the same. This week I’m going to talk to a local farmer I know and see if he can set me up with a good supply. There have been shortages in different places for different reasons. Even my local connection didn’t plant as much this year as he had difficulty getting workers. 

It looks bad for rice. Drought hit some rice growing regions pretty hard. Corn was bad in a lot of places. If you are going to stock up you’d better get a move on. When the shortages hit it won’t be the time to fill up your pantry.

I happened to like local potatoes. They keep reasonably well and provide good nutrition. They are cheap and don’t have to be trucked across the whole country. Another local food I like to have in storage is squash. They were what helped the indigenous people get through the winter. 

There are still a few deals on dehydrated foods but you have to look for them. When I say deals I don’t mean bargains -there just happen to be less price gouging going on. 

Recently I was given some dried beans, peas and lentils. There are people who panic buy this stuff and never cook with it. Someone else gave me a good selection of canned beans. Normally I don’t buy canned. While they are cheap, dried is even cheaper. Canned beans are convenient to cook with so I’m definitely using them. 

Right now we’ve everyone’s been pretty much eating last year’s harvest. This year wasn’t great for farmers so don’t get caught flat footed. 


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Out of contact

Apparently I’m hard to get hold of. I’m not on social media. I was on Facebook for a short while but caught myself arguing politics with strangers. Talk about a waste of time and energy. My lovely wife is on Facebook but mostly to stay in touch with the kids and grandkids. However, it’s not unheard of her not to check it for a week or so. 

We have a cell phone but it’s usually on a shelf in the kitchen. I can go a long time without checking text messages. Just today I checked the phone and was notified about something “at the last minute.” It happened two days ago. 

We have a land line phone. Until recently there was no cell signal here. The vast majority of the time the phone goes to voice mail. There’s a lot of spam calls and people I don’t care to talk to. However, we will listen to the messages and return calls to those we care about. 

Probably the most reliable way to get in touch is by email. Better yet, by snail mail. 

If I wanted to interact with people all the time I’d live in the city. 

Saturday we actually had someone knock on our door. My lovely wife and I looked at each other and said “What’s that sound?” It was someone local who we’ve known for a long time. 

People sometimes get upset with us not being in constant contact. We just happen to think that the phones, Internet, and computers we pay for are for our own convenience, not someone else’s.


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Slowing Down

I’m way behind on my summer projects but I’ve learned to live with it.  At least the essential things were accomplished. The main thing slowing me down were some minor injuries. Years ago I was warned that the abuse my body took when younger would catch up to me when older. Turns out they were right. I’m older and those old injuries have come back to haunt me. 

My first impulse is to push through it and get stuff done. While that might have worked when I was in my 20s and 30s it’s not so effective in my 60s. Instead of pushing forward I’ve been taking care of myself. It’s worked too. I’m almost fully recovered and didn’t have to see a doctor along the way. 

Now that I’m doing a lot better I’m getting more exercise. Since I’m getting more exercise I’m finally dropping those covid pounds. 

My oldest daughter and her husband came for a visit over the holiday weekend. They took care of a couple of projects I’d been putting off. That was an encouraging boost. It sorta got me over the hump. It looks like I’m going to be in pretty decent condition in time for the October hunting season. 


Friday, September 9, 2022

There’s a lot of freedom in not giving a F**k.

How much of your activity is constrained by following stupid rules? Quite a bit, I bet. 

I used to work with a fellow firefighter who was an inspiration. They guy liked driving the ladder truck. He was good at it and enjoyed that level of responsibility. With that in mind he never went for promotions. The guy also didn’t care about impressing the officers above him. If he didn’t want to do something he didn’t do. For some reason the officers feared him. My coworker never abused that power, so the few times he used it stood out. 

The Fire Chief made a rule that nobody could wash their car at work. That was something that usually happened on the night shift when times were slow. On a quiet night sometimes someone would bring their car into the basement and give it a quick hose down. My ladderman buddy never washed his car -ever. That is, until the rule against it was made. He pulled his car in front of the station in the middle of the day and washed it in plain view of everybody. The chief looked at that and quietly asked him to wash his car in the back from now on. That ended the no car wash rule. 

My friend wasn’t afraid of getting fired so those threats had no hold over him. He had a pretty enjoyable employment and stayed until retirement. The man taught me the value of living without fear and not giving a F**k.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Bio-diesel Days

My lovely wife and I spent a couple days over in Vermont. It was a busy time. 

One of the things we did was to drop off about 100 gallons of waste vegetable oil at a bio-diesel facility. 

For quite a few years we ran diesel vehicles on straight waste vegetable oil. In theory the process is pretty simple. I used a two fuel tank system, one for diesel and one for straight vegetable oil. The vehicle would start on diesel. As the antifreeze heated up it would circulate through a copper coil installed in the veggie tank. Heating up the veggie reduced its viscosity. When it came to temperature I’d switch to the tank with the hot veggie. I’d run veggie until we were done traveling for the day. A couple minutes before getting to my destination I’d switch back to diesel to flush the veggie out of the system. What you didn’t want to have happen is the the engine to cool off full of solidified grease. 

Of course there was a whole system of filters and systems to keep the fuel lines insulated. My first installation was done with a kit out of Canada. After I understood the principles the next conversions were done with parts sourced from the hardware store. I could convert a vehicle for around $200, which was pretty darn low. 

Over the years I converted 4 of my own vehicles and helped a few other people do conversions. The easiest conversions were a couple of Mercedes diesels from the 80s. Those engines were simple and bullet proof. I also converted a Ford F-250 with the old regular 7.3 engine. That was a pretty straight forward install. My last vehicle was a decommissioned ambulance based on a F-350 van. It had the 7.3 power stroke and that was pretty much at the technological limit for cheap conversions. In fact, there were issues with the lift pump that needed to be solved as the original was a bit weak when it came to pushing veggie oil. 

Over the years I had established a network of restaurants that would let me take their waste oil. Sometimes they would put it back in the 4.5 gallon jugs it originally came in. Those were easy. Others I had to pump out of bins with a 12 volt pump into storage tanks. 

The veggie oil I dropped off in Vermont was some of the last I had in storage. I finally admitted to myself that there aren’t going to be any more conversion vehicles. The newer vehicles are too finicky. Also, my sources of free veggie dried up. There were some companies that would actually pay a little money for it so I can’t blame the restaurant owner for switching to them.  A couple other restaurants have since gone out of business. 

Then there’s the consideration that it was a lot of work. We also don’t drive the kind of miles we used to. It was common to put over 50,000/year on the old Mercedes. One car had 100,000 miles when we bought it and we put an additional 400,000 miles, burning veggie about 95% of the time. We saved a lot of money running veggie. 

So it’s kinda bitter sweet that I’m getting rid of the last vestiges of my veggie diesels. Life moves on.


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Holiday Long Weekend

I got too busy to keep up with the blog -and that’s a good kind of busy. My oldest daughter came to visit with her husband and two kids. 

It was a great visit. We used to get a lot of company over the summers but that dropped to near nothing during the last couple of years. A lot of people stopped traveling and socializing for a bit there. 

We had a great time. There was swimming among the loons, a bit of fishing, and messing around in boats. My grandson got to make some smores on the campfire which is something they don’t do in the city. Later that night my lovely wife and my daughter were sitting by the fire and a fox came over to check them out. 

My daughter and son-in-law even helped out with a couple of projects we couldn’t do on our own. 

The only bad thing about the visit was that it seemed to pass to quickly. 

Hope everyone out there had a good holiday weekend.


Saturday, September 3, 2022

Adventure Travel

I was talking with a friend of mine who works in the school system. A woman teacher’s husband passed away. Looking to do something different she traveled coast to coast on the Trans America Trail in a Jeep. That’s a coast to coast route that avoids highways. A good section of it is dirt roads. There’s some really interesting water crossings and high passes. 

She was able to make it all the way to the Oregon coast. Then the Jeep’s transmission needed to be rebuilt before she took the highways back home. 

That trail is very popular, not only with the 4X4 people but with the adventure motorcycle crowd. One of my favorites is the guy who did the trail on a Honda Trail 125.

The TAT is pretty famous, but there are also a series of Backwoods Discovery Routes.

Last year I rode  most of the Maine and New Hampshire segments. Good fun as instead of a big adventure bike I did it on a Honda PCX 150 scooter. Any bike is an adventure bike if you are crazy enough. 

Speaking of crazy, next year they’ll be running the semi-annual Scooter Cannonball Run.

It’s a timed checkpoint run across the US on smaller scooters. It’s as wacky as it sounds. That actually tempts me. I want to do a few more crazy things before I’m too old. The logistics involved are daunting so I might end up doing something else. At any rate, I’m working towards doing something nuts next year. 


Friday, September 2, 2022


This is a fairly common headline for news out of Russia: Lukoil Chairman Ravil Maganov Dies After Falling From Hospital Window.

Apparently falling out of windows is a popular way to die in Russia -especially if you are in opposition to the dear leader. Maganov happened to be outspoken against the “special military operation,” in Ukraine. 

Another common method of death is poisoning. Being poisoned with exotic radioactive substances is a special hazard of being in opposition to the government. 

If you’ve been paying attention to the news you couldn’t help but notice a lot of prominent Russians dying. Russian politics is especially brutal. 

While the war rages on in Ukraine there’s a whole “night of the long knives” situation happening behind the scenes. 

How will it all end? Darn if I know. Will Putin fall out of a window? Is it more likely his opponents will be taking the fast way down to the ground floor? Only time will tell. The body count from this war is not just in the war zone. 


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Waiting it out

It looks like we are going to have an interesting fall and winter. Between climate issues and political unrest things could get interesting. My lovely wife and I have decided to pretty much hunker down and wait it out. I’d feel pretty silly being far from home and have things get . . . exciting. 

Maybe it’s just a feeling, but sometimes you’ve got to trust your gut. It’s not that I’m getting all woo woo about the future. All you have to do is to have one eye on the news and that’s enough to make anyone worried. 

I’m going to go off on a tangent here for a bit. Let me address the somewhat older folks on the blog or those with an interest in History. Let’s go back to before the Iraq war. There were all these articles about how Saddam had this amazing bunker. It was supposed to be some kind of technological marvel. Back in 2003 Newsweek did this article about how advanced his bunkers were. Look it up. So where was he captured? In some dirty spider hole. That never made any sense to me. 

I suppose there’s a lesson there. If you have a secure location you’d best make use of it. 

There is one thing that would get me moving out of a safe zone: a rescue operation. If a family or friend needed help I’d find a way to make it happen. 

On a positive note, I feel pretty good about late winter going into spring. That’s something to look forward to.