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.