Monday, December 18, 2023

Storm Report

We got hit pretty well from the storm. I woke up Monday morning to the grid being down. Rain and wind were heavy. My house battery bank was topped off so it wasn’t too big a deal. Surprisingly, the grid was back up by noon. I was impressed. 

Our regular internet service was also down. However, we still had a cell phone signal so the phone became a hotspot for the computer. That came back around the same time as the grid. 

The rain, and snow melt from 50+ temperatures caused significant flooding. While our house was fine, we gave up on going anywhere. Roads were flooded or washed out in all directions. 

It’s good to have a well stocked pantry and my own backup power. 


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Time off

I'm fine. Just taking some time off from blogging for a bit.


Sunday, November 19, 2023

Exploding Totem Poles

Space X just blew up another Starship. That’s par for the course. The company is a great  believer in destructive testing. While that’s a common enough engineering procedure we don’t often see it on this scale. Maybe never. 

As far as failures go this last attempt appears to be a more successful kaboom. Right off the bat the first improvement was the launch pad success. It didn’t mimic a gigantic volcanic eruption like the previous attempt. Turn around time is so much better when you don’t have to rebuild your launch site from scratch. 

The next improvement was booster separation. It actually took place this time. However, the booster was not supposed to then explode in a spectacular manner. Ops. Stuff happens. Going to space is hard. 

The rest of the rocket appeared to be doing well. It went quite a distance before it too turned into a fireworks display. Let’s just say it’ll be a while before the vehicle is man rated. One problematic issue appears to be the shedding of heat tiles. You need those to be intact to come back safely. 

Of course the general public doesn’t have access to all the data. Hopefully Space X learned enough to keep these issues from happening again. There’s no sense in doing destructive testing if you can’t learn from your mistakes. 

For now, the Starship is on par with Musk’s other current projects, like the cybertruck and the acquisition of Twitter. 


Friday, November 17, 2023

Tests and Parts

My lovely wife just had some rather invasion medical tests done. It’s for a cancer than runs in the family. We are very relieved that the test results were good. Life goes on pause while that sort of thing hangs over your head. Sleep hasn’t been that great lately either. 

Looks like the infection in my leg is finally gone. It’s healing nicely. Getting back in condition will take some time and effort but I’m doing it. 

In other news I finally got the parts needed to fix my washing machine. There’s a load of laundry going through its cycles right now. It’s a relief that a $25 part was all it needed. Thanks to YouTube university the installation went fairly well. Of course the instruction video didn’t have the installer drop a screw into a pile of dirty laundry but that’s how those projects go in real life. 


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Woodstove Chore

Woodstoves are great, but they need a certain amount of maintenance. My wood cookstove has a lot of nooks and crannies that collect soot. Unlike a regular woodstove, cookstoves have circuitous smoke channels around the oven. That’s great for extracting more heat from every bit of firewood. The downside is that as the smoke cools it deposits soot in those channels. 

Once in a while everything has to be taken apart and cleaned out. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s a messy job. To make matters worse I also take apart the stove pipe and clean that out too. At least the stovepipe can be cleaned outside. 

On the bright side very little soot makes it to the chimney. Cleaning the chimney is even more of a chore. Not having to do that so often is a huge plus. 


Monday, November 13, 2023

About those digitals

There’s a push to eliminate cash and go to a completely digital society. Your money would be a digital account in a central bank somewhere. China is far down that road. It’s so bad that if your social score is not high enough you can’t even shop in some stores. Europe isn’t far behind. 

In England there are grocery stores with gates as you come in. To enter you need to scan a QR code with your phone and show you have the right account. Europe in general is pushing full ahead with digital money. Their excuse is that it’ll be more convenient for the citizens.

They don’t mention how it will provide more control over the citizens. That’s very convenient for totalitarian dictators. 

While this is all going on there’s something else happening in the wider universe that’s more powerful than any government. The sun’s been cranking out CMEs. Nothing like huge burst of solar energy to take down power and digital systems. The more civilization relies on electronics the easier it becomes for even moderate CMEs to take down the system. 


Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Check’s in the Mail

Okay, I admit it. I liked paying my heating oil bill with paper checks. Writing checks is a pretty Boomer thing to do. However, I didn’t just write a check out of habit. It was a hostile act. While the oil company accepts checks they have a hard time processing them. That was fun. 

They’d have a paper check sitting in their office for almost a month before they would manage to cash it. I’ve gotten up to two late notices even though they had the check. In the end they’d cash it and I wouldn’t have any penalties for late payment. 

Then those bastards upped the game. There’s a discount for early payment. Even though cashing checks took a long time they’d have to honor the date on the check. Good fun. This last time they didn’t even send my the paper bill until the discount period had passed. I suppose I could have fought them on it but this game has pretty much run its course. 

I probably shouldn’t be messing with the company that keeps my house warm while it’s snowing outside. 

I need a new hobby.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Jury Duty

My lovely wife reported for jury duty today. She had to drive through snow and freezing rain to get there. Fortunately the Escape has really aggressive snow tires. Looks like some sort of deal was cut and the whole jury pool was let go. 

It’s been a busy month with a lot of personal stuff going on. The uncertainty of her jury commitment  was putting a real wrench in planning. It’s good to have that out of the way. Both my wife and I have been called for jury duty a couple of times. It’s one of those duties you shoulder as a US citizen. While it can be terribly inconvenient we understand it’s something that has to be done. 


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Looks like winter

I woke up to an inch of fresh snow yesterday. It only melted in direct sunshine. More is expected for today. It actually feels like November in the Great North Woods. This batch of snow probably won’t last but it’s definitely a preview of things to come. 

I’ve been following a number of well known weather forecasters. Up here in northern New Hampshire it’s difficult to predict the weather -especially long range. So here’s what it looks like: either it’ll be cold with less snow than normal or warmer but with more snow. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus. That’s typical for our area as a number of weather systems come together here. I’ve seen storms that drop six inches in my area but two feet of snow twenty miles away. The exact opposite happens too. 

While I’m never one hundred percent happy with my winter preps I’m prepared enough. I’ll feel a bit more secure when two more pallets of woodstove fiber blocks are delivered. They should be here today or tomorrow. That should help square us away for some time. 

I’d like to do a bit more insulating in the basement but that can be done at any time. 

One of things I keep going over in my head is whether or not to buy a snow blower. If we get buried in snow it’ll seem like a great idea. If we have a light snow winter -not so much. However, I did pull a back muscle by the end of last winter. It wasn’t awful but I felt it and wouldn’t mind avoiding that this winter. 


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Polls and elections

People are getting upset about political polling numbers. Can’t we all admit by now that polls, especially at this point in the game, mean little? All they seem to do is upset people who’s candidate lost when expected to win. 

We just had some actual local elections in various states. Pay attention to who wins and by how much. Also, check out what other measures pass. Are they conservative or more liberal? That will give you a bit better idea on how the general election is shaping up. 

Think about how polls are conducted. Often it’s still done over landline phones. So you have to ask yourself: what kind of person has a landline and answers calls from strange numbers? That’s your poll pool. Throw in some cherry picked polls with questionable methodology and then it’s all a mess. 

It doesn’t help that so many politicians, on all sides, are very very old. Health or even death could remove them from the election. 

Of course, one certain politician is in deep legal trouble right now. That could give younger polliticans a chance to hit the national state. 

At any rate, interesting times. 


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Me against the machines!

This time I was challenged to combat by my washing machine. The newer machines use less water but are worse in every other way. The are also a pain to repair. For years I’ve been doing repairs to major appliances and the washing machine is just another challenge. 

At least now there’s Google and YouTube university. Best I can tell from available evidence it’s a simple door switch. Of course, the switch isn’t simple at all. Anyway, I found one online and ordered it.  

There’s an easier repair hack that can be done if you have small hands and long skinny arms. Since I’ve got gorilla arms and hands I had to go in the hard way. Oh well. A man has got to know his limitations. I was able to get to the switch and tried a recommended temporary repair but that didn’t help. That’s when I ordered a new switch. 

I do miss simple mechanical controls. Once I had to pull the circuit board out of the washing machine and clean up some connections. Washing machines shouldn’t even have circuit boards -never mine ones exposed to damp conditions. 

Anyway . . . I could rage against the machines or learn how to fix the new ones. 

Grumble grumble. 


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Health update -again!

Okay . . . looks like the last round of antibiotics knocked out the bad infection in my leg. It’s still scabbed up quite a bit but most of the pain is gone. I can get out and about to do more things now. Progress -finally. 

This should have been one visit and about a month. Instead it took multiple doctor visits with 3 different doctors and seven months of suffering. I’m pretty sure it’ll finish healing up properly now However, if it starts to look like it’s stopped healing I’m calling the doctor again. 

Now I’m finally able to get away from the strick requirements of heavy duty antibiotics. My last antibiotic could not be mixed with many types of supplements. I’m back to taking those. There’s also an herbal remedy that does wonders for the remaining nerve pain. 

Since I’m not as restricted in my movements the weight is finally coming off again. 

Now all I have to do is to sort of my cpap for sleep apnea. It’s always something. Insurance rejected my claim. Apparently using a cpap for 30 years isn’t enough to show I really need one. Sigh. I’m very tempted to just pay for a new machine  out of pocket. The one I really want is not covered by insurance anyway. 

So anyway, that’s why my posting has been hit or miss lately. Life happens. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Then end of nomad life

There’s a lot of YouTube channels covering aspects of nomad life. They could be RV people, sailors, van dwellers, motor campers -whatever. If you follow them long enough you’ll notice a common theme. Lately it seems that a lot of people are giving up “the life.” 

Here’s the thing, that’s pretty normal. Most people who dream of full time travel last 2 to 5 years. For some that’s about as long as it takes for them to see everything they want to see. If your goal is to travel  all of the lower 48 US states that’s plenty of time to do so. If you are a sailor that’s enough time to slowly circumnavigate the world. 

It’s said that for nomads the highs are higher but the lows are lower. One day you are seeing the best that nature has to offer. The next you are stuck broken down somewhere waiting for parts. For many people they just plain get tired of the lows. 

Of course, there are plenty of other mundane things that cause people to quite the life. It could be health concerns, either their own or family members who need help. Often the nomad life turns out to be more expensive than expected. Some people just have to go back to “real” jobs. Even the mental strain of always being on the go can take its toll. 

Anyone starting the nomad life is probably going to need an exit strategy at some point. That can be hard. For example, someone could sell a house, an appreciating asset, and buy a big RV, a depreciating asset. Five years down the road they can’t sell the RV for enough to get back into the housing market. 

Personally I’m glad my lovely wife and I were just semi-nomadic. We’d travel for 3 to 6 months of the year and always came back to our house. That’s how we were able to do it for over 20 years. Currently we are sticking close to home, dealing with health and family issues. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do the nomad thing again, but we can wait for the conditions to be right for us. 


Monday, October 30, 2023

More Trouble in the House

The House of Representatives has a new Speaker: Mike Johnson. If you didn’t know of him before don’t feel too badly. In fact, he probably won’t be around long enough to be worth knowing. If he goes beyond another six weeks I’ll be surprised. 

Republicans in the House have proven, over and over again, that they lack the ability to govern. They can’t even keep or elect a speaker it doesn’t bode well for anything else they may want to do. When you have the majority electing a speaker is the easy part. 

Should any of Mr. Johnson’s wishes somehow get turned into legislation it won’t go any further than the House. The Senate and Executive branches will kill it. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you elected anti-government people into office you end up with people who don’t know how to do the job. 

It takes all three branches of government to pass laws in this country. A small minority in the House has been allowed to gum up the whole works. Normally that would be an inconvenience. With the world currently in crisis, it’s a tragedy. Decisive action needs to be taken and we are stuck with legislative gridlock. 


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Wider War

It appears that calmer heads will not prevail in the Middle East. All the ingredients for a much wider war are in the pot and the heat’s on. 

Currently it looks like Israel is going to go full throttle into Gaza. It will be horrific for all parties involved. There’s every potential it will be a combination of Fallujah and Grozny times ten. That, ladies and gentleman, would be especially bad for civilians. It won’t do the IDF any good either. 

Numerous countries on the periphery are dragging out old grievances. While Western powers and Israel are distracted they are looking to settle some old scores. I don’t think the conflict will go nuclear -unless things go incredibly badly for Israel. If it looks like they are about to lose it all there’s the Samson Option. Look that up if you don’t have enough nightmares. 

So how is this going to shake out? No idea. It’s chaos season. Who could have predicted how the assignation of some random minor royal could have led to WWI? Just like the previous world wars a wider Middle East conflict could affect everyone. 

Are your preps in order? Here’s another thing to consider. If you are looking to buy something that’s shipped from away you’d probably better get it now. There could be a total shut down on much of the world’s trade. We’ve gotten used to being able to order just about anything on-line and have it shipped promptly to our house. Picture that going away. 

Maybe you should get a shipment of potassium iodide while you are at it.


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Loving the night

I love the night. I’m friends with the dark. My dad’s the reason darkness is no threat to me. When I was a little kid he taught he how to get around in the dark. We played games with the lights out. It was a blast for a little kid. Now the darkness feels like a warm security blanket to me. 

Yeah, I know that seems pretty weird to most folks. However, think of the advantage of not having any fear. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it will hurt you. Dad also taught me how to enhance my other senses and to rely on them at night. 

I may have come from a long line of poachers. 


Friday, October 27, 2023

Shooting in Lewiston Maine

As of the writing of this blog the person of interest in the Lewiston shooting is still at large. I don’t want to get ahead of any facts so I’m not going to speculate too much. 

Lewiston Maine is fairly close to where I live. It’s close enough that it’s a reasonable day trip. In any given year I go there fairly often. 

There is one thing that bothers me about the police response. They put in a shelter in place order. My first impulse is get the heck out of Dodge. If don’t want to wait around to see if the shooter shows up at your house you have a few options. 

You can get out of Dodge before the authorities lock down everything. You can hope the lockdown is porous enough to drive around any road blocks. Perhaps you have a good story about why you have to leave. Maybe a medical emergency? Another option is have a back door out of your area, like a little used fire road. 

I’m thinking that sometimes the best defense is a hasty retreat.


Thursday, October 26, 2023

Short Inverter Update

The old Trace 2024 modified sine wave inverter for my house has been replaced with a true sine wave inverter. ( WZRELB 24 DC to 120 AC 6000 Watt surge) It’s been in use long enough that I have some feedback.

On the plus side: LED lights work properly. They were dim and burned out quickly with modified sine wave -probably not too safe. The true sine wave runs induction stove tops while the modified did not. Things like ceiling fans and microwave ovens run much quieter. There’s no longer a faint buzz sound from some audio equipment. 

On the downside the new inverter is a bit more sensitive to temporary low voltages. For example, there will be a lot of things drawing power. The induction stove top is a big one. Then the ½ horse well pump kicks in causing a sudden surge demand. If the batteries are on the low side to begin with that can trip the low voltage inverter safety and shut it down. The modified sine wave inverter handled low voltage draws a bit better. 

To fix that I can either turn the battery charger on or turn the inverter off than on again. It’s not a big deal. 

All in all, the gains are well worth the trade offs.


Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Lost Skills

The United States could not build a Saturn 5 rocket if we wanted to today. The unique set of skills needed to built one died out. Certain material sciences and mechanical skills are gone with the people who once knew them. It’s not that we can’t build rockets. We just can’t build them like we used to. In general that’s not a disaster, but sometimes those skills would have saved a lot of reinventing the wheel. 

I’ve an engineer friend who was hired after two years of retirement. His unique set of skills are quickly dying out. He’s one of the “young” ones with the skill set and he’s 64. The industry he works for isn’t training new people. They are poaching workers from each other instead. That’s not a long term plan for success but in the short term it’s cheaper. The bean counters are happy with short term results. 

On the other hand I know someone in her 50s who works for another industry. Her skills are also dying out. However, a big company just hired her. Their plan over the next two years is to move her into a full time teaching position. My bet is that five or ten years from now that company will be at the top of their industry. They think ahead.

It’s surprising how many useful skills are allowed to die out. There are exceptions. I’ve a friend in his early 40s who knows a lot of old timey ways. When he was a kid he spent a lot of time with old timers learning their skills. He’d fit in just fine if dropped into the 18th century. A lot of those skills are local homesteading knowledge that isn’t written down anywhere. I hope his kids are paying attention.


Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Smart Phone Trap

Smart Phones have taken over the world. It seems like everyone has one. Little kids to ancient elders have them. 

They are many things I could say about smart phones but I’m going to focus on the information aspect. Anytime someone wants to know something it’s usually just a Google search away. Google, like much of life, is all about being able to ask the right questions. That’s one of today’s survival skills.

Of course, information is not knowledge. One has to be able to integrate that information into a greater whole. That’s where a good general knowledge comes in. For example you may look up the shortest distance to get somewhere and get an answer. The problem is that the shortest distance involves climbing mountains and crossing flooded rivers. That’s where having a greater knowledge makes a difference. Instead of blinding following the shortest directions you know there’s more to travel than the number of miles.

People have information at their finger tips. What happens to you when you don’t have that information in your own little gray cell storage center in your head? Batteries die. Phones break.

Should you do without the information access of a smart phone? No. Think about it. We’ve been storing information outside our heads since we invented writing. It wasn’t long before that written information far exceeded the capacity of the human brain. That event happened thousands of years ago.

While it’s impossible to keep everything in your head you have something in there. The trick is to have on-board human storage of the most important things. The fun part is deciding what’s really important. 


Sunday, October 22, 2023

Another Doctor Trip

Ho boy. Don’t I love going to doctors. . . or not. Even better I went back for the same old recurring problem I’ve been dealing with for months. 

Basically I’m suffering from infected leg ulcers. It’s painful and annoying. It doesn’t help that often treatments have make the condition worse instead of better. 

However, today was encouraging. I spent a good part of the morning with a doctor, student doctor and a nurse. We went over all my experiences and separated out what worked and what did not. Finally I have a treatment program that’s tailored to my needs. 

