Friday, December 31, 2010

Trail Planning Page

January 1st I'll begin blogging about how to plan a long hike. Each week there will be a new subject, such as Choosing the Trail, The Budget, Gear, Getting In Condition, and more. If you have an idea or question you'd like to see addressed, please comment, or write.
As the week progresses, we'll delve into related issues, like once you choose a trail, how do you get there? Or, how much is it going to cost and how can I cut some corners?
I write about many things. The easiest way to find information about a topic is to use the Search this Blog box located to the right of the page.
The other blog I do
is set up the same way. January will see more alternative gear ideas and demos on that blog.
The ten pages listed to the right are also written by me. The search box works with them as well.
Many cool links can be found on these pages. Links for gear companies, foods, vacations, cell phones. I don't necessarily list all of them on my Links Page because I usually post links on that page that are hard to find or of unusual nature.
Check out the Trail Planning Page for the compilation of information, and schedule of topics.
Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January Syndrome

Well its nearly here.
Every January we pull out the road atlas and start dreaming of new trails.
The Wonderland Trail, in Washington State, sections of the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming and New Mexico, The Boundary Waters Trail, or a possible Alaskan adventure all come to mind.
There's several stages to planning. The logistics of getting there. Fly, drive, or god forbid, a bus?
If by car, where to park the car.
What's the best time to start, how long will it take to hike and what are the resupply points?
There's the gear choices, whether a bounce or drop box will be utilized to receive additional layers of clothing due to elevation .
Trail maps and guide and/or data books must be bought. Trail Journals of past hikers are a bonus.
But, most importantly, how much time, money , energy and pain are we willing to invest?
More than anything, the will must be there.
Commitment, bordering on obsession, makes a long hike possible.
J.W. Van Goethe said, "the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too...A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and material assistance.
Whatever you can dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. "
Stay tuned for the Trail Planning Page I plan to add to this Brawnyview Blog site.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Putting In Applications for Cool Jobs

Now is the time of year when seasonal workers are putting in their applications for seasonal work.
My favorite site for this is
2011 will be my third season working in a cool location. In 2009 I worked in Yellowstone National Park. In 2010 I worked in Zion National Park.
Who knows what 2011 will bring.
If you can travel, or desire to get a taste of this type of lifestyle, check out CoolWorks. Employers are many and varied. You can surf, sign in, and read what its all about.
Its free, and everyone is really friendly.
In this economy, flexibility is key. Entry level to management seasonal jobs, cruise ships, national parks, camps and too many opportunities to list can all be found over there.
Try something new, if you can. Discovery is the spice of life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How To Calculate Wind Chill

Temperature isn't everything.

With good sunshine this morning, I planned on a morning hike in the snow. Yet, the winds are blowing about 17 mph, gusting every once in awhile to 20.

Says its 18 on the thermometer.

According to this chart, the chill on my body is near zero. This link will also take you to an actual calculator where you can plug in the numbers yourself. There is information on what it means in terms of frost bite, how it is determined, and much more.

This is a good indicator for full face coverage, sunglasses to protect against snow glare, and layers.

Happy Trails, and best wishes to any south bounders still out on the Appalachian Trail.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lawsuits and Stuff

I received an e-mail today warning me of the company which is trolling the Internet to find copyright infringements for the sole purpose of cashing in on them. Fines of up to $150,000 is possible for each infraction. This has been going on for sometime, and now images are being targeted as well.

If you post comments, have a website or blog and use articles from other sources, reading the articles found at that link will help you stay clear of many troubles.

I believe in copyright laws. People who write for a living, research, or are artists should have the benefits of their creative endeavors.

But, to have a firm out there trying to bag an offender, just to fatten their wallets seems wrong.

Economics is a great incentive, however.

