Crossing Algonquin

Quite an adventure. Thought I’d share this and try to figure out how to embed video on here. It worked! 🙂

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Another One For The Healthy, Hearty, And Cheap File

Apple and Walnut Stuffed Squash. Cook the Acorn Squash cut side down in 350 degree oven for a half-an-hour. While the Squash is cooking peal and chop an apple, a half cup of walnuts, and half an onion. Soften the onion on the stove on medium-low in some olive oil. While the onion is softening mix the apples and walnuts with whatever herbs you are using, I used sage, thyme, and a little rosemary. Add the apple, walnut, and herb, mixture to the onion and cook for the final 2-3 minutes of the onion softening. Remove squash from oven, flip it over, lightly score the flesh with a fork. Pile the apple, walnut mix into the squash, cover with a lid or foil and return the squash to the oven for another 30 minutes or so. Remove from oven and dig in.

Squash last a long time in storage without refrigeration and you could replace the apples with fruit that’s been dried and rehydrated (raisins, pine nuts, and pre-cooked bulgar wheat would be a good filling as well), so it’s a Zombie Apocalypse Approved Recipe as well.

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Battery Cases and Considerations

fullsizeoutput_6b4eCommander Zero put up a post about battery cases a bit ago and seeing how I’d already covered the need for a couple quality flashlights as part of your kit for Living Well In Tumultuous Times I thought I’d chime in as well on storing, carrying , and organizing battery reloads for your lights.

The first step is figuring out how many batteries you need. Since the math is easy, let’s say you have a small family and you have 5 flashlights and headlamps total and they all run on AA’s. If you want them all to have batteries and one reload you need 20 batteries total. But, hey, batteries aren’t that expensive and on high the Flashlight I linked too only lasts 96 minutes under ideal conditions. My experience has been that when you REALLY NEED A FlASHLIGHT the conditions won’t be ideal. Because of the cold winters in The Driftless Area I can pretty much guarantee my battery life will be lower than advertised from mid-November though mid-March, sometimes quite a bit lower. Soo…

Let’s say that small family needs their 5 lights to get them though a storm that lasts 4 winter days and nights with no electrical power, no car, and no stores open. 40 batteries gives you 5 lights ready to go, 3 reloads for each light, and reasonable chance of making it through the storm without running out of battery power. It’s also a big old stack of AA’s. You’re going to need a way to keep them organized and clean (so they don’t drain/blowup/find some other way to fail), and you’ll want an easy way to transport them so you can always have a reload with you.

My first attempt at battery org was to Gorrilla Tape a few together and then run the tape over the exposed ends of the batteries. This worked OK for one reload going into a bag or pocket over the short term, but over the long term the tape attracted grit and lint. This also does nothing to protect the batteries from getting crushed or poked and it did nothing to help keep the battery pile at home sorted. Next up was vacuum sealing. This also works, but since there’s no air to suck out, you’re increasing the space needed for storage, not shrinking it, and it’s a complete PITA.

Nowadays, I keep the single CR123 battery I need for my EDC light reload vacuum sealed in my messenger bag, and all the other batteries from opened containers go into storage boxes. Storage boxes keep the batteries protected and it’s easy for me to keep track of what I’ve got. This also makes it easy have batteries where you might actually be (at work, in the car, in the living room etc) when you need a reload and makes it so you don’t have to get the big, heavy box where you stashed all the emergency stuff out of the back of the closet without a light handy.

The Storage container on the left of the pic holds 8 AA batteries and is actually 2 4-packs slid together. Easy enough to hand the teenagers a 4 pac and a reminder to stick together when they head out to explore winter wonderland.  And since you can have that 4 pack somewhere handy (like in your pocket) you probably won’t forget to give it to them. All of the boxes in the pic were picked up on Amazon for just a couple of bucks. None of them are waterproof, but sticking them in a zip lock bag serves my waterproofing needs. The boxes are much nicer than digging around in a desk drawer or storage bin in your car, or the bottom of a bag for batteries that you know “are in here somewhere” and might be so battered by the time you go to use them that they no longer work.

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Oof, Pass the Advil

Some pictures from today’s bike ride.

While I ride a bicycle almost every day of the week, some times it’s just short commutes, errand running, and maybe I take the scenic route coming or going. Lately, it’s just been commuting and like always I got surprised by my lack of fitness when I decided to do a longer, challenging ride today. You’d think I’d know by now that you haven’t been doing longer or difficult rides lately you have to build up to those sorts of rides, but it gets me every time.

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Please vote against all Republicans

I’m a fan of leading by doing and not a fan of evangelizing. I talk about things like me getting around on a bike in part because it’s part of my life and in part because I think the world would be a better place if more people did their getting around on a bike. But, try to avoid gushing about how everyone else should ride a bike and I’m not going to slag on someone because they drive when they could have been biking. Likewise with voting. I share that I voted. I might say please vote because I think more people voting is a good thing, but these days I try to stay away from telling other people how they should vote.

This time it’s different. This time I really do think that “little d” democracy is on the line and we need to stop the direction that our current president and our current Republican Party is headed. This time I think everyone should either vote against every Republican on their ballot or not vote at all.

I, freaking, hate that I feel the need to share this post and opinion piece from WaPo with you all.

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It’s Crazy Out There, Take Care Of Yourself

The Big Brown Truck Of Happiness dropped off some new tea for me today. This is Monterey Bay Spice Company’s Winter blend. It’s a mix of black tea, orange peel, apple, cinnamon, and rose petals. The cinnamon and rose taste wonderful together and the whole thing’s loaded with flavonoids and antioxidants, so it’s super healthy. Mix in a little honey and whiskey with your evening cuppa, put on your favorite jammies, grab a spy novel and you’ve got the perfect way to try to wind-down and relax in these crazy and troubling times of ours.

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Some Wonkishness On Bike Gearing

A long and longwinded post just to say that you’re not stuck with the gearing choices that your bike came with and that if you have a “road bike” you might want to consider lowering the gearing. 😉

A while back Guitar Ted wrote a post that mentioned that what we think of today as road bikes are really road racing bikes. You see that road racing focus cary over into other non-racing road bikes, or as I like to call them Good Basic Transportation, in a  few ways (mostly bad ways), the most noticeable of them being bike gearing (high) and tire widths (narrow).

Bike gearing is measured a few ways. I usually use speed at cadence which gives you how fast you’ll be going in a given gear at a given pedal cadence. Bike gears are denoted by how many teeth they have in them, always starting with the chainrings (gears in front)  and going from highest gear to lowest. For example: when I bought my bike it’s highest gear was a 50/11, meaning that the biggest chainring had 50 teeth and the smallest cog (gears in the back) had 11 teeth. Using speed at cadence we can see that pedaling as fast as I can, about 120RPM, with the bike in its highest 50/11 gearing I’m traveling at about 44MPH. There’s a bit of a problem with this as once I hit about 20MPH I generally coast. So… About half of my bikes gearing potential was largely unused. 34/32 was the lowest gearing on the bike meaning that I had to maintain about a 5MPH pace to stay in a high enough cadence to pedal comfortably, which is pretty much impossible to do while going up a steep grade with a trailer full of camping kit or groceries.

Like most “road” bikes my bike was way over-geared for how I actually road it and by “road” bike standards it came from the shop geared a little on the low side. After about 2 years of riding my bike with too-tall gears I got sick of it and headed down to my local bike shop to brain storm up a setup that was geared appropriately for the speeds I ride at and how I actually use my bike. You can see the results of what we came up with in the photos above. 44/34 up front and 12-36 in the rear. This means my bikes gearing “spins out” at about 36MPH, which is plenty fast for me. With a bottom gear of 34/36 I can spin at a comfortable rate up almost any hill whilst bringing home my groceries. It also means that where I previously wasn’t using a large chunk of my gearing I now use all my gearing which makes for more comfortable riding and means that I can ride further.

This change in gearing as been a huge improvement and didn’t even wind up costing me all that much, so win, win, win.


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Boiled Cider

IMG_1826Another post for the simple, healthy, and hearty foods file. Boiled cider is just dead simple. It’s exactly what it sounds like, freshly pressed cider that’s been boiled down by about 2/3’s so that it becomes a sweet and apple-y flavored syrup. Boiled cider is  a wonderful sweetener for fall and winter cooking. I usually add a few mulling spices and a little glub of honey to mine to up the flavor a bit.

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Hurricane Michael

With the latest news on Global Climate Change spelling out a near certainty of large scale disruptions to normal life and the national debit sitting at around $21,600,000,000,000 we can no longer afford to rebuild areas, like the Florida’s panhandle, that are repeatedly hit  by large storms and will be affected by sea level rise.

It’s time to start mapping areas to be bought out and returned to a natural state as things like King Tides, flooding, landslides, and wildfires destroy them. This doesn’t just effect places like Florida or SoCal, Wisconsin has seen increased flooding  and storm intensity in recent years and we have many smaller towns and villages next to rivers that need to get moved uphill and away from those rivers or just bought out and closed down.

A strategic retreat from low-lying areas that will uproot thousands (millions?) of people and a system of relocalization  is a tough thing to think about, but we’ll be better off starting that process now while we still have the time and resources to do it in a well thought out and orderly manner. If we don’t do it now people will depopulate high risk areas  later on while running for their lives. The first option, while not pretty, is the better option.

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Mediation AKA Roto-Rooter For The Mind

There’s plenty in the news and world today to keep your nerves a bit on the jangly side of things and your flight or flight responses just a little bit on even when they shouldn’t be. When I start to get jangly,  having a hard time concentrating for long periods, and always feeling a little bit “on” one of the tricks I turn to is mediation. Usually, I’m just at home and I don’t use any kind of app or online stuff. I just concentrate on my breathing: breathe in for a slow four count, hold my breath for a four count, and release it on a slow on a four count. Five minutes or so of this in the morning and evening for a couple days in a row usually calms things down and brings my focus back. It would better if I just did it every day, but I’m terrible about doing it regularly. With all the news and hub-bub going on lately I was extra distracted this week, so I did a longer than normal session this morning and it worked like a charm. I’m feeling calm and grounded and my head’s not full of all sorts of nonsense anymore. Ah, much better.

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