Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Old school emergency generator

When I was in my twenties, (long long long ago) I built a generator out of an old ten speed bike and an alternator out of a wrecked ford escort. Total price... $20.

Believe it or not, this thing actually worked. If you pedal your ass off for an hour, you'll make just enough electricity to run a tv for about 20minutes. With a small LED, you might get two hours of viewing.

I learned the hard way that the average person can produce about 100watts. And its exhausting to use.

100watts is pretty much nothing as far as electricity goes.

But it was awsome as a piece of exercise equipment for my RV, it slid back into the wall and was out of sight. And it did something productive... if minuscule.

Ah, my 20s...

That was before back problems, failing eyes, when if I had a wild idea I just went out and did it.

Such a long time ago.

In my head, I was thinking that it would be a huge amount of free power. I was going to save SOOOO MUCH gas by making my own electricity :)

Hard to believe I was that nieve. But pictures speak a thousand word.


Like a lot of people, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon.

When I joined KDP (kindle) in 07, I loved it. KDP is something only authors and publishers have to look at, so it ain't got to be pretty with all the slick bells and whistles, its just got to be able to upload a cover picture and the book itself, and in the beginning, amazon kept it short and simple and to the point.

It was so perfect in 07 to 12 that you could upload a book with dialup or even over just about every cellphone out there, anywhere around the world.

But amazon wasn't happy with something so simple, easy, and perfect that only authors and publishers had to look at.

They worked long and hard to build into it tons of bells and whistles. They added the latest version of flash, so that most PCs using XP were locked out. They bloated the bandwidth so that it takes 20 megs to upload a 1meg jpg. They crammed 5megs of sloppy HTML fancy formatting bloat into each page so that on most cellphones it takes minutes to load a page instead of seconds.

Most cellphones can't do flash anyway.

It looks intentional and it reminded me of a highspeed internet company that put 6megs of graphics on pages aimed at getting dialup users to switch to highspeed... the only problem was dialup people had to wait 20minutes until the pics downloaded before they could tell the info they really wanted was on another link.

As an indie author, I have been on a bean and rice diet for the last six years. I can't afford highspeed. I can barely afford this $30 smartphone and a $25/month contract with a scant 200mb/200min/month plan.

Well, in case I'm not alone in this, let me say this. Firefox (on an android) will let you penetrate the cracks in the Amazon wall of frustration, and it will let you upload covers and content to KDP.

But firefox is a beast of another kind. It gobbles data like you had an unlimmited plan, and it gobbles phone MBs too. And its slow.

But it works, for now.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Apocalypse tips

First food.

I recommend dry seeds, mainly hard red wheat, lentils, pinto beans, black beans, and rice. Walmart will deliver you 26pounds of hard wheat in a 30yr safe bucket for about $15, that's nearly as cheap as rice. 25 pounds of flour goes for under $9. Lentils are best gotten off the shelf, but beans can be delivered too. For $50 you can get enough food to last a few months if needed, and optimized with lots of sprouting, you can stretch it to 6 months or more.

These will take you a long way all on their own and don't require a crazy amount of prep. Plus, if the s hit the fan, seeds can be planted and turned into a crop, something you can't do with MRE style foods.

Bulk flour is always good to have on hand too. Bake a loaf and eat for days, no cooking required.

You can easily make vacuum bags for long storage (5yrs) with any average cleaner and a plastic trash bag. Fill it with dry food, suck out the air, twist and tie the end, double bag, and put away in a box to keep it from mice, but its preferred that you use the food as food once a year anyway.

Cooking can become a problem if you lose power.

I keep oil lamps on hand for those occasions. Most ovens will let you put the lamp down low by the element and still put a pot or a pan on the top rack above it. Use foil to make a 'cup' (like an upside down pot) that reaches from a few inches above the flame to the undeside of the rack. This will trap the heat and focus it onto the pot and speed up cooking. Keep a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water, wet blankets, or something handy when using lamps to cook. Fire can go wrong fast, but having it inside the oven will help contain anything that goes wrong. Use oil lamp for cooking inside, if you have it, because kerosene has a smell. Keep a window cracked open, if possible, for fresh air.

Oil lamps are very handy to have around for cooking, but even making a bowl of rice will take you an hour, they cook slow. Remember to cover your pots with a lid to trap in heat. I've increased cooking speed by using coathangers to hold a bag over the pot like a ten gallon hat.

Lentils and wheat sprouts can not only count as fresh vegies, they can also be eaten raw, no cooking. But NEVER eat sprouted beans raw, it'll make you sick (cooked is just fine though).

A lot of people will suggest lots of ammo for firearms, but that's very pricy today. Some suggest getting into reloading, but that's not cheap either. Muzzle loaders are just as lethal for hunting, and you essentially get to shoot at the price of reloads. With lots of improvising you can make your own ammo and powder... indefinately.

Crossbows and arrows are another way and can take down anything up to a deer with a high reusability rate and no added expense. Remember, arrows don't last forever and tips get damaged. Don't overlook BB guns that are more than powerful enough to take down birds, squirrels, and rabbits, you can pick up thousands of BBs and a rifle for under $50.

This last piece of advice is perhaps the most useful, and that's to have a sleeping bag, even if its a cheap one. If you lose power, you lose heat, but a sleeping bag will keep you warm no matter what. Its better than being well stocked with firewood and costs less than $20 every spring... when its out of season. Rope and plastic sheating can be used as a tent or a way to collect rain water.

Solar isn't good for much, but it will put a charge on your cellphone, and a lens will start a fire.

Having a bike and camping supplies handy isn't a bad idea either. A shovel can be invaluable. Ivory bar soap keeps well and can be used for shampoo.