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.


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. 


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.


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. 


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:

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.


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.


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. 


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. 


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Internet Disruptions


One of the area’s biggest Internet providers is having a lot of outages. The details aren’t important so much as the effects.

I noticed issues at restaurants. Apparently some businesses can’t do basic billing without an Internet connection. Cash is king. 

I’m not sure if it’s related but gas station loyalty cards are hit or miss. Sometimes they work, other times they don’t. 

My small Internet provider is currently being swallowed up by the bigger company. The changeover won’t be completed until the second week of April. In the mean time my service is still mostly up. 

When it does go down my cell phone’s hotspot is a decent substitute. For many years we didn’t have cell service here. Then a company put in a new tower that isn’t blocked by the mountains. 

Think of all your services that rely on the Internet besides your computer connection: VOIP phone service, movie streaming, music streaming, cameras, security, etc..  The more “advanced” the household electronics the more vulnerable to disruptions they are. 

My household is not so advanced that I can’t do most things the old fashioned way. I also like to keep some cash handy. The one thing I no longer have is an old fashioned land line. Should the Internet and cell towers go down I could always text using a Garmin InReach’s satellite connection. Or I could write a letter and mail it.   -or I could keep my thoughts to myself. 


Thursday, March 14, 2024

Snow slowing me down

Yeah, I still have fresh snow on the ground. It’s melted some but we still have plenty of the annoying white stuff. Our mild winter has me yearning for an early spring. It’s not that we didn’t get precipitation. We got plenty but it was often in the form of winter rain. Not only that, our snow, instead of being light and fluffy was dense like cement. 

Okay, it’s not that the snow is really that bad. This is still March in New Hampshire after all. It’s just that I’m a bit more eager to get the scooter out of storage than normal. I’ve a lot of new parts that came in. There’s actually nothing broken on the scoot. It just makes more sense for me to change these parts at home. If I don’t I’ll be changing them on a back road late at night -in the rain. Let’s avoid that. 

I’m also adding a motorcycle rated Garmin GPS. That will get hard wired into the electrical system There’s a lot of body plastic that have to be removed just to get to the wiring. The top box doesn’t thrill me either. The solution could be to build my own. 

There are times I miss not having a decent heated garage. Who knows what would roll out of there after a long winter of tinkering?


Sunday, March 10, 2024

March is a teaser.

Another Stormwatch

Friday’s weather was nice and spring-like. That’s not at all common in northern New Hampshire this time of year. The weather was so nice that had I not made other plans I would have taken the motor scooter out of storage. 

Today is a different story. The weather forecast is for 4 to 8 inches of heavy wet snow. That’s storm will also bring high winds. That’s just the sort of thing to drop trees over utility lines and block roads. Flooding will also be an issue. 

My usual preps were put into motion. The solar electric batter bank was charged up from the grid. Energy intensive chores such as laundry have been done. Dishes are washed. Fuel for the woodstove is sitting ready. We’ve plenty of food and other necessities. 

The best part is not needing to go anywhere during or right after the storm. It always feels better to watch falling snow while next to the woodstove sipping coffee.


Friday, March 8, 2024


It had been over a decade since I last filed income taxes. It is totally legal too. Really. 

So this year I found myself in a situation where not filing taxes would be leaving money on the table. That wasn’t going to happen. 

Normally I’m a do it myself sort of guy but not this time. My tax status is weird in normal years. Two years in a row I was audited by the IRS. Eventually we sorted out the fact that I don’t have to file taxes. The first time I was nervous. The second time I wasn’t intimidated at all. 

Side note: I had an uncle who looked forward to fighting with the IRS every year. He was an independent businessman who took outrageous tax deductions. He was such a PITA to the agents that they’d eventually give up and he’d keep a lot of his sketchy deductions. Any man who could intimidate the IRS is some sort of hero in my book.

Anyway, my lovely wife had gathered all the proper paperwork and the tax pro sorted out our situation. It was money well spent. We are getting all our money back, so that’s good.


It had been over a decade since I last filed income taxes. It is totally legal too. Really. 

So this year I found myself in a situation where not filing taxes would be leaving money on the table. That wasn’t going to happen. 

Normally I’m a do it myself sort of guy but not this time. My tax status is weird in normal years. Two years in a row I was audited by the IRS. Eventually we sorted out the fact that I don’t have to file taxes. The first time I was nervous. The second time I wasn’t intimidated at all. 

Side note: I had an uncle who looked forward to fighting with the IRS every year. He was an independent businessman who took outrageous tax deductions. He was such a PITA to the agents that they’d eventually give up and he’d keep a lot of his sketchy deductions. Any man who could intimidate the IRS is some sort of hero in my book.

Anyway, my lovely wife had gathered all the proper paperwork and the tax pro sorted out our situation. It was money well spent. We are getting all our money back, so that’s good.


Thursday, March 7, 2024

On the Ragged Edge

It’s easy to look down on those less fortunate. If they are poor they must be lazy or deficient in some way. 

I’m living a comfortable life now, but it wasn’t always that way. America has some big holes in its social safety net. Prepping was always a thing I did and it got me through a couple of bad years. However, the bad years kept coming. Year three was tough. Year four was impossible. 

My wife and three kids were living with the knowledge we two weeks away from being homeless. Then I won a four year legal battle and received enough back pay to bring everything up to date. 

It affected my kids. They’ve gone on to live successful lives. They’ve also never forgotten when times were so tight we didn’t through out potato peels. They have compassion for people in tough situations. They’ve started programs for the homeless in their community, taken in political refugees, and hired poor immigrants. 

Being in tough straits with kids to feed is a real test. During that time I found myself with $3000 cash accidentally given to me instead of someone else. I could have kept it but made sure it ended up in the right hands. Another time a bank sent me all the credit card details of over a dozen people. There was everything needed to run charges on other people’s cards. Instead of doing that I informed the bank of their error -and fried up those potato peels. 

Frankly, it was a near thing -not to make my life more comfortable, but for the kids. I understand the tough decisions people on the bottom have to make. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Photos of Wreckage

I buddy of mine happen to be in Southwest Florida recently. He took a boat tour out of Ft. Myers. It’s surprising how much hurricane damage is still evident. I was last in that area in 2019. It doesn’t look like it did back then.

Florida has always had problems with abandoned boats. The coast is littered with wrecks. Judging from my friend’s photos there are a lot more of them. Places that used to have them removed appear to have given up. 

There’s also a lot of infrastructure that hasn’t been rebuilt. It appears they are still cleaning up debris out of the water. To be fair, some areas were hit pretty hard. A marina we used to stay at had all their boats and docks dropped into the parking lot. It doesn’t look like they recovered. 

We see areas in the news that are hit with disasters. Then we forget about them. New stories drive out memory of the old stories. For the people who live in those places the nightmare doesn’t end so quickly. Sometimes the money to rebuild just isn’t there. 

The more disasters that hit an area the less likely recovery becomes. Hurricanes are getting worse and doing more damage. Flooding is an issue. When places have “100 year floods” every other year something is wrong. Forest fires can quickly decimate thousands of acres in very little time. 

Add in things like higher insurance rates, tougher zoning laws, and outrageously expensive building materials and it’s no wonder places remain trashed. 


Monday, March 4, 2024

Best Bombing Run

The US just did their best bombing run in a long time. They dropped pallets of badly needed food and supplies into Gaza. It’s not enough, but at least it’s a start. They are also plans to bring food in by sea. 

What’s really needed is a truck corridor as air drops and sea landings are not very efficient. Okay, what’s really really needed is a peace deal. It would beat the heck out of what’s been going on: exchanging war crimes. 

Smarter people than me claim only a two state solution will solve the problem. Maybe they are onto something. I don’t know. What I do know is that there are a lot of innocent people suffering and my heart goes out to them. 

The current eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth response will leave everyone blind and toothless.


Sunday, March 3, 2024

Rubymar sinks

A Houthi attack has sunk a bulk carrier, the Rubymar. I believe it was carrying fertilizer. It was thought  that the Houthi would not attack low value bulk carriers. Apparently they are trying to sink anything that floats. 

Before that attack traffic through that area was projected to be on the increase. Since the sinking that thinking has come into question. If even bulk carriers are targets that doesn’t bode well for transportation. If low value commodities have to take the long way around Africa delivery costs will seriously impact prices. 

Guess what’s considered a low value bulk carrier item. Grains. The price of food is about to go up for someone. In rich countries they’ll be able to absorb the higher costs. It’s not going to look good in poorer nations. They will be unable to buy as much food and/or have to charge more for it. 

Food instability is a major cause of unrest. We may be seeing political turmoil in countries far from the Red Sea. That illustrates how dependent the world is on free and safe access to the sea. The Houthi are not particularly sophisticated or technologically advanced. Imagine how badly things could go should a major power get serious about disrupting shipping. 

Actually, Russia upset world grain markets for a time when they prevented Ukraine from exporting. These days the shipping lane from Ukraine is open due to successful drone attacks against the Russian Navy. 

There’s another danger from the sinking of the Rudymar. It went down in an area where a lot of International communication cables lay on the seabed. They are unprotected. Communications hold the world together. 

It just goes to show how some incident in place nobody normally thinks about can cause bigger issues.


Saturday, March 2, 2024

Waiting for the rebates

I’m getting more and more annoyed at my heating oil delivery company. The woodstove does a fair job most days, but the when it’s really bitterly cold the furnace kicks on. It also keeps it from getting too cool in the morning after the woodstove dies out. 

The furnace is getting on in years. However, like a car, it’s not the years, it’s the mileage, or usage in this case. There were quite a few winters when the furnace didn’t run at all or ran very little. Those years we shut the house down and did the snowbird thing. Even so, the years have added up. 

A decent heat pump system would do the job, supplemented with wood heat. It would be very nice to say goodbye to the oil company. Right now a heat pump capable of doing the job would be pretty expensive. That’s an issue. Eventually the State of New Hampshire is going to get its act together and offer rebates. Only a fool pays retail when they don’t have to. 

With that in mind the house is going to limp along on what it currently has. With any luck nothing major will need to be replaced in the mean time. 


Friday, March 1, 2024

Chimney Fire Season

On my way home I could smell the creosote in the air as I drove through town. That’s a chimney fire waiting to happen. This is the season for it. 

Those who heat with wood have been burning for months now. We just had a spell of unusually warm weather. Woodstoves were turned down to a slow smolder. That creates even more creosote. Then, like yesterday, we had a bitterly cold and windy day. 

That’s when stoves are cranked but up. Those are perfect conditions for a chimney fire. The hot blast ignites the built up creosote. Then the fun begins.

So if you heat with wood it might be a great time to check your chimney. 


Thursday, February 29, 2024

Salamander on snow


This photo was taken a couple of days ago. 

Two friends, who wish to remain anonymous, took this photo while hiking in northern New Hampshire. 

I’ve never seen a spotted salamander in the snow. That ain’t right. Our unusually warm spell is messing up the natural cycles. 

Last year we had a warmer than normal spring but it was followed by a May frost. There was a lot of tree damage, especially fruit trees. A lot of orchards took a hit. Usually I enjoy eating wild pin cherries that grow on my land. They all turned black and I didn’t get to eat any. That’s an annoyance for me, but a big hit for the birds that normally feast on them. 

We could be looking at a bad growing season. Interesting times. 


Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ceremonies Matter

When archaeologists did up very ancient hominid remains they take special note of burial sites. They judge the intelligence of the species on how the body was buried. Being buried with things like grave goods and flowers are indicators of mental advancement. These signs of respect for the dead are a big deal.  

Today I went to a funeral that had to be one of the most generic ceremonies ever. One would think that the officiant could say something personal about the deceased. The poor woman spent 86 years in her church. Somebody should have had something pertinent to say about her. 

While it was a pretty poor excuse for a ceremony it’s not the worse I’ve heard of. The priest got my uncle’s name wrong. That’s pretty basic. It’s not hard to get little things like that right. 

In contrast I went to funeral during the height of covid. It was held outside and masked as the deceased had passed away from the virus. The brand new minister barely knew the guy due to limited contact. In spite of that he put together a respectful funeral. All it took was talking to the people in the church who knew the guy well. 

So what’s the big deal about crappy funerals? It’s one of the ceremonies that hold society together. Funerals are for those who survive. They should bring comfort. Lives well lived should be recognized. When a society can’t honor their dead as well as a bunch of Neanderthals it’s in decline. 


Monday, February 26, 2024

The Mother Road

I’m about to turn 66. My lovely wife suggested it might be fun to go on a Route 66 adventure. It’s known as the “Mother Road” as it was the big east-west road at one time. When the newer highways were constructed old 66 fell into disuse. Parts of it are totally in disrepair. However the vast majority of it is drivable, so that’s useful. 

A lot of the old roadside attraction and quirky hotels are still around. It’s sort of a time capsule of a certain time in post war America. I don’t know as much about it as I’d like so a fair bit of research is in order. 

From others I’ve picked up a few pointers. Don’t try to drive every mile of the remaining road. Too much of it goes through the heart of towns and cities. Pick and chose which tourist attractions to see. If you try to see them all you’ll get burned out. It’ll also take forever. When it comes time to stop for the night it might be a good idea to avoid the old hotels. Zip on over to the main road and stay at something a bit more modern. 

Of course, I’m going to have to put together a soundtrack for the trip. It will have to include Bobby Troupe’s Route 66.


Sunday, February 25, 2024

The loss of a good barber

So a buddy of mine was chatting with his barber. That’s what you do at the barber shop. Apparently my friend was telling the barber about some of my adventures. He told the barber about the exploits my wife and I experienced over the years. We didn’t let having three kids stop us from doing things. 

The next time my buddy goes to get his hair cut the shop owner was a bit ticked off at him. Apparently the barber, his employee, took my friend’s tales to heart. The guy quit his job so he and his wife could follow some of their dreams. Apparently they are avid hikers and decided to just do it. The owner has to replace a good employee.

I don’t feel bad about it. Waiting until you are 65 and retired to have adventures is not the way to go. Some things should be done before you get too old. Would my finances be better now had I been  more frugal in my 40s and 50s. Maybe, but so what? It’s only money. I’ve some great memories. 


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Johnny Cash - Hurt

This resonates with me today. 

I'm okay but some of those I love -not so much.


Friday, February 23, 2024

Doomer or not?

On one hand I take being prepared very seriously. On the other hand I also make plans like nothing bad is on the horizon. So what gives?

I like to live a fairly care free life. Having my preps pretty much squared away helps. I’m not worried about most things that can go wrong. Being snowed in. Roads flooded out. Grid down. Thanks to being prepared none of those things really stress me out. 

Security issues? Yeah, I’ve a well stocked safe full of things that go bang. Just as importantly I’m on pretty good terms with what few neighbors I have. In this part of the country a neighbor is anyone within a mile or two. 

You have to prepare for bad things but don’t forget to live your life. I grew up in the duck and cover atomic age. A lot of people believed a nuclear war was baked in the cake. The thought of it was paralyzing to people at times. However, most moved on with life and didn’t spend their time hiding in a bunker. 

There’s always something of major concern. Sometimes those bad things happen. If you are lucky there are things you were able to prepare for. Some things are like an asteroid strike where everyone’s odds are pretty low. Such is life. 

No matter what you do you will die in the end. Don’t forget to live before you die.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Left Coast

My youngest daughter just moved into her new house in California. There’s plenty of room so she’d love if we’d visit. It’s been a few years since we’ve been out there. California is a long ways from New Hampshire so we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. I must admit I’m tempted. 

My lovely wife and I have traveled quite a bit but we haven’t explored much of the west. We rarely get much past Texas. It’s a big country. I would love to drive out there and take time for adventures. It might be just the thing to do next winter. 

We also haven’t been to the Northwest. It’s probably best to visit during the summer. The problem is that New Hampshire is so darn beautiful then that it’s hard to leave. Living on a lake we have plenty to do on our doorstep. My lovely wife has expressed a serious interesting in doing some fishing this year. She even bought a lifetime license. 

The main attraction of California is to see family. I’ve a grandson who’s turning 11 soon and could use the bad influence of a disreputable grandfather.


Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Planning for the Scooter Cannonball

The next Scooter Cannonball will take place during the summer of 2025. About a year before that registration will open. I’m going to register as soon as I can. 

The event has fascinated me for years. It’s one of those nutty things that look like fun -that’s if you idea of fun is a grueling coast to coast event. It’s a timed event with checkpoints. Daily miles run from around 350 to 500. The route tends to avoid highways and has a certain amount of dirt road travel. 

Over the past year I’ve been slowly building up to it. I can now change a tire on the side of the road with the tools onboard if needed. Every time I do a project on the scooter the tools are added to the kit. I’ve also added stuff like USB charging. Today I received a Garmin motorcycle rated GPS. It’s essential to understand the ins and outs of the device. Getting it now allows me time to get proficient. 

The plan is to go on some extended trips during the coming riding season. It’s a good way to test the equipment and the rider. One of the things I did last summer was to ride dirt roads to improve my skills. Believe me, a scooter is not exactly an ADV bike. However, a careful driver can make it happen. 

It’s not a cheap event but it’s now a priority for me. So why now? I’m getting freaking old. Too many of my friends are dying without living out their dreams. Others have had sudden health declines that came out of nowhere. I’m not in great shape myself, but I’m working on it. Right now I’m doing better than I was doing last year so that’s something. 

In 2023 out of 250 people who registered 180 made it to the starting line. I may or may not finish, but I’m doing all I can to start. Just getting there would put me ahead of all those who don’t show up.


Monday, February 19, 2024

Whole House Water Filters

I was about to change the house water filters when I discovered they were all gone. That’s what happens when you buy them by the case and don’t keep track. Eventually that box of filters runs out. Much to my disgust I had to go to the hardware store and pay retail prices. It’s time to order a couple cases of filters again but this time I’ll keep track of the usage. 

When my dad owned the property we never even used water filters. Nobody ever got sick from the water. I’m not that trusting. I run a corse sediment filter that feeds into a fine filter with activated carbon and all that. 

Our well is shallow and it only makes sense to make sure the water we drink is pure. The funny thing about whole house filters is that we end up flushing out toilets with clean filtered spring water. It sounds kind posh though. 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Game Camera

I received a nifty little game camera for Christmas. For now I’ve been using it around the house. One of the cool things is the ability to take night photos. That’s how I got a few shots of a fox that hangs around. Mostly the camera’s photos are of squirrels and birds. There’s a few shots I can’t quite figure out what the heck is happening but that makes it interesting. 

Once the snow melts the plan is to set up down in my cedar swamp. Judging from tracks there’s moose, deer, turkeys and bear that make their way through there. Who knows what else? While I know they pass through my swamp it would be nice to know how often and when. It’s also a good way to see if anyone is trespassing. 

The price of game cameras has gone down in recent years and the features have gone up. This one cost about $35. It’s not a big investment to see if it’s something I’m interested in. Even a couple more cheap ones would be worth it to see exactly what happens on the further edges of my property. 


Friday, February 16, 2024

The Sun is Dying

The sun is dying. The world is doomed. Everybody hide! 

That seems to be the way a lot of people are treating the total eclipse that’s coming this spring. There are lots of businesses that are closing their doors during the event. People plan to lock their houses and head out of town. 

I’m told that people who follow total eclipses tend to make it a five day event. Just about any sort of lodging in or near the path has been booked for many months. About a year ago good friend of mine who lives in Maine asked to stay at my place. He just recently reconfirmed. The guy and his wife are willing to camp on the lawn but we could still have snow at that time. Fortunately for him we got a new mattress for the loft guest room. 

As for myself I just ordered a bunch of eclipse viewing glasses. I’m smart enough not to stare directly at the sun. 


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Fiber Blocks Downsides

In previous videos I mentioned I use fiber blocks in my woodstove. They are made from compressed sawdust, wrapped in bundles of six and loaded on a pallet. Buying them by the pallet the local lumber yard provides free delivery. 

I like them because they are easy to use and put out a lot of heat. One downside is that they don’t hold a fire as well as real firewood. To get around that I either load real firewood in the evening or just let the furnace kick in during  the night. 

Today I dealt with the other downside. If put on a slow burn they tend to generate a lot of soot. It’s not like creosote that creates a fire hazard. Instead the soot is light and fluffy but it can restrict flow through the stovepipe. About twice a winter the stove pipe has to be removed from the stove and cleaned out. It’s not a big deal but can get messy. At least the build up is in the stovepipe and not the chimney, which remains surprisingly clean. 

Next winter I’ll probably end up using more natural firewood and less fiber blocks. The reason for that is the number of my trees toppled by heavy snow and high winds. If I have to clean them up anyway I might as well burn them. 


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Road to Wellness

I’ve a friend who’s started radiation therapy for cancer. The clinic is about an hour and a half drive from his house -all the way to Vermont. Treatments only take about a half hour, so that good. 

My buddy has to go five days a week for the next six weeks or so. Fortunately we are splitting up the driving between his friends. 

Tuesday was the first day. We really lucked out as the big snowstorm didn’t quite make it to the North Country of New Hampshire or the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. 

By the way, to hell with cancer.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

11 Months and Counting

That’s how long it’s taken me to get a new c-pap. I started the process back in March 2023. It has not been delivered yet, but the company I ordered it from just charged my account. Maybe it will be in before next week. 

It took months to see the heavily over booked sleep doctor. To shave a month off my appointment time I went to a different town where he sometimes has hours. Then it took months for the paper work and insurance to get processed. Eventually the approval came in.

Then I find out the machine I actually want is not covered by insurance. The compact model that can run on lithium batteries fits my life style better.  In the end I decided to pay out of pocket for what I actually wanted. After questioning the medical supply company it came to light that my co-pay, for the machine I didn’t want, would add up to over $500. The machine I wanted was a bit over $900 without insurance. 

Another downside to having insurance pay for it is that they monitor your usage over the internet. Seems invasive to me. My doctor said a lot of people take issue with that. They do the bare minimum to satisfy the insurance and then turn the machine to airplane mode. Of course, you can do what I did and buy your own machine and not report to anyone. The doctor says there’s a memory card that can record anything he needs for therapy and only he gets the info. That’s an option. 

Next time I might just go ahead and build my own darn machine. I’ve gotten pretty good at repairing salvaged machines so I have some idea how they work. 


Monday, February 12, 2024

Thunder Dome

One of the reasons I built a geodesic dome for a home was its strength. The geometry of a dome makes it very good at resisting massive snow loading. The dome never needs to be shoveled. If the snow gets thick enough it tends to fall off. 

That went pretty well when we used to get deep fluffy snow. When huge sheets of snow slid off the roof it wasn’t too dramatic. In recent years our snow has been very heavy and sticky. Often we get rain on top of that to make it heavier. 

Now when the snow falls off the house it’s an event. There’s a roar and sometimes the whole house shakes. It doesn’t cause any damage to the house. However, I really have to make sure there’s nothing underneath when it comes down. It could really squish stuff -like that little pop up shed I set up late last fall. Oh well.


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Sports ball?

I guess the Super Bowl is happening today. Frankly, I can’t even remember who’s playing. In the big scheme of things, for most people, the game does not matter. Unless you are personally involved in the game it doesn’t really affect you either. 

However, people like to take sides and shout . . . I guess. 


As long as everyone has fun. It is a game after all. 

For me, the big thing that comes out of Super Bowl is some amusing commercials, so there is that. I’ll watch those later on YouTube.


Saturday, February 10, 2024

Shipping and canals

The Suez Canal is in the news lately due to attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Canals are shortcuts that can save a lot of time and money. A lot of ships are taking the very long way around the tip of Africa. In a just in time world that causes some supply side disruptions. 

Just to make things interesting the Panama Canal is in trouble. The issue this time isn’t attacks but climate and weather. The canal uses a lot of water. The feeder lakes are not getting enough rain to run the canal properly. Shipping now has to take the treacherous route around the tip of South America. Once again, we have supply disruptions. 

An interesting little canal came into operation in the last couple of years. Poland built the Vistula Canal.  The reason? Russia. Ships leaving that part of Poland had to pass through the Russian controlled waters of Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. Economically it probably doesn’t make sense but politically it’s a genius move. 

So what’s the big deal about canals? Shipping is still the least expensive way to move goods around the world. Anything that affects shipping affects the world economy. 


Friday, February 9, 2024

Bugging out might be the thing

In general I’m an advocate of bugging in. Your home is where your resources, friends, family and community are. You know the terrain and can plan for your local conditions. That works for a lot of issues -perhaps the vast majority of them. 

