s/v Adventure Post-Winter Status

Rained lot last night, lightning and thunder for a few hours on and off. Washed the boat off. Was covered in dust out on the deck, but that’s all gone now. Now, when I have time (I don’t know when that will be, lol) I’ll have to get out and wash the topsides down, and put on some wax. Boat needs it badly.
 
Some of our lines were out over the winter time and faded some. I don’t think any of them are too worse for the wear.
 
Bow platform needs some varnish. I only had time to get two coats on it before we had to rapidly depart, most of it is worn off already. I’ll do a light sanding and recover that soon. I did bring my sander with me this time so I can use it to do the rails around the boat and get them sanded quickly and efficiently instead of working a foot at a time and killing my shoulders.
This morning we had drip coffee from our new coffee maker.  The only thing wrong is that it’s only an eight cup pot. Making it like I usually do, with three little scoops of coffee makes it too strong.  So, I’ll try tomorrow with 2 scoops and see how it comes out.  I wish the pot were bigger but that was what we found.  I wanted a stainless steel pot instead of glass, as I broke the last glass one in the sink before we ran off to Colorado.  This one should last longer.
After doing a quick trip around the deck in the rain this morning, everything looks good.  There’s some chaff on the stern line, and the dock master added a second line for me after the big storms moved through here a few weeks ago.  We also had a fender blow up in the strong winds, but we had some aboard so he also added one.  I’ll need to go get replacements now.  And perhaps some fender covers or something.  I saw where someone bought golf shirts to cover his on facebook.  The shirts were much cheaper than the fender covers, and it’s time to start being more frugal.  We still have one more trip across country coming up in July.
Today I’ll open the battery compartment and run checks on the electrolyte (I did voltage checks yesterday and the batteries were charged properly so I assume the electrolyte is doing ok, but I want to double check it).  The boat has been on trickle all winter and the checks I did last were six months ago.  That reminds me, time flies when you’re having fun.
When we leave Colorado it seems like we’ve been gone forever when we go back.  But when we’re on the boat time goes so quickly.  It’s been a year on the 13th of May since my heart attack.  That seems eons ago, but traveling to the boat last July seems like a few weeks ago and not months.  Staying in Colorado from December through April – four months – seemed forever because we couldn’t DO anything.  The boat was too far, and we have a car, but we didn’t get to do a lot.  We traveled a  couple of times, but not enough to make it seem like we were seeing anything new.
The trip across country took us about three weeks, stopping to visit friends and family.  But, again it seemed too short.  Now we have a lot of boat chores to do to prepare for moving, BUT, at this point, I’m going to take my time doing it.
We have to drive up to see the marina tomorrow.  We’re going to see it to verify it’s where we want to be for the summer.  Once we do that, then I’ll work on the logistics of getting our boat there, and our car there.  We want both available for the summer.  Then we have to work our storage for the car while we’re gone to the Bahamas.
I guess the Bahamas is where we’re strongly leaning to going for this fall and winter season.  JoAnne might have different ideas too, but we’ve both looked at Florida and Bahamas.
We decided to “take the day off” today because we did travel three weeks without much of a break, driving for 5-9 hours each day, stopping and visiting and going places eventually tires you out. haha  However, even taking the day “off” we’ll likely run up and do laundry today, and I’ve got some stuff to move and re-arrange in the forward compartment.  JoAnne wants to work on the aft head and empty the cabinets, go through our stuff there and throw out unused things and make space for towels and other stuff there. Mostly, I am trying to get some blog posts in because they help me remember things I’ve forgotten.
Speaking of forgotten….what was I going to say? Oh, yeah, my heart issues…. Led to certain medications.  One of the meds I take is a statin, it is called Atorvastatin.  It is also known as Lipitor.  Some of you know it’s used to block production of cholesterol.  I’ve got to take it because during the surgery last year they removed parts of my heart, the aortic valve (which was deformed) and replaced it with a tissue valve (apparently from a pig, because I crave bacon now, lol).
Taking the drug is supposed to prevent me from plaque build up in my heart, arteries and so forth but it has a side effect of making me forget things short term.  My short term memory is messed up.  Before we left the boat I had stopped taking it because I ran out and they wanted $900 bucks for the prescription which I refused to pay at the time without insurance.  We have insurance now, but it still costs me 20+ bucks for the one (and 20 for another and more for the blood pressure meds).
So… I go back for a physical in July and I’m going to chat with my doc about trying something other than this drug.  My cholesterol has NEVER been high, ever.  So I want to get something that will do it more “naturally”, like certain vitamins.
Back to the boat.  This marina did take care of our boat for the most part.  I don’t see any other damage from other boats, they made sure our oars stayed attached to the dinghy in the wind storm, and all the other things I mentioned, plus checked battery levels several times for me.
The boat probably needs a pressure wash, but I’ll hold that until next marina.  That reminds me, I need to call them and chat and let them know we’re coming up tomorrow to check the place out and get a tour.  I already have a slip assigned there, but I want to look at the channel in person and the turns I have to make coming in.  It looks tight on the charts and on the satellite view.   And getting into the slip might be a problem, but the water is about 12′ deep there so I fell good about that.  Also, floating docks.  We will never again stay at a fixed dock and in the Bahamas I’ll just plan to anchor out most of the time.  They have pretty high tides there (last time we were there, we had to climb ladders to get in and out of the boat we stayed on).
I want to say HI to some of the people who have asked for me to write more. I’ve gotten comments and/or emails saying “write more”.  The best one was from someone at my former work who said she enjoyed following us without having to do all the work herself. haha.  So, Susan, this post is for you! haha (Now, just imagine all the stuff I’m NOT talking about having to do!)
JoAnne and I want to thank everyone who visited with us across the country, especially Paul and Cathy, A’lice and Larry and Mike and Cindy who put us up for a few days while we visited.  To Stephen and Judy, thanks for inviting us to the perfectly timed pot luck at your marina in St. Augustine!
Lastly, to our Daughter Kristy and her Husban, Carlos;  Thank you for everything, for putting up with us, and letting us stay with you while mom’s back healed.  She is still not at 100% and we’re not sure if her back will ever get back to normal but without you guys we’d have had to sell the boat and move back, get jobs and be mediocre people again. haha.
Onward and upward… I’ve got things to get done so time to run.  See you next entry everyone!

Good Bye Winter – Hello Spring

Winter can’t go away quickly enough for us.

We’re ready to go back to the boat, but it’s still chilly here and back in Norfolk.  Apparently they haven’t suffered from much cold as it’s rarely gotten below freezing according the marina where the boat is waiting for us to return.

Talked to someone on Facebook yesterday and they told me they got about an inch of snow which rapidly turned to rain and all of the snow is gone.  So, that’s a good thing.

I’m going to tell you all a story here.  Over the course of the past 7-8 years JoAnne and I have gone through a lot in getting ready to move aboard a boat.  In the past few weeks people ask us about it and we tell them some of the things that have happened.  Most are aghast or in awe of what we’ve accomplished.

I don’t think either JoAnne or I consider anything we’ve done or gone through too “heroic”.  Except JoAnne.  Cancer is nothing to sneeze about.  She went through a lot in the last two years and I want to point out to folks who have normal, every day problems like ants in the kitchen, painting needed in a room, grass cutting, snow blowing or shoveling, that there are times – and people – that try the patience of saints.

In January of 2014 JoAnne wasn’t feeling well.  We were I believe staying with my daughter at the time because our house had been up for sale.  The whole market thing wasn’t working for us, or the house.  She called off of work one day and went home four times early over the course of about a two week period.  This was not only unusual for JoAnne, it was unheard of.  My wife rarely gets sick, she almost never took a day off work, and she’s a pretty strong lady all in all.

On the fourth time I walked into the house after work and made an off handed comment, “So, what time is your doctor’s appointment tomorrow?”

To my surprise and astonishment (because she hates going to doctors) she gave me a time.  I don’t remember now if it was the very next day or a day or so later, but she’d set one up.

Our family doctor, Kendra Robison, gave JoAnne an xray and told her that there was a “mass” down low.  She ordered up a C-T scan for a couple of days later.   On the 29th of January a bunch of us family members met at Rock Bottom (our normal hang out) to have a beer and celebrate my youngest son’s birthday.  That’s when Doctor Robison called JoAnne.  We both went outside to take the call.

I could tell by JoAnne’s face that things weren’t good,  After the call she had our kids who were with us at the time come out, left spouses and grandkids inside and she told us all what was up.

She had a very large tumor, about graprefruit size, maybe larger.  They believed without a doubt it was cancerous.  A few days later she underwent surgery.  A few weeks after that she started chemo.  Lost her hair.  Went through some shots to help her immune system but put her in severe pain.  We had moved back into the house so she had a place to recover – because neither of us ever doubted she’d recover.   There was crying, praying, more crying, plenty of support from our children (all adults).

In late August 2015 we learned that she was “cancer free” at that point.  Her chemo had ended and she went home and started looking at boats – because our “five year plan” never went away.  It was suspended and we both continued to work as we could.  She went to work all the way through chemo.  She worked fewer hours, and I tried to make sure she got plenty of rest.  We still visited Rock Bottom from time to time and had  a beer, but there were times when she couldn’t go to work right away because of the immunity issues.

I took off as many days from my job as I could to help her, take her to doctors appointments and be with her.

In November 2014 JoAnne found three boats that not only met our specifications, but our budget (we’d actually increased our budget by then).  The house was nearly paid off anyway and we figured we could do this.

In December 2014 I flew to New York to look at a boat called “Duna”, a Transworld Formosa 41.  Exactly the boat we both had dreams (and occasional nightmares) about.  Beautiful lines, full keeled ketch, with most things working.  The boat really needed a lot more than a few repairs, but all-in-all the boat was intact and with a little bit of work could be put in the water and sail right away.

The issues on the boat though, we considered minor compared to our goal, and JoAnne’s recent battles.

In January 2015, one year and one day from JoAnne’s diagnoses of cancer, we closed on the boat.  In March of 2015 we put the house back on the market.  The first day we had five showings.  Over the week, we had about 25 showings.  On Sunday, seven days from the day we went on the market, we closed on our house.  We sold it to a young man in his 30s, single dad with two children.

We moved back in with our daughter again and began our final transition from working, to moving to our boat and becoming cruisers.

In May we were ready to leave.  We both put in our resignations.  Mine went in on Monday the 11th of May.  JoAnne’s last day of work was supposed to be that week on Friday.

On Wednesday I was driving home and felt ill.  Long story short, I’d had a heart attack but didn’t know it.  We went to the doctor that evening, they sent us to the hospital, the hospital admitted me to the cardiac care ward and refused to let me move around or walk without someone being with me.

My aortic valve was damaged, and was malformed.  A “bicuspid” instead of a normal three leaf tricuspid valve.  I had to have a new hear valve put in.  On Monday morning the following week, I was wheeled into surgery and given anaesthesia, and surgery was performed.  I honestly thought that our whole life together was over.

JoAnne’s strength and fortitude was the only thing making me strong.  I was terrified of someone “touching my heart” – and not in good ways.  Being cut open, having your heart literally stopped and being placed on a heart-lung machine and having electrical equipment doing that work for you is very scary.  I’ve always considered myself a strong, nearly fearless person.

Not that day.  As I was to sign the release forms, I nearly chickened out.  But I knew JoAnne was counting on me and I knew I’d counted on her being there.  It was the least I could do.  I signed.  They operated and I’m writing this today.

Now – there’s plenty more to this story, but I’m not going to write it all. That’s for a book someday.

Jump forward to October 18, 2015.  We’re in our boat.  We’ve travelled from the Hudson River all the way down to Pocquoson River on the East Coast and we’re anchored out up a creek there.  The phone rings.  It’s a marina we’ve left messages for, as they were recommended to do some work.  Our backstays aren’t as they should be and it’s causing some issues with the sails.  They call me at 10Am and say “If you can get here this evening, we can look at your boat tomorrow.”

Against our better judgement and without knowing exactly what the weather was going to be, we left.  And we were caught in 19knot winds without being able to raise sails, in short chop caused by constant winds, with no place to run but south under engine power.  The rest of that story has already been written on the blog. Read it here:  (Norfolk, the Hard Way)

We didn’t “get seen” the next day.  In fact, Friday that week we were hit by a power boat.  Almost $12,000.

On the day the mast was going back up in December 2015, JoAnne fell from a fixed dock onto a boat she was trying to board after we were invited over for a drink.  She fractured two vertebrae.  We’re in Colorado as most of you know, while she heals.

She’s supposed to be out of her back brace in a few days.  One more appointment before we head back to the boat at the end of March to have her chemo port removed (we hope) and then back to Adventure.

Summer is coming.  We want to be back on the boat this spring to find a place to land for a few months of summer while we do needed repairs and refit, and then next fall, we’re off for the Bahamas – finally.

So you see folks, adversity happens.  But one must pick up their marbles, collect them all, along with their thoughts and persevere if one is to make it anywhere.  Whether you’re time to make it down the Island Chain of the Caribbean, the East Coast of the US, or you’re just trying to get through day-to-day at work until your time to go sailing comes up, you can never, EVER give up.

You can’t let life, naysayers or negativity get you down.  You have to keep plugging along.

This is the way we live life.  NOTHING is handed to you on a silver platter and if it is you’re the one who is missing out on life.  If you don’t step up, grab that brass ring on the Merry Go Round you will never, ever accomplish anything more than letting life run past you.

Life is not something you get through.  Life is something you must live to the fullest no matter what stands in your way, no matter the adversity, no matter the bumps and bruises you suffer along the way.

Grab life and give it a whirl!

 

 

The trip across country

JoAnne and I have travelled several times across country in the last 38 years. But this time we’re doing it to get to our last, new home. The ship.

As of today, starting in Colorado Springs and ending in a place called Reynoldsburg OH, we’ve travelled 1611.3 miles. That includes some side trips to Hermann, MO, a trip to Liberty, MO and some side trips around Cincinnati, OH.

We picked up some salmon over in Liberty at the Sprouts, and brought it to the Sause family for dinner one night, a side trip to a winery in Hermann to add some bottles to our collection for the boat and we had to travel back and forth in Cincy to meet up with Ryan, go to dinner, find out hotel (a couple of different times) and so forth. So the mileage isn’t all straight travel.

Tomorrow we meet up with Bob, our friend from WAYYYYY back in the White House days and his wife for dinner.

On Monday evening we hope to be in Woodbridge, VA to meet with another friend of the family, Phil at his place.

We are hoping to leave Wednesday and likely be in Stony Point NY around Thursday or Friday (taking our time, pulling a trailer, and then finding a hotel in the area… the latter being mostly likely the most difficult thing we have to accomplish, other than paying for the boat storage, painting and maintenance).

I did create a new photo storage area… if I can remember where it is, so we’ll post some images.

We have NOT taken any photos with friends. Most of them we aren’t going to post images of. Some, like me are rather reluctant to place images up, and for the protection of my friends I won’t do that 🙂 — There’s a good reason for this, which I will not explain on this blog, but suffice it to say the lot of us have had government jobs, held positions we would rather not go into details about or don’t want to have our faces all over the Internet.

Fortunately for those of you reading the blog, I’m one of those free spirits who simply doesn’t care all that much and my “enemies” know how to find me anyway 🙂

LOL

Ok, back to the regularly scheduled blogging.

Tomorrow we get to see Bob for dinner. We have not, to the best of my recollection seen him in 25 years, and JoAnne seems to think it was when we travelled from DC in 1989 moving to Colorado. That means that every time we move to a new home, we get to see Bob I think. Perhaps he and his wife will come see us on the boat next time? We shall see 🙂

The good old Ford F150 is hanging in there with 206467 miles as of tonight. The trailer is handling the trip well. I’m not so sure about my guitar which keeps getting shoved into the truck bed under the shell. It’s pretty hot so, I’m hoping it’s doing ok. I tuned it a couple of days ago and it was off a bit, but was holding it’s notes pretty decently.

Ryan – my friend Ryan whom I had never met until a couple of days ago, is an awesome young man. (I say that because I’m turning 58 in a few days and he’s significantly younger than me), He is, like we are, beer aficionados. While JoAnne and I like to make beer, Ryan likes to buy various types of beers, taste test them, and even post some reviews of various beers.

Before we left, he basically loaded us up with several bottles of various types of beers that he recommended to us. I’m currently enjoying a Bell’s Oberon, from Comstock Michigan. It’s a wheat ale, rather fruity, a little hoppy and a little spicy. Very good stuff!

JoAnne happened to run into a six pack of Root Beer…. ok, well, not really Root Beer. It’s “Not your father’s root beer” – a hard root beer, 5.9% alcohol by volume. I am NOT a fan of Root Beer, however, I tasted it and it was… very wonderful. I can see me making a hard root beet float with it, lol.

The weather, with the exception of a few night time thunderstorms through the travelling has been pretty hot. We’ve had a couple of 100 degree F days. We did have quite a storm come through in Kansas on the way to Missouri, but nothing too bad.

Let me see, what else. Wifi has been a bit of a pain in the behind a few times. We couldn’t get it on our phones more than once and even had to reset our phones a couple of times due to lack of data connections. T-Mobile said they weren’t sure what was happening, but helped me fix things. The idea of our phones is to be able to use them as a hot spot when nothing else is available.

We can’t stay in hotels forever – and we’re hoping to be to the boat by this coming weekend if not sooner.

I’ll write more in a few days.

John Titor: Time Traveler from 2036

Some folks know me as the Rick Donaldson from the Anomalies Network, back in the days when we had forums there.  I was the forum administrator and my friend, Olav Phillips was the site owner, archivist and all-around good guy who owned the equipment.

In late 1999 myself and some other members of the Anomalies Network frequented the Art Bell Post-to-Post forums and encountered an enigma called John Titor.  Several of us became interested in his story.  He sent information Art Bell and several of us interacted with the guy in those days, including Darby, myself, Phil F., and Pamela Moore.  With the exception of myself and Olav, I believe most folks were using aliases of some sort or another, though I have spoken to Phil, Pam and I believe Darby on the telephone myself.  We all exist.

John Titor, however, I’m not so sure about.

Eventually in late 2000 I think it was he “left”, not only taking with him his “pickup truck” and time machine, but leaving us questioning ourselves, science and whether or not he was real.

I’ve personally always been of the opinion he was a hoaxer, with some backing to set up the story.  I have questioned some of his science, and in fact, personally ripped apart a few things that came out much later from the “Titor Foundation” (or whatever they called themselves later) and in light of Darby’s discovery of Larry Haber (a Florida Lawyer who may have perpetrated or been a party to this hoax) I had written off Titor as not factual.  Some of the data I obtained later about the “Time Machine” included a lot of data about the amount of power it used, etc.

As a trained communications guy I noted some of the measurements of power use on the “manual” provided to us was somewhat sketchy.  Many of the units were “Coulombs” which is what caught my eye.  We measure power in Watts and electrical current in Amperes, and the “pressure” in Voltage.  A coulomb is a unit of measurement that takes into account a number of electrons in a storage unit such as a capacitor, and from that is derived amperes.

For instance, 1 C = 6.25 X 10^18 power electrons.  1C = 1A * 1S, or 6.25 X 10^18 power electrons moving one Amp of current in One Second.

It is never used to explain how much power is used, because mathematically it’s not directly related to an amount of current, because you need “time”, you need “voltages”, you need current flow, a completed circuit with a load (resistance) and so forth.  So, the short answer was the manual was a hoax.

Now, as to why I am writing this article today.

John Titor stated in a conversation on the Internet 15 (now plus) years ago and basically stated today (according to some interpretations of course) that today, 12 March 2015 nukes would begin falling on the USA.

Here is the exact communication, blue is the question, the bold below is his response:

You have said you will not participate in helping anyone avoid ‘death by probability’. Yet many things you have said could have caused an individual to do or not do something that will now result dying, or escaping death.


It would help if you could give an example. If you are referring to the conflict and war in your future, I’m not sure I’m specific enough to help any individuals avoid anything. Suggesting there is a war coming is a bit different than saying avoid Washington DC at 3:45 AM on March 12, 2015.

Now, if I recall (and I’m not sure I do precisely now) that was a question posed by Pamela Moore, one of our investigators at Anomalies Network, to John.  His response was somewhat cryptic and hence the reason for me stating “interpretation” above.  He did not specifically state that we would be nuked today, just mentioned that date and his way of saying this was “to avoid DC” would be different that saying a “war was coming”.  Subtle but strange.

Over the many ensuing years I’ve seen people call folks like me “Basement Dwelling Titortards” (among other things, which I laugh at) for those things aren’t true.  But what I find funniest of all is that people without an open mind, or perhaps it is imagination must deride those who investigate such things with an open mind.

Is Titor a true being?  Yes, SOMEONE posed as him.  Is his name really “John Titor”, no most likely not.  Was he a Time Traveler, almost without a doubt, he was not a time traveler.  Did I ever personally “believe in him”?  No, though I did question some of my beliefs at some point because… honestly, what is NOT possible?  In my mind, nothing.

America is going through tough times.  Our best and brightest are long retired, and those coming behind our generation are brain washed, indoctrinated people who some how believe that “Socialism” is the way to go, that “big Business” is evil, that the Russians are our friends.  Are these opinions?  No, they are facts.  The Russians aren’t out friends, never have been, Big Business isn’t evil for all the gyrations people go through to blame them for everything, and Socialism is the driving force trying to call out Capitalism in the first place.

America has not changed so much since I was a child that imagination is a bad thing to have, and our old Cold War Bogey Men never truly went away or went “straight”.  But it has changed significantly over the past 60 years…

Lenin said:

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. –Vladimir Lenin

You tell me, honestly, be intellectually honest with yourselves now, how long has the Left/Socialists/Progressives “owned” our children and now our grandchildren.  The “seed” has been planted and is growing.  Robert Heinlein is turning over in his grave, as are the ghosts of Rod Serling, Huxley, and Bradbury, all of whom tried desperately to warn us all through Science Fiction.

Now, in your current state of intellectual honesty – what do you do about it?  Do you believe in “Titor” or our own American structure as it SHOULD have been, not has been fundamentally restructured to be today?

John Titor was a hoax, a well-built, well-considered hoax who has a lack of scientific background (which he used to advantage to disarm “disbelievers”) but he was a hoax none-the-less.  Lenin was no hoax, nor was Communism, the Soviet Union or the rise in greatness of the United States since it’s inception to the 1970s.  Since the 1970s our “Greatness” has been denigrated both from within and without, even until today with our own President himself stating “America isn’t Great” and we’re not “exceptional”.

America IS a great nation.  We’re not the Roman Empire (or the later, Holy Roman Empire).  We’re America, formed by a dispossessed people, men and women forced to live here in some cases (Blacks, Irish, Scots, Chinese, all slaves or indentured servants) and yet we strived for Freedom from an oppressive government, a Monarchy and won the day in the end.

Today, there are those who point not to the good of America, but to the bad (such as slavery) and call it “evil” (and evil it was, but it wasn’t the main cause taken up by most Americans).

Today, on the Internet hoaxes, conspiracy theories and hatred abound.  Various religions are hated more than others.  Christianity, something upon which America was founded, is treated as evil, while Islam, considered by many to be the most dangerous “War Plan” ever in existence is brought up as the “Religion of Peace”.  Lest anyone think this is a religious tirade against Islam, consider the source of the stories of Islam and the seven Crusades.  No, the Christians didn’t start those wars.  They finished them.  Yes, they went after Islam to force it back to whence it came, back to the oppressive Middle East.

Back to John Titor once more.  He was a “sign of hope” in 1999.  People wanted to believe in something imaginative, something “to be”, predicable, and for some perhaps even something to which to look forward.  But Titor was not all he promised, he wasn’t even a Time Traveler, just one more hoaxer coming through the pipes on his way to wherever waste moves when it’s done being used and becomes waste.  Titor will go down in history as a hoax.  Mark my words on that. But there was one plus coming from his story, however “made up” it was.

He wasn’t a star in which to believe.  He did, however, do one thing for many with starved imaginations.  He awakened that imagination in many and perhaps gave folks hope that somehow there was hope for a failing world.

Unfortunately, today, the world is still failing – and much, much worse, we’re failing our children with our over use of technology, cell phones, tablets, computers, taking away their imaginations, and letting them “Google” everything and BELIEVE in what they find.  We leave them in Public Schools to be further indoctrinated with “Common Core” educations where they “learn a test” rather than learn to think.  We stifle them by prosecuting them for pointing a finger and saying “BANG!” instead of knowing they will undoubtedly grow up like so many of us who looked up to the military and to our Great Country.

With that I leave you with this thought.  Do you want the government to control every aspect of your lives, to give you what they think you need, to offer you more while giving less and taking more from you?  Or do you want your children to IMAGINE, to LIVE through their imaginations?

If the your answer is the latter, then America is doomed.

If your answer is of the former, then introduce your children to READING.  History, Science Fiction, FICTION… anything except “Googling”.

For the Sake of the Children….

New Book: Basic Survival and Communications Skills

I wrote a book.  Just thought you’d all like to know.  It’s called:

Basic Survival and Communications Skills in the Aftermath

The current Amazon link is at Amazon

The publication date was 30 November 2014, so it released on Sunday (yesterday as I write this).  The book was written specifically for the Kindle in mind, but will eventually be released to other eReaders in the next few months.

Here’s the description:

Nuclear war looms, an errant asteroid is headed for Earth, Yellowstone is showing signs of an impending explosion. Will be survivors. Are you going to be one of them? If so, how are you going to survive and contact your friends and loved ones?

The world has no set time of destruction and it might never come, or next Thursday while you’re on your way home from work might be the very day the killing blow comes. Will you be prepared?

Join the author in an imaginative exploration of several scenarios of “What Might Happen” and practical ideas on mitigation of the “Aftermath”. Survival isn’t always about stocking food and water in a mountain hideaway, collecting the best knives, guns and most ammo. Discover the important information you’ve been missing! This book was written specifically for the Kindle devices in mind.

For almost fifty years I’ve been working with and around radios and communications.  I started repairing shortwave radios at the ripe old age of Ten.  Since then I made it a career and life style (I’m a ham radio operator and was a military radio communications technician in the USAF).  Even my wife is a ham radio operator.

I wrote this book because, as a prepper and survivalist we’ve always worked to stay in contact with our children and family members.  While not the best at writing letters (sad for a writer, I know) we have always tried to figure out ways to contact our kids if there are emergencies.  We’ve always tried to keep one or another method open to us.

Over the years I’ve taught electronics and radio theory to civilians and military alike and have combined the skills I have in bringing this book to the general public as a way to help folks who aren’t really “radio savvy” or new at survival and preparedness skills (also called, “Prepping”).

The book is the culmination of many years of writing on blogs, forums and answering questions to students, military and civilians.  This book is not an in-depth study of one and only one thing however, it is more of a general purpose, basic/beginner’s book to get you started thinking on the path of how to communicate in emergencies.

Of course the book is colored with “End of the World” scenarios and situations but it should get you thinking.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a sailor or a close friend and possibly feel you’re already an expert at survival.  But I am dead certain that even experts will gather information from this manual that you’ve not considered in the past.  Remember, it is not a rehash of other books.

I urge you all to pick up a copy from Kindle.  The price is $4.99 US and that’s about the price of a couple of beers.  I don’t expect to make millions of dollars, that’s not why the book was written.  But, it will certainly help the cruising kitty if a few folks buy it.  (Hey, at 35% royalties, I’m not making a killing here!)

Keep your eyes open for when I can release it to other readers besides Kindle.  There will be follow ups to this book with more in-depth and detailed answers about radio systems, licensing (for when aliens aren’t invading because we all know we don’t want to break the law!) and I will most likely work on a ham radio specific companion book at a later date.

Fair Winds!

Rick

Continuing Studies

Something I’ve learned over the years is that I learn better when someone shows me how to do something.  As a teacher I discovered that students had all sorts of learning idiosyncrasies and most of them learned either by reading, listening or seeing demonstrations.  I endeavored to  do all three for students in my electronics courses.  Some simply refused to learn and just ‘wanted the answers’.

Those students who just wanted the answers were the kind who simply wanted to “be done” with college and really weren’t planning on doing anything with their lives after getting finished with their degrees.  One day during a class, after a test, we were going over the test answers after I’d graded the tests and recorded the results in my record keeping.  That particular week we were studying how semiconductors functioned, very specifically we were discussing diodes and P-N junctions.  A diode is an electronic device which passes current in only one direction and blocks current flow in the other direction.  They are used as rectifiers to convert alternating current into direct current.  The concept is actually one of the simplest things you learn in electronics next to resistance, and Ohm’s Law.

One student had asked me questions all week, and I had explained several times verbally how a diode works, showing circuits with current flow, an oscilloscope (which shows the sine waves and the subsequently converted wave forms of half-wave rectification).  Just before the test, this student asked for a review of specific points.  We reviewed with the whole class.  The student expressed confidence that “I’ve got this” and I passed out the test material – basic 30 question tests with 25 multiple “guess” questions and five “essay questions” – asking students to, in their own words, explain some basic concept they had learned this week.

I generally studied my own materials while awaiting students to finish but something told me to look for the “visual feedback” you get from student’s faces and actions.

The confidence of the previously mentioned student began to falter; I could see him struggling with the test so I quietly began walking the room as I often did to get a glance over their shoulders to make sure no one was cheating (something that was very rare in my classrooms I discovered, but did occasionally occur).  The confusion of this student was apparent when he hit the question we had discussed just before the test.  I had actually covered almost every thing on the test before passing it out and I was shocked that as I scanned quickly and walk on that this person was completely lost.

What was *I* doing wrong, I asked myself.  How could I have explained this over and over in the space of a week and given these students essential information needed to understand the material AND pass the test and yet this student was going to fail this test.

Now, the quarter before this one, I had a similar problem with another student who has passed but was barely keeping his grades up in each of his courses.  Was there something happening here I wasn’t getting?

After grading his test – he passed by one question – we begin going over the test.

At that point I realized that the majority of the students in the classroom has gotten 100% on their tests.  To me, that was a measure of 1) How well I presented the lesson and 2) how well the students grasped the concepts.  All but a couple of people, and one in particular were doing very well.  Instead of chalking this up to “poor learning” or “poor teaching” I thought I’d turn this around on the students.

I asked, “Ok, some of you had issues with this concept (which I explained quickly) and I’d like to get an idea where you’re not understanding this.  Would anyone like to share with the class and me what sort of problem this is causing?”

It was enough to get the student in question to say, “Well, I don’t know the answer.”

“What do you mean, ‘I don’t know the answer’?” I queried.

“Well, it’s like this….” and this student regurgitated the exact process of how a diode works, not only from the beginning of the chemistry portion (where you dope different sections of silicone with boron or arsenic to make P or N junctions – but explained electron movement and hole-theory to the class in precise and professional terms).  I was shocked.  He could explain exactly what it was he’d learned.  I applauded him on his knowledge… then he said, “I just don’t know THE ANSWER!”

I prompted once again for an explanation of the “answer”….

So he said, “Ok, its like this.  If I am working in a radio shop for instance and someone gives me a radio to work on, if a diode goes OUT in the radio… what is the answer?  What symptoms does that diode show me that tells me it’s broken?”

The light came on for me.

What the student wanted wasn’t all the theory behind how electronic components functioned; he wanted a set of RULES that told him how to easily fix or repair something.

A communications gap the size of Texas was what we were having.

Today – twenty plus years later I can see this attitude in everyone around me.  No one wants to study a subject and understand it inside and out, they want a pat answers to a series of questions that allow them to move on to something else!  Email messages that contain more than three lines are rarely read.  Even this article will have 2 readers out of 100 who read the entirety of the article because, frankly, it’s “too long” for the limited attention span of most people.

Over the past five years of preparing for our voyage my wife and I have read a multitude of books.  I read, almost exclusively, technical texts containing scientific discussions of how to anchor and keep a vessel safe to operations of diesel engines, to repairs of water makers – among other things.  These books contain math, charts, explanations that put my verbosity to shame.  But I have come to the conclusion that there are those who will never venture offshore because they won’t read anything; worse they WILL venture offshore – without reading anything.

In my estimation today’s electronic communications technology–which has essentially made radio almost obsolete, has taken the fun out of learning, it has forced people who are in the midst of information overload in their everyday lives to skip over anything they deem “extraneous”.  I’ve found that this sometimes even affects me and I tend to ignore long emails, or skip reading attachments when I should probably at LEAST glance at them.

As a skipper of a vessel one must be aware of all that is going on, stand above panic and think through every detail of what one must do to make things work, keep the ship going and to keep the vessel and crew alive.  Fortunately, it’s not flying planes or space ships.  You’re not traveling at high speeds or falling from space (or high in the sky) if things fail on a boat.  However, shorelines get in the way, and winds and blow you into the weather shore, lines break, sails tear, engines get dirty fuel, anchors can get jammed in coral or rock, anchors can drag and winds can blow when you’re not expecting them because you ignored this morning’s weather report; or over slept and didn’t listen to it.

There are NO “pat answers” in anything in life.  There are jobs all over the country that require thinking processes and regardless of how mindless a job becomes (I picture someone installing lug nuts over and over and over and over in a car factory, but even there robots have taken over…) there is some thinking required.

You can make a list of answers for your students so when they are troubleshooting a robot, computer or a space station they can simply check off and when they have one left over that’s “the answer”

I suspect my former student never made it “to the big time” with his degree.  He grabbed some job somewhere that required little thinking on his part.

All to often today in conversations I have with random people I see his “lack of thinking processes”.  They can regurgitate what they hear on television, from a show, or their favorite movie, and can even repeat things they learned in high school or college courses.  But they can’t take two or more related (or even unrelated) concepts and combine those in a logical and reasonable fashion to come up with answers to their questions.

Is there an answer for this problem?  I’m sure there’s a list someplace that can help us “fix” the problem, right?