Bury Me Standing

Isabel Fonseca’s Bury Me Standing digs past the lore of gypsy culture to find the Rom people as they really are. In her travels of Eastern Europe soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, she researches the gypsy plight – early slavery, Nazi death camps, and modern persecution. The book is depressing, but recommended for the insight into the normally closed world of Roma.

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Who Needs Incense

Burning-in your newly crafted bow-drill set in the kitchen may not be agreeable to the smoke detector.

Burning In

But the cedar sure does smell nice.

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Choices of Wandering

Spring Break is around the corner once more. It’s the last week of March, and I haven’t decided what to do yet. I think I have it narrowed down to two choices.

I enjoyed Oregon’s coast last year, perhaps more than the Redwoods – my actual destination – themselves. One idea is to train down to Eugene, hitch to the coast, and wander on foot from there. (I remember not liking the town that OR-126 dumps you into, but enjoying the areas north and south of it. I don’t know which direction I’d travel in.) The trouble is a shortage of time. I’d only have a few days of wandering before having to make my way back to Eugene to catch a train north.

Another idea is to do a little island hopping on the San Juans, by foot and ferry. I’m leaning toward this one. It’s closer, so I’d have more time, and the ferries are cheap for walk-ons. I’ve also already got topo-maps of the area, plus a map showing underwater depth counters, buoys and other features of the water that I’ll never need but makes me feel special to have. I would like to re-visit Orcas Island. Ray lists two free campgrounds there. I’ve also been meaning to revisit Fort Casey for two or three years now.

I was considering doing these trips by bike, instead of foot, but my bike-repair-fu is quite weak. I think it would end up being more of a hindrance than help, especially when I want to leave the roads and trails.

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Trinkets of Some Use

After taking the WFR course last month, I was given a 20% off coupon at the NOLS store. So, I decided to treat myself to a few goodies.

MDI CPR Micromask. Being triple certified in CPR, it may look a little foolish if I didn’t carry a mask with me – at least on trips. This one is pocket sized, so it now lives in my right cargo pocket. It’s considered one time use because the little tube is inserted into the patient’s mouth. Masks are a better choice than those flimsy plastic sheets they sometime give you in classes for a couple reasons, the first being BSI – Body Substance Isolation. Patients have a tendency to vomit. Rescuers have a tendency not to want to eat their patients vomit. These masks do a better job of protecting you. Full masks, even better. The second reason is that the air you inhale is about 21% oxygen, but you exhale only 16%. Thus, breathing for a patient is less effective than the patient breathing for themselves. Masks help to concentrate your breath, making each of your attempts more effective. Full masks also allow your breath to enter through the nostrils.

First Aid Restock Pack. This thing includes all sorts of little goodies. Odd-and-ends that are most frequently used from your kit, and you probably neglect to replace. Plus some 2nd Skin, which is probably the single coolest first aid item available.

Patient Assessment Bandanna. Bandannas have a multitude of uses; whether to keep hair under control, wipe your hands, use as a pot holder, or even filter water. For the wilderness rescuer, the bandanna doubles as a cravat: use it tie a splint or boil it for a sterile bandage. This one has the patient assessment system on it, so when your adrenaline is pumping and you forget what the hell you’re supposed to be doing, just farce wiping your brow with this and cheat a glance at the list – without losing face with your patient or bystanders. Included on the bandanna is a fill-in-the-blank SOAP note. That little piece of crucial documentation that everybody always forgets, but will save your heiney in court.

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Outdoor Survival Skills

Larry Dean Olsen’s Outdoor Survival Skills, first published in 1973, was one of the first books to rekindle interest in primitive living skills. And it is, of course, still a worthy read today. It is the only book I’ve read on the subject that discusses no modern implements. Not once is more than an acknowledgment offered to, for example, a steel knife. All of the skills described in the book are meant to be performed with absolutely nothing but what is found in Wilderness. It covers more than what Elpel discusses in Participating in Nature, but doesn’t go as in depth. Though the author, in the beginning, shows he has skills as a story teller, the book is written more as a manual. It’s use of diagrams and pictures are also lacking. But, Olsen’s creations are often more elegant than those in Elpel’s book. Perhaps it would be better titled Outdoor Living Skills.

I would recommend reading both, though between the two, study and carry Participating in Nature.


There’s nothing like a redesign to welcome Spring in (and it is Spring – I’ve seen Mosquito buzzing around and, just today, berries growing on Oregon Grape.) The inspiration hit me yesterday morning, and I whipped it up in a day. It’s a little more Web 2.0-ish, but I haven’t completely fallen to the darkside – no gradients or rounded corners.

A marked improvement from the previous design.

I twiddled my thumbs for a while, trying to think of a way to display everything that used to be in the sidebar, before I decided that it was overrated. So, you’ll now find the search box at the bottom of the page and a shiny new Archives page, brought to you by the Clean Archives Plug-in. It’s not exactly dial-up friendly, so I’ll probably fiddle with it a bit more in the future.

How do you like the “pig-monkey.com…” bit over to the right? That was totally a fluke. It wasn’t supposed to end-up there, but I thought it looked good.

As usual, I have no idea what version this is, so it’s been assigned the arbitrary number of 11. Let me know if you find any bugs. Unless you’re using Internet Explorer. I know the site looks funky in that pile of shit. (And I mean no offense to piles of shit. They’re productive members of our society.)

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A Welcome Change

In a break from the usual violence, last night there was a different site out my window: a marching band! It was what seemed to be an impromptu marching band of about 7-8 people – trombones, bass sax, trumpet, drums, conductor, and the rest of it. They were talented, and amassed quite a following.

I hope they’ll be back later tonight.

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CNN Pipeline

CNN Pipeline can be accessed for free via the following feeds:

The streams are pretty high quality. Thanks to offshorecash.net.

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Participating in Nature

Participating in Nature is Thomas Elpel‘s “field guide to primitive living skills”. The book is presented as a story of the author’s wanderings throughout one day. It covers far more than primitive technology, expanding into Elpel’s environmental actions and ideas on modern, sustainable living. The primitive skills themselves are diverse – everything from bow drills to brain-tanning – and are presented in a much simpler, more digestible (yet still complete) manner than, say, David Wescott’s Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills. The chapter on plants is a succinct version of Botany in a Day, and focuses only on a small number of plants local to Elpel’s Rocky Mountain bioregion, but I found the rest of the discussions applicable here to the Pacific Northwest, with only minor exceptions.

It is an excellent beginner’s book to primitive skills and the mind-set that goes along with them, as well as a valuable reference for the more advanced.


I went walking around the Arboretum today, continuing my exploration of the destruction caused by the earlier wind storms. Some of the felled trees picked up a impressive amount of earth with them. You’re able to stick your face right in the tangled mess of roots.

The past couple weeks I’ve spent a lot of time up there, mostly looking for Cedar. The place is strangely devoid of them. Today, I finally found one – two, actually – but they’re young, and nestled in a hill that offered protection from the winds, so neither was knocked over for my harvesting.

A little further down from the Cedar, I found someone’s wallet (ID, credit cards, cash, and a key). It was a bit of a hard walk, but I was able to get it down to the police station and still make my way to class in time – the class I wasn’t skipping. The police dispatcher said she’d give the wallet’s owner a call, which I was impressed with. I thought they’d just hold on to it until he called. If I lost anything up there, I would never expect anyone to find it, and probably wouldn’t call the cops.

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Last Monday, the mailperson brought me a new t-shirt.

Put The Fun Between Your Legs

I also bought a patch to sew on it.

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Eddy Joe Cotton’s Hobo is the fast paced adventure of a young runaway turned train rider. The rapid growth and maturity of the author tricks one into assuming a large lapse of time, when in fact the book spans only a few weeks of his life. I didn’t enjoy the whole book, nor did I find it to be one of the better books penned by a Hobo. I think his love for the state of Nevada played a role in this. He focuses on many of the things which disgust me about the state. That said, Cotton’s short journey on the road is peppered with many insights into the America of the early 90’s and plays host to many an interesting character.

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I have need to convert a bunch of AVI files to FLV. FFmpeg does the job, but I wanted to do whole directories at a time – plus different directories have different video dimensions and different fps. So, last night I hacked flvconvert.pl, a quick and dirty perl script to convert specified avi files to flv.

Usage: perl flvconvert.pl [OPTIONS] [FILES] Options: --size Specify video size. Defaults to 320x240 if none specified. --fps Specify frames per second. Defaults to 15 if none specified. --thumb Create a jpeg from the first frame Example: perl flvconvert.pl file1.avi file2.avi video/* perl flvconvert.pl --size 640x480 --fps 30 file.avi

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