This Article does a good job of laying out what you shouldn’t do if you want to survive your winter travels, although he did do one big thing right.

The don’ts: don’t go wandering around in the snowy middle of nowhere without telling people where you’re going and checking in. Don’t go wandering around in the back-of-beyond without adequate communications gear (SW radio, emergency locater). Don’t go wandering around in winter without warm clothing, a sleeping bag, and extra food and water. And don’t go places you and whatever your vehicle traveling in can not handle.

The do’s: do stay with your vehicle. This probably saved him and his dog’s life. I’ve been reading these lost in the woods articles for a decade or so and when they find people with their vehicle they find them alive, when people decide to abandon their vehicle in the middle of winter rescuers tend to find their bodies.

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Get To Safety Bag Concept #1

I begin this post with a confession: I don’t own a Bug Out Bag. The reasoning for my non-ownership of a BOB is simple and straight forward. I’m 50, I’ve been through a bunch of emergencies: bad car wreck, windstorms, dust storms, ice storms, earthquakes, extended power outages, days where the high temps were well below 0, a riot, and I was 12 and living not too far away from it when Mt. Saint Helens blew its top. In all of those situations I never needed a BOB. I see no reason why I should have one now.

Obviously, I’m a proponent of emergency preparedness. This blog wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t and I have all the stuff that goes along with that. However, almost all that stuff pulls double duty, I use it hiking, camping, biking, and it’s my regular cooking stuff-just shelf stable versions and it a bit of higher than normal quantity. It’s all sorted out and stored where I can get to it quickly if I need it. I also have more medical skills than the average Joe, so I’m pretty well covered.*

I decided to play around with a few concepts of bags I thought might work for me. My first decision  to call them Get To Safety Bags, the idea being that where I was wasn’t safe and so I needed to leave and get somewhere that was (obviously, if where you are is safe you don’t need leave). The contents, then, would be what I might need to get from my unsafe area to a safe one.

In my experience emergencies are limited both in area and time. Given enough time you can either travel outside the emergency area, where some version of normal life is still going on, or rescuers can get to you and insure your safety. I’m not preparing for the end of the world or surviving in the wilderness, I’m just trying to get to the nearest place that’s safe.

For Get To Safety Bag #1 I decided to go with a small bag oriented towards some sort of either man made or environmental emergency where there was a good potential for injury, you might have to spend a good part of a day outdoors, and you might have to wall a few miles.

Here’s the gear:

The packs is a Mountain Smith Tour lumbar pack, which is 550 cubic inches in size, or a little smaller than a standard book bag. The stuff is stuff, enough munchies to keep me going for half a day, a 5×7′ tarp and some cordage to make it into a bit of shelter. The first-aid stuff has a few large trauma pads, a bunch of wrap and a triangle bandage. It’s enough to stop some pretty good bleeding, wrap up a sprain, or splint a fracture. There’s also a travel toothbrush in there as it can help you figure out and deal with a mouth injury. My experience has been that emergencies can be smoky and dusty so I tossed in a couple surgical masks.  The rest is pretty standard hat, gloves, Swiss Army Knife, light and so on.

I figured the best idea was to keep it small and light as the more weight you have the slower you travel and the more energy you use. I’ll tear this bag down in a few days and put up a few more examples of what I think is a realistic bag to help deal with what you could with realistically run into out there in the big bad world.

*If you don’t have a ton of hiking and camping gear and don’t have the experiences and interests that I have I do think that a BOB or  72 hour pack is a good idea for you to have.


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Functional And Natty As All Get Out

fullsizeoutput_6bd2Last night’s snowstorm meant today’s getting around would be on foot, instead of by bike. Not a big deal as stop #1 in downtown Eau Claire is an easy half-hour walk from my apartment, all of which is on good sidewalks and off-street bike/ped trail. Stops 2 & 3 were just a few minutes from stop #1, all of this is in a downtown so I can do my getting around without climbing over snow banks or walking on sketchy roadsides as cars fly past.

Even with the safety issue out of the way people still balk at walking like I did, clothes being the main “yeah, but…”. Some would worry about staying warm (it was in the mid 20’s which is easy to stay warm in). Other’s would say they need to look nice or “presentable.” Or they worry about getting sweaty. Well, you can see what I wore today (plus a hat and gloves). I looked fine for the business casual environment I was in. I had light weight long underwear on under my sweater and pants and didn’t get cold on the walk or over heat while I was inside. The boots and a heavy pair of wool socks kept my feet warm and dry, provided sure footing in the snow, and I think they look sharp. And I never broke out in a sweat.*

Someone with a sharp eye might offer the “Yeah, but” that my clothes are expensive. They’d be right. However, those clothes aren’t extravagantly expensive, they allow you to  be comfortable outside in cold weather and to cut down on your transportation spending as you can walk places in comfort while it’s cold out. And you can ditch your gym membership, once you’re walking and biking you won’t need it. Also, those clothes also aren’t new. I’ve had all of them a few years and will get many more years of use out of them. Buying a handful of well made, classically styled clothing will save you money in the long run.

Get yourself a well made pair of somewhat dressy boots (grippy soles are a must), a pair or two of heaver weight wool pants (wool slacks without pleats work great, just make sure you can walk well in them), a couple classically styled heavy wool sweaters, and a pea coat and you can conquer winter and look good doing it.

*if you haven’t walked anywhere in a while there’s a good chance you might work up a sweat, over or under dress for the weather, or misestimate the time. It’s best to do a handful of walks in your free time before walking (or biking) somewhere very far away when you have to be there at a set time. Once you’ve got a couple walks under your belt it takes no time at all to figure out timing, clothes, and your body will be used to the exercise and won’t get sweaty.




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Eau Claire In The Snow

Thought Id share a pretty picture from last nights snow storm. That’s all. fullsizeoutput_6bcb

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Bike Tool Kit/Seth’s Bike Hacks

If you’re going to be doing some (or all) your getting about via a bike you’re probably going to need to learn how to do a few simple adjustments and repairs on your bike. And you’re definitely going to need some tools to do those repairs. Thankfully, Seth at Seth’s Bike Hacks has us covered for that. Seth’s Bike Hacks is a great channel and has a bunch of videos that do a wonderful job explaining tools and repairs. I highly encourage you to check him out.

Park Tool also has a, freaking, encyclopedia (remember those) of high quality repair videos.

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Vote Siphoning

I’d rather not write about anything political or current news, but what’s going on in DC and with our current political parties is a big part of the reason we’re currently living in “interesting” times and since this blog is an attempt at figuring how to live well during interesting times here we go.

Howard Shultz’s announcement about maybe running for president as an independent has got much of the left raising a hullabaloo about vote siphoning. While I’m a member of the left, and I do worry about independents and 3rd parties,I don’t believe in vote siphoning.

There’s a couple things going on with the idea of siphoning votes. The first issue I have is that the idea of siphoning seems to say that an individuals vote is not their own, that it rightfully belongs to one of the two major parties and that someone else asking for a person’s vote or a person voting for someone other than the D’s or R’s is doing something untoward. The second issue is the assumption that if that person hadn’t voted for independent or 3rd party that vote would have gone to a D or and R. 

The reality is that your vote is yours, not the parties. Not the media’s. It’s yours and you can vote for whomever you damn well please. And there’s nothing wrong, nothing untoward, about someone running for a political office outside of the party structures. This is America do what you want. 

I’ve talked to quite a few people over the years that voted third party for president, almost every one of them said that that without the 3rd party candidate they wouldn’t have bothered to vote for president. So much for  siphoning.

 Another issue I’ve run into is that many states are reliably Democratic or Republican and the electoral college is all or nothing so people vote for someone that more closely matches their views than the D’s & R’s or might vote 3rd party to help push their state party of choice in one direction or another (I don’t think this works). But, again, siphoning is a non-issue as that state was going to be a D or R regardless.

Lastly, my own observation is that when 3rd parties have been an issue, the candidates themselves have been weak and have run terrible campaigns. Ralph Nader gets a lot of flack for screwing up the 2000 election. But, in 2000 the country was on Clinton/Gore burnout and Gore ran a really weak campaign.

Seems to me the lesson here is: if you don’t want 3rd parties and independents to be an issue, don’t suck. Third parties and independents don’t siphon votes. Vote siphoning is  a lame excuse for a party that can’t be bothered to run good candidates or good campaigns. 

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Polar Vortex 2019

We’re currently at -8 degrees and, according to the weather reports, are headed to around -20. High temps dipped below 0 last night and aren’t supposed to recover to above zero until Friday.

There are quite a number of websites and YouTube channels proclaiming to know what need/must have in order to survive this brutal cold. And, btw IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!!! My take: you need a couple good books. Or, maybe, Netflix if you’re not much of a reader. These sorts of temperatures happen every few years around here and when it happens what goes on is fairly routine. Schools and some businesses close for a couple of days. Those businesses that stay open tend to open a little later, close a little early, and run a little short staffed. People mostly stay home. When people are out and about people show a little extra patience and help each other out.

Sure it’s nice to have a stockpile of TP and extra food in the pantry so you don’t have to go out, but if you do have to brave the weather it’s not a big deal. Things just kinda get put on hold for a couple of days and then resume when the weather warms up. It’s really not that big of a deal.

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2 Minutes to Midnight

screen shot 2019-01-24 at 12.39.09 pm

The Doomsday Clock remains unmoved this year at two minutes to midnight. Vox has a good post on it. I quite wish we weren’t being led by clueless, spoiled, children.

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Opt out for sanity

The ability to keep your wits about you when the world has gone topsy-turvy is a very good good thing indeed. One of the ways of “keeping your head” is to avoid unnecessary entanglements. For example: I generally shun click bait news stories and read way more in-depth issue reporting than headlines. However, recently I got sucked into a click bait, culture war issue, that got me to not only read highly biased and emotionally charged commentary disguised as news AND the comments, but to respond to the comments as well. Ugh.

Although the actual reading and responding on the issue was over in a fairly short time the experience left my nerves jangly and my brain feeling short circuited for a day or two. All over an issue that will be forgotten in a week. My correspondence was entirely voluntary. The issue had nothing to do with me and it’s resolution will have nothing to do with me. But, since I got sucked in I got to experience all the negatives, the raised blood pressure, the anxiety, the short circuitedness, and so on that come with life in click bait land. Don’t do it people. Avoid taking the bait and realize that 99% of the time corresponding with people that get you spun up in entirely optional. My advise: opt out.

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Pre-Apocalypse Tasks

As identified by watching post-apocalyptic movies on Netflix.

1. Learn how to dress appropriately For the weather and task/s at hand.

2. #1 includes foot wear. WTH, do most of those people have on their feet?

3. Buy some QUALITY hiking kit? How come everyone’s walking around post-apocalypse with junk gear?

4. Guns everywhere, but not a single holster in sight. If you’re gonna get a gatt, get a holster for that thing. Also, learn how to use it and practice, practice, practice.

5. Cardio! Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be rule number one. But, there’s no way those skinny flaccid legs I’ve been seeing on Netflix are going to carry you over hill and dale while wearing a pack.

6. Speaking of packs, learn how to properly adjust your packs! My back hurts just watching people hiking around with improperly adjusted packs.

7. Basic first aid will still a thing. Rather than walk around with that big-old-wound break out the first aid kit and take care of it. Take a first aid class before it’s too late.

8. Water, water, no where? Everyone’s always scrambling for water. Simple answer here. Store some pre-apocalypse and it will be there for you post-apocalypse. While you’re at it get a few Nalgene water bottles and start lugging a quart or pint with you whilst you’re out and about. It will save you money on purchased drinks and if the apocalypse happens while you’re out you won’t have to join The Hordes scrabbling for water.

I was going to go for 10 items, but I think that’s all I have for now.

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