For example one complaint is that the antibiotics I’ve been taking seem to knock out about 95% of the infection and then I’m taken off them. Over the course of a few weeks the infection comes roaring back. This time around we are working from lab tests to target the exact infection and hitting it with something more heavy duty. That’s just one part of the treatment. 

To be fair my issue presents just like a diabetic ulcer. As an old fat guy I look like the typical diabetic patient. They finally got around to doing a diabetic blood test (A1C). Not only am I not diabetic I’m not even pre-diabetic. No wonder that treatments designed for diabetics don’t work. 

My leg circulation problem is most likely rooted in years of physical trauma caused by numerous mishaps over the years. I lived a rough and tumble life for a while there. I know that once the wound is finally healed I’ll be able to resume my walking program. That does wonders for my circulation. The catch 22 right now is that my leg is not up to long walks until the wound is cured. 

I feel I’m working with a good team right now and they are closely monitoring my progress. None of this would have possible until I finally got health insurance through Medicare. I’m probably lucky I made it to 65. 


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Are Drivers Worse?

Anyone else notice that drivers seem to be getting worse? Seems to me that people are driving with their emotions and their emotions are not in a good place. I’m also seeing a lot of distracted drivers. No doubt cell phones are an issue. Could it be that all those big electronic screens newer cars come with are more distraction than help?

My home state of New Hampshire just had its worse year for motorcycle accidents in 20 years -and the year ain’t over. I did a lot of motor scooter riding this year but I don’t go out on the highways. That probably saved me a certain amount of risk. There’s something to be said for a machine that tops out around 62 mph. It keeps me humble. However, I did come very close to being run over in a freaking gas station parking lot. 

Living out in the middle of nowhere has its perks. Low traffic volume is a big one. We do have to deal with deer, bear and moose on the road. Hitting a freaking turkey isn’t any fun either. My cousin hit one with the windshield of his Jeep and almost ran off the road. At least wildlife, unlike some humans, are not out to do you in on purpose. 

Just wait until we get our first big snowstorm. Some people forget how to drive in the snow over the summer. It doesn’t help that many are late getting snow tires put on their cars. If at all possible I like to sit out the first storm and stay home. 

So I am curious. Has anyone else noticed a big uptick in bad driving?


Friday, October 20, 2023

Battery Powered Tools

Thanks to more powerful batteries cordless tools have really come into their own. I really like being able to work beyond the reach of extension cords. 

My big pet peeve is that everyone has a different battery/charger setup. Some standardization would be nice. The number of different chargers hanging around my shop is becoming a problem. I even have two 20 volt tools from the same company that require different chargers.

At least some companies have families of tools that use the same batteries. That’s a help. Personally, I like that Toro’s 60 volt tools can use batteries of different amperage. I could use my chainsaw battery in their snowblower. Stuff like that is handy. The major companies seem to be leaning towards interchangeability. 

It’s the odd tools that can be a pain. I needed a cordless impact wrench for a single job. Amazon had something that looked like it could do the job for cheap. It did. Then it became clear that the tool was pretty useful for a lot of things. Unfortunately, the charger burned out after the warranty had expired. Finding a replacement was a royal pain. Eventually one popped up in my searches that looked like it might work. The problem is they wanted $60 for it. 

It seemed like a lot of money for something that may or may not work. Then Amazon put the whole impact wrench kit on sale for $70. I bought it instead of the just the charger. 

One of my more interesting battery powered tools is a grinder. Those have been a real boost for criminals. They do a pretty good job cutting locks. Of course I would never do anything immoral with mine. 


Thursday, October 19, 2023

No Frost Yet

As of October 18th we’ve yet to have a hard frost. That’s not normal for northern New Hampshire. My lovely wife volunteers at a botanical garden. There are flowers in her pollinator section that are blooming again. She’s never seen that happen in the garden before. 

It’s been a pretty mild fall. However, it can go from unusually warm to unusually cold overnight. Just south of us is Mount Washington which has the worse weather in the world. Major weather systems come together in our area so anything can happen. 

Long range weather forecasts have never been very reliable. It appears they are doing a worse job now than in the recent past. That’s not really a surprise. Weather predictions rely heavily on data from previous years. That’s handy -until some basic conditions change and the present is not like the past. 

With that in mind I’m paying close attention to forecasts that predict heavy snow in my area. There might be something to it. Winter here can be both warmer than normal and snowy than normal. Actually, I prefer that over the opposite. Nothing worse than a deeply cold lean snow year. That’s when the frost is driven deep in the ground causing all kinds of problems. I’ve had both water lines and sewer lines freeze. Neither are any fun. 

Now all I have to do is to talk my lovely wife into us buying a new snowblower. 


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

More War?

Is the US about to get involved in a shooting war in the Middle East? Iran has been told in no uncertain terms that a missile attack on Israel will result in a US response. Right now the are two US Navy carrier groups within striking distance. That’s more firepower in one place than most countries can muster. The US certainly has the capacity.

On the other hand, it looks like the US has encouraged Israel to take a more measured response. Don’t get me wrong, most of the Hamas leadership are dead men walking. However, Israel might take a less than scorched earth approach to achieving that goal. Frankly, too many innocents have already died. 

The hostage situation complicates things immensely. A number of those hostages are foreign nationals so there are lot of other countries who have skin in the game. 

The United States is not in the best position right now. The Republicans in the House have demonstrated their inability to govern. As of this writing they can’t even agree on a Speaker of the House. That’s with a majority. Many diplomatic posts remain unfilled and that doesn’t help US interests. Also, Republican Senator Tuberville’s refusal to allow military promotions has affected military readiness. Remember when the Republicans were pro-military and against our enemies? I’d like to think most are still that way but they’ve allowed a vocal minority to set the agenda. 

So’s what the average Joe supposed to do? Stay the heck out of the Middle East for one thing. My guess is that the more immediate effects would be supply line disruptions. Oil has been a weapon in the Middle East for decades. On the bright side for the US, we get almost all our petrochemicals from North America these days. 

This crisis shows how easily a relatively small group of terrorists can cause a global crisis. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Medical Issues

I’ve been dealing with some recurring medical issues. It’s nothing too serious, just very irritating. That’s part of why I haven’t been posting lately. 

At least I have some medical insurance now. Not that it’s made getting treatment any easier -or cheaper? My sleep doctor told me it might be cheaper to buy a new c-pap machine off the Internet for cash than to go to the local company that takes insurance. In the mean time I keep my old equipment running. 

Over the last 30 years I’ve had to figure out my own health issues. It’s hit or miss whether or not seeing a doctor will make things better or worse. 

I guess the lesson here is that you have to take charge of your own health. No one else will.


Friday, October 13, 2023

Mixed feelings about electronic books

I’ve got mixed feelings about electronic books. I grew up in the world of paper. Now it seems most everything is on a smart phone. Paper still has its place.

If it’s a technical manual I definitely want it on paper -especially if it’s something needed to keep the lights on. My library has a lot of electrical, electronic, and solar-electric information in physical books. All my homesteading information is on paper. 

There are issues with books -cost and bulk are big ones. As for the bulk  . . . well, let’s say I have more books than my town’s library. New books are pricey. There’s no getting around that. I am a sucker for bag of books for a buck sale some libraries hold. 

One of the technical manuals I have in electronic form is a Honda scooter repair manual. The shop manuals are expensive and bulky. I keep an electronic manual on my phone in case I need to repair something on the road. If I’m going on a longer trip I sometimes bring a backup copy on a Kindle reader. Unlike a phone the battery on a reader lasts a long time. 

Much of my recreational reading is on electronic books. I use the heck out of my Kindle unlimited membership. 

With cooler weather in the air I’m definitely going to enjoy reading books by the fire -be they physical or electronic.


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Send in the Fixers

Insurgencies are settled with political solutions. Sending in the troops only works if you commit total genocide. Unfortunately there are people who think that’s a good idea. They are monsters.

Decades of the “Irish Troubles,” was solved by turning revolutionaries into politicians. There were some really talented individuals who make that happen. 

So why don’t we train diplomats with the will and resources we use to train Navy Seals? We could employ cutting edge Sociology and Psychology. Diplomats should have the resources necessary to close deals. It’ll still be cheaper than sending an air craft carrier into  harm’s way. 

Eventually all conflicts are settled at the negotiation table. Unfortunately, that’s usually after many thousands of lives have been lost. Wouldn’t it be great if we started with the negotiations first? 

As I write this Israel is in the process of insuring there’s going to be a new crop of terrorists. It’s an eye for an eye situation that will leave everyone half blind. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Companies that get it

A lot of companies went to a remote worker situation during the pandemic. Now a number of companies want their workers back in the office. Even companies that are actually more profitable with remote workers want them to return. Management has some real control issues. 

Of course, the commercial real estate business is trouble, but I’m not going to shed any tears for them. They could always convert offices to much needed housing. 

A friend of mine was recently hired by a company for a remote work position. They sought her out and gave her a $20,000 raise over what she was making before. Working from home she’s now in a much better position to help with her elderly mother. That’s a huge relief. 

Then there’s the fact she’s not spending hours on the road every day. Her commutes were so bad she was destroying about one car a year. That isn’t cheap either. 

I’ve a number of friends and family working from home now. They are a lot happier than those who are locked in their cubicals. One friend actually moves his office to his garden during nice days. There’s a lot of envy from his coworkers who still go to the office. 

The nature of work is changing. Power is going back to workers. The companies who “get it” will do well. The others will go the way of the buggy whip business. 


Tuesday, October 10, 2023


The North Country of New Hampshire had fairly cheap housing for quite a few years. Basically, the lack of good jobs limited how much someone could pay. Pay still ain’t great, but house prices and rents took a huge price jump. 

A good friend of mine has only a few months left to move out of his apartment. He’s been looking for a house for months now. The problem is that many of them have been in the Air B&B market. They are more like bunk houses than places you’d want to live in. Quite a few places were bought out by ATV riders who get together and purchase a house where they keep their machines. Very few of these places end up being bought by locals. 

Apartments have tripled in price in the last few years. Frankly, it’s cheaper for me to live at my cottage on the lake than in a small apartment in town. That’s just nuts. One woman I know of stayed in a deeply unhappy marriage for a year because she couldn’t find a decent apartment at any price. She finally got one. The previous renter had been shot and killed. 

My local area is just a small snapshot of a greater problem across the nation. No wonder homelessness is so bad. 


Monday, October 9, 2023

This Could Get Bad

War in the Middle East. How big is that going to get? There’s the rub. 

First off there’s a lot of misinformation. Social media is a really really really bad source of information. There are plenty of other bad sources of information. There’s a rule of thumb: give a story 24 hours and see how it checks out. 

Right now it’s a conflict between Hamas and Israel. There’s confirmed Iran involvement in the planning so that’s a concern. There are plenty of countries on the periphery with skin the game. For example Saudi Arabia has had a low grade conflict with Iran for sometime. They’d love for someone else to do their dirty work. Memories in that part of the of the world are long and bitter. 

Much depends on how Israel deals with the situation. Netanyahu is not the best guy to be a helm of Israel at this time -in my humble opinion. I don’t think diplomacy and restraint are in the cards. If a full on occupation of the Gaza Strip is in the works it’s going to get much worse. 

There are some things that are different from other Middle Eastern conflicts. In the past the Soviet Union would pour a lot of weapons into the area. That’s not going to happen this time as the Russians  don’t have them to spare. 

So what’s a person far the conflict zone supposed to do? First of all, don’t panic and don’t make major decisions out of fear. Certainly don’t make major decisions from what you hear on social media. It comes down to the basics. There may be disruptions in International fuel supplies. As the northern hemisphere goes into its heating season that’s an issue. Food prices will become more volatile. That’s where having a decent amount of food storage can be useful. 

The thing I’ll be watching is the ground game. Hamas rockets and retaliatory air strikes won’t be the deciding factor. War in that part of the world has always involved real estate. That’s what really motivates people. Let’s see what the ground troops do and then you can decide to panic or not. 

Actually, panicking is never the right response. While there’s precious little the average Joe can do to influence events, how you react to those events is in your control.


Friday, October 6, 2023

Nomad Life

There are cheap ways to live like a nomad. You aren’t going to discover them watching RV YouTube channels. 

Newer RVs are expensive to buy, run, repair, and park. Older RVs aren’t even permitted in many campgrounds.  

There are cheap places to stay, but there are downsides. Walmart parking lots aren’t places to camp but might be fine for an overnight stop. There are cheap and even free places to park on public lands. You’d better be prepared to be self contained and know how to boondock. Then there’s the issue of driving your expensive RV up questionable bumpy dirt roads. That free parking could get expensive if you need an RV rescue tow truck. 

It’s a lot cheaper to live out of a van. You give up a lot of space but you also give up a lot of headaches. Just being able to park in normal parking spaces is a huge deal. Of course, you can go nuts and spend silly money on a tricked out camper van. I’ve seen some deluxe models in the $200,000 range. Then again, there are some nice home built conversions built on cheap second hand vehicles. 

Of course, you could just throw a decent tent in the back of the car you own now and go on an adventure. There’s something to be said for just getting out there. 


Thursday, October 5, 2023

Trailer Repair

I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of a cheap utility trailer. It cost me $50 and a mason jar of white lightning. It was an interesting time in my life. 

In its first build it had a 3 foot by 8 foot box with 2 foot sides. It hauled a lot of firewood. One time I filled it with 4.5 gallon jugs of waste veggie oil. It was pulled my old Mercedes diesel converted to run on waste veggie. That load of oil got me 3000 miles without having to stop for more fuel. 

Eventually the wooden box had gotten pretty battered. Then it was rebuilt to haul my homemade 4 X 12 foot boat. That got hauled all over the country. Once the hitch pin fell out of the van releasing the hitch and letting the trailer got off on its own. Much to my surprise it stayed upright and was found hundreds of feet off the road. The boat was undamaged. 

However, the trailer had a rough time. A cross member had to be replaced to get home. A couple of springs had broken and it sorta listed to one side for the next 2000 miles. Still, it make it home. That ain’t nothing. 

So it got new springs a couple years ago. Last year the wheel bearings were replaced. Yesterday I finally installed new tires. The beauty of cheap trailers is that they can always be rebuilt. There’s a lot of junk that needs to be hauled to the transfer station so it’s good have it road worthy. 


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Make do mechanic

I just installed a trailer hitch on my Ford Escape.  I get all my towing and trailer stuff at They aren’t a sponsor, I just like dealing with them.

The instruction video claimed it was a 40 minute job. Maybe it is -with a lift, two people, and air tools. That’s how it was done in the video. By myself, using ramps, and with hand tools it was closer to 2 hours. It doesn’t help that I screwed up and lost a bolt in the frame channel. Fishing that back out took a bit. Then my lovely wife needed me to clean up and go through some paperwork with her. Actually, with all the snafus, two hours probably wasn’t too bad. 

It’s good to have a vehicle with a hitch again. The wiring harness hasn’t been installed yet, but that should be too big a deal. It’s not my first rodeo. 

The next project is my utility trailer. The bearings and springs are new but the tires are shot. I’ve replacements for those so that shouldn’t take too long. Of course, the registration is expired so that’s one more hassle. 

Country living pretty much requires the ability to tow things. There’s firewood to be moved, trips to the dump, boats to haul, and sometimes I even tow a wood splitter. Urban tow hitches usually don’t handle anything heavier than a bike rack. 


Monday, October 2, 2023

Food Storage Issues

The three people in my household all have different dietary issues. My lovely wife has developed some allergies fairly recently. It took some work with a allergist to sort it out. One of big ones is a dairy allergy. 

While most of my food storage is bulk items like grains and beans, there are a fair number of ready made quick cook meals. They are very handy as they don’t take long to prepare. Quite of few of them have dairy products as ingredients. 

My niece had to avoid certain foods and spices that causes issues too. As for myself I really should limit my sodium. Lots of prepared foods contain high levels. 

With those dietary restrictions in mind I’m completely reexamining my food storage. Everything I’ve got at someone can eat safely. However, it’s a pain to cook three different main dishes for one meal. With that in mind I plan to expand my food storage to include more of what everyone can eat. 

It seems that food storage is never one of those things that constantly evolve. 


Sunday, October 1, 2023

Electric Invasion

I’m seeing a lot of electric cars these days. Some are local, but I don’t think there are many. The  hospital has some charging stations. No doubt they are mostly used by doctors showing off their expensive Teslas. 

It’s not a big surprise to see a lot of electric cars with Massachusetts plates. Most electric cars can easily make the trip to northern New Hampshire from Boston. The big surprise is seeing electrics plated in Florida or Texas. Long road trips are totally doable. 

It might be time to sell your gas station if you own one. Here’s my thinking on that. Gas cars can fill up in 5 or 10 minutes. During that time they can also pick up some snacks and drinks. It’s the snacks and drinks that really make money. Right now most electric cars take a good half hour to get a decent charge -much longer if you really want to top off. If you change your station from gas to electric there will be a lot less turn over. 

That might not be as big an issue where land is cheap and you’ve room for all those slowly charging cars. In high property value areas the number just won’t work out. I haven’t even factored in the expense of installing all those electric charging stations. 

So who’s going to put in charging stations? It makes sense for hotels where people are going to spend the night. Restaurants would also be good choices. I saw a big charging station at a Dunkin Donuts. You can have a coffee and a snack while waiting. Of course most people will start out with a charge from home. 

For me, electrics just aren’t ready yet. In Japan they make cheap small electric trucks that I’d find very useful. They aren’t available in this country. Heck, small cheap electrics in general aren’t available. Actually, small cheap gas vehicles are pretty much nonexistent for that matter. Anyone who cracks the market with a decent and affordable electric vehicle should do well. Until then I’m stuck burning dead dinosaurs. 


Friday, September 29, 2023

Smoke from Canada

Here in northern New Hampshire we got another blast of smoke from Canada’s forest fires. It was pretty hazy out there. Constant exposure to smoke isn’t good for anybody. For a former firefighter with damaged lungs it’s worse.

