Sunday, May 28, 2017

Roper 20 - Lake Titicaca

Nothing like waking up with a cats arse in your face.

I brushed one of the thousands of striped, yellow eyed devils of my chest.

He looked at me like I was an insect with "I KNOW you like it, my arse shines bright like diamond!" and exited the villages only guest hut. Strutting, tail erect...proud like a prince of hell.

I starred at the ceiling for what must have been at least twenty minutes, but it felt like second. God, I hated what came now.

I rose up and stood, eyes closed with both hands stretched out.

Yesterdays Mate tea actually did not erupt out of my mouth, so I guess my seasickness finally got bored and moved along.

Three steps took me to the entrance of the hut where a deceivingly bright sun did not manage to really warm me.

I tried to pull my poncho tighter around me...a bit more pressure and that thing would be a part of my SKIN.

I starred at what must be the Bolivian part of the lake and tried to figure out if the moving horizon would do what the islands movements could not.

I was told that in the old days, before we threw the world back into the dark ages, the lakes shore side would be black with tourists. Paying a handsome buck to walk on the squishy, wobbling floating islands of the Uros.

(I stopped dead in my train of thought: Nope, neither "squishy", "wobbly" or "floating" summoned dizzyness..)

But now the beaches where deserted, probably also on account of the Uros themselves who would shoot anyone just looking at their hand made islands.

I decided to find the others and walked on to the rim of the large island constituting the nerve center of the nation of Uros. It STILL felt like walking on a water bed...or like being drunk in a bouncy castle. Luckily I   found the Mandrake short after, she held a reed basked up in front of her, both eyes. closed.

"Just fucking DO it!" She hissed at L.

I squinted. I could swear that L. was chocking/shacking a large bird with both hands with a very focused look in on his face.

I sat down.

Maybe the Ayahuasca from last week had a comeback and played havoc with my brain.

"What the fuck are you doing! Quit chocking that bird!"

"But it got our fucking breakfast!" L. said as he tried a new technique and turned the impressive large bird upside down and...it looked like he was trying to play accordion on that poor animal.

The bird gave up to this treatment and a large fish slid out of its throat as it opened its beak. 

The Mandrake squealed involuntary as the basked got heavy.

"I fucking hate that, it looks like birth!!"

"Sorry love" L. said as he threw the indignant Comoran over his shoulder.

I probably should explain: The Uros keep Comorans as livestock with their throats "crimped" with pieces of string. The bird can still catch fish..but not swallow. The villagers gracefully allowed us to borrow a bird commonly known as "The Asshole" so we could provide for ourselves.

We still don`t know if we got the bird as a rite of passage or as a mean to get rid of us again...or they are just taking the piss.

According to L. it is probably the last.

The Mandrake hesitantly opened her eyes and starred at the fish.

"Yummy! E...do we need to spike this one with Dramamine as well or will you be ok?"

"I think I`ll be ok....what else is for breakfast?"

"Reeds and Mate, idiot."

She took the basket and waltzed off to the villages only fire place. The had a large square of granite tiles where the communal cooking took place. Not so much out of fear to put the island on fire but because precious fuel would not burn on the moist, bog like ground.

I elbowed L. in the gut to get his attention since he was starring mesmerized at the Mandrakes ass which was lovingly held by her leather pants. I had to give it her though: She totally pulled that indio/goth fusion off.

"Hrm?"

"Hook a brother up?"

"Oh yeah, sure"

He gave me one of the precious few doobies left in his watertight titanium pill box around his neck.

We lit and smoked.

"Are you assholes getting stoned again?!"

I dropped the doobie in the water and L. looked at me as if I just blended a kitten.

M. came around the corner with a bundle of reed balancing on her left hip and with a large, extremely sharp looking knife in her right.

"I appreciate that you two initiated the fall of the motherfucking patriarchy and so on. But can a girl get a fucking hand around here? Its our turn to do repairs!"

I think I must have FLOATED over to her.

She kissed me on the cheek.

"Hey poor baby, DON`T kiss me on the mouth, fish breath! NOT before we found some toothpaste!"







