Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I have a sponsor!

It's been 2 years since I started this blog. After a few months I signed up with Amazon and started getting "free" gift cards every few months. Every once in a while I get an email from Amazon that says that I got enough clicks to earn a gift certificate. Those gift certificates have been coming more and more frequently lately. In fact, it was a year before I got my first one. The last few months have been great and I want to thank everyone who's used my Amazon store when you need something and you want to get it online. Remember, if you don't see anything that you like in my product links you can always use the search tab to find what you're looking for.

Meanwhile, I've gotten several emails from people asking me to put a link on my blog to their store or business website. I have no problem with linking blogs. You don't even have to link me back if I like what you're saying and I like what you have to say (disclaimer: I don't always agree with what bloggers that I link to have to say). Stores...I have a problem with. If you're in the business of making money then you shouldn't have a problem with offering someone money who could potentially bring you more business. If those people aren't bringing you business then stop paying them. Simple.

Imagine my surprise when I got an inquiry just a few days ago from someone who actually wanted to pay me to advertise?! If you look to the right you'll see a widget for Our Happy Homestead. I've added a few links to some of their products. Those few items aren't even scratching the surface of what they have to offer. They're also constantly adding new products. I encourage you to check them out. I'll be talking about them and their products from time to time. I encourage you to share with me any experiences that you have with them...good or bad.

If you've got an online business and you're looking to advertise then feel free to shoot me an email at artyboy@gmail.com. I'm cheap. I also care about my reader's experiences so if you're a reader and you have a bad experience with one of my sponsors I want to hear about it. I also want to know when you have a good experience with one of my sponsors.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Got a french press

A year or two ago Rangerman over at SHTF blog made a post about a french press. I'd never heard of one but the concept made sense so ever since then I've always had the idea to get one in the back of my mind. It's never been a priority but I promised myself that if I ever saw one and the price wasn't ridiculous that I'd snatch it up. Last week I was Christmas shopping and I saw one for $4. There were actually two of them. One was big enough for one cup of coffee. The other was big enough for maybe three for $2 more. I bought the smaller one. I wanted it for camping so the smaller one looked like it would fit my needs better.

For those of you not familiar with a french press it's a pretty cool little gadget. It's just a cup with a lid/plunger contraption. The bottom of the plunger has a filter. You put the coffee in the cup. Then you add hot water and let it steep for a few minutes. Push down on the plunger and the filter pushes the coffee grounds to the bottom. Voila. You have coffee. Since you only need about 1 tablespoon per cup I've come to like it a lot more than my coffee maker. The coffee is more potent and I use less grounds. I also don't have to waste a filter. When I go camping I can only imagine how much better it will be than a percolator. It packs down to a much smaller size. I'll be able to store enough coffee for an entire weekend inside of it. I won't have to worry about boil overs or weak coffee that's loaded with grounds.

Coffee makers are less work and make more coffee at once and percolators are probably more robust but the french press that I picked up seems pretty sturdy and it doesn't take any longer to brew than a coffee maker. In fact, if you're like me then you get your coffee going in the morning and it could be a couple of hours before you drink your last cup. By then it's been sitting on the burner for a while and it starts to taste a bit off. With the french press you just make it at your convenience. I'm in love with mine. They're pretty cheap and handy to have around. Especially, if you like coffee.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An article on off-grid living and some thoughts

I found this on Google news.It's an article over at CNN about off-grid living. It all seems like a great idea. And it is as long as living that way is a choice. Of course there was the bit at the end about how everyone should be doing this or we're all going to die. I contend that if everyone lived this way we'd be in serious trouble. Then again the majority of people couldn't possibly live this way. You have to be smart. You have to be resourceful. You have to have a good sense of responsibility. If you don't have the money for a really nice setup then you'll be living like a citizen of a third world country. If the situation dictates that we all have to live like that then most of us will fall into the latter category. Being forced into that situation by real environmental problems is one thing. You do what you gotta do to survive. Being forced into that situation by a government that wants to stem a problem that may not even be happening is something else entirely.

There was one little anecdote about a settlement in Scotland where everyone lives off grid. A noblewoman owns all of the land. Sure she charges extremely low rent ($15 a month) but what happens if she decides to raise the rent? Or worse, what happens when she dies? Who takes ownership of the land? What will the new owner decide to do with it? Little setups like that seem like such a great idea but there are way too many factors to consider for me to want to jump into it myself. Most importantly you're living at the behest of someone else. No thanks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Heidelberg Appeal

Back in 1992 a petition began circulating throughout the scientific community. This petition was drafted in response to the "growing concern" of global warming. Check it out here. Despite it's 4000+ signatories, including several nobel prize winners, it's largely been ignored by the global warming doom and gloomers who have managed to take control of the discussion and use it get rich, influence politics and convince people that they need to be told how to live "or else". The poorest countries have used global warming to demand the wealth of richer nations. The Chinese have used it to justify their one child per family policy. Businessmen and corporations have used it to get rich by convincing companies and governments that their technologies are "better" even though they're much more costly and inefficient. The super rich global warming doomers have even used it to justify their hypocritical extravagent lifestyles by claiming that their business dealings and investments offset their much larger than average carbon footprints. Scientists themselves use it to get grants so that they can afford to continue their "research". Meanwhile, this tight knit niche of scientists colludes amongst themselves and figures out ways to discredit and margilize anyone with a dissenting opinion.

Here's the appeal. It's short and sweet but should make sense to everyone. If you're actually honest then it's blatantly obvious that those trying to push the global warming agenda would happily wipe their ass with this because they have so much to gain by convincing the masses that it's actually happening, that it's our fault and that we have to do something to stop it.

The Heidelberg Appeal

We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.

We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to
scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look toward the past, does not exist and
has probably never existed since man's first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by
increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse. We full subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a
universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved.

But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on
irrational preconceptions.

We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity,
and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind.

We therefore consider that scientific ecology is no more than extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of
future generations.

We intend to assert science's responsibility and duties toward society as a whole.

We do, however, forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by
pseudoscientific arguments or false and nonrelevant data.

We draw everybody's attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which
matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and
avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their
dignity.

The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology, and Industry, whose
instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself,
overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases.


Then of course there's the Global Climate Change Petition that was signed by 30,0000 American scientists. This was a much more anti global warming document. Since only about 500 or so of the scientists were actually involved in the field of climatology in some way and it takes aim at the actual science of global warming (unlike the Heidelberg Appeal which just urges people to follow real facts and the scientific process) it doesn't have as much credibility.

Obviously, I'm in the "global warming deniers" group. Man-made global warming is overstated. There's as much evidence to prove this as there is evidence to prove AGW. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't turn our thermostats down in the winter or up in the summer. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't take a bike or the bus when we don't really need to drive a car. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't recycle. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive to become as self sufficient as possible. What it means is that our leaders shouldn't use this as an excuse to tell us how we need to live our lives by artificially regulating everything to "avert a crisis". It means that scientists should stop trying to find ways to skew facts to fit their agenda. It means that the powers that be need to be open and transparent and stop treating us like stupid little kids. Be straight with me. Don't try to scare me. My natural reaction to any threat is to get defensive. It's the same for a lot of people. The debate isn't over. Global warming dissenters aren't flat earthers or holocaust deniers. When you have to resort to tactics like insults, fear mongering and outright threats because you can't argue on the merit of your argument then there's obviously something wrong and it won't be long before people start to wake up. Hopefully it happens before these morons in Copenhagen come to some kind of consensus.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

These people have a lot of balls

First emails surface that suggest that top scientists in the field of climatology have been consispiring for years to find ways to doctor data and discredit anyone with a dissenting view. Then we find out that all of the original data that these people have based their conclusions on has beed destroyed. While they do everything to marginilize the significance of these facts world leaders are getting together for a major climate summit where they're trying to figure out what exactly we can do to stop this "cataclysmic event". I thought that the cap and trade deal was a bad idea. The same group of scientists who conspired, lied and fixed data to convince the world that we're all going to die if we don't do something now want the world's wealthiest nations to cough up 60 billion dollars over the next 5 years (that's just a lowball estimate...they admit in their report that it may actually end up being much more) to fund the measuring of every nook and cranny of the earth to fill in the huge gaps of knowledge that we have right now. In other words, they're admitting that they don't know what the hell they're talking about so they need billions more so that they can try to figure it out. I'm sure that this time they'll be much more careful with their communications to each other as they figure out how to tweak the data to ensure that their gravy train continues to flow and that they're always on the receiving end. Meanwhile, China's one child per family policy is actually getting serious consideration. Here's an article from Canada's national newspaper about it. Seriously....what the fuck.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I has another new hobby

It's been a bit since I've picked up a new hobby. This time I was looking around a pawn shop and noticed a very nice Trek full suspension mountain bike (a Trek Liquid for those of you who know a thing or two about mountain bikes) in their usual gaggle of bikes. Expecting to see a $1000+ price tag I looked anyway. $129. Wow. Someone forgot a zero when they put the label on this bike. Anyway, I quickly snatched it up. The clerk commented on how the bike was labeled way too cheap and I thought for sure that he wasn't going to sell it to me. He didn't go past commenting about it, though, so off I went with my new bike.

So what made me think about looking at mountain bikes in the first place? Well, I grew up riding a lot. If I needed to go somewhere I'd get on my bike to get there. Riding my bike 10 or 15 miles to the next town for no real reason was common practice when I was younger. Then I joined the army, could afford a car and didn't even think about riding a bike again for years. A couple of years ago I picked up a cheapo department store bike. After one "good" ride (by good I mean more than around the block a couple of times) I brought it home and parked it. The seat kept falling down so I basically couldn't sit down while I pedaled. The brakes sucked. At one point I was riding down a hill and the brakes all but gave out. I almost didn't make the turn at the end of the trail. Considering that the trail was bordered by a concrete wall that led into a tunnel under a bridge at that point it wouldn't have ended well had I not made it. That ride really made me understand the importance of having a bike with quality components. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready to drop $500 on an "entry level" bike and I didn't know enough about them to trust buying a used one.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I knew enough to know that the bike I was looking at should have been much more than what was on the price tag. I took it for a ride when I got home and I was instantly hooked. That led me to start doing a lot of research. I took the bike to a shop, had it tuned up and fixed a few things. Now it rides like a dream. I can't wait until the weather gets better so that I can take it out and really get it dirty. Walking isn't enough to keep me in decent shape, I hate running and going to the store is a chore so I'm glad that I've found something that I really like to do that will surely keep me active.

So what's all of this got to do with survival? Like all of my hobbies I can't help but ask myself if it could have an impact if the SHTF. There are the obvious health benefits. Biking is a great cardio workout and it helps a lot with endurance. So even if the world doesn't end it will still have a great impact on the rest of my life. If gas gets prohibitively expensive then you can always park the car and use the bike to get around locally. Get a decent rear rack and a backpack and you could use it for grocery runs. A good mountain bike can go places that no other vehicle can besides maybe a really aggressive dirt bike. You just have to be in good shape and have a lot of experience to get there. You also need to be on the back of a bike that can handle it. Just use quality components and keep everything adjusted right.

I've found it to be a really easy hobby to get into. It can also be cheap if you know how to buy. Don't feel guilty about bringing a bunch of parts into a bike shop and asking them to install them. They're going to charge you whether you bought them there or not. Do what you can yourself. It's not really worth it to buy all of the specialized tools, though, so eventually you're either going to end up in a bike shop or you're going to spend a lot of money. Learn how much stuff costs so that you can recognize a ridiculous deal when you see one. It's really easy to get good deals on this stuff if you shop around and know where to look.