History Lessons!

By GrannyMumantoog, a Trail Mix Contributor

I was going to write something the other day, in the Cassandra topic, based on something Pat commented, about how ill prepared most people are today to deal with living off the grid or at least being able to survive in minimalist conditions. Pat mentioned that we don’t have enough books and things to help us survive. I was going to comment at the time, but I knew that I had lot to say on the subject so I decided to write a post about it.

I think survival skills that everyone once took for granted are a lost art for most people. We live in such an instant everything society that people are easily devastated when they find themselves having to survive without all the easy lifestyle must-haves they’re so accustomed to.

History is something that most people these days don’t really appreciate except as something long ago and far away. History is very much all around us, all the time. We just stopped looking and learning. Especially learning. Thankfully, for some people it is part of their every day thought processes, activities, fun and so much more.

There are whole groups of people who consider themselves preppers, survivalists etc and since the election, I think their numbers have grown. They are on one end of the spectrum. There are others who just love history and what it can teach them. These people love to pass on what they’ve learned in one form or another. These people include re-enactors, people who have educational YouTube channels and there are even some YouTube RV channels and blogs that are actually very good at exploring historical sites and talking about history.

One history enthusiast that I follow has a website and a channel on YouTube. Townsands is his channel and he has produced quite a variety of how to videos. To clarify, they are how to do things like the folks would do them in the 17th & 18th century, but there is a wealth of side history involved too. He published one today that is just about his love of history so I thought I’d share it since I was already writing this when I watched it and thought it was appropriate.

So, to reiterate, there are the preppers, and history enthusiasts. Then there are people like me, who dabble. I have always loved history and living in Mass history abounds! I’ve spent time in old Plymouth, old Sturbridge, old Deerfield and dozens of other places like them with museums, re-enactors and solemn sites and museums to explore. Of course Boston is a treasure trove of history and I’ve explored quite a bit of it. But my love of history isn’t why I started dabbling.

I originally started about 5 years ago preparing myself to eventually move into an RV full time and live off the grid as much as possible. Even before that I purchased a small camp stove and some cylinders of propane to keep on hand in power emergencies, like snowstorms. I picked up an old fashioned percolator and a few LED lanterns along the way too. I recently replaced them with better ones. Another thing that is essential for living off the grid is a magnesium fire starter. These are very small, often can hook onto a key chain and will last a very long time. They’re pretty cheap too, and if you have a baggie full of dryer lint you’re good to go in an emergency. No need to learn how to rub two sticks together. 😀  Of course it goes without saying that some knowledge of water purification and, at its simplest, keeping a bag of water purifying tablets handy is essential. This is a pretty big subject but I thought I’d just touch the surface a little.

The main part of my dabbling has to do with something Pat talked about regarding books. I started a few years ago gathering all kinds of kindle books. I also have a very small solar charging panel that folds up and can fit in a backpack. It’s stong enough to charge your cell phones, tablets, small laptops and a few other small itmes like rechargable lanterns, for instance. I started doing this because it occurred to me that books are heavy. There are a few special volumes that I might take with me if I went off the grid, but mostly, books would be dead weight! I have a small laptop/tablet hybrid and my kindle app inside is filled with books. I also have a usb stick that has over 1000 books on it that I can plug into my tablet for more choices. And I even have some audio books so that if need be, I can audio read myself to sleep. 😉 The audio books are all classics which makes them especially pleasant to listen to at night. At least that’s what I think.

I began collecting all these books when I started to think about: what happens for extended periods of time if I’m out of range of even minimal wifi, power or people? How would I entertain myself all night long in some wild location? And I realized my tablet would be my only form of entertainment as long as I had a solar charger. I’m admittedly a little wacko with the book thing, but ever since the election I’ve thought more and more about what would happen if...so I’ve added even more books in the last year. I’ve even started collecting old reference books, encyclopedia type books, wildcrafting books (foraging for wild foods), other how-to books and more. You’d be surprised how many kindle books you can get for free or very minimal cost. Any pdf can be turned into a kindle book, which makes most of the Project Gutenberg library available for free!

I may never live my RV, off the grid dream. I still think collecting these things is useful when I look at all the recent disasters or think about a potential war scenario. Shudder! I was a girl scout and my boys were in scouts. I was a den mother too. “Be prepared” is needed now before we forget how to survive completely. As it stands now, a lot of history will always be at my fingertips! My, now extensive, library may be varied enough to save my life in the future. At the very least, I’ll never run out of things to read!