Fortunately I’ve added some air purification to the house. This summer I was able to buy a small air purifier at a yard sale for small money. It’s only really big enough for my office, but it helps. A friend gave me his large Honeywell InSight HEPA air purifier. It was way too big for the space he had it in. It’s perfect for my place. 

I like it. It has sensors that monitor the air quality and can make adjustments as needed. The difference in air quality is noticeable. Living way out in the country I never used to worry much about air quality. Times have changed. Now I do what I have to do.


Thursday, September 28, 2023

Long Way Home

It happened to me once again. I was less than a mile from home when I encountered a road block. Power lines were down in the road. My one mile trip turned into a 10 mile detour. I’d been riding the scooter as the weather was nice during the afternoon, but it was cooling off fast. I was ready to be home. 

It was a relief to see both my cars sitting in the driveway. That meant nobody from my household had crashed into a power pole. Much to my surprise the grid was up and running. Someone did a good job on the line repair. 

It wouldn’t had been a big issue had the grid been down. The new inverter is running well. Unlike the old modified sine wave inverter the new one is true sine wave and runs my induction stove top just fine. It’s still a bit warm to light the cook woodstove just to cook dinner. 

Living out in the country power outages are to be expected. Repairs can take a while as they deal with the more populated areas first. Fortunately this was a very local event so they got to it right away. Had it been something like a massive storm repairs could take a long long time. My biggest issue wasn’t with the power but with the detour and that really wasn’t too awful. 


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Favorite time of year

Here in the Great North Woods we are entering one of my favorite times of year. As the leaves change color our beautiful scenery turns to absolutely stunning. People come from all over the world to experience the wonder of it all. 

I don’t take it for granted. Even when running my day to day errands I’m aware of the beauty. There are routes that excel during certain times of the day when the light is just right. So what if I have to drive a few miles out of my way to experience it? What’s life without a bit of color in it?

While it’s a beautiful time of the year it doesn’t last long enough. Soon enough we’ll be in what I call the gray times. That’s when all the leaves have fallen from the trees but the snow hasn’t covered the ground yet. On the bright side it’s the peak of hunting season so there is that. 

Always remember though: winter is coming.


Monday, September 25, 2023

Troops Home by Christmas

People are wondering how long the war in Ukraine will go on. The good news: the troops will be home before Christmas. The bad news: we don’t which Christmas. 

How long was the US in Afghanistan again? The lesson there is you don’t have to defeat a super power. All you have to do is endure and outlast it. The Ukrainians know this. We also know that Russia is not a super power. It’s not a near peer to the US. When you have to put 60 year old cobbled together equipment in the field something is wrong. 

Ukrainians are doing well with western equipment that’s two and three generations out of date. They are excited to be getting F-16 jets -which came out in 1978. Sure, they’ve been updated a lot, but this isn’t cutting edge technology. It doesn’t have to be to exceed Russian counterparts. 

Russia is breaking itself on Ukraine. The west appears to be spending a lot of money, but it’s still a bargain. If anything shortens the war it will be western support. Remember, all the Ukrainians have to do is endure. They’ve seen what happens to towns occupied by Russia. No Ukrainians want that. They are in it to win it. 

This war is a horrible waste of human potential. War almost always is. It’s all because of the misguided ambitions of a authoritarian strongman. Russia is broken and may never recover. Their best and brightest have fled. Their neighbors know they are weak. China even put out a map showing Russian territory as part of China. Russian, knowing how weak they are, were very quiet about it. 

Russia could end this war at any time. All they’d have to do is go home. They could even do it before Christmas. 


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Stupid Political Games

Looks like there’s another potential government shutdown in the works. 

With all the problems in the world the House thinks it’s a good idea to throw in some economic turmoil on top of everything else. There are plenty of real problems. One would think politicians would be busy enough solving problems, but that’s not what they do.

It’s also kinda twisted that so many people who support a government shutdown actually depend a lot on the government. Unless you refuse Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. Too many people don’t even know they benefit from a lot of programs. However, they will scream when their mortgage or home improvement loan can’t be processed. 

I’m not a fan of government waste, but private business often does nothing at all or is even more wasteful. Trust me, nobody wants to go back to private fire departments. 

We can contact our representatives and tell them to get back to doing real work. At the same time prepare for a politically caused economic downturn. 


Saturday, September 23, 2023

What To Expect When You Hit The SOS Button On The Garmin InReach

Garmin InReach

I own a Garmin inReach satellite device. Normally I use it for three things: text communications where there's no cell service, weather reports, and navigation. 

The real reason I got one was for a feature I hope to never use: the SOS button. This video is a good real world example of what happens when you push that button. 

For me there are two big take aways. First of all it works. The second thing is to make sure you spring for the rescue insurance. Things like copter rides from the back country are expensive.


Friday, September 22, 2023

My local weather

If you live in an area long enough, and pay attention to the weather, you learn about your micro-climate. It really makes a difference. People have been paying attention to local differences for a very long time. For example, in my area there were a lot of hill farms. You’d think they’d establish farms in the fertile low lands. However, cold air sinks. Farms located above the valleys could squeeze out a few more frost free weeks of growing season. 

This past growing season micro-climates made a huge difference. An orchard on one side of the mountain would be devastated with massive crop loss. An orchard on the other side of the mountain would be almost totally fine. 

In a two mile trip, with only a 500 foot change in altitude, I’ve seen it go from snow, to ice to straight rain. 

Long range forecasts are pretty much a joke. Part of the issue is the White Mountains. Three major weather systems come together there. I’m located north of the Whites so it’s a crap shoot what will happen. 

One thing I know for sure: we will get us some weather. Best be prepared for anything.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Inverter Installed

Inverter brand name: WZRELB

Specs: 3000 watt pure sine wave power inverter 24VDC to 120 VAC 6000@ peak built-in soft starter. Dual AC outlets. 2 -2.4Z USP ports. Hardwire Terminal. 

Bought on Amazon about $300.

Replaced a Trace modified sine wave inverter. 2500 watts with a 7000 surge. 

So . . . how’s it work?

So far, so good. It handles my ½ horse well pump while supporting other normal loads. That’s the big issue. It wouldn’t be of much use of I couldn’t rely on the well pump. 

LED lights work perfectly with the new inverter, unlike with the old one. 

The old modified sine wave did not power an induction stove top. The lights and fans would come on, but it wouldn’t heat anything. The new inverter powers it just fine. 

The new inverter does everything I wanted it to do. It’s not powerful enough to weld with, but I don’t need it for that. My house is only partially off grid. The grid connection handles things like welding and I can top off the battery bank from the grid. For me, grid connection basically does those things a generator would do in a truly off grid system.


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ice Fishing

I think I’m going to get back into ice fishing this year. It’s been a while but I still have all the stuff. What that means is that I’m not going south for the winter again. Ice fishing went by the wayside when I was sailing off the coast of Florida instead. Ice fishing is not the reason I’m staying north, but since I’m going to be around I might as well go fishing. 

One thing that makes ice fishing a whole different experience is what we locals call a “Bob House.” That’s an ice fishing shack right on the ice. Instead of sitting out in the icy wind one can sip coffee and play cards while watching the traps. Believe me that makes all the difference. 

Back in the day my dad had a nice little comfortable shack with a propane stove and heater. It could be -10 F with the wind howling and we’d be in shirt sleeves. The only problem is sometimes the flag would go up on the fishing trap and someone would have leave the comfy shack to actually catch a fish. 

I’ll throw together a nifty little fishing shack sometime this fall. It will even have a small solar electric system for the sound system, electronics, and lights. This is the 21st century after all. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Time for solar electric upgrades

Time marches on. So does technology. Old and new technologies don’t always work well together. 

My solar electric system was pretty cutting edge -over 20 years ago. There have been a few upgrades since. The first upgrade was more solar panels. Then I replaced the old electro-mechanical charge controller with an electronic one. It was expensive but made for a big jump in efficiency. 

One of the original parts still in service is a Trace 2425 modified sine wave inverter. That’s what turns the DC battery storage power into regular house AC. Modified sine wave has some downsides. One noticeable problem is a buzzing on audio equipment. There are a few electronics that don’t work at all. Electronic chips that use sine wave patterns as part of the timing really have a hard time. Some things just burn out. 

However, most things work just fine on modified sine wave power. Even compact florescent lights worked well. Those were bleeding edge technology when my system was first installed. 

The problem is those florescent lights have been replaced with LED lights. LEDs do not work well with modified sine wave. They are dim and tend to burn out -which isn’t great. 

Fortunately, true sine wave inverters have come a long way. Unlike in the old days, they are readily available and pretty cheap. 

I’ve got one on order and it should be here in a few days. I’ll let everyone know how that works out in the real world.


Monday, September 18, 2023

Coffee shortages

A few of my friends, and myself, roast our own coffee. We buy in bulk from a variety of distributors. 

Unroasted coffee is known as green beans. They actually have a light greenish color. Green beans can be stored for years without losing any flavor. Coffee only starts getting stale after it is roasted. By the way most of you are drinking stale coffee. Drinking freshly roasted coffee is a different experience entirely. 

