Archive for the ‘Phoenix’ Category

This weekend I will be in class on Friday night from 6 to 10, then 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday.  Sounds like fun, no?  I am taking a CERT class to learn how to help my community in the event of a national emergency.

The class sounds intense.  Not only is it a whole weekend dust in the wind, but we are covering the following……

  • Session I, DISASTER PREPAREDNESS:  hazards one can encounter and how familys should react before, during and after.
  • Session II, DISASTER FIRE SUPPRESSION:  Fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards, and fire suppression strategies.
  • Session III, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS PART I: Diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding, and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
  • Session IV, DISASTER MEDICAL OPERATIONS, PART II: Evaluating patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area, performing basic first aid, and practicing in a safe and sanitary manner.
  • Session V, LIGHT SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: Planning a rescue, including size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques, and most important, rescuer safety.
  • Session VI, DISASTER PSYCHOLOGY AND TEAM ORGANIZATION: Signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and worker.
    Session VII, COURSE REVIEW AND DISASTER SIMULATION
I did find it ironic that I had to sign up for the class by filling out a paper form in pen and mailing in my form by snail mail.
Below:  I hope the end of the world happens during the AZ State Fair.

scan0001

I checked out the video Stay alive! a guide to survival in mountainous areas from my local library.

Random comments after watching:

  • According to the host, Preston Westmoreland, if you have ever heard the idea that you could add whiskey to water to clean the water than that is not true.  Ummmmm, I have never heard that, in fact if one googles adding whiskey to water what one discovers is that most feel this is a waste of good whiskey.
  • The video visits with Peter Bigfoot, which is awesome because I really like that guy.  Bigfoot covers the edible plants of the desert.

July is the best time to eat Saguaro fruit.

  • Peter also eats the hedgehog, he mentions it is better with salt,  hey that’s what I saidThe hedgehog cactus might be a quarter of its size in summer.
  • Some plants are poisonous for some of the year and then not poisonous for other parts of the year.  Great.
  • 90% of prickly pear plants are poisonous, yikes, only eat the fruit, that was the next plant I was going to try so I am glad I watched the video first.
  • Mesquite is the “mother tree” of the desert.  He does not elaborate on why it is the mother tree.
  • To clean water use 2 drops bleach per quart.
  • If one ever needs to make a fire to signal for help while stranded in the desert, the black tubing in your engine makes for good black smoke.
  • Thank god tube socks are out of fashion.

A BOB (Bug-Out-Bag) is a pre-packed backpack everyone should have ready in case the SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan).  One’s BOB should include the following things; Duck tape, canned foods, a can opener, knee-pads, gloves, a change in underwear, a poncho, a flashlight, spare batteries, a map of the surrounding area, first aid kit, pharmacetucals, toilet paper, a deck of cards, iodine tablets, a knife and cordage.

One does not need the following things in their BOB; vintage license plates, your beenie baby collection, the complete Firefly box set, your old wedding dress, a tuxedo, your x-box, back issues of Martha Stewart’s Living magazines, cable television, anything ever written by Jacki Collins,  roller blades, or coupons.

2 weeks of food?

For my June 29th feature at Conspire in beautiful downtown Phoenix I am bringing my spare BOB.  If anyone  reads something about the fall of civilization as we know it, you can reach in and take one item from my BOB.

I spent the last three days at the Phoenix Comic-Con for both fun and research. I was surprised there were so few direct references to the Apocalypse. None of the panel discussions centered around the end times, one was about dystopian futures, and while that is related one does not need an armageddon to imagine a future gone horribly wrong. I did see Max Brooks speak, and that was awesome. I found it humourous that he does not like Zombie walks. Zombies scare him.

Pity Bill Dee Williams. The first question from the audience he got was “Do people ever give you grieve for the actions of Lando Calrissian, not realizing that you are not actually Lando?” Billy Dee told two stories on that vein, one involving his daughters classmates pointing at him in the schoolyard.

The very next question came from a 12-year-old, the child stretching to reach the microphone asked, “Why did you betray Hans Solo?”

I think I learned a little bit about bravery from watching than man speak.

It is starting to get hot in Phoenix.  For the grand experiment I am going to see how long I can go without turning on the air.  At some point it becomes too hot to sleep, and I have a day job.  The goal is to see if I can make it to June  15.   If I could make it to the Summer Solstice, June 22, that would be amazing, or at least I would think that would be amazing.  Phoenix gets hot, like Baghdad hot.

For this to work I have got to make my front yard more livable. It gets the better summer shade and cools down quickest.  So this weekend was all about that,  one bougavellia plant gone, while the thorny plant was good to help protect the windows it was just a pain in the ass, and took up all of the best shade.  Second, was prepping and planning and scouting and raking.  Anybody got any ideas on where I can get 9feet by 9feet of Flagstone?

I also spent a Sunday Morning at Grow in beautiful downtown Phoenix, helping them get ready to hunker down for summer.  I wanted to see how they were approaching it.

Below: Sunflower seeds at Grow.

mayrandom 095

Up North, where there is winter, only the strong surivie.  In Michigan, a cat can have about one litter a year.  Here in Phoenix they can have three.  So Phoenix has a feral cat problem, much larger than cities outside of the sunbelt.  Lets assume that a feral cat living on wits alone is like living in the apocalypse.  The fact they can have three litters a year versus one provides further evidence that Phoenix is not that bad a place to be after the Apocalypse.

aprilToolsWeedsWindow 020

I got the idea of making compost tea from the Grow  House as well as the book Gardening When it Counts.    It is also my first experiment with solar energy.  The solar panel pictured above hooks up to a tiny little air pump.  This system is supposed to be used in backyard ponds.   I bought it years ago, for around $120, when I was thinking about making a little pond in the back yard, which I finally decided against because of my irrational paranoia over West Nile Virus.

In some old socks I stuffed store-bought compost.  I let the compost soak in the water bucket, and the solar pump keeps the water gently moving.   I believe this is going to let me water less and help me deal more effectively with the heavy clay soil of Phoenix.

Update: The pump is dead. Oh sad day. I think I probably should have put a sock around it or something, because my guess is the crap floating around in the water junked it up. My other guess of what happened is the cats pulled the pump out of the bucket because they are like that, and then the pump blew a gasket when it was spraying air without the resistance of water. I went to Fry’s to see if they had another pump I could use, not luck. So I guess I got to buy one from siliconsolar.com, where I originally got the whole system.

Update to Update: I wrote the good people at siliconsolar.com to get there opinion of why the pump might have died.  They were very quick with response, which I like.  They said the pump being out of water would kill it,  which now is what I think happened.  I think the feral cats took the pump out of the water.  The siliconsolar folks also sent me a link to some trouble shooting videos, which I also like.

The last temporary visit of the local library yielded some useful videos on how to prepare for Humanity’s waterloo.

There were two decent videos on how to build an enviromental house.  From what I have seen so far, the community of people preparing for civilization’s curtains tend to be a conservative bunch.  One place where the preppers and the far left overlaps is Extreme Pro-Green Building. After all, surviving on your own is the goal of both groups. And I tend to like it when extremes meet.

Back to point of this post, the library had two decent videos on how to build green, a lot of the techniques might be good to know once the giant wire spider stops giving us it’s venom. They were a good start for me on how to approach the learning construction task. I really have trouble with hammers.

Building with awareness the construction of a hybrid home is a good overview of the considersations one might consider.

Building Green Hosted by Kevin Contreras goes into much more detail.  With four discs he walks through multiple aspects of building green during all stages on construction.

These wonderful shots of abandoned buildings in Detroit got me thinking. While Detroit died the Sun-belt bloomed. Maybe it is our time in Phoenix?

Some idiots who count money for a living think my town is the unhappiest place to be in America.  Well, frak them.

Maybe I am just being defensive.   When National Geographic depicted their version of the end they gave Phoenix central billing.  

Phoenix gets a rough rap.  (Everyone brings up the water issue.  Me, I hope the tropics move north.)

When I manage to put my own baggage aside I can admit that the largest piece of concrete in the SouthWest might have problems when the grid fails and things go to shit-fan fast. Our greatest advantage is that everyone expects us to fail.  The rats will run out of the sinking ship fast, and therefore hopefully the idiots will consider us collateral damage and leave us alone.  This is fine by me.

AZ-SouthSide has got more than one might thing going for it at the end of the rat race. To name a few: Ancient canals, plump cactus, stockpiles of guns at Apache Junction, multiple stripmalls, along with good places to hide and wait near the drying remains of Roosevelt lake.   Plus no tsunamis, major earthquakes, floods, 0r tornadoes.

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I had to work last Saturday, which made the last two weeks go long.  I have not been able to do many experiments in the last couple of weeks, so I spent more time doing internet research.    This weekend’s plans include the following:

  • Turn Brittlebush leaves into medicine.   A couple of weekends ago I went for a hike and saw the desert has a ton of brittlebush right now.   I gathered some leaves and have dried them out, so now I think I am supposed to mash them up or something.  While doing research I learned the sap from brittlebush can be used as incense and/or gum, which I think is pretty cool, so next time out I might see how much sap I can gather.

garden with dave Jan 2011 081

Brittlebush in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

  • Build a solar still, which will involve digging a wide hole.  One is supposed to dig in a place that would have water in the soil, but as I am doing this in my backyard, I am going to supplement the water still but putting in weeds and sucking the water out of the plants. 
  • Use shadow of stick to figure out which way is west.
  •  

    • Prep for the no grid water for the weekend experiment.
    • Gather water bottles.
    • Gather pine needles for composting toilet.
    • Begin gathering some Creosote Bush stems.  According to Survivorman, one can burn the stems in a fire and the smoke can be used to clean (or rather disinfect) oneself.  The plant makes its own chemicals that make animals and insects not want to eat it, and these same chemicals can be used to disinfect oneself if you don’t have any water.  It is also one of the few desert plants that can be used for toilet paper in a pinch (bad pun intended).     One a side note, the plant is a virtual medicine cabinet for many other uses as well.   Maybe make some tea out of it?  Creosote is so good at repelling harmful stuff, I wonder if it would work on Zombies?

    garden with dave Jan 2011 013

    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden