No Matter How Much You Prepare

So we just finished watching Season Six of Alone (and have now started Season Seven).


Highly trained professionals (military and otherwise) with ALL the skills, experience, and confidence setting out to survive in the arctic, alone.


Each one thinks they can make it and outlast the others.


And watching these folks, you think to yourself, wow, these people can fish, hunt, build shelters, survive off of the land, and know how to survive.


Yet, usually well before 100 days, (virtually) all the contestants are out:

No matter how well prepared they are, life happens!


– They get hugely sick, often from the gross food they are eating.


-They fall down and hurt or break something.


– They cut or stab themselves.


– They lose one or more of their essential survival tools.


– They inadvertently burn down their own shelters.


– Animals steal their food or attack them.


– They starve and their bodies start to break down critical fat stores in their heart or other vital organs.


– They start to lose their minds from the lack of nutrition and mind-numbing loneliness.


It seems like no matter how well trained and prepared they are, they can’t outrun, outwit, out-survive what life eventually throws at them.


Even the last person “standing” is still usually more dead than alive.


Anything other than self-control is ultimately an illusion.


Remember, life happens, and eventually everyone needs help from someone.


No man is an island even if you are living on one. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Are These Unlivable “Living Conditions” Allowed To Persist?

Continued to be appalled at the unlivable “living conditions” of the homeless in the Capital. 


Makeshift tents line up and down under the train tracks to Union Station. 


Spikes overhead make this an extra frightening looking arrangement. 


People walking by and to/from work–after a while, is there a mixture of acceptance and indifference?


It’s freezing outside and this is NO WAY for any human being to have to live. 


Can we put partisan politics aside for any period of time to deal with the very harsh problems facing real people?  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Trends In Homelessness

So the plight of the homeless in Washington, DC and other large cities like NY and LA is despicable. 


This photo is taken not far from the Capitol building in DC. 


The homeless are not living in tents in the dead of Winter. 


As the people pass by, under this particular overpass were no less than 4 tents. 


While millionaires and billionaires splurge on themselves, so many people continue to go without adequate food, shelter, clothing, plumbing, healthcare, education, and jobs in America. 


When G-d looks down and see the unsympathetic wealthy next to the downtrodden poor–and many of the wealthy act like insatiable pigs, while the poor go hungry and cold–shall the L-rd that judges all the earth not do justly?  


Yes, there should be incentives for people to work hard and contribute, but when the wealth is skewed so that more than 50% of all the wealth is owned by just the top 1% of people and the top 1% own more than the bottom 90% of the population–we have a system that is not just broken, but grossly unjust and inhumane. 


Corruption is alive and well, and who is there among our leaders to stand up and say and do what is right by G-d children? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tiny House Capsule

We enjoy watching Tiny House Hunters on HGTV, but this is even better!


The Ecocapsule is an awesome 88-feet of pod living


Haul it on a simple 4-wheel trailer and plunk it down. 


It has a solar roof and wind turbine that powers up its battery for up to 4 days.


Plus a rainwater filtration system feeds your faucets, toilet, and shower. 


There is a bed for 2 as well as a cooktop, work desk, and modest storage space. 


It’s minimalist living at it sleekest and best. 


Only $86K from Slovakia and you’re off the grid and living free.


Can’t you just see these while eggshells dotting the landscape?


When everything in the world goes to hell, these little pods could be providing sustainable living to survivors. 


All we need is some cool defense gadgets and this could work! 😉

Preppers Preparing

Preppers

A very interesting article in the Washington Post on the prepper movement.


People are concerned about the inaction, misdirection, and chaos of where things are going, and they are preparing for a potential post-apocalyptic America and world.


Grave worries seem to be coming from a multitude of concerns whether about an eventual bursting of the bubble of our national debt and the downfall of our economy and associated good jobs, an outbreak of ebola or a deadly influenza, a dirty bomb by Iran or North Korea, a cyber attack or EMP that takes out our critical infrastructure including electricity and anything with computer circuits, or a devastating natural disaster, many of which are considered “overdue.”


The preppers are moving to the American Redoubt (pacific northwest–Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon.


They are buying and building defensible homes (bunkers and “fortresses”), stockpiling food, weapons, and ammunition, and preparing for life off the grid with water sources, solar farms, and secure storage.


While survivalists have always existed, the numbers of concerned, disaffected, and generally disgruntled citizens seems be growing exponentially along with prepper network shows, books, blogs, websites, and sales of survival gear.


Many people seem to either feel insecure, fearful, uncertain, or that we are simply going in the wrong direction, and that it is only a matter of time until there is some sort of major earth shattering, society destabilizing disaster, and not everyone will survive.


So from home shelters to luxury underground bunkers, preppers are putting their money and efforts where their mouths are, and are preparing for potentially the worst.


If as all agree that an important part of the government’s job is to ensure the national security of the country, and protect life, liberty, and property, then something seems to be going very wrong that many people are feeling so insecure and unprotected physically and in terms of their human rights.


From corruption to divisiveness, dependency, and dirty dealing, communication and trust between government and the governed is being needlessly undermined.


Why can’t we get some decent leaders with a solid moral compass, and a real plan to bring us back from forever walking the brink to a nation of strength and unity, prosperity and health, and a superpower not only today, but for the future, once again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

This House Is For The Birds

Birdhouse.jpeg

Beautiful simple birdhouses in Downtown DC.


We all need to live somewhere.


Too many people in shelters and on the streets. 


Started giving money to some of the homeless on the way to the Metro. 


My friend’s father used to say, “If they ask then they need it.”


Perhaps what’s needed is a little more kindness, TLC, and compassion for all G-d’s loving creatures. 


While it’s nice to look up to aspire and climb the next rung of life, it’s as important to look down and remember from where you came and where you can still go again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Homesick or Heresick

2016.JPEG

It’s funny, my dad used to tell a joke about not being homesick, but being heresick (wherever that “here” may be for somebody–they just want to get out of there)


Recently, at work though, I have found there are many people that don’t want to go home at the end of the day–and it’s not because they always still have so much work to do (although sometimes certainly they do). 


Yesterday, I asked someone at work–on New Years eve–what they were still doing there late in the day.


Someone with a fairly new baby at home, jokingly winced at me, and said something about it sometimes being better to stay a little later at work, because when he/she gets home, they start all over again with the spouse and kid(s)–like so many of us. 


It’s strange to me, because I love and value home. 


And it’s like the old rhetorical question about do you work to live or live to work. 


Just yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a book review about someone who opined about how home is where the heart is–and in anthropological terms–it’s always been that way!


Home is our sanctuary, for ourselves and our beloved family, it is where we are “king of the castle,” and where we do everything from shelter, comfort, reproduce, share, and generally love and care for each other. 


Yet, back to work, many people these days don’t want to go home to crying babies and dirty diapers, nagging spouses and the evening fights, encroachment on private spaces, and errands galore (it’s a 2nd job almost)–cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and bills–or even just plain loneliness there. 


So people hang out at work–they schmooze, they snack, they Internet, they may go to workout, or they dilly and dally–just so they don’t have to go home. 


As someone recently said to me, “It’s quiet. I like it there. Nobody bothers me there.”


They are homesick–not missing and yearning to be home, but some almost to the point of sick at the thought of going home. 


Work or anywhere else then becomes a refuge from the home that home is supposed to be. 


Sometimes it’s just a temporary thing at home, sometimes it’s more ongoing or permanent.


Everyone has a different home–for everyone it should be a true home. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where’s The Value?

Binary

So I don’t know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 


The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:


1) The top 3 are technology companies


Apple $679B

Alphabet (Google’s Parent) $489B

Microsoft $422B


2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies


That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:


Facebook $288B

Amazon $280B


As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 


We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft’s business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook’s social networking, and Amazon’s online shopping. 


But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.


For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:


Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 

Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B

General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B

Wells Fargo (World’s Largest Bank) $280B

Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B


So when you add these behemoths up–this is what we have:


The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T


Vs.


The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T


Net it out:


The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.


(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 


Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 


But isn’t it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn’t worth more to us than just the IT alone. 


Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn’t add up in a real life perspective. 


I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Violation Of Home And Person

Followed

So I took this photo of a newscast recently about women being followed into their homes and attacked. 


What can be more frightening and violating?


A home is one’s castle and sanctuary–that is where we go for shelter, safety, and unconditional love. 


When the the home space is violated, then fear and panic ensue as all bets are off to what can happen to everything one loves and holds dear.


Think of basically any scene where the ancient city walls are being broached by a marauding army, and you’ll immediately see men, women, and children running and screaming, but alas the city burns and the people are doomed at the hand of their invaders. 


Similarly, when people are followed or suffer a home invasion–their privacy and security is violated to the core–and they easily become victims of theft, rape, and assault. 


I remember when growing up in New York how one local neighborhood kid was followed home one day by a gang, and they started beating him in front of his home until some neighbors came and chased the attackers away. 


But it didn’t end there, because this kid was vulnerable for months afterward, not knowing if and when the attackers would return for more. 


It’s like when people threaten someone and say, “I know where you live!”


That puts the fear of G-d into people, because it’s not only themselves, but their home and family at mortal risk–and not knowing when or how it may happen…people can just piss their pants. 


The opposite is true as well, people tend to be big shots and aggressive when they feel they are anonymous–when their faces are covered by masks, and they have no identifiable insignias–you don’t know who they are or where they are from. 


With anonymity, people feel they can do what they want without fear of reprisal. 


But someone who can be identified, they better behave themselves, because they can be found afterwards and “made to pay” for the bad things they did. 


Ultimately, peace comes from having both safety in the home and the serenity of mind that comes with not having to look over your shoulder all the time. 


Everyone should be able to feel safe in their homes and neighborhood, and the attacker be caught, killed, or damned. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

3-D Printing Comes To Life

3D Printing
So my daughter is graduating high school, but is already taking a class in 3-D printing. 



(This little guy pictured here was made experimenting in the class and was a precious gift from her.)



Already prophetically envisioned in Star Trek as “the replicator,” this technology has been around in primitive trial form since the 1980’s.



In 3-D printing, alloyed material is successively layered under computer control to make complex shapes and products.



It makes traditional 2-D printing (on paper) look like rubbing two sticks together to build a fire (circa the paleolithic period of mankind thousands of years ago). 



The promise of 3-D printing for advanced manufacturing is absolutely incredible.



The Wall Street Journal describes how NASA researchers and engineers are working toward using 3-D printers in space to “make bricks suitable for airtight buildings and radiation proof shelters” simply using the sand already on Mars. 



Moreover, the astronauts on their journey may be eating pizza from these printers as well (except for the sand, but still probably better than MREs–Haha).



Already objects have been printed “19 feet long…stone-like building blocks weighing one-and-a-half ton each”!



In the future, 3-D printers could be sent in advance to planets we look to colonize and “lay down landing pads, roads, and shelters” in preparation of our arrival.



These printers could even build working replicas of themsleves or “swarms of self-assembling construction robots” boosting our capacity for even more building.



Moreover, technology is in the works to recycle from 3-D printing by melting down the printed products back into material that could be reused for new printing projects.



On Earth, where we have long been drawing down our natural resources as well as polluting our environment, the prospect of going to other worlds where their are new resources and we actually have the ability to use them constructively is humanity’s chance for a whole new chapter of life beyond. 😉



(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)