Thursday, May 25, 2017

Food Storage: Rotation

In 9 out of 10 cases a person, who just decided to be prepared for emergencies runs to the supermarket and stocks up on canned good, non perishables and other long life items.

(Don`t worry...I was one of the 9 out of 10. So you are in good company.)

A closer look at the, heavy loaded, shopping cart after checking out would reveal a large number of food that:

a) falls out of a persons normal diet/eating habits

b) is cheap

c) probably some sort of canned ready meal

And when the "best before" date approaches, usually faster than anticipated you/I/he/she sits on a pile of food that is eatable but....seriously? Eating THAT!?

Personally I tried to phase out canned ready meals by serving them to my daughters and wife during hiking/camping trips hoping that ANY meal will taste awesome as long it is served at a camp fire and after a long day outdoors.

Well, it can be that my family does not share my set of associations of happy-camper-life but that experiment did not end well.

I also turned to so called Survival Food because the calorie/volume appealed to me (we did not live in a house when I started preparing) and the fact that I could just toss a box of that stuff in the back of the car or even in a backpack and have food for over a week.

But that stuff also runs out at some point of time, and even though we can all agree on that "best before" just means "BEST before" and not "does self destruct after this date" : At some point of time you need to let that stuff go!

(Speaking of, check out my baking experiments with outdated yeast: Baking With Old Yeast

 And suddenly you sit on a mountain of canned 3rd grade canned "meat" that even sailors or cats won`t touch. (And sailors are not spoiled when it comes to food quality, I can guarantee you THAT!)


What to do?

Well, I personally give the cans away for charity: Our village has a "hobo fence" where we hang food, clothing and basic hygiene articles for persons in need to take. Funny thing about "Survival Food": It is incredible hard to convince a person that highly concentrated space-age food is actually food...so you might as well keep it as snacks for hiking trips....





So, the answer to above problems is ROTATION.

Buy the amount of food you want to accumulate by simply doubling/tripling the amount of food you would buy for..lets say a week...and use and replace it as you go. So, this means you buy stuff you ACTUALLY WOULD LIKE TO EAT! ( A lot of charlatan "prepper stores" make a handsome buck by selling cat/dog food to the same idiots that buy Russian, surplus gasmasks!)

Do not buy a van full of food at once since you then wold have to replace/rotate same van full within very short time... 
  






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Audiobooks

I always loved reading.

I have been reading constantly since I got my first library card at the age of 9, and yes .. reading graphic novels count as reading!

My reading always peaked when I was out on sea: Books I would not have peed on if they would have been on fire, suddenly became attractive because there was nothing else in the ships library

So I had my fair share of pulpy, men`s adventure novels like the "Destroyer" or "Endworld" series. Funny enough: I never have been on a ship that did not have a Larry Niven novel on board.

However, this was before internet or ebook readers were available and I could only carry a few books with me, or shop for some extra ones at the airports book shop before I signed on.

But on a 6 month contract that was just a drop in the sea.

Later, after I finished the Officers College with my Master ticket, I had to start my officers career at the bottom as 2nd Officer on the 00-04 and 12-16 watch. With other words: I worked and had off when everybody was asleep or worked themselves.

These watches were boring...alone on a dark bridge with no one to talk to for hours. Reading? Forget about it!

My eyes had stay on what happened outside and I had to take care of my night vision.

Then my best friend made me a gift that actually changed my life: 

Terry Pratchett`s "The Fifth Elephant" by Terry Pratchett on CD.

Wow, that changed everything!

My watches maybe not flew by but became tolerable, and I still could focus on the traffic.

I ended up buying more CD sets, mostly other Terry Pratchett stories but also other writers. As we finally got internet on board the Search And Rescue Vessels I ended up on, I finally bought my first laptop.

Mostly to stay in touch with my then-girlfriend and now-wife but also to watch movies and...you guessed it: Buy audiobooks online and download them.

I have been customer at Audible.com ever since, and probably bought over 200 books over the last 9 years.

For me as a 80`ies kid who had only a mono cassette player for some kid`s adventure tapes....it is still magic that I can have all these books/stories on a MP3 player not bigger than my thumb.

A story just becomes more dimensional when a gifted narrator reads a story for you..especially if it is in a native African, British or Carribean dialect: Anyone listening to Christoper Moore`s "Fluke" and not having belly cramps of laughter when a jewish, white rasta from Chicago tries to speak rasta patois is just not alive :-)





Monday, May 22, 2017

Vertical Farming: The Barrel Garden, part 1

Last year I experimented with vertical farming for the first time when I grew Tomatoes Upside Down ,hanging from a rafter, with pretty good results. This year I am a bit more ambitious and will try to grow (hopefully) a lot of tomatoes on/of the sides of a large barrel.

I will burn/cut a number of holes below the middle of the barrel, fill it with compost and plant tomato seedlings in the holes. The tomatoes will grow upwards from the holes and leave plenty space to plant...you guessed it: Tomatoes.

I will make a "column" of pebbles in the middle of the barrel to distribute water evenly, this will prevent rot in the lower layers as well.



In the beginning there was a barrel

And Lars took his hot knife with circular adapter and thought:

"Let`s burn a bunch of holes in to that barrel!"

And so he did!

Nice, circular holes..with rounded edges!

And Lars thought: "Not bad!"

"Not bad AT ALL!"

Then Lars took the rich, fat compost from his composter..

...and created a 15-20 cm layer of compost at the bottom.

Then he took a paper cone and filled it with stones.

Put compost around it...

...and pulled the cone out...

...so a pillar of stones was left in the center of of the barrel.

The stones in the center will distribute water evenly in the barrel.

Lars was so pleased with this, that he did it again...

...and again....

...until he almost ran out of compost!

But, it turned out that he had more than enough compost and stones!

Then Lars planted strong tomato seedlings in the holes...and the waiting game started!





Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Grapple Hook



A grapple is great for pulling items towards you when it is to dangerous to get close up.

I am porbably one of the few persons on this planet who used a grapple hook in anger. And that was job related:

It was an unconscious person lying in a tangle of fishing net, we could not approach the person with our FRC`s (fast rescue craft) directly because parts of the net would get into our propellers / water jet intakes.

So no, I don`t have adolescent Ninja / Tactical Operator fantasies of scaling a 8 m vertical wall with a foldable "Tactical Climbing Hook" from Ebay.

I just want to be able to manipulate out-of-reach objects like:

- window latches or door handles

- getting a good hold on branches with fruit

- gear falling into water during a canoe trip or fetching other out-of-reach stuff

- a grapple hook makes a GREAT weapon when slung with help of the attached rope

So, many advantages but all outweighed by the extremely bad weight/size/usefulness ratio.

But then I found a neat little titanium grapple hook that pretty much answered my prayers (for a complete bat belt cough cough)

The workmanship on this little thing is awesome: The threads on container and the spikes are cut with high precision. When the spikes are attached the container can be filled with sand/water to add more weight to the throw.



Here is the little miracle. A watertight titanium container with three threaded spikes.  
Stubby little thing..





   


One of my early attempts at welding...meh...
But still does the job like....




Monday, May 15, 2017

Roper 19 - Mafiosi Girl III

Have`s:

- bag full of assorted guns, knives and cash

- sociopath girl, insisting on tagging along

- world wide arrest warrant with our pretty faces on it

-  estimated life expectancy measured in hours


Not have`s:

- some god damned rubber boots


We were resting in a group of trees at the end of the field we had to cross to get away from the truck stop and onto the back roads and hiking routes.

There was a small, clean looking pond between the trees in which L. , without much success tried to wash away the centimeter thick crust of cow shit from his boots.

"Come on ladies, do not get to comfortable! We have a lot of road to cover!"

I ignored her, and her clean DocMarten,s and sat down to copy L.`s boot-cleaning-strategy.

She stood inpatient, with her leather jacket around her waist and the barely concealed ... (what was it she called it....   "Obrez" ) gun held to her waist by the sleeves.

"Don`t you think that elephant killer will get some attention once we are out of here?" L. asked as he slammed his boots together, pieces of wet dung flying everywhere.

She smiled and touched the handle of the gun that was as long as my underarm .

"This little thing? Nah, its practically part of my genetic, slavic ancestry...and people probably think that its just a toy."

She made big eyes and perched her lips.

"An itty bitty girl like me with such a BIG and LONG gun? What do I need a gun for when I am protected by so big and strong alpha males as you? Impossible!"

The weird SAT phone looking device, she found in her own little backpack on the back seat of the BMW, vibrated and she starred irritated at the large screen.

Our phones were just mere alarm clocks as we threw away the SIM`s in Denmark...long, long time ago... and the mobsters phones we threw into the canalisation.

"I thought we agreed on throwing all phones out?" 

She flashed this little cruel smile at me.

"Yes we did, but I am a princess and need to talk to my friend."

"Which friend, someone that can help us?"

"Help ME, yes....which means that you will be helped too. As long as you do as I say."

She pulled the Obrez and cocked it.

"Up my pretties, we have a lot of road to cover before we can rest! But I promise there will be a bed and a hot bath at the end of it!"

L. grumbled as he got up. It sounded like one, long profantity. M. pointed the gun at him.

"Uh uh, big one....I burn a hole in your chest before you made a step. My friend told me about your exploits in the northern countries. Bad boy! BAD!"

She grinned, and the devils humorous insanity beamed through it.

"It will be worth it...I promise! There is a house less than 8 km from here, a nice discrete located piece of real estate in the forest with all the comfort one would expect from a 3 million Euro house. We`ll go there and wait until they give up searching for us here!"

"Ehr, the owners don`t mind we crash in their house?"

She starred at L.

"Bit late to worry about that now, is it not? With your history and all? And no, they won`t mind: They are on vacation and I have all the safe words and codes for the security system...and the watch men are notified of our arrival. So, do not worry but WALK!"







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wind (1992)

One of the reasons I like "Wind" (1992) so much is the story itself: A group of persons willing to  invest extreme amounts of themselves, in order to achieve a common goal with different motivations. 
 
 
 

The film follows the raise and fall of a young, hopeful America`s Cup skipper (played by Matthew Bodine ) losing the prestigious cup to an Aussie team...of all people.

Now a pariah in this closed and exclusive world, he goes looking for support at his former girlfriend.

The same girlfriend (Played by a cute-as-hell Jennifer Grey ..graauww) lives and works in the Mojave Desert where she develops aircraft wings and fuselages, in a hangar together with other geeky science types.

And there, far away from the ocean, they manage to develop a revolutionary type of hull and sail based on the design of a bug wing.

The story and the acting is great....the pictures and soundtrack even better.

For me a perfect summer movie!

 




Two Half Hitches

Two Half Hitches is made by making two overhand knots ("half hitches") in sequence. These two overhand knots will create a Clove Hitch around the rope itself.
 
So,  you will have an adjustable loop that however will be hard to open again, after the knot has been under tension.
 
It is one of the easiest/safest knots there is and everybody should know how to make it.
 
Let the rope run left/right or right/left around an item. You decide.
 
Put the short end OVER the long end.
 
...and lead it back UNDER the long end again.
 
Voila! Now you have made the first half of the knot! Now repeat!
 
And you have Two Half Hitches!
 
It should look like this!





Monday, May 8, 2017

Roper 18 - Meet The Mandrake III

I woke up with a start and banged my head on the bed over me.

Shit.

The window, a little to the right over my head, let in some summer sun filtered by the beech trees standing around the house.

I checked my watch to find out that I have been out for 8 hours, but I still felt more dead than alive.

I dressed and went to the living room where I found the sun bed in the same place as earlier.

Oh well, yeah....that is a problem we have to cope with later.

I squinted at the radio standing on the table beside the sun bed playing some oldie pop.

Was she still out?

A head emerged from the sun bed, smiled.

"Good morning, coffee is in the machine!"

Coffee?

Coffee!

I got myself a big mug of black mother`s milk and stood there with both hands around it...just taking in the smell and feeling of the warm mug.

Oh baby,

It slowly occurred to me that a person tied to a sun bed on wrists and ankles should not be able to move like that.

I starred at the backside of the sun bed, from where I stood her legs...one resting relaxed on the other knee.

Where was L.?

She looked at me smiling when I returned to her.

"Slept ok?"

"Uhm....." Yup, definitely not tied anymore.

L. was in the garden performing his ritual by mercilessly roping down some trashcans with his lasso.

It looked glorious with the Baltic sea in the background, sun glittering in the waves....

What was that on his face?

"He untied me earlier this morning so I could go to the toilet, I got him in the head...got him GOOD, I actually nearly made it to the street when...."

She showed me her left, stocking clad,  ankle that had a circular bruise all around it.

"....he GOT me! He can move fast for his size, can`t he?"

I sat down heavily on the table, taking a closer look at her. She definitely did not have black lip stick earlier, or fish net stockings, or some weird Victorian looking corset. Must be me hallucinating, the fatigue can play tricks with your mind.

"Uhm..."

"Don`t worry...he microwaved my telephone and took the router. No way I could call for anyone. Next house is like 2 km away."

She returned her attention to L.`s escapades.

"Whoah, how does he do that? Is he a cowboy or something?"

"Her, no..sailor actually.And former prison warden, long story"

"You don`t say." She said, biting her lower lip as L. caught a garden chair from a 6 m distance.

"Sooo, ehr...how are you?" I starred at the goose egg on her forehead that has blackened while I slept.

"Oh, I am just fine: I got attacked and knocked out by two home invaders. I probably have a concussion, which is SUPER bad for me, got tied down and held hostage...just to find out that "my"  two home invaders are the ones the whole country is looking for. You are ultra violent and should not be approached they said in the news. So I am just SUPER I tells ya!"

I swear: The side of my face pointing towards her started to burn a little

As she removed a strand of black hair from her face, the object around her wrist became visible and my mouth went dry.

She noticed that I noticed and covered her SmartWatch with a wry smile.

"I know, he kind of overlooked it. I have no idea why I did not press the alarm button myself. Lets see where this is taking us ok?"

"Sure."

I brought her a coffee and we sat in silence as we watched sailing boats crossing The Great Belt.
 




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Survival Kit Content: Kittens Got Claws


I found another knife for the "possible candidate list" for my new Monkey Fist Survival Set
 
A cheap (!) as dirt little stainless steel knife I found on Ebay for less than 2 $...inclusive shipping that is.
 
Don`t ask me how they can earn on that!
 
One would expect a blade with cardboard grade steel, but I was pleasantly surprised about the sharpness/toughness of the blade in general.
 
True, it is VERY small and the blades thickness does not make this one a precision cutter.
 
But I think it will cover 99% of my immediate "cutting needs" in the first hours of an emergency.
 
Conclusion: A knife you use until you find a "real" knife, but definitely worth having.
 
 
Small, light and curved. The ring-design allows
a safe handling of the very short knife.
 
The claw is sharp enough, but the design is tough on
the fingers in the long run.
 




Saturday, May 6, 2017

Roper 17 - Meet The Mandrake II

L. knelt down and effortlessly lifted the girl up and walked inside.

"There is a key locker behind the door, get the one for the shed and get me a sun bed and the flagpole rope."

I just stood and watched him disappear in the darkness, the dots slowly connected in my fatigued brain and a fuzzy picture, which I did not like, appeared in my brain.

"Uhm...L.?"

"Yeah?"

"You are not going to do something sick and depraved to that girl, are you?"

"Nah, I just want to tie her to the sun chair...hurry!"

I guess breaking in to a summer house and tying the hapless inhabitants up is not much worse than anything else I have done the last few days. If I have to disappear in to prison for the rest of my life I might as well add some to the tab.

There were a lot of neatly stacked, expensive looking sun beds in the shed. I took one and was surprised that it was so light. A large coil with flag rope was standing behind some croquette mallets (CROQUET! That is all you need to know about the family L. almost married in to! Posh bastards!) and I cut off about 20 m with a garden scissor.

Everything was bathed in a pink half light as I went out of the shed and back towards the house, I could see the inside of the large living room through the floor to ceiling windows and L. kneeling in standing in front of a sofa group, looking down at a lying shape.

Back inside, I put the sun bed close to where he stood and he immediately lifted her from the sofa to the sun bad. The 20 m of flag rope rapidly disappeared in a intricate arrangements of complicated looking knots.

"Go get a blanket." He said as his fingers did the topological ballet of a master knot tier.

I went to the main sleeping room and found the girls belongings in there, also a blanket on the large bed.

The living room was bathed in orange/purple light when I returned. And the view over the Baltic from the giant windows was breath taking.

But it was not the view that stopped me dead in the tracks.

"Uhhmm...L.?"

"Yeah?"

"She is awake."

At this point he was busy tying her feed to the sun chair with knots looking lose and impossible to get out of at the same time.

He looked up and met eyes, looking at him like an Eagle probably looked at small, furry animals on the ground before pouncing on them.

"Ehm, good morning?"

No fear, no hysteria, no "oh-my-god-what-are-you-doing", no "don`t-hurt-me`s" just this stare.

"Hello, I want you to leave now."

"Sorry, that`s a no go" L. carefully took her last foot and tied her down. I was not sure if that was enough, I would not feel safe before she was in a cage.....and we had a tranq gun...and a chair.

God, I was tired of other people being in control all the time.

"Uhm, how long have you been here? Do you expect someone? This morning?"

She relaxed and leaned back, granting me a smile that made her look like a cat that got the cream.

Shit, I mean...seriously?

L. stood up and walked over to the large dinner table, with HP lamps hanging over it, there was a laptop which came alive after he pressed a key.

Then he walked to the kitchen and opened the fridge.

"I don`t think she is expecting anyone today."

"How`s that?"

"She has been here some days already and she is working on a thesis of some sort...looks like she buried her self here to finish it."

I looked down at the girl who starred at L. with a weird, intense concentrated look.

Oh well, I turned her sun chair towards the view and put the blanket over her. Let L. deal with her.

I found a room with a bunk bed and collapsed on the bottom one.

Goodnight.




Friday, May 5, 2017

The Clove Hitch / Improvised Handcuffs

The Clove Hitch is a great knot for attaching lines to an object...as long as that line is not under a lot of tension, because the Clove Hitch is not a very strong knot like his cousin the The Constrictor Knot
 
But the clove hitch does has its advantages: It is fast and easy to make...and with it you can make a nifty set of handcuffs within seconds: Just in case your partner recently read "Fifty Shades" and suddenly feels adventurous.
 
(For more potential fun`n`games with knots: Check out the The Highway Man Hitch )
 
But back to the serious stuff ("Yes, Master!"):
 
The Clove Hitch can be "laid in hand" and made around an item. The laid in hand method is popular among Scouts and a bit frowned upon sailors, but essential if you want to make the hand cuff trick.
 
 
CLOVE HITCH - MADE IN HAND
 
In the beginning there was rope...
 
Fold the left side of the rope inward CLOCKWISE  to create a loop.
 

Do the same with the right end, but COUNTERCLOCKWISE.
 
 

Put the right loop over the left one.
 

And we have a Clove Hitch!
 
 THE HANDCUFFS
 
Now to what really interests you: The Handcuffs.
Start out exactly like with the Clove Hitch.
 
But instead of putting the right loop over the left, as with the Clove Hitch,
pull the left loop through the right loop.
 
And vice versa!
 
Pull at both loops.
 
Voila! Handcuffs! You tighten the loops by pulling the ends!
 
 
THE CLOVE HITCH - AROUND AN OBJECT
 
This is easy: Cross over from left to right (or right to left).
 
Cross over from right to left.
 

Should look like this.
 
Lead the end of the rope under the last cross over....
 
...and pull tight!
Voila: Clove Hitch