Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winter property scouting

We decided to get away for the weekend, there have been a lot of issues with people at work lately and what better time to check out our possible future living area. We've never been to the area in the winter, so this will give us a taste of what it's like. I'm pretty sure it's a lot like home but with a little more wind due to the open setting of the area.

Here is a link to where we decided to stay. It's pet friendly so we will get Rock out and about for some adventuring. The picture is how the entire area really looks, it was a mining community until the ore ran out, then German immigrants from New York settled in to try farming. While many of the farms and ranches failed, a few were very successful. Today many are for sale if you can plop down a million plus for a lot of prime ranch land with water rights. The mountains that surround the area (the wet mountains) have water flowing all year (all of the mountains are national forest).

We hope to find something with a small structure or vacant that will have what we want. Soil that is good or can be improved, good sun exposure for 60% of the day and water. Full time running water means the price goes way up, but we think it's worth it. Hopefully that would mean the well would be shallow allowing for a solar pump without a huge mammoth battery pump setup.

The population is low, here is how it's laid out:

They have a lot of small town festivals and bluegrass concerts. A few more pictures from a past trip are here. Also some here.

This is late spring after a rain when the normal sub-par land explodes into color.

We are expecting a good time, adventures and our usual antics. We won't go too crazy since we are taking the truck, both off road rigs are currently down for repairs. One has a panhard rod being shipped in, the other needs a new fan clutch. They are operational but we don't feel comfortable with them away from home, better to be safe than on a tow truck.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Food for how many people?

I found a recording on my DVR called 'how to survive the end of the world' or something like that. I guess I had set it to record and a new episode happened to pop up. The episode was about a release of methane gas from underwater drilling and how the earth would react to a huge release (ie. warm up and cause super storms). As with all end of the world stuff it was interesting but all of the science was really futurists trying to predict what might happen.
One fact they gave was that there is only enough stockpiled food, in the world, to feed 1 billion people for 30 days. That number is staggering and while a billion people seems like a lot, the estimated population of the planet (in 2010) was over 7 billion.

The drought across much of the US hasn't helped food prices, and certain areas of California aren't getting any water from the Gov't this year. I'm sure I heard that's around 25-30% of the fruit production for the US. It's already really expensive to eat healthy and shop on the outside edge of a grocery store, now there isn't any relief in sight.
Just interesting statistics and stuff to think about. We are getting more jam made in the next few weeks before the prices go up more, then we will be done until fall.

Rock and I have been walking almost each night. With daylight savings it will be lighter earlier so I'm going to change to morning walks. Less people and it won't get in the way of my running. Where we live it's either walk him on the street (no sidewalks) or walk him in open spaces. The street isn't safe with traffic and the open spaces always have people. We try to avoid people as much as we can, since they all have off leash dogs, but that actually bothers me.
We are doing everything correct, why should we be the ones to be picky about what trail we take or path we climb. We do, I am, but it makes me a little more disappointed. So far, so good, no dog has gotten within 5 feet of us and we are enjoying ourselves. When the reservoir opens in a few months I'll be able to hike up with him and let him go swimming. I'll bring a long retractable leash for that, it's sort of like fishing. Nobody else will have a leash, so that's where it's going to get interesting but if I'm up in the morning it should be OK.

Besides, a bored Rock says, 'fingers taste like hot dogs'.
Yes, that night light never shuts off. It has been removed, I like a blackout at night.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Night vision and other ponderings

Rock and I put in about 20 miles over the last week. It's fun yelling out (but not at) for people to leash up, and then reminding them there is a leash law. It's odd that nobody really says much, or gives me any crap. Walk softly and carry a large frame semi auto on your hip (or perhaps it's the pistol sticking up over my head from my backpack, they probably think it's a rifle). Only one person commented, they told me they have been walking without a leash in the area for 15 years. Had it been a pissing contest I would have told them I've been walking with leash in the same area for 18. Instead I just kept on hiking telling Rock how good he was, good boy's are on leashes.

Walking softly is something I always do well, my Dad would yell 'quit stomping your feet' so I learned at a young age how to walk differently than most people do. It seems many clomp around, making all kinds of noise. At work I often scare people when they turn at the top of the stairs and find me right behind them. Ninja like.

I got a little bored Saturday night so I organized all of my 'prepper' type books. I have about 8 I haven't read including a couple I don't really want to read anytime soon based on horrible writing styles. I ordered another 6 or so from Amazon to arrive in a week. I'm getting up earlier each day in preparation for the time change and spring to be here in force. I always get a lot done this way, including some reading. Finished up the latest Holding  Their Own book, the next one isn't available in paperback yet and there is something oddly satisfying about real books vs. tablet/pad books.

I started shopping for something we've both talked about for a long time, a really nice night vision item. We have a generation 1 monocular that works well for checking the yard for bears and racoons in the warmer months, but it's not really good past 100 feet. The downside to good night vision is the cost, around $2500, and that's really hard to swallow. I'm sure we would have no problem spending that on a couple of new firearms, but this just seems different. We have it narrowed down to perhaps some PVS 14 3rd Gen pinnacle autogated ITT exellis 3+ but there is still more research to be done.

Speaking of research, we had a family lunch out for a brother in-laws birthday. The discussion came up about how he was addicted to playing a game called candy crush something-or-other. I play games, I have one on my phone but the rest are on a computer. What I don't do is walk around like a zombie addict with my eyes glued to the phone/pad screen constantly. There isn't anything that important to make me miss what life is trying to offer.
It's a horrible trend and one habit that we are calling each other on if we notice the other glued to the ipad. Come home from work, sit down, grab ipad and suddenly it's time for bed. We have too much to do but it's easy to get lost in the technology.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is yelling 'I'll kill your dog' the only way?

I love dogs, most dogs, I think they are better than humans and when they aren't better it's usually the fault of humans. I think that's a fair observation since we don't run into wild dogs and the coyotes don't walk right up to us asking for trouble (they stand 15 feet away waiting to spread disease on you).
All dogs are friendly until they aren't.... I think I've said that before, lately in fact.

I've got some nasty scratches on my leg, but I don't know if it's from Rock or the dog that decided it wanted to be 'the lead dog'. It doesn't matter but I do feel bad for kicking said dog twice and punching it in the head/neck 3+ times. This is what happens when two animals meet and they don't like each other for whatever reasons. I know a lot of dogs that are fine when they meet, the sniffs are cordial, but after that it's downhill. This is the main reason you have to have control of your dog, it's a domesticated wild animal.

The problem is I can't control another animal, I can only control mine. The new invention called a leash is really expensive (forget that it's required) but it can prevent another animal from being killed. I certainly wouldn't want to have my dog killed for my stupidity and ignorance, but I suppose that's a 10% or less philosophy. I'll use that percentage based on the number of leashed dogs I encounter daily when I'm out running or walking. I don't go to dog parks.

It was a good reminder of how narrow your focus can be when the adrenaline hits, and it hits instantly. I don't remember the other 3 dogs being picked up or grabbed and hastily leashed, I don't remember if the claw gouges on my leg were from Rock or the other dog. I remember holding his harness and circling left to keep my body between the two. I remember knowing where I was going to hit on the next strike and I remember telling myself not to kick it in the jaw.
I remember telling Rock he was a good dog, a good boy. A good boy cause he was on a leash, a good, good boy. I do remember none of the 4 people saying a single word, my actions were obviously conversation ending. Hindsight says it's lucky they remained silent.

Do you think this was a lesson to the lady who owned the dog? Nope, of course not, what kind of story would that be. Making us stop so she could grab her dog again 1/4 mile down the road made it painfully obvious she didn't even have a leash and was a complete (I'll leave that blank). She could have simple let us continue after the first incident (we were running and they were walking), but that's using too much common sense.

Now I'll simply stop and tell the people to control their dogs, if they don't I'll tell them I'll kill the dog. I'm sure that will bring law enforcement at some point, but this is me not caring anymore, and other people failing to follow the rules and regulations.

Had I shot the dog, I would lose my weapon (at the very minimum) until/if it was determined  I was using justifiable force. Had I just dropped the leash and let Rock kill the dog, we would lose him until/if it was proven Rock was justified.

I'm looking forward to this evening to see how the new approach works. I bet I won't have to do anymore than say 'control your dog'. I'm going to pack a very large frame pistol, open carry, that should say all I don't.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Crusted fillet of eyeball?

This cold or flu thing is really trying to keep me down. I can't wait for it to go away so I can see if the allergy medication is really working like I *think* it is.

In the meantime I'm having coughing fits like I have bronchitis, and my sinuses are jacked up. You know the kind, when you sleep on your right side you can breathe out of your left nostril and when you roll over everything swaps. My eyes are producing all sorts of fluid and those lovely morning crusty eye buggers are making it difficult to even open them. I've never experienced anything like this before, so I give credit where it's due; sick coworkers and trying new medication.

Not one to be held down, I read:

Rock went out for 2 walks on Saturday (why can't I get sick when there is college football on, TV is absolutely horrid otherwise). Here is Rock on our first Saturday walk, it was really windy but in the 60 degree range it made for really fast snow melt.
Then it was time for Costco. Rock was kind enough to help me take out the recycles.
That flat did have strawberries in it. I say did, since I was so bored on Sunday I enlisted a volunteer and made more preserves.
The blueberry I made in the last post is not thick enough, but it will work. I suppose it will be great on pancakes or as a thin layer of jam on bread. I like my jam thick but I didn't add enough pectin, math fail on the ingredient measure. This strawberry is going to be perfect, nice and thick: 5 pounds of strawberries, 8 cups of sugar (yes, low sugar version), 1 1/4 cup pectin. I'm not one for skimming the foam (I end up drinking it if I do) so there is some foam in the jars but I doubt anyone will complain.

I'm sort of glad I was going stir crazy, it's nice to get more canning done before spring hits. We also got a new vacuum, stepped up to a Dyson finally with some coupons we had. I chuckled as I watch someone run vacuum for almost 2 hours. I guess it's the little (and new) things.

I also raked the yard yesterday afternoon as the sun was setting. I think Monday of last week we had around 18 inches of snow in the yard and yesterday I raked. No complaints, I just can't wait to get back in the gym and on the running trails.

Friday, February 14, 2014

cough, cough, sniffle.... really!?!?

I finally went to a doctor about my allergies and got some drugs. One of the drugs was prednisone, a steroid to repress my immune system and give my head a break from the sinus pressure while the allergy drugs went to work.
Well it suppressed it and now I have a cold, but at least my allergies are better. I'll be fine in a few days, but trying to take it easy isn't something I'm good at. Television sucks, sitting around the houes doing nothing sucks, not being able to talk at work sucks. I've got a lot of great books to read, so at least there is that. I hope I don't get couch sores on my ass.

It's Valentines day, and what better thing to give than something you make yourself?

Peach and blueberry preserves. The peach turned out perfect, the blueberry is still a little runny so we are letting that sit for a while. It's tradition to open a jar once it's cooled, and that goes against rotating your food storage but we have to know if it's good or not. I think we have 50 jars of preserves in food storage.

Our new washer and dryer are awesome and it's saving us a lot of water usage according to the utility bill. The electric portion of the bill is still stupid high, but with a 20 year old water heater that's what we get. Once I get a check from the insurance company for the pet health insurance, we will be getting a new water heater.

In my lack of energy and emotionally drained state for the last few weeks I neglected to pick up a few things at the store, but food storage saved the day. I have a lot of shopping to do this weekend if we feel up to it. We did get a few new racks up for better organization in the basement. Now I can find all of the tools, light bulbs, tape, glue, etc. All of the bins have labels on them, and with a few more days of work we will be done.

I smell spring! We are talking about putting up a small greenhouse. Just something to get the tomatoes growing so we don't lose all the kitchen counter space. A small structure with some heavy canvas to drape over it at night to prevent instant heat loss. Water jugs/buckets to help retain heat, and perhaps a ceramic space heater in case it gets really cold out. I'm thinking of having it up and ready for plants at the end of March, giving me a 3-4 week jump on my normal seed planting time.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So long old pal.

I don't know who you all have kids (well, most of you). The tragic suffering and heartbreak in losing a pet is enough for me. This is our 5th pet in 18 years, every 3 years in fact, that we have had to say goodbye with. I'm too fucking sensitive for this shit.

The throwing up we hoped wasn't anything really bad, maybe he ate something that was blocking his esophagus, etc. It ended up being one of the worst cases of gastrointestinal disease the doctor had ever seen in 17 years of practice. Our hope was the medication was going to work and slowly turn the ulcers into smooth soft tummy, the pain medication was working, Luke seemed happy and we all thought he was recovering. While he wasn't hungry, who could blame him really, there was a full recovery expected.
Sometimes no matter what, our fate is sealed and it's our time.

This picture, where Luke is curled up into a tiny ball and looking sweet and helpless, is one of my favorites and it was taken at the specialist center.
It reminds me why we chose to have animals in our lives, we need them and they damn sure need us. Finding him 10 years ago in the middle of the road and learning his current owners were going to return him to the shelter... well that wasn't acceptable. When he went blind it was a big challenge and a test of patience and there was only a little yelling and frustration over the last couple of years.
Even a good dog is bad sometimes but he was still always better than me.

Now I hate New Orleans even more than ever, I was trapped there due to the cold weather and couldn't get home on time and of course in time. Curse that evil black magic hellhole.

I treasure the memories, the pictures, the fun times.

Rock is lonely, the 15 inches of new snow and negative temperatures aren't helping the situation but we are all adjusting. The vet and specialists couldn't save my boy, and when I say we tried everything I mean it. Almost $8000 worth of combined effort, there literally wasn't anything else that could have been done.

Even though I was away, Luke got a final ride to McDonalds and Starbucks, and although he didn't really eat anything the effort was made.

One last puppy-chino for my friend, my brown bear, my Luke.