The  big downside to bugging out is that you are basically a refugee. There’s only so much stuff you and bring with you to a place you might not know all that well. You may have to rely on the kindness of strangers. It’s not a comfortable spot to be in. 

However . . . 

Picture being a German Jew in the 1930s. All the home prep in the world will not save you when the Nazis come to power. The only thing to do is to bug out. Those who left Germany early had a leg up. They could plan, liquidate assets, and move somewhere else. They were looked at as immigrants, not refugees and that’s a big difference. 

It takes a lot of courage and will to leave when few see how serious the threat is going to be. 

Keep your eyes open, prepare for the possibility of bugging out, and leave earlier rather than later. 


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Will the US Attack Iran?

Probably not. The proxies supported by Iran in other countries will not fare as well. They are toast. The US military is quickly eliminating anyone who was directly involved with the fatal attack on a US base.  We’ve seen air strikes and drone strikes. There’s probably some very clandestine wet work happening on the ground too. That won’t make the news -at least the details certainly won’t. 

The US really really really does not want to get into a land war with Iran. It’s a populous and mountainous country. It would make the Iraq invasion look like a Boy Scout outing. Also, Iran really really really does not want a direct war with the US. 

The US would not have to invade Iran or even bomb the interior to cause major economic problems. Just look at the Port of Kharg Island Oil Terminal. It’s the main oil export hub of Iran and it’s a very exposed target. Knocking that out would kill the country’s main source of export income. The US knows this. Iran certainly does too. 

My guess is that in the long run Iran will lessen its support for terrorist groups. It would not surprise me to see the US eventually closing a bunch of bases. I bet most people didn’t even know we still have bases in that part of the world. 

Of course, the US doesn’t have to be involved for the region to have major conflicts. It’s not always about us.


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Lost Books

There was a recent study where it was determined that digital books do not have the lifespan of old fashioned paper books. Good quality paper books can easily last 500 years or more with minimal care. Digital books are reliant on specific technologies. I’ve some 3.5 floppies lying around and I’ve no idea idea what’s on them and that’s a fairly recent technology. 

All my important reference books are real physical books. Digital has advantages. Whole libraries can fit on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. That’s great until the device breaks or the batteries go dead. 

I have digital copies of my scooter’s repair manual. When on a longer trip I always make sure to have digital copies on at least two devices. One of them is a Kindle book reader as the battery life is much longer than that of a phone. 

Digital note keeping never felt right to me. Maybe I’m just old. That being said, it’s nice having my crucial information written down in quality notebooks. I’ve also cheap notebooks for specific tasks. If you have to work under a car and need specific information, a few notes on a cheap notebook works much better than a digital tablet. 

I’m old enough that my notes are often written in cursive -which is almost like a secret code to young folks these days. 


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

On the Road

No, I’m not referring to the Beat novel by Jack Kerouac. Today it’s about keeping vehicles on the road. I just shelled out over $500 getting exhaust of my Ford Escape sorted out. I knew for months there were minor exhaust leaks and now I know why.

Some industrious yet barely competent welder shoe horned in an exhaust never meant to go on an Escape. That was interesting. Fixing that fix required more than I could do on my own -especially working outside in the ice and snow. 

A few weeks earlier my wife’s car needed new tires. There was no way the old ones were going to make it through the winter. 

More expensive than those items, however, was the cost of keeping the vehicles insured. If you’ve had to insure a vehicle lately you probably noticed a steep increase. In my state of New Hampshire car insurance is not technically required. Of course, you’d be personally liable for damages and that could ruin a person. Then there’s the issue that as soon as a state border was crossed I’d be breaking their laws. 

With a little searching I was able to save $600/year in car insurance. The kicker is that the whole year had to be paid in advance. It’s been an expensive few weeks. On the bright side, I just paid $2.89/gallon for gas so that’s nice. 


Monday, February 5, 2024

Beard disguise

It seems that any guy who doesn’t want to be recognized grows a beard. That can be pretty effective. A couple days ago I ran into a cousin of mine and I only recognized him by his voice. He’d grown a beard. It wasn’t a regular beard but the sort of beard that a hobo with no access to running water grows. He’s probably not hiding from anyone. He’s just gone to seed. 

To me it seems it would be more effective to normally have a beard. Your disguise is shaving it off. Shaving a beard is a lot faster than growing one. Don’t do the rookie trick of shaving it off just before you do something drastic -especially if you have a solid tan everywhere else. That fresh pale skin is a dead give away. It’s the sort of thing the TSA looks for. 

So I’ve got a beard but I’m sorta fond of it. Maybe I’ll just shave my head. 


Sunday, February 4, 2024

Dark Days

Well it’s official. I was listening to the news on the radio. A meteorologist stated that Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire just had the cloudiest January on record. No wonder I had to turn to grid power so much. 

It was still worth having a solar electric system as I kept the battery bank charged up. Even without sun the batteries can keep the household going for a few days. At least it was during January, a month that’s not normally very productive. 

On the other hand February can generate good solar electric power. The days are a bit longer and the tend to be sunnier. Winter sun has some advantages. The lack of leaves in the trees is a plus as my panels can have some summer leaf shading. The big advantage is that snow reflects a lot of light onto the panels. Solar panels are also more efficient on cool days than super hot days. 

There’s some sunny days in the forecast so I’m looking forward to that. Sunshine is like free money falling from the sky. 


Saturday, February 3, 2024

My Illegal Border Crossing

The Canadian Border used to be a lot more porous than it is now. Back in the day you could enter Canada with a driver’s license and a birth certificate. More often than not they wouldn’t even check those things. 

Back when I was a teenager I was working for a furniture company as a delivery driver. This is in the days before satellite navigation and google maps. The boss handed us some hand written directions and sent us on our way. So there we were, two teenagers looking for a place off a dirt road in northern New Hampshire. 

We got lost and crossed a rickey bridge. Eventually we ended up on paved roads again, but all the signs were in French. Somehow we had crossed into Quebec. I turned to my partner and said: let’s retrace our steps and get back to the US before someone notices. 

Nobody stopped us and we even found the right delivery address. All’s well that ends well. 


Friday, February 2, 2024

Your Favorite Disaster

Preppers tend to have their favorite disaster. There’s that one thing they feel they are particularly prepared for. That can be fun and all, but is prepping a game to you? The stuff you actually should be ready for is probably a lot more mundane.

In early 2020 I met a guy who felt the major health crisis was the time to buy a new gun. Okay . . . 

Don’t get me wrong it’s always fun to buy a new gun. My gun safe wouldn’t be so packed if it wasn’t. However, he probably should have been planning for supply chain disruptions instead. Remember when toilet paper was in short supply? 

Often it comes down to the basics: food, shelter, and water. Medical supplies are good as is having some sort of backup power. A backup method of communication could be a life saver. If nothing else you can assure friends and family you are fine. That way they won’t be tempted to risk life and limb in a disaster zone to check on you. 

The biggest drain on my preps wasn’t a natural disaster or civil unrest. It was plain old job loss from an injury. My two years of preps looked pretty good -except it took 4 years to sort out my finances. That’s where having a tribe is essential. Friends and family helped get us through. 

Prepare for the most likely things first. Then treat yourself to that rocket propelled Zombie Killer 5000.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

Ah Texas . . . sigh

So now Texas is acting like it can overrule the Federal Government. That’s not a thing. Abe Lincoln settled that question some years ago. Either they don’t know History or are pretending to not know it. It’s a shame that we have governors who don’t know how government works. Considering we had a President who didn’t know how government works it’s no surprise.

Apparently settling the border issue is now off the table as a certain Republican would then have nothing to run on. 

In the mean time there are desperate people drowning in the river. Of course, they aren’t voters so I guess their lives don’t matter. Being downright mean to refugees is policy -for shame. 

We are a country of immigrants. Deal with it. Due to grandstanding political posturing we aren’t fixing the problems in a sane manner. 


Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Mindless Entertainment

One of the few things I subscribe to is a Kindle Unlimited membership. This allows me to queue up a bunch of books in my reader. Normally I knock out at least 3 or 4 books a week. However, when I was sick I was consuming over a book a day. 

That might sound impressive but they weren’t quality books. Since I was feeling stupid I was looking for mindless entertainment. There was an awful lot of Space Opera in my reading list. It passed the time. 

One of the indications I was feeling better is the day I noticed the books I’d been reading really were pretty bad. That day my Kindle got a good cleaning out. The mindless entertainment was replaced with books that actually require a couple of functioning brain cells. They had things like a plot and character development. 

However, for a while, there were a lot of bad writers who got more in royalties while I was recovering.


Monday, January 29, 2024

The Keeping of Cars

One of my personal measurements of life satisfaction is how often I have to work on my own cars. It’s not that I hate working on them in general. It’s all the other stuff involved. Perhaps if I had a roomy heated garage it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe add a lift and an air tools to that garage. Anyway, I can dream.

More often than not I’m dealing with either bugs or bad weather. 

One thing about late January in the mountains of New Hampshire -bugs are down to a bare minimum. Then there’s the weather to deal with. However, we just had a couple of days where it got into the mid thirties. Pleasant enough. 

When digging out the last of the ice from under the wipers I noticed the plastic vent cover was loose. Cars these days are snapped together like Lego blocks. The little plastic tabs had broken free. They really are not made to be reused -in spite of what car manuals may say. Instead self tapping screws covered in Locktite did the job. It should stay in place now.

That was a pleasant enough job. What I’m not going to do is fix an exhaust leak, lying on my back in the slush. Nope. Not interested in that at all. The garage was supposed to do the job today but it’s been put off a week. The owner called me and begged to reschedule as two of his techs are out with the latest C-variant. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 


Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Long Haul

I spent over half of last year dealing with recurring leg infections. Eventually the doctors got around to prescribing strong enough antibiotics for long enough to do the job. With the infection finally gone the pain is finally gone. 

That part’s great. Now I’m dealing with the rest of the recovery. For quite some time my lower legs looked like zombie skin. My legs are starting to look a lot more normal. 

