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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THE VISION by Debi Pearl -- A Fictional Tale with Realistic Elements

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Debi Pearl has written a new book, The Vision (ISBN: 978-0-9819737-0-8). The main characters of The Vision find themselves embroiled in controversy over their mission while their community faces unrest, politics swirl and the environment becomes increasingly hostile.

Throughout the book, Yellowstone threatens to erupt. Readers may suppose that the writer has used her creative license overmuch. However, Yellowstone is classified as a super-volcano, and geologists predict that this super-volcano could erupt.

A massive caldera is the site of Yellowstone National Park. Calderas are bowl shaped geographical areas that cap stores of molten rock. Yellowstone's caldera is shaken by quakes centered three miles beneath its surface.

Both Yellowstone's size and dormancy gain it notice as a super volcano.

"A super-eruption is the world's biggest bang. It's a volcanic explosion big enough to dwarf all others and with a reach great enough to affect everyone on the planet," is the description given by Bill McGuire of the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Center with a professorship at London's University.

The force of such an eruption would require a thousand atomic explosions each second to equal it. The world's largest city, Tokyo, could fit inside Yellowstone's caldera because it's so massive.

Geologists estimate that every six to seven hundred thousand years there is a volcanic eruption at this location. They go on to estimate that it was 640,000 years ago when the last major eruption occurred. Give or take a few thousand years, this means that Yellowstone may be overdue to erupt.

In the event of a volcanic eruption at Yellowstone, predictions are that there would be a 90% loss of life (animal and human) within a 600 mile radius of the blast. Ash spewed into the air would become deadly when inhaled by survivors across the United States. Farm animals would also experience massive casualties, interrupting food supplies.

Travelers would be stranded as transportation stopped. Short term, airplanes would be prevented from flying while rail and other motorized conveyance would be stopped as well.

A great volume of the explosion would be projected into the air where, cooling, it would turn into bits of sharp, jagged rocks and glass. A grayish or black haze would immediately darken the sky because of the matter suspended in the air. A noticeable sulfuric odor, thunder and lightning would assail the senses.

With thunder rolling, the immediate disaster area would become blanketed in a muffled quiet. The first 12-60 hours would be characterized by a heavy ash fall. Structural damage to buildings would come about because of the weight of firmly packed ash. A foot's depth of ash would weigh enough to collapse a roof.

Rain would fall out of season as a result of the particles in the air. Water mixed with ash would coat everything with slime. Mudslides would soon follow the rain. Contaminates would be found in water supplies. Air filters on automobiles would become clogged, and roads would become too slippery to navigate. Electric companies would also encounter engine failures, resulting in uncertain availability of electricity.

Clouds of residual ash could be worked back into the air by human activity for weeks or even years after the ash had settled. To prevent breathing in ash particles, it would be necessary to don facial masks. Survivors would have to contend with limited clean air, resulting in widespread health concerns. Worldwide, there would be crop failures and loss of vegetation.

A hazy light would characterize the daytime as diffused light tried to penetrate the suspended particles in the atmosphere. Within days of the volcanic blast, the skies over Europe would be reddened. Two to three weeks later, Yellowstone's sulfuric acid cloud would blanket the earth. The upper atmosphere would be infused with sulfur creating a planetary climatic cooling effect as great as 10 degrees. Six to ten years could pass before normal temperatures started returning.

Scientists predict that because of temperature changes south of the equator, there will be failure of the monsoon season. Asia would experience monumental food shortages as a result of this reduced rainfall.

Weeks or even years prior to an eruption, Yellowstone National Park service scientists predict that there will be measurable warning signs. Hank Heasler, Yellowstone park geologist, stated that, "If the park were poised for a major eruption, the signs wouldn't be subtle."

Debi Pearl has authored a fictitious volume in The Vision. Nevertheless, there is an uncomfortable realness in regard to Yellowstone's super volcano.

read more “THE VISION by Debi Pearl -- A Fictional Tale with Realistic Elements”

Saturday, June 20, 2009


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Before you need to signal for help, one of the best ways to be sure you are found is by taking the time to plan to be found. When you travel, leave an itinerary of your trip with a responsible, trusted person at home. Include times that you expect to be at certain locations. Write down where you are going, your route, and when you are due. If your itinerary changes, let your contact person know right away. List any possible alterations to your route. Have pre-arranged meeting places for members of your party if you become separated. This will enable rescuers will know where to search if you are missing. Other helpful information to include in your itinerary are the health and general condition of members of your party, including any medications, a list of your gear including amount of food, water, clothing and shelter materials, and emergency contact information (family members and doctors' telephone numbers, etc.)

