Saturday, 17 January 2015

09:03 – Barbara had dinner out last night, so I took the opportunity to watch several more episodes of Jericho. Also, as usual when she’s out for dinner, I took the opportunity to experiment by making dinner from our long-term food stores.

I’m also experimenting with Thermos cooking, which can be important in a long-term power down situation where you’re trying to minimize fuel usage. Rather than bringing a pot of rice to a boil and simmering it for 20 minutes, for example, you can just add the rice and boiling water to a Thermos bottle or insulated cooler and let it sit. When you open the Thermos hours later, you have hot cooked rice.

One morning, transfer two cups of dry rice, a cup of beans, and some bouillon and spices to a large wide-mouth Thermos bottle. Add the appropriate amount of water, cap the bottle, and by dinner time you have a nutritious meal. Of course, beans and rice get boring pretty fast, so I’m also playing around with food extenders. Last night I tried a can of Dinty Moore Chicken & Dumplings. A 24-ounce can of that is sufficient to make two pounds of dry rice and a pound of beans into an appealing meal for six people, at 1,000 calories each and with plenty of protein and fats. Not gourmet food by any means, but something that most people would find reasonably tasty.

13:33 – We’re back from the hospital, where Barbara had knee-replacement surgery on Thursday. Everything went very well, and the insurance covered all but about $3,000 of the cost. She’ll be at home recuperating for a month or so, which means no more wild women and parties for me.

We stopped at Walgreens on the way home to pick up three prescriptions, one for ninety 5 mg oxycodone. She’s allowed to have one or two every four hours as needed, so at maximum dosage that’s more than a week’s supply. All three prescriptions totaled $33.19, including the $450 worth of oxycodone. Or $0.90 worth, depending on how you count it.

In the long-term section of the prepping book I have a note to myself to write about growing common poppies (P. somniferum, AKA opium poppies) and extracting the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. I’ll probably add some material about processing the raw opioids into more useful forms like hydrocodone.

27 thoughts on “Saturday, 17 January 2015”

  1. Eons ago (well, a couple-three decades) I was talking with some people about catastrophes and planning for surviving catastrophes. “Prepping”, before that term was invented and certainly before it entered popular consciousness. Anyway, several of the girls in the group (I’m using the diminutive “girls” because they certainly weren’t grown-ups by my standards) said that not only wouldn’t they want to survive if they had to eat nothing but canned or dried food for weeks or months, they wouldn’t be able to. (IIRC, one said she couldn’t cook at all, not even heat up something from a can, and had to have someone who could cook for her, but I might be mixing up conversations.)*

    I observed that if this was true, they were weaklings and a liability to the species, and that humanity would be better off without them after recovering from the catastrophe.

    This apparently was taken as an insult, showing that they weren’t quite as stupid as I thought.

    * This was on the New Jersey shore, with three colleges in easy driving distance, and practically everyone at the party was in college or trying to hook up with college students. (I was both — in grad school part time, and trying to pick up someone not too uptight, not too drunk, and not too stupid.) Many of the girls were spoiled little princesses, unable to cope without daddy’s money paving over problems. It wasn’t at this party but a similar one at about the same time that a different girl said that daddy had bought her the biggest SUV on the market so that she’d be safe the next time she drove into someone.

  2. “This was on the New Jersey shore…”

    Of which I have not so fond memories, mainly. When my first wife finished law school, she apparently only looked for jobs back in Jersey, her home state, and while I hadn’t quite finished my M.A. we suddenly had to move down there so she could get a clerkship for an Appellate Division judge. I spent a year as a college freshman English instructor at two colleges and then started the PhD caper at Rutgers, which did not pan out well in the end, for various reasons.

    Peeps make fun of Jersey and evidently think of it as one long freeway and strip mall but I tell them to get off the Garden State Parkway, the Jersey Turnpike and Route 1 and travel up and down the western half, which looks a lot like New England countryside of rolling hills and woods. Along the Delaware River it’s Pennsylvania Dutch country, too, and the state has a number of War of Independence battlefield sites. Way down at the southern end Cape May is probably tied with Woostuh, MA as the town with the most surviving and concentrated Victorian architecture.

    In any case, I had to live and work down there for over three years and I made the best of it. At least until the marriage fell apart. First wife is now a hot-shot lawyer but apparently never remarried and she kept my name. I hope I didn’t ruin her prospects, but too late now, I reckon.

    Sunny with blue skies today and 2 degrees F, with a chill factuh of 12 below.

  3. Good to hear that Barbara is doing well! I’ve been told that it is six weeks of hell after the knee replacement surgery, then life is much better than before.

  4. Just watched the new “12 Monkeys” tv show on the syffy channel. I think that I am going to pass, nothing new here that the movie did not cover.

  5. Please do the alkaloid shakeout for opium. I’ve already looked into it a bit. I dislocated my shoulder while down in India and opiates are all but impossible to obtain outside of an ER, and even then they are stingy. I vowed I’d grow my own damn opium if I ever move down there.

    Speaking of oxycodone, it works fine but makes me stupid. I find naproxen is a better analgesic than hydrocodone (Vicodin) but my cousin prefers Vicodin to oxycodone. Strange how people react differently to drugs.

  6. A fast recovery to Ms. Barbara.

    n the long-term section of the prepping book I have a note to myself to write about growing common poppies (P. somniferum, AKA opium poppies) and extracting the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine.

    Fantastic, Dr. Bob. Will you have an extensive list of resources? Perhaps links to download or buy various books that will come in handy during the Baracalypse? I have some already as pdf’s and various books recommended on Cool Tools like how to butcher animals.

  7. 66 F here in the Land of Sugar. The sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, and the squirrels are squirreling. No sign of Obola, thank goodness!

  8. write about growing common poppies (P. somniferum, AKA opium poppies) and extracting the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine.

    Nothing like putting yourself on the DEA list, the ATF list and a couple of other secret lists that no one knows about. I hope you like helicopters flying over your house and enjoy a black SUV parked across the street for months.

  9. In the long-term section of the prepping book I have a note to myself to write about growing common poppies (P. somniferum, AKA opium poppies) and extracting the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. I’ll probably add some material about processing the raw opioids into more useful forms like hydrocodone.

    Very interesting. And very worrisome about the DEA. I wonder if they can do anything about your book, legally.

    Is it very easy synthesize metoprolol (lopresor) or some of the other old blood pressure medicines?

  10. I believe we should have access to relatively inexpensive pain meds, period, and if the medico bastards are too stingy and cheap to get them to us when we desperately need them, we should be able to grow and produce our own. Period.

    My best wishes also for swift and pain-free recovery for Dr. Bob’s better half.

    And my very best wishes that Dr. Bob doesn’t get jammed up with any legal bullshit.

  11. The problem with growing your own analgesics, particularly opiates, is standardising the product. Australia (well, one state of it) is one of the few places in the world where opium can be legally commercially grown. However, we occasionally get town kids from near the poppy-fields who OD and die on tea made from soaking and boiling seed pods or even plain vegetable trash. Raw opium is a GREAT analgesic (mix morphine, thebaine and codeine, The codeine alone is a good low-addictive painkiller (I should know – I’m on it, at WAY under the prescribed dose). The morphine is highly addictive but can be self-administered as a low-dose when-needed drip feed (Brylcreem – a little dab’ll do ya) that really doesn’t NEED high doses if a little gets in ahead of the worst pain. Thebaine can be treated like morphine, as a chemical raw-material. Morphine makes heroin, thebaine makes oxycontone.

    So… Bob, we don’t need to know how to grow the stuff, but it would be good to know a way of assessing how strong the raw-material was. If that was posted on a site hosted somewhere else (Switzerland, maybe; or Sweden on a Pirate site) then that might be a good way.

    Incidentally, Australia grows an Asiatic weed which produces ephedrine, much like the ephedra that is now being widely outlawed.

    We also grow a native bush which is a close-enough relative to the coca plant to be pharmacologically useful.

    And, of course, EVERYWHERE grows cannabis sativa. Enough of that will act like a tranquiliser, and it won’t really matter whether you are undergoing pain or not, since you just won’t CARE.

  12. “…If that was posted on a site hosted somewhere else (Switzerland, maybe; or Sweden on a Pirate site) then that might be a good way.”

