A Loss of Knowledge?

I’ve been somewhat scatter-brained this week, so this may seem a bit disjointed. (…a bit more disjointed than normal?)  I read something in the newspaper that got me thinking, though.  It’s a similar notion to one I’ve read about, thought about, and even mentioned here, but it approaches the question from an angle I’d not considered before.

The concept: We may be entering a new Dark Ages.  Not this generation; probably not our children’s generation.  Our grandchildren?  Maybe.

Old news, right?  If things go through catabolic collapse, stair-stepping down the technological hierarchy, that’s one obvious assumption as to where we’re headed.

Where this one was a novel idea: We’ll be suffering from lack of knowledge.

Well, duh…  That’s what makes Dark Ages “dark”.  This version, though, went on to describe exactly what knowledge we stand to lose: knowledge about our planet.  You see, as climate change cranks through, past even the best-case scenarios, we see global weather patterns shifting, often wildly, quickly, and unpredictably. If we can’t reliably predict that “we’re probably not going to get another freeze this year, so it’s safe to plant things now”, or “the monsoon season will probably be starting shortly”, we’re going to have a hard time with agriculture.  That’s a vast oversimplification, of course.  One hopes (in vain, perhaps?) that we’d still be able to paint the seasons with broad strokes of the brush–plant mostly in spring, let things grow through summer, harvest largely in fall.  Will we lose a crop or two?  Well, yes, but we do that now–although seldom catastrophically (unless, of course, you’re the farmer). The point was, it’ll get much worse, and for a long, long time before it gets any better.

I’m still kind of letting that one percolate, so I’d like to just leave that pleasant thought with you for a while, and maybe re-address it later.  In the meantime, though…

Speaking of planting, how grow your gardens?  We hope, here, to avoid a repeat of last year’s “weed-mageddon” (weedpocalypse? weednarok?), by severely restricting the size of the garden, and doing our best to smother and/or cook the rest of it.  From our ten raised beds, we’ll be planting three (sort of–one will hold the tires for our potato tower, more on which in a moment).  The rest get cardboard and paper, maybe some mulch, and black plastic, to “cook” all summer.  Then next year, we’ll rotate, and over the coming seasons we’ll gradually open things back up.  A long process?  Yes, but one we hope will yield dividends with time.

Now, “potato towers.”  In an effort to kill multiple birds with one stone, metaphorically speaking, we acquired some worn-out tires from a local tire shop. (Often, they’ll give you the ones they were going to throw out for free.)  We’ll use one as the “side walls” of a raised garden bed (while actually placing it within a bed), filling it to the rim with suitable soil for planting potatoes.  Then, well, we’ll plant potatoes in it.  We place a second tire atop the first, and we wait.  When the plants just slightly peek over the top of the second tire, we fill it with more soil, and add a third tire.  Rinse, repeat, until we’re five or so tires tall.  Then, wait for the greenery to die off in the fall, signaling that it’s time to harvest.  Lay out a tarp, tip the tires over onto the tarp and dump out the dirt; then roll the tires away to save for next year.  What you have left is a pile of dirt and potatoes; dig them out, and hey presto!

Yes, I know the likely first complaint: growing something edible in a chemical-laden leeching-into-the-soil thing like a tire.  Maybe so; it hasn’t been a problem, thus far–and I figure you have to draw the line somewhere. I’ve got no control over the pesticides, etc. used on commercial potatoes; I don’t think I’m taking in any worse a chemical load.  But your mileage may vary–it’s all up to your personal comfort levels, I suppose.

I’d like to address community a bit more, next week; we’ve found out a bit more about the history of our homestead and its previous occupants, and I think it’s very interesting.  I hope you’ll stick around!

Posted in Critical Thought, Food, Planning, Post-Collapse, Skills and Practice | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting Home

This week will be briefer than I would like. I had planned on having lots of time to write the post, but then real life happened.  At any rate, I was going to redux my GHB.

As I believe I mentioned last time, I’ve been slowly adding things to my bag. This has resulted in my previous pouch getting stuffed–so I got a new bag.  This one is a sling-style, so I can actually put it over a shoulder, whereas my “old” pouch just had a pair of straps that would act as a handle. The new bag has MOLLE-style attachments, so the old pouch attaches quite nicely. And I’ve more than doubled my storage!

Since the old pouch was for carrying a water bottle, and it was now free, I picked up a 1-liter Nalgene bottle to go in it. I’m not putting water in it, yet–that would make it too heavy, and I’d have to be way too diligent about changing out the water so it wouldn’t go stagnant. No, for now, I’ll be putting things in it that absolutely, positively have to stay dry. Water will be for later–besides, that’s what I’ve got the Lifestraw for, right?

I also found a metal cup with folding wire handles that fits beautifully on the end of the water bottle. It can serve as a cooking utensil in a pinch, in addition to being one more thing to drink out of. I’ve also added a CRKT Eat’n Tool, which is a cute little spork-like object to use when eating. One thing I haven’t settled on yet is an emergency food item. I’m tempted to go with something freeze-dried, but most of the ones I’ve laid my hands on run to eight servings in a pouch, which is more than I need.  I’m looking for maybe one or two meals, tops; I’m keeping my eyes and options open, and I’m happy to entertain suggestions in the comments.

Two other items I’ve added are a sharpening tool and a first-aid kit. The sharpening tool is a Lansky Blade Medic; it seems to work pretty well, for “emergency purposes”. I’m generally opposed to the “pull the blade through the V” sharpeners; in an emergency, though, it’d be better than nothing. Besides, the rod for touching up serrations doubles as a honing steel, which is all you need most of the time, anyway. And given that the knife was inexpensive, I’m not really all that concerned about it. (Speaking of the knife, I’m considering getting a handful more of them for daily use around my shop, etc.; they’re not at all bad, especially for the price.)

The first aid kit was from Northbound Train, and it’s quite small (maybe 5″ square by an inch thick?), has a surprising number of things in it, and also has MOLLE attachments to stick it to the bag (saving room on the inside). I’m going to stock it with a number of extra things–not nearly enough band-aids, I’d like a tube of antibacterial ointment, that sort of thing–but it’s definitely a good start.

A few other items I’ve been considering: I’ll probably add a pair of socks to the kit. I’m considering replacing, or at least supplementing, the pen I’ve got in the bag with a carpenter’s pencil. A local map, or at least a state map, would probably be useful, as well.

What do you think?  What am I missing? I’m sure there’s something, and I’m sure everyone out there has an opinion…  I’d love to hear them!

Posted in Critical Thought, Gear, Planning, Post-Collapse | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Easter!

This is going to be short-ish, but I promised I’d get something out. (No sooner had I hit “publish” on that notification post, than I was taken down by a sneaky, nasty springtime head-cold, which has now taken up residence in my upper respiratory tract…)

In the longer term, I’d like to do a thorough overview of my Get Home Bag.  I’ve added a couple of things to it since the last time we talked about them here, to include getting a bigger bag, and re-thinking a couple of items. For instance, I had lacked any sort of a sharpening/honing instrument for the knife, figuring I’d find a convenient rock of the right type, when the need arose…  More thought, though, and I realized that any time I *want* to find a particular type of rock, I seem to be in the wrong geological area for them, and they’re nowhere to be found.  Best not to count on that.  So, I went shopping for something to add to the bag.

Likewise, I’m looking for a decent type of packaged, emergency food ration to add to the bag; while it’s not designed to be for a “weeklong adventure” or longer, that would end up being exactly the case when I’d end up needing it.  So, something for maybe just a meal–less than an MRE, most likely.

With all that being said, in the spirit of Springtime renewal (and isn’t it glorious, watching the plants bloom, and the trees bud out), it is perhaps a good time to look over your GHB, and see what changes or additions need to be made, if any.  My next post, I’ll go back over everything that’s in mine, particularly the new stuff (only a couple of things, really).  In the meantime, go enjoy the day!

