Wild and crazy ideas

November 14, 2010

So, this week, President Obama’s Debt Commission came up with some brave ways to lower the deficit. One of them was to raise the retirement age by one year–40 years from now. Soon-to-be-ex-Speaker Pelosi’s rage was as immediate as it was predictable.

Who are they kidding? There’s not going to be Social Security in 40 years. This year they are already paying out more than they took in. That’s BEFORE the bulk of the baby boomers start to retire. If Social Security and Medicare still exist in 15 years, I’ll be very surprised. The two government programs are the greatest Ponzi schemes the world has ever known. We put Madoff in prison for far less, yet we hail these two bloated monsters. I’m not yet 40–I’ve been paying into those programs for 24 years, and will never see a dime of it. Leftist scare-mongers like to say, “Those evil right-wingers want you to gamble your retirement on the stock exchange.” Damn right. For me, if I’d put that money in stocks, I’d be ahead. If I put it in a mattress, I’d be ahead. If I put it in scratch-off lottery tickets, I’d be ahead. Only by surrendering it all to the government am I absolutely guaranteed to get nothing back. Funny, it’s almost like the government does everything it is not mandated by the Constitution to do, badly. Those crazy Founders!

The other idea was to lock in spending–at 2010 levels. Wow. That’s the best they could come up with–the bloated budget that came after President Bush’s disastrous last year and President’s Obama’s disastrous first two?

Of course, even these anemic responses to the looming debt catastrophe won’t be put into place–soon-to-be-ex-Speaker Pelosi’s screaming fantods at the concept of raising the retirement age long after her own death is indicative of that. Makes you wonder what the response will be when some brave sucker decides to tell the American people the truth about what actually needs to be done to set the American economy aright.

DSC00123Happy Fourth of July!

When things are dark, and times are tough, we sometimes lose sight of the important things. The fact is, that as Americans, we won the lottery the day we were born. No matter its faults, we live in the greatest country the world has ever known, and we can undo, democratically, any harm that is done to this country. We have done it before, and we will do it again.

We have a Constitution that is a work of pure visionary genius, unrivalled in the world. As part of it, we have a Bill of Rights, not rights that the government gives us and can therefore take away, but inalienable rights that come from God Himself. We have the right to speak and worship as we choose, we have the right to gather together and petition the government for redress of grievances, we have the right to keep and bear arms, we have the right not to incriminate ourselves, and we have the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

We have unparalleled opportunity, to succeed or fail as we choose. We aspire to judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

We have the finest military the world has ever known, out there right now doing incredibly difficult work with uncommon valor and too little support, both from the government and from us. We should strive to make ourselves worthy of their immense sacrifices.

God Bless America.

O, say does that star-spangled banner still wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Haven’t posted in a while. Demoralized. A couple of months ago, I thought to myself, “Well, this isn’t as bad as I thought.” Recently, that’s changed to, “Wow, this is far worse than I could have imagined.” Banks and car industries nationalized. Embryos being harvested for stem cells. Massive deficits. Weakness on defense and a rollback of liberty throughout the world (sorry, Iranian protesters, that we weren’t there for you). Huge increases in utility prices, at the cost of American manufacturing competitiveness. The prospect of socialized medicine. A census that violates the people’s privacy and will feature ACORN going door to door.

…and it’s only been 6 months. How much worse is it going to get? The mind boggles.

What is there to say? I told you so? It was no secret what Mr. Obama was–the community organizer, the Senator who had a more liberal voting record than the one avowed Socialist in the Senate. Everyone knew who he was, but the 52 voted for him because he talked pretty. As Public Image Limited said, “This is what you want, this is what you get.” I only hope the 52 enjoy their years of economic hardship that Mr. Obama’s transnational progressive policies are designed to bring.

No Reagan without a Carter. I just hope we make it until then. Awful, just awful.

Having said that, I’ve got a camera full of pictures I need to upload. I think I’ll stick with those for a while.

On Saturday I hiked the 10-mile Whispering Pine Trail at Hawn State Park. This park is between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington Missouri. Major drainages include Pickle Creek, which is spring-fed yet stained with tannins, and River Aux Vases, a small river on the park’s far south side. This is arguably the best 10-mile trail in Missouri, including forests, creeks, and numerous formations of Lamotte sandstone.

It’s also difficult for a state park trail, with three large hills, several wet creek crossings depending on weather, and one ridiculous but short area on the south loop where your choices are essentially between stepping in the River Aux Vases or slipping on the steep, narrow band of sandstone that forms the trail beneath a small overhang. I chose…poorly…and ended up with one wet boot for the final 5 miles. I’d read that the Sierra Club (the original designers of the trail) were scheduled to work on the trail for 4 days in April. The lousy until recently weather may have kept them from doing so, but they really should re-route this area over the hill. Other than that, it’s worth the effort you’ll put into it. There’s also a 6-mile option if you only do the north loop, the 1-mile Pickle Creek Trail (which despite its short length is rocky and difficult), and the 4-mile White Oak Trail, which now connects to the Whispering Pine Trail.

The trail is open to backpackers, too. There’s several official campsites, and others that have sprung up by areas of running water. There’s a no fire rule, but fire rings are everywhere.

The pictures above include lots of piney avenues, flowing water, rock formations, and dogwoods. Also, two box turtles. They’re on the move this time of year, and they’ll hold still for a picture. I missed the wild azaleas and yellow lady slipper orchids the park is known for, although I don’t know if I was too early or too late. The sign says allow 9 hours. I did it in 5 and a half, including lunches and breaks, FWIW.

For a shorter, easier, but just as spectacular hike, try the Trail through Time at Pickle Springs Natural Area between Hawn and Farmington. It’s a two-mile trail, and much less rocky or strenous.

If hiking the 6- or 10-mile Whispering Pine Trail, bring plenty of water (I drank 100 ounces before I ran out). Take breaks. Also, bring snacks. I hiked this trail 2 years ago thinking it was no big deal and brought water but no food. About 8 miles in, after hiking to the top of Evans Knob (the steepest hill on the trail) and then down the side, I bonked, I hit the wall. I sat on a stump and literally couldn’t move for a half hour. Respect this trail.

By the way, the very last hill is about a mile from the end. It’s psychologically a pain, because you can see and hear people having fun in the park campground, while you hike up, and up, and up. It’s one of those Missouri hills–you think you’ve reached the crest, only to turn a corner and find the trail continuing up. If you were really hurting, you could wade across the creek to the campground and walk to the parking lot from there to avoid this final hill, but it is not as difficult as Evans Knob.


I took the occasion of this hike as a chance to try out some energy bars. I normally don’t go that route, especially since I’m doing a low-carb thing, but I thought it would be a good chance to try some out. Here’s my non-scientific assessment.

The Gels:

Gu Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate: Tasted neither like blueberries or pomegranates–had the same molasses-y taste of the Clif gels. However, its energy came on astonishingly quickly.

100 calories

25 g carbs

55 mg potassium

35 mg caffeine

Clif Shot Mocha/Clif Shot Razz: Again, didn’t taste much like coffee or raspberry. These two tasted really strongly of molasses, which isn’t a bad flavor. Main ingredient is “organic brown rice syrup,” so I sort of wonder if one couldn’t cheaply replicate the whole power gel thing by putting some molasses in a squeeze bottle from a camping store. The main upside to these gels seems to be the smaller likelihood of them making a mess in your pack. The energy does come quickly, and given their light weight, if one didn’t go the molasses route, it seems worthwhile to stow a couple of these in your pack for if you ever really need a little boost.

100 calories

25 g carbs

30 mg potassium

The Bars:

Clif Bar Chocolate Brownie: Lost the wrapper for this one, so no vital stats. Moist, chewy, didn’t taste a lot like a chocolate brownie but instead had an almost applesauce flavor. Still, not bad.

Power Bar Chocolate Brownie: Undeniably good for you, but pretty awful tasting. Tastes a lot like sugar-free chocolate, and the texture was really dry. I needed to drink water with it.

360 calories

33 g carbs

11 g fat

30 g protein

Luna Lemon Zest: We have a winner! The best energy thing I had on the trail. Tastes like a lemony Rice Krispie Treat. Consumed with relish on the top of Evans Knob. Highly, highly recommended.

180 calories

26 g carbs

4.5 g fat

10 g protein

170 mg potassium

Oh, it’s been a fun couple of weeks, news-wise:

  • The aggressively stupid DHS “right wing extremists” memo was released
  • Mr. Obama had a nice grip-and-grin with Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez
  • The Taliban advanced to within 60 miles of the Pakistani capital
  • The head of the DHS revealed her ignorance on the most basic facts about the 9/11 atrocities
  • We’ve decided that it’s better that thousands die than that we dunk a terrorist scumbag in water
  • We’re going to release Uighur terrorists from Club Gitmo into the US, with a nice little stipend (commit jihad against the West, win the lottery. That makes perfect sense)
  • We’re going to release old pictures of the abuse at Abu Ghraib next week, to further inflame the world over an issue we addressed years ago
  • Oh, and there’s a new variety of influenza in Mexico that’s killed 60 people

And there’s more. All very depressing, and it makes one long for the day when the grown-ups return to the White House. Still, we’re only 100 days in, so why spend the outrage at the beginning?

That last bullet point is a little worrying. There’s not enough information in yet to form an idea of how bad it will be. The majority of people think that those who practice preparedness are panickers. It’s actually the opposite–people who are prepared WON’T panic when things are bad. They won’t be the ones at the grocery store at the last minute. They won’t be the ones clogging the way out of town after a disaster strikes. With that in mind, be prepared for trouble. At the very least, be prepared to be self-sufficient for two weeks:

  • Have two weeks of any prescriptions you need
  • Have two weeks of cash on hand, in case the banks close (that’s a lesson people learned after Hurricane Katrina)
  • Have two weeks of water (you can store it in old 2-liter soda bottles); replace it once a year; store enough to wash with, too
  • Have two weeks of food (if it’s not ready-to-eat, you’ll have to figure out a way to cook, too)
  • Have a way to use the bathroom
  • Have two weeks of baby and feminine supplies, as needed
  • Have two weeks of first aid supplies
  • Have candles and oil lamps
  • Have cards and games to stave off boredom, and a wind-up radio
  • As far as influenza goes, buy face masks and latex or nitrile gloves. Use hand sanitizer. Cover your coughs

On top of that, be prepared in general:

  • Develop your physical fitness as best you can
  • Pay down your debt
  • Save money
  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full

There’s not much to it. If it’s not the flu, something else will happen–a storm, an earthquake. These things happen; why not be prepared?

Which isn’t to say you’ll do everything perfectly. Exhibit A:

dsc00095It’s the Great Tomato Slaughter of 2009. I’d raised them from seeds under a grow light. Now that the weather has warmed, I thought I’d put them in the windowsill to get some natural light and start hardening off.

Little did I know that the wind would be so strong. I came home to find most of them on the floor. Seven of the eight will probably survive–the stem on the eighth is broken, and I suspect it’s going to die. The plastic bin has bell peppers and echinacea, none of which are looking too hot. I’ll probably move them to the garden on Sunday and see if they make it, and start a new batch in case they don’t. Fortunately, that’s an option–if things had already gone bad, I’d be in a world of hurt.

And yes, those ARE chopsticks I’m using as stakes.

These things happen. Still, it makes you think about how you practice your self-sufficiency. I’ve been doing this for 3 years, and I still screwed up.

Updated Blogroll

April 23, 2009

I’ve been absent for a while. More conservative stuff coming up, but in the meantime, I’ve updated the blogroll. If you’ve ever wondered what I read when I’m not here (and if you have, I can suggest a hobby🙂 ), check the bottom of the page. Conservative and libertarian blogs, two “24” blogs, movie sites, and a site about how to survive the zombie apocalypse. Enjoy!