Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fixed the Virago among other things

I got all of the parts needed for about $100. You can't even tell that it's been in a wreck now. While hunting around for parts I found some nice backrests and luggage racks. I'm seriously thinking about getting something like that so that I can use the bike for some serious touring/weekend camping trips. I've already got saddle bags for it and I bought some luggage a while back that mounts to a sissy bar thinking that I'd be able to attach it to the little grab rail that's there now. No dice. Oh well. One nice thing about the whole experience is that I've come to realize just how easy this bike is to work on, how cheap replacement parts can be had for it and how durable it is.

I've also been cutting expenses. I got my cable bill reduced by $50 a month when I called them and threatened to cancel my TV service. That will last 6 months. If I can't get a similar deal in 6 months then I'll probably just shut it off. I also canceled my home phone service which saved me another $50 and I refinanced my car which saved me about $100. Now I just need to refinance the house. I'm pretty sure that I'll get that payment down by at least $200-$300. I've also been selling some extra crap here and there. Craigslist is a beautiful thing.

I want to learn to weld and do some metal machining. A few months ago Rawles had a guy post about a home made multi machine. I've been following that yahoo group ever since. If you can weld and work with metal then you can make damn near anything.

I just saw this on Google. A couple from Beverly Hills got hit by the hard times and moved to a farm in Oregon where they now live in an old trailer. Here's the story. This is the last ditch option that everyone should keep on the table. I'm not looking forward to living like that but one of my short term goals is to insure that if worse comes to worse it will be a viable option for me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If you're gonna ride wear your gear

I took my Virago for a ride today and decided to hit up some twisties. It was a beautiful day but there were a lot of icy patches and tons of sand on the road everywhere I went. I ended up going down pretty hard. I was wearing good gear so I walked away without a scratch. My bike was a little beat up but fixing it should be cheap and easy. I rode it home so it couldn't have been in too bad of shape. It just took a little bit of ingenuity.

The skid mark:

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The McGuyver fix on the broken shifter that managed to hold together long enough to get home:

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Life in China

Wanna know what life in China is really like? Just ask a motorcyclist. This guy rode all over southwest China on a 200cc dirtbike and documented his entire trip. It gives really good insight into what day to day life is like for a lot of Chinese. It also gives us a small glimpse of how they regard foreigners. After reading this guy's ride report it gave me a really good idea of just how far we have to fall. This is how a lot of their people live yet somehow they're regarded as our competition. It also just goes to show that no matter how bad things seem you can always make the best of things if you've got the right attitude.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hobbies for preppers

Let's face it. No matter how bad the news gets there's always that chance that things will once again turn around and things will start to look good for humanity again. We will always have our upturns and our downswings. Things seem pretty bleak right now but all is not lost. Things aren't so far gone that there's no hope of a recovery. If things do recover then it will likely result in another period of prosperity that could last for another decade or two. Maybe what's going on right now really is the final nail in the coffin. Maybe it isn't. Maybe we're at the cusp of another depression that will last for years. Maybe we'll eventually bounce back. Maybe in 50 years automobiles will be remembered as mythical, magical artifacts and the average person won't even know what paper looks like, let alone know how to read words that are written on it. I've never been a gambling man. I like to hedge my bets. When it comes to prepping I do that by sticking to hobbies that I think could have some serious advantages if the S ever really HTF.

Camping, bushcraft, hunting and the like are obvious hobbies for preppers. If you can't stand roughing it or eating stuff that didn't come off of a supermarket shelf then you might as well quit now and hope to god that the system never collapses. A guy who has no interest in prepping but who camps a lot, knows how to shoot, owns a gun or two (and shoots them well) and who has some decent gear is going to have a distinct advantage over most of the "sheeple". For the prepper these hobbies are just an excuse to practice survival skills and buy lots of cool kit. It's also a good excuse to turn it up a notch and spring for stuff like land, campers or even a cabin. If you prep then you probably see all of these things differently than a "normal person" would. A prepper will keep his camping gear packed up and ready to go. A regular guy will probably just unpack everything and throw it in boxes until the next time he needs it. A prepper will keep his camper packed full of provisions whether he intends to use it or not. At best a regular guy will just take what he needs for the trip that he's going on. Even land and cabins will differ. A prepper will, once again, keep his cabin stocked with everything that he'll need when he gets there. If that's not safe due to threat of theft or vandalism then he'll maintain a nearby storage unit or just bury what he thinks he might need on his land. The regular guy will just leave his cabin empty when it's not in use. The prepper will also think about things like accessibility, defensibility and the logistics of actually having to live there someday. He'll plan the purchase/construction based on those things. The regular guy will just daydream about dropping everything and moving out there full time every once in a while right before he packs up everything and heads back to his real life.

Gardening is another no brainer. Learn how to garden well in the area where you want to do it and you probably won't go hungry if you've planned properly. With experience will come all of the gear and tools that you need to do it properly. The tools that an experienced gardener will acquire are exactly the types of tools that you'll want to have in your shed when things go south. I'll take an experienced gardener who knows what it takes to produce a bountiful crop over a "hardcore survivalist" with a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammo buried in his backyard any day (whether the world is ending or not).

Homebrewing and winemaking are things that I write about every once in a while. This is one of my favorite hobbies. The only thing that I dislike about alcohol is how expensive it can get. Honestly, you won't save a whole lot of money by homebrewing unless you do it a lot but there's something satisfying about sitting back and relaxing with a brew that you crafted yourself. The equipment is what really makes it expensive. Once you have that then you really do start to save money. If you ever really get hardcore then you can save a ton by buying your ingredients in bulk. Besides having the means to open up your own speakeasy you'll also have a lot of useful equipment. The huge pots, heavy duty stands and propane burners are ideal for canning, rendering fat, making big batches of soup/stew/chili or even just boiling large batches of water. I'm sure that there are plenty of other alternatives that aren't coming to mind right now.

Motorcycling is by far my favorite hobby. It can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. There are guys who buy old vintage bikes that get 80 mpg loaded down, fix them up for a few hundred bucks and travel all over the world. Then there are guys who spend 10s of thousands for all of the best gear to travel the world with. There aren't many places that you can get to on foot with a fully loaded pack that you can't get to with a capable bike with twice as much gear. Motorcyclists tend to be some of the most adventurous, free spirited, self sufficient people that I've ever met. They know the roads better than anyone, they can thrive with very little and they'd rather do things rather than make excuses as to why they can't. Check out this guy's story as a perfect example. Sure it's dangerous. It's not an option for everyone. It can be expensive. Pick the right bike and it won't set you back much and it'll be damn near bulletproof. Choose your gear wisely and you'll be almost as safe in a crash as you would have been in a car and you'll be able to live off of your bike for days or even weeks with few outside provisions. I plan on making more posts on this subject in the future so I won't go too crazy about it this time.

So there ya have it. Besides the internet and a few other little things that I do when I just can't do any of the above that's what I try to focus on during my free time. Once you get those beans, bullets and bandaids squared away it's easy to get anxious. You start to think about all of the bad things that could happen. It doesn't take long before you honestly expect or sometimes even wish that society would just tank. At some point I realized that I was starting to think like that. If I didn't do something I was either going to have to unplug completely and put my head in the sand or I was going to wind up in a cabin in the boonies waiting for the blue helmets to start coming over the ridgeline. I decided to start focusing more on prep related hobbies than what I was prepping for. It does a great job of keeping the edge off. If the world never collapses I don't have to worry about being an 80 year old man looking back at my life and wondering why I wasted it waiting for "the inevitable" to happen. Then again if things do go down the crapper I'll have the tools and the know how to be better off than 95% of the other people out there. Anticipating the collapse, firm in the belief that it's going to happen any day now and acting accordingly is every bit as dangerous as denying that anything bad could ever happen.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Shuttin Detroit Down

I just heard this song by John Rich on the Glenn Beck show today. I'm not much of a country fan but this one is worth checking out no matter what kind of music you listen to. Skip to about the 3 minute mark if you want to skip the commentary.