Sunday, January 29, 2012

By Request: How to Make Hard Cider and Wine

In our last post, we looked into steps to survive a possible economic crash, and the subject of making alcohol came up in the comment section.
I tried making Beer years ago, but here's an even easier method to get quick booze made cheaply and with few supplies:

Hard Cider
Most people probably don't know this, but most of the original apple trees in the pre-industrial era were planted for making hard cider- healthy and loaded with alcohol.
Where I live, I spend most of the winter pruning hundred-year-old fruit orchards. Many of my customers have cider presses like the one below:

It is very important to shred the apples before going into the press. This is done with a hand-crank shredder or better yet one with an electric motor.
In a pinch, you could use a juicer at home, but hey, we're talking about a huge volume of fruit to process. Throw in some crabapples or pears if they are available.
You will then use a large container to hold the cider for fermenting.
From what I've found, there is plenty of natural yeast on the fruit and you do not need wine yeast. Most real brewers use large glass "carboys", 5-gallon containers that you can put a one-way airlock on to only let fermenting gasses escape and no outside air in.
But this is much more simple for trying to learn- use clean milk jugs like this one:

1. Take your cider home in sealed, clean jugs
2. To make airlocks, buy a pack of nice-sized balloons
3. Using strong tape (I use electricians tape) seal the balloon to the top of the cider-filled jug.
4. Simply let the jug sit in a moderately heated room.

The Balloon will inflate as fermenting gasses try to escape, and eventually the balloon will deflate as the sugars are converted into alcohol.

5. When the balloon deflates, take it off, throw a hand full of raisins into the jug and tape a new balloon on to the top. The process begins again with a secondary fermentation. In about a week, the second balloon will deflate and you are ready to bottle your cider.
6. Buy about three or four feet of clean, clear plastic tubing from a hardware store. There will be an inch of sediment in the bottom of the jugs and you must be careful not to disturb it. Use the tubing and siphon off the cider into a clean bottle and cap or cork. I used old plastic vodka bottles. If there is too much fermentation going on still, glass bottles can explode. That's why they usually cork glass wine bottles, but this should not be a problem.
What you end up with is a nice amber cider with quite a kick. I won a cider contest with this simple method.

Simple Wine
The best wine I ever made was on a farm down in Oregon. All up and down the edges of the fields the birds had sat in trees and shit out plum pits. We had hundreds and hundreds of wild plums everywhere. The colors ranged from dark purple to amber yellow, which seemed to be the sweetest, but maybe that's just because of their appearance.
We picked all that we wanted and made preserves and wine. Here's the simple method:

1. Start with a clean plastic bucket and lid:

2. We used wine yeast which you can get anywhere brewing supplies are sold. I suspect that you could do it without the commercial yeast but it works so much better.
3. Crush up the fruit,berries or whatever you are using and remove any pits, add warm water and yeast to the bucket.
4. Wrap the fruit up in a wad of cheesecloth to contain the solids:

If you don't have cheesecloth (available at hardware and craft stores) use some clean, thin white cloth. This helps keep the solids contained.
Place the lid loosely on the bucket. Remember, the idea is to let gasses escape and limit the outside air from getting in.
As with the Cider above, you will see fermentation slow. You could add a little sugar or some raisins if you want to give it another kick.
Using your clear tubing, siphon off the fermented wine into bottles, but make sure most of the fermentation is finished or you could have exploding bottles later.

We ended up with the most beautiful amber, dry fruit wine I've ever had. And BOY did it have a high alcohol content.

It's pretty hard to go wrong with these methods, feel free to experiment. You can use potatoes, any fruit, add honey...

If anyone else has some good methods, add them into the comment section!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When a Man's Home is His Castle

This is pretty cool if you haven't seen it:
A house that transforms into a fortress.*
Supposedly this is in South Africa. But from what I am reading on the fetid surf of the interwebs there's a lot of this going on.

2011 was a record year for gun sales. Sure, a lot of idiots think Obama is coming to take your guns. I like to remind them that the only President that has disarmed the American public was George W. Bush in Hurricane Katrina. In fact, Bush sent Mercenaries from private security firms into New Orleans to confiscate guns.

But ordinary families all around the U.S. are laying in extra food, water, alcohol, medical supplies and ammunition.
Is it the "End of the world as we know it?"
No, Maya mind, it's not the 2012 global apocalypse. But it's also not the false prediction of a technological breakdown of Y2K (If you're old enough to remember the year 2000 and the panic).

I too am stocking up. We are well positioned for an economic crash. We live in a remote island community with plenty of farmland and natural resources. Despite the long supply chain for products like gasoline and hardware, everything we need is within walking distance.
While the U.S. appears to have weathered the "Great Bank Robbery" perpetrated by Wall Street and investment houses in London, the other shoe is about to drop. Sometime in March we will find out if Greece defaults on the Debt that was loaded on it by slimeball traders with credit default swaps and bad paper.
Next comes Italy, Spain Portugal...

Here's a snip from "The Economic Collapse" Blog:

Investor George Soros:“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde:
"Once again, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has made a speech in which she openly warned that we are heading for a repeat of the "1930s".
She told an audience in Berlin on Monday that the globe is facing "a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand".
During the speech she called for a trillion more dollars to support financially troubled governments, and she made the following statement....

"It is not about saving any one country or region. It is about saving the world from a downward economic spiral."

So while the fantasy fortress in the above photos may be a little extreme, the purpose and intent is not lost on the folks that read Dojo Rat...

Further reading:

Survival Blog

The Economic Collapse Blog

And This Article

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lefty Diva: Why I Swapped Yoga for Kickboxing

Alternet has a short article by the Princess of Progressive Publishing, Katrina Vanden Heuvel.
Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of "The Nation" magazine, has written "Why I Swapped Yoga for Kickboxing".
Here are a few excerpts, followed by my commentary:

"Now, I have nothing against yoga, but in light of the threat to our country posed by decidedly hawkish GOP wannabes, I find – at least for my purposes as publisher and editor of the Nation – yoga's emphasis on serenity and pacifism to be frustrating at best, impractical at worst. It's not that there's anything objectionable about the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras; like many ancient spiritual texts, they are eminently wise and reasonable."
"Quite simply, yoga doesn't play in politics, which, for Republicans in this day and age, is all about winning, taking and imposing one's will upon others.
Now, more than ever, Americans need to stand up, to fight for what is rightfully ours; we cannot dispassionately let the right impose its will upon us merely because we believe we're closer to spiritual enlightenment than they are."
"Don't get me wrong: we need yogis and yoga in our society. Together, they represent a valuable addition to contemporary thought and culture. But for me, in a contentious election year, I find it more meaningful to lace up my gloves and kick some ass (or at least, a punching bag)."

What Vanden Heuvel says in her article is two-fold.
First, recent studies are showing that legions of out-of-shape office workers are doing serious injury with certain Yoga techniques. Take a look at this article from "The New York Times" titled "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body".

The second angle is something I addressed in my article on Hippie Punching, "Hippies Punch Back".

So much of the thought on the enlightened "Left" suggests that we strive for non-attachment. It's a very tolerant, Taoist ideology that accepts things as they are. While being good for managing stress and things that are just plain out of our control, this thought negates the concept that we are masters of our own destiny.

In "Hippies Punch Back", I sarcastically poke fun at Yuppie Jock-types, and warn them that Hippies can indeed punch back, and possibly do serious damage.
When I was a teenager, a biker gang rode into a park full of Hippie kids drinking wine and smoking pot. The bikers pulled a power trip and started fighting with the kids. One of them had a chainsaw chain wrapped with tape for a handle and was swinging it at the kids. Someone walked up behind him and hit him over the head with a wine bottle and the kids jumped the other biker and beat the shit out of both of them. The cops came and arrested the bikers, and within an hour both their bikes had been completely stripped and "disappeared".

For some reason, bullies on the far-right think they have the lock on toughness or survival skills. Apparently they've never seen what it takes to run a communal farm or have a baby at home.

Vanden Heuvel hints at a sea change in progressive thought. Thousands of workers shut down the capitol in Wisconsin recently, and threaten to re-call the Governor. The "Occupy" movement has been peaceful to a point, but shows no sign of backing down.
After being pushed and pushed by big corporate money and aggressive, self-righteous religious fundamentalists, things are changing.

Katrina Vanden Heuvel says it's time to lace up the gloves.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow on The Saloon

Well, we've been snowed in most of this week up on our undisclosed secret island hideout. Took the 4wd out one day and it turned into a sled ride. The wife was driving down a steep hill with ice and snow, got a little sideways and had a slow-motion slide that left us perched over an 8-ft bank looking into the woods.

So we sat there with the truck tipping back and forth, about to take a slow roll.
-My wife did great. I told her to turn the wheels directly downhill and drop into the woods, aiming for a neighbor's driveway below. She goosed it down the bank, through the neighbors and back up onto the road.
Made a run to our village store, about twenty minutes away. Of course, it's right next to the local Tavern, so...

Swamp Ridge Saloon

Meanwhile, back at the ranch;
Last night a couple of friends that live nearby walked down to our Saloon. We had a good fire in the wood stove, a keg of Manny's Ale along with multiple shots of Tequila.
The weather is breaking south of us, but up on the border islands we are blanketed with cold Canadian polar air and the snow hasn't started to melt.
Burning tons of firewood, reading, watching re-runs of Matlock and Gunsmoke...

Hey, I know it's not Minnesota, but when this stuff goes on for more than a week it gets a little old!

