Channeling the Spirit of Saint Nicholas

I was impressed when K-12 and Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy gave a history lesson about the folk lore of Saint Nicholas and how he helped 3 poor sickly maidens get married by secretly tossing 3 bags of gold into their window, thus improving their lives for the better (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas). So now whenever I think of what I could give; I ask myself how will this gift improve their life.

Which brings me to the next thing I’m going to get my son for Christmas is a learning set that will allow him to easily learn how to create electronic circuits and use alternative energy (https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CIXVGVY/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481997040&sr=8-1&pi=SL75_QL70&keywords=alternative+energy+snap+circuits).

I feel these are good gifts because they will give my son hands on experience and working knowledge of what it takes to make a certain amount of energy. So the next time he looks at the power consumption of a device or light he will have a fuller understanding of how much power he is burning. And it will allow his mind to clearly conceptualize how to solve energy problems.

The problems my son’s generation will not be able to avoid are: 

Acquiring fuels for transportation when rising interest rates, costs, and environmental impact weight down deregulation and cheap credit. This will also effect natural gas power plants, fertilizers and pesticides, and high torque machinery like chainsaws and tractors. Though, some machinery could have lightweight replacements like snow throwers and battery operated cutting tools, etc.

Rising international tensions, rising stock piles of strategic nuclear weapons that are meant to take out infrastructure (electric magnetic pulse from gamma rays). This worries me because all this sensitive technology like smart phones, satalites, and LED lights may suddenly be useless in an event geopolitical power struggle comes head to head. Not only that but our already aging infrastructure will require experienced workers rebuilding and rewiring some sort of system that allows for the security that lighting brings as well as basic communication, food storage (there are non electric ways around that), cooking, heating/Ventilation/Cooling, etc.

So, in keeping up with Saint Nicholas my heart knows that time spent guiding my son to complete these projects will prepare him to solve expected problems in the future. Also nothing beats hands on experience to give someone the confidence that he/she can provide valuable services and skills in a demanding market.

Thermophilic Compost For Safety and Remediation

Preparedness is just not complete until you know what to do with the poop that hits the fan (or better yet before it has the chance to). We gotta get our poop in a scoop and bury it in moist carbon rich plant fluff. Now, I know you are looking through narrowed eyes thinking “Whaat?!”

We’re so used to the toilet, or for our wasted old food to go in the  trash bin that we may have not given it much thought. What other choice do we have than the way that we have been eliminating waste since the days of Roman civilization? Well, for one thing, the finished product of thermophilic compost is completely different from the inputs that undergo this biological process by being digested by microorganisms, heat, and thousands of little insect like invertebrates after it cools down. After a year or so, this pile transforms into a fertile agricultural resource. A business can be built around creating these resources as well as harvesting the heat energy, thus creating jobs. This resource closes the energy cycle between us and the land, giving back to the soil so it is not depleted, preventing plant disease. Reducing fuel loads in wilderness (7) while producing humus a resource that can hold nutrients and moisture in the soil. Plus, less water and fossil fuels are needed to transport the waste to a facility where it will need to be processed with chemicals that may end up in the environment. It saves wastes from going into a landfill. When using this method, there is no odor because the carbon filters it (8). The carbon materials soak up biological contaminates probably fixed in plant cell walls where it get destroyed or digested before it can get into the air, soil, or water (1). In-fact organisms in compost can even break down toxins into inert substances (2)! This industry has plenty of opportunity in identifying and finding uses (or properties) of bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, and small creatures that roam the dark corners of compost piles (2).

Are you as excited about this new idea as I am? Well, I guess we must ask ourselves, do we have enough time for a project like this. A couple of compost bins can be built with pallets that can be gifted from a grocery, department, or hardware stores. We’ll have to go and get sawdust, or make piles of leaves to rot and turn into leaf mold. Then there is the chore: once the four buckets are full, bring them to the compost pile, bury the contents within in the pile, cover it with the carbon material, and then rinse the buckets out over the pile. It sounds like this probably takes about 20 minutes once a week for a family of four (1). If you have the time, do you have the space?

