Friday, April 24, 2009

Awareness, gear and expiration dates

Anonymous said...
I have an off topic comment here...

Hi Ferfal,

I'm have a small dilemma and I'd like to get your view on this.

Background first. I live in the suburbs and work in San Francisco. I take public transit (BART) to work.

As you might already know, SF is full of homeless people and general weirdos.

To help block out the train noise and other people talking on their mobile phone etc, I put on my ipod pretty much 100% of the time.

I keep the volume pretty low so that I can still maintain situation awareness.

So here is my delimma -- the pros of having my head phones on is that I can pretend to not hear the homeless and the weirdos on the street asking for
hand outs or asking me to buy their stuff -- they tend to keep their distance if you don't react to them. The cons is, of course, this makes me appear to have low/no situation awareness, which could make me a more attractive target to the bad guys.

We're not at a point that I'd want to react violently to every street person I encounter (quite a few daily)


I think I told this before once.
One day I was going to work in the train that goes to Constitucion.
I wont waste much time describing it, anyone the ever set foot on the “Roca” railroad knows it’s the stuff nightmares are made of, crowded, dangerous, infested with thieves, smell like piss, it’s a total disaster, but since it’s the cheapest form of transportation, it’s crowded far beyond it’s capacity.
Traveling in that train was one of the main reasons why I started using steel toed shoes, you just can’t avoid having people step on you all the time during rush hour, it’s worse than a can of sardines.
Anyway, I was like you, trying to avoid the smelly reality with some Mp3 music when suddenly I see everyone around me flinch, look in one direction simultaneously, and duck. Everyone except the idiot with the headset (me).
I knew better but like you, I wanted some distraction. By the time I realize what’s going on I turn around and see a “gendarme” ( military police) running in one direction.
I never knew what happened, didn’t care much. All I know is that if that had been shots, I would have been the only idiot left standing while everyone else ducks and hits the floor. It’s a mistake I wont be making any more.
Nomad over at Minion’s forum told me he uses just one ear bud, so as to be able to hear what’s going on around you. It sure is a good idea. You don’t get that stereo sound, but at least you aren’t so vulnerable.
I just resist the temptation and just dont use anything that can impair my hearing any more, in any way. So the mp3 player stays at home form now on. Besides, it attracts the attention of thieves.

Hi Ferfal:

I have come up with some questions if that is okay. Here it goes:

1. Can you provide a link for the solar powered hand crank battery charger (for regular batteries, not cell phone batteries);
2. You have recommended LED flashlights, do you have a link for your favorite one? I only saw the headlamps on your sight;
3. I have some storage questions:
· Can medicines such as: Alleve, Ibufrofen; aspirin and multi-vitamins be stored in the refrigerator for long term storage?
· I am also storing toiletries such as bar soap, shampoo, toothpaste, how can these be stored to maximize storage life?

Thanks for all your help.

1- Using that same charger ( the one that has the wire to charge the cell phone), you can hook it to a regular RW or other regular battery charger unit and charge batteries. You only need a wire adaptor that fits, or a spare set of wires cut and fit with alligator clips.
Still, I ‘ve done it with the hand crank and believe me, it’s a waste of time. It’s much better to leave it under the sun and let the solar panel recharge it.
Either that or simply get a dedicated solar charger,

2. The LED headlamp by energizer is one of my favorites. For most uses, I’ve always favored head lamps because they are so practical and allow you to use both hands.
My wife made fun of me and yes, the word “dork” was mentioned.
It only took one try during a blackout for her to ask me to get her one for herself. :)

For normal flashlights, pick one of the excellent Fenix lights
Try sticking to AA or AAA lights, and the ones that use LED.
Some have variable lumens and can double as “tactical” lights without needing the more expensive 123 batteries.
These are the kind f items that are well worth the bit of extra money.
Alleve, Ibufrofen and aspirin, I’ve used some that were a year past the expiration date and worked ok.
Aspirin I’ve had some that was even older, + 2 years, and it still stopped my headache.
As long as you keep them in a dark, cool, dry place, the expiration date in these is a bit more forgiving.
Vitamins, no, you have to keep track and rotate because they loose efficiency quick.
Id’ avoid storing in the refrigerator because of the humidity and extreme temp. Rather keep in a dry dark place and try to rotate as required.
Soap pretty much lasts forever, and I’ve used toothpaste that was many years old with no problem other than the paste drying up and needing to pop some of it out with a nail.
Toiletries store well. Again, a year or two give or take, but still try to rotate.
I’ve used shampoo that was almost a year beyond it’s expiration date and it was perfect.
Keep in mind that aromas ( shampoo, perfume ) degrades in time, say 5 years or more. I’ve had some perfume smell rather bad after 10 years, some last better than others but expect the smell to change for the worse, even if the shampoo clean just as well.
For the year or two you plan to keep in hand and rotate, it wont be a problem.



theotherryan said...

One earbud is a pretty good compromise I have used in the past. Enough to hear what is going on around you but also you have something to entertain/ distract you.

Joseph said...

A big help is to just by the stuff you would normally, just more of it, and rotate it. The idea is called FIFO (First In, First Out) and basically means you keep the oldest stuff at the front and use it first.

(And FIFO is NOT related to FerFAL :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ferfal for your timely response. I appreciate you giving your time to us. I was wondering, can we here in the states help at all? Reading about all those starving children made me want to cry. Are there any legit charities that we can donate to so these kids can be helped?
Thanks, Jacqueline

Andy said...

I have always had good luck with Princeton Tec headlamps. Not expensive, decent lumens, and a no questions asked warranty.

FerFAL said...

Jacqueline, sorry I missed that.
Best thing to do is find a Catholic Priest that works in one of the "villas" (poor settlements), in spite of people's opinion about RCC, no one here argues teh fact that tehy are one of teh very few organizations that work hard and dont steal teh money people donate.
They are generally small churches, very poor, and usually work along with soup kitchens.