Saturday, December 8, 2012

The US government assures citizens that the world is not going to end this December (as far as they know).

A blog on addresses our concern about the world ending on December 21. Not going to happen, they say... 

No need to freak out -- according to the article, "The world will not end on December 21, 2012, or any day in 2012." 

While this is reassuring, the part about "any day in 2012" makes me concerned for next year. Better be prepared then! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

First Aid: education for an emergency before or after the apocalypse

Adventure Time
Living in a place like San Diego, we have easy access to many wilderness adventures in and around deserts, mountains, forests, and canyon trails. Yet to fully enjoy these remote spots, we should be prepared to handle both tiny and large disasters. Learning to protect and care for ourselves and our loved ones/travel buddies will come in handy after the apocalypse, when we have to do that sort of thing all the time.

First Aid Kit Basics
The American Red Cross, and those of us who have cut ourselves badly on broken glass from a picture frame, suggest having handy a basic first aid kit:

  • dressings/compresses
  • bandages of various types
  • cloth tape
  • antibiotics/antiseptics
  • gauze
  • aspirin
  • non-latex gloves
  • hydrocortisone ointment
  • breathing barrier
  • blanket
  • scissors
  • thermometer
  • tweezers
  • first aid reading material 

Compiling your own kit
I made one myself, and put it in a tupperware. I keep it in my trunk. Below is an annotated photo:

Take a class/get certified in wilderness first aid
For outdoors exploration, it is suggested that the explorer reads up on his/her destination, keeping in mind water purification and access, snakes/insects/animals, weather, altitude, and the basic bad things that can happen.

The Red Cross and the Scouts suggest a certification class in wilderness first aid -- one that touches upon the following topics:

  • Patient assessment 
  • Chest injuries
  • Shock
  • Brain/spinal injuries
  • Wounds and wound infection
  • Abdominal problems
  • Hypothermia
  • Heat
  • Lightning
  • Altitude
  • Submersion
  • Allergies

*To take a wilderness first aid class (AED/CPR certification pre-requisite) at the local Red Cross.
*Find out more from the Boy Scouts of America.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Food Recalls: be the first to know about an outbreak

To find out about current food recalls in the U.S. due to salmonella, ecoli, or (heaven forbid) some species-threatening pathogen, or to sign up for email safety alerts, see the FDA website.

New This Week: Mostly Listeria in onions, it seems...
  1. Burch Farms Athena cantaloupes (Listeria monocytogenes).
  2. Cool Creations and Fiesta Garden Fresh Salsa (Listeria monocytogenes).
  3. Catswell cat food (possible propylene glycol). 
  4. Wegmens prepared foods with white onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  5. Tita Colombian style cheeses (possible Staphylococcus aureus). 
  6. Trader Joe's salads (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  7. Whole Foods prepared salads (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  8. Delish, Marketside, Raley's brands that contain onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  9. Purina, Dumor poultry feed (lack of vitamin D). 
  10. Gills onions (Listeria monocytogenes). 
  11. Ciolo dips and spreads (Listeria monocytogenes).

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Voyage of the Mimi: survival skills TV from the 80's

Few videos (and I mean VHS here, but also other media types) bring back fonder, sweeter memories than "The Voyage of the Mimi." [You can watch it for yourself on YouTube, either for nostalgia or curiosity.]

you know you loved the show if you can sing the theme song 20 years later

Created in 1984, the educational PBS series about a young boy (Ben Affleck) aboard a scientific research vessel taught elementary and middle-school children about biology, mathematics, and (most pertinent here) survival skills. 

avoid hypothermia by sharing a sleeping bag
Two of the episodes my friends and I have re-hashed throughout our lives were the episodes during which Li'l Ben and The Scientists distill seawater for drinking, and the episode where (if my memory serves me correctly) one of The Scientists gets in a sleeping bag with an old man to prevent hypothermia. 

[If any blog readers remember escaping class/library time to giggle over, for example, the Mimi crew making a tent out of tree branches, please let us all know about it.]

Friday, July 6, 2012

This one's for all the ladies in the world

*Spoiler alert: If you are squeamish about menstruation, please do not read the following.

Ladies of a certain reproductive stage know that surviving an apocalypse (or, for that matter, enjoying a vacation/long hike on a deserted tropical island) presents one significant additional challenge not encountered by our male counterparts: the "period".

When the supply of non-sustainable feminine hygiene products will most certainly be the first thing to be pillaged from burning CVSs world-wide (OK, maybe after smoked beef-jerky), how are we ladies to handle daily life, work, escaping an alien invasion, etc?

Yet this is the same question that women all over the world are asking themselves right now, perhaps excepting the aliens bit. In some places, women cannot work or go to school during that time of the month, severely impacting their ability to live their lives.

Those of us privileged enough to live in a place with limitless tampons can still benefit from the cup.  (There are multiple brands.)

Why the cup?
1. Much safer than the one-use alternatives.
2. Pays for itself in one month. 
3. Completely unnoticeable to the user (and everyone else). 
4. FANTASTIC for the environment. No waste/reusable. 
5. While it sometimes takes a couple of cycles to get over the ickiness and learn how to properly use the simple device, once that is over, you can survive the apocalypse -- no problem. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's very easy to bake your own bread

Two of the best bread recipes I know are also two of the easiest I can imagine: a no-knead yeast bread and a low-maintenance sourdough.

Even though I am not NEARLY the baker that, say, Ben R. and Alan R. are (no relation), these are easy enough for basically anyone. 

No-Knead Rustic Yeast Bread
From Diane B. and the New York Times (among other sources,) comes an easy bread recipe that calls for very little hands-on time. 

--3-3.5 cups all-purpose flour
--1 TBS gluten (optional, but it might make the bread rise a little higher. Alternatively, you can use bread flour as a substitute for some of the all-purpose flour.)
--2 tsp salt.
--½ tsp instant yeast
--1 ½ cup water
--drop of honey (optional).

Day 1:
-- Mix together all ingredients. 
-- Let sit overnight. 

Day 2:
-- Stir down in the morning, and let rise for approximately 5 more hours.
-- Grease pan, move bread to whatever you want to bake it in (pyrex baking dish, clay pot, cast iron pot, metal loaf pan, etc.)
-- Let it rise until bread has doubled (another 3-4 hours).
-- Preheat the oven to 450F, put in your bread, and then bake 30 minutes. Take off lid and bake another 15 minutes to brown the crust. 

No-Knead Sourdough Bread -- makes 2 loaves
From Ben R. and his posse comes a very easy sourdough that comes out wonderfully every time. 

*note, it calls for "starter," which is just a yeast culture that you can start and then maintain easily in your refrigerator. It's completely worth it if you like having good home-made fresh bread around. See for suggestions, or do a google search to start the culture...

Day 1:
-- mix together (1cup flour, 1 cup water, 1.5 heaping teaspoons of starter. 
-- let sit covered for 24 hours. 

Day 2: 
-- Add (2 cups water, 2 teaspoons honey, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 teaspoons salt, 5 cups flour*). Mix well.
*Flour can be any mixture of whole wheat/all purpose/bread flour, but some high-gluten flour (bread flour) will improve texture. 
-- Let sit 2 hours. During this time, flip dough over in the bowl about every half an hour. 
-- Put dough into well-greased bread-baking containers. Let sit for about 3 more hours to rise. 
-- Pre-heat oven to 450F. Once the oven is hot, put in bread and bake covered for 30 min and uncovered for 30 min (to brown crust).

Friday, June 29, 2012

Are we due for THE BIG ONE in California?

According to the U.S. and the California Geological Surveys, we might be.

In their 2008 report, the Surveys state that there is a 99 (99.7 actually)% chance that there will be at least one earthquake of magnitude 6.7 in the California area over the next 30 years, and a 46% chance that there will be one over 7.5 (which will probably be in Southern California).

But how does one come up with an earthquake prediction?
1) Geodetic (relative movement of tectonic plates) -- GPS satellites can track California plate movements. *Here, you can measure tectonic movements with GPS triangulation yourself, thanks to Penn State.
2) Geological -- Rocks along faults can show distance of slippage.
3) Seismological and Paleoseismological

In 2007 scientists making up the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP, just because we always need more acronyms) started the new Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF). The forecast utilizes years of data to come up with best guesses as to the likelihood/locations of big quakes in both our near and distant futures.

*Because the UCERF was reviewed multiple times by independent scientific review panels as well as by the California and National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Councils, the Geological Surveys call it "one of the most extensively reviewed earthquake forecasts ever produced." 

Individual Faults, and Probability of >6.7 quake  (from the '08 report): 

Southern San Andreas  59%
Hayward-Rodgers Creek 31%
San Jacinto 31%
Northern San Andreas 21%
Elsinore 11%
Calaveras 7%
Garlock 6%

* See the "Executive Summary" of the forecast for full details.