Posted by: jamesotis | April 21, 2009

Get Stones, Not Stoned

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I’m more than a little aboriginal. I’ll pick a salad instead of visiting the corner restaurant. I’m more likely to get a shovel than cash if asked to get some fish bait. I take an ambivalent attitide to clothes and have strange tastes in food.

So every monday night for several weeks I’ve been attending a money management class in Thornton. Daily homework typicaly is completed an hour or so prior to class @ the local greasy napkin. (They don’t provide spoons anymore and sporks don’t count IMO.) Last night I decided to do some exploring instead and ended up at the local library. I left for class with more books than I could carry (stuffed in my motorcycle jacket) and a grin on my face. Here are the treasures I carried away:

  • Survive! by Les Stroud (my current icon and provocative muse)
  • Animal Skulls by Mark Elbroch (not as good an anitomical hunting reference as I’d hoped)
  • 2 EMT National Registry test prep books
  • Get Firefighter Fit! by Kevin Malley and David Spirer (Also not as good as it looked)
  • A book on Voluntourism, or how to benefit the world while seeing it. Very good, ISBN 978-1-74179-020-7 for anyone who cares
  • Mirroring People by Marco Iacoboni (The science behind “being on the same wavelength”)
  • Fight like a girl and win: Defense decision for women (I’m a huge fan of winning the mind-fight first, then going physical only as needed. I also like to take advantage of good teaching regardless of the source or intended autience. After all, males are almost at a disadvantage for good training. The days of the Old Boy’s Network are fading away…. ‘Nough Ramblin’)

I also left behind some excelent Arabic language resources. I simply didn’t have enough room and Spanish takes geographic and etymological precedence.

So based on the above profile one might think I’m planning to volunteer as an emergency medical worker in the middle east while living off the land. Not that it didn’t cross my mind, obviously, but I’m trying to stay with some semblance of a normal life and live somewhere where I can be open about my sexual identity.

And what you ask does this remotely have to do with my title and first paragraph? OK, it was just the Les Stroud book. I spent over an hour this morning throwing a ball for PuppY while poking around for throwing and sling stones, chasing bugs and making stone scrapers, knives and arrow points in my landlord’s xeriscape border. Or as it might be termed, disociating my lengthy premoving to-do list.

Some of Mr. Stroud’s notes set me to thinking (while pounding one rock on another) that as much as stone tools get attention in survival manuals they aren’t very practical. Here I was sending stone chips flying without eye protection. My thumbs and fingers have been smashed during similar moments and when one’s life is litterally in one’s hands that could really screw the pooch. Furthermore the average multi-shot stone arrowhead, sharpenable and therefore reuseable stone knife/axe etc requires days of time and energy intensive labor and years of practice and education. Not to mention the right stone and tools. Anyone can make several one chip wonders that will kill a rabbit or coyote, but then there’s the matter of the spear/dart/arrow to carry it and possibly a bow. Me, I’d rather make a throwing stick or pick a good handful of throwing stones. If I need more power a sling is very easy and adaptable to whatever’s on hand (I’ve successfully used my bandana to hunt). Even if I need a spear or arrow or atlatl (dart thrower board) dart, grinding/cutting and/or fire hardening are more than enough to make a hard, sharp point. Maybe not enough to take that elk or deer, but I probably don’t need one anyway unless this is my new home. Besides, the aforementioned big beasties can be lethal unless you’re a very good shot and wait for them to join the proverbial ex-parrots.

Here are some of my own tried-by-fire tidbits for anyone who cares and is still reading:

  1. If you carry a modern flint/steel combo go for the keychain variety. I’ve never been able to shave enough magnesium off those blocks when I’m cold. Powdered mag maybe? Also, the striker on mag blocks isn’t as efficient as the good old Boy Scout keychain flint. But beware: the BSA steel striker is pretty weak. A stamped steel military tin can opener gives nearly 4 times the spark because of that sharp cusp on it’s edge. Get the p-52 model vs the p-38. The -52 is larger and easier to grasp, and it has a little hole for the keychain. If you want something even better go for the BlastMatch. It’s onehanded and puts out more heat and spark volume.
  2. Cut open pop/beer cans (they’re everywhere, I swear) to make cups, pans, fire reflectors and reflector ovens. Yes, I’ve done it. Just be careful of the sharp edge. Oh yes, and if folded/rolled into a cone and flattened aluminum makes a wicked spear point.
  3. Re-roll duct tape onto the barrel of a bic pen. This saves weight and space and hey, it’s duct tape. Other good candidates include Gorilla Tape, the Fabled Air Force Engine Tape, athletic tape and masking tape. Why, am I planning to do some cave painting and don’t want to mess up the rug? No, but masking tape is great for bandages and firestarting. Something about dry paper with flamable glue.
  4. My dad swears by catching two bumble bees in a jar, weighing it almost to neutral buoyancy and using the ensuing fight as a fish lure. Just cast near the floating jar once some fish crowd around.
  5. Pet food is edible. And it won’t evaporate out of your kit nearly as fast as Jack Links and fruit rollups.
  6. Y’know that old unusable mower gas from last season? Put some in a liquor shooter bottle with a little pure denatured alchohol and kerosene or diesel. The alcohol absorbs any extra water and acts as antifreze. The diesel and kerosene are just there for kicks and they also work as antifreeze. Just be sure to use a plastic bottle that seals well, won’t break and please relabel it clearly. I find that red duct tape with a skull and flames does the trick.
  7. If you’re just tying and don’t need to support weight or untie the knots remove the stuffing from paracord. The flattened result holds much better and I find it easier to work with.

All things considered though it was nice to come inside to my books, a computer and refrigerator. Not to mention a hot shower and electricity. Play fun, fair is optional but nice and try to stay focused.

Sorry but links will have to wait until I have a longer attention span and less to accomplish.

Love, J-ABO

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