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38 thoughts on “History Lessons!”

  1. way to go, granny!  not only could that “be preparing” of yours be a life saver, it may save a few other lives you’ll never know about.  be sure to attach instructions to your trove for that future traveler in need who stumbles upon it.  she/he may not know what magnesium fire starters and purifier pills are let alone a solar charger or how it works.

  2. Jamie, thanks for linking garrison’s sept 13, 2016  article on Hillary.  can you believe that was a whole year ago? these passages struck me as noteworthy:

    What some people see as a relentless quest for power strikes me as the good habits of a serious Methodist. Be steady. Don’t give up. It’s not about you. Work for the night is coming.


    Someday historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada, zero and ixnay and will conclude that, almost a century after women’s suffrage, almost 50 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, a woman was required to run for office wearing concrete shoes. Check back fifty years from now and if I’m wrong, go ahead and dance on my grave.


    here she is again last night on pbs newshour Dissecting the election, Hillary Clinton sees dangers for democracy

    link includes transcript as well as video.



    Well done Granny!!!  Speaking of those future generations, I’ve always found those “What Is It?” quizzes interesting with a picture of something whose name and use you had to identify.  As a child the thing above that could be made from any solid material was in almost every home.  Today they have virtually disappeared except for collectors browsing around Etsy.


  4. from the above pbs interview, the possibly good trump and the bad trump in her eyes:

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Having said all that, if he is able, as president, to oversee the passage of legislation to protect the dreamers, these young people who came to this country as children, undocumented, but they came here young, if he’s able, if President Trump is able to get that done, something we’re seeing movement on in the last few days, he will deserve credit for that, won’t he?


    JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, after so many presidents tried to do it.

    HILLARY CLINTON: Yes, he will deserve credit.

    I will be among those giving him credit for it, because memorializing that protection for these 800,000, you know, striving young people in legislation would be a legitimate accomplishment. And that would only come about because of bipartisan support, that he would then be able to sign such a bill.

    [….but later asked about foreign affairs….]

    So, I think that you have got a president who makes diplomatic pronouncements on Twitter, who gives aid and comfort to people like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, because often what he says is not about them and the threat they pose, so much as going after our friends and allies, as, you know, President Trump just did going after South Korea.

    That makes no sense at all. And he’s being played by these dictators in a way that undercuts our credibility and the capacity to come up with a diplomatic solution in that region and other places.

    So, I’m deeply concerned. And I think, in many ways, the Trump presidency poses a clear and present danger to our country and to the world.

  5. flatus, condolences for the windians loss yesterday…. it was a good 22 game ride tho’ and made AL history.

  6. Granny, that is much more than a primer. If time and energy permit, please consider publishing a fully illustrated 300-page indexed reference on the subject. You are absolutely on the right track.

  7. GrannyM…    one of the most interesting and best discussions I’ve been part of for my bookclub was for a book entitled “Into The Forest” by Jean Hegland.  It is a fictional account of 2 sisters living in the woods of northern California at the time of some ecological disaster.  Both their parents are dead, the electrical grid is down, and they must learn to survive in a post civilized world.  It really made everyone at the bookclub think about the possibilities and what they’d do if it happened.  I highly recommend it.

  8. Pat, I wasn’t disappointed; they were magnificent. The hometown crowd gave them a standing ovation which the team reciprocated by climbing out to the field and cheering the crowd. This was the Cleveland Tribe composed of players and fans that was born in 1901. And absolutely no disrespect of the Erie and Ojibwa and other Indian Nations was and is intended by that choice of the team name; the owners chose a name that they hoped would reflect the strength, drive and determination of their players and supporters. They chose well.

  9. Granny, you inspire me to hang on to my collection of Mark Twain’s entire works.

    Nice thing about a book you don’t have to sit on hold with your server company for an hour, as I did last night, to get our site working. Only to be told that it was a scheduled upgrade they had not bothered to notify me about, or put in their phone greeting so customers don’t sit on hold for no reason.

  10. We live off the grid.  It is not as hard as you might think.  You have to plan and you cannot prograstinate

  11. Pat’s Cuban sonic mystery.

    My not-in-depth analysis favors the culprits to be the North Koreans in concert with staunch anti-revisionist Castronistas. The DPRK has been a staunch Cuban ally going back to the early 1960s. They have the technical capability to create any type of attack that comes to mind and, with the help of the Castronistas, deploy it. Conveniently, although the DPRK and US embassies are in the Vedado district of Havana, they are well separated so there is no risk of hitting their own people.

    We must protect our people. If that means minimizing our staff and recalling the embassy until Raoul sorts out the situation, if he can, then we should do that. If he can’t, then we must reevaluate the state of our relationship and the desirability of having travelers and business people potentially at risk.

  12. KGC,
    What utilities have you eschewed?

    At our farm, the first week we had electricity we plugged in our 12-inch portable GE TeeVee and watched Roger Bannister break the 4-minute mile; that was on 6 May 1954. Later on we had party-line telephone. Never had gas or water.

    I enjoyed helping my grandmother trim the wicks on the kerosene lamps and go through the ritual cleaning and refilling that they required as well as the periodic refilling of the kitchen stove. Then we’d drive to Hudson to get ice for the icebox. And an ice-cream cone at Isaly’s.

  13. We are not hooked up to any utility but because Mr. Cracker is a genius we have electricity and running water.   The electricity is produced with a combination of hydro and solar.  When Mr. C bought the property people thought he was crazy.  But he uses gravity flow water and there are two water sources a creek and a spring.  We are not well positioned for wind which some of our neighbors are using quite successfully.   We don’t live without  we just have to produce it ourselves.

  14. Being without power, and thus TV/Internet for 4 1/2 days really got me out of the news consuming habit and, unlike a hot shower and reveling in plentiful ice, it’s not something I’ve rushed back to.

    Another effect is sleep habits. Funny how living by candlelight 8pm seems like midnight and you’re in a coma by 9, up at daylight.

  15. Very excited David gets here tonight. Our unofficial anniversary (the day we met) is upon us, having a barbecued sammich party with friends tomorrow, Monday night taking advantage of a $35 prix fixe September special at the Four Seasons Hotel at Disney World, where you can watch the fireworks from your table on the 17th floor.

  16. Two history books I’m reading are “Blood on the Moon ” about the Lincoln assassination and “Miracle at Philadelphia” about the drafting of the Constitution.

    Speaking of history, 21 years ago today Mrs P & I got married. We’re on a micro vacation to celebrate.  It’s 80, breezy, partly cloudy and perfect for lunch on the patio. Great idea. I think we’ll do that.

  17. Happy Anniversary to the Pogos & the Poobahs.

    My Y2K prep bag was replenished after 9/11, in case I needed to get out of a highly-populated area with the bare necessities.

    Having grown up without hot water or central air/heat, and growing most of our own food,  I know how to get by with very little, but I have no desire to rough it.  I like basic comfort.

    All of the extra gadgets invented for ease can already be done with a frying pan, a knife, a saucepan.  (I hate stuff on my counters, so on the rare occasion I want toast, I make it in a skillet.)


  18. Thanks, looking forward to another 21, as the saying goes, good lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

  19. KumCho and I met on 12 Dec 61 in her aunt’s tailor shop. We waited until after an overseas separation before we married on 17 Dec 64. The period apart was just to make sure of what we already knew was true. In any case, that’s just trivia at this point.

    We’re here to celebrate the anniversaries of Craig and David’s first meeting and of the Pogos’ nuptials. Happy anniversary all!

  20. flatus, thanks.  your assessment sounds likely.  here’s some speculation on the “how” not the who or why from tech folks at

    cnbc: Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

    [….long intro bringing us up to date….]

    …..some of these incidents might have been attacks with a covert sound weapon that “operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences,” the Associated Press claimed, based on the statements of unnamed US officials. Other attacks may have produced a loud buzzing or scraping noise, anonymous government sources told CNN. On Thursday, the AP added that these incidents may have happened at night, when victims felt vibrations or heard ringing noises near their beds at home, and, reportedly, at a hotel. However, others who experienced symptoms don’t remember hearing or feeling anything out of the ordinary, the AP says.

    Silence would be unusual for a weapon that uses sound energy to disorient, incapacitate, or deter people. In theory, a sonic weapon could do this by causing ear pain, by making a person dizzy, or by vibrating a person’s insides at a frequency that could “stun them, nauseate them, ‘or even liquefy their bowels and reduce them to quivering diarrheic messes,'” as one journalist wrