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Monday, July 22, 2024

Experiment



In my last post I made of point of pushing some people’s buttons. It was very educational. Traffic to the site jumped 40 – 50%. 


If that sort of thing was important to me I’d be hitting those emotional buttons all the time. News and  pretend news sites are aware of what drives traffic. They know upsetting people is good for business. Never forget that news is a business and their main focus is to make money. 


The “pay” from this site is insignificant and that’s not a problem. I certainly don’t do this to make money. That frees me to say whatever I want to say. 


-Sixbears

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Like it or not



This is going to tick off a lot of people but this is how I see the election going down. 


It almost doesn’t matter who the Democrats run against Trump. The Democrat is going to win it. 


If you are in the Trump bubble you won’t see it. He has a solid core group of people who’ll vote for him no matter what. They are also very vocal. They make so much noise that the Trump crowd seems bigger than it is. 


There are more people who will not vote for Trump no matter what. That ranges from never Trumper Republicans to Bernie Sanders liberals. Heck, some folks just won’t vote for a convicted felon. 


Expect a lot of right wing election denial in November, but there will be a Democrat President come January. 


Do what you want with this info, but be aware this is not an invite for a debate. If you really want to live in a country run by an authoritarian I hear Russia has a labor shortage. 


-Sixbears

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Good Timing



Yesterday I serviced my solar electric system. One of the things I do after topping off the distilled water in the batteries is to charge them up from the grid. Because of that I went to bed with a fully charged battery bank.


So I get up in the morning and do my regular routine. It took about an hour to notice that the grid was down. It just happened that everything electrical I used the first hour was powered by my solar electric system. 


We had a storm during the night that took down a lot of trees. One of them, just a few hundred feet down the road, took out the power lines. The resulting fire also fried the Internet cables. The road was closed for a good part of the morning. 


I had a nice talk with one of the firefighters who was on the scene. He told me that most of the roads that had been repaired got washed out again during the night. Such is life here in the New England rain forest.


-Sixbears

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

House battery maintenance



My solar electric system is old school in a lot of ways. There have been upgrades. I updated the charge controller and the inverter. Some parts, like the panels themselves, have been in service for over 20 years. 


While I’ve changed out the battery bank a couple of times I keep going back to lead acid. I would have thought by now that I would have something better. Lithium batteries are an upgrade but the price is prohibitive. 


Besides price lead acid has some other advantages. They can take a fair amount of abuse. I made a lot of mistakes with my first battery bank and still got 10 years out of them. The big thing to remember with lead acid is to keep the cells topped off with distilled water. Never let them get to the point where the plates are exposed to the air. That one simple item is critical for years of service.


Another big battery saver is to never let them sit in an uncharged condition. Ideally, never let the charge get below 50%. If it gets to that level but it’s early morning I’ll let the panels charge them up. If it’s dark or very cloudy I’ll top off the battery bank from the grid. Should the grid be down I’ll go into serious conservation mode. Eventually the panels will bring the batteries out of the danger zone. 


I’ve just topped off the distilled water so the batteries won’t have to be checked for three or four months.


-Sixbears

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Scooter Cannonball Training



With all the weirdness going on lately it felt good to get out on the scooter. Only part of the afternoon was free but I did knock out 150 miles. That included a couple of rest stops to cool down from the heat. 


The previous owner had purchased a nice top box for the back of the scoot. That looked great and all, but it had some downsides. One big issue was that the darn thing would pop open without warning, scattering my stuff all over the road. A bungee cord over the top usually stopped that from happening . . . usually. 


While it doesn’t look as slick I replaced the top box with a milk crate. That actually worked out great on my trip. One big advantage is that the crate easily holds a 2.5 gallon gas can, plus a whole lot of other stuff. The top box only really fit a 1.25 gallon can. 


My route took me all over the back roads of ME. Almost every time I use the motorcycle GPS I discover something new. Also, it’s one thing to mess around with the settings from the comfort of home. Making adjustments on the fly when hot and uncomfortable is something else. Watching videos from previous events really brought home the fact that I have to know all the ins and outs of my GPS. 


It looks like I can count on a ride to the start of the event. My daughter should be available to load the scoot on her truck and drive me across the country from NH to OR. That’s plan A. With the nature of these things it’s prudent to have a plan B and C. 


-Sixbears


Monday, July 15, 2024

What we know



Trump was grazed by a bullet at a rally. The 20 year old shooter was killed by his security detail. A bystander was also killed and others wounded. 


That’s pretty much what’s actually known at this point. 


However, there’s been a whole lot of speculation and theory presented with the assumed authority of proven fact. 


I’m not going to add to that.


-Sixbears

Friday, July 12, 2024

Flooded Out


. . . but not for long. The rain came down hard enough Thursday night to flood every road that would allow me to leave the house. Fortunately I didn’t need to go anywhere. My lovely wife and I went into town Friday afternoon as the waters had dropped enough. Driving on flooded roads is a recipe for disaster so waiting it out was the wise thing to do. 


There were an awful lot of washouts but they mostly chewed up the dirt shoulders. There were a few places that could eat a car so caution was required. 


I was pleased to hear that my daughter’s place in Montpelier VT was high and dry. While the capital didn’t get it too bad this time around nearby towns got clobbered. Whole houses were washed away and RT 2 was closed. 


I’m glad my house is at a high enough elevation not to worry about being flooded. 


-Sixbears


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Family in Texas



My wife’s parents and her sister live in Texas. We were able to get hold of them after the hurricane passed through. 


Her parents have some serious health issues. They live about 60 miles north of Beaumont. Fortunately they’ve weathered the storm in fairly good shape. No doubt part of that was due to my father-in-law’s diligence in removing hazardous trees over the years. 


My sister-in-law and her family are in a Houston suburb. They are fine but are some of the millions of people who’ve lost power. Hopefully they’ll get power back soon. Summer in Texas with no AC is no fun at all. 


-Sixbears

Monday, July 8, 2024

Polls are Crap



Political pundits are pretty much the same. 


Case in point: the current French elections. The “news” people got it exactly wrong. It was predicted that the far Right would probably win the majority. Nope. It was the far Left that did really well followed by the Center. The Right came in far behind. 


As it turns out far Right policies have limited appeal these days. Too bad the pundits missed it. It’s likely they got caught up in their own little echo chamber. 


While my knowledge of French politics is limited I see some of the same forces at work here. “News” organizations have drifted far from just covering the facts. Almost all of them have their own agenda. 


In the US polls have been proven inaccurate election after election. Does anyone know how to do real reporting anymore?


At any rate, it’s going to be interesting. 


-Sixbears


Sunday, July 7, 2024

A Crappier Version



While in Massachusetts the other day I happened to be sitting in on a conversation about homelessness. I certainly hadn’t planned on that. However the conversation happened around me at a cookout and I kept my mouth shut. 

Some of the people were involved in working on solutions. One person had even been homeless some years ago. 

One solution that was put up was to get everyone in tiny homes. The formerly homeless person was against that. Her argument was that tiny homes were a crappier version of the American Dream. They really are not great to live in for long periods of time. 

I bet they could be but the way tiny homes for the homeless are done would have to change. Often they populate a vacant lot with a bunch of shacks that lack a lot of basics -like plumbing. Bathrooms and dish clean up are run campground style with shared facilities. 

Many years ago, before zoning got too onerous, tiny homes were pretty common. A couple would start out building a very small home. However, it was on a big enough city lot to allow for expansion. They also tied into city utilities. As the family grew rooms would be added on over time. Often nobody had to borrow money to make that happen. A great uncle of mine did that very thing. 

So to make tiny homes work they would need a few things. A big one would be owning the land under your tiny home. Too often tiny homes are just stick built trailers. While that often gets around zoning issues it’s a dead end. There’s always the danger of eviction. 

A tiny home would have to have the same access to public utilities as a regular house. Hauling your water or your wastes around gets old over time. Being able to get grid power and high speed fiber Internet makes it a lot less like camping. 

Zoning would have to allow DIY home expansion. Tiny homes could be designed to allow for modular expansion as funds allow and needs change. 

The big one, of course, is cost. That would have to come down a lot. Maybe factory built units would be one of the answers. However what we have like that today is called a trailer park. That’s not exactly the model to use.

One thing the tiny house movement gets right: to end homelessness people need to be in some sort of home.

-Sixbears

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Home and Cyber Truck



My lovely wife and I are back home. We had an excellent visit with family. Holiday traffic is no fun at all. 


In my travels I finally got to see a couple of Cyber Trucks up close. You know how they look kinda dumb in on-line videos? In person they are even more stupid looking. They are pretty scary trying to fit on tight urban roads. 


My grandkid described it as “looking like a dumpster on wheels.” They weren’t wrong. 


-Suxbears

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Taking the holiday off



I’ll be taking a few days to celebrate that time we threw out a tyrant. Good times. We had a good run. 


-Sixbears

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

RV living



I happened to run into an old friend who’ve I’ve know since he was a baby. That’s a pretty weird feeling as the guy’s in his early 50s now. Also, he’s says he’s going to retire in January from the fire department. 


One of his goals was to buy a big RV and see the country. His wife, on the other hand, has a different plan. They get a huge discount from a major hotel chain. Her idea is to forget about the RV and to stay in hotels instead. Actually, with their discount, it’s probably a lot cheaper than the whole RV thing.