Where can you keep a compost pile? You may need to set one up if the power goes out for an extended length of time, going camping, or if you are out a ways from your house in a barn or shop. I think it is advisable to locate it 150′ from a body of surface water like a river, pond, lake, or marsh. A flat well drained area that is in the sun can collect thermal energy in it’s mass. It’s also a good idea to shelter it from cold winds. A compost pile will not be active when frozen but will be ok when unthawed. You’ll want enough access to be able to cart a wheel barrel to it and have it a comfortable distance from the nearest door to your home. Try to look for a place that is not in direct line of sight of neighbors, and avoid putting under tree branches. That is the area where tree roots extend and they may try to grow into the pile. Evergreen trees have their own PH level going on, a compost pile may interfere with that (3).

Here is the basic set up. Start with bare ground, a lot of little creatures will join in the party from this channel, plus it allows airflow for everyone to breath (3). Thermophilic compost piles generally work better above ground (but is not limited to that) because the air flow is easier. Cover the bottom the the bin with 18″ of cover carbon materials like sawdust, hay, straw, dry grass clippings, weeds, or rotted leaves. Some small dead twigs or wood chips about 1″ or less will help aerate the pile, but may create a coarser texture of compost which can be sifted. Probably it would be good to start to add carbon cover materials around the sides as green and browns are added. The key is to bury the goods inside the compost (not resting on top) and cover it with lots of carbon materials. If you even think you smell anything, add more carbon. The ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio is 20-35 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. Also, it is good to make sure the compost pile does not dry out. You will want at least two bins so while one is full and baking (it takes a while) You can start another (1).

How long does it take? This takes about a year, or a year an a half, if your really squeamish. Once you have a pile that is at least 3’x 3′ or 1 cubic meter it needs to get hot, go through a decomposition stage, and then it needs to cure. No turning is necessary and in fact it is better not to because then nothing will evaporate from it. This prevents gases like carbon, nitrogen, and methane from escaping into the air, and you save all that food for the organisms, less work for you, less inputs, and nice compost. Waiting for your compost to cure ensures that whatever pathogens that were not killed by heat and microorganisms, will suffer and dwindle because of a lack of a host (2).

Now you may be thinking, how do I make sure, sure my compost is sanitary? This is the part that amazes me. We’ve got the three things that happen biologically and insane case studies that need to be verified, because if it is really true, then we’re saved! The angel wings that have been holding back the wrath of evil all this time were the very little creatures many of us wash and try to scrub away. Not to say we shouldn’t wash our hands or anything, but lets just take a look at what happens in a compost pile. First off the good microorganisms found in the soil, carbon plant materials, or other inputs see the pathogens in our crap and wastes as competition, so that means they fight and even eat those bad buggers. Finally as the thermophilic bacteria gain energy they start to heat up their environment this allows the pile to reach temperatures of 35-450 C (95-113.0 F) to 45-550 C (113-131.0 F), which will kill stuff that doesn’t belong there from 1 week at lower temperatures to a couple hours at higher temperatures (2). There has been case studies where rats were exposed to soil with lead in it. the rats that were on the soil that was inoculated with compost did not suffer from lead toxicity as opposed to the control that had soil without microbes. Rest in peace poor fellow <:(5). Also there are records from an Austrian Farmer who was affected by the Chernobyl disaster who was helped by a microbiologist and  agriculture scientist named  Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (6). Basically they sprayed compost tea on the spent green manure crop and tilled it under. The next year, the contaminants of cesium that were there before, were now gone!

