A Brief Return

I have returned from the Wild. A brief rest, and then I will be gone again -- this time, by motorcycle, as far as Massachusetts. I should have at least periodic internet access, though, so my absence may not be as obvious.

The trip was a qualified success. The food I took did not in any sense need to be heated. It was good and pleasant to eat. I did construct an alcohol stove out of a beer can, which weighs less than an ounce (plus the fuel you carry, of course), and which allows you to cook -- or make coffee.

If you want to make one, here's a quick explanation of an easy method. A much more thorough site on the subject can be found here. I modified mine a little further by turning down and in the edges with a pair of pliers, to eliminate the danger of cuts on the metal. I also added more air intake holes for cleaner burning.

Also of great use to me were these excellent tips on lightweight backpacking. My total pack weight, including five days of food (but only 3 liters of water, expecting to need to find more daily) was right at thirty-five pounds.

The THOR pack functioned adequately during the hike, and was fairly comfortable.

Pros for the pack: Though not a purpose-designed backpacking pack, the THOR is adaptable to a lot of other situations besides backpacking. It would make a pretty good pack for air or train travel, I think. It is designed as a three-day pack, but I was able to carry enough for five days. You could easily use it as a Bug Out Bag, or to strap to the back of a motorcycle. If you need extra space, the overall MOLLE construction allows you to rig extra gear.

Cons: The exterior pockets except for the main compartment are smaller than with many three-day packs. Indeed, internal capacity is much smaller -- 2575 cubic inches instead of 3280 like the model I carried in Iraq. This is compensated for by the extensive MOLLE, which is fine if you are experienced and comfortable rigging gear to MOLLE. Many people would prefer a backpacking pack with a larger internal capacity, so they can stow their gear inside instead of rigging it to the outside. The tradeoff is that such a pack is bulkier, which makes it less flexible.

I think their Reaper pack might be a good middle ground, as it has the capacity to expand its internal storage substantially and has a larger secondary pocket instead of several small external pouches. It also has plenty of MOLLE webbing.

Weather was beautiful, although it suddenly is getting warm about the middle of the day. Seems like it was snowing only yesterday, and suddenly it's hot.

Clever Scots

The Bing cover page picture today is of something called the "Falkirk Wheel," which is a rotating boat-lift lock that connects two sections of canal, with a 40-foot change in elevation, in the Forth Valley in Scotland.  Clicking on the information links took me to a fantastic video explaining how the lift works.  It uses 1.5 kWh per lift, the equivalent of the electricity needed to boil eight teakettles.

The video is on this page, over on the right.

Because We Don't Have Enough Conspiracies to Think About

The US is looking to give up control of the Internet to an international consortium of dubious provenance and more dubious imperatives.

The USPS' first class mail delivery monopoly is under increasing stress from actual competition via the Internet: email, IM, Twitter, etc.

The move to tax commerce that occurs via the Internet is gathering steam.

Are these tied together?

Eric Hines

Off To The Wild

I will be gone for several days, trying out your wonderful suggestions for trail food. I have Boar's Head sausage and hard cheese, walnuts and almonds, dried fruits, and several kinds of bread. Pictured is the Julekage, which turns out to be fantastic. Thank you all.