Posts Tagged ‘apocalypse survival’

So I haven’t been working on my skills too much in the last couple of weeks.   The CERT class being cancelled got me off-track a little because I had planned to get a lot of skills to practice from that class.  I still got skills I can practice that I learned at the Ancient Pathways school but every time I go outside to practice I about die from the heat.  I did manage to make it to the summer solstice before I turned on the air.  But lordy it is getting hot in AZ, maybe not as hot as the end of the world, but definitely too warm.  I also got off track because I got distracted by all the post-apocalypse television and books.

In the last couple of weeks I have read “The Day of the Triffids” by Edmund Morris, the short story collection “Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse” a bunch of “Walking Dead” graphic novels, and “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the coming collapse” by James Wesley Rawles.    While this has been fun, it was not that practical for learning real skills.

Anybody got a suggestion what I should work on next?  Preferably something inside.

Murphy’s Law of the apoclaypse  

  • An animal that is too easy to catch ain’t worth eating.
  • You will get sick of beans.
  • Mice will get to your beans.
  • The mice in your beans will be easy to catch.
  • The mice in your beans will have Hantavirus.
  • People will betray you because of the temptation for meat.
  • You will be the meat.
  • There will always be someone meaner.

This last weekend I took the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways.  I picked up a whole series of skills to practice. Notice I said “practice” because, good lord, just cause I did these things once doesn’t mean I am actually competent at any of them.   We set traps, snares, tracked, snacked on plants, made jerky and stared at a whole lot of poop.

The class had many manly men and two lovely ladies.  I think it is fair to say that I was generally the least competent at just about everything.  Except for smoking bowls, this I was good at, and by smoking bowls, I mean making a bowl out of fire.

ancientpathways 082

One of the first things we learned that weekend was to whittle out a spoon. Which was handy as I had forgotten to bring a spoon, and only had a fork and knife. My spoon was incompetent. I routinely watched, for the rest of the weekend, as people whittled out far superior spoons and then pitch them in the fire.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the weekend.  First, I wasn’t sure if I was in the sort of shape to survive such a thing.  Second it snowed the night before in Flagstaff.  I was not expecting snow in mid-May in Arizona.

ancientpathways 001

This had me concerned.  In assessing my clothes the first cold morning of the class I realized if the cold held I would not be able to stay warm without looking perfectly ridiculous.  First rule of survival is PMA (Postive Mental Attitude) which is hard to do when one doesn’t look good while doing it.  O.K., maybe the first rule is only the PMA part and I just added the looking good part.

The warmest thing I had was a thick wool poncho that I had bought years before in Mexico.  I was planning on using it for a blanket.  I have only worn it on stage for comedic relief,  and I am sure the ex-military men would have met it with scoff.    Luckily for me, things warmed up.

The first thing after setting up our tests was a walking tour of the property.   Tony Nester, our instructor, pointed out the various rat and mice nests around.  Of course, I had set my tent up right beside a big pack-rat’s nest.   Once he pointed it out, it was bluntly obvious.  I never moved my tent.  I figured if I had gophers in Phoenix, I could share space with a pack-rat.

Below:  My tent and pack-rat nest.

ancientpathways 005

The weekend was simply packed with new knowledge and things worth mulling over.   Here are all the shots from the weekend. As I reflect on lessons learned and go over my half-filled notebook, I will be making a series of posts about this weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I visited New York City to see my brother.  While there I visited the Met, because that is something one is supposed to do when visiting NYC.

Of course, preparing for the Apocalypse was bouncing around in my head as I meandered through the exhibits.   The obvious question one tends to keep coming back to when thinking about the end of times while looking at art from around the world is “Is art useful?”  This is a question that has been pontificated on in countless essays, plays, poems, paintings, and movies before me.   Personally, I find pieces of art about the purpose or making of art to be boring self-indulgent intellectual masturbation.  To paraphrase a line from the great Bill Campana, they are echoes in gas chambers.

I do expect most of the “Art of art’s sake” musings expect that the art made is produced in a functioning society.    My own opinion, as an artist, is that of course art is useful and needed, but for the higher levels of Maslow’s needs.  For example, art is not as necessary for physiological needs such as water and food, rather it serves a role in the health, well-being, love and belonging needs.

The bulk of the art at the Met was originally for rich people, few was for the masses.  Probably the best example of this is the current exhibit The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City.  Of course, the Met has only the best examples of various forms of art, and therefore the rich had them.  For the bulk of mankind’s history, the art for the masses was more for entertainment than anything else.  Think Shakespearian fart jokes versus Mona Lisa’s smile.  I suppose the other major form of art for the masses was the stuff found in cathedrals and temples which was more to brainwash people than anything else. Art demonstrates the wealth of a society, because it represents excess labor or at least labor not needed to plow the fields or hunt for meat.

One room of the Met has the panorama painting depicting an afternoon in Versailles.  Before movies were made for the masses, panoramic painting served the role of letting the unwashed masses visit somewhere different, see how someone else lived.  This is one of the few things in the museum intended for the masses, and yet its main focus  is still the privileged few.

One of the exhibits I particularly liked was Moyra Davey’s Copperhead Grid.  It is a series of close-up photographs of pennies in various states of decay.   The little blurb beside the exhibit stated that the piece made in 1990 was created during “the end of the 1980’s art bubble.”  The scratched and withered pennies give a “melancholy sense of loss.”  This little blurb made “the sense of loss” that was being  lamented the fact artists couldn’t sell their stuff when times are tight.  Art is, after all, the classic example of a discretionary good. You can’t after all, eat a Picasso.

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.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 013

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

solaerstill1fire1herb1 008
Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 014
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?

solaerstill1fire1herb1 017

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.

solaerstill1fire1herb1 030

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