    I may be in a position in the next few months to help out with something along those lines. Research continues…

    It would also be advisable for those interested to spend some time at that security-in-a-box site and do a little research themselves. Why should corporate moguls, with a big assist from Holy Mother State, have exclusive rights to all this stuff?

    Temp rising here, from 12 to 20 in the last couple of hours but the wind is now also howling again, and the chill factuh remains near zero. We expect it to hit 40 tomorrow with a 90% chance of rain later in the day changing to snow overnight and a few inches on Monday, and then temps back to nommul in the teens the rest of the week.

    Mrs. OFD is back from Tampa, which she loathes, and is exhausted/wired, after two back-to-back weeks of very intense work there and out in Kalifornia. She’ll be checking out a Westphalian stallion to ride tomorrow east of here in the hills and then it’s NFL Sunday!

  13. Bob, I’d be VERY interested in the outcome of your Thermos® cookery as you gave it. I don’t know for a fact, but I suspect treating beans that way wouldn’t inactivate the lectin poison they contain, and you’d end up with griping guts, gas, and gastrointestinal agony. They do need need vigorous cooking for at least ten and preferably fifteen minutes to kill the poison, and I think just adding the water wouldn’t suffice, just as cooking in a slow cooker without enough water to simmer freely doesn’t work either (a fairly solid lump that gets only mildly warm in the centre doesn’t hack it). On the other hand, bringing beans to the boil, simmering fifteen minutes, then dumping in the Thermos with all the boiling water and sufficient rice should work fine.

    However, while I’ve got the basic facts right, and KNOW the method works for cereals, I don’t KNOW it doesn’t work for beans. I’ve always simply suspected it was too marginal to chance it. I haven’t KNOWN for a fact though, so I await your results with interest.

  14. SteveF is right enough: for large parts of the population, cooking is becoming a lost skill. At least, anything beyond heating up a pre-prepared meal. Now, granted, this is something that can be learned with little effort – at least, on a basic level. But I do find it strange, how little priority people give their food.

    On another side of the same issue: people are absolute cheapskates about their groceries. While they’re happy enough to spend a huge proportion of their grocery budgets on snack food, a rise in the price of raw produce, or meat, or any other staple is often the cause for outrage. Even though buying such staples and preparing them yourself is a lot cheaper (and better) than that bag of chips and the microwave dinner. Really odd priorities, somehow.

  15. I’ve noticed that, too; they’ll screech about high prices of basic food items and then go out and blow ten times as much on junk and restaurants.

    On the Thermos cooking of beans; I wonder if Dr. Bob meant using canned beans for that, rather than just tossing raw beans in there…?

  16. For all you kidz at home!

    Totally de-balled, as expected. I did a homemade volcano as a class project in 6th grade. Well, David Silvis actually built the volano. I supplied the warhead, which was a few pounds of black powder (constituted so as not to explode but just burn fiercely). David was smart enough to stay home that day. When I touched it off, the flame from the caldera nearly reached the ceiling of the classroom, and of course a few pounds of black powder generates lots and lots of sulfurous smoke. They evacuated the school. That was the first of three times I caused a school to be evacuated. Again in 8th grade and again in 11th.

  17. As to the beans, I was thinking of canned (or soaked/boiled) rather than raw. Lectins aren’t a huge problem. Soaking beans overnight in water (with some baking soda added if you have it) cuts lectins down by ~50%. Soaking them in hot (~80C+) water for another 15 minutes and then draining reduces lectins to maybe 5% of the original amount. That treatment also reduces oligosaccharides (reponsible for flatulence) to low levels.

    Incidentally, beans aren’t the only food that contains large amounts of lectins. Whole grains, particularly wheat, are also very high in lectins, which is why I recommend storing white flour rather than wheat berries or whole-wheat flour. Also, lots of rice, which is very low in lectins.

  18. “…They evacuated the school. That was the first of three times I caused a school to be evacuated. Again in 8th grade and again in 11th.”

    A menace then and since. The authorities have been notified.

    We resorted to trickery and stealth to evacuate the skool; snuck into the supply room and ran off mimeographed notices (I loved the smell of that stuff) to the teachers for a routine fire drill and bingo! A massive investigation took place afterward but no one squealed and I don’t believe I was ever a suspect. In middle skool a pal and I tossed firecrackers into the chorus practice room from an outside door, and the list just goes on and on from first grade through high skool graduation. Why I never got sent to the boys’ reform skool is a mystery still.

    Other stuff with minor explosives was done well outside of skool; we knew of one kid who built a homemade mortar, though, and he set up outside the high skool/junior high complex in the north side of town and lobbed beer cans filled with cement at it. The cops came and we never saw that kid again. Probably sent to actual reform skool and then given a choice between more jail or joining the Marines, which they used to do back then. So two years in prison, or two years in the Corps, undoubtedly going to ‘Nam; which would YOU choose?

  19. (I loved the smell of that stuff)

    lol Must be a White Boy thang, cause I love it too. I got my last fix in Korea as the mimeo was our backup copy machine for the field. I almost stole a jug of fluid for “later use”.

  20. They evacuated the school.

    I also caused two evacuation when I was in high school.

    First was when I hung about 3 feet of slow burning fuse in an empty paper towel dispenser in the bathroom. Apparently some glasses wearing, slide rule in the pocket (wait that describes me) saw it and reported it. I guess they thought there was a bomb in the towel dispenser. We were all rushed outside and stood there for a couple of hours while the bomb squad from Grants Pass or Medford was called to clear the scene. Never did brag about that stunt as that would have numbered my days.

    Second time was in chemistry class when my lab partner just decided to start mixing whatever chemicals he could find. After a few heating and cooling cycles he decided to flush it down the sink. Well the mixture starting foaming, viciously, as in massive quantities of foam. My first reaction was start tossing the foam out the open school window. Whatever it was killed the grass and 20 years later when I returned for a reunion the ground was still barren of any form of growth. What got the school evacuated was the odor. Foul, stunning foul, a mixture of sewer, rotting flesh and Houston on a hot day that would gag a billy goat. My lab partner got in trouble for the mess, I got in trouble for disposing of the mess.

  21. Another menace to society, compounded by his mil-spec training. The authorities have been notified likewise.

  22. Tell Barbara to dig in hard and really work at the physical therapy. My wife had excellent results from her knee replacement that the Doc ascribed to her aggressive approach to the PT. She is wise to reserve the pain killers for those sessions. Note that some therapists are very used to rehabilitating older people. As younger folks she may have to encourage them to push her.

  23. Is it very easy synthesize metoprolol (lopresor) or some of the other old blood pressure medicines?

    Not too bad, assuming you have a wizard, in this case someone comfortable with organic syntheses. The starting materials are epichlorohydrin, isopropylamine, p-(β-Methoxyethyl)phenol, sodium bicarbonate, and tartaric acid. He or she would need access to standard organic lab equipment, including for vacuum distillation. The synthesis itself is pretty straightforward if you know what you’re doing.

    As I said, every group needs a wizard (or two, or three, since few wizards are polymaths).

  24. @Doug Smith

    Thanks. When the nurse visited today, she told Barbara that the same two guys who did her PT three years ago when she had her first knee replacement are the same ones she’ll be seeing this time. That made Barbara happy, because she really liked both of them. The one guy is gigantic. One of few people I’ve ever met who make me feel small. Or at least medium. The guy must be 6’9″ and close to 400 pounds, not much of it fat. Barbara has no fear of falling she’s working with him. The last time, she fainted for the first and only time in her life. The guy caught her as though she weighed nothing and set her down gently.

  25. In regards to Thermos cooking. We received a thermal pot as wedding gift years ago similar to the one in the link below. We have used it many times and it is an excellent way to cook items that need to be unattended. For example, to make chicken broth, I’ve put a Cornish hen in the inner pot filled with water in the morning. Just bring the pot of water to boil and then take the inner pot and place it in the thermal pot, close the lid, and leave for the day. The contents are still hot and thoroughly cooked when I come home after work.

    I’ve used the same technique for beef stew and other recipes. The only thing that you need is for the food to be cooked in enough liquid to hold the heat.


    Nathan Stiltner

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