Thursday, September 17, 2015

Real Fire Breathing Dragons

When it comes to my favorite mythological creatures, dragons are only second to flying pigs.  I love things decorated with dragon, both Western and Chinese, especially metal objects.  But when they actually produce flame, well, that puts it over the top.  So I was quite tickled to find this dragon belt buckle with removable lighter:
Now if only I had a belt to go with it.  Perhaps I could make one out of paracord.  Of course, I would need a lot of it; Paracord Galaxy has a huge selection and seems to have decent prices.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

You Light Up My Life

Okay, so I even stole the title... but the pair of geeks over at TechNomadia have such great options for lighting that I am in awe:

  • Thin-Lite LED Surface Mount Fixtures
  • DIY Dimmable Undercabinet LED Lighting
  • LIFX WiFi LED Bulbs (Screw in Style)
  • Solar Ice Rocks
  • Solar Rechargeable Lantern
Their focus is on RVs, but these would be appropriate for anyone concerned with conserving electricity.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ulysses's Gaze

The world's attention has been focused on Greece for many months, but as a kind of economic spectacle.  I would like to pay tribute to their culture with this opening to Ulysses's Gaze, a movie with one of the most beautiful soundtracks I have ever heard:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Animal Power

English: Llama trekking experience, Forest of ...
English: Llama trekking experience, Forest of Dean Treks are available, starting from the Speech House Hotel, either with llamas or donkey/pony and trap. Here the animals are resting at Mallards Pike Lake whilst the trekkers take on refreshments. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Theresa Crouse at Survivopedia lists 5 animals to raise for survival transportation: horses, mules, donkeys, llamas, and dogs.  To that I would add goats and oxen.  Green Solutions Magazine points out that camels and elephants are important beasts of burden in some parts of the world.  Mythcreants covers most of these plus using humans or exotic animals -- of course, they're talking about creating fiction, but their goal seems to be making it realistic.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pulling Up Roots

As a general rule, you will get better results from plants if you start them from seeds in the place where you want them to grow.  However, this is not always possible: seeds don't always breed true, your growing season is too short, etc.  In these cases, it is important not to let the plant become pot bound, where the roots hit the sides and start circling around.  These roots can end up killing the plant -- imagine putting a solid piece of wood around a child's neck and leaving it there as the child grows.  What was ample room at first becomes impossible to get food and air through by adulthood.

What appears to work best is treating the pots with a copper hydroxide solution ahead of time.  This kills the roots as they touch the pot, so they never start circling.  If that is not done first, you may want to remove all the soil from potted plants and cut crooked roots before transplanting.  This should work well when the plant is dormant; it is the way most plants are shipped by mail.  I'm not so sure how good your results would be for an actively growing plant, however.  For those, you may want to use slicing, butterfly pruning, or teasing to get more fibrous root growth.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Careful Without That Ax, Eugene

Need to cut some wood but don't have an ax or saw?  If you have a knife, you can use a technique called batoning:

 You do have to be careful, though, or you will break your knife; and if there is another way to split the wood, you want to use that, because no matter how careful you are, you are still making it duller.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Blasted Weeds

Do you have row upon row filled in your garden filled with weeds?  Here's a new way to deal with them: blast them!  Okay, so the system may not be commercially available yet, but it is an interesting concept: using 100 PSI air to propel gritty organic substances to pummel weed seedlings.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Swimming Au Naturel

The latest fashion is not swimming without bathing suits, it's swimming without chemicals.  It's called wild swimming, but it is frequently man-made. You can find plenty of directions for making your own natural swimming pool. And they aren't just swimming holes; plenty of options are available.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Farm Medley

It's been 3 years since the Petersen Brothers produced "I'm Farming and I Grow It".  They just put out an anniversary video, but instead I'm going to feature their medley of last year's hits:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bug Out Checklist

Bitsy Pieces over at TheSurvialistBlog produced a checklist to give out to family and friends who show up at her doorstep looking for help after a disaster strikes.  Commenters pointed out a number of problems with this, but also an alternate use: to make sure you are well-prepared.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Profitable Permaculture Homesteading

English: Permaculture mandala by Graham Burnet...
English: Permaculture mandala by Graham Burnett used with permission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jack Spirko is taking a vacation from The Survival Podcast starting today.  The last time he did that I started looking around at random articles until I found this pair: The Profitable Small Acre Homestead and The Forest Market Garden Concept.  The second builds on the first, and these have so much information in them they are worth listening to more than once.

Also, while he is on vacation, he is having a sale on his Member Support Brigade.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Sao Paulo Challenge

If you're not ready to go completely without running water (hat tip to ), here's a suggestion: try living without running water for 5 days a week.  It doesn't have to be in a row; you can go 2 or 3 days without, one day with.  This challenge is inspired in part by the water crisis in Sao Paulo and partly by the second time my pipes burst last winter. I decided rather than repairing it right away and risking them freezing a third time, I decided to wait a couple weeks until the weather got warmer.  In the meantime I would turn on the water every couple days to wash up and store up water for the off days.

Related articles

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Advice for Parents

4 decades later, I still remember my grandmother doing this to me.... and it was about buttering bread!

Monday, July 6, 2015

It Takes A Village...

Whether the Greeks realized it or not, they did not vote against austerity yesterday.  What they were really voting on was whether the terms of austerity would be dictated by outsiders.  The people in the village of Karataina, at least, knew what they were voting for: the austerity of self-reliance, something which they are prepared for.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I Owe You One...

Many people see the problems with an economy where money is created as debt.  Some think we should go back to a system where money is backed by precious metals.  A few like Daniel Suelo think we should get rid of money altogether and go to a gift economy.  Either transition would be difficult, however.  Jeff W. had an interesting suggestion on Of Two Minds that would act as a bridge: informal credit.  Put simply, it's when you say "I owe you one" and mean it.  More broadly, it's being in a community where favors are reciprocated.  While the mindset is quite different from the gift economy, all that is really required to switch over is to drop the mental accounting.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Common People

It's Indepedendence Day, and I want to celebrate Common People.

Hat Tip to Sixbears in the Woods to introducing me to the song... although the version he used was by William Shatner.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Worth A Hill of Beans

When I was younger, my parents and I would go to the New York state border to a restaurant that featured Amish style cooking.  Sadly, after a few years it closed, but Mavis Butterfield over at One Hundred Dollars A Month blog came across a Mennonite recipe for Baked Beans from scratch that looks like the kind I enjoyed so many years ago.  I will have to try making it myself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

If I Could Keep Time In A Bottle...

Everyone has their own version of making a survival kit out of a small metal tin.  It is a fun challenge to see just how much functionality you can get into such a tiny space, and it has the advantage of being something you can carry around with you every day.  One function it decidedly lacks, however, is being able to carry significant quantities of liquids.  Tim MacWelch over at the Outdoor Life Survival Blog solved that by putting a survival kit in a water bottle.  While it's a little more difficult to carry on your person at all times, you can easily throw it in a briefcase, backpack, large purse, or bug out bag, and you can put a lot more stuff in it than a little metal tin.  I definitely think this is a challenge I will be working on in the near future.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Park Grill at Home

NCJeeper made a great post on the forum at The Survival Podcast on how to build a park-style grill at home.  It definitely requires some good metalworking skills like welding so it is beyond my capabilities, but it looks like it would be fairly simple to make if you had the right tools and materials.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Drying in the Sun

Many designs are out there for solar food dehydrators, but Naturewitch has one that is particularly interesting in being relatively pest-proof.  She even includes directions for creating "moats" to keep out ants.  More importantly, in a summer like we're having, it looks like it might be able to be made rainproof.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

B.O.M.B. Making 101

No, this isn't a recipe from The Anarchist's Cookbook, it's a variation on the Bug Out Bag: the Bug Out Medical Bag.  A souped-up version of a first-aid kit, these are more commonly known as gunshot wound or gunshot trauma kits.  Survivopedia has instructions on how to assemble your own for less than $100. The main components:
  1. Tourniquet
  2. Compression Bandages
  3. Suture Kit
  4. Splint/Sprain Wrap
  5. Blood Clotting Agents
  6. Miscellaneous

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Credit Card Survival....

No, this has nothing to do with financial advice....  People are taking notice of SurvCo's new Credit Card Ax.  While it is fairly unique to have something that can be turned into a hatchet be the size of a credit card, there are too many multi-tools to mention that fit that dimension.  Indeed, you could easily end up needing a second wallet if you got them all!

ReadyMan has an interesting break-apart version (shown on the right) which they are giving away for "free", plus shipping and handling.  They do have a video showing you how to use it they send a link to you when you order.  Of course, they do try to get you to sign up for a monthly membership in their organization.

One of the oldest and probably one of the best values is the 11-function one on the left.  I've had it so long I've forgotten where I put it!  It's hardly worth buying by itself, the shipping is more than the cost of the item.  My guess is any patent protections have run out, that's why there are so many inexpensive copies.

To my eyes, one of the sleekest of the genre is the Wallet Ninja.  Having a Phillips screwdriver is unusual in itself for a credit-card survival tool, but I think the function I would use most is the box cutter/letter opener; that's what I wish I had on my Gerber shard.  Interestingly, while I've never tried them yet, KnifeCenter lists 30 items in this category (although a number only differ by color), some of them quite pricey.

Perhaps the most whimsical of the entire bunch is the PocketMonkey.  At only 1 ounce and 1 mm thick, I don't expect it to be the most durable, but it might just be the most convenient to carry around -- they even say it is TSA compliant!

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over...

Much fuss is being made about the new NASA study that shows many of the world's aquifers are depleting.  Less is being said about solutions to the problem.  No Tech Magazine reports on a traditional solution in India, the johad.  This does not require lots of money, but it does require community effort.  The description of the way it works bears a strong resemblance to P. A. Yeoman's keyline system for distributing water.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Something Fishy about this Method of Farming...

Barry at has a rather extensive article about raising tilapia using aquaponics.  While it is an advertisement to sell you a book, unlike most of its kind, it lets you know upfront exactly what it is, and instead of teasing you with all the benefits you will get from buying the book, this article has information that is actually useful; insufficient for actually raising the tilapia, but extensive enough to make a decent decision whether this is something you might really be interested in.