Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Being Prepared

Hey Kids!

Sometimes (surprisingly often), I get emails asking me about this and that.
Rarely are these questions about deep philosophical or metaphysical stuff.
Well, actually never about deep stuff.

One question I have gotten many times is about  .......... 
take a look at the title of this post.

Yep, being prepared.
Makin' it up as I go along is more my style.
So ....... I consulted the experts.
I sought out the most 'prepared for anything' people I could find.

Who would that be?
Well, that would be the 'Big Ass Daypack' (BAD) people.

Sidetrip .....
You're out and about.
Up ahead you see 3 or 4 people wearing panama hats. (possible gringos)
Or ..... big daypacks. (probable gringo)
Hats and packs ....... bingo!
Really, I have never seen so many old turds with huge overstuffed daypacks.
I have often wondered what they are toting around.

So, anyway, I go to a gringo hangout and ask a few BAD folks what are in their BADs.

I took these 3 pics all at the same time, same place.
Literally just turned in different directions,
without moving. Snap, snap, snap. 5 seconds.
Sooooooooo, here's what I learned.
I was a tad overwhelmed, so I have tried to categorize some of it.

Medical Emergency:
- snake bit kit
- insulin
- nitro glycerine tabs
- extra oxygen bottle
- Aleve
- Xanax
- anti-psychotics (gotta have those)
- ace bandage
- gauze
- antiseptic
- band aides
- adult diapers (there are all kinds of emergencies)
- duct tape 

- machete 
- stun gun
- pepper spray
- telescoping baton
- brass knuckles 
- trench knife
- duct tape

Health, Beauty and Personal Hygiene:
- make-up bag
- sunhat (Panamas .... the good one's roll up.)
- sunscreen
- lip balm
- halazone tablets 
- bug repellent
- dentures …. in the BAD?
- sunglasses 
- spare glasses
- bottle of water 
- bar of soap
- toilet paper
- kleenex
- wet wipes / butt wipes
- toe nail clippers
- tooth brush
- toothpaste
- floss
- duct tape

WTF? :
- viagra 
- condoms  (seriously? condoms?)
- duct tape
(I was a little surprised here.  They looked like such sweet old gals.)

Travel Aids:
- electronic translators
- English-Spanish dictionaries 
- safari vest
- maps
- Lonely Planet guide
- passports
- compass
- peanut butter
- duct tape

- umbrella
- spare socks
- pith helmut (OK, I made that up.)
- tablet computer
- phone and tablet chargers
- rope 
- flashlight
- spare camera battery
- $$$$$$
- pen/pencil
- little spiral notebook
- business or calling cards with contact info
- dog biscuits 
- soy sauce (the soy sauce in the chifas SUCKS)
- matches
- candy bars (2)
- handkerchief 
- magnifying glass
- binoculars (bird watching?)
- duct tape

I was going to ask this guy about his BAD.
I didn't.
So, mystery solved.
That's what's in those BADs.

If you have any other questions, I'm your guy.

Life is Sweet,

PS:  "Be Prepared" is the Boy Scout Motto.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

When in doubt, blog about Brennie

She is endlessly amusing, really cute and a little kookoo(SP?) bonkers.
So, you ask, what is my little nut job up to now?

Not sure how to approach this.
Gonna go with 3 alternate titles:
- Living in a Chem Experiment: Part II
- Brennie Has Gone Nuts
- The Cleaning up of Cuenca

Forging ahead ……………

A while ago I wrote a blog about Brennie’s ongoing chem experiments (in the kitchen).
If it needed natural fermenting, it was bubbling away in our kitchen: sauerkraut, yogurt, keifer, sourdough starter and other nutbag stuff.
She even bought a book. “Wild Fermentation”
My magic marker edited it to “Wild Xcrementation”
(That made me pretty popular.)

Anyway, that’s not what this blog is about.

She still makes the sauerkraut, but not the other stuff.

She has taken up making kombucha (fermented tea)
For those not in the know, it is made using a ‘SCOBY’.
A SCOBY looks a lot like a prehistoric or alien life form.
I call it, goofy juice.
I am ashamed to admit that I love it.

But again, that is not the topic of this blog.

That’s what’s happening.
’SOAP’ is not some kind of acronym.
I refer to that stuff that you wash yourself with.

Before I go any further, I must say, that Brennie IS making some damn fine soap and her sauerkraut is superb.
Now that I have said that, I guess that I can say whatever I want.

Our kitchen has turned into some kind of soapy experimentation place.
When she is soaping, there is no room for anything else.
I leave the house to eat.
I avoid the kitchen while she is soaping.

She is making all natural soap.
All natural oils.
Essential oils for scent.
Other ‘pure and natural’ stuff.
I can’t speak intelligently about what all is involved.
Once again …… I avoid the kitchen while she is soaping.

She has lots of special stuff:
- Crock pots.
- Soap cutting things.
- Special soap molds. 
- Not mold like blue cheese. 
- Molds that make pretty soap shapes.
- And other stuff.

Some of the things that were once used for cooking, are now part of the soaping supplies.
Sometimes a kitchen thing goes missing.
I just buy another  (serving spoons for example).
If it goes missing again,
Well, I know where to get more.
Eventually, one stays in the kitchen.

Many years ago, I had reason to research ‘obsession’ and ‘compulsion’.
(That reason being a twisted pre-Brennie relationship.)

Anyway ……..
Obsession:  A persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.
Compulsion: An irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act.
Yep, I memorized them.

Anyway ……
Those terms from so long ago have re-entered my life.
The old Brennie may have gone over the edge here.
If she hasn’t gone over, then she is at it teetering on one leg.

Luckilly (?) the Internet is full of soaping info.
Plus she has experimented A LOT.
She has become a regular mad scientist.
She is nuts.
Example …… I just walked through the living room and she is on a soaping website.
True.  I swear that I am not making that up.

She regularly uses terms like:
- Saponification
- Coming to trace
- Hot process vs cold process
- Words that end in –ystic, -oric, -ide …. 
- Other words that I can’t spell, pronounce or remember.
- What the hell are SAP values?

Her illness even infected our son when he was visiting.
Alex visited for 5 weeks recently.
The first 3 weeks were fine.
Motorcycling by day (I have 2 motos)
Poker in the evening.
Cigars with dad.
You know …. boy stuff.

My boy.

But the last 2 weeks he was here …….. soaping with mom.
He took notes and wrote down soap recipes.
He’s back in Bend, OR now.
Alex is a pretty macho guy.
Certifications in Wildland First Responder, Paramedics, Structural Firefighting, Wildland Firefighting ……. that kind of a guy.
BUT, he made a batch of soap last week in Bend.
(At least he gave it a manly name …… Northwest Mountain Soap.)
He calls his mommy to talk soap.

Brennie's boy.
Looks like 'Breaking Bad".

We have plenty of soap on hand.
I am showering 5 times a day trying to keep up.
Doomed strategy.

One of her
soap curing racks.
What to do?

The Brennie has started to sell it.
There is a store called Tienda Nectar.
All natural kind of place ……. not my normal environment.
TN is selling her kraut too.

Some of our friends are buying it direct.
Once they try it, they usually want more.
We delivered to 2 people yesterday (7 bars) while out doing errands.

This will never fund our retirement.
But she loves making it and we can’t use it all.

Soooooooo …….
What’s the cost here?
I have no idea.
All I know is the part that I am allowed to see.
That would be the supplies being shipped from the USA.
(Holy mother of god!!!!!!)
What she buys locally …….?
Well, I KNOW she lies about that.
So why ask?
Just like she doesn’t ask what my cigars cost.
Fair is fair.

Life is Sweet (and clean),

PS:  She is making chap stick too. Better than Burt’s Bees.
PPS:  I feel pretty after using her soap.