Sunday, October 30, 2011

Uncle Sam Loves Me!

   I know that it's true!

   How do I know, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It's a matter of deductive reasoning: If Uncle Sam didn't love me, why would he make me wear my seat belt? Why would he insist that I not talk on my cell phone while I drive? Why does he make me wear my helmet when I ride my motorcycle? He loves me, that's why!

   It's not just me... he loves us all! He must!

   He insists that we all get inoculated against diseases while we are young. He makes us strap our children into automotive child seats whenever we drive. He makes car makers install air bags in all new cars.  Everyone wears helmets when they ride bicycles and horses these days. All this so we can live longer and safer lives. He wants us live long enough to pay lotsa taxes!

   But at what cost?

   We lose some of our freedoms. We lose the freedom to make our own choices regardless of the consequences.

   We lose the freedom of choice.

   If I choose to ride my bike without my helmet, I should have the freedom to do so without interruption from the police.

   When I was a kid, we would ride in the back seat of our pre-1968 Detroit land boat without the benefit of seat belts. I would often lie on the rear window deck (ask your grandpa) as we went down the road, oblivious to the fact that if my Dad hit the brakes, I would have flown at least as far as the windshield. There were no padded dashboards back then - solid steel, baby!

   I have NEVER worn a helmet while riding a bicycle. Until I was in my 20s, I had NEVER seen anyone wear a helmet while riding a horse.

   Kids were not required to ride in child seats - they were for sissy kids! Real kids rode like a pack of monkeys in a box going down the road at 70 MPH!

   Yee Haw!

   Did people die in car wrecks back then? You bet they did! Lots of em'!

   Back before we had safety rules and regulations to "Protect" us, many, many more folks were killed doing things that we now take for granted. What's wrong with that?  These days I see a lot of people that should not reproduce.  You know the ones I mean. I'm sure you've seen them wandering the aisles at WalMart in the late/early hours of the day like poorly dressed zombies in a REALLY bad horror movie.

   Back in the day, these folks would have died off at an early age due in a big part to stupidity. Yeah, I said it!  As Ron White says: "You can't fix stupid!"

   It's the same reason that wolves pick off the weak and sickest of the herds:

   Only the smartest and healthiest should survive. That's what makes a people, a society strong.

   The Geezer knows that the herd needs thinning. We have way too many folks out there that, but for Uncle Sam's intervention would have kicked the bucket a long time ago.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy Wall Street?

   We are currently seeing people from all over the world protesting against "Big Business" in the "Occupy Wall Street" craze.

   I have to ask: What really are you protesting against? What are you so angry about? Are you angry because "Big Business" (I'll just call it 'BB' for now on to save my fingers from cramps) is making more money than you? Are you angry that BB CEOs are being paid exorbitant salaries and you're not? Are you angry because BB seems to have stuff that you do not?

   If so, you should go to this link and watch the short opinion/editorial video called "Three and a Half Days".

   Here's the link: http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpid=56&load=6158

   The video clip is 5 minutes and 27 seconds long. This is such a short time to invest in order to get right down to the actual roots of this protest movement. It is, in effect, saying that these protesters are "Cutting off their collective noses to spite their face(s)" as the saying goes.

   This goes to illustrate that we have come to the point in our society - In the USA and worldwide - where we feel "Entitled" to receive the perceived necessities of life. We have become such an urbanized society of consumers that we have forgotten where our bread, milk and meat come from. We despise the oil companies but love our plastics and gasoline. We are a society of hypocrites.

   If anything, we should be grateful to BB for doing for us those things that we can no longer, or are unwilling to do for ourselves.

   We can do away with big business if we want. We just have to stop the consumption of everything BB produces and sells to us. We should go back to being an agrarian society or become hunter-gatherer nomads who only consume what we grow, find or kill. We need to go out and make our own 4-G iPhones and Hybrid automobiles from rocks and sticks!  That'll show them greedy buggers! That'll teach them capitalist fools that they can't push us around! Yeah, right! Just how much does being a protester pay, anyway?

  

   As The Geezer, I have to say that I'm happy to have Big Business around. I'm getting too old to run down and kill a bunny rabbit!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Knives... I Love Knives!

   I have always had a fascination with knives. I'm sure I got it from my Father. He always told me that a knife was like an individual. Each one was different and each had it's own 'personality'. He told me that before using a knife in the woods or just to whittle a bit, I should get to know it. I should learn what it's likes and dislikes were. By that, he meant learn what the knife will do easily and what it won't do. It sounds kinda Zen it it's totality but it's true.

   I owned a knife that was spectacular at cutting my flesh and the flesh of others who handled it. It seemed to have a taste for blood. I seldom picked it up when it didn't bite me. I traded that one off to some unsuspecting individual. Heh heh heh!

   I have blades that I use in the woods when I go camping. These are old friends that have never let me down. Like an old family dog, they just beg to be taken out to play and be used. Used to make tent stakes, a pot hanger or splitting some sticks to make a fire. I use them to cut food for the pot and I sometimes even use them to spear a piece of roasted meat straight from the fire and pop it into my mouth! Shown at the top are a BK&T Campanion and a custom skinner from Big Rock Forge.


   I have had knives that were good for nothing other than cutting string and opening packages. Good utility knives are easy to find.

   I have knives that I have purchased and have never used. Seems like a waste of money, but it pleases me. I sit and sharpen the edge of each one. I oil the blades, look at them, buff them up a bit then put them away for the next time.
  
   I have a couple of custom made knives that I specified the design and materials with the makers. One I use frequently and the other is a Drawer Queen... one of those that I just polish and oil and sharpen occasionally (not that it needs it - it's like a razor!) The one shown is from Big Rock Forge and it's a user!
http://www.bigrockforge.com/

  I have folding knives - some inexpensive and some rather pricey. I almost always have a knife of some sort in my pocket when I am out of the house. Like the Chris Reeve Small Sebenza shown to the right. It's one of those things that it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Kinda like a life jacket on a boat, or seat belts in a car. http://www.chrisreeve.com/

   Knives are probably one of Man's oldest tools. As much as the knife has changed over the millenia it still remains basically the same - a sharp piece of material with a way to safely hold it in your hand. The earliest knives were merely pieces or shards of fractured rock. Then man figured out that if he started to knap or chip away at a piece of flint or obsidian, he could get the material sharper than a razor and in a shape that was more useful. The stone blade shown here is one that my Father found as a young man. (The yellow marker is included for size comparison.)

   From this basic concept men have redesigned and reconfigured the knife into more designs, styles and blade lengths than you can shake a stick at. The materials range from rock to the most advanced steels and ceramics. It's mind-boggling to think of the advancements that have been made in the cutlery industry just to improve on the rock knife.

   Being The Geezer, I have seen, held and used a lot of knives. I still see and covet many of the new and a few of the older designs. When I go camping, though... I take my old friends.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bushcraft or Woodsmanship, It's All Good

           

   When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my Dad began to take me fishing with him. In all honesty, I would try to fish and my Dad spent most of his time teaching me how to fish, untangling my line, baiting my hook, untangling the line again and all the time he was patient and never once tried to strangle me!

   As I grew older our trips would become overnight camping-fishing trips. We would likely go to Tony Grove Lake in the mountains north of Logan, Utah. Back then the only way to get to the lake was by way of a single track very rough dirt road. The lake shore was totally primitive camping with only the occasional stone fire ring left by previous campers. Many times we would get there and see a wood pile that we had left from our previous trip. Not a lot of folks went there way back when.

   The last time I was there the State of Utah had built a 2-lane paved road all the way to the lake. The campsites were all US Forest Service standard with picnic tables, fire grills, piped in water and restrooms. You have to pay to camp there now. It's sad. Sometimes improvement is no real improvement if you know what I mean.

   During these campouts, Dad would teach me to build a fire using different methods, to purify water, to track animals, to build a shelter, how to find food by foraging and trapping small game. Basically he gave me the skills to survive in the out-of-doors.

   By the time I was 10 or 11 years old I was able to go into the woods, camp out and provide enough for myself and not have it be too much of a hardship. He would tell me that if I found myself lost or stuck in the woods for whatever reason that I shouldn't panic; it (a survival situation) was just an unplanned camping trip. Having that mindset made it easier for me to adapt to the unexpected.

   Fast forward to my adult life. Since I was a boy I have enjoyed being out in the wilderness (In the Western USA we have a LOT of wilderness). I have enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping. When I was released from the military at the end of my enlistment I took time off to do a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail from Donner Summit to Bishop, California. I took minimal gear and just enough food to supplement what I could forage along the way. I didn't go hungry.

   The next year, 1972, I hiked solo for 3 weeks through what is now the "River of No Return Wilderness Area" in Southern Idaho. During that time I saw two other people in that area but I kept to myself. Those were some of the best days afield I have ever spent.

   I practiced what my Dad called "Woodsmanship". Today it is called "Bushcraft" by modern practitioners. It involves basic and sometimes advanced skills similar to what I was taught as a youngster. Fire building, shelters, water and food procurement. Protection from the elements and overland travel. Some folks would call these "Survival Skills" and they are, but they are more refined and advanced. I say that because survival skills are designed for the short-term survival, whereas bushcraft or woodsmanship skills are honed to the point that they enable the practitioner to make themselves comfortable for a long-term stay in the wilderness.

   Back when I was learning, literally at my father's knee, there were no classes to take and there was no lesson plan to follow; just a patient father teaching his son how to do those things he had learned as a child and had used during his life. Thank's, Dad!

   I currently frequent an online forum called Bushcraft USA (http://www.bushcraftusa.com/) where bushcraft topics are discussed and taught. Lots of good folks there. Many of the members there have not had the experiences or learned the lessons that I was given as a youngster. They frequent this forum to learn these things because they feel that this is something that is good to know. It is a forum where you can have your children read every page. The members are civil and the text is rated PG. I would urge you to take a look if this is something that interests you. (I post under the name 'PMSteve')

   These days I don't get out into the hills as much as I'd like to. Life happens. I still go on the occasional camping trip and intend to do some hunting soon. (I like to call coyotes and see how close I can get them to come before I shoot them).

As I get older I seem to have less time to do the things I enjoyed when I was a young man but the desire is still there to get into the wilderness. I still have the skills and knowledge to do the things I once did, I'm just not as limber. I no longer sleep on the ground in a shelter or a tent. I now use a camping hammock and it makes it easier to go into the wild, knowing that I won't wake up stiff and cold in the morning. ( www.warbonnetoutdoors.com/blackbirds.php )It's the little things that count...



   Being The Geezer isn't easy. My mind says one thing and my body tells me something different. Don't give up your youthful pleasures if you are still able to indulge them once in a while.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What's Wrong With These Kids Today?

I'll tell you!

   When I was a child and into my early teens, there was so much speculation that children's behaviour was being influenced by "Rock and Roll" music. It was from the Devil!... Little did we know! The music, lyrics, video games, etc. that we have today are so far more damaging to children's behaviour than was ever imagined back in the 50s and 60s.

   But that's not what I wanted to talk about here. What I intended to write about here is really, what is wrong with these kids?

   We have children who suffer from ADD, ADHD, Autism, Food Allergies and any number of other ailments that were never seen when I was a kid.  They may have been present but were classified as "High Strung" or "Inattentive" and were dealt with. There was no "No Child Left Behind" statute. Kids that couldn't cut it were sent to "Special Education" classes or dropped out of school when they got old enough. Someone had to work in car washes and at McDonalds, after all.

   These are all recognized today as legitimate diseases by the medical community. They are treated with drugs rather than taught how to behave in the company of others or given the necessary intensive teaching.

   Maybe I'm wrong here, but I'm a Geezer and I have my own ideas.

   It all stems from the introduction of Credit Cards. WHAT? You heard me. Credit Cards. This is my theory...

   Credit cards were introduced by Diner's Club International in the 1950s. Other organizations like American Express and the major banks followed suit. Soon afterward, the American Family that didn't have at least one credit card was considered "Old Fashioned" or flat out poor.

   So what does this have to do with the childhood diseases of the next millennium? Follow along:

   Credit Cards made it way too easy for a family to get into debt. I'm sure this is no secret to anyone today but in the late 50s and early 60s, family debt was something new. Generally the only major debt were for a house and a car. Now we see families $50,000 in debt for buying clothing and video game systems (on their credit cards). Back then The man of the house was the sole earner. The breadwinner. With the new CC debt, it made it necessary to have two jobs or for the wife and/or mother to go to work and become a two income family. Once a family becomes accustomed to the second income, it is all but impossible to give it up since with more money comes more debt.

   This gave rise to the day care facility and the boom in baby sitters. Someone had to watch the kids while Mom went to work. This caused more and more infants to be fed with "Formula" rather than being breast fed.

   Everyone knows (now) that the infant gets it's immune system fortified by mother's milk through breast feeding. No breast feeding - no immune system upgrades! A weak immune system equals greater instances of childhood disease and a vulnerability to whatever was "Going Around".

   Okay, you say. Some (?) kids do have a lower defense against disease so how does that translate to Autism, ADD, ADHD and so many others?

   As more people entered the job market, they needed transportation and this lead to the two car family. Many more cars on the road translates to more air pollution and more toxins in the air. Food was no longer fresh veggies and meat but pre-packaged mixes and canned goods. Think about the advent of the TV Dinner. They were developed at just about the same time and were beloved of mothers who didn't have time to cook for the family. This new packaged food contained additives to maintain color and was packed with preservatives. These were usually chemicals that had been hastily developed for the purpose. Combine this with a substandard immune system and you have a formula for what we see today. There are other factors that enter into this, I know, but I believe that this is the root cause.

   Parents who don't let their kids play and get dirty is another cause. Modern kids haven't been exposed to germs the way I was when I was a child. It's a way that we become acclimatized to our environment. When I was a child, I'd help in the barn cleaning cow manure from the floor, often using my hands, then go to the apple orchard, pick and eat a green apple then hand a half to my little sister. Never washing my hands in the process or rubbing up with a pocket-sized bottle of Purelle. Germs! Ahhh, lovely germs!

   Today we use antibacterial gel. Now you can get it a dispenser that you don't even have to touch! Air sanitizers, latex gloves for household use so you don't have to touch anything! Heaven forbid that you are one of those who have such a weak system that you're allergic to latex. Some folk's systems are so weak that they have to stay inside and breathe filtered air! We are literally third and fourth generation immune deficient! You can't even go into a hospital these days if you have a cough without wearing a surgical mask! In many countries it's common to see better than half of the population wearing masks on the street and elsewhere in public.

   We have become such a society of germophobes that we are killing ourselves and each other. No wonder the governments of the world have such a fear of biological weapons. Everyone these days are so susceptible to the stray germ that it wouldn't take much to wipe us all out. Films like "Contagion", "28 Days Later" and "The Satan Bug" are more prophetic than grisly entertainment.

   I long for the days when all we had to worry about was Rock and Roll music.

   Honestly, I'm a Geezer and not a Doctor, so what do I know?

   In any case, The Geezer thinks that the world would be a better place if parents would let their children go outside and play (and get dirty). Even a better place if there were no more credit cards! What do you think?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's Up With All the Vampires?

   When I was a child (around 12 years of age) I read Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Probably one of the creepiest novels that I had ever read. I'd seen the movie that was made in the 30s with Bela Lugosi but I'd never realized that it had come from a book. When I found out, I couldn't wait to read it.

   Then I found out that other classic horror movies were from books and I read them also. Books like "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "The Invisible Man" and "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. I loved (and still do love) scary movies! There's something fundamental about being frightened and startled. It's exhilarating!

   These days scary movies are more slasher movies than anything "Artful" like in the olden days, back before the turn of the century. Before I became The Geezer.

   Lately there has been such a plethora of vampire-themed films, TV programs and books that are anything but scary. They are marketed as horror-romance stories. What the heck is going on? What's up with that? Why women find the idea of some un-dead freak sucking their blood until they die sexy or romantic is beyond me. I'm from a different generation but I'll attempt to figure this all out. Just stick with me for a minute or two, okay?

   Some of the more recent vampire films that I've seen that I care to comment on are Ann Rice's "Diary of a Vampire" which I found kinda funny and a bit gritty in the way the "Vampire Life(?)" was portrayed. I liked the Dracula films  which starred Jack Pallance in one, and Frank Langella in the other. Both were fairly faithful to the original book. Another that I liked was "Shadow of the Vampire" with Willem DaFoe. Creepy, that!

   On TV we have the "Vampire Chronicles", "True Blood" and "Being Human". I just found another one! "My Babysitter's a Vampire". Really?... There are others, I'm sure but I just am not interested enough to search them out. Then there are the "Twilight" films which portray vampires differently than the classic bloodsucker. If you're going to have vampire stories, stick to the rules! Vampires don't "Glisten" in the sunlight, they burst into flames! Read Dracula!

   Most females from little girls to grown women (who should know better) swoon at the thought of being with the "Twilight" vamps. Yechh!

   It's my belief, and this is totally unsupported by anything but my own thoughts, that society today teaches young women that they have to be unique or special somehow in order to be someone of worth. To be loved and valued. They believe that if you can't be beautiful you have to be special. How can you be more special than to be a vampire? ....  Really? Vampires suck.

   Think about it. You never see a movie, TV program or magazine without beautiful girls and women on the covers, as the main character. TV commercials seldom show women and girls who are plain unless it's the "Before" picture in some kind of comparison. Makeover programs depend on this fact. No one would watch if they took a plain looking girl and made her over into... a plain girl. Everyone wants to be special.

   If any girls or young women read this, please understand - You Are Special! You Are Unique! You are someone worth knowing! You are someone who is worthy of someone else's love!

   Don't pin your hopes and dreams on a vampire coming to your rescue and sweeping you away to a life filled with romance. It won't happen. Vampires don't exist. Honest! They really don't!  (Zombies on the other hand....)

   I have been married to my wonderful wife for almost 35 years. If I can find love and happiness and have it last this long, looking the way I do... well, I'm positive that you certainly can!

   If you want to read some words of wisdom from a very talented lady check out Le Petite Crone's Musings (Le Petite Crone means The Little Old Lady). You'll see her link on the right hand side of this screen in My Blog List. I've known her all her life. Actually, I once dropped her on her head when she was a baby. It explains a lot. She's my little Sister.

   Take it from The Geezer: If you want to be unique and special, girls and boys, develop your own skills. Stay in school. Get a good education. Take up a career doing something to improve your life and the lives of those around you. Do that and I guarantee, you'll be remembered. What could be more special than THAT?