Posted in Critical Thought, Gear, Planning, Quick | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Slight Delay

Due to some odd scheduling this week, I’ll be putting up a new “full” post this weekend.  Sorry for the delay!  We’ll be back on track soon…

Posted in Make it Stop | Tagged | Leave a comment

Equipment, Part 1

As promised, I intend to take a look or two at some equipment over the coming months.  I hope to be rather tongue-in-cheek about it all, while still providing accurate reviews, the better to decide for yourselves whether the stuff is worth the time/effort/money.  I’ve got a small, quick one for today, but first:

So, how ’bout them primaries?  As things stand right now, Lord Business has extended his lead, while the Zealot appears to be in closest pursuit–or, at least, he’s extending the distance between himself and the two remaining.  There’s a handful of contests this weekend, then next week starts the winner-take-all primaries. I find it at least a little karmic, if not ironic, that the schedule was set up by “the establishment” Republicans so that a clear “favorite” could wrap things up quickly–and the guy who looks primed to do so has them in a bit of a panic. Regardless, I think us Liberal/Progressive types need to start drumming up a “get out the vote” campaign for the general election…

A quick note on this, and all reviews:  I’m not, at present, a paid reviewer.  None of the things I review have been given to me, other than as gifts from my lovely wife. Most links to products will be via an Amazon affiliate link, where possible–and should you choose to purchase anything, the money will get put back into further preps (read: more things to review!).  Should any of this change in the future, I’ll let you know.

Now, as mentioned, a small review.  Fitting, because it’s a small object: it’s the Zootility Pocket Monkey. This is designed to be a wallet-sized multi-tool.  It’s got a bottle-opener, a letter-opener, something that I guess is designed to start peeling an orange…  Screwdriver heads, an opening that will fit small bolt heads.  There’s a slot through which you can stick a business card, to make it a stand for your cell phone. There’s a space for using it to wrap headphone cords. Lastly, there’s a set of small measuring markings–a 1″ section, and for the metrically-inclined, 3cm, in 1mm ticks.

To be honest, I’ve been toting this thing around in my wallet for four or five months now.  It truly doesn’t take up much space–it’s about the thickness of a credit card–and it’s stainless steel, which means it’s fairly stiff and nigh-indestructible. My biggest issue with it is that I seldom remember that I have it, which slightly limits its utility. As an “emergency backup,” or a widget in the BoB, there’s probably worse things to have, but for the most part it’s a novelty item. With a little imagination, I’m sure multiple uses could be found for it, beyond the “planned” ones–maybe for prying apart something that’s not too stuck, or hitching a small line to it.  But I don’t know that it’s necessarily worth the $12 or so it’ll run you.

To be fair, I’m sure that’s right where the manufacturers wanted it; an “appetizer” for slightly more useful, slightly more expensive items. I’ll admit to not having checked out the rest of their catalog, so I certainly can’t vouch for it–but I’d be sorely disappointed, if this was the only thing they’re offering.

So there you have it!  Lukewarm, at best.  Watch for more reviews, in future postings; I hope to have a bit of fun with them.  Also, starting this summer, we’re planning on running an experiment: My wife has found a book compiling “survival” guidelines for WWII-era Britain. There’s a power usage guide, explaining how much energy (electrical, coal, gas, etc.) you can/should use over a year (from July 1 through June 30). Granted that our house is on the older end of the scale, for the US, this is still the modern era, with computers and such.  We’ll see how we do–and I’ll keep you updated, as we go through the experiment.  Thanks for sticking with me!

Posted in Gear, News, Planning, Politics, Skills and Practice | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scared, Yet?

If not, you might not be paying attention.

Now, this isn’t an existential dread. No, this is a worry for what may be coming–another type of disaster, if you will; one that I fear is more than a little bit likely. (Not probable, in my estimation, but there’s definitely a non-zero chance.) I don’t go down this path lightly–I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that any time someone is trying to scare you, you need to check what they’re selling.

I’m not selling anything.  I’m just advising caution, and being at least emotionally prepped.  We, as a country, are looking at the possibility of not merely a Republican presidency (which we’d get through with only fairly minor pain), not even “just” a Cruz presidency (which would hurt quite a bit more, I think)–but at a Trump presidency.

Unless the man undergoes a massive personality shift through late November and December, there’s really no telling what might happen to the country.  Oh, I don’t think it would necessarily collapse–but I’d be not the least surprised to find ourselves two, maybe even three steps down that “stairstepped slow fall” before all is said and done.

It’s been curious, watching the rise.  For my money, though I thought he was absurd, I’ve not doubted that he’d get significant backing, probably win a couple of states. I certainly never expected the type of following that he’s whipped up.  (And ‘whipped up’ is indeed the right phrase–they’re nothing if not frothing.)

The fooforaw over replacing Justice Scalia is an interesting mess, too.  Various members of both parties have made statements about why President Obama should or should not be able to nominate someone, and why the Senate should or should not advise, and then (after a vote) either give or withhold consent.  Whatever else there may be about the situation, “not doing anything” is probably the last thing needed.

It certainly feels as though we’re living through the fabled Chinese curse, and “living in interesting times.”

I’m thinking about starting a series of gear reviews, and maybe going over “basic” home preps over the next few months.  Water, food, etc.  I hope you’ll stick around!

Posted in Critical Thought, Government, Make it Stop, Politics | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments


Well, it’s been a very trying couple of weeks.  The weather has been–let’s call it “less than cooperative”. There are family issues to work out. My workplace is in a state of flux. And then the technical issues of the last few weeks.  While I’m functional again, I haven’t been able to recover any data as yet; fortunately, nothing of truly vital importance was lost. Still working on it, but it’s a process.

The snowfall of a few weeks back got me thinking about where your “average guy” is probably failing to plan.  (Not us–we preppers tend to be the obsessive planner types.) It came to me, specifically, as I was shoveling out the driveway, listening to neighbors with tractors and/or snow-blowers, and watching the plows cross back and forth on the road, not ever stopping to help.  No, they instead piled a five-foot mountain ridge of wet, icy, slushy snow across the end of the drive.

The particular failure point is this: Who is coming to help, and when?  Seriously–with the rose-colored glasses of “the Government is Coming to Save Me” off, give it a long, hard thought.  In the event of a disaster, who is coming to help?  When will they get there?  The answers to these questions may tell you quite a bit about what sort of preps you need to have.

It’s long been a personal axiom that folks “out West” are generally friendlier to one another in times of need, politics aside.  Sure, there’s the stereotype of the “rugged individualist,” but when it really hits the fan, folks out there generally help each other out.  Here in the East, not so much.  Oh, they’re not complete ogres, by any stretch of the imagination.  But my reasoning is this: as people migrated to and settled in the West, there were fewer people around, generally.  They helped each other out–and if they didn’t, they didn’t get much help, themselves.  The folks who stayed in the East tended to be less than completely supportive.

Whether all that is true or not, we ended up shoveling everything out ourselves.  It was twelve hours of work, both my wife and I laboring across two days, to get one vehicle out. No offers of help from anyone–not even the guys “trolling” past, looking to charge $50-$100 to clear a driveway.  (Money which I would have gladly coughed up–particularly the day after, as I nursed some very aching muscles.)

So think about it: are your neighbors the helping types? How do they figure into your plans? Probably worth cultivating some relationships?  For our part, we’re saving up for a snowblower, or possibly an ATV with a plow attachment.  Then, after the next “snow of the century,” we’ll be able to dig ourselves out much more easily–and go on to help the neighbors.

Posted in Community, Critical Thought, Gear, Planning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment