Saturday, 25 October 2014

08:58 - Border Collies really are nearly as fast as Greyhounds. Whenever I release Colin from his leash, he immediately runs home at top speed, grabs a stick from the front porch, and then lies in the front yard waiting for me to get there and play stick with him.

This morning, I paced off 200 meters, turned him loose, and started timing him. It took him 13 seconds to cover the 200 meters. That translates to 55 kph (~35 mph), versus a bit over 60 kph for racing Greyhounds. Not bad, particularly since Greyhounds are pure sprinters, while Border Collies are actually Marathoners. It’s not unusual for a working Border Collie to run/trot/sprint 50 miles or more per day. Even counting hall ball indoors, though, Colin is lucky to get a mile or two per day.

Posted in dogs | 7 Comments

Friday, 24 October 2014

07:57 - Once again, someone who was known to have been heavily exposed to Ebola has been allowed to enter the US and wander around freely, potentially infecting others. This time, it’s a doctor who’d been working with Ebola patients in West Africa and was then allowed to fly home to New York City and go about his business for several days, riding the subway several times, going bowling, going out to dinner, and so on. NYC health authorities have said frankly that there’s no way to trace all of his contacts because there are so many of them. Just great. And, of course, the doctor has now been diagnosed with Ebola. At least he isolated himself once he noticed symptoms. Let’s hope that’s enough.

Posted in news | 28 Comments

Thursday, 23 October 2014

07:45 - The morning paper ran the headline of the century this morning: Reynolds snuffs out workplace smoking

How bizarre is it for a tobacco company to ban smoking in its own facilities? It’s as if–to name two other industries that North Carolina used to dominate and that the federal government has pretty much destroyed–furniture companies encouraged their employees to stop using furniture and textile companies encouraged their employees to stop wearing clothes.

Oh, RJR will still have designated smoking areas and allow electronic cigarettes facility-wide, but even so. I remember the good old days, not long ago, when visitors entering the RJR Headquarters Building were greeted by signs that said “Thank You for Smoking”. One was not just allowed but encouraged to smoke anywhere in the building: offices, conference rooms, bathrooms, elevators, and so on. It was a much more reasonable time. It’s obvious that the anti-smoking nazis have won. Even in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for heaven’s sake.

10:35 - I’m sure it will come as a shock to everyone who knows me, not least Barbara, but I’ve decided to cut way back on my consumption of Coca Cola and Sprite. Not for health reasons, but for dietary reasons.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve gradually eaten less and lost weight. The days when I routinely ate 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day without gaining weight are long gone. I’m not sure what my total daily intake is now, but I’d guess probably between 2,000 and 2,500 calories, of which probably 1,200 are in the form of the high-fructose corn syrup sugars in soft drinks. So, instead of drinking two liters or more of soft drinks per day, I’ve decided to substitute two liters of beer, wine, and scotch per day.

Only kidding. I don’t really drink alcoholic beverages, other than a beer sometimes when we’re out to dinner with Paul and Mary. Actually, I’m going to start drinking more coffee, which I drink black, and tea, which I drink with about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar (~ 15 calories) per cup.

In March, WHO reduced its maximum recommendation for sugars from 10% of daily calorie intake to 5%. Not that I pay any attention to WHO. Even the 10% was ridiculously low. But I’m currently at probably 50% to 60%, which doesn’t leave all that much room for calories from protein, fats, or other carbohydrates, so I’ll probably shoot for reducing that to maybe 25%.

Posted in news, personal | 56 Comments

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

08:28 - The good news is that an effective vaccine against Ebola may be available in the next few months. It’s unclear to me whether this vaccine is prophylactic, therapeutic, or both.

Building more science kits continues, as does work on the prepping book, as does work on the new Earth Science and AP Chemistry kits. When I get tired of working on one thing, I always have several others that I can switch to.

Posted in prepping, science kits | 45 Comments

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

08:21 - I’m taking some time off writing today to do kit stuff. We’re low on biology kits, and I need to bottle another 60 sets of a dozen or so chemicals.

The good news is that Ebola has been stopped in Nigeria, no thanks to either CDC or WHO, but due entirely to Doctors Without Borders and local doctors and nurses. The bad news is that Ebola continues to rage in the three countries at the heart of this outbreak, with the best estimates forecasting a peak in the next few months of 10,000+ new cases per week. And the federal authorities continue to insist that Ebola is not airborne-transmissible, despite the fact that it’s been known for 25 years to be transmitted via the droplets expelled when an infected person sneezes or coughs. See the Reston Monkey Virus incident in 1989, which involved the original Zaire strain of Ebola.

Posted in prepping, science kits | 20 Comments

Monday, 20 October 2014

09:20 - The panic about Ebola seems to be receding a bit in the absence of any new cases being diagnosed over the last couple of days. There’s still a very high level of concern at all levels, of course, which is a good thing. And people are shunning contact with facilities associated with Ebola, which is certainly understandable.

I’ve heard from several of my European readers who are concerned that the number of new Ebola patients in Africa is expected to climb to more than a million over the next few months with many millions more exposed, and that tens of thousands of them may flood into southern Europe via short boat rides from northern Africa. If things get that bad in Africa, I suspect that Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and even Greece collectively still have enough of an air force and navy to sink any plague boats attempting to make that trip and would not hesitate to do so.

Posted in prepping | 41 Comments

Sunday, 19 October 2014

09:03 - Late last month, Barbara and I stopped at the Dick’s Sporting Goods store to buy a couple of Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifles and a couple of Mossberg Maverick 88 pump-action riot guns. They had the Marlins in stock, but we had to special-order the shotguns. They said they’d give us a call when they arrived in a week to 10 days.

After waiting nearly three weeks, I finally called them Thursday to ask what was going on. As it turned out, their wholesaler had accidentally canceled the order. The guy at Dick’s said they’d reordered them and they should be in by the 24th. I wasn’t happy about that, but I didn’t have much choice other than to wait yet another week. Friday afternoon, they called and said they’d gotten in a regular shipment and asked if I wanted two of those. So Barbara and I went down yesterday after a Sam’s Club run to pick them up.

Originally, we’d paid $220 each for them, but they gave us 10% off on that whole order because we applied for a Dick’s MasterCard. The shotguns ended up costing us $198 each, which I was happy with. But the manager at the gun counter said they needed to zero out that original transaction and run a new transaction. I said fine, as long as we got the 10% discount. When we finally got through all the paperwork and the manager carried the shotguns downstairs to the checkout lane, the woman at the register said that they were now selling those shotguns for $180 rather than $220, so she rang it up at $180 each. I pointed out that that didn’t reflect the 10% discount, so she issued a $36 gift card to make up the difference. Barbara grabbed that and said that she’d get something she wanted with it. So the end of the story is that we now have two more riot guns at home, for which we ended up paying only $162 each, the same amount we paid for the Marlin Model 60’s.

Incidentally, when I mentioned Tess Pennington’s prepping book I said that my initial impression was that it wasn’t bad. I was wrong. It’s not just bad. It’s horribly, ridiculously bad. Ms. Pennington is an anti-vaxxer, a proponent of “alternative medicine”, and generally anti-science. As just one example, in her short chapter on preparing for a pandemic, she wastes two full pages describing how to make up woo-woo mixtures of essential oils and spices to prevent or treat deadly viral diseases. Good luck with that. And in a chapter on alternative light sources she recommends a method that she says requires only a bottle and water to provide as much light as a 50-watt bulb. She doesn’t give any specifics, but tells her readers to look up the details on the Internet. Yeah, right.

Posted in prepping | 25 Comments

Saturday, 18 October 2014

09:16 - One of the commenters yesterday posted a link to an article from the Weekly Standard that’s worth taking the time to read: Six Reasons to Panic

Actually, I can add a seventh, that no one ever talks about outside scientific papers. The body fluids of someone who recovers from Ebola may remain infective for at least a year, and possibly indefinitely. The recovered patient becomes an asymptomatic carrier, much like Typhoid Mary, and, like Typhoid Mary, the only solution is to quarantine that person indefinitely until they are no longer shedding the virus. Or until an Ebola vaccine becomes generally available. So we could end up having to have Ebola Colonies, much like the Leper Colonies of antiquity.

Someone emailed me yesterday to ask what I thought the chances were of Ebola breaking out in the US and what I would do if it did. I told him what I’ve been telling friends and neighbors: that in the absence of sufficient data my SWAG is that the probability of that happening is somewhere between 0.001 and 0.01. That makes it an unlikely event, but even 0.01 is much, much too high given the consequences.

As to what we would do, we’d operate on the principle that you can hide but you can’t run. We would shelter in place, not leaving our house and yard for any reason. The best defense would be to have the necessary stores in place to allow us to isolate ourselves in place for weeks to months. And, although we continue to encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to build their own emergency stockpiles of food, water, and other necessities, we will continue to build our own stockpiles to make sure we have some excess to share with those family, friends, and neighbors who are not prepared.

Posted in prepping | 45 Comments

Friday, 17 October 2014

07:51 - I had a dream last night. The US House overwhelmingly voted to impeach Obama for malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance, and treason. The vote in the US Senate was along self-interest lines, with all of the Republicans and every Democrat who didn’t want to be lynched voting for conviction, for a total of 100:0 favoring conviction. Obama was stripped of his office, his pension, his assets, and his citizenship, and sentenced to be tarred and feathered, then keelhauled, and then transferred to West Africa to work in an Ebola ward. Mrs. Obama was sentenced to go with her husband to West Africa, where she would be responsible for feeding ridiculously inadequate lunches to school-age Ebola patients. President Biden immediately imposed a complete travel ban to bar anyone who had visited the stricken areas from entering the US.

13:53 - Barbara and I are about halfway through season three of Hart of Dixie on Netflix streaming. It’s a farce, set in rural Alabama. I wouldn’t watch it if it were just me, but it does have a lot of cuties.

As we were watching an episode last night, I commented to Barbara that I was surprised to learn that Montgomery is the capital of Alabama. That’s what my elementary school teachers taught me all those years ago, but since 1973 I’ve thought they’d been lying to me. “In Birmingham they love the guv’nor. Boo, boo, boo. Now we all did what we could do.” I guess that’s why I constantly play that riff on my air guitar the whole time we’re watching the show.

Posted in netflix, personal, streaming video | 55 Comments

Thursday, 16 October 2014

09:12 - One of the first things I do when I start a book is scope out the competition. I find the best book and the best-selling book on the topic–often not the same book–and scan through it/them to make sure I can write a better book. Ideally, of course, I want to crush the market leader, to make the author slink home whimpering with his tail between his legs. (This doesn’t always work out; there have been several books I’ve considered doing, but I found that an existing book would be hard to beat. If I can’t beat it, it’s pointless for me to write a new book.)

So, when I was stubbing out The Ultimate Family Prepping Guide, I did some looking around. Apparently, both the best general prepping book and the best-selling one is The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster by Tess Pennington. I ordered a copy on the 11th, which arrived yesterday. (Oddly, Amazon Prime charged me only $19 on 10/11, but the price is now showing as $27.) This book really is a best-seller. Its current Amazon rank is #245, which means it’s probably selling several thousand copies per month.

The book arrived yesterday, and I spent an hour or so flipping through it. It’s not a bad book, but she’s obviously trying to write in detail on many topics that she has little or no actual experience of. I can write a better book. Interestingly, her book is pretty much a collection of the articles from her web site, so you don’t really need to buy the book if you’re willing to scroll through 50+ separate articles.

My book may not sell as well as hers because I have neither the time nor the inclination to market the book as heavily as she does hers. Still, word of mouth has worked pretty well for our science kits and I suspect it will for this book as well.

Posted in prepping, writing | 38 Comments