I have never been lost,
but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.
~ Daniel Boone

If you find yourself "confused" and in need of rescue there are a variety of ways to let your rescuers know your location.

You can utilize a variety of materials to signal for help including fire, smoke, flashlights, brightly colored clothing, reflective mirrors, whistles, or electronic devices. Remaining calm can enable you to use your imagination to plan a creative way to signal potential help. Knowing your options can save your life by keeping you from making a deadly mistake.

At the moment you realize you are lost, create a marker to designate your spot. Pile some rocks together, bend some branches, or create some other easily recognizable sign so that you will know the spot. This will be your base. If you decide to try and make your way out, this is where you will return for another try if your first attempts fail. This will also be the place you wait for rescuers.

If you choose to move away from your base, leave a note at the marker. Tell your plans and your direction of travel. As you travel mark the way at regular intervals with a pile of stones, a broken branch, or some other easily identifiable clue as to where you have been. This will help rescuers find you.

Electronic devices can be invaluable tools in an emergency. However, the potential for abuse is great.
Personal Locator Beacons (PLB's), avalanche beacons, satellite phones and other electronic safety devices can be used in the outdoors. Additional location devices that can be used to signal rescuers include Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs) used by pilots and Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB) used by mariners.

While these are considered safety tools, they may also tempt those who carry them to feel they can engage in risky behavior. The belief that rescue from mistakes is just the press of a button away can turn your cell phone, GPS unit or other locator device into a personal body locator.

Be aware that electronic devices do not always function even in ideal conditions. Rugged mountainous areas and rural areas often have spotty reception, if any at all. Damage, battery life, and user incapacitation can all compromise the effectiveness of these devices.

It is always prudent to bring extra survival gear and depend upon survival training and good judgment should something unplanned occur. Be aware of your own personal limitations, the limitations of your equipment and other conditions. That will eliminate the need for search and rescue services, and PLBs.

Flares are highly visible but not long-lasting. Don't waste them. Lights can't be seen during the day unless the rescue party is close. These are more easily seen from great distances at night.

Survival whistles are compact, lightweight and easy to use. These whistles can get you noticed. The human ear can track the direction from which the whistling originates. In contrast, the sound of a human voice shouting can be dissipated by thick vegetation. Vocal chords will quickly give out and the effort will leave you winded. Whistles can be blown almost indefinitely, even when used by a weak or injured person.

Three blasts is the universal signal for distress. This applies to gunshots as well as whistles. Two blasts mean "All is well." Under the right conditions, a rescue whistle can be heard up to 5 miles away.

The survival whistle is also useful in urban environments. It can be used for defense by drawing attention to the situation. Children can carry a small survival whistle on a string around their neck.

Metal whistles are not recommended. Wet flesh will freeze to metal when cold. If you plan to wear a whistle or keep it in your pocket, a plastic whistle with a flat shape may be best.

The ACR WW3 (ResQ Whistle) is a flat plastic whistle with a dual chamber that can be had for less than $3. It was developed for the U.S. Navy. Plastic storm safety whistles are a favorite of life guards. These are so loud that they can even be heard underwater. Storm whistles run around $5 each.

Mirrors can make you visible to rescuers, but you must know how to use them. When aimed correctly, the brilliant flash from an emergency signal mirror cannot be ignored. It will reveal your position in the densest of vegetation or in the most rugged mountainous landscape from an average distance of 10 miles or more.

Commercially available signal mirrors are shatter resistant, lightweight, small and some have holes for hanging from a lanyard worn at the neck or belt. These mirrors also have an aiming hole in the center. Using this aiming hole, the viewer can point the mirror towards rescuers on the ground or in the air and see where the reflected beam is hitting, making adjustments to direct the beam more accurately.

If no signal mirror is available, other reflective materials can be used. A rear view mirror off of a vehicle, a magnetic compass mirror, a shiny CD, a mirror from a purse, aluminum foil, metal cans, or any other polished metal will do.

Two methods that can be used to aim the reflected light are the stick method and the hand method.

To use the hand method, extend your hand and form a "V" with two fingers. Position this "V" so that the object you wish to flash (an airplane for example) can be sighted between the two fingers. Tilt the mirror slightly to move the reflected light beam across your hand towards the center of the "V." This will allow your light beam to come in contact with your target.

Another way to direct your signal is to find a stick that is chest or head high. Position yourself so that the top of the stick and your mirror are in line with the object you wish to signal. Move the mirror so that the reflected light hits the top of the stick.

Scan the horizon regularly with your signal mirror. You may not be able to see rescuers, but they might see you. Also, once you've alerted your target, don't continue to flash them. The flash from your signal mirror is so bright as to be blinding.

The time to practice aiming your mirror is before you ever need to use it.
For a demonstration of signal mirror use, watch the video below:

There are a variety of symbols that signal a need for help. These can be placed on horizontal or vertical surfaces to be seen at a distance by rescuers. The shape of a triangle is a signal with three sides. Three is a universal signal for help. Spell the word "HELP" in large, all capital letters. The letter "V" lets rescuers know you need immediate assistance. The letters "SOS" are a call for help. The letter "X" means that you need immediate medical assistance.

You can stamp these symbols out or use tree limbs, rocks, vegetation or brush to make the signal more visible. If you are in a sandy or flat area, try scraping the symbol into the dirt. You can place signal fires (or flares) in the shape of a triangle, positioning the flames at each corner.

If you have a vehicle, make it more visible from the air and from a distance by clearing vegetation, using a cloth for a flag, or use some other creative solution. Use fuel and oil to start signal fires and feed them with material from the car that creates smoke. Place as many symbols as possible around your location to make your position most visible.

Once help has been spotted, wave. Be sure to wave with two hands and arms. This signals distress. Waving with one arm indicates all is well. It is best NOT to get these confused.

If you feel that the chance for a quick rescue is great and it takes little energy for you to signal, then signaling for rescue should be high on the list of priorities of someone who needs rescuing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


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The number 3 can be the key to your survival in an emergency. When you must prioritize your needs quickly, it helps to know what is most urgent. Knowing the rules of 3 can give you the information you need to make smart decisions.


"It seems pretty obvious what your priorities should be in a wilderness survival situation once it is spelled out like this. However a lot of beginners think that finding food is the first thing they should do. So they spend all of their energy trying to find some berries, and before they know it the sun is setting. It's getting cold. Clouds are rolling in, and it starts raining. They still have no food, and now they don't have any shelter. That is not a situation we would want to be in. How 'bout you?"


3 SECONDS without hope
Most individuals freeze in an emergency. In the immediate confusion and chaos, the human brain tries to draw upon some familiar experience for a plan of action. Finding none, we become immobile. You have three seconds to decide that you have hope and move forward. Statistics show that in a plane crash, you have 90 seconds to exit the wreckage. Three seconds without hope can make the difference between whether or not you have time to clear the area.

Survival depends upon your ability to shake yourself out of the stupor of disbelief and hopelessness.

Walter B. Cannon studied the case histories of sudden, unexplained deaths from around the world. In 1942, he published his theory that the brain unleashes stress hormones that can cause fatal heart arrhythmias in individuals that have given up all hope of escape -- they are literally scared to death. Use fear to spur yourself towards life-saving action. Determine to grasp onto hope and make a plan to live.

3 MINUTES without air
Few people can hold their breath for 3 minutes. In circumstances where oxygen is limited, your next priority is to get to a place where you can breathe.

3 HOURS without shelter (in extreme conditions)
Once you have breathable air, your next priority is to find (or construct) shelter. Those who take off on prolonged hikes may find themselves going in circles and/or racing the setting sun to construct safe sleeping quarters. In extreme conditions, you can live for a couple of days without water and weeks without food, but you cannot survive without shelter. You could suffer from hypothermia at 50 degrees, especially if the wind is blowing and you are wet. In warm climates, you will need shelter from the sun. Protect yourself from the elements.

3 DAYS without water
The next challenge is to find clean water. This may mean collecting rainwater or finding a water source shared by plants and animals. Avoid activity that leads to lots of sweating and heavy breathing. This causes your body to lose water more quickly. Conserve what water your body has by working at a nice steady pace. Whatever your course of action, your body will need water soon.

3 WEEKS without food
Some of us will survive even longer without it, but food will become an urgent concern for survival after a couple of weeks. With plenty of water, some can even survive longer than three weeks, but you will want to locate a source of nourishment while you still have the strength to do so.

3 MONTHS without companionship or love
This is actually part of the first rule of 3. In order to continue in a prolonged survival circumstance, most people need to have a sense of purpose and belonging. Knowing that someone is there for you and caring what happens to you can help you continue doing what is necessary for survival when the days and weeks seem to drag. Strong faith will make all of the difference for these survivors.

This video offers important information on adaptability and a survival mentality by David Wendell.

The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood (ISBN-10: 0446580244)
read more “RULE OF 3'S TO SURVIVE”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


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Seed balls are a seed delivery system that protects seeds from drying out in the sun, getting eaten by birds and insects, or from being blown away by the wind. Additionally, the ingredients of a seed ball offer nutrients that the seed needs to germinate and grow properly.

"Native Americans . . . carried their precious seeds within tiny balls made of clay and soil and hardened in the sun. There was little loss of seeds since they were encased within the clay balls. When they arrived at their destination, the clay balls were placed wherever needed, and with the spring rains and summer sunshine, they grew where they were placed. A garden was planted . . ."
In 1973, a variation of this method of broadcasting seed was used to make 'seed bombs' to revitalize New York's Bowery neighborhood. (http://heavypetal.ca/tag/seedbomb/) Seed balls and bombs are also used by "Guerrilla gardeners." These are individuals that secretly plant various seeds in neglected public and private areas.

Seed balls are a convenient way to reclaim a bare patch of land that is arid, has an unpredictable rainfall, and where the soil is thin and compacted. This method can also be used to furnish an area with plants that attract beneficial insects, transforming it into a wild garden. Wildflower and herb seeds are well-suited this method. Seed balls offer the flexibility of scattering the balls on a sunny day and allowing nature to decide when it is best to start the seedlings.

"We use a combo of wild flower, mustards, radish seeds and wheat to create a haven for beneficial insects. We sow the balls in winter in our next-door neighbor's yard. They had a long piece of bare ground adjacent to our garden that was full of weeds and bermuda grass *yuck*."

When enough water penetrates a seed ball, the clay content softens, and holds the water close to the seed as it sprouts. The seedling then draws upon the other nutrients in the seed ball to establish itself in the soil.

As the crop from one season matures, the seeds for the next season are formed into balls that can be scattered at harvest.

Because much less seed is used than in conventional growing, there are fewer plants. But these plants are stronger and reportedly have a higher yield.


Seed balls are made using a 1:3:5 formula -- 1 part seed mixture, 3 parts compost (manure or potting) soil, and 5 parts clay.

For additional protection from insects, you can include a 10% addition of some insect repelling herbs such as red chili pepper, cayenne, catnip, pennyroyal or peppermint -- or a combination of them.

1 part seed mix : wildflowers are best, avoid seeds of invasive plants.
3 parts dry organic compost . . . can blend manure or potting soil with this.
10 percent insect repelling herbs (wear gloves when using pepper).
5 parts finely ground natural clay (terra cotta, gray or white)
2 parts water (added gradually)

This can be done following these approximate measurements to make about 30 seed balls:
1/3 cup seed mix
3/4 cup compost
1 tbsp repellent herbs (wear gloves if using pepper)
1 1/4 cups clay

Mix the seeds into the dry compost by hand. Then add the clay to the mix and blend everything by hand until well-incorporated. Use gloves if you've added cayenne pepper to your mix. Mist water onto the mixture while stirring, just enough water to allow the mixture to bind together to the consistency of cookie dough.

Roll the moistened mixture into penny-sized round balls about the size of a marble. Once this is done, place the balls into the sun and allow them to dry completely for a day or two (24 to 48 hours).

When ready, the seed balls can be placed onto the ground you wish to seed. Place 1 ball per square foot of soil (9 balls per yard, 10 balls per meter). Consider bare spots that lack vegetation: driveways, exposed tree roots, etc. The process will begin with the first soaking rain . . . or as you decide to water them.



Kay is . . .

a perpetual student of things I find interesting and (I hope) helpful to others. Feel free to use and apply all information with a healthy dose of common sense. :-)

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