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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

offgrid day 1 of 2


OFFGRID DAY

Five years ago I wrote a series of articles on how I lived off grid, started at waking up in the morning and ending in the evening.  In this way I covered all the little nagging questions how one lives without running water or light switches or what not.  Now, at the time I was still living upstairs in the travel trailer.  The B-POD was dug but not built, and I was still living on the then very expensive fifty watts of solar panels I had saved up for-on sale no less-which included one I had been gifted ( he had an off grid vacation home and the panel was draining his battery every night as he either never had a controller or it broke, or he just never used power.  I asked him if he replaced the controller but he just didn’t seem interested in the issue, so I took the panel off his hands in good consciousness.  A really old Japanese unit, still going strong ).  This was also prior to more research on solar refrigerators or composters, so I was living pretty darn frugally and primitively.  LED’s have also advanced in power quite a bit since then.

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$300 for 45 watts of panels, and one of the three panels crapped out on me in the first year or so, leaving thirty watts ( the other two are still going strong seven years later.  They were the type you still see at Harbor Freight, the heavy glass covered ones ).  Now you can get lightweight monocyrstaline panels, which work better under low light conditions, for $1 a watt.  I said it then, and multiple times since then, get your panels now as you never know when the prices go back up from importation issues ( like your Commie rifles and ammo ).  I have 380 watts in reserve, still in boxes.  For what, I’m not sure, but I know I’ll use them for something.  If panels start increasing in price I’ll buy even more.  Since the panels should last a minimum of thirty years, way past my lifespan, I could always run microwaves directly off panels after all 12v batteries have failed ( if I got more, obviously ).  Anyway, just let that be words to the wise.  Sure, you get more power per dollar out of windmills, but they also have moving parts to break.  Solar is your only real power after the collapse ( which could also lay flat to collect power as they hide from recon ). 

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Okay, we begin with the alarm clock which is battery powered.  A  “AA” battery keeps a digital travel alarm clock running for months.  Using the alarm five days a week I’d change it once a month prior to it running down.  You can still get batteries from Amazon for twenty-five cents each for disposables.  Don’t buy at Dollar Tree or Family Dollar as while they used to be decent now they are pretty much crap.  You can of course go strictly with rechargeable but some batteries such as my bicycle flashers last the whole winter on one set of batteries and I prefer to not change them while it is freezing out ( hands numb and plastic brittle ), plus a rechargeable battery drains daily while not in use.  Both kinds are a bit of a toss-up on preference.  Once up, I quickly jump into my clothes I’ve set out the night before, stacked in order of which I put them on.  It is friggin cold in the trailer, and even most times in The Pit.  I never run the heat at night, having plenty of wool blankets and a comforter ( I’ll cover that last, in the evening section ).  Since it is usually cold I don’t shower or shave in the morning but in the afternoon.  Don’t worry, the cold will wake you up.

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Once up and quickly covered in your daily wear cotton clothes with a covering of wool, you are just as warm as when under the covers.  A quick splash of water to your face, and a dash of mouthwash then brushing your teeth and you are ready to head to work ( there is no running water, just gravity hand held jugs.  I keep a twenty ounce soda bottle by the bathroom sink, with a hole in the cap.  Squeeze to wet the brush, washcloth, rinse the sink.  Once you see how water is hauled, you’ll understand the minimized use ).  After warming up the bicycle on cold mornings, it’s off you go to work, LED flashers merrily winking.  Out in the country, I never had the need for a bike headlamp to see.  The stars were enough.  I did have the lamp for safety so vehicles could see me far off, but I just used that as needed on the stretches I had to share the narrow road.  When I first moved out there was zero traffic.  Once all the asshat neighbors started crowding me in the road got dangerous and I slowly added more flashers, brighter flashers, a headlamp LED and a safety reflector vest ( the vest was right after I almost got run over, probably the silly bitch was on her cell phone ).  Overnight, the city going from 16k population to 20k, the roads went from deserted except half hour rushes morning and afternoon to 24/7 idiot drivers.  Oh how I shall glory in their economic demise.

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Once at work I used their power to cook my breakfast ( the nuke bread-waffle batter of whole wheat flour and water, no yeast or leavening, microwave three minutes each side.  Tastes like crap, easy with minimal clean up.  The improved recipe is one half water to wheat, spread out the nearly dry batter, one minute each side, allow to cool completely.  Tastes much better, but with a lot more clean up as the dough sticks and cooks on, having less moisture ).  Cooking wheat with propane is wasteful as it takes some time, so I minimized cooking at home to the weekends.  Nowadays I’d try for a solar powered microwave off grid, plus I now know how to make my own real solar oven, cheap ( it is insane what the commercial units sell for, for flimsy ovens.  With our winds, that is silly ).  But then I was working and since I was busting my ass for minimum wage I figured they owed me free electricity and coffee.  For my region, I have found that if I use a total daily watt count equal to one hours solar generation I never run out of power, never drain my battery, regardless of how many cloudy days I have.  If I wanted to cook breakfast and lunch microwave bread I would only need six minutes in the oven, or 100 watts.  So I could easily get by with one additional 100 watt panel for $100.  If I wanted to additionally pre-heat water, I’d add another panel to that.  Considering the propane you’d save, that would pay for itself quickly.  At the time, though, watts were expensive.

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Which is why I wrote at work.  Generally I left my laptop computer locked up at work and wrote on my lunch hour.  This kept me from using any power at home.  I did this from about 2006 ( I was writing at my lunch hour prior to going off grid in 2008 ) to about 2013 when my hours were cut from full time.  After that I added another panel to account for writing off grid.  See, I spend money on you people-it isn’t just one way.  I don’t even want to add up the cost of my hundreds of reference/research books ( although I must admit, I’d have bought the books anyway ).  I’d write after work and on the weekends then, drawing directly from the panels rather than the battery.  I did try hauling my laptop back and forth charging that at work, but after one long book I wrote in addition to the blog, the computer battery took a crap and as luck would have it at the time they were outrageously expensive.  I can’t recall the reason for that offhand.

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Now, after work I filled up my bottles ( Minute Made juice gallons last forever prior to getting pinhole leaks.  Or use two liter pop bottles if really poor ) for water.  All my water was hauled by bike once I retired the truck, which I had used once a week to go into town.  Gas was $4 a gallon and I was getting 4 to 5 mpg.  We did laundry, hauled trash and water, went shopping.  Once the truck became too expensive to fix I invested in bike racks and hauled everything for a year on that bike, five gallon propane tanks included ( cover with a cloth bag or motorists drive like idiots swerving to avoid driving too close, thinking the thing will explode ), before the budget improved enough to rent a car once a month when we went grocery and propane shopping.  At the time, even after needing to purchase insurance, AND an additional 20% city tax, a rental car was still reasonable at about $60.  Now, double that.  I never want to rent another one if I can help it.  But at the time the now ex-wife was stuck out there all month, getting cabin fever, so I felt I needed to get her into town with a gambling budget ( I can’t see how anyone wastes their money on the casinos, but she loved it.  Luckily for the economy, so do a lot of other suckers ). 

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Everyone loves bicycle trailers, but that doesn’t include me.  If you attach one you have to push the bike up hills, and on our two and a half miles of dirt road the ruts would just make another set of wheels wear out yearly.  I chose to install racks for baskets.  Find a rack that is rated for fifty pounds.  I never exceeded about 35, so there was a safety margin.  This is another reason to ride a single speed bike.  The Cruisers are standard 26 inch wheels, simple to repair and easily install a front basket ( on a mountain bike the gear and brake cables get in the way, although you can do it ).  The front was a wire basket holding two gallons, and the rear was a rack I attached a milk crate to, holding four gallons.  Go to your ranch store and buy the heavy duty zip ties, rated at like 30 below and 120.  The cheap crap at Wally will snap in normal winter cold.  A pack of 100 for $20 is a great investment, for the bike racks and other things ( I supplemented metal fasteners with these zip ties to hold up my roof top TV antenna and they lash the pole to the awning arm of the RV, and the antenna to the pole, and withstand fierce winds, solar and freezing ).

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With my racks I hauled five gallons of water a day home, twenty to twenty five gallons a week, and that was drinking and bathing and dish water and coffee for the week for two people.  If I did it now, only going into town two or three times a week since now happily self employed ( thank you minions! ), I would be single and it would still be sufficient for my needs ( I’ll either move back if the NOL passes away or if the ass falls out of civilization.  In the first case, I’m single again.  In the second, I won’t be going into town but hauling from the river one mile away ).  The racks also were sufficient for all grocery shopping.  About every two weeks I kept the cupboards topped off with a trip to Kroger ( Wal-Mart, NEVER the low price leader ) to get the bulk and heavy items such as rice and potatoes and pasta, flour and chips if on sale and it all fit in the racks and hanging from plastic bags tied to the racks.  Was it a pain in the ass?  Of course.  But that is what off grid living is, trading a lot of PITA moments for few moments costing money.  I cover perishables and so much more as we continue tomorrow.

END ( today's related link http://amzn.to/2vPi3kD )
 
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16 comments:

  1. Rode my bike for the first time this year. It was harder than I remember. It was my mountain bike. I need to get my street bike out to see just how bad it shape I've drifted into. Riding a mile and a half with five gallons of water every day would get me back in shape. Ouch!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I've always ridden a bike or walked, but I had spend the last year in the city only going a few blocks at a time. Then I moved out here and suddenly had a long commute. It only hurt for a week or three, then I was back in shape.

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    2. I’m the minion that got the 29” Beach Cruiser a while back. I sort of regret it because while I’m somewhat tall, I’m not so tall that a 26” bike wouldn’t have worked for me. The 29” tires and tubes are not as commonly found as the 26”, and the bike weighs a bit more too. The rear coaster brake does not work that well at stopping you at higher speeds due to the extra weight, so it really needs an auxiliary front friction brake as a result. I put a basket on the front, and eventually want to put one on the rear. The front basket that I have weighs enough, that if you were to let the handle bars go from the centered position, the bike will topple over from the weight.

      Also, the bike is very hard to pedal. I can’t prove this, but what I suspect is that the Chinese engineers just said ไป–ๅฆˆ็š„ (That’s fuck it in Chinese) the stupid “round eyes” will never know the difference ๐Ÿ˜€ and used the same gears as with the 26” bike, without compensating for the larger tire diameter.

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    3. You are correct about those little yellow bastards hating and trying to kill running dog imperialists to this day. Thanks a lot, Nixon!

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    4. And he wasn’t a crook, anymore than Billy Boy used Monica’s cooter as a cigar humidor ๐Ÿ˜€

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    5. Hey, Monica was young and fresh-the cigar probably smelled good, perhaps even tasted good.

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  2. Yes, I knew a British woman who married a Han Chink in Britain and moved to Canada. Her stories of what life was like were impressive, and depressing. They are very racist and hate us reflexively but not exclusively. Her translation of comments they made as we passed by in the Chinese district of Boston were enlightening, to say the least.

    Well, I killed as many as I could in Korea, but there are an impressive number of them left. Good luck to all of us.

    I also remember debriefing a Russian defector during the late '50s who was convinced that the Russians and the Americans would end up allies fighting the Chinese.

    We will see, won't we?

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    1. Allies today, enemies tomorrow-of course you can never tell. He probably had good memories of Yanks from The Great Patriotic War.

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    2. The Chinese / India border strife gave some white Australians a dose of the Red Pill.

      At a university lecture the Chinese students became quite vocal when the lecturer sided with India's claim.

      What's that? You're aligning yourself with your ethnicity & not civic nationality (Australian)? Who'd could have imagined

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    3. Wait, wasn't the Red pill the good one?:)

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  3. how long will a tire, tube last?
    how about the chain and other components?
    is their life measured in months or miles?
    what is your normal stock of replacement parts?
    how about an article?
    jpf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the idea. That sounds fun, actually. Since Friday is the last day of my work week, just like for most of you, I like to not hurt myself overly much working that day.

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  4. I, too, would like a list of specification on your ideal bicycle. I use a number of carts where I live and have yet to design/built my ideal. I did learn that tubed tires will puncture, so I run solid tires when I can get them.

    Most tires/tubes are made in China these days and come pre-punctured, it seems.

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    Replies
    1. I'm on it-look for it in two weeks. Title: Pimpin Ride.

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  5. And, Oh; I've always regarded head hair as a nuisance. I was the only boot at PI who didn't need a haircut. So I cut it as short as possible. I figured up (roughly) how much I have saved since I last had my hair cut by a barber, I quit when the price went to $3.50 and barbers became 'stylists.' It came to (again, roughly) $15,000. And that would buy a lot of prep.

    That's why I always woke up when sleeping cold, if my cap came off.

    grins.

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    Replies
    1. It has to get pretty far below freezing before I wear a shirt or cap in bed. I like going commando, let the skin recover and breath.

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I must moderate-trust me. Criticize ideas, NOT the people behind them. Be civil. You will be warned twice and the third time just deleted. No N-Bombs. If you disagree with me, you must praise my hair first.