Even without the discount it might be cheaper than the RV option. 


In my travels I’ve seen and talked with a lot of RV campers. It used to be a pretty economical way to travel but decent RV parks ain’t cheap. Boondocking is still an option but your rig better be set up for it. That usually involves solar electric and generators for power. Large holding tanks and sizable fresh water tanks are necessary. 


It used to be easy to find a free place to park for the night. There are a lot fewer now. Part of the reason is the number of people who’ve abused the privilege. 


The idea of traveling around the country without an RV is more attractive. Personally, I’m still happy tossing a tent in the car and calling it good. It’s easy and cheap plus a few nights in a hotel now and then doesn’t hurt either. 


This time of year there are a lot of tourists visiting the mountains. I’m horrified when meeting overloaded RVs trying to navigate narrow mountain roads. 


Personally, I’m not interesting in driving a a mobile apartment. I used to get paid for driving trucks. I’m not going to do it for recreation. 


My friend’s wife might be saving him some headaches. 


-Sixbears

Monday, July 1, 2024

Hurricane Beryl



Hurricane Beryl is churning away in the southern Caribbean. It looks nasty. Some of the islands are in for it. We won’t know for days if it’s going to hit Texas or not. Some early models show it making landfall in the Galveston area. Of course, a storm this big doesn’t have to to hit directly to cause widespread problems. 


Just to add insult to injury there’s a chance other weather disturbances could develop in the area. There’s even a chance a second hurricane could follow the same path of Beryl. Imagine getting hit by a hurricane only to have a second one hit a few days later. Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. 


My own weather in New Hampshire is kinda weird. Not only have we been getting thunderstorm warnings there are also tornado warnings. What was once a very rare event in this state is becoming a regular thing. 


I was doing some shopping a few towns to the south of me and got caught in the rain. It was a near miss by a truly massive black cloud. In my travels through the Midwest and South I’ve encountered tornadoes a few times. That big black cloud looked disturbingly familiar. Of course, not every storm cranks out tornadoes but it sure looked like it had potential.


There are serious weather systems on the move this summer. Keep a wise weather eye on the conditions. 


-Sixbears

Sunday, June 30, 2024

The luxury of failure



It’s been said a person learns more from their failures than from their successes. That may be true but the lessons learned can be very different from person to person. One of the big factors is the cost of failure. 


Does anyone else get sick and tired of hearing about a person’s many failures before they found success? If you have wealth or come from a family with resources failure isn’t too dire. Heck, someone will probably end up writing it off their taxes. Nobody is going to miss any meals. 


If a person of little means fails the costs can be dramatic. Say someone invests their pitiful life savings in a business and it goes under. Those savings are gone and sorely missed. There’s no money to try again. Vehicles and houses are repossessed. Meals are missed. The stress tears families apart. 


It’s said the way to win big is to risk big. That’s not exactly useful. For every big winner there are a multitude of losers. Only a person of means can afford to keep risking big. 


It’s not just mistakes in business that are hazardous for the poor. Let’s say that, against the odds, you get a degree in a high paying field. Odds are big student loans will be necessary. That expensive degree better pay well. What if you get that job and find you hate it? A well off person can quit and find something else. The person with massive loans has to suck it up or get financially destroyed. Remember, not matter what, student loans have to be repaid. 


Obviously the system is rigged in favor of the well off. Once you understand the game you can decide how to play it. It’s not a surprise that hustle culture is falling out of favor. Most of the benefits of the hustle don’t go to the hustler but to the businesses they serve. Many people are reclaiming their time and taking better care of the health, both physical and mental. The risks of going for the big score are too high for many people. Instead they are looking for a balance that will make them happy instead of rich. 


-Sixbears


Saturday, June 29, 2024

Crazier than my friends



Over the years I’ve experienced a lot of interesting adventures. In my younger years it wasn’t too hard to find friends who were willing to do wild things. Young men, in general, don’t make the wisest decisions. That’s why the military wants to get them before they get too smart. 


Thirty below zero? Sure, let’s go on a snowshoeing adventure. Three day camping trip living off the land? Sounds like fun. Free climbing mountain cliffs? No problem. Plenty of friends wanted to join me. My white water canoe trips attracted lots of interest. 


I almost signed up for the Water Tribe small boat race. I even built a boat for the event and lined up a  good friend who was willing to take time off from work to do the event with me. That fell apart. However, my lovely wife and I took our Oday 19 sailboat down about 90% of the route in a much more relaxed manner without dealing with the race rules. 


My lovely wife was often very willing to partake in adventures. Hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, sailing, van life -you name it, she was good to go. 


So who’s going to join me on the Scooter Cannonball? None of my friends have any interest in the event. Of course, we are all getting long in the tooth. That might be an issue. It could be as simple as me finally finding something too crazy for even my crazy friends. 


This looks like it might be a solo event. 


. . . however, I do have a daughter who expressed an interest in driving a support truck for me. Must be my genes influencing her to make crazy decisions. 


 . . . or maybe she’s afraid what her dear old dad will get up to without adult supervision. 


-Sixbears


Friday, June 28, 2024

Knees and hips and other things



When I joined the fire service my dad gave me some great advice. Back then we were still riding on the pumper tailgates while standing up. 


Dad said to always bend your knees. It doesn’t matter how tired you are never lock your legs. Here I am at 66 and my knees and hips are in pretty good shape. That’s impressive considering I’m overweight. 


Most of the guys I worked with had knee and/or hip replacements. My fire captain had 5 knee replacements and ended with a fusion when the last knee went bad. 


It’s funny how a little bit of advice can save you a world of trouble down the line. Of course you have to actually listen to the advice. 


Back in high school there were a lot of people who smoked to look cool. Lung cancer isn’t cool. Even if you avoid the big dangers smoking will age you. It’s really bad for the skin. I’m glad I never started smoking.


Drinking to excess will catch up to -one way or the other. Same goes for hard drugs. 


Bad food will take its toll. I’m fat but I’m fat on good food. Maybe that’s why my sugar and blood pressure results are decent? Actually, maybe it’s just luck with good genetics. 


Here’s one that makes a huge difference: find the right partner in life. So much agony, grief, and financial ruin can happen in the wrong relationship. All the health and financial advice can be tossed out the window if you have a bad relationship. They don’t even have to be bad people -just people who aren’t right for you. Being single is much better than suffering through a bad situation. 


So much in life is unavoidable so it makes sense to practice good habits for the things you can control.


-Sixbears

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Worse came to worse


In my previous post I wrote about wrenching on the motor scooter. I installed Dr. Pulley variator weights in the transmission. They were supposed to improve performance. Meh. Maybe they did, but they just didn’t feel as smooth as Honda original parts. Perhaps my installation wasn’t quite perfect? Anyway, I also went back to Honda parts for reliability. 


I think I’m done trying to tweak better performance out of the scooter. To be honest my biggest gains in performance can be accomplished by losing weight. So far I’ve taken off about 30 pounds. Since signing up for the Cannonball I’m getting really serious about taking more off. 


Even if I take off another 100 pounds I’ll still be a big man. There is no way I can beat those little flyweight guys. 150 cc of engine power can only do so much. My goal is to finish without missing any checkpoints and to enjoy the ride. 


There’s an outside chance I might have family following me in a support truck. That would be wonderful. Quite a few pounds could be shaved loading my gear and tools into the support truck. Just in case that doesn’t happen I signed up for the official Cannonball support truck. Of course, they have to accommodate a lot of people. They will pick you up if you breakdown, which is nice. Plus they’ll carry some parts and tires for you. 


I’m invested in the event and it’s inspired me to eat better and get more exercise. Whatever works, right?


-Sixbears


Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Wrenching on the Scoot



The drive belt on my 2013 Honda PCX was original. Considering how hard it’s been working hauling me around it seemed like a good time to change it. 


I thought I had all the tools needed to change it on the road if I had to. Nope. I was wrong about that. Turns out I was missing an 8mm socket. Most of the bolts could have been turned with my other wrenches but two were deeply countersunk and needed a socket. After digging around in my various tool boxes one finally showed up. 


The old belt actually didn’t look too bad. Of course, they can have internal flaws that add up over time. While it was all apart I changed the old roller weights in the variator. They were replaced with Dr. Pulley sliders. The original weights showed wear so I’m glad to have changed them. 


For backup I’m going to buy a complete variator assembly with rollers. The Dr. Pulley ones are an experiment. Worse comes to worse always go back to OEM parts. 


That rain moved in as the last bolts were being tightened. I only did about a half mile test run but it didn’t seem to have any issues. Everything ran smoothly. A complete test can wait until the sun comes out again. 


-Sixbears

Monday, June 24, 2024

Between Storm Bands



We’ve all seen the weather people on TV get overly excited about every little storm. When they get a significant storm to cover they go a bit nuts. 


So here in New Hampshire we had tornado warnings -a fairly uncommon event. I don’t get too excited about that sort of thing. Tornadoes don’t last too long in the mountains. What is of greater concern are the hailstorms. Actually, the most life threatening component of storms is the flooding. That’s an issue over the majority of the country, and even in places where you wouldn’t think it was a problem. 


The day started out with steady rain. Sometime after lunch that came to an end. It seemed to me that the whole storm watch was overblown. That happens often enough. Once the rain stopped I went for a ride on the scooter. 


The storm wasn’t over. We were just between storm bands. After driving about 15 miles down the road it started to cloud up again. A couple miles later the clouds got really dark. That’s when I turned around  and headed for home. I beat the rain by about ten minutes. 


We had some amazing thunderstorms but were on the edge of them the whole time. It wasn’t even that windy at my place, but there loud booms in the distance. There was plenty of rain though so I would have gotten pretty soaked had I kept riding. 


Note to self: get better rain gear.


-Sixbears

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Put up or shut up day



It was put up or shut day for registering for the Scooter Cannonball Run. I’ve been yammering on about it for a while. Previous participants had a week or two before now to register. The remaining slots opened up Saturday at 10 a. m..  

The registration site got hammered with traffic. It took a bit but I was eventually able to get the process started. That was going well until it came time to pay. 

My card was declined. Okay . . .  So I was thinking that maybe I entered something incorrectly? Reloading the information didn’t work -a few times. 

Then I called my bank. They placed me on hold for a quite a while. Their fraud line was super busy for some reason. Eventually a human came on the line. The Cannonball had been flagged as a possible fraudulent purchase. After being put on hold three times the card was finally released. 

With the bank guy still on the phone I attempted the registration process again. No joy. However, the bank guy was able to determine that it was the Cannonball web site shutting me out this time -probably due to my multiple attempts. 

So I called up Dave at the Cannonball. He was able to manually enter in all my information and the purchase finally went through.

Now I’m registered as Sixbears and my number is 58. The event is a year away -which is good as I’ve got to work hard to get into condition. 

Should be fun.

-Sixbears

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Housing Woes



A good friend’s sister is visiting from Florida. She was saying how insurance and HOA fees are eating her alive. She’s only owned her place for a few years and these higher expenses are a real hardship. Let’s see what happens after this coming hurricane season. 

My wife’s church here is New Hampshire is facing much higher insurance costs. Apparently her church’s insurance is combined with all the other churches in the country. A big increase in one area, such as Florida, raises the rates across the board. The people in Northern New Hampshire aren’t too keen on paying for hurricane risks they’ve never experienced. 

A newly married couple I’m friends with has been looking for a decent house for the last year and a half. Our real estate has taken a jump. It’s not as crazy as in other parts of the country but our wages tend to be lower too. What we have is a lot of people who are moving north from high cost areas. Our higher costs don’t see high to them. 

Usually by this part of the economic cycle we start to see lower housing prices. That has started to happen in a few areas but just a few. Of course rents have also risen. Personally, I’m lucky I’ve been in my home for a long time. A decent apartment in town would cost twice what I’m paying each month to live here on the lake. That’s just crazy. 

One thing about the housing market -things can turn on a dime so be aware.

-Sixbears

Friday, June 21, 2024

Beating the heat



The heatwave appears to be over for now. It’s late Thursday evening as I write this. Rain moved in and dropped the temperature down to around 70. Fans are drawing the cooler air into the house. 


I was thinking back to the last time is was this hot in June. About 30 years ago I went to the Laconia Bike Week event. Temperatures got over 100 degrees. Back then I was riding a KZ-900 motorcycle. The big four cylinder air cooled engine threw off a lot of heat while sitting in traffic. A couple times I pulled over to shut the bike down to let it cool. More than a few engines fried that week. 


Today I took the scooter out for a ride. The little engine is water cooled so does much better in the heat. While the temperature didn’t get over 100 the humidity was something else. Riding tree lined back roads was a lot more comfortable than sitting in traffic. 


My home office has a really nice ceiling fan -currently set on “almost helicopter” high. The grid browned out for a minute but my fans run off my own solar electric power. The batteries are holding up nicely. 


It looks like we got through this heatwave in good shape. Of course, it’s not even officially summer yet. Things could get interesting.


-Sixbears

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Hydration Test



Have you ever been too thirsty to drink? I didn’t think that was a thing. We haven’t escaped the heatwave that’s covering the eastern half of the country. The humidity has also been quite something. 


So about my hydration issues. The Scooter Cannonball trip for next year is still on. Open registration will start soon. It appears that a fair bit of the course will be through desert. Staying hydrated will be essential. With that in mind I’ve been doing longer and longer trips on the scooter in hot weather. On one of those trips I was actually too thirsty to drink. How weird is that?


The heat had soured my stomach so just pounding down water wasn’t an option. In the end I went into an air conditioned McDonalds and slowly sipped an ice cold Coke. That settled my stomach enough that I was able to drink water again. 


One of the annoying things about stopping to drink is that I have to take my helmet completely off. My full face helmet gives excellent protection but it’s crowded in there. Rather than take the time to remove the helmet it’s easier to keep on riding. 


Perhaps the thing to do is to drink water every gas stop. To facilitate that some sort of water bottle mount might make it easier and quicker. Right now I have to dig a water bottle out of my seat compartment or from the saddle bags. It’s just enough of a pain that it’s easy to skip drinking. 


Then there’s the option of a water bladder with a hose. Maybe the drinking hose can be snaked into the helmet? Worse come to worse I could get a new helmet but I’m trying to keep the costs from running away from me. 


Right now I have just about enough money set aside to do the Cannonball on a shoestring budget. It should be possible to save up a bit more and have a more comfortable experience. Finding low budget hydration solutions will help. 


I didn’t even know hydration was going to be an issue until I started pounding down some hot weather miles.


-Sixbears

Monday, June 17, 2024

Heatwave coming



. . . but it ain’t here yet. Sunday morning it was 34 degrees. Eventually it got up around 70 but then started to cool off again. 


However, we are supposed to get hit with that massive heatwave. Here it’s supposed to get into the 90s.  In the past we sometimes never got temperatures that high all summer. Remember it’s still technically spring. 


Here in the Great North Woods I’m much more concerned about keeping warm than keeping cool. However, with high heat this early I’m seriously wondering if I may need air conditioning someday. So far we’ve done just fine with fans. My solar electric system can handle the load of fans. It’s too small to power AC. For that I’d have to rely on the grid. That’s exactly the conditions that stress the grid and cause it to go down. 


There’s a lot to be said for natural cooling. I’ve some very large hemlock trees that shade the house nicely. Worse come to worse I could always crack open a cold beer and wade into the lake. It’s good to have a plan.


-Sixbears

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Dangerous Bear


I stepped outside onto my porch and startled a bear cub that was about 10 feet away from me. It was eating the wild strawberries that grow in my yard. The cub ambled off about 30 feet, stopped and just stared at me. It was a good sized cub for this time of year. It must be eating well. The wee beasty was pretty cute.


It’s also the kind of bear that worries me. That cub wasn’t going to me any harm. The issue was that I didn’t know where mom bear was. The absolute last thing anyone wants to do is to come between a bear cub and its mom. 


The only thing to do was to go back inside, close the door and wait for it to leave. That’s what I did and it was all good.


-Sixbears

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Success!


My lovely wife flew in from Texas to Boston's Logan airport. I hate that airport. Actually, I don’t like many of them. This time I actually got to the airport in good order -then go lost walking around the place. Their “maps” in the airport are worse than useless. Just saying. 


It was great to see my lovely wife. I missed her. Her trip was about as good as could be expected. There’s a lot of family stuff she had to deal with. That’s always hard but necessary. 


Speaking of family, we visited with our oldest daughter and her family. That was really nice. The grand kids are growing like weeds. 


When we made it back to New Hampshire we got to visit with my friend who just had prostrate cancer surgery. He’s doing really well and that’s a relief. Last year we lost a mutual friend to the disease. Guys, get checked. Cancer sucks. 


At the 11th hour I settled a bothersome legal issue that I’ve been dealing with for two years. We were going to go to court on the 14th but came to a settlement just a few days before. I think I made out fairly well and it was worth the fight. I didn’t think the courts would have done me much damage but you never know. 


Anyway, it’s good to finally be home again. 


-Sixbears

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Two Weeks Later



After two weeks with her folks in Texas my lovely wife is coming home. Her dad’s been dealing with cancer and her mom suffers from dementia. A sudden trip to Texas wasn’t in the plans but sometimes you have to get together with family while it’s still possible. At least my mother-in-law recognized her daughter so that was good. 


As for myself I had a lot of stuff of planned. I probably got half of it done. Between waiting for scooter parts and bad weather some things just didn’t happen. On the other hand, I accomplished a few big things that weren’t in the original plans. That was nice. One item was a nagging concern for the last two years and the opportunity to sort it out fell in my lap. It was worth not going to Texas just to get those things done and over with. 


On a lighter note I was able to play chess with someone I never played against before. I’m definitely not a pro -just an enthusiastic amateur. I got interested in chess way back in the Bobby Fisher days. Back then chess was pretty big and there were a lot of clubs. While my game was rusty, it was good enough to win six games in a row over two days of playing. Maybe my friend won’t want to play chess with me anymore? Oh well. 


One thing about me and games. If you do beat me you know I didn’t let you win. I’ve too much respect for my opponents to make it easy for them.


-Sixbears

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Healing up



I’m finally mostly healed up from the damage caused to my legs by a massive infection. Now all I have to do is build up endurance again. There’s an old saying that every man has two doctors: his right leg and his left leg. Walking is a good way to stay healthy. 


