Have I mentioned that we live in a crazy, stressful world? I’m pretty sure I have. Things like yoga and mediation are great skills to have in your skill/tool kit for living well in tumultous times.  

I woke up feeling stressed and crunchy this morning. The somatic stress I tend to carry around in my shoulders and hips and occasionally in a slightly elevated heart rate and blood pressure were definitely going on. After I managed to convince my self that the monsters aren’t real (Ha! There’s a lie.) and that should get out of bed I made the mistake of reading the (bad) news over breakfast. Oops. 

After breakfast it was definitely time to work on my stress levels.  I started by grabbing my mediation pillow and sat for five minutes worth of calming breathing-breathe in on a slow four count- hold for a slow four count- breathe out on a slow four count- focus on nothing but your breath. 

After my calming breaths I set the timer on my phone for fifteen minutes and transitioned into doing yoga. I just did poses that came to me as I went along, flowing from to another, holding some poses for a long time, quickly moving through others, some I did once, some I came back to. For some reason I was digging the idea of doing American style pushups this morning and worked a bunch of those into the routine.

It’s nearly impossible hold the worries of the day and the 101 things you need to get done in your head while twisted up in a pretzel and balancing on the toes of one foot or when your lungs and arms are burning, but you’re only halfway though your pushups. This shift of focus to only being capable of being “in the moment” is a huge stress reducer as is working out the knots and stiffness where ever you hold somatic stress. As the knots and stiffness go away the stress they held goes away with them. I’m feeling much less stressed and my thinking’s much clearer after my 20 minute session of mediation and yoga this morning. 

You don’t need to go to a class or have anything fancy to do yoga and yoga can be done at any level. Don’t worry about looking like the InstagramYogaPeople. Your best bet is probably to find a couple library books and a YouTube Channel you like and just do it in your living-room a couple of times. Plan on spending 10-15 minutes on your first couple tries and work the time up from there. If you dig it and it’s working for you then I highly recommend finding a studio and taking at classes at least a couple times a month. 

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My blog is designed as a quick and dirty guide to living well in tumultuous times. There are very detailed reviews and breakdowns of things like headlamps on a variety of blogs and YouTube channels, please look to them for the gritty details. The truth is out there.

Moving on…



Whether you’re walking home from the store at night, trying to fix something under the sink, or reading a book while the power’s out and the north winds are howling, being able to see what you’re doing without having to hold onto a flashlight is, pretty much, a must. So get yourself a nice headlamp or two. Nowadays, there’re a ton of options and they don’t have to be all that expensive.

The top light in the photo is a Petzl Actik, which at 350 lumens on bright is bright enough to do just about anything you’d want to do as long as you keep the speed down a little. I’ve used it biking at night as my only light at it worked fine, just remember it’s possible to “out ride” your light if you go screaming down hills. I bought the Actik as it’s USB rechargeable and bright. Also you can pop the battery out while it’s charging and replace it with three AAA’s. I quite like the fact that it’s capable of running on more than one battery and that I can recharge it with the same battery bank I use for my phone.

The light on the bottom is a Black Diamond something. I think there’s a factory somewhere in SE Asia that cranks out volumes of the same light and sticks different branding on the shell and strap depending who they’re doing a run for that week as this light seems to have quite a few similar looking cousins. Anyway… It runs on 2 AA’s and is plenty bright enough for night time strolls though a newly snowed on winter wonderland or anything you might need to do around the house whilst the power is out. That style of headlamp is also super light and small so it’s easy to drop into a bag and have it as a “just in case light.”

Whatever you decide light wise, I do think a good headlamp or two are indispensable pieces of kit for living well in tumultuous times.

Posted in getting around under human power, Getting Around Using Pedals, Kit, Lighting, living skills for tumultuous times | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Note On The National Climate Assessment

The latest National Climate Assessment is out and to the surprise of no one the news is rather dreadful. As I pointed out in my post about Hurricane Michael, the time start pulling away from areas made vulnerable/horrible/expensive to maintain by climate change is now. The time to start a relocalization effort is now. We need to do these things when they can still be done in an orderly and organized manner, not on the fly while the economy is collapsing and people are running for their lives.

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A Quick Note About “Winter Weight” Cycling Kit

I’ve found that, with a little investment in kit and some trial and error, it’s not hard at all to stay comfortable while cycling in temperatures down to about 10 degrees. However, I’ve also found that when it comes to cycling kit “winter weight” and other such claims really do need it be put in quotes. The vast majority of winter cycling kit I’ve come across just isn’t made for places like Wisconsin where winters are actually wintery. I was out bombing around today in about 20 degree weather and I was wearing a pair of “thermal” tights with a “winter weight” bib pant over the top of them. Paired together I was just slightly too warm. Had I headed out with just one or the other, I wouldn’t have made it to the end of my street.

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Out and About

Today started out gloriously sunny, but cold. I’d been needing to get outside and had been longing for some sun on my face for a bit, so I bundled up, grabbed my camera, and headed out. The new masthead photo is from todays outandabouting .

I decided to walk it today, it really is better for picture taking and I wanted to soak up as much sun as I could. Temps were in the high-teens to low-twenties, but insulated boots, long underwear, cheap wool pants, a heavy wool sweater, a hat, and gloves, kept me nice and toasty.

People are afraid of cold weather, but with a little thought towards proper dress and some experience out in it, I find that the cold isn’t a problem at all. I was probably out wandering around for about 2.5 hours, with a little coffee shop break in the middle and I was, if anything, a little too warm. Plus, With all that wool I looked natty as all get out. 😉

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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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