Water Collection

The other day, we had the water shut off for ten hours. We had plenty of water for drinking and enough for washing. I issued an order that toilets were to be flushed only when it was important to flush them. In the garage, we had water in old vinegar bottles for toilets. This really paid off. We used eight of them—two gallons per flush.

But what if the outage had lasted longer?140926 (12) Water Catch System

I had the beginning of a larger collection system. It is a device inserted into a rain gutter down spout which diverts a portion of the water to a container. I had the catchers but not the containers. I’ve corrected that error. I got two 32 gallon round garbage cans. I cut a hole in the top of the lid for the garden hose and a hole in the side to serve as an overflow. I didn’t get a rectangular garbage can otherwise the walls would bulge. The can will need to be empty before freezing water.

In the future, I expect to be able to dip out water for toilets, washing and other non-potable purposes.

Be aware that some states have laws against the collection of rain water (Colorado and other arid states). These are places where the farmers are dependent upon every bit rain for their crops. They can get very nasty when they perceive that someone is cutting into their water supply. On the other hand, this system temporarily retains a portion of that water and everything else continues to the aquifer. No water is used except during an emergency. It also pays to be inconspicuous.

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More earthquake protection

150501 (5) Eathquake protection

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Earthquake Protection for Storage

150416 (4) Quake Protection

I’ve added some earthquake protection of my storage shelves. The idea is to prevent the contents from jiggling themselves off the edge during a quake, land subsidence or a Pittsburgh Steelers game. The design of each shelf is customized for the particular shelf. The example shown here consists of nylon cord held tight with a section of bungee cord, which allows easy access. Top shelves have a wooden lip glued or tacked into place. Some shelves are built with a tilt so everything naturally slides to the back.

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It’s Called a Beet Knife.

As a teen, I spend my summers weeding sugar beets in Idaho.
In the previous generations, before there were beet harvesters, the mode of harvesting was to plow the beets up and then workers would come along with their beet knifes. They would pick up the beet with the hook, cut off the top of the beet 150202 (9) Elliot with Sugar Beet Knifeand throw them into a pile. I never had to do much with a beet knife but I’ve wanted one for many years. I got this one on eBay.

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The Gods of the Copy Book Heading

Following is a poem by Kipling.

First, you must have some background: A copybook was a mostly blank notebook with a sentence written at the top of the page containing some truth. Students would practice their penmanship by writing it many times on the page.

This poem is about two competing idea. The Gods of the Copybook Heading is the philosophy that some things are eternal, true and cannot be changed. The Gods of the Market Place is the philosophy that there are no absolutes and we can do what is popular and convenient. Stilton is a type of cheese. That women could not have children is a reference to chlamydia. That men lost reason is a reference to syphilis.

The whole poem is relevant to our world.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings by Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn

That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:

But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,

So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,

Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,

But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come

That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,

They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;

They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;

So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

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Prepping and Ham Radio

QSL Photo grey

The Need for Information During a Disaster
Probably the most important item during a local or national emergency is information. A good emergency plan should include the monitoring of TV, the internet and radio—especially the radio. The serious prepper should consider getting an amateur (ham) radio and license, even if he doesn’t intend to join in any ‘rag chewing sessions’ with fellow hams. Understanding the nature of radio waves and how radio antennas work can make a huge difference in the collection of information. No license is required for listening. None is required for the purchase of a radio. A license is required only when you transmit, and then you are restricted to specific frequencies, the mode of operation and the power of the radio signal.

Spaced between the blocks of radio frequencies reserved for Amateur Radio, there are a huge number of radio stations: BBC, Radio Havana Cuba, Radio Moscow, Radio Netherlands International, and WWCR in Nashville. For that reason, you might be content to just be a listener. Each radio frequency has its own characteristic. Some work best in the day. Some work better at night.

After Hurricane Iniki hit Hawaii in 1992, a ham, in search of other projects, found rural areas that had not received any radio broadcasts and had yet to receive aid. He was able to restore communications for a fire station with a makeshift antenna and a garbage can lid as a ground plane. (If you don’t know what a ground plane, then you need to learns more about antennas.)

Amateur radio operators are assigned to certain designated frequencies ranging from 1900 KHz (1,900,000 cycles) on the 160 meter band up to 1270 MHz (1,270,000,000 cycles) on the 23 centimeter band. However, for now, I will limit myself to the 2 meter VHF band (Very High Frequency) and Short Wave HF (High Frequency band ranging from 80 meters to 10 meters).

