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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 1

Whether you have gold coins to hide or an "outdated" rifle or a nice stash of ammo, you need to give some thought to a safe place to hide these things. Do you have a gun safe? A hidden crawl space?

Have you even thought about it?
Sit down and make a few calculations and mental guesses. How often do you think your home will be broken into? Will it be just a punk looking for drug money? Will it be a professional burglar after your Civil War musket? Will it be an officer with a warrant and safe-cracking-know-how?

Will the perp have an entire week to leisurely examine every nook and cranny? Will they have a long weekend and the cover to pull up a truck and just take everything two strong men can carry? Will they have only a few moments stolen while you are in the shower or dropping off the kids to soccer practice?

Make a list of what you really don't want to do without, what can't be insured by your homeowner's policy, and what you don't want others to know about. This could include those gold coins, that civil war musket, a lot of real jewelry, etc. Maybe even your bullet mold, barter items, etc. Don't include the plasma TV, a fancy stereo system or other things that can be insured and don't have a unique sense of value.

More coming tomorrow...

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/05/keeping-your-valuables-safe-part-1.html

Sailor Showers Save Time and Money

In an effort to save time and water I have started taking "Sailor Showers" and have shortened my showers down to 10 minutes and use even less water.

The method for doing this is as follows:
  • Start your water

  • Soak your washcloth, head and body, then turn off the water

  • Get your shampoo and work it into your hair

  • Soap up your washcloth and wash your body

  • When everything is scrubbed well, start the water again and rinse off all the soap and shampoo.

If you are fast enough then you will be done with your shower in about 10 minutes or less and will have used maybe 5 minutes in time of water or less depending on how long it takes you to rinse off.

This method of showering makes not only sense ecologically, but also economically as your water bill is greatly reduced.

Posted by "Hubby"

Original: http://colorado-preppers.blogspot.com/2009/06/sailor-showers-save-time-and-money.html

Some Basics If You End Up Homeless

I know a woman who will end up homeless soon. There were a number of complications and through a death, having never worked, having no savings, no life insurance, no family, and a looming foreclosure, the sheriff will be moving her out of her home soon. She is one of the people who falls through the cracks because she has no children so doesn't qualify for social welfare intervention and is not old enough to collect her husband's social security. Having never been homeless I am probably the last person who should be giving her advice, but here are some of the things that I felt were important for her to do to get her ducks in a row as soon as possible:

  • Shelter, even a temporary roof over your head, is critically important. This woman will move in with a friend temporarily but these arrangements don't often work long term so she needs to look for other options. Soon. Other immediate options for shelter that I can think of include: camping/living in your car (not optimal), house sitting (better but irregular), section 8 welfare housing (usually there is a long waiting list and unless you need shelter for your kids, I would say don't get caught in the welfare trap), homeless shelters (from what I've heard these aren't the best places and usually have a time limit but better than nothing), live-in helper (it's a room), apartment manager (it's a job and usually includes a free apartment), etc.
  • A source of income. Your first priority in a situation such as this should be securing a source of income. Fortunately we found out that this lady qualifies for a widow's pension because of her husband's military service, unfortunately it is tiny (around $600 per month). Your full time job should be finding a full time job. After you get a job, your part time job should be either getting an education to get a better job, using your time to find a better job, or starting a small business on the side. Other options for income include: welfare (again, my least favorite source of income), unemployment. social security, veteran's benefits, temp jobs, part time jobs, a paper route, etc.
  • A cell phone. Funny how this didn't used to be a necessity but these days it kind of is. When you are homeless like this women will be, you will lose your home phone so having a means of communications is pretty much necessary. My advice, check the pre-paid plans for all of the cell phone providers in your area and pick the one that best meets your needs. If you don't want to waste your minutes, let all but the most important calls go to voice mail then return calls at the end of the day (or better yet, respond with an email which will save minutes).
  • A PO box. Another thing you lose when you lose your home is your mailing address. A PO box is an excellent option, just be sure to send in a change of address before you leave your home. Choose the smallest box available to save money and check around at local post offices as rates vary from branch to branch for the very same sized box.
  • A bank account. These days, money mostly flows through banks and it's a good bet that at some time or another you will need to cash a check or put your money somewhere for safe keeping. Many banks offer free checking and/or savings accounts along with a visa/debit card that is a better option for cash strapped people that a credit card.
  • Identification. You can't get very far in our society without identification. If you have no ID you severely limit your ability to work, travel, cash a check, rent an apartment, et al. At the minimum you need one or more of the following: a state ID card, a state driver's license, a passport, a military ID card.
  • A bus pass. If you live in an area that has a bus system, purchasing a monthly bus pass will often provide one of the cheapest forms of transportation (aside from a bicycle). Many homeless people have cars which are great for shelter but bad in the amount of money it takes to keep it insured, gassed up, and repaired. Going without any of these things can cause you to receive tickets and fines if you get caught without insurance or a car in bad repair. If you do get a bus pass, see if they offer any discounts for low income, students, vets, etc.
  • A library card. Libraries are often the de facto "safety net" for the homeless. It is warm place to shelter during the day, you can enjoy free books, free music, and often free computer and internet use.
  • An emergency fund. This is something that can obviously be a boon to someone who is facing homelessness but very rarely, if people are in such dire straits, do they have this luxury. If you see homelessness coming, by all means do anything you can to get some cash into your emergency fund. I was amazed when I saw foreclosed homes on TV that were full of furniture and tons of other stuff that the families just left behind. I can't imagine why they didn't have a garage sale or Craigslist the stuff to make some extra cash before leaving.
  • A monthly pass to the Y. I understand that some homeless people will purchase a monthly pass to a local gym or Y in order to have a place to shower. Depending on the cost, this may be an excellent option.
  • An email address and internet access. Like cell phones, this didn't used to be a necessity but now it kind of is. Email addresses are free (Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, etc) and are an excellent way to stay in communication with friends, families, and potential employers. Internet access can be found free at libraries, some coffee shops, some public places like the mall, schools, and other locations. Often you can use computers free of charge at libraries but if you have a laptop, which continue to get smaller and smaller (and cheaper and cheaper) and/or the ability to access the web from your cell phone, you may even be able to start a blog a la 'Homeless at NYU' or 'Hobo Stripper', and make some money this way.
  • Secure storage for your stuff. Obviously if you are homeless but have a car you have a (somewhat) secure place to store your stuff. You may want to consider getting a safe deposit box at a bank to store your really important papers including birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, etc. For larger items (or your gear when you are at work) you may want to find other storage options such as storage lockers at bus or train stations, or even at bowling alleys. Note that self storage units have been turned into shelter for some creative homeless people however this is not usually allowed or legal.
  • A backpack or messenger bag for your daily carry stuff. If you have storage for your bigger gear, it is best to carry only what you need for the day so that you can more easily blend in with the crowd and not stand out as a homeless person.
  • A printed list of resources. Many cities have fairly comprehensive lists of homeless resources including lists of homeless shelters, food banks, churches that serve free meals, etc. It would be a good idea to carry this list with you for reference.

Some things I didn't mention: depending on the situation, if and what kind of weapon you carry will be a very personal decision; there are positive and negative aspects to either decision. A lot of homelessness has much to do with other variables including alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, divorce, job loss and sometimes all of these things at once, which require treatment and other social service resources. While I never recommend going into debt, getting a student loan that covers school, room, and board may be an idea. A network of friends to help you out is a good resource however the longer you require help, the fewer, it seems, friends you will have. On a side note, many people who become homeless, especially from the upper reaches of society, often report that their supposed friends will no longer want to be associated with them once they lose everything so you may need to rebuild your entire friend network. These same preparations may be useful for victims of domestic violence. That was about all I could think of to tell her.

Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/06/some-basics-if-you-end-up-homeless.html

Night vision

If the first thing that you thought of when you read the title was night vision goggles or sights (it was wasn’t it?) then, IMHO, you may be relying too much on technology and not enough on developing your own skills and body. No it’s not what you think, Gen 25.4 thermal infrared high-tech, big military contractor big bucks stuff. Night vision for us po’ boys is what happens after you’ve been out in the woods under the stars for a few minutes. It’s the natural adjustment of your eyes to limited light. It’s great if you can afford the big ticket battery operated stuff, but seeing how I can’t, this entry will be about the free night vision. This isn’t to disparage the high tech, but batteries die, goggles get lost or left behind and equipment breaks. Sure it’s great to have a GPS unit, but you should also have a compass, be able to find direction with an analog watch or by tracking the sun. Get my drift? Learn to rely on your body’s natural responses.

When you get out from under artificial lighting at night your eyes will start to adjust to the darkness so that you can see better. It takes a couple of minutes to start the process and after about 25 minutes your eyes will be fully adjusted. Even on real dark moonless nights your eyes will adjust as best they can.

The first thing you need to do if you find yourself outside at night is to stop. Stop walking. Stop moving. Stop and give your eyes 2-3 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If the lights ever go out due to EMP, solar flares or more pedestrian causes like equipment failure or thunderstorms you should be used to moving around in the darkness. If you spend all of your life, 24/7, under artificial lights and sitting in front of a TV or computer screen then if you find yourself in drowning in the dark you may feel uncomfortably blind, or worse, maybe even freak out. You should spend enough time in the dark, that you are used to the dark, both physically and psychologically. Just like exercise makes a body strong, spending time in the dark will make the darkness your friend.

One of the best ways to do this is to get out and walk at night. You also need to practice walking in woods at night without lights, because if you can do that under a dark sky and be comfortable, then you can walk on a street or sidewalk in the dark too. When is the last time you made a point of getting out at night? Now it is summer now. It’s a great time to get out and ramble the woods and meadows. Get out and listen to the creatures of the night. Get used to finding your way at night without light. Learn to embrace the dark. Your world is dark for half of your life so get used to it and use it to your advantage.

When I ski in the woods at night, very rarely do I put my headlamp on. If there is snow on the ground it helps to reflect the ambient light. With a moon and snow on the ground sometimes it is so bright that I cast a shadow.

As long as you walk with the aid of lights your eyes will never adjust to the darkness and you’ll miss seeing the world around you.

One problem with using lights at night is that it sets your night vision right back to zero. Another problem is that a flashlight or headlamp will light you up at night like a Christmas tree. If you are walking at night and using a flashlight, I’m also out walking, but I won’t be using a flashlight. I’ll be able to see you walking with your artificial cone of light from hundreds of yards away. You might as well be wearing a glow in the dark bullseye. Even better if you have a headlamp on, then all someone need do is aim two feet down from that and….

If you are out walking at night using your flashlight and you come upon someone else walking don’t shine light in other peoples’ eyes. It will ruin their night vision and piss them off. If I’m out doing my own thing, minding my business, enjoying the woods, of course I won’t be using a flashlight to light my way. I’ll have one (or many more) just in case, but I won’t have it on. Please if you come upon me don’t shine your stinking bright light in my eyes. Don’t be rude, either shut your light off or point in down at the ground while we pass each other. Most likely I’ll see you coming from far away because of your cone of light and I’ll step off the trail into the woods. I’ll be quiet and just allow you to pass right on by. You’ll never even see me.

I can’t count the times I’ve been in the woods at night and seen and heard bright and loud people coming my way and I have just ducked off the trail a couple of feet and laugh silently as they obliviously walk right on past me. You’ll never even know that I’m there watching you, unless I choose to let myself be known. Don’t be ignorant of your surroundings. Keep those flashlights and headlamps off while walking at night. So get out and practice. Get used to walking in the dark without the use of battery powered technology.


Okay, the digital camera is MIA so we got some old night pictures to post. Here is Running Bear taking a breather while SKIING AT NIGHT SANS LIGHT.

Snow5And here is another buddy with Green Eyed Dog getting ready to take the downhill WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. The only light is the flash from the camera. Trust me this grade is much steeper than it looks, and it’s on cross country skis, at night, without flashlight.

ns2Just do it. Get out there at night without headlamp or flashlight. Wait a minute or two for your eyes to adjust and learn to be as comfortable walking around in darkness as you are during the day.

Original: http://hotdogjam.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/night-vision/


Not just a semi-euphematic naughty word used by a wascally wabbitt...
It's the greatest natural tea known to man lol!
Well at least the tastiest...aside from mint of course.

This page gives the following info on the medicinal uses of sassafras:
__________________________________________________ _________
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative. It is rarely given alone, but is often combined with guaiacum or sarsaparilla in chronic rheumatism, syphilis, and skin diseases.
The oil is said to relieve the pain caused by menstrual obstructions, and pain following parturition, in doses of 5 to 10 drops on sugar, the same dose having been found useful in gleet and gonorrhoea.
Safrol is found to be slowly absorbed from the alimentary canal, escaping through the lungs unaltered, and through the kidneys oxidized into piperonalic acid.
A teaspoonful of the oil produced vomiting, dilated pupils, stupor and collapse in a young man.
It is used as a local application for wens and for rheumatic pains, and it has been praised as a dental disinfectant.
Its use has caused abortion in several cases.
Dr. Shelby of Huntsville stated that it would both prevent and remove the injurious effects of tobacco.
A lotion of rose-water or distilled water, with Sassafras Pith, filtered after standing for four hours, is recommended for the eyes.
---Dosage---Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of Sassafras bark, 1 to 2 drachms. Of oil of Sassafras, 1 to 5 drops. Mucilage, U.S.P., 4 drachms.
__________________________________________________ _____________

I prefer it as a tea myself. Chop up a couple of teaspoonsfull of root into small slivers and add a teapot of boiling water. Boil for a minute or two and you'll have it--the nectar of the gods! LOL...

What it looks like:
Sometimes the leaves are bi-lobed rather than tri-lobed and sometimes they aren't lobed at all. But it's very easy to distinguish. The bark is orangy-brown and the roots are generally a strange spreading taproot or tuber which goes straight down and then ends up shooting sideways. They can be tough to rip up when they get bigger so be sure to harvest smaller plants. Digging these things up (esp. in rocky soil) is a b****...BTW please ignore the stems and roots in my hand there...those are not sassafras, but thistle tubers which I intended to eat but never did.

Here's a usable plant:

Which I promptly dug up and took home:D

Go see if you can find some!

ETA: Apparently Sassafras also has anti-pest properties. Try drinking (as a friend on BCUSA kindly shared) "a glass a day for a week" and see if chiggers, oatslice and mosquitoes don't avoid you.
(Thanks guys!).

Original: http://berserkersbushcraft.blogspot.com/2009/06/not-just-semi-euphematic-naughty-word.html

Home Garden Construction

Author: YeOldFurt
YeOldFurt.blogspot.com (Old Lightning)

Now, before I read any other blogs and get off on a tangent!
We decided to go with a "raised bed" type of garden, so construction is a little different than an "in the ground" garden.
We had determined we wanted a 16ft X 16ft garden (so you may determine a different size for your needs). Placement was behind the garage (west side) so there would be a little shade in the early morning and gradually get more sun as the day developed. Then we laid down an old used plastic tarp we had that had seen better days, to discourage grass development. Then we scored a couple of kid's sandbox frames which gave us the 16ft by 16ft size . These are made of plastic 2X4s with linkage loops and pins screwed onto ends. (You can also use old 2x4s spliced together or otherwise nailed to configure how you want it.)
Once having set up the frames, we got some river bottom silt from the Little Brazos (it was approximately 12 cubic yards which was overkill, but wanted some for flower beds and other uses). (The garden used approximately 9 cubic yards).
Then over the course of two half days, working in the morning while it was cool, we moved the dirt from the dirt pile into the framework. We took our time, took frequent breaks and maintained our "cool". Each wheelbarrow load was only 20 shovelfuls.
We placed some old animal panels we had around the garden to discourage the dog and other animals. Once we get the seeds in the ground we'll probably place a net or similar cover over the top to keep the birds out.

Got lots more pictures, but this gives you an idea.

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