That’s why home roasting is addicting. 

Us coffee roasters have noticed a few things lately. Prices have crept up which is hardly a surprise. A lot of things have gone up in price. What’s concerning is the appearance of spot shortages. Certain types of coffee from different countries are hard to get. Peruvian and Ethiopian come to mind right now. 

So far we’ve been able to shop different suppliers or substitute with similar coffees. These shortages might turn out to be nothing or they could be a leading indicator of bigger issues. 

Just a heads up. 


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Top off the food storage

It looks bad for grains this year. It’s no surprise that wheat will have a lot of pressure on it. It doesn’t help that two major producers are at war with each other. Rice didn’t do too bad this year, over all, but prices will be pushed up anyway. All grains will feel pressure as people look for substitutes for wheat. 

Grains are generally a fairly cheap way to bulk up food storage. If you absolutely feel the need for wheat get some now. It most likely won’t get cheaper for a while. Personally, I’m adding more rice to my storage. It’s still a pretty good bargain as most Americans don’t eat a lot of rice. There’s a lot more pressure on rice in other parts of the world. 

Last year I bought potatoes in bulk. That worked out so well I’m doubling my purchase this year. Potatoes are local and keep well. My only mistake last year was not buying enough. I don’t figure on my niece moving back in with us. 

Don’t mess around buying spuds in the five pond bags. A friend of mind was shopping at his local store in Kentucky. He thought the five pound bag of potatoes seemed a bit light. He weighed it on the scale and it was only three and a half ponds. He tried a number of bags before finding an actual five pounder.  Buyer beware.


Friday, September 15, 2023


I had a nightmare where there was an incident and the whole country was about to become a Fascist hellhole. In my dream I turned to my lovely wife and told her we’d better rent an apartment in Canada before they are all gone. The idea being that Canada is right next door and we can figure out where to go after that. 

It was too late. Nothing was available. I woke up in a cold sweat. 

Then I went on-line and actually checked out the cost of apartments in Canada. Crap. It’s as bad or worse than here in the US. There are even charging high prices in little towns in the middle of nowhere. 

Now some might say the country is already a hellhole, but they really don’t know what they are talking about. I come from a long line of people who got the hell out of Dodge while the getting was good. We aren’t there yet. However, my instincts are telling me something.


Thursday, September 14, 2023

Short Visit

I was pretty excited to connect with a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a few months. So I drive 150 miles to his place -in the pouring rain. As I get there he opens the door well before I get close to the house. He’s wearing a mask. The poor guy just tested positive for covid. Being a paramedic in the Boston area he most likely got it from work. 

So put my mask on and we have a very short visit. I dropped off his birthday present then drove another 150 miles back home. Yeah, he got covid for his birthday. What a sucky day. 

We had planned on going to a new place in his area what has indoor archery and ax throwing. Sounds like my kind of place. Oh well. 

He’s currently not doing too badly. I hope we can get together again soon -and actually spend more than a few minutes together. 

Such is life.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

New England Hurricane?

Looks like hurricane Lee will impact New England. Will it be a near miss or a direct hit? Too soon to tell. We will get something from it. How much and exactly where is unknown. 

I asked a friend of mine who lives near the coast of Maine if he’s prepped. Heck yes he is! He’s got a battery bank with inverter for backup plus a generator. Everything has been serviced and tested. Trees have been pruned and cut down around the house. The roof of his gazebo was removed and stored in a safe place. The larder is restocked. He’s even taken to parking his cars in different places on his property. A guy from work lost both cars when a large tree hit both of them at once. Lesson learned. 

As for myself it seemed like a good time to finally service the house battery bank. My house still uses old school flooded lead acid batteries. Once in a while they need to get topped off with distilled water. Afterwards they get a good long deep charge from the grid. I might use my friend’s trick of parking my cars in different places. 

There’s a chance the storm could take a hard turn and go the hurricane Sandy route. That would be bad. New Jersey and New York got clobbered and Vermont experienced serious flooding. The last thing Vermont needs now is more flooding. 

New England has had a wet summer. The ground is already saturated. Hurricane rain will definitely cause flooding and that’s the most dangerous part of hurricanes. I’m at 1200 foot elevation so that won’t be much of problem for me. Should that ever become a problem the world will be in an apocalypse. Until I see people being raptured up into the sky I’m not going to worry about it.


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Small business idiots

It wasn’t all that long ago that it was extremely rare for a small business owner to promote their politics at their business. It’s not a mystery. Why upset potential customers for nothing? 

These days, however, I see a lot of local small business promoting their political alliances. For some strange reason a lot of those businesses are struggling. A number of them have out of business. Perhaps they don’t realize that at least half the country might disagree with them? It’s easy to go on social media and get into an echo chamber where everyone appears to think like you. 

Not only are these companies losing business some of them can’t even get employees. One of my friends was so disgusted by the open politics at his job that he quite and went to work for a competitor. He just wants to clock in and do his job, not get into political debates. 

It’s one thing if your business is on-line and draws from a very large pool of people. Maybe blatant partisan politics can even be a bonus there. (if you are selling something like red hats) If your business relies on local customers it makes sense to not limit your customer base. 

I see where one local sandwich shop business quietly took down all their political signs and slogans. Too bad for them I’ve since found a different shop I enjoy more. 


Monday, September 11, 2023

Waiting for the shoe to drop?

Do you look around at the world and wonder if everything is about to go belly up? Does collapse feel imminent? Are you afraid to get too invested in things the way they are?

Guess what? I’ve been expecting things to fall apart since the 70s. Back then nuclear war seemed like a pretty sure bet. There’s been a lot of other serious threats since then. Of course, nuclear war is still a possibility. 

So what should a person do? If I’d have bunkered up in the 70s I would have missed out on my whole life. What I did was develop survival skills and acquire tools and supplies. It never reached the point where the kids had to do without so I could buy a new shotgun. I married, had kids, and made a life for myself. 

The preps came in handy during times of massive power outages and periods of unemployment. It never hurts to be prepared for a big disaster. That’s how you are prepared for the lesser trials and tribulations of life. 

History tells us that civilizations collapse. What we don’t know is exactly when. Be prepared, but don’t forget to live a life.


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Dark Days

Actually, the days have been pretty sunny -but not for me. I’ve been on medication that makes my skin very sensitive to the sun. When it’s hot and sunny the last thing I want to do is outside work while bundled up like it’s going to snow. I even have to wear gloves. 

There are only so many inside projects I can do. Today I was in the basement changing water filters. While down there I planned out a couple more jobs. That should keep me busy for the next couple of weeks when I’ll be about to work outside again. 

On the bright side it looks like the meds worked this time and I’m feeling pretty good. It’s about freaking time. 


Saturday, September 9, 2023

The Keeper of the Keys

In early 2020 a wealthy group of investors were very concerned. Being prudent planners they developed a backup plan should society collapse. Having means they established a well equipped mountain hide away somewhere in the hills of New Hampshire. Most of the investors were located in the Boston and New York area. Rural New Hampshire seemed like a good place to escape to. It was far enough from the big cities but well within driving distance. 

To this day they have no idea their plan would not have worked. They hired a local to watch over the place. He had full access to the facility and took care of any problems. He’s a pretty smart guy. Had there been a collapse the investors would have never made it to the retreat. 

The care taker was much more concerned about his family and friends than his employers. Had there been a full collapse the retreat would have been occupied by well armed locals in short order. They had a full plan in place ready to go. (for all I know they still do)

That’s the thing about wealth: it can’t guarantee loyalty.


Friday, September 8, 2023

The Old Hunting Camp

Some of my best memories were made at the old hunting camp. It wasn’t much to look at: a 16’ X 16’ square box. It was framed with spruce poles. Boards and siding came from lumber salvaged from an old barn. For heat there was a pot bellied woodstove. Lights were two propane lanterns fed from a 100 pound tank in the back. The propane also fired up a cook top. Water was hauled from a nearby brook. There was a sink that drained into a dry well. 

Sleeping arrangements consisted of a bunk bed and a single on the other side of the room. Hung on the wall were two folding beds that could be taken down and used in a pinch. There was a table with four chairs, also a wooden rocking chair -and that’s about it. 

Outside there was a woodshed, outhouse, and a shooting range. 

My dad built it with two partners. By the time I was 16 I probably used the camp more than anyone else. It was originally just used for hunting. For me it was a base for that and much more. There was brook fishing, hiking trails, cross country skiing in the winter, plus there was good snowmobiling. 

Most winters the only way to get there was either by snowmobile or cross country skis. Sometimes logging operations went on during the winter and it was possible to drive up. Driving up in the winter was pretty hit or miss. Once it took me three days to get my car back to town. 

The camp was a 9 mile journey up a dirt road through the woods. It sat about a ¼ mile off a side road that was rarely maintained. Once in a while the lumber company would run a bulldozer down it to keep it open as a fire road. While the main dirt road was sometimes open in the winter, the fire road never was. 

It used to be pretty isolated. When my dad retired he sold his share and I lost access to the camp. It eventually ended up with one of the partner’s two sons. For years I mourned the loss of the camp. Then the logging company decided to clear cut most of the woods around the camp. Barely passible dirt tracks became veritable highways. There’s very little game left in the area. 

Now I don’t mourn the loss of the camp. I mourn the loss of the woods. 


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Near Miss

The weather’s been up in the high 80s, which is pretty warm for this time of year in the Great North Woods. Do I get to enjoy the sun? Nope. I’m on antibiotics that cause sensitivity to the sun. Kinda hard to enjoy the outside when all bundled up. However, a little wind therapy on the scooter is something I can do. Nothing like a 55 mph wind to keep cool. 

So I went for a nice ride along the river and up into the mountains. It was a great ride. I’d traveled about 50 miles and was working my way home. About 15 minutes from home the road was blocked by a fire truck. My 15 minute trip got a lot longer.

The firefighter told me the road was blocked and there was a detour. There was a horrible car accident: multiple cars, one on fire, and at least one fatality. No details have been released as it just happened. I’m worried that it might be people I know. Had I been a bit earlier that could have been me. 

The detour wandered off into the back country. Miles of dirt road and a single lane bridge kind of back country. It was slow going as the scooter isn’t exactly a dirt bike. It was a relief to get home safe and sound. 

Prayers for the victims. 



Wednesday, September 6, 2023

All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO)

There's a new web site that's sort of a clearing house for UAPs. (UFOs for the rest of us)

Beau gives a pretty good description of the web site. Its mission statement makes it appear this is for technology that's not readily understood. Basically it could be for things like Chinese spy balloons. Kinda boring when you realize that's the focus. 

This is a long ways from actual government disclosure about UFOs. 

I'm underwhelmed. 

Living in a rural area without a lot of man made light I have pretty decent views of the skies. It's pretty common to see things in the sky that can't be easily explained away. Sometimes the sightings are dramatic. 

There really is something big going on out there. 

. .  . and it ain't Chinese balloons.


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Complicated cars

One of the things I hate about new cars is the giant touch screen in so many of them. The touch screens do just about everything in some cars. Personally, just about anything beyond a backup camera is a mistake. Give me physical knobs and switches any day. 

So I’ve got to ask myself, am I just being old fashioned? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a point. If that screen fails the car becomes just about undriveable. 

Cars are full of electronics these days. Preppers used to seek out older pre-computer cars that could run even after an EMP. The problem is that these cars are really old now and hard to keep on road. It was nice while it lasted. I had a great 1980s diesel Mercedes Benz that I ran on waste veggie oil. The engine was bullet proof. Unfortunately, after a half million miles the rest of the car was falling apart. 

I’m still a fan of standard transmissions. They are more reliable than most automatics. My lovely wife’s car is a cheap 2015 Versa with the 5 speed manual transmission. Most of the automatic transmission models were crap. Performance was terrible and they failed early. These days the manual transmission is a pretty good theft deterrent as most people don’t know how to drive them. 

During the chip shortage we got some idea how dependent cars are on electronics. Without the chips the vehicles could not roll off the assembly line. 

I guess these days if you want a reliable bug out vehicle you’d better have an regular non-electric bicycle or a canoe.


Monday, September 4, 2023

So much for the hazel nuts

All our hazel nut trees produced just a handful of nuts for us and a zillion fat squirrels. The little buggers have once again beaten us to the nuts. We’ve been watching the trees and were getting ready to harvest as soon as the nuts got ripe. The squirrels don’t wait until the nuts are ripe. The do wait until we’ve stepped out of the day. Then they strip those trees bare. 

We’ve got a fox who’s sorta moved in and even it can’t keep all those squirrels in check. Squirrels are just rats with fluffy tails. 

I had high hopes when I planted those trees years ago. They do their main job well, which was to prevent erosion from the steep side of my yard. They are also dense enough to make a natural fence so you don’t accidentally walk off of the edge. However, I was hoping to harvest more nuts for the pantry. 

Those squirrels have learned to work fast to beat the bears from getting the nuts. Bears tend to walk off with half the tree, so it could be worse.


Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Tiny House Problem

There are big problems with tiny houses. 

-besides the fact they are often too small. 

Are they too small? That depends. There are tiny houses and there are tiny houses. Are we talking 70 square feet or 400 square feet? How well do they use space? Are we talking housing for a single person, a couple or, god forbid, a large family? 

Let’s assume that the size is sufficient for the number of people living there. The big hurtle for tiny homes is zoning. Frankly, living in a tiny home is often just plain illegal. 

The technical issues can be dealt with. Alternative energy can provide electric power. Water can be from any number of sources including rain catchment. Septic can be dealt with using composting toilets and clever gray water systems. Heating is climate specific and include everything from woodstoves to diesel heaters designed for RVs. 

To get around zoning issues tiny homes are often built on trailers and treated like camper trailers. That can work, but many locations ban people from living in camper trailers. My own rural out in the middle of nowhere town has such a restriction. People cannot do what they want with their own land. 

Personally, I’m tempted to build an “ice fishing shack.” It would be a bit more comfortable than most. When I have to pull it shore in the spring it would make a neat little stealth guest house on the lake. Rules are meant to be bent.


Friday, September 1, 2023

I step out for a few hours . . .

. . . and my lovely wife “cleaned” my office. 

The first thing I saw when I came home was a broken file cabinet in the hallway. That wasn’t good. The kitchen table was covered in paperwork. I’m going to have to sort through all that paper in the next couple of days. At first glance it looks like the current in progress files have been mixed with the archived files. I just can’t deal with it right now, but some of that of that stuff has to be dealt with soonish. 

On the plus side, the office really is a lot cleaner. I’ve also got a lot more pens and unused notebooks than I thought I did. 

Another downside is that she “simplified” the wires in the office. That meant that desk lamp didn’t work anymore and the Internet router and phone modem were down. Since I was able to post this it’s obvious the Internet issues were fixed. 

The last time my office was deep cleaned was when I spent a week in the hospital. Apparently I’m much more comfortable with a certain level of clutter and chaos than my lovely wife is. 

You know those minimalist people? I’m not one of them. I supposed it’s good that someone tackles the mess now and then, but it always freaks me out. I was only grouchy for a little while. 


Thursday, August 31, 2023

Canadian travel advisory

The Canadian government has issued a travel advisory. They’ve informed their citizens that LGBTQ people are not safe in certain states. Be sure to check the laws. 

It’s a shame that certain states are so unwelcoming that there are now official warnings from a foreign government. Of course, it’s no secret that plenty of US citizens now avoid certain states. That is causing plenty of real world effects on things like tourism dollars. 

Families are being separated by those laws. If one of your kids is LGBTQ you aren’t going to go visit grandma and put your kid in danger. If you’ve voted for those laws and don’t know why no one visits now you know. 

Kids growing up in those states have it rough. There’s a meanness that has crept into our political life. Sometimes it takes outsiders, like very polite Canadians, to point it out. 

As for myself, if I have to do a few linguistic tricks to make people happy I can do it. I don’t have to completely understand people to love them. 


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Getting out of Dodge

I’m pretty familiar with the area hurricane Idalia is directly impacting. Nobody should be anywhere near the impact zone. Tough guys who don’t evacuate are putting themselves at unnecessary risk. You’ve got to be smart. 

Leaving town is often the smarting and toughest thing you can do. People don’t want to leave their homes. They tend to feel comfortable and safe there -even if they really aren’t. 

Know your area. Know the likely hazards. They don’t have to be natural disasters either. Back in my firefighter days there was a mill in town that used massive amounts of chlorine gas. When the control room for those chemicals exploded our family had a plan in place. As I was leaving to go to the fire station my lovely wife had packed up the kids. They headed to a location upwind from town. It was touch and go but the plant was successfully shut down. I had a lot of lot of concerns that day, but at least worrying about my family wasn’t one of them.

In early 2020 we cut short our Florida travels headed home. We got back just before the major pandemic travel restrictions when in place. Three days later Interstate 95 was one long parking lot. 

Most of them people are safer bugging in than bugging out. However, when it’s time to but out it’s time to bug out. 


Monday, August 28, 2023

Stormy Weather

There’s a tropical storm that just formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s looking like it’ll develop into a hurricane before it hits Florida. Landfall, at the time I write this, is predicted to be somewhere between Tampa and up in the panhandle. Most weather models predict a hurricane in the 1 to 2 strength. 

However, I suspect there’s the chance of a much stronger hurricane. Current models might not be taking the unusually warm water temperatures into full account. Keep in mind that I went to a college that specialized in weather forecast. Okay, I went there as a journalism major and never took a single weather course. That makes me at least as qualified as goodly number of TV weather people. 

But seriously . . . even tropical storms should be taken seriously. Flooding, as always, is the most common killer. High winds are more dramatic, but it’s drowning that will most likely get you. 

The storm should be making landfall in the middle of the week. Now is the time to put your hurricane preps into motion. Actually, if you live in a hurricane prone area being storm prepared should be something that you do all the time.


Saturday, August 26, 2023

I was gone, back now

My lovely wife and I spent a few days on the coast of Maine. We got to spend some time at an AirB&B with my daughter and her family. Great to be with the grandkids. They grow so fast. Our favorite campground has gotten so expensive that it just a bit more to split the AirB&B. That’s nuts. We basically had a whole house to ourselves. 

It was a bit of struggle for me as I was dealing with some health issues.  My off again, on again leg infection had gotten worse. Thursday I started a new round of treatments. I’m already seeing some progress. 

On the bright side I have a doctor who’s pretty good and gets back to me in a timely manner. That’s saying something as I don’t have a very good track record with doctors. 

So in the near future I’m taking it easy and following doctor’s orders. 

So it goes.


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Debris on the moon

Looks like the Russians put a probe on the moon. Actually, they put a probe on the moon at a high rate of speed creating a debris field. Russia has never successfully landed anything on the moon. The Soviet Union did, but Russia is not the USSR. Actually, the USSR did some amazing space endeavors. I’m still impressed with the Venus probes that haven’t been equaled since. 

I guess that point: Russia is not the great power the USSR was. It’s still coasting along on the achievements of its earlier empire. The system that created great scientists and engineers appears to have broken down. The current brain drain hasn’t helped either. Russia needed this moon landing to go well. They haven’t had many wins lately. Another high technology failure doesn’t help their brand. 

Of course, one of the legacies of the old USSR was a rather extensive nuclear stockpile. It’s one of the last things keeping Russia in the big leagues. Then again, if their nukes aren’t any better than their space probes they might have an issue. 

Just to make things interesting India has a moon probe on the way. It’s actually a more ambitious probe the Russian one was. Now all they have to do is to stick the landing. Space is hard, so if they can make this happen it’s a testament to their scientific progress. 

The thing about India is that a failure on the moon is not the end of the world for them. The are up and coming so can learn from any mistakes and try again. They are developing a solid scientific and industrial base. Russian, on the other hand, is riding on the coattails of a previous empire. 

Did you ever notice how freaking old those Russian scientists and engineers are?


Sunday, August 20, 2023

Hurricane Hillary

Well that was unexpected. I never thought I’d see a sizable hurricane heading for California. I also never thought it would happened before the Atlantic hurricane season really kicked off. 

Flooding and landslides will most likely be the biggest danger. There is going to be an awful lot of rain in a wide area. 

Unlike in places like Florida, California doesn’t know what to do with these high risk storm conditions. People should be hunkered down and stay put. Roads are already closed in some places. It’s going to be dangerous. Flash flood emergencies are a clear threat to life. 

Unfortunately, this is going to be a big learning experience for a lot of people. If you move to a place like Florida you accept hurricane prep is part of the deal. In California, not so much. 

When you live in an area you learn the things that are the most likely threats to life. In my area of the frozen north it’s often blizzards and cold weather. In the spring we deal with floods from the snow melt and rain. This year it’s a little different as the wet summer repeatedly produced spring flood like conditions. 

I’ve even received tornadoes warnings on my cell phone. It’s an eye opener to get warnings for weather events that were once considered impossible in your area. I guess that’s the big take away: nothing is impossible anymore.


Friday, August 18, 2023

The price of beef

 I was talking to a guy who runs some cattle. We met at the farmers' market and he was wondering what local hamburg was going for. That would be $9/pound or $32 for four pounds. It's pricey, but the quality is absolutely top notch. The taste difference is like day and night. 

The cattle guy said he wished it was $20/pound as he's in the business of selling it. He said last year beef on the hoof was going for $2/pound. At that price all the cattle guys felt they were getting rich. Now it's going for $3/pound. 

Good thing I have a lot of beans and rice. If the price goes too high I'll be treating beef the way Asians do, as a flavoring. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Rain to Snow?

 Currently here in northern New Hampshire we've had the wettest summer on record. That came with its own problems. At least temperatures have been pretty livable. 

Here's where it could get interesting. If all this rain had been snow we'd be buried. Deep. Our winters have been pretty mild in recent years. Sure, we've had some big storms and subzero weather, but nothing out of line. 

Early predictions indicate we may have a cold and snowy winter. I'll happily take the snow, but could do without the bone chilling cold. Of course, the weather predictions struggle to get today right, never mind months in the future. 

Then again, better to be safe than sorry. Winter prep is going into high gear.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Real Estate

Real estate prices have gone nuts in my area. (The Great North Woods of New Hampshire) It’s pretty weird that an area that steadily lost population for decades is now high priced. 

Like many areas experiencing huge price increases, it’s the out of state buyers pushing up prices. It started during the pandemic. People wanted a place out in the country to get away from it all. That didn’t work as well as some thought it would. Our area had the same lock down most of the rest of the country had. 

People looking to park money in real estate saw prices in my area were relatively low and pounced. I guess compared to many areas they are still a bargain. By local standards, not so much. Wages aren’t that high so people have been priced out of the market. 

A lot of new buyers are picking up local houses as vacation homes. You would not think that a house in the middle of an old mill town would be purchased for vacations. They aren’t cabins in the woods or cottages on a lake. What they do have is ATV access from city roads. That appears to be enough. 

Rental prices have gone up like crazy too. I’m lucky I bought my place when I did. I would be hard pressed to find a livable apartment on my retirement income. I don’t see an end in sight. 


Monday, August 14, 2023

Good Water

A good friend of mine is house shopping. His life situation changed and he has to move out of the place he’s been living in. There is one thing the new place absolutely must have: its own source of water. 

He doesn’t want to be reliant on municipal water. In a SHTF situation most city water water systems will work for a while. The problem is that in a few days or weeks they will fail. You can go weeks without much food, but lack of water will kill you in days. 

One of the big surprises in his house search is the number of properties without any sort of decent water supply at all. I’ve no idea how those houses were permitted without having water. Something sketchy is going on there. 

Not only does he want want well water, he wants to be able to access it without needing a deep well pump. In a pinch being able to use a hand pump or even a bucket is a big deal. We are lucky that there are a lot of properties that have good reliable shallow wells. Some have been there so long they predate electricity. A different friend lives on an old farm and all his water is gravity fed, no pumps or electricity needed. 

Today my house hunting friend will be checking out another property and this one has a decent well. Hope it works out for him.


Friday, August 11, 2023

The Never Ending Story

Well, you hope you’ve heard the last of our little virus of 2019 but it’s the plague that keeps on giving. 

My local numbers are up. Check your area to see what your local conditions are. My lovely wife got a call from a friend who’s quite sick. She suspects she got it from a big church event. My spouse had planned on going to that event but went with me to visit friends downstate instead. Appears to have been the better choice. 

I was feeling pretty crappy all day. My first thought was that my allergies were kicking my backside. However, times being what they are, I took a home test as did my lovely wife. We both tested negative so that’s a relief. It’s the allergies after all. 

Just a heads up.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Carbon Monoxide Detector

At about 2:30 a.m. the carbon monoxide detector went off. That got my attention. Everyone got up and moving. I opened up the windows and doors and we went outside. After a fan ran a while I went back to check up on things. 

The thing about carbon monoxide is that you can’t smell it or see it. Your body absorbs it better than oxygen. It makes you stupid, sleepy and then kills you. 

So how do you check to see if the problem is the detector itself? The smart thing is to call the fire department and have them check with their equipment. However, I’m not even sure if my tiny volunteer department even has the equipment. What I did was to bring in my second detector in from the mud room and see how that reacted. That one didn’t register any problems. 

I went through the whole house and even checked outside to see if there was something amiss. There were no issues. 

When I pulled the back off the detector that went off there was a whole bunch of fine print behind the mounting plate. It turns out the detector could fail in a high humidity condition. We’d had high humidity in the house for days. The detector was then shut down and thrown away.

The next time I’m in town I’m going to have to pick up another backup detector, or two. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Never Ending Rain

Thanks to the wet weather I’m way behind on my outside projects. I was a bit bummed about it until I realized everybody is behind. A friend of mine is going nuts due to the weather. He has some outside work that requires decent weather. When the weather’s nice he earns $75/hour. The weather is taking a big chunk out of his income. 

Right now I’ve actually got a paying gig that’s waiting on good weather. 

Even more frustrating is the projects I’m not doing. My Blazer bodywork project was so far behind I sold the vehicle “as is” and moved on. Now I’ve got a nice new hitch for my Ford Escape. Unfortunately the driveway is a lake again. 

When the weather is nice I’m torn. Do I tackle those delayed projects or do I play in the sun? To be honest, playing in the sun wins more often than not. It might seem self indulgent but what’s the price of mental health?


Monday, August 7, 2023

Back and Forth

It was a good weekend. Not only did my lovey wife and I escape the ATV Road Warrior madness, we got together with good friends.

You reach a point in life where it takes a lot of effort to get together with friends. There are always demands. Some of my friends are dealing with ancient parents and their own children at the same time. Then there’s always work, getting in the way of life. 

However, it spite of it all, a half dozen of us met at a campground and had a fine time. In the back of our minds was the fact that the clock is always running. If we don’t get together for good times we’ll only see each other at funerals. 

We don’t want to be those people.