Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Mechanics of Living

So, one of my biggest failures in life, is the ability (or lack thereof) to understand anything mechanical. Ask the guy who works on my vehicles. I say it over and over, you will get a deer in the headlights look if you ask me what KIND of noise I'm hearing. All I know, is that there's a noise. Oh, and a smell. No it doesn't smell like rotten eggs. And fluid on the ground. No, I don't know what kind of fluid it is. Actually though, having been with the same mechanic who patiently explains EVERYTHING I ask about to me has helped a little. I'm much better than I was. And I do know the difference between coolant, transmission fluid, and oil. :) 

So I'm going to build a house. With limited conveniences - I think maybe three plug-ins and two lights, TOTAL. But then what do I do about water? How do I get it to come out of faucets? Well, I guess I'm not planning on having faucets. A pitcher and basin should work just fine, right? Drains are easier, there will be sinks with drains, at least. But the mechanical part of all this just isn't one of my finer points. I do a little research about this online periodically.

A while back, I came across the coolest field sink I have ever seen! I believe it has Boy Scout origins, but not really 100% positive who came up with the idea. I think it's a great set-up and will prove especially handy when I first move. I might quite possibly learn a thing or do about the mechanics of water pumps, etc. while I construct and use it. (And my son, too!)

Pretty cool, huh?

So the mechanics of living - I consider that to be defined as the methods by which conveniences are made available to us. What do you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Be Realistic, It's Important

Some people never chase their dreams, they let life stop them. They are fools. Some people go into their dreams having no idea what they are getting into. They are smart fools. Some people go into their dreams knowing exactly what they are getting into. They are smart.

Let's talk about being realistic. I've heard it said, that people who are realistic are downers. I disagree. There is definitely something to be said for knowing what you're getting into. Being realistic doesn't you are a doubting Thomas, or a naysayer, it just means you should go into it with eyes wide open. It doesn't mean having a defeatist attitude, it means being psychologically ready to take on your dreams, especially when your dreams require a huge lifestyle change - like moving to a farm. Or a bare piece of land. Or moving to Hollywood to become an actor. Or leaving America to perform missionary work in a third world country.

There are all kinds of lifestyle changes people make every day. The successful ones either have good contacts, or are prepared for the blood, sweat, and tears needed to achieve their dreams.

For example, maybe you want to raise pigs for meat. Well, some hippieyuppie (I apologize in advance to all the hippieyuppies out there) with no experience will look at them and say, how cute. Then they're going to be shocked when they realize that pigs have to DIE to become meat, if they haven't been realistic. I realize this is extreme, but that's about the size of it.

Or the person going to Hollywood? If they have no experience acting, they are likely to be waiting tables while dreaming of "hitting it big." We've all heard the stories. It doesn't mean don't do it. It means, have a backup plan.

Ok how about another example? Me. When I move to my land this spring, there's nothing on it. And I mean nothing. No well. No water. No house. No garden. No driveway. No electricity. (Although there is an easement for the power company and a power line runs through it.) And the soil is seeded with rocks - big ones, little ones, huge boulders and slabs of rock. It is surrounded by a barbed wire fence - a rusty, barbed wire fence with serious gaps that the deer jump through. And the coyotes. So I guess it does have a crappy fence, deer, and coyotes at night. Oh, and there ARE trees, thank goodness. We're going to have to tent it. I will have to haul water to heat over a campfire for sponge baths, and filter drinking water. There will be no tv, no internet, no refrigeration, no nice comfortable bed, no conveniences. If I went into it with just a hazy dream of having a house up after a week with running water and electricity, I would have a nervous breakdown 8 days in. Same goes for my son. Luckily, I do have some kind of experience living this way, but not nearly enough to prepare me for what I'm going to do without being realistic.

In short, it's going to be miserable. For a couple of months. But then, (and this is the hazy dream part) I'll begin to start living the life I want to. The life I dream of. And I can't wait. In fact, it's hard to write about anything else. Getting my house ready to sell? Boring. Necessary, but boring. Why write about that mundane stuff when I can write about adventure! Yes, this will be an adventure, and there is a good bit of risk involved. I am saying, don't be afraid of risk, but know what the outcomes can be and don't get blindsided because you didn't think about it.

I can't wait for the dream I can't wait for the dream I can't wait for the dream!!


Friday, February 3, 2012

One Second After - Book Review

I would recommend reading One Second After, by William R. Forstchen. It is a fantastic, and depending on your beliefs, likely scenario.

This book takes you through the trials of retired Army Colonel and history professor John Matheson, as he tries to care for his two daughters (one of whom is diabetic) after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack takes down the power grid throughout the United States, and disables any modern device that relies on electronics. This includes vehicles, both the land line and cellular phone systems, and backup generators. It takes over a year before they are able to receive help from outside their town and one other nearby town.

In the book the lack of preparation by government officials for a disaster of this magnitude is evident. At first, no one knows what it is and expects the power to come back on. There's a party atmosphere as all the perishable meats are cooked. Then the grocery stores get cleaned out and looted and people get hurt. The residents begin to realize that the power is not coming back and they don't know when they'll receive help. The local elected officials - with the help of John - take control of the city's resources and begin security and rationing. Unfortunately, the city is located close to an interstate, and the people stranded there are unable to leave and are an extra tax on the city's resources. Because there is no money, bartering is used, but that only lasts until the supplies run out.

There is no electricity in the hospitals or nursing homes, either. The patients and residents are the first to die. There are no resources to treat medical problems or chronic diseases, and infections run rampant. Food runs out and people get desperate. I suppose I would, too, if I hadn't eaten in months. In addition to all that, there are threats to the what little welfare and safety the residents do have via gangs of cannibalistic thugs who are well-armed and well-fed.

The story takes you through the decimation and survival of the residents of this small town. If you don't shed a tear at least once, there might be something wrong with you.

But I only give this a 3.5. This book is only written from the point of view of someone who is in a position of authority. While the officials in this town seem to do everything right as best they can, at best it's theory. There's no real fighting between people, which I would expect when individuals get hungry and cranky. Everything seems to be carried out calmly (relevant to the situation), and it takes away from a sense of realism and good storytelling. It also is not the most well-written book I've ever read, and is slow and too sentimental at times. 

But it is definitely interesting, and I would recommend buying, borrowing, or checking it out from your local library. Why? Well, this is an actual possibility, even if it doesn't happen on this scale. Solar flares can affect satellites and also the power grid. (Not to mention ice storms in the winter that knock out power for weeks.)  But unlike ice storms, a solar flare that is powerful enough to affect our grid is powerful enough to affect other electronics like the computers in our cars. We may get the power back after a few days but our mechanics will be backed up for weeks. This book will give you food for thought. (No pun intended.) 

Happy Friday everyone!!