Monday, January 16, 2012

M.L.K : U.S. Government Involved in the Killing, Cover-up

In fact, nearly all the progressive leadership was killed in the '60's

On today, the celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, we must also remember that King was the target of a sophisticated conspiracy to kill him.
The short video above provides the results of the 1999 jury trial "King Family Versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators".

Here are a few excerpts from an article by Carl Herman:

"Martin Luther King’s family and his attorney, William F. Pepper, won a civil trial that found US government agencies guilty in the wrongful death of Martin Luther King. The 1999 trial, King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators, is the only trial ever conducted on the assassination of Dr. King. The King family’s attempts for a criminal trial were denied, as suspect James Ray’s recant of what he claimed was a false confession was denied."
"The overwhelming evidence of government complicity introduced and agreed as comprehensively valid by the jury includes the 111th Military Intelligence Group were sent to Dr. King’s location, and that the usual police protection was pulled away just before the assassination. Military Intelligence set-up photographers on a roof of a fire station with a clear view to Dr. King’s balcony. 20th Special Forces Group had an 8-man sniper team at the assassination location on that day. Memphis police ordered the scene where multiple witnesses reported as the source of shooting cut down of their bushes that would have hid a sniper team. Along with sanitizing a crime scene, police abandoned investigative procedure to interview witnesses who lived by the scene of the shooting."

The reason people deny the field of conspiracy theory is two-fold: some are just plain crazy racist rants (Protocols of the Elders of Zion etc.), but the other main reason is if excepted in part or complete truth - It shatters the foundation of social order that most decent citizens grow up with.

If people accept that Jack and Bobby Kennedy were killed by or with the complicity of the State. If Dr. King and Malcolm X were victims of the same plots.

-If Nixon was taken out by his own CIA.

-If the Republicans committed Treason by negotiating with the North Vietnamese without President Johnson's knowledge.

-If The Republicans committed Treason by arraging for the Iranians to hold U.S. hostages until Reagan was elected.

-If those dealings were the actual start of "The Iran Contra Affair"

-If Oliver North's Contra supply operation ran guns to the Contras in Nicaragua and flooded U.S. cities with cheap Cocaine on the return flights.

-If there was a vast right-wing conspiracy against President Bill Clinton

-If Al Gore actually won the State of Florida when the recount was completed, and George W. Bush was not a legitimate President.

-If the Bush administration ignored the warnings before 911 while "The Project for a New American Century" stated they needed a "New Pearl Harbor" to push their middle-east policy.

-If Dick Cheney insisted in being present when George Bush testified about 911 in closed session- to make sure he kept the storyline intact.

-If witnesses believe the hijacked 911 flight over Pennsylvania was shot down.

-If the Anthrax attacks against Democrats Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy and various media outlets came from U.S. Government weapons labs.

-If the Bush administration repeatedly lied us into a useless war in Iraq.

-If huge financial and industrial corporations can buy the government outright.

If these things are true, then it would shatter the very foundation of "The American Dream" of free choice, free speech, one-man one-vote, Democracy itself.

Most people just can't go there.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chinese Bodyguard Training

Our Buddy Bob Patterson from "Striking Thoughts" alerted Dojo Rat Headquarters about this one: Female bodyguard training in China!
Now pay attention fellow Dojo Rats, this will be an interactive project for all of us!

Here's what Bob Said:
"I smell an opportunity for DR female body guard training camp in the Pacific Northwest. I might quit my job to help you teach..."

From "Buzzfeed":

"Trainees gather at the beach as they wait for the beginning of a training session for female bodyguards organised by Tianjiao Special Guard/Security Consultant Ltd. Co. in Sanya, Hainan province January 8, 2012. According to the company, a total of 20 women, mostly college graduates, participated in the training session on Sunday, which was the first open group training for female bodyguards in China. All trainees will have to undergo 8-10 months of training to develop sufficient skills to serve their clients. The company will offer the best trainee a chance to attend further study at the International Security Academy in Israel. Picture taken January 8, 2012."

Now here's where all you fellow Dojo Rats out there can help;
Go to the comment section and give ol' Bob every kind of excuse you can think of so he can quit his job and open up a female Chinese bodyguard training camp up here on our undisclosed secret island hideout.
I mean it, Bob needs a new career, comment away!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Diary of a Naked Yoga Girl: Thoughts on Body Image

Alternet has a funny and thoughtful piece by Tolly Moseley titled "Naked Yoga? Why I Stripped Down to Do "Clothing Optional" Yoga"

Here's a few clips:

"My instructor looked at me from the head of the dim room and smiled. Not in a creepy way, more in a “you can do this!” way. But I wasn’t so sure. I had struck a Warrior One pose a thousand times before, yet I still stumbled into the person next to me more often than I cared to admit. Normally I’d just offer a little self-deprecating shoulder shrug and move on, but what would I say in this situation? “Oops! I just ran into your bare penis”?"
"A popular euphemism for “naked yoga” is “clothing optional yoga,” but for me, opting for clothing would defeat the whole purpose. Naked yogis flock to the path to achieve radical body acceptance, after all. Also: If I learned anything in my college art classes, it’s not that raw nudity was sexual so much as the suggestion of nudity. Leaving some parts teasingly covered. Botticelli knew it, Victoria’s Secret knew it, and I knew it. I was going all. The. Way."