Heads up is all I'm saying.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friendly Consumer Finance Site

I found this website
while reading a magazine. After surfing it for quite some time, I decided it was worth bookmarking. They describe themselves as "a friendly consumer finance site" and their partners offer up lots of news of great interest.
I like a website that doesn't have so many ads and banners running, just lots of headlines with good reading. Stuff that matters.
Especially in these hard economic times, when there are more questions than answers, a well run website is refreshing. Some articles I read this morning involved how to get the most from social security, start your own business, save money on products, rants on bad ads, health care issues, and several more.
Happy reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Death Dream

Last night I dreamed I was going down the Interstate.
It was day light, and somehow the car began to speed up, traveling at least 80 mph. Someone yelled, "Slow that thing down!"
We swerved onto the grassy median strip, then back onto the highway, then into the far right lane.
Pushing the brake didn't help at all.
A semi truck was in front of us, seemed like I was the passenger.
To avoid rear ending the tractor trailer, we swerved to the right.
Right into a tall cement structure, like a bridge. When the car hit it, the front end crumpled into whiteness, and explosion. I expected to feel the pain. There was no doubt that we both had died. It was simply whiteness.
I felt numb, total body numbness.
I jerked awake.
I've been pondering this all day. The trailgods are warning me, I feel, not worry so much about the future. I have no idea what day, or how I will die.
My whole mantra health wise has been"do the best you can, and try not to get hit by a car".
This dream is a good reminder.

New Hobo Lamp

Check out the new video on the Hobo Page to the right of this blog. I also embedded it below for your convenience.
I made a lamp using motor oil, a tin can, some cotton cloth and a twig.
My Geo only takes 3.5 quarts of oil, so every 3 months, I get half a quart of oil to bring home with me.
Since my car doesn't burn oil yet, even though its a '96 with 121,000 miles, I have oil to "burn".
Hence, the hobo lamp.
Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Learning about Firearms

These last few days have been busy. I've been learning how to safely and accurately use a pistol. After about 4 hours of classroom instruction, I went out to the range and shot a couple rounds. Happily, I was able to hit the target.

Then, I've been working on a new business idea. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should" is a quote that comes to mind.

I found another good quote in my research: "I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once" Jennifer Unlimited.

With unemployment at 10.3%, it may be necessary to create one's own job. I'm thinking about services for an aging population, a business that would grow with the needs I encounter with my clients.

All food for thought, and ways to use the down time in winter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Forbes on Drive By X-Ray Scanning

I wouldn't have believed it possible, but here's the link to the Forbes article on vans being outfitted with x-ray scanning capabilities.
According to the article, there are at least 500 vans operating now. Useful purposes, among them scanning for explosives, bodies, drugs and weapons, give law enforcement a logical line to anyone who questions privacy. After all, haven't Americans given up all rights just to fly safely? Our flight mates expect us to, quit complaining.
This is all just surface information. Its just the ground work. At what point will drive by scannings of neighborhoods become routine?
"Just checking for drug labs".
What else will be searched, when and why is yet to be uncovered.
As the wikileaks drama unfolds, we can see there's a lot going on behind the scenes, political embarrassments, and god knows what all.
Now this is news. Thanks for writing about something important, and not another story about the royal wedding, Tiger Woods scandal, or Britney Spears.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Internet Teaches Keyboarding Skills

You gotta love the Internet. I bought an electric piano keyboard last week and am now in the process of learning to play it.
It is a 61 key Casio, with tons of functions, like automatic accompaniment, transposing, tempos and instrument adaptations.
However, a person can go much farther with some basic knowledge, like what chords go with what keys, and how to improvise.
I found this free site, and it looks like it has just what I need.
I've made some flash cards to learn note recognition on the music sheet, and found another site
which also has some good information on the major scales.
This is why I believe the ability to read is the most valuable skill we can teach someone. If you can read, you can learn anything, first by researching the information, then putting it into practice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Challenge to Slow Down

One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour ... Willa Cather

There is more to life than increasing its speed. ....Gandhi

These two quotes have inspired me to offer a challenge. To those who are planning their 2011 hikes, perhaps a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Appalachian Trail, I challenge you to give yourself at least 5 months to hike your trail, to discover and uncover the mysteries of your journey. Do not try to set speed records, or run the trail. Do not slack pack, or "yellow blaze" (hitch hike around difficult sections or to catch up to friends ahead).