When I was 35 years old I suffered serious lung damage while firefighting. At the time a doctor told me that I wasn’t going to live to age 45. Let me tell you, I appreciate being in my 60s. However, if that same doctor had kept up his treatments I probably wouldn’t have made it to 45. I only started getting better when the doctors cut me loose and I took control of my own health.


There were a lot of treatments doctors wanted to do to me over the years. Some of those medicines have since been pulled off the market due to deadly side effects. I’m glad I avoided going down that path. 


That’s not to say that all conventional treatments are bad. They aren’t. Doctors are usually pretty good at a huge number of things. If I have a bone sticking out I definitely want a real doctor and a modern hospital. A good medical lab takes most of the guess work out of medicine.  


Now that I’m mostly healed up I can concentrate on doing the things that keep me well. 


Some of my friends have recently died and others are suffering serious health issues. Heck, most of the people I used to work with are dead. Heart disease and cancer take a heavy toll on firefighters. Funerals suck. As a kindness to my friends and a few surviving co-workers I’m going to outlive them all. That way they won’t have to come to my funeral. 


-Sixbears


Monday, June 10, 2024

Restrictions on Travel



You might have a great bug out location but actually getting to it in an emergency could be an issue. Some off us are old enough to remember all air traffic being shut down after the 911 attacks. It was only for a few days but people didn’t know how long it would be at the time. With air traffic shut down the country became much harder to cross. There were multiple incidents of strangers pooling resources to rent and drive vehicles long distances. 


In more recent years we have the pandemic shut downs. I was very lucky to make the drive north from Florida to New Hampshire before things got too crazy. At one point Interstate 95 was nothing but a very long parking lot. We’d been home about two days when that happened. 


We’ve gotten very used to being able to travel long distances quickly. We also expect roads to be open and state borders to be of little import. All that can change in an instant.


Of course, one solution is to live in the location you want to bug out to. That’s great most of the time. One issue with living in a remote place is that it’s often necessary to travel for goods and services. Where I live most people think nothing about a 100 mile drive for shopping or longer drives to go to a good hospital. 


The “bad thing” could happen while you are away from your lovely location doing other errands. That’s something I think about from time to time. Then I try and figure out how I would actually make it back -or if it’s too dangerous to even attempt the journey. 


Just some though experiments here.


-Sixbears

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Repairs and black flies



The black flies know when your hands are busy and unavailable to swat bugs. The parts for the scooter finally came in. The rain hadn’t started yet so fixing the scooter seemed like a good idea. The black flies also thought it was a good idea. By the time everything was torqued down into place the bugs had turned me into a bloody mess. 


After cleaning up I geared up and went for a short ride. Everything functioned the way it was supposed to. 


Some friends were gathering for a potluck and campfire about five miles away. It was really tempting to take the scooter but I decided to take the car. Good idea as a thunderstorm moved in and it rained like Noah was lied to. Not only was the rain extremely heavy fog rolled in. I drove 30 mph or less the whole way home. 


We did luck out as the thunderstorm only moved in about the time we were wrapping it up for the night. 


When I got home there were more scooter parts in the mailbox. I’m going to try some Dr. Pulley sliders for the scooter transmission. While it’s tempting to install them right away the wise move might be to let the black flies die down a bit first. 


-Sixbears

Friday, June 7, 2024

Back to town


Going back into town was not in Thursday’s plans. Then I got a call from the motorcycle parts department that my scooter parts were in. It’s rare that I’d go into town for just one thing so I got some grocery shopping out of the way while there. 


By the time I got home storm clouds were moving in and the bugs were out in force. That was enough to discourage me from pulling the scooter apart. 


Friday night is another campfire night with friends. My cousin is having a bunch of folks over. If the weather is bad we’ll just move the grill to the porch and call it good. The fellowship of campfire night doesn’t actually require a campfire.


My lovely wife is in Texas for another week, dealing with family business. I miss her. Maybe one of these days I’ll tell the story about how we met. We really clicked and got married four months later. Both of us were just 20 years old but that was old enough to know what we wanted in a relationship. 


-Sixbears

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Parts and Thunderstorms



Projects have been put on hold. Looks like it will take until the end of the week for my scooter parts to come in. I had a bunch of outdoor projects planned but nearby thunderstorms put outside projects on the back burner. I may actually have to catch up on things like paperwork and household chores. Bummer. 


If the storms hold off I could rebuild my mailbox. At one time is was a nice mailbox -one that a homeowner could take pride in. Then a plow truck whacked it three times in a row. Now I don’t much care that it’s dented and the mounting post tilted. On the other hand it’s not the fault of the mail carrier and they have to deal with my shabby mailbox. 


A friend of mine once got very tired and angry at the town plow for always destroying their mailbox. He got hold of a good length of railroad track and sank about six feet of it in cement. When the plow hit the mailbox mounted on that steel post the plow broke -not the mailbox. 


So that’s in the back of my mind. That does seem a bit munch so I’ll probably do a more normal mounting post. As long as the plow guy doesn’t hit it again I won’t resort to nasty tricks. 


What I would really like to do is to take the chainsaw and clean up some damaged trees. However, that’s not something I’m going to mess with during thunderstorms. There’s too many ways for that to go wrong. 


So it looks like I’ll be doing the boring but necessary stuff -like some kind of adult. 


-Sixbears


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Bad Coffee



My lovely wife is visiting in TX. Sadly, she’s staying with people who don’t know how to make a good cup of coffee. 


She ordered a five pound bag of organic fair trade coffee from Dean’s Beans. Then she ordered a coffee roaster and grinder off of Amazon. Does this sound like an over reaction? Maybe it does to you but to me it makes perfect sense. 


My lovely wife is dealing with some difficult family issues. At least now she can have the comfort a good cup of coffee. 


It won’t be quite as good as coffee at home. We’ve got better water here and that makes a difference. However, it will be a big improvement over the cheap crap she’s been forced to drink. 


-Sixbears

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Scooter Shake Down



Well that was informative. I spent three days traveling on the scooter. Day one went pretty much as planned. The weather was nice and I saw a lot of scenic New Hampshire. Traffic wasn’t bad and the scooter ran well. 


I’d made a GPX file on the laptop and loaded it into the Garmin Zumo. Following the track went well most of the way. About twenty miles from my destination construction caused a major detour. Automatic rerouting was disabled on the Zumo, but it was set to ask if I wanted to recalculate. At that point I figured it wasn’t going to send to someplace I didn’t want to go so I agreed. No problem getting to my destination. 


Day two reaffirmed my thought that better rain gear was needed. There was a very localized rainstorm that soaked me fairly well. Fortunately it was a short day on the road and I was able to dry out. 


Day three was . . . interesting. For some reason the GPS wasn’t routing me properly. Time estimates of arrival times were off by as much as two hours. Finally I went through all the settings and got back on a suitable track home. It’s going to take some investigation to find out exactly what went wrong. Heck, for all it know it could be caused by solar flares. 


Further up the road the scooter started to handle just a tiny bit odd so I pulled over. Somewhere along the way I lost the rear axle nut. I caught it before the seals and bearings fell out so that’s good. A nearby Tractor Supply had a nut that kept it all together. That was fine for a road fix and got me home but it’s not a long term solution. 


The next day I went down to Honda dealer and order two axle nuts. While there I thought I might as well order all the washers, seals, and bearings just in case. If the scooter has to be torn apart anyway might as well change anything that might have gotten damaged. While the bike is laid up I might as well change the drive belt, spark plug and check the valve settings. 


All in all it was good trip. I connected with friends and had a mostly enjoyable ride.


-Sixbears


Thursday, May 30, 2024

Scooter Road Trip



I’m heading out on the scooter for a few days of travel. A good friend of mine lives on the other end of the state so it’ll be a good trip. One of the things I’m doing is practicing with the motorcycle GPS. The route picked meanders through the lakes region of New Hampshire. It’s going to be a couple of 200+ mile days. 


200 miles might seem like a lot for a 150 cc motorscooter. Last year one of my day trips came to 257 miles. About 35 miles of that were on mountain back roads. It’s always a hoot to meet someone on a big ADV bike while on my little bike. 


The Scooter Cannonball averages 400 mile days. I hope to ride a bunch of those before the end of the season. Call it training, if you will. There will be a fair big of gear in the saddlebags so that will be similar to my event load. 


I’ll also probably stop somewhere for coffee so it’s going to be a pretty chill ride -unlike what a Cannonball will be like. 


-Sixbears

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

New Truck?



My lovely wife surprised me. She just happened to mention that maybe we should trade in the car for a pickup truck. I happen to like little cars but she’s looking at trucks with good towing capacity. Our car, a Nissan Versa Note, isn’t really rated to tow anything. We also have an old Ford Escape that I put a hitch on. It’s strong enough to launch our sailboat -locally. I wouldn’t want to take it on the highway and go on a long trip. 


In the past we’ve had vehicles with big diesels that could tow just about anything. Apparently she misses those snorty monsters. 


Personally, I’m fine with my lovely wife using the car like a truck. It’s usually packed with shovels and other gardening tools. She volunteers at a nearby botanical garden. 


