Archive for the ‘research’ Category

I have succesully turned Brittlebush and Creosote into medicine.

I have yet to actually try either of the medicines yet. I am a little scarred they might kill me.

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I cut a large hole in the top of two thin rectangular boxes and dried the leaves and stems in the boxes.

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Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

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I put a paper towel between herbs and cardboard because I am not sure if cardboard would hurt the herbs. Is there some kind of weird die in cardboard?

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Brittlebush after dried.

after crunching

After crunching the plants up in my hands there was a lot less of each. I had not gathered nearly as much as I thought I had.

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Creosote is being stored in the old tuna can and Brittlebush is being stored in the clay pot.

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Note: This posting was originally written as a submission for Pool Boy Magazine,  the independent adult lifestyle magazine for badass women, and clearly a NSFW site.

Hollywood loves to play with how our sexual morals will change after humanity falls. In reality, some women living in the end times will not want to get pregnant from just any man possible.  Not everyone will agree that it “will be our duty to procreate and replace the human species.”  People will most likely continue to have sex for fun. It is, after all, the world’s oldest recreation.

So let’s assume your local pharmacy has already been raided by looters, what is a woman to do?  Without a doubt the best place to start is the Hesperian Foundation’s book Where there is no Doctor.  The Hesperian Society is committed to spreading health care to developing countries.  Their book is designed to give medical advice to a community who has limited resources, which is just what like the Apocalypse will be like.

Included in Chapter 20 is a handy reference guide outlining the various birth control methods currently available, and the varying degree of success of each to protect against pregnancy as well as STD’s.

I realize a woman may not want to rely on her ability to count on a regular basis, but Chapter 20, page 291 describes in great detail how the counting method works.  Me, personally, I would trust the Hesperian Foundation’s version over the Catholic Church’s version.  I would also recommend Wikipedia’s entry on the Calendar method as a good place to start one’s research, but unfortunately the internet will not work when the grid fails.

Now obviously the calendar method is not a lady’s first choice as an absolute guarantee against pregnancy.  So what else have we got after the modern-day pharmaceutical empire has fallen into the dust bin of history?

Let’s assume that modern medicine had ways to prevent pregnancy, and let’s assume that we no longer have modern medicine.  Let’s also assume that much of modern medicine borrowed from things people knew about plants.

The only  list I have found that describes which plants are good to replace birth control, is halfway down the comments in a long online conversation about birth control without the pill.  As we all know anything anyone says on the internet has to be right, right?

Now I, nor Wikipedia are advocating for abortions, or that people start to take these chemicals arbitrarily.  However, it stands to reason that any plant that could cause an abortion could also prevent a pregnancy.  The dosage might be a little different.  Now I am no doctor, and I have never played one on TV, but Wikipedia has a list of plants and chemicals that can induce abortions.

Consulting a local medicine/plant expert  would probably be best. I know who I would recommend in Arizona, but I can’t speak for the rest of the county.  Note, a class would be best to do before society crumbles and we have to live by thunderdome rules.

Searching the internet for birth control methods came up with a couple of  less-than-practical options.  The first is condom’s made of animal intestines, used since the time of the Egyptians.  However I am guessing putting on a goat’s small intestine might spoil the mood.

Also heavily discussed is the option to continue brest feeding.  In the Eighteenth Century is was common for women to breast feed all the way until toddlerhood in order to space out the births.   According to breastfeeding basics the mother has to be “exclusively breastfeeding” meaning the poor woman is constantly going to have the kid attached.  If the goal is to not get pregnant, and one has to have a child for this method to work, then we are left with a Catch-22

So without the pill and modern medicine a woman is not left with a lot of great options,  the sexual revolution did come after the pill after all, no?  So I hate to get all religious right on you, but perhaps the woman’s best choice to avoid pregnancy after the Apocalypse is absence or if that not is possible,  have a mutated animal as a boyfriend.

I joined the American Prepper Network’s online forum.  A “prepper” is a person who spends time and money on “prepping” for the end of the world as we know it (commonly referred to in these communities as TEOTWAWKI.)   On a side note, a lot of acronyms  float around this community, orginally I figured this might be the heavy ex-military influence on this community, but now I think it is because they write a lot of stuff down and acronyms are easier.

I used the image below as my icon.

I like how this image sums up the loneliness someone will be after society crumbles.  It comes from the comic strip Garfield minus Garfield, a site “dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.”

From what I have seen so far, the community of people preparing for civilization’s curtains tend to be a conservative bunch. You know, lots of people with family values (see every Post-APO movie ever to see the importance of keeping hope alive), ex-military types, apostles, doomsayers and pro-gun lobbyists.

Not they are a bad bunch, in fact if the end of the world happens there is no one else I would better like to hang out with.  See Rule 1: Get along with your neighbors.

I suspect I might swing a little more left than most in the group of preppers.   They speak often of looking for “like-minded” people.  My guess is they have grown tired of people thinking they are “tinfoil hat wearing fanatics.”    If hanging out with the weirdos of the Phoenix arts community has taught me one thing, it is that no one, especially weirdos, likes to have someone laugh at them for being a weirdo.  And the more one thinks differently than mainstream society the more one wants to find people who think like themselves.

They tend to look for “like-minded people,” a term you hear a lot among them.  And who is to blame them? Aren’t we all in our own crazy way?

I did not have a lot of success with my experiments over the weekend. On Saturday I dug a shallow bath-tub size hole, put six handfuls of weeds in the hole, and covered it with clear plastic. This was my first attempt at a solar still.

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Water did collect on the bottom of the plastic, but did not drop into the collection device.  On the next attempt, I am going to put more weeds in the hole, and try to tap the plastic before I remove it. 

I was also unsuccessful at rubbing two sticks together to start a fire. I think I failed for two reasons. One: I was feeling very lazy having just dug the hole for the solar still and only tried for like 3 minutes. Second: My drill was pine. The drill has to be harder than the fireboard.  So I am going to keep my eye out for a good hard drill.

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I did however gather or make all the other necessary ingredients  for my second attempt: different types of tinder, a fireboard, and a coal catcher.

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The weekend was not a total wash, I was succesful in one thing. I successfully melted wax in the solar oven. I figure this is a good way to recycle the nubs of used candles to make new candles.

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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.

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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?

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    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

    Idiocracy

    Posted: February 6, 2011 in pop-culture, research

    Should the movie Idiocracy be considered a post-Apocalypse movie?

    Insert Irony Here.

    Posted: February 4, 2011 in plan, research, water
    Tags: , ,

    So in all of my preparations for the end times, I somehow overlooked paying my water bill for 4 months in a row. So the city shut off my water last night, today I got it turned back on.  I have no excuse for not paying my bill.  I find it funny that I spent so much time researching and experimenting on how to survive when the grid fails that I forgot to pay the bill and the grid, therefore, failed me.

    I had to go to work without taking a shower, I suspect people noticed. I did have a 2.5 gallon plastic container of water that I had bought recently. I have been buying them to avoid drinking non-city water and also planned on using the empty containers for prepping seeds. So I had water to drink and rinse that night’s dishes, but it got me thinking how I bet it would have only lasted me two, maybe three days if I stretched it. If there had been no easy way to gather new water I would have been screwed.

    So I think a good experiment would be to see how I would survive a weekend without any grid water. I am going to prep a little for the experiment. I am going to gather containers for water, first.

    In a couple of weekends, the plan is a Friday afternoon after work, I am going to pretend that I would know the water was going to go out, so I will have two hours to gather as much water from the faucet as I can.  After that I turn the meter off and for the rest of the weekend I will only wash, clean, drink, or cook with water I gathered. I am curious to see how much water I will need. I am also curious to see how much more cleaning and cooking will be a pain in the ass without grid water.

    I can tell you in my one night without water, I found cleaning dishes a surprising pain in the ass, and as I mentioned, earlier I had to go to work without taking a shower, and I think people noticed.  Awkward.