Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best New Year's Idea I've seen in a long time

Move Your Money!

While the corporate dupes TeaBaggers do their best to make sure Americans remain the helpless victims of corporate parasitism, there is an actual grass roots movement that will have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens.

There is a Movement afoot to move your money from the large mega-banks to local community based banks. What could be more conservative than that?

Of course the real problem with today's so called "conservationism" is that it isn't. William F. Buckley Jr wouldn't even recognize the morons who claim to be "conservative" today.

They are though, exactly what our would-be corporate overlords want. People too stupid to pull the leaches from their throats, who in fact think that the parasites that feed off them are their friends.

If you are tired of people trying to make you into their serf, here's something you can do right now. Take your money out of the huge mega-banks, (you know the ones who are directly responsible for our present financial difficulties, the ones who have enough political clout to get the government to give them your tax money to save their asses when their greed and ineptitude caught up with them) and put it in local banks that actually serve your community.

They won't be "too big to fail" if your wealth is distributed more evenly among many small banks, savings & loans, and credit unions. Then B of A and Citi can go die a dog's death without (supposedly) taking the country with them.

We still have the power to vote with our wallets and our feet, either we begin to use it, or we might just as well get fitted for collars.

There is an organization called "Move Your Money" which will help you find local community banks in your area. They made this video to help people understand the need to do this.

Here's the beginning of one woman's chronicle of getting herself out form under B of A.

If you are interested in Credit Unions you can get information and ratings on your local establishments here.

There's nothing like actually doing something to change your circumstances.

Friday, December 25, 2009

God Jul, Feliz Navidad

And Merry Christmas as well!

Here is a bit of Christmas Music for you, hree of my favorite pieces. First is from Handel's Messiah,

One of the finest pieces of Christmas music ever written. Everyone (including me) does the "Hallelujah", but the rest of the piece is just as good.

And then on the other end of the spectrum, we have "White Trash Christmas"

And to finish off the set, here is Bing Crosby doing the original

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

School'n the kids on how it's done

John Lee Hooker plays with the Stones and Clapton in Atlantic City 1989.

So Good!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

From Crochet to General Relativity

Sometimes you run across an idea that is so simple but so profound that you just have to sit back in wonder.

I have been working a lot with chain and plat sinnets the last week or so, playing with various ideas to see what I can come up with that could be used in "survival' situations, (or just for fun) so when I saw a video over at TED on someone who had been crocheting models of coral reefs, I had to check it out. (crochet is a special application of different chain sinnet knotting techniques) What I found was brilliant!

So I give you Margaret Wertheim on the beautiful math of coral.

WARNING: Watching this will probably make you smarter

Monday, December 14, 2009

Killer core workout

For when just skiing is not enough for you.

I was quite happy to discover that my legs are in good condition after Saturday's ski day with no soreness Sunday or Monday. My triceps and abs were a bit sore however. This is from doing one of my very favorite "workout" routines for cross country skiing, called double poling, or more accurately "short arm double poling".

I was able to find a clip of a guy with good form to show you how it's done.


You will notice that most of the work of moving you forward is done with the contraction of the core, the arms adding to forward momentum only at the end.

When you get the breathing coordinated with the movement you have a very powerful, explosive movement that works your whole body. This can be carries over into any number of other sports.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

First Ski Day!

And it was just about perfect.

It was 20 degrees and sunny, so myself and three friends, Janet, Dave and Fenna, grabbed our gear and took off on the trail nearest to us.

You really can't beat a winter day like this one.

There was a bit more Ice under the snow that one might wish for.

And the snow could be a bit deeper for my taste.

but those are small things compared to the fun of just getting outside and playing.

I'm not planning to be spending a lot of time indoors this winter. There's just too much to be doing outside. Between skiing, snowshoeing and running (ya gotta love yak traks!) I think I can spend almost as much time outside as I do in the summer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Music for Blizzard Conditions

After a couple days of false starts, the big blizzard is finally here!

It's a balmy 16F (-9C) outside. There's not a lot of snow yet, but at least it's not turning to slush on arrival anymore. With any luck, by Saturday I'll be able to seriously play in the snow!

Until then here is some music to set the mood for skiing snowshoeing and snowball tossing.

Karoliina Kantelinen, the brilliant Finnish ethnomusicologist, performing "Ellös huolta huomisesta".

Solveig Andersson of Norway, Yoiking "bjiejjie"

The group Jarŋŋa from Northern Sweden performing "Jåvna vuolle"

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Tactical Macramé - Project 1

In which I reveal, at great personal risk, the ancient hidden secret, known only to Muslims for thousands of years, kept within the innermost circles of certain Sufi Orders, of how to make a Solomon (Suliyman) bar at a speed guaranteed to confound the uninitiated.

I have been thinking about several small projects involving paracord and traditional knot-work, so this may become a regular, or at least semi-regular feature of the blog.

Making a survival bracelet

You will need about 14 to 16 inches of paracord for the bracelet core and about 6 and a half feet for the outer wrap. You will also want to have a good pair of scissors, a lighter, a pair of forceps, a clip board or other method of anchoring your work, and a hook and cord or some other method of keeping tension on your work.

You are going to need to learn four knots for this first foray into tactical macramé.

The two strand stopper knot

You will use this knot to make the button for the button and loop closure in the core of the bracelet

The constrictor knot

The constrictor knot will be used to start and finish the project. It is also just a really useful knot to know. If you ever needed to tie a bag shut, or to tie several strands of cord together, this is the knot you would want.

The reef (square) knot

The Reef knot is also very useful to know. It is a moderately secure knot that is easy to untie.

The cow hitch (also called ring hitch and lark's head).

The cow hitch is a handy way to attach a line to something, but that's not why you see it here. There is a secret about the cow hitch that allows you to complete the project with a minimum of hassle.

So let's start, Grab some cord and we will practice the various knots.

Tying the two strand stopper knot

You will want to practice this knot several times to get the hang of shaping it correctly. Take your time and work the knot closed a bit at a time until it is solid and has the shape of a button.

Once you feel happy with the knot, it's time to make the core for the bracelet.

Measuring the core cord

When You have your core cord measured, tie a stopper knot at the end just above where you clamped it off. Now you're ready to learn the constrictor knot.

Tying the constrictor knot

The constrictor knot give you a way to attach the cord that will form the Solomon bar that is a bit more pleasing than just starting a reef knot. It also keeps the two sides of the cord even.

Tying the cow hitch

The cow hitch is given here as a separate knot so that you can get a feel for it on its own.

Tying the Reef knot

The reef knot is shown here for the same reason. Also, there may be a few projects in the future that will use reef knots without a core to tie them around.

Tying the Solomon bar

Here is the meat of the lesson. By using a cow hitch, then passing the opposite line through the two loops you form a full reef knot in one pass. When you are comfortable with this technique you will be able to cover a core with a Solomon bar is short order.

One of the main reasons I am doing the tutorial is that it seems that this method of making the Solomon bar has almost been lost. I couldn't find a single reference to it anywhere. (Of course I do also get to tease the Right Wing "survivalist" crowd about helping to preserve a traditional Islamic art and a fine old American Hippy tradition, that's also worth something).

Making the bracelet

Here is where you put your new knotting skills to the test and make your very own tactical macramé survival bracelet.

Finishing the bracelet

This is the method I use to finish the bracelet. I find it more pleasing than just cutting the cords off short and melting them.

This is the first time I have ever done a tutorial like this, so please help me make the next one better by giving me feedback on what I can do to make the instructions clearer.

Good luck and do feel free to send pictures of your finished work.

For the next project, I will be showing you what I think will be a much more effective survival bracelet made from a double loop chain sinnet.

Special Thanks to Janet for her fine camera work!

Monday, December 07, 2009

And today's theme music.....

Does in fact ROCK!

Thought of the day

While you are waiting breathlessly for me to do my post on tactical macramé.

There was a little glitch with the camera, which I hope will be taken care of soon, until then, enjoy a couple of little clips of the writer George Leonard.

Mr. Leonard, today in his 80's, still gets on the mat and teaches Aikido weekly at his dojo.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Again Jon Stewart, with the able help of John Oliver, put things in perspective.

Here is the most interesting take on the banning of minarets by the Swiss. John Oliver is particularly fun as he moves from British comedian to a British citizen, who remembers just a bit more about WW2 than is comfortable for the Swiss.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Oliver's Travels - Switzerland
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Again, I have to wonder why we get closer to the truth on the fake news than on the corporate real news.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A square knot by any other name.....

Is still Macramé!

I keep an eye on the various "wilderness survival" sites and blogs. It's a subject of interest to me, and I often find useful information on these sites. A few of them are quite good as a matter of fact.

Of late, I have noticed a new fad in gear, the "survival bracelet". This has been described as a bit of "tactical wear" that allows you to conveniently carry an extra six feet or so of para-cord. Most of the bracelets I was reading about were described as being done in "cobra weave". I have to allow as I had never heard of "cobra weave" and I have a life-long interest in such things. So I found a picture of a survival bracelet made with "cobra weave" (also being called cobra stitch) that was clear enough that I could see what they were doing.

It was macramé.

I guess the "soldier of fortune" crowd just couldn't bring themselves to admit they were wearing a macramé bracelet and so made up a really macho name for the thing (ummm...... I know, lets call it Cobra Weave, that sounds like something Steven Seagal would wear)

Now I'm not saying that this bracelet isn't a good idea, it is to my thinking. And I'm not making fun of the wilderness survival people, most of whom are thoughtful folk who are following a passion that I share with them, some of whom I count as friends. I just find the "cobra weave" thing a bit funny.

As I have mentioned before, I'm an old hippy. Back in the day, if you didn't know how to make macramé jewelry and such, you were at a bit of a disadvantage. (it was a great way to impress the girls and to pick up a bit of extra cash) As it happens I was quite good at it. Mostly because I have had a lifelong interest in working with cord, rope and other sorts of fiber. I also had the opportunity to learn knotting and such from some very knowledgeable people when I was young.

So I sat down last night and made myself a survival bracelet out of a bit of paracord I had laying about. This is the finished product.

I used a button and loop closure rather than a buckle or shackle for the same reason I don't put the strap of a boonie hat under my chin.

Now here's the fun part. A little history on the subject of macramé, (it'll drive the Islamophobic right wingers nutz)

The word macramé comes from the Arabic migramah (مقرمة) which relates to the fringe on a scarf. It is an art that was developed in the Arabian Peninsula which spread across North Africa, up into Spain and then, like so much science, art and culture from the Muslim world, into Europe.

The art was quickly adopted by sailors, who called it "square knotting". The whole art of macramé is built on the foundation of just two knots, the half knot (think of how you tie your shoe, the half knot is what you make before the bow) and the half hitch. a series of knots is known as a bar in macramé speak. The bracelet you see here is a simple "Salomon's bar" which you make by doing half knots in one direction, then the other (right over left then left over right) forming a series of square knots. (aka reef knots) The reason they are known as square, I was told, is because they lay "square" when done this way. When you do the half knot all in the same direction it makes a double spiral down the core cords.

So the people who are making these bracelets are helping to preserve a bit of traditional Islamic AND traditional Hippy culture. How kewl is that?

I did a bit of looking online, youtube and such, and discovered that while there are a few tutorials on how to do tactical macramé, all of them I could find do it the hard way.

There is a trick to making the Solomon's bar quickly (it takes a quarter of the time or less than the way it is being shown around) known only to Muslims.

At great personal risk, I will reveal this secret technique to all the uncircumcised infidel dogs non-Muslims who might want to experiment with making survival bracelets using this traditional Islamic art as soon as I can get someone over here to operate the camera. (I do hope that you all realize that my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek here, but then again, there will be a few Islamophobes reading this, so maybe not) So stay tuned for my next installment.

First real snow of the season

We got about six inches last night.

It's not quite enough for skiing or snowshoeing just yet, but soon I think.

(can't hardly wait)