With the legs healed up regular exercise is possible again. I’m a big fat guy and really need to exercise to stay healthy. However, in spite of everything, my blood pressure and blood work never got too bad. That was just luck of the genetic draw. With exercise some weight loss should be a lot easier. 

Last summer there were a lot things I was unable to do. The doctors wanted me to stay out of the water. That’s hard for a water guy who lives on a lake. Good thing I could still ride my motor scooter as it kept me from going crazy from boredom. This summer should be different and I’m looking forward to it. 

As I get older it takes effort to stay functional. On the bright side, I’m still doing better than I was when I first got injured at work when I was 24. Then there’s the time I almost died at 35. Being 65 is almost a surprise and not to be taken for granted.


Friday, January 26, 2024

Hunkering Down

Our winters are not like they used to be. When I was a kid the big thing to watch out for was blizzards. Snow accumulations were measured in feet, not inches. 

In more recent years the big threat isn’t blizzards, but ice storms. Once again we are going through a spell of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. Our storms don’t produce just one weather event but various events, often switching back and forth. Micro climates make a big difference. It can be snowing at my house but raining just a mile away. Even a few hundred feet in elevation make a big difference. 

Fortunately, I rarely have to go anywhere during those events. There’s a good feeling being prepared to hunker down. My house batteries are topped off, there’s fuel for the woodstove, and plenty of food in the pantry. If the Internet and phone go down there’s cell service which usually lasts longer. Worse come to worse I can send text messages with a Garmin InReach. It connects directly to satellites. 

We have cards, board games, books, and arts and crafts to keep us occupied. 

If I really get bored I suppose I could make sure the mailbox is shoveled out. Our rural carrier will deliver the mail in just about any condition. She’s a wonder. The least I can do is make sure the mailbox is accessible. 


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Getting Through the Winter

We are well into winter here in the Great North Woods. There’s enough snow on the ground for people to roar off on their snowmobiles. A couple days ago we had three significant snowmobile crashes. Fortunately everyone is expected to recover. It’s been decades since I owned a snowmobile and I really don’t miss it. 

I’ve mostly been running the woodstove during the day and letting the oil furnace take over at night. That’s working for me. Our woodstove is a cookstove and I really enjoy cooking and baking with wood. The furnace is getting on in years, but it’s still running fine. There were quite a few winters when it didn’t run at all. We either burned only wood or had shut down the house and went south for the winter. That reduced wear and tear quite a bit. 

Heat pumps interest me, but they are not quite ready for prime time -at least for where I live. It gets too cold for most of them to run efficiently. There are models coming out that do better in subzero temperatures, but prices are high still. Then there’s the issue that New Hampshire has fairly expensive electric rates. 

Last year we made alterations where we could close off the whole upstairs and only heat the first floor. Then our niece moved in with us and we reopened the upstairs. That’s fine as she’s contributing financially. It’s all good. 

All and all we are enjoying winter. A warm fire and good coffee make all the difference.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

NH Election Day

Well it’s election day in New Hampshire. Sorta. New Hampshire state law requires that New Hampshire is the first primary state. Unfortunately, the National Democratic Party says otherwise. So now we have a Democratic primary that won’t produce any delegates. Biden isn’t even on the ballot, but he’s been pushing hard for a write in campaign. I don’t know how that’s going to work for him as a lot of Democrats feel disenfranchised -being disenfranchised and all. 

The interesting stuff is happening on the Republican side where it’s still a real primary. New Hampshire has a weird quirk where Independents can declare for a party on election day. There are a lot of Independents. My guess is that we’ll have a better idea how the candidates could do in the general election. The winner won’t necessarily be determined by the party faithful. 

All I know for sure is that the polls, as usual, will probably be wrong.


Monday, January 22, 2024

Still Here

I’m still standing. Yep, it’s been a minute. 

The holidays were . . . meh. Even my very low keys plans did not happen. My lovely wife was all the way down to Texas for Christmas while I was up here in New Hampshire. Her parents in Texas are having some medical issues so she felt the visit was a good idea. It was kinda a last minute trip.  Fortunately she did not get stuck down there and was back before New Years. 

The household just got over being sick. Tis the season. That’s what we get for trying to connect in person with people. I thought I’d share my experience with the anti-viral Paxlovid. My infection experience was a pretty rough one but I started on Paxlovid on day 2. By day 3 there was some improvement -which made a big difference in my comfort level. After that the symptoms were greatly reduced. The side effect was a nasty sour taste in my mouth that could linger for hours. The best way to describe the taste was like bad hangover mouth from too much overly sweet booze. Still worth it. 

Your results may vary. A good friend got infected a couple days before me. We had not been in physical contact so I didn’t get it from him. He also got good results from Paxlovid but had a rebound infection. 

The rebound was mild, but he tested positive for another week after having had two negative tests. 

It’s really winter up in the Great White North. There’s a couple of feet of snow on the ground and temperatures have been below zero. It’s supposed to warm up some for the next week or so. In spite of the cold I’ve been playing around in the snow. It’s darn pretty out there.