Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

Rising Fuel Prices... Who is behind it?

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Yes, I asked who and not what...

What we are seeing here, in my opinion, is nothing but a repeat of the Oil Crisis in the 1970's, the one that never was, only with different means.

This is another way for the governments continue the anti-car agenda?

While I cannot prove this, obviously, for even the powers that be do not leave a trail of evidence in this matter, it has, however, all the hallmarks of yet, like the Oil Crisis of the 1970's, another attempt of people control.

The “Oil Crisis” in the 1970's, the one that was about as real as Alice in Wonderland, happened just a very short time, something like a week or so, after the great speech by Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State of the USA, in which he stated, and I paraphrase “if you want to control nations you have to (be able to) control fuel, and if you want to (be able to) control people you have to control food (and water)”.

If you want to be able to control, however, where people live and work you have to control fuel and have to get them off their personal means of transport, namely the motorcar.

Enter the global warming myth.

The fact is that the powers that be have been trying to get us out of cars – and I am saying this while I am not even a car owner and/or driver but a cyclist. First they try to scare us with “global warming” being the result, so they claim, and they use all manner of science and scientists to back this up, of car emissions primarily and, as this does not seem to work we now – surprise – have oil prices going through the roof.

High prices may just be one way that might stop people using their cars (as much) and where the global warming threat has not worked the bite in the pocketbook will more likely work.

In addition the fuel costs are driving up the other household costs, be this energy or food and this has a knock-on effect on how much people can spend on fuel.

I know that I am a cynic when it comes to this getting people out of cars agenda of the governments, not only that of the UK. This seems to be leading all the way back to whoever really runs the (Western) world.

Personally, I do think that we do use cars far too much and far too unnecessarily for does one really have to jump into the car to go to the newsagents for a paper – then again do you really have to buy a paper still? - or to the shops, which are less that five or ten minutes walk away? I do not think so.

Does little Johnny or little Jenny, whose school is only a few minutes walk away from their homes, have to be driven to school by Mom (or Dad) and that, more often than not, in a gas-guzzling SUV? Certainly not and it is also no wonder that little Johnny and little Jenny look like little beaches whales. Thinking of that: I have to apologize as that is an insult – to whales.

There are so many other example of unnecessary car use that could be given, where walking, cycling or the use of mass transit of one way or the other would be the answer and often also much cheaper (though with the costs of British rail fares this is not so in many cases).

However, while I am all for getting out of the car (more) I am against forcing people out of their cars by such covert backhanded operations, such as fuel price hikes or supposed oil shortages as the earlier cited “Oil Crisis” in the 1970's or the claim that the climate change that our Planet is experiencing is the result of car emissions.

What this appears to me is nothing but yet another blatant attempt of people control. An attempt to see what it will take for people to “abandon” the use of their cars. It is obvious that the threat of global warming, now rephrased to “climate change”, a much more correct term than “global warming”, as the actual warming of the Earth has stopped and even the head of the IPCC has to admit that this is so and that the temperature has not risen since about the year 2000 and is on a plateau currently without any signs of rising, not even fractionally, has not – at least not as yet – worked people away from their car use.

As, as it would appear there is a timetable to the “getting people out of their personal cars” agenda, the time seems to be getting close and a new set of guns had to be rolled out; enter “oil shortage” and “fuel price hike”.

Now let's see what is next?

I shall keep watching and analyzing and reporting.

© M Smith (Veshengro), May 2008

In Praise of the Versatile Bandana

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A bandana is a very useful piece of equipment. Ideally, if possible, you should always carry one on you, better still two.

The simple bandana has several uses for the camper, hiker, hunter, or anyone who spends time in the outdoors. A bandana cost very little and are worth their weight in gold, not that they are very heavy either.

The bandana is a classic. Yet not an establishment classic. It’s an outside classic. A rebel classic. It works for Hell’s Angels, Outward Bound instructors, rock guitarists and earthy hipsters.

Always carry at least one on you or maybe even two. They weigh next to nothing and when folded up take up little room in your pack or in your hip pocket. In the summer months a wet bandana around my neck while hiking, fishing or hunting will help to keep you cool and it can also help to keep biting insects off your neck.

Simply fold two corners of the bandana over to form a triangle and then fold or roll the entire into a long piece about 2-inches wide. Then dip the bandana into any water source, creek, river, lake, or such, or even, if you can afford the water, use water from your canteen. Wrap it around your neck and tie it in place or use a neckerchief slide to hold it in place. A cool wet bandana used in this manner is a real comfort on a hot day or when in an area where there are lots of mosquitoes and other biting insects. The bandana can also be dampened and tied around the forehead to help keep you cool on a hot humid day.

The bandana can also be tied on top of the head to keep the sun’s rays from baking one's brains. It is then simply worn in the fashion of the pirates head cover, the latter which was nothing else but a bandana or large kerchief.

In addition to that all the bandana also has emergency “first aid” uses too. It can be used as a compress to apply pressure to a cut or wound to help stop bleeding or in the case of a cut artery or amputation it can be tied and used as a tourniquet. The latter though is not longer recommended in First Aid training and may not be carried out by trained and qualified First Aiders. No tourniquets are permitted for use nowadays. But, in the field and when need then a torniquet still is the best and easiest way to stop a bleeding. Either you, if you are the injured person, or your “patient” dies or he may lose a bit of a limb, in the most severe cases. Which is the better, one must judge.
It can also be used as a cold compress on the head in case of fever and if ice is available it can be made into a makeshift icepack in seconds simply by putting ice in the center of the bandana then pulling the four corners up together and tying them.

The bandana can also be used as a bandage or it can be used as an arm sling for an injured limb but in this case two bandanas tied together works better. Bandanas can also be used whole or torn into strips to make ties for splinting a broken limb in an emergency situation. It can also be tied around the head and used as an eye patch. It can also be tied over the nose and mouth in a triangular fashion and serve as a dust mask.

While out camping the bandana also has its uses around camp as a potholder for lifting hot pots and pans while cooking over an open fire. For that purpose fold the bandana into a thick square piece of cloth for this purpose to supply more insulation between hand and the hot handles of the pots and pans. After one has eaten, the same bandana that was used as a potholder could be be used as a washcloth to wash the dishes! A spare bandana could be used to dry the dishes too. Though it would be advisable to keep two bandanas in one's pack for “dishes only” purpose as that is much cleaner and healthier that way.

It can be called upon to be a handkerchief, a napkin, a hat, a headband, a hair tie, a pants tie, a dog leash, an SOS flag – or as an actual bandana.

Carry a bandana everywhere. You’ll never need to harm trees by using paper napkins. Great for bad hair days. You can also use it to disguise yourself or to protect your hands when sliding across a quickly rigged zip line. (All action heroes should carry a bandana.) let’s see, we’ve covered the use of the bandana to “beat the heat” and we’ve covered its use fore emergency “first aid”, so, I guess we have covered about all uses in a short piece here.

I am sure that there are a multitude of other uses for the bandana that we have not covered here, so, therefore, any reader out there wants to add to that please feel free to do so via the comments.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), May 2008

Bluetooth: A Danger to Privacy

Bluetooth leaves you open to intercept by anyone

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If you are concerned about your civil liberties and privacy then it may come as a shock to you to discover that you may have, unwittingly, been allowing your phone to signal your every move to the great wide world, including your communications.

Bluetooth, which is, as most will know, a wireless link built into many mobile telephones, makes our movements trackable by anyone equipped with a PC and an appropriate receiver. And this means ANYONE, not just the security services and the police, if that would not already be bad enough. Anyone, as the word says, can listen in and track where you are if they have the right equipment.

Vassilis Kostakos at the University of Bath in the UK placed four Bluetooth receivers in the city's centre. Over four months, his team tracked 10,000 Bluetooth phones and was able to "capture and analyse people's encounters" in pubs, streets and shops.

Bluetooth is now more of a privacy threat than the more frequently publicised RFID chips, Kostakos says. "If people are worried, they should turn off the Bluetooth function on their mobile phones."

Not everything, as we can, yet again see, that is supposedly good for us, is so.

“Oh, but without my 'Bluetooth' I cannot make phone calls on the move”, I hear some complain. “Can we not just make those things safer?”

Well, we probably could and could add encryption, if you, the consumer, is willing to pay the high costs then.

What is wrong with safely stopping your car, motorbike or your bicycle, to take or make that call? Also, no call is that important that it cannot wait until you get to a safe location where to return the call or make a call.

If you are concerned about your privacy, as said, turn the Bluetooth function off. While it may be something that can and does make life easier it also, yet again, is something that can be used to invade our privacy and to spy on us.

© M Smith (Veshengro), May 2008

Downsizing from Tractors to Camels

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The world is finally, even in the developing world, waking up; in Rajastan, India, at least.

There farmers are giving up on their gas- and diesel-guzzling tractors and are returning to using their trusty camels for haulage again, as they have done in times not so long ago.

Due to rising fuel prices farmers are rediscovering the "ships of the desert", and this is good too. Why they ever gave up the use of the camel for haulage is a question that can only be answered by them, but I would assume that they encountered the kind of salesman that can sell refrigerators and freezers to the Eskimos.

The price of a good camel has gone up sharply as a result: two years ago camels, good camels, were almost the same price as goats, now they are three times the price.

A good male camel will live for 60 to 80 years and costs about £500.00 while the cheapest tractor is £2,500.

This is good news according to the League for Pastoral Peoples and Endogenous Livestock Development because the camel population has been falling over the past ten years and this could lead to a revival of this age-old usage. So, let's hear it for the camel!

Camels have a long and regal history in India. They were, traditionally, used by Maharajahs and had great status and so did their breeders. Now decreasing amounts of grazing land and lack of investment in the existing lands have resulted in inadequate nutrition and lowered the resilience of the herds. Camel slaughter is forbidden in India but in fact sources believe that it is rampant, with the meat exported to Bangladesh. Not only is the use of camels being promoted but also its by-products such as camel milk, camel leather handbags and camel bone jewellery.

Well, this is in Rajastan, India. What about the Arab countries for camels and some of our countries, such as the USA, the UK, and countries in the EU for horses, mules and donkeys, once again?

The Amish in the USA still use the horse and many of their farms and businesses are, in their way, far more productive than many of the modern ones. In the UK in a number of areas the horse is making a comeback as a foresters timber moving animal and its use is beginning to spread. While a horse, alas, does not live as long as a camel, it nevertheless, I am sure, beats a tractor in acquisition and running costs.

Fair enough, you do not have the power of a tractor, but then you neither have the noise, the cost of fuel and maintenance – not that a horse may not need the vet or the farrier at times and neither of them are cheap – and neither the other associated problems you have with running a motor vehicle.

In Egypt and some other countries thereabouts the donkey is still in use as a means of haulage and in some of the new EU member states so is the horse, and not just by the Romani People in those countries. In Poland in the rural districts the horse and wagon are still a normal sight and they can even, at certain days, be found in the larger towns.

This might be something that we all should look at again. We also must not forget the ox and the bullock and others...

© M Smith (Veshengro), May 2008

Champagne Cork Peg Board (Practical Recycling)

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

In my opinion, but then most of your regular readers will know that already, practical recycling, that is to say, turning items of “trash”, whether discarded by yourself or by others, into usable goods, must come well before the commercial recycling.

Then again this kind of recycling also can make for the creation of, hopefully, saleable items, thereby becoming commercial, but not in the way of the commercial grand scale recycling of the reclaiming secondary raw materials is.

Champagne Cork Peg Board (Coat Rack).

This is a project that happened to result out of the fact that I once worked in a catering establishment where such corks were in abundance and they ended up thrown away after events and functions and, thinking that there might be a use for them though which I did not know at the particular time, I took a number of them with me to see what might come to mind some day.

One day then, without much thinking about it, a peg board come coat rack came to mind as I wanted to make one for some reason and I remembered the champagne corks. Having a board to hand it took but a few minutes, literally, to have a working peg board/coat rack to go onto the wall.

  • A number of champagne corks (real cork or pressed cork)
  • Equal number of long wood screws (normal slot is better than Phillips)
  • A nice wooden plank as a back board (this could be salvaged skirting, floorboard or from a pallet)
First of prepare the back board. This may mean, if need and you wish to do so, sanding and oiling (using vegetable oil), after having drilled the two holes that will be used as to wherewith to affix the board to the wall by means of screws. The rest, then, is a simple as ABC. Screw screw into cork slowly and precise into the previously marked peg locations and once they have all been screwed in – voila – one peg board or coat rack.

Apart from the screws (unless they be salvaged too – and this is possible) there should be no financial layout for this project. However, properly promoted, this could be something that a livelihood project could make.

Idea & Design © Michael Smith (Veshengro), 2001-2008