Seems too much emphasis and awe are wasted on the fastest, lightest, biggest, best. Being on a long trail should be more than just an extension of the work life style, of competition and ego, macho tricks and bragging rights.
Maybe we should be setting records for who can stay out the longest.

You may only get to do the trail once. May it bring you joy beyond your wildest dreams. There will be pain, and misery. But this also builds memories that will last a lifetime, memories to build upon.

As they say, Never quit a trail in the rain.
Hike your own Hike.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Health Care Law Unconstitutional

Is it Unconstitutional to mandate that we all must purchase a product from private industry?
Is there any other country on earth with this type of law? I found this while researching this very question:

Can we look at a government option, a plan whereby, like Medicare, we just pay into a central piggy bank, and get medical attention when we need it?

They've already warned us there won't be enough doctors to go around if this "universal health care" law remains unchanged.
Those of us who maintain their health and participate fully in preventative care may be forced to buy into the private insurance pool to enable all the sick people to not be rejected in the same pool. How many are sick because they are obese, won't give up smoking, won't get off the sofa, drink to excess, eat an appalling diet, and engage in risky life styles?
By giving the private insurance companies a sure thing, we either opt for the poverty route or work until age 65 in order to afford the ever rising cost of health insurance.
I am for a public option. Hard to believe that our government may come to the point of so obviously supporting the leeching of its citizens by corporations built upon the profit business model.
Just my two cents.
Hats off to the judge in Virginia, and its attorney general with the guts to say Congress does not have the right to legislate Non Activity of Commerce.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow at the Overhang

The mountains are making the weather today. While some places just south of here are getting rain, we're having some real snow. I went to check out my favorite place, the overhang, and was happy to find a nice dry area to play.

Stay dry, ya'll!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lunar Eclipse Scheduled

December 20 we are scheduled to enjoy a lunar eclipse.
According to the news, the moon will also be a beautiful orange, and this will be free to enjoy by all of us in North America.
Some winter weather is expected to proceed this event here in the North Georgia mountains. I'm hoping we get snow instead of ice. I'm thinking an evening making coffee over a campfire under the overhang while watching the snow fall would be good, clean, Free fun.
The simple things in life are often taken for granted. How many will be buying those last minute Christmas gifts to wrap and place around a tree? Hopefully, those gifts will be appreciated and used in the year to come.
In this economy, things are looking pretty uncertain. Who knows what 2011 will bring. Probably best not to go into debt giving frivalous gifts.
Express your love to family and friends by giving the gift of your time, your approval, your attention. Enjoy some free fun together and give the gift of pleasant memories.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

True Blood is Not A Reality Show

According to a news article in AARP magazine, teenagers are biting each other, and drawing blood. This trend is being credited to the vampire movies and themes we're seeing on television.
I personally liked the HBO series, True Blood, if for nothing else than comic relief, a slam at religious voodooism, and Sunday Night drama.
But, folks, its not a reality show. Its fake blood. Human teeth are for grinding, not punturing veins.
Human bites, and that goes for vampire wannabees, can cause infections and blood borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis.
Many of us remember teaching somebody's kid Not To Bite! Is someone forgetting their lesson?
Not everything you see on t-v needs to be emulated. It's a fantasy. Take Avatar: riding a big bird is not going to happen. Not supposed to happen.
Or The Road. No roaming cannibals yet, not that I'm aware of.
But, that movie stays with a person.
I'll know my partner is over it when he quits buying amunition.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Commitment and Obsession

Commitment is a mean and unrelenting taskmaster.
That's what it takes to hike a long trail.
A commitment bordering on obsession, one that an armchair analyst may find ridiculous.
Mountain climbers in Alaska share many traits as those who thru hike the Appalachian Trail, or set off on the Pacific Crest Trail .
First, we must want it so bad as to endure seperation from loved ones, common luxuries of plentiful food and warmth, uncertainty of daily outcomes and pain. Never forget there is and will be physical pain.
In these endeavors, a person tends to overestimate their own strength, while underestimating nature. There is a definite nonchalance with the Forces that Be. Perhaps our suffering may amuse the trail gods. It is necessary to look at the long term goal and not expect any god to assist us.
As the passion seeps into every crevase of our life, we eat, read, dream of our obsession. There is advice from every corner, some which is based on fear, not reality.
Jonathan Waterman, the author of In the Shadow of Denali, proclaims we must want it for ourself, it is enough to stand on the summit because we want it. Hiking for breast cancer, heart desease, the children's happiness fund is not necessary. Not even recommended.
Own up to being obsessed with the mountain, the trail, the journey. Do the necessary work of preparation.
Once committed, and becoming driven to act on it, a person has a good chance of making it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making the Ultralight Food Bag Last

I've found some discussions on ultralighter's vs minimalism with the survival theory in mind.
Its amazing how misunderstood the true Ultralighter is.
And, how overlooked the necessary skill-building and trail-tested period is. Building skills as an ultralight backpacker is a journey. Don't expect to just arrive because of reading. You arrive by doing.
I hiked with a guy on the Appalachian Trail for awhile up in New Hampshire.
The mere fact we were running across trail magic in the form of serious food stashes, coolers set out for thru hikers, and handouts seemed to make too much impact on him. He started carrying way too little food. He resupplied in Gorham, and what he bought ran out two days early.
Now, when I see my food stash getting low, I either pile on the miles, or do half rations. Our body can live off fat stored inside, but our minds need to know all is well and we are in control. Hence a meal, no matter how skimpy, how thin the oatmeal, needs to happen.
Blood sugar levels are kept within limits with smaller, rather than no calorie, installations.
I found out this guy had run out of food when he nearly fell over. I asked what's up? He said he ran out of food. He told about being in special forces back in his youth, a long time ago, and knew how to hike on nothing for 20 miles.
I had just enough to spare, but it meant getting into town earlier next morning.
Better believe he bought me lunch.
Moral of the story, when estimating food needs for a section of trail, plan regular mileage days and enough calories. If things go bad and its taking longer, stretch the food by doing 3/4 rations earlier, rather than later. Use water to thin out the soup, the oatmeal, eat only half a candy bar.
A real ultra lighter never needs bailing out.
Sometimes we take that gift of a snickers bar, but its gravy, not life or death.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stashing Firewood-a Trail Story

My hiking poles and gloves on the rock sort of give a visual reference on how large this Almost Cave-Overhanging Rock is.
Years ago I was hiking on a cold rainy day in March on the Trail of Tears in Southern Illinois. It was a great hike, but being my first backpacking trip, the gear wasn't exactly right. My kids and I had ponchos, not quite large enough, and the sleeves of my shirt were getting wet cause I was using hiking poles.
It was pretty cold, and we came upon a cave with a bunch of dry firewood stashed in the back of it. I'd call that trail magic today, then I just called it luck.
We made a big fire, had lunch, dried out, explored. Then, before heading out, we pulled in a bunch of wood to replace what we'd used so that it could dry out for the next travelers.
That lesson in good fortune stuck with me. A sort of Pay it Forward trail magic. Not using up everything, or leaving our trash behind, the karma we make is the karma we take with us.
A couple months ago, I found this huge overhanging rock shelter in my neck of the woods. Its a steep climb down to water from here, but its my favorite spot now. I stashed a bunch of wood today so that if someone happens upon it and needs a fire, there's dry wood.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Light At End of Tunnel Being Replaced

I saw this little saying on Facebook this morning. Not sure who the author is, but congrats whoever said it.
"Sorry, but due to the high cost of energy the light at the end of the tunnel is being shut off. In its place you'll find a hyper kid with a glowstick."
Another good quote I found recently:
"In anything at all, perfection is attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."
--Antoine de Saint Exepery
I guess our economy is fast approaching perfection.