With the seats folded down the Escape can haul a lot of stuff. Maybe some stuff I should not have hauled with it. My niece was not impressed with the organic fertilizer smell that lingered for days. I must admit an open bed truck would have been a better choice, but how often do you haul stuff like that? 


Personally, I’m very happy to have vehicles that don’t have any payments, so there’s that. 


-Sixbears


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Weird Roots


My lovely wife finished planting the last of the garden yesterday. She happened to dig up a small bucket of last year’s sunchokes. (formerly known as Jerusalem artichokes.) 


I cleaned them up, diced the roots, then fried them in olive oil with mushrooms. They were pretty tasty. 


If you ever plant sunchokes you have to be sure you want them. They are almost impossible to get rid of once established. That’s fine. I like having an emergency food supply that thrives on poor soil and neglect. 


Storing them long term can be a problem. Unlike white potatoes you can’t just dig them up and expect them to last. However, they can be sliced up and dehydrated. Usually those end up in soups and stews. 


Leaving them right in the ground works. Worse come to worse it’s a hidden food source that could be dug up in the middle of the winter. 


-Sixbears


Monday, May 27, 2024

Mad Max Season



The off road vehicles are back. Over 1000 miles of trails are available from here in the North Country of New Hampshire. 


One of the big shocks for people new to the area are seeing all the ATVs on public streets. It’s totally legal in many communities around here. When you see a whole line of these tooling down the road it’s like something out of Mad Max. Some are more Mad Max than others, with tools and gas cans strapped all over, big whip antennas, and numerous flags flying. Coat with a nice layer of road dust and all you need is a flame thrower guitar for the full effect.


Most people who come up to ride are pretty decent. They should have three things: mirrors, mufflers, and manners. Mirrors so they can see who’s coming up from behind them. Mufflers so as not to be a loud annoyance. Manners -because manners are always good. 


Sadly, we also have people getting hurt or killed every season. Usually it’s speed, inexperience or alcohol causing the issues. Sometimes a combination of all three. 


This is the start of the silly season. It could be interesting.


-Sixbears

Friday, May 24, 2024

Power Outage Update



My local power company sent an email explaining the power outage we had the other day. They claim it was caused by tree limbs falling on wires. 


That makes sense. A lot of trees were damaged over the winter. Instead of light fluffy snow we got a lot of freezing rain and heavy wet snow. A good percentage of those trees will never recover. On top of that we had some high winds. 


Speaking of high winds we had an amazing thunderstorm blow through yesterday. The weather app showed lightning strikes zero miles away. The weather map display was a very tight grouping of lightning strikes -all around my house. 


Much to my surprise we didn’t lose grid power or even Internet during the storm. Luck of the draw, I guess.


-Sixbears

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Power Outage



So for some strange reason about 1700 residents lost grid power in my neck of the woods. It was a  beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 80s. That’s actually pretty warm for this time of the year. I’m not acclimated to the warm temps yet. During the outage I was sitting under my ceiling fan drinking a cold lemonade. It’s good to have solar battery backup. 


Other parts of the country are much hotter and also dealing with power outages. There’s a lot of severe weather happening across the country. I hope things calm down by next week. My lovely wife is flying down to Houston Texas to deal with some family issues. She’ll be staying with her sister.


So far their Houston suburb has not loss power, was missed by tornadoes, and wasn’t flooded. Other family members in Texas were dealing with power outages and flooding. Houston is basically a city built in a swamp. 


The funny thing is that the local lakes are still pretty cold. On yesterday’s scooter ride my path went past a big lake. The air temperature dropped a good 10 or 15 degrees by the water. The cool air was welcome as I ride with a heavy jacket on. It’s a bit hot, but I’d be happy to have it on if I dumped the bike. Also, there’s all the freaking bugs this time of year. You really don’t want to hit a bumble bee at 60 wearing a T-shirt. 


Eventually the grid came back on so that was nice -if not totally necessary.


-Sixbears

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Camp Stoves



I must admit I’m kinda attracted to those nifty little backpacking stoves that screw on top of an iso-butane canister. Don’t tell my lovely wife. She’s probably right when she says I’ve already got plenty of camping stoves.


Maybe she’s onto something as I’m really not sure how many I actually have. Some are almost as old as I am. My dad had one of those two burner Coleman stoves that were very popular. Dad’s probably dates back to the 50s. It’s mine now and has been restored. Still works perfectly fine. To go along with that are three or four single burner Coleman white gas or multi-fuel stoves. 


My collection includes a couple of Whisperlite stoves with assorted repair kits. One of them was used for months burning nothing but gasoline mixed with two cycle oil. My sailboat had a two stroke outboard so there was plenty of mixed gas. I wasn’t going to use special fuel just for cooking. All my cooking was done in the open cockpit so if the flame was slightly dirty it didn’t matter. About once a month the stove had to be disassembled and the soot cleaned out. 


Then I’ve got a couple of propane stoves. One was given to me by a German couple who were on their last day of camping in the US. They weren’t going to take it on the plane and I don’t think the fuel is available in Germany. While the propane stoves burn fairly cleanly the one pound bottles can get expensive if you cook a lot. 


One of the odder things I have is a knock off of a Kelly Kettle. It’s a very light weight backpacker version. They heat water by burning twigs and the heat goes up a chimney in the middle. Surrounding the chimney is a water jacket. Mine heats about 2 cups of water. It works well and is pretty much free to fuel. 


When I go scooter camper later this summer I’ll probably bring along one of the small multi-fuel stoves. Since I always carry spare gas on the scooter it’ll be easy to use. 


While those iso-butane stoves are compact, I don’t really need one. Then there’s the fact I really don’t need a completely different fuel system. What I really really don’t need is to tick off the lovely wife. 


-Sixbears

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Off-Grid Longevity


So you have a nice off-grid homestead with all the bells and whistles. That’s great. It will serve you well during a whole range of disasters. When other people are starving in the dark you can be sitting under a fan drinking smoothies while watching a movie. Nice. 


A few days, weeks, or at worse months later most things will probably be back to normal. The question is, what if things do not go back to normal? Nobody can last forever at a high technology level on their own. Stuff breaks and life gets more difficult. 


Let’s say a disaster goes on for years. What if you can’t replace a water pump that suddenly dies. Do you have a whole backup pump? Maybe you do. Do you have total backup parts and systems for everything that can go wrong? That’s pricey and eventually the backups fail too. You’ve bought, at great cost, some time, but everything breaks down. 


You might find that backup parts are defective right out of the box. Rather than spend money on quality control some companies plan to just replace items if people complain of failures. That does you no good in a crisis. 


Pumps break. Solar electric components burn out. Septic systems fail. Trees fall on your greenhouse. Stuff happens all the time, but when stores are closed and services canceled you are on your own.


Then it’s important to know lower tech ways of living. Can you get water with nothing more complicated than a bucket? Do you have durable hand tools that can replace power tools? Do you have a composting toilet or know how to site and build an outhouse? Basically, can you live like your forefathers of hundreds of years ago? Even then they were usually able to get manufactured goods and outside supplies. Maybe we’d have to live like Native Americans. Of course, for that to work, you need a tribe with a deep knowledge base. 


Just some thoughts.


-Sixbears


Monday, May 20, 2024

Adult Friendship



Recently I was reading about how difficult it is to make friends as an adult. It’s also expensive. People these days tend to meet during activities. Most of these cost money: gym memberships, clubs, educational programs and hobbies. With the world operating mostly in cyberspace meeting in person takes extra effort.


It doesn’t help that in these post-pandemic years a lot of people are staying home. Avoiding people has become a habit. Young people who came of age during those years never developed the social skill sets needed to make new friends. At least they are back in school and have the opportunity to meet their peers. However, some have a lot of catching up to do and not much time left to do it. 


Those can be life long friends. I still have friends I met during my school years. It took some work to stay in touch when we all scattered to the four winds after graduation. However, eventually a few moved back to town and others are within reasonable driving distance. 


Another thing I noticed is the large number of young adults with crippling social anxiety. Just the thought of meeting strangers can cause bad reactions and physical symptoms. That certainly hampers making new friends. 


One place we don’t meet anymore, especially in New England, is at church. That used to be the center of a lot of people’s social circles. In my region church membership is way down.


What we lack is what’s known as a “third space.” That’s some public space that’s not work or home. The article lamented that free public gathering spaces aren’t that common. There are some options popping up that are either free or inexpensive. My wife’s church opened a free coffee shop in the basement of their church. It’s secular with no concern about a person’s religion. The idea is to get the community to come together. Finally after a number of months it’s taking off. There are even some local musicians who show up with their instruments. Too bad it’s just open one day a week.


Those of us in the Boomer generation used to get together at each other’s houses. Recently some of us have been gathering for campfires now that the weather is decent. Sitting around the fire, talking and burning a few marshmallows is a pleasant and cheap night out. I was happy with the gathering we had the other night. 


Having adult friends is good for one’s mental health. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone to call for help in an emergency. 


-Sixbears


Friday, May 17, 2024

Solar Electric Durability



My home grown solar electric system is over thirty years old. After thirty years it’s a bit like the old timer who had the same ax for fifty years. He changed the handle six times and the head twice. 


I get about ten years out of a set of deep discharge lead acid batteries. Maybe the next time the price of better technology batteries will come down to earth. That’s a story I tell myself every ten years or so. 


The charge controller was changed about a decade ago. I’d expanded the solar array a bit and decided to double the nominal voltage. It went from 24 to 48 volts for better efficiency. The Outback charge controller allowed the system to easily step down from the 48 volts at the panel to the 24 volts of the battery bank. 


Last year I changed the inverter to a true sine wave inverter. The old modified sine wave inverter was still working but was starting to show its age. Also the new inverter worked better with electronics and LED lights. 


The original eight solar panels are working just fine. They just quietly keep putting out electricity with zero maintenance. 


Yesterday it looked like my original voltage meter died. That’s wired from the battery bank in the basement to a meter mounted on the wall in my kitchen. The meter makes it easy to monitor the voltage in the batteries. As it turned out a wire had come loose. After it was reconnected the meter came back to life. I wish all repairs were that quick, cheap and easy.


-Sixbears


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Heavy Metal Tools



My cousin has a top notch wood shop with all the expensive toys. We were talking and I happened to mention that my little table saw finally gave up the ghost. It was time to replace it but even crappy ones can be pricey. 


He happened to know someone who had a table saw to give away. He said it was a “portable” saw. I  guess it is -if you have the strength of Sasquatch. It took the two of us to load it in the back of my Escape. The seats had to be folded down to get it in. The saw is all steel and cast iron. 


It also runs really well. The saw could use a new drive belt and maybe a new blade. However, even as is the saw is more capable than the one it replaces. It’s a real find. After I unload it in the morning I’m going to look for the brand name. If it’s like most tools from that time the name is probably cast right into it somewhere. 


My cousin has quite a collection of classic heavily built tools he uses all the time. Lucky for me he already has a couple massive saws in his shop and didn’t need this one. 


-Sixbears

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Navigation Learning Curve



I’ve been working on my navigation options for long distance scooter rides. Garmin had a nice price on their motorcycle Zumo gps so it’s what I settled on. The reviews are pretty good. There’s a steep learning curve. 


The box comes with a basic manual and a site link to download the full manual. That was my starting point. It helped to watch a bunch of YouTube videos. While that’s great but at some point it’s necessary to do a field trial.


There was a predicted gap in the rain so it gave me a chance to go for a ride. One of things I needed to work out was gpx route files -never used those before. It’s a bit different from turn by turn directions as it’s basically just a line on the map. To practice I downloaded some gpx files from the Backwoods Discovery Routes. The New Hampshire and Maine sections are near me and so those were the files downloaded and the route my trip took. 


There’s a lot of apps and programs for navigation. Many can generate gpx files. However, I was able to just download the gpx files from the BDR website. Then it was a simple matter of using a USB cable to connect the Garmin with my computer. After that it was just dragging and dropping files. 


All this fancy satellite navigation is fine, but I’m still a fan of paper maps. 


-Sixbears

Monday, May 13, 2024

Trips to town



How far out in the woods should you live? Some preppers have dreams of living in a remote cabin far from everything. That’s great, but it’s not a place to raise your kids. At least it wasn’t for us. 


My dad had a hunting camp about nine miles up a dirt road. Then you had to make your way down a semi-abandoned fire road for about a quarter mile. When the conditions were right it was possible to drive right to the camp. There were many times when that was impossible. Sometimes that main dirt road was closed completely. Often it was closed at the six mile mark and we had to hike in the rest of the way. Often the only way to “drive” there was on a snowmobile.


While that was a great bug out place, it wasn’t handy for day to day living. My lovely wife had a minimum civilization standard. We had to be on a paved road that was maintained in winter. There was a school bus stop within walking distance for the kids. 


There are no highways near me and we are a few miles away from what passes as main road here. While we aren’t really isolated, we aren’t on the way to anywhere either. Live is full of little compromises. 


By the way, I did get into town and the hardware store had a water pressure switch in stock so I picked that up as backup.


-Sixbears

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Quick and easy water



Even if everything electrical fails I still have access to good water. It’s just a matter of walking down to the well and getting a bucket of water. That’s great in an emergency. The thing is, water is about eight and a third pounds per gallon. It’s a lot of work to haul water by hand.


That’s why pumps were invented. Unfortunately they don’t last forever. Mine was definitely on its way out. Pressure was dropping, which is a bad sign. Like most of my household infrastructure my water supply system is custom. It’s a shallow well but I use a deep well submersible pump. 


It used to have a nice little shallow well pump that sat next to the well. That was fine when it was a summer cottage. When we moved in full time my quick and dirty winter fix was to build a little heated pump house. That worked until the heater failed and everything froze. By switching to a submersible pump I didn’t have to worry about the pump freezing ever again. 


When I pulled the old submersible pump from the well it was rusty in places and that’s not supposed to happen. It was a sure sign something was failing. 


It took a little trial and error to get everything dialed in but now we have decent water pressure and volume again. 


The water supply is in pretty good shape now. However, I think I’m going to buy a replacement pressure switch in case the old one fails. My guess is that it would be the next part to wear out. It’s best to have that on standby.


-Sixbears


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Solar Storms are Inconvenient



By inconvenient I mean we could be knocked back to the 18th century -or even earlier. As I write this we are currently being hit by a sizable storm. If you are reading this you are probably not doing too badly. The more we rely on electronics and electricity the harder losing them will be. So lets hope it’s not too bad. 


However, if you are experiencing bad Internet connections, cell phone issues, gps, and grid problems the solar storm is why. It’s supposed to last through the weekend. It hit about 6 hours sooner than expected so don’t expect prediction accuracy. 


I hope we get through this solar cycle without too much damage. After all I just got my Internet back up and purchased a new cell phone. It would be a shame if I couldn’t use them. Of course, the whole collapse of modern civilization would be a bit awkward too.


-Sixbears


Thursday, May 9, 2024

Internet Intermission

The Internet at the Sixbears household had been down for days. It has finally been repaired. My brand new modem from the new provider failed in about a month. I hope that's the end of connection problems for a bit. 

During the outage we had some important on-line business. We accomplished all the important stuff on the cell phone hotspot but soon after the phone hit the hotspot data limit. 

It's nice to have the Internet back, but it was also kinda nice to be off-line for a while.


-Sixbears

Monday, May 6, 2024

Shed my skin



Healing can be such an interesting process. I spent a week in the hospital with a nasty leg infection. Eventually the intravenous antibiotics did the job. The oozing mess of my lower leg dried up. 


Since then it’s been a rather itchy business of massive scabs flaking off. I actually have to sweep the floor in my office to clean up the mess. It’s pretty gross. However the healing is coming along. Overdoing it right now is a real concern. Keeping my leg elevated is part of the healing. I have to plan plenty of breaks in my day. That’s an issue as I’m feeling well enough that it would be very easy to overdue it. 


Now I’m working with my doctor to put together a plan to prevent these infections from happening in the future. One of the things is sticking to a weight loss plan. So far I’ve taken off about 25 pounds. My doctor recommended I get into the local weight loss clinic. It’s a paperwork nightmare. After filing out the forms my hand cramped up pretty badly at the end. It’s taken a couple weeks and might take weeks more to get into the clinic. In the mean time I’m losing weight on my own. 


Funny thing about me and bureaucracy. My tolerance is limited and small rebellions creep in. On the form where it asks for race I write: human. That might be a bit of a stretch but I’m sticking to it.


-Sixbears


Sunday, May 5, 2024

Campfire season



It took a few years but a good friend finally had a bunch of us over for a campfire. Life gets busy. 


However, it’s something we want to do a lot more of. We have some snacks, good conversation, and some homemade music. Sure beats the heck out of watching TV. 


If you don’t make the effort to get together it just won’t happen. Then the only time we’d get to see each other is at funerals. We are looking to make this a weekly thing, weather permitting -and it has to be pretty nasty weather to prevent us from a good campfire. 


We were getting together at John Little Wolf’s place. Since he passed the tradition will continue at other places. We are expanding it to more people too. Tribe is important.  


-Sixbears

Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Highwaymen - Highwayman


My favorite reincarnation song. 

Our adventures continue.

-Sixbears

Friday, May 3, 2024

That Strange Plumber Guy



That would be me. The plumbing in my basement is very visible. It looks like the History of plumbing down there. New materials have been added over the years. Several types of plumbing have been discontinued. Repairs and additions can be problematic. Sometimes the new stuff doesn’t fit with the old stuff. 


Then there’s stuff that isn’t like any normal house. For example my water heater is no longer in the basement. It’s hidden in a closet on the first floor. Why? That’s so I can hook it up to a water coil on the  kitchen woodstove and get a decent amount of BTUs from burning wood. 


Another odd thing is my pressure tank. In normal houses they’d be found on the basement floor. Mine is suspended just below the basement ceiling. That was to protect it from freezing. Cold sinks. Heat rises. Mounting the tank high keeps it where it’s warm.


Unfortunately my mounting rack suffered some rot over the years. Yesterday I had to drain everything, jack the tank back up and rebuild the rack. It was a pain. I got wet and annoyed but the job got done. 


While down there I noticed one of my water filter housings has developed a leak. Something in the built in shut off is failing. That’s the next project. 


After that I’m going to pop the cover off the well and inspect the pump and everything else down there. 


All part of the joys of being a home owner with a DIY bent. At least everything held together until spring. Playing with water in the winter is no fun at all. 


-Sixbears

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Tornadoes



Tornadoes aren’t much of an issues here in Northern New Hampshire. Sure, we get the occasional twister but they aren’t too huge and don’t last very long in the mountains. While not bi it’s a far cry from when I was a kid and “we just don’t get tornadoes in New Hampshire.” 


However, my lovely wife and I have relatives and friends in tornado alley. We follow the news and our ears really perk up when we start to recognized the names of the towns affected. So far our people have been safe. There’s more tornadoes on the way.


Unlike something like a hurricane tornadoes pop up with little warning. If all goes well you only really have seconds to get under cover. If it was me I’d have a full blown tornado shelter if I lived in that area. The destructive force of a such a storm is nothing to take lightly. People die.


Some years ago a friend lived in trailer on some rural land in Kentucky. Some NH friends and I stopped in for a visit. The guy showed us his storm shelter. It was made of reinforced concrete and was sunk into the side of a hill. He had emergency supplies -a half gallon of whiskey and a half gallon of vodka. I guess you might as well have a few drinks if your house is being blown away.


-Sixbears

Monday, April 29, 2024

Golden Horde



There’s a concern among rural preppers that we’ll get overrun in a crisis by people leaving the big cities. How much should we be concerned about that? I’m not too sure of the answer but I’ve some thoughts.


My last blog discussed the possibility of a massive hacker attack that takes down utilities and services. That’s one scenario but there are other things that can set us back to the 18th century. A massive solar flare could do the job nicely.


So what would most city dwellers do when the lights go out? I’m guessing the vast majority of city people would try to wait it out. Most people don’t understand what’s involved to bring services to their apartment. All they know is that there are people in charge of that stuff. 


By the time they realize that things won’t come back to normal it might be too late to safely leave the city. Studies have been done on how difficult it would be to evacuate a major city. If everything went right it would still take a long time. There are plenty of choke points where traffic could come to a halt. Just one flipped over burning tractor trailer truck on the highway or an accident on a bridge could shut things down. 


A lot of city people don’t even own cars and rely on public transportation. They’d be reduced to travel within walking distance. Some would have bicycles but they also rely on the roads. 


During the pandemic we did get some city people move to our lake. They were quick to tell everyone they were relatives of the people who owned the cottage. They turned out to be decent and self-reliant neighbors for the duration. 


If the disaster happened during the winter nobody would be able to get here on unplowed roads. I wouldn’t be going too far myself but that’s something I planned for. 


So what causes people to move all at once and in large groups? War is a big one. Nothing like an invading army to provide travel motivation. Drought and famine are the reason large groups of people to pick up stakes and get out of Dodge. Massive earthquakes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters will also do it. 


So how much of a threat are city refugees? I’m really not sure. One thing to remember is that cities are huge. Even a small percentage of those people could move on and overwhelm rural resources. 


Let’s hope we don’t have to find out. 


-Sixbears

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Hack Attack



A good friend, a fellow prepper, and I were having a discussion. He was concerned about our country’s vulnerability to foreign hackers. It’s already happened on a small scale. Well, I guess it’s small scale if you aren’t one of those affected. 


What concerned him was a potential hack attack across various platforms: grid, Internet, water supply, water treatment, and communications. My argument was that a major hack like that is a one shot deal. Our computer people would soon be able to patch up most of the problems once they came to light. 


He pointed out that even a two week disruption for most people would be a major catastrophe. My error was in thinking how a total systems collapse would affect me, not in how it would affect others. Two weeks or two months without those systems wouldn’t be that big a deal for me. Between my solar electric system, good water supply, septic system and food storage our household wouldn’t suffer. 


It’s easy to forget that most people have little to no backup for these things. There are people that don’t even do their own cooking, never mind have food storage. If they do have food they have no way to cook it with the systems down. Water could be a major issue for multitudes. It could get ugly relatively fast. 


So I have to concede to my friend’s argument. A major hacking attack is something to be concerned about. Fortunately, your preps for everything from winter storms to hurricanes will get you through. You do have preps? Right?


-Sixbears

Friday, April 26, 2024

Good weather for wrenching



It was a good day for wrenching on the scooter. Temperatures were in the 40s and it was sunny. That meant it was nice enough to work on the scooter but a bit cool for riding it. 


The little Honda PCX 150 was due for an oil change. My model does not have an oil filter. Instead it has a fine copper mesh filter that looks like an over sized thimble. It’s possible to gently clean the mesh and reuse it. Rather than mess with that I just replaced it as it’s a two dollar item. 


The next item that was due for replacement was the air filter. It came as a bit of a surprise to see just how dirty the filter got. Then I thought back to all the miles of dirt road driven and it suddenly made sense. So how did I end up riding so much dirt with a machine really not meant for it? First of all there are a lot of pretty cool dirt roads to drive around here. The second reason is for practice. The Scooter Cannonball is still on my radar and there’s usually a fair bit of dirt on the route. 


Last fall I had to replace a swing arm bolt and was able to find a replacement at Tractor Supply. There probably wasn’t any real reason to change it to an OEM part but I did that anyway. It has been my experience that Honda OEM parts are generally the way to go. They are less likely to leave you stranded on the side of the road. The last thing I did was check all the other bolts and screws on the machine. 


My next project will be probably involve changing the drive belt. The replacement belt and necessary tools are already packed on the scoot if the old one fails. However, it makes sense to replace it before it fails. Mr Murphy dictates it will otherwise fail at an inconvenient time and place. 


There’s some nicer weather on the way so I’ll probably be doing more riding than wrenching in the near term.


-Sixbears

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Food Storage Changes


The best bang for the buck with food storage is to buy basic staples in bulk: wheat berries, rice, beans -that sort of thing. I also have a rotating stock of canned and frozen foods. While it’s not the cheapest way to go there’s a fair number of meals in 25 year storage buckets. They last, are easy to prepare, and provide some variety. I like to take a bucket or two along when we go camping. That’s saved us from having to make long trips into town for food shopping numerous times. 


So I thought my food storage was pretty much squared away. Then my lovely wife developed food allergies. A lot of that dehydrated storage food was now a problem for her. These are not simple food sensitivities but full blown allergies that swell up the face and cause airways to shut. That’s not something you want to deal with at any time and especially not during an emergency.


Fortunately I have friends who also store similar foods. We’ve been swapping out things my wife can’t eat with things she can. We will still be left with some she can’t eat but others in the household can. They can also be used as give away items or trade items. 


The thing about food storage is that it’s not a do it once and forget it sort of thing. Needs change and one has to be adaptable. Also, it’s good to have a variety of foodstuffs as you never know how dietary needs could change.


-Sixbears


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hi Profile Criminal



Well that’s interesting. The Secret Service is meeting with prison officials. They are hammering out the logistics and procedures for imprisoning a former President. Looks like some people are now thinking the “unthinkable.”


There’s no guarantee that Trump will be imprisoned, but plans are being make just in case. This will be the first time a convicted felon has Secret Service protection. I would not like to be one of those guys. Spending one’s days protecting someone in prison is a far cry from wandering around in the sun on a golf course. 


One of the main concerns is how the country will react. One of the reasons for this blog is to prepare for disasters. Civil unrest is one of those concerns. So the questions is: how will Trump’s supporters react? Will a million people in red hats take up arms? 


I don’t think so. That’s not so say that there won’t be some individuals or small groups acting out. However, it appears that any uprising will be well within regular law enforcement’s capabilities. What’s more like likely is nasty posts online. The fact that so many January 6th participants have ended up in jail is a deterrent also.


So from a civil threat standpoint I give reactions to jail time as a low level threat. 


-Sixbears

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tesla’s next mistake



Elon Musk and Tesla haven’t had a good run lately. The Cyber Truck fails as a truck. It’s doing pretty good as a cautionary tale. It’s embarrassing when an old school company like Ford makes a better electric truck. Heck, Rivian makes a better truck -and it’s barely keeping itself afloat as a company.


Now it looks like Tesla and Musk are putting low cost electric cars on the back burner. Instead they are concentrating on self driving cars. That, in my opinion, could be a fatal mistake. People who love cars don’t buy them to have an AI do the driving. That’s called taking a taxi. Why would anyone want to own a personal taxi that a computer drives?


Car companies, and Tesla might be one of the worse, have fallen in love with subscription services. To unlock advanced features requires monthly payments. It seems weird to buy a car yet some of the features built in require subscriptions. 


What would really be nice to have are small, cheap, and efficient electric cars. Ideally one that can be recharged with a cheap home charger. It doesn’t appear that any US companies are working in that direction. 


The closest thing we have to a cheap and efficient electric vehicle are electric bicycles. 


Personally I’m pretty disappointed with Elon. His pet projects and increasingly erratic behavior are concerning. I’m not qualified to give financial advice, but it looks like Tesla stocks, even with current losses, are overvalued. 


-Sixbears




Saturday, April 20, 2024

Catching up


Sometimes your backup also fails. That was the situation for our cars. The Escape lost a wheel bearing at the same time the Nissan blew a clutch. First we got the Escape back. Today the garage finally got the right part for the Nissan and that’s back home too. We were not in any position to bug out anywhere or even do basic errands. 


Today I put a third vehicle on the road, my Honda PCX 150 motor scooter. It needed the battery installed, tires pumped up and fuel tank filled. The little beast started right up. The next thing it needs is an oil change but I’ve got everything to do that at home. 


We plan on having a few people over for a campfire. There are some nice dry maple branches that came down over the winter. All they need is a bit of work with the chainsaw. 


Normally I’d have done the oil change and chainsaw work but I have to pace myself. Spending a week in the hospital can take a lot out of a person. While my doctor is pleased with my progress he doesn’t want me to overdue it. In the past I’ve powered through but sometimes had to pay the price for being stubborn. That’s pretty much how I ended up in the hospital in the first place. 


-Sixbears


Friday, April 19, 2024

31 Dollars


It cost 31 dollars to register my 150cc motor scooter. I could have saved a couple bucks by going all the way down to the DMV but I love the town hall one stop shopping. There was only one person in line in front of me. It only took about 10 minutes for her business and about 5 minutes for mine. 


While waiting I had a nice chat with the town librarian who’s in the same building. In small towns most services are crammed together under one roof. It’s convenient. 


The scooter has its new state sticker and I dragged it out of storage. All it needs is for the battery to be reinstalled and It’ll be ready to go. However, I’ll probably change the motor oil before going anywhere.  Maintenance is important. 


I’ve been looking forward to getting the little Honda on the road for a while now. It didn’t help that we got two big snowstorms during the month of April. Yeah, this month. That’s already melted. The town has also swept the sand off my road so that’s a good sign. 


So I spent my 31 dollars and I’m ready to hit the road -well worth the price for all the joy it gives me.


-Sixbears

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Dirt Road of the Internet Superhighway



Living out in the sticks it’s tough to get decent Internet connections. Even when most people still had dial up my phone connection was half speed. That was due to the poor quality of the landlines. 


Later on I subscribed to a satellite service called Wildblue. They are no longer in business. It was better than dial up, but data limits were a problem. Also, when there were massive thunderstorms over upstate New York they would block the signal. 


Then I finally got cable Internet from a company called Argent. I liked them. It was a small company started by a guy who hated Comcast. The company had some glitches, but their service department was amazing. When they were setting up my service the technician was having problems. The owner of the company was camping in my area so he came over and sorted things out. 


I don’t think I’m going to get that service from Spectrum, the company who bought out Argent. Time will tell. On the plus side the service technician came on time and swapped over the equipment without any problems. 


It’s funny how I lived a good part of my life without the Internet. Now I depend on it for everything. 


-Sixbears

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Last of the Sticks



My little Nissan Versa is back in the shop. Recently they changed the clutch and damaged a gasket. It developed a small transmission fluid leak. It was supposed to be a fairly quick job but as we all know that’s not the way things turn out sometimes.

The replacement gasket they were sent is actually for an automatic transmission. When I checked in on them they were frantically trying to locate the correct part. None of their suppliers had it on hand. Since my car is taking up one of their bays I’m sure they’ll get something overnighted if they can find it. 

There aren’t a lot of stick shift cars in the US anymore. They are much more popular in Europe. Back in the 70s there were a lot of imported small cars with stick shift. There used to be a big difference in fuel economy and that was everything. Automatic transmissions are now a lot more efficient than they used to be.

I went with a stick shift as the Versas at the time had pretty doggy CVT transmissions. It’s basically the same type as the transmission on a motor scooter. While they’ve gotten better I’m still not a fan of the type-unless it’s on a scooter or a snowmobile. Cars -not so much.

There are high performance cars that have manual transmissions. A skilled driver can get a lot more zip out of a manual gearbox. As for my little economy car the performance, while not a race car, is much better than the automatic. 

At any rate, I’m back to waiting for parts. They have to out there somewhere.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Ice and other things


Today there’s a fair chance the ice will leave the lake. It’s broken up into pencil ice with areas of open water. Had it been windy on Monday the lake would probably have completely opened up. This will be a few days earlier than the old average ice out date. 


Trout season doesn’t start until the fourth Saturday in April. Hopefully I’ll have the boat in the water by then. My lovely wife is really looking forward to fishing this year. It’ll be nice to do that together. 


I’m still not fully recovered from my week in the hospital. Later in the week I’m meeting with my doctor. We are in the process of putting together a plan to prevent further leg infections. For those who know me it won’t come as a surprise that weight loss will be part of that. 


Treatment is a lot different in the US if you have health insurance. Five years ago a doctor wanted to schedule cardiac tests. However, having no insurance at the time the hospital wanted $20,000 up front. That didn’t happen. This time around I have insurance.  The doctor just went ahead and had tests done while I was in the hospital. The good news is that my heart is in good shape. Also thanks to having insurance the weight loss clinic will accept me. 


I’ll have to pace myself until my leg is fully healed up, but at least I’m now chipping away at my projects. That feels good. 


-Sixbears

Sunday, April 14, 2024

So That Happened



Has anyone been wondering what the heck happened to me? I know I sometimes drop off the grid for a while but usually I give some warning. This time around events ran away from me. 


First and foremost I was spending a lot of time helping my brother from another mother, John “Little Wolf” Schmaing. Back in January it was discovered he had an aggressive brain tumor. His biological family is way across the country in Montana. Fortunately his acquired family and friends stepped in to take care of him. There were a lot of trips for cancer treatments. During that sort of crisis there’s a lot of things that need to be done. 


In spite of John putting up a good fight he succumbed to cancer on Friday. The love of his life and good friends were by his side. This is his last blog post: https://reiki-mind-and-body.blogspot.com/


In the middle of all that I happened to spend a week in the hospital. I thought the doctor was just going to prescribe more antibiotics for my recurring leg infection. Nope. He pointed out that home treatment wasn’t working all that great and recommended a hospital stay. That wasn’t fun.


At my best I’m a hard draw so it takes a pretty good phlebotomist to get my blood. Starting IVs is also a disaster. Due to being on blood thinners and diuretics getting a good vein was even harder. After a couple days both arms were black and blue from the back of my hands to my shoulders. It looked like the lamest sleeve tattoo ever.  They ended up installing a Picc line for the duration. 


Just to make things interesting I got a norovirus that was running through the hospital. My 24 hour bug ran seven days. Not fun at all.


Fortunately, I was home in time for the eclipse. Some friends from Maine came up a day ahead to beat the crowd. We went to the boat landing which is just around the corner from my house. There’s a great view of the open sky and the White Mountains are visible in the distance. It’s a beautiful place. The eclipse experience was amazing. During totality an eagle and two crows flew right over our heads. It was like something out of a novel.


So . . . I’ve been busy. It’s been an emotional roller coaster.


-Sixbears

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Winter in Spring


Looks like we are about to have the biggest snowstorm of the season. It’s the very tail end of the season, but there you go. I thought I’d post something before the storm hits. Once it does we stand a good chance of losing utility services. Such is life out in the woods. We are in a little pocket that could get close to a foot and a half of snow. 


On the bright side I really don’t have to go anywhere this weekend. By the way, does anyone know why people buy up all the milk before a storm? Why does it seem like a good idea to stock up on something so perishable? Maybe everyone mixes up white Russians during a storm? 


I’ve been taking a friend to Vermont a couple times of week for radiation therapy. I’d agreed to drive him two days a week. It’s been six weeks and he’s got only one more treatment left. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had to drive through any major storms during that time. We did have some snow and ice on the roads some mornings, but it didn’t last. 


Right now we only have one vehicle available for errands. During a warm spell my driveway turned to mud. One of my cars sunk in the mud. Then it turned cold and froze it in place. Lovely. After this next storm warmer weather is predicted. I think I just might wait for the driveway to thaw before trying to move the car. 


This sudden shift back into winter has been very unwelcome.


-Sixbears

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Eclipse Circus?



I’ve friends who are coming to my place for the solar eclipse. They locked in staying at our place about a year ago. That’s about when all the local hotels were booked up. 


My friends would really like to hit up some nearby restaurants the day after. I guess we’ll discover if the crowds are going to be nuts or not. A lot of locals have doubts about us being able to get into a restaurant by then. We shall see.


However, I’m going to have plenty of food ready just in case. 


The eclipse will be visible over a large part of the country. To me, that should help with keeping the crowds down in one specific area. A person from New Mexico probably won’t come to northern New England for the event when they can see it in Texas. 


The eclipse is happening at a good time for local businesses. The winter sports crowd is gone and it’s too early for the warm weather tourists. I’m hoping that it being during the off season the area will be able to handle the crowds. 


-Sixbears

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Solar Storms



Solar storms could kill civilizations. We go about our lives worried about this and that. None if it matters if the sun blows off a big CME and fries everything. The sun has been particularly active lately.  There have been some serious bursts but mostly they’ve missed us. It doesn’t help that the earth’s protective magnetic field is weak right now. 

A strong CME from the sun could take down all our modern electronics. The more advanced  the electronics the more sensitive it is to solar interference. The things that hold society together would fall apart. 

It’s good to realize that most guns will work just fine. Some fancy electronic sights might get fried but iron sights work. A situation where the infrastructure fails but the ability to kill each other doesn’t has plenty of potential for disaster. 

The less your life depends on high technology the more likely it will continue. 

-Sixbears