Are you ready to get started? You may want a wooden box to hide the fact that you are pooping in a bucket, at least until the lid is lifted. Then you will need four buckets or so, about 5 gallons or 20 liters all the same size and shape to fit in the box., a toilet seat for the box, or a toilet seat (for a bucket), a steady supply of raw sawdust, grass clippings, or rotted leaves. You may want a lid remover in case the lid on the bucket gets stuck, a couple compost bins (YouTube DIY), a 20″ compost thermometer, and a pitch fork for harvesting the compost. You can click the blue links in this paragraph to get the items on Amazon, or you can follow this link to get most of what you need plus biodegradable bucket liners (if you prefer not to have to rinse buckets) as the Lovable Loo kit at humanurehandbook.com. If this was really interesting, you can reed the book for free, each chapter is a separate PDF with it’s own link (4). I’ll leave you with a little poem to sum everything up:

When you do your doo in the Lovable Loo, keep it all covered and it will provide for you too.

Bibliography:

1. http://humanurehandbook.com/manual.html (5/28/2016)

2. http://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/Chapter_3.pdf (5/28/2016)

3. http://compostguide.com/how-to-choose-a-compost-site/ (5/28/2016)

4. http://humanurehandbook.com/contents.html (5/28/2016)

5. http://permaculturenews.org/2006/04/22/compost-miracles/ (5/28/2016)

6. http://www.ibiblio.org/steved/Luebke/Luebke-compost2.html (5/28/2016)

7. http://www.stateforesters.org/about-action-plans/forest-trends/wildfire-fuel-loads-and-urbanization  (5/28/2016)

8.  http://news.mit.edu/2014/need-a-water-filter-peel-a-tree-branch-0226http://news.mit.edu/2014/need-a-water-filter-peel-a-tree-branch-0226 (5/28/2016)

Resources:

https://attra.ncat.org/index.php (5/28/2016)

John Kohler and his Info packed YouTube channel: Growing Your Greens, (5/28/2016)

 

Michigan Safe Energy Emergency Plan

The power goes out. It could be on a sunny day when a squirrel decides to hide his nut in a transformer, it could be during flood conditions, tornado, or in the middle of a winter storm. Do you have a plan? What do we do when the local nuclear energy plant has a failure? What do we do if a electro magnetic pulse comes sweeping through prompting major repairations to transformers, transfer stations and household appliances alike? What can you do if you cannot afford gasoline fuel? Even something as simple as loosing income, or loosing the value of our currency has some serious implications.

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Our children will be watching what we do. We are the backbone to our families, neighborhoods, and communities. By finding the anwsers to these questions, collecting or making appropriate tools, preparing, and practicing using our ideas we can be efficient in times of need. We can prevent pain, sickness, fear, anger, and even death. Learn more at http://michigansafeenergyfuture.com/

There are unlimited resources to help you make a plan that suits your skill set, tool set, environmental hazards, etc. Websites, videos, wesite forums or facebook groups, library books, books for your own library, TV shows, radio shows/podcasts, museums (to show how people lived before the industrial revolution), and even transition groups in your community can give you a heads up before the lightning strikes and there is seemingly no where to go.

There are more questions you will want to answer for yourelf. So you can organize a plan that will work for you. For each question you may want to start a folder, or have a section in a notebook or plastic film sheets in a binder. This will be a go to for your whole family. Here is a list of questions to help you get started (print them out, find the answers that work for your situation, have family help you answer if you get stuck):

1. Where can your family stay if your home becomes unsafe or unnaffordable?

2. Where can your family find food if grocery stores/restaurants are unable to provide?

3. If local water supplies are compromised, do you have a way to disinfect, filter, and keep it safe? Even without electricity?

4. Can you provide multiple ways to cook dinner, keep food cold, heat water, or keep your family warm when the weather is cold?

5. Do you have alternet lighting sources that you can sustain, or replace fuel for not just for a week but for months or years?

6. If you or one of your family or friends become sick, get an infection, or are suffering with allergy troubles, would you know which resources around you, you could provide to comfort or help, or to get you/them back into a healing state?