VHF Radio

VHF (Very High Frequency) radios required a Technician Amateur Radio License. These are the hand held radio or most radios mounted in vehicles. Hams also call them 2 meter radio because it makes them look smart and it also indicates that the radio wave length happens to be two meters long (80 inches).

They work for short range communications, which means ‘line-of-sight’. To legally use them, you need an Amateur Radio Technician License and a radio costing between $70 to $400. To get greater range, amateur radio clubs will build repeaters and mount the antenna on something tall, such as a water tower, building or even some companie’s cell phone tower (with permission). The repeater receives the signal from the hand held radio and retransmits it on another frequency.

So, here’s how this works. If I want to talk to someone on my hand held radio and he is not line-of-site from me, I will transmit on frequency ‘A’ with 4 watts of power. The repeater, which is on a tower, receives the signal and retransmits it on frequency ‘B’ with 20 watts of power. My friend, who is also line-of-site of the tower, received the transmission on frequency ‘B’. When he replies, he transmits on frequency ‘A’. The repeater does what it does and I listen on frequency ‘B’.

This is called duplex mode. It greatly extends the 2 meter radio’s effective range. It also means that if there is a massive power outage, the repeater might not be working. Some repeaters have batteries but they have a limited life.

When the repeaters are no longer working, you can switch to simplex mode, that is, you listen and transmit on the same frequency, but with a shorter working range. 146.520 MHz is the national simplex frequency. Most hand held 2 meter radios can also serve as a police/medical/firefighter scanners, which can provided a wealth of information.

HF Radio

The next step up is HF (High Frequency) radio, also called short wave, which requires a General Amateur Radio License. This is the radio that allows you to talk all over the world by bouncing radio wave off the upper atmosphere. There is an art to doing this and hams will spend years perfecting this art. Understanding the principles of radio and radio propagation will give you a big head start in learning what’s happening in the world even if you never choose to get a license.

You can get a HF Radio receiver for $50 and a transmitter starting at $200. These radios are usually confined to a location such as your basement, garage or the room you designate as your ‘radio shack’, partly because of the size and partly because a good antenna is quite large. One of mine is 110 feet long and is strung between two trees. The other antenna is called a Yagi and it looks like a giant TV antenna. It is possible to have a HF radio in a vehicle but the antenna is significantly compromised.

When the 1995 earthquake hit Los Angeles and knocked out electrical power in Idaho, Wyoming and Washington, with my shortwave antenna, I was able to pick up a commercial AM radio station that was 200 miles away and I learn much about the quake in California.

A Radio Little History

When radio waves were discovered, it was obvious that there were a limited number of frequencies. Most communications, like from ship to shore, were on LW (Low Frequency). Commercial radio was on MF (Middle Frequency), such as your AM radio (530 KHz (566 meters) to 1600 KHz (187 meters)). The amateurs were given a useless part of the spectrum called short wave. That’s back when they thought 80 meter waves were short and 10 meter waves were even shorter. It was the amateurs that discovered they could bounce waves off the atmosphere and thereby talk around the world. Then the communication people wanted their short wave frequencies back. Since then technology has developed VHF (Very High Frequency), UHF (Ultra High Frequency), SHF (Super High Frequency), EHF (Extremely High Frequency) and finally, VUSEHF (Very Ultra Super Extreme High—no, I’m just making one this up). Organizations such as ARRL have had to fight to keep hold of their small portion of the broadcast spectrum. (If you go even further up the spectrum, you get to radar, microwave, infrared, visible light, ultra violet, x-Rays, and gamma rays.)

Getting Started

To start, go to http://www.arrl.org/, click on the ARRL Store and get the ARRL Ham Radio License manual. If you have a good local library, you could borrow one there or borrow one from another ham. This book will teach you many interesting things. It contains the test question pool and their answers for the Technician License. You only have to answer 30 questions, you just don’t know which 30. After that, you can go for the General License with ARRL’s General Class License Manual or take the General Course on line.

You’ll need to find a club. From http://www.arrl.org/, select What’s Popular: Clubs. Put in your locations and you’ll get a list of Amateur Radio Clubs. Or you can click on Exams. The clubs are the guys that administer the test, but you don’t need to be a member to participate.

Amateur Radio operators are a gregarious group. They are mostly males, older and they are a disappearing breed. No one is quite sure why there are so few women because any woman who shows an interest in ham radio will get a lot of attention. (I guess it is similar to the question of why women don’t like football.) The club members will answer question, loan equipment and help you solve technical type problems. These were the guy that handled much of the communication during the Hurricane Katrina recovery and they did it at their own expense.

And it is a lot of fun.

73 (Ham talk for ‘Best Regards’)

E R Haroldsen  N7TDX

Additional Note: Ham Radio and CB Radio

Ham radio operators have a soft spot for CB radio operators and that is usually out behind the barn where the digging is easy. Hams like to refer to CB radio as ‘11 meters’. CD operators have their own language which hams will not use. (You don’t call me ‘good buddy’ and I won’t puke.) CB operators have ‘handles’. Hams have call signs. Transmit a question on CB radio and fifty people will answer all at the same time. Ham radio has protocol and discipline that allows people to take their turn and communicate effectively. All Amateur radio operators have a certain obligation to help during an emergency.

During a network exercise or during an emergency, a net controller allows people to speak only after they have permission. The amateur radio call sign has a specific format. Tell a ham that you are L59JY and he will know you are a phony. You can’t even adopt one when you know the format because hams also have a ‘phone book’. Give your call sign and they will know your name, address, which license you have and when you got it.

A CB transmits with 4 watts of power and is legally limited to 50 miles—thought some operators cheat. A typical hand held ham radio transmits with about 4 watts. With mine, I could hit a repeater 60 miles away. A car mounted 2 meter radio transmits with about 20 watts of broadcast power. A typical HF rig will transmit with 100 watts of power but in some cases can legally transmit much as 1500 watts.

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The Prepper Philosophy

Last week I posted a question related to ammunition. I got many answers, most completely unrelated to the question I had actually asked. This motivates me to talk about the philosophy of prepping.

Simply, a good prepper follows the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared —Be prepared for anything — Be prepared for everything.

The first step in prepping is to assess what are the potential problems. My list is long. It includes heart attacks, nose bleeds, broken arms, unemployment, floods, and severe weather. I mention these specific ones because they are events I have had to live through. I’ve loaded several co-workers into an ambulance, lived down stream when the Teton Dam broke and I’ve been snowbound while at work on three occasions. None of these were big problems because I was prepared.

A good assessment will be extensive, will consider the probability that a particular event will happen, its magnitude and how much effort and money would be needed to prepare for that problem. It also takes into consideration training and professional skills. I have several radiacs (Geiger counters). I seldom recommend that anyone get them. The difference being that I am an expert on radiation exposure. I can look at the radiation meter and know whether I have a big problem or a little problem.

About fire arms: In my case, I’ve decided they are very low on my list of prepping needs. My evaluation shows that the need is small for my position, location and situation. My sister has done a similar evaluation and has bought multiple weapons and is taking the training to use them. I agree with her evaluation because she is in a much different situation. She is a target. I am not.

I think about M. Davison who said to a group of us, “You think there will be a big event and everything will be gone. Let me tell you what it was like from someone who had to live through one of these. (He had been in Holland during the German occupation.) You go to buy shoes and there are no shoes for sale; so you put newspaper in your shoes to make them last. Then one day you can’t get newspaper. Things disappeared one at a time.”

I think about a friend of mine who was invited to be part of a prepper group. They show him their collection of firearms. It was impressive and included 50 caliber. Then they showed him their food supply. It was small. He said, “Guys, you’ve built Fort Knox but you don’t have anything inside.”

I think about prepper Steven Harris (< HYPERLINK “http://www.steven1234.com&#8221; >http://www.steven1234.com ) who preaches that it is easier to feed your neighbor than to shoot him.

I think about the disaster in Sarajevo where weapons and ammo were essential, but that is not typical. In most survival situations that I’ve read about, they were not. Then again, we’ve never been faced with potential problems of the magnitude that we face now.

The image of a prepper with guns and bullets sitting in his bunker with a stack of MRE’s can only be valid for the first few days. In a total societal collapse, there will be the need for cooperation and the building of alliances and the establishment of business.

So basically, I’m saying all these things must be done in perspective and balance. Each situation will be different and each answer will be different.

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