You can read the rest of her story and how the classes worked out on Alternet.

It brings up a lot of issues about body image, and what is natural in today's plastic society.
In my youth, my average middle-class family was not at all prudish, but somewhat conservative in body image. There was no skinny-dipping or flaunting of bodies (until I got away from my parents).

One of my greatest memories was the first time I went to some hot springs in the Oregon wilderness. I was camping with my friend and his girlfriend up by the McKenzie river in late fall. We had a good campfire and lots of food and Beer. It was sleeting, cold, wet and dark. So I was surprised when they said they wanted to go up to the hot springs, because I didn't even know there were hot springs up there.

We grabbed beer, flashlights and towels and drove up the road about five miles, parking at a trail head.
I got out in the sleet and wind and thought "This had better be good..."
We started up the trail through the slush and mud, and finally came to some steps cut out of tree rounds set into the bank.
As we neared the top of the hill we could look down into the creekbed below, and it blew my mind; there was heavy steam coming out of a series of pools beside the creek, and the entire scene was lit up by candels. Each pool was slightly hotter than the one below it, and there were naked men and women in each. We sat there for hours and sipped our Beer in a wilderness heaven.

That's about all it takes to get over body image issues. If you've ever been to a nude beach or similar setting, you know that very few of the bodies you see are fashion model types. Up where I live people freely swim naked in the lakes and ocean, and we share a "clothing optional" Sauna with visitors that come to a small hippie-oriented resort nearby.

Check out Tolly Moseley's article linked above and see how she got past her body image issues.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Aging Into Your Martial Art

My how the cold, dark days of winter and working outside every day make us old Dojo Rats a little stiffer, achy and slower to heal.
If you are over 50 like me, you've very likely given some serious thought to how to keep your art and Martial Spirit alive.
I started in Karate around 1978, and I've seen scores of practitioners transition from tournament champions to self-defense specialists to satisfying health and hobby level players like myself.
Back in the day when I was climbing the Dan ranks, I knew high-level Masters that couldn't kick above groin level any more. After thirty years of spectacular jumping and spinning kicks, they resigned themselves to practical efficient movement that made sense for their age. Kind of makes us wonder why even try to learn something like a jump 360 degree spinning-hook-double-latte-horsekiller anyway...
It seems then that one should prepare for the day when we give up dynamic power and move into the more subtle methods of body manipulation.

There are a few criticisms of the above video we could all state, but let's look at what works in this context. This is Master Hiu, a former Tae Kwon Do champion that took up the Chinese internal arts in Malaysia. His website is "Tai Chi Secret Movements".

As you can see in this light sparring session, the Master yields, changes angles and takes advantage of what the opponent gives him.
This type of sparring will not prepare you for an MMA fight, but how many of us actually care to compete in cagefighting anyway? This kind of movement is sufficient to handle the occasional drunk or troublemaker. The techniques show fist and elbow strikes, a standing arm-bar and various sweeps.

At our old-guy Dojo, this is usually the level of sparring we play with. In fact, we usually start in a push-hands pattern to get moving with rhythm and then add in punching, roll-back arm-bars, knee kicks and the like.
The thing is, both partners must move at the same speed, usually very slow at first. Then speed can gradually increase but should never be fast. The best learning is slow, with each partner filling a void presented like the proverbial water moving around rocks in a stream. It's best to allow your partner to complete some techniques and not be too competitive.

Obviously, solo form work can stay with you well into your old age. We all know of the benefits of movement to prevent arthritis and other aging problems.
But the thing that makes people I have trained with fall away from Martial Arts practice is that they hit a plateau and never progress further.
Imagine if you are that "jump spin-kick guy", and you can't use those techniques anymore.
Do you give up and quit?
Why not change your techniques to what works for you. How about learning weapons forms or Chi Gong energy exercises?

There are many, many types of martial movement that can satisfy health and self-defense needs as you age.
Keep an open mind, and don't be afraid to start fresh as a beginner in something different and sensible for your age and needs.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cute Hippie Chick of the Month: "Chubby" Edition

For everyone who puts on a few pounds during the Holidaze:






Ok, After the nightmare of the Hell-idays I think I'm finally back to my senses.
Now let's get everything back on schedule please...
Regular work days
Regular Dojo practice nights
Regular meals
Regular amount of Beer
And hopefully regular Blog posting!