7. With the loss of electric/transportation could you or those around you procure the items needed for a more comfortable living? That is do you know any blacksmiths, pottery artists, HVAC experts, builders, herbalists, etc. that could supply us with Solar thermal storage, clay dishes, non electric metal tools, herbal remedies etc.

8. How can we create a resilient self reliant system of food production? Food Storage? How can we farm and keep/make our soil fertile?

9. If my family or community cannot live without electricity, how can we produce it? What conditions and tools/components do we need to design and build a system that uses solar, wind, or people power? And how can we make fuel for transportation, heating, and cooking?Also how can we protect our emergency systems from CME/EMP?

10. Secure home tips

Let’s answer each of these questions for residents of South Haven, Michigan. These may not be the answers for you but could give you an idea of how you can solve these issues. You may have more or less resources to help you prepare, but the idea is to find what works for you. “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” If after reading these questions you feel the need for a quick start, you can start here:

The first thing to collect would be the current issue of “Emergency Preparedness, in Van Buren and Allegan Counties”. Get Potassium Iodine Tablets (especially for children and those under 40, although it only protects the thyroid against radioactive iodine). Also printing out pictures of family onto paper (stored in a sealed plastic bag) can help other people reunite you and your family at the reception area where you’ll be directed to in an event of an evacuation.

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Second, collect some items to keep nuclear contaminates off your eyes, nose, hair, feet, hands, etc. Some things that work well are filter masks that filter out particles down to .3 microns, goggles, plastic bags for your feet to go over your boots or shoes, disposable gloves, larger plastic bags for your body, and a bag that has holes cut out for your nose and mouth that can be worn under the goggles and mask. This will keep out lightweight alpha radiation and be mostly disposable so no contaminates will be tracked to your shelter. (Webpal.org)

Third, put together your Bug Out Bag/Get Home Bag/Shelter in place tools. Children should have one at school if there is an emergency. This would help keep them comfortable until parents can get their child, or if they are old enough, give them the items they need to get back to their family. Business people or employees away from home should have one in their car, it should contain enough money to get a bike, foot wear, or other transportation etc. to get home. If this is not possible then they can use their bag as a way to bug out or shelter in that area. Homemakers can keep one for family amenities when everyone is together and must travel or shelter in place. Homeland Security says it should include:

3 days of water
3 days supply of food
Battery powered radio and extra batteries
flashlight and extra batteries
first aid kit
whistle (to signal help)
filter mask or cotton to filter air
moist towletts (for sanitation)
wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
plastic sheeting and duct-tape to shelter in place
garbage bags for personal sanitation
unique family needs, perscriptions, infant formula, diapers, important family documents

(www.ready.gov) 1-800-Be Ready

But if you You Tube this: “bug out bag”. You find other things to include:

hunting knife
paracord
saw
small fishing kit
compass
small axe
book on Foraging
way to store, filter, and disinfect water (condoms, socks, char, pine, chlorine tablets, cantene, cantene cup (for boiling water)
different combustion tools (lighter, matches in plastic bags, fire striker, or learn how to make a bow drill.
Solar shower
rags
thermos cooking fuel
can opener
tent
sleeping bag
wool blanket
sleeping bag mat

This list can get quite long. Keep a bag in the car, keep one buried in your favorite get away, keep one at a friend or family member’s house, keep one hidden close by, update it with the seasons and remember where you put things in the pockets. Get a big 70 liter bag if you like to go hiking, but there is a limit to how much you can carry, so split up accordingly and try not to exceed 25-30% of your weight. This gives you a fitness goal, just incase you wanted one. 🙂

1. Housing plans:

What if your neighbors’ home becomes unsafe or unaffordable? The second question may or may not think be relevant to you as the first, but even if the first question doesn’t concern you, the second just might when you find someone looking for help with or without your permission.

