Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What a vacation

So I've got a week off. It was a "use it or lose it" situation so I've elected to make it a staycation. I could have spent a week in Cabo but I don't think that the wife would have appreciated that too much since she would have had to stay home. Next month I get another week off. It looks like it'll be the same type of situation. A buddy from work will be in Cancun that week, though, so maybe I'll have to figure out some way to join him. I'm not counting on that happening.

I was hoping for some nice weather so that I could at least enjoy a few days on my bike. I had planned to pitch a tent in the San Luis Valley for a day or two and scout out the region. It's looking more and more like that's where I'll be investing in my BOL. It's a long trek to get there from where I live but it's got a lot of features that I really like. Unfortunately it's been rainy and cold the last couple of days and the weather doesn't look like it will be any better towards the end of the week. Fortunately I scored 2 cases of Sam Adams and 2 cases of Miller Light for $15 last week so at least I can stay pickled while I'm thinking about what I could be doing if the weather would cooperate.

Speaking of pickles, I've been canning quite a bit. I did up 5 quarts of chili, 7 quarts of beef stew, 4 half pints of zucchini relish and 4 pints of zucchini pickles so far. I still have about 5 pounds of peppers and at least 25 pounds of zucchini to use. I also have 5 or 6 zucchinis still on the vine and at least 25 pounds of tomatoes that are still green as hell the night before we're supposed to get our first snow. Hopefully it doesn't stick... It's not supposed to freeze so hopefully they'll survive.

Using that old, antique canner has definitely made me realize the shortcomings of it. It provides a good enough seal to get the job done but it does have a tiny leak in one spot around the rim. It's not bad enough to stop the weight from getting going but who knows how long it will last. The way that it's built it doesn't really need the gasket but it does have one and it does help a lot with the seal. I'd feel better if I had an actual pressure gauge, anyway. I think that an All American gasketless canner is in my future. I'd be able to can a lot more at once, anyway, if I bought a big one.

Arguing With Idiots is out today

Glenn Beck's new book Arguing With Idiots is out today. Love him or hate him you can't deny that he tells the truth. Make sure to pick up his book if you're sick of listening to idiots spout off with their ridiculous arguments every time you try to get into an "intelligent" conversation.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Inspirational "get out of debt" story

These days if you listen to the radio or turn on the TV you're bombarded with "pay off your credit cards for pennies on the dollar" or "declare bankruptcy fast and easy" all over the place. Personal responsibility isn't rewarded or even encouraged. At least some people are still willing to take the high road. These people had over $100k in credit card debt. Rather than declare bankruptcy like several people encouraged them to do they decided to work their butts off for a few years to repay what they owed.

Yeah, I get it. The evil bankers and credit card companies are out to get you. They just do whatever they can to soak you for every penny so when someone sticks it to them with a bankruptcy they deserve what they get. Forget the fact that you chose to take out the loan. Never mind the fact that you used their money with the agreement that you'd pay them back. What happens when people do declare bankruptcy and get out of debt? Most of them don't learn their lesson and end up saddled again in a few years. When you take the high road you learn a few things along the way and those lessons tend to stick with you longer.

Meanwhile, Obama finally came out and admits that race isn't the driving issue behind all of the protests. Now if he'd just admonish all of the people on his side of the aisle that still insist on playing the race card every time they start to lose an argument then maybe we could move on and have an honest debate about the issues. It doesn't do any good for him to say that race isn't what's driving the protesters. He needs to tell everyone to stop bringing up race because it's doing absolutely nothing to benefit the discussion. Maybe if these morons would stop calling us racists just because we don't like what they have to say then maybe we wouldn't get so pissed off.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Camping Options

I don't camp nearly enough. Usually I only get out for 2-3 weekends a year. I spent enough weeks in the woods in the army infantry, though, that I know what it takes to get by comfortably. A couple of weeks ago a few friends and I went out and spent the weekend in the boonies. It was a much needed break from civilization. As nice as it is to be able to flip a switch to turn on the lights or hop in the car to get to the grocery store sometimes you just have to unplug. Whenever I go camping I can't help but think to myself "what if I had to do this to get by?". It really makes me think about my preps. Now while the rest of my buddies were sleeping on queen sized air mattresses in 10 person tents or the beds of pickups I was sleeping on a portable air mattress that folds up small enough to fit in my pocket. They would have either had to drive their shelters in or carry them in during an emergency. Mine easily fit into my pack.

We were camping 10 feet from our vehicles, though, so maybe I was just torturing myself by camping with just what I had on my back. I was probably torturing myself more by hiking around with my backpack on the second day that we were out there. I didn't do more than a couple of miles but I definitely came to the realization that I either needed to lighten my pack or get back into shape.

Bedding really struck out at me during this trip. If it had been an emergency and we'd had to ditch the vehicles then I'd have been the only one sleeping semi comfortably. The rest of the guys (and even worse....their wives) would have been trying to get comfortable on a bed of sticks, leaves and pine needles. They were all sporting air mattresses that were really comfortable but that would have folded down to about the size of any of our backpacks. I had one of those cheap air mattresses that's about 6 feet long with several individual chambers that you have to blow up manually.

You know what I'm talking about. It's one of those mattresses with 6 chambers side by side. You blow each one up like ballons individually. They're a pain in the butt to inflate and they're an even bigger pain to deflate. They're stupid cheap, though, and when deflated they take up very little room and they're pretty light. They're great for a camper who doesn't want to carry around an air mattress but doesn't want to make a bed out of sticks and leaves every night. There are, of course, some other very convenient options.

You can always pick up a rolled up chunk of foam. They're extremely cheap, light and they keep your body off of the ground while you're sleeping. They're pretty bulky and not exactly easy to find a spot for on your pack (especially the ones that are worth a crap) but they're better than nothing and arguably more convenient than sticks and leaves. The ground does a really good job of sucking the heat out of you when you sleep on it so you need something between you and it. You could always play the super hardass and just build your bed out of sticks, grass and whatever else you can find.

There's always the self inflatable mattress. These are pretty light. By the time that I got out of the army this is what we were using. They're awesome but they're extremely expensive and they're still pretty bulky. They're pretty durable and extremely simple to use. The comfort level is very high. If I needed to walk somewhere and I knew that it was going to take a few days then I would want one of these on my back to get there.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The healthcare speech and Joe Wilson

I didn't even bother watching it last night. I knew exactly what Obama was going to say so I didn't waste my time. I did, however, hear a lot of the commentary today. Most of it was based around Joe Wilson's little outburst. I've got mixed feelings about it. For years the left has been playing the same little games. This time, though, it seemed to me like the guy just had an emotional outburst. How many people sitting at home watching the speech jumped up and said the same thing when they saw the president utter those words? I would have at least rolled my eyes had I watched it. He later apologized for the outburst while maintaining his view that he didn't believe the president. Honestly, I went to his website to contribute after I heard about all of this. The guy obviously strongly opposes this whole thing for the right reasons. We need more people like that in congress. I was just going to float him $10-$20 but apparently a lot of people had the same idea.

Unfortunately, when I went to his site, there was a congressional stamp that said something along the lines of "This site is temporarily unavailable due to heavy traffic. Please come back shortly." After clicking on the "official site" all day just to see if it would eventually pop up I decided that it wasn't going to happen. I did manage to stumble upon his campaign site eventually and he's accepting contributions here. No I'm not from his state. I had never heard of the guy before today. I imagine that most American's hadn't. I hate to see a guy with that much passion for a cause that I happen to be on the same side of (listen to the speech if you haven't already...that was an emotional outburst not some planned attempt at a smear) get smashed into the mud.

Ideally and on paper free health care seems to be a GREAT thing for everyone who isn't rich and can't easily afford the best healthcare possible. Unfortunately, free anything creates infinite demand. Whether we like it or not there is still a cost. In the case of something like healthcare then we can't morally deny it to anyone. This is where the illegal immigrant thing that the above congressman had such a strong stance on comes in. How could anyone morally turn away anyone in need of health care? Well...if the person in need no longer contributes to society because they're too old or infirm then it's a lot easier to turn them away. This is where the "death panels" that everyone has heard of come into play. Unless the government decides to enslave doctors and nurses and force them to provide healthcare for nothing then there will be a cost. If the cost of saving a 70 year old costs more than saving 3 25 year olds then it doesn't make sense to save the 70 year old. That's how Ezekiel Emanuel thinks, anyway. He's Rahm Emanuel's brother..you know...the guy who said that you never want to waste a good crisis.