I want to say thank you to the bike thieves of South Haven. After having a 4th bike stolen, heisted right from my locked shed (locked with a letter lock, not very high tech) I realized, “Don’t get attatched to stuff.” I was tired of being devastated, every time my more environmentally friendly transportation/ exercise was taken from me. I learned though, after asking around to my neighbors that they too had bikes stolen, and talking to the police that the problem they see a lot of but can’t do much about. I hated it when swear I seen my very last bike on craigslist. The thought of people creeping around my house is very unsettling. But I realized, that if I wanted to feel peace and free of hate I could shed my love for stuff. No one can steal something you don’t have and it frees you from the obligation to take care of it and protect it. Think about this as you are creating and planning for the worst. This is a fairly populated area, and desperate times create desperate people. Have more than one way to do things, the simpler and more unappealing the better.

Any home at anytime may be unsafe for a certain demographic, like an infant, a canine, or a blind person. So in these times we could create an environment that would be safe. Our homes are the culmination or our life. And when our lives change, so do our homes. Form follows function.

If leaving you home is mandatory then, it would be wise to connect with family and friends. Talk to those who live outside the evacuation area, see how they feel about the situation. Each person can asses their skills and resources to decide their contribution. You’ll need food (and a way to grow it), a place to sleep, a way to keep warm, safe, and dry. If your group lives within 50 miles, it would be beneficial to learn how to filter radioactivity from water:

http://www.dew-drop.com/purificationofradioactivewater.html

http://www.oism.org/nwss/s73p919.htm

Another Great resource:

www.thesurvivalmom.com

2. A way to procure food:

Going fishing last summer, I realized even in wonderful times, I’m not going to be the only one in the forest. This means the forest is not a likely secure place, but a shared public place (or DNA library) that should be treated with respect, alertness, and care. It can possibly be a way to bring plants and animals that can be reproduced in a closer zone to our own dwellings. The best thing is to save seeds and produce your own food. You will need foraging skills around your immediate area and some dry beans, wild seeds like plantain and curly dock etc. to start off. Most of all, get to know what bugs are edible. Rollie Pollie bugs, crickets, grasshoppers, worms, June bugs, and Japanese Beatles are all good eats after boiled or cooked on a stick. Care should be taken when eating slugs they catch a bacteria that comes from lung worms from squirrels’ feces, boil those in a couple exchanges of water. Personally, I tried this but only after cooking removing the guts, the shell of the slug tastes like fish, very stinky fish. It’s more productive to just throw them into a thermophilic compost pile.

3. Filtering Water:

The best setup is a small wind turbine, solar system with enough battery backup to last a few days that can run a well. You may want to keep all the pieces (or redundancies of the most sensitive or quick to break down) components tucked away in Faraday cages, to prevent electrical damage from nuclear radiation aka electrical magnetic pulse. Water in underground aquifers are unlikely to be affected by airborne radioactive fallout. If you cannot get water from an aquifer then you’ll need to create an earth filter. There is also a way to filter it with biochar. The best choice from surface waters would be a spring from within a forest, then a marsh. The trees and plants that grow there filter the water. A second choice would be rain water, which will most likely be radioactive in a radioactive event. Lastly, in a river there is more of a chance from contamination since the water travels a distance in open air, and animals may die, or poop in it. Always sanitize water from this source by boiling, silver added while boiling may help, not sure if that is anecdotal or not.

4. Source of energy for warmth and cooking.

Bugging in, in the winter? Don’t have access to fuel for heat? According to www.the survival mom.com there are some strategies to use until things get better: staying in one room with the smallest window, insulating the window, and using lots of blankets and warm clothing. Even setting up a tent in that room to retain the heat in the tent.

Also, If you haven’t got a generator to provide energy for cooking, an outdoor campfire may be your easiest choice. Similarly, a more efficient way to cook a with less wood would be to dig a Dakota fire pit, or make a rocket stove with clay, cement, or metal. There are also ways to cook with tea lights in a toaster oven.

Sources of heat for general warmth (as resources and opportunities present themselves) include Passive Solar design elements in the architecture of your home , Solar Porch, Solar thermal panels for hot water, thermal mass, thermophilic composting see also The Compost Powered Water Heater: How to Heat Your Greenhouse, pool, or buildings With Only Compost by Gaelan Brown, biodigesters from food or animal manures (the smaller the better to avoid industry sized pollution), and thermal mass augmenting the heat holding capacity of the most efficient woodstove or windheating element that can be designed.

5. Alternative lighting source:

Flashlights, candles, and oil lamps are useful things to put back. But, if you find yourself without these things there are other ideas as well. Back before the industrial revolution, lighting for at night was not so easy, so they had an easier time getting to bed. Despite that, if you need to milk the cow, or the goat a bullrush dipped in animal fat may just get you out to the barn yet. A wonderful idea, were someone in your group able to do, is grow sunflowers for their oily seeds, or peanuts. Then an oil extractor like the PITEBA from Holland can be used to make oil for oil lamps.

6. Medical Attention:

Colds, infections, and allergic reactions could be a bit more complicated without electric, fuel, or passable roads. It’s good to know (or have in your group someone who knows) what herbs or vegetables and fruits will give your body what it needs to fix itself. Be aware that yarrow, mint, dandelion, plantain, mullien, pine, fir, and even spruce can provide a boost for your body, just get to know these plants before you need them. With wounds, disinfection, and sanitation is of utmost importance even with a little nick on the hand! A tincture made from black walnuts is a natural source of iodine which is natural antibiotic. Also, during times of evacuation, some people may eat different foods than they are used to, or poor quality, or being outside, get stung by a bee. It’s a good idea to have a first aid book or two. With allergic reactions look for “rashes, tightness in chest and throat, and swelling in face, neck, and tongue. The person may feel dizzy or confused.” (Red American Cross, First Aide–Responding to Emergencies. [Yardley, Pennsylvania: Stay well] p. 90.) If you see these symptoms check for respiratory distress, and check for shock. Check for a medical I’d bracelet, or if anyone has an Epipen, or Anaphylaxis kit. Help the victim get comfortable, neither too cold or warm, and help them relax. If it is indeed an emergency, try to have a way to communicate with a hospital, if you don’t have a way to get there perhaps someone outside can pick up the person who needs help. If it is not an emergency take note that stinging nettle is a moderate antihistamine as well as garlic (because it has querciten).

If you need emergency evacuation and you have no access to electronic communication I would try a 3 puff smoke signal. There may be a chance a small business aircraft may be crossing through or an emergency responding helicopter maybe heading towards a congregate care center to deliver supplies or pick up other injured people.

7. A more comfortable situation:
Does the thought of taking a cold shower make you cringe? How did the Native Americans deal with that? They built a sweat lodge and chilled in a covered wig wam, with flaming hot rocks with which they poured water over to make nice hot steam. Afterwards they would rinse off with a bit of clean water or have a swim in a river or lake. This is a great way to not need fossil fuels or large amounts of water to feel clean. Keeping hands clean also prevents food borne infections, click here to see a way to set up a wash system when cleaning animals for dinner or getting ready to prepare a meal, or eat by Tom Lupshu. A natural cleanser can be made with local plants like yucca, soapwort, and tannins from hard wood trees.

A loss of modern utilities will mean being outdoors is necessary. That means we’ll have to contend with bugs in the summer, but luckily nature has controls for these. This is a great time to learn about and acquire herbs that can repel them. Keep mind small critters that eat bugs like ticks such as the opossum, wild turkeys, and guinea hens.

Most of these questions have as many answers as people. I work on this article from time to time, but hopefully what I have so far will give you a good head start on the steps you can take to make your time during an emergency, and there after, much more safe.

Thank you so much for reading. Feel free to add you ideas and resources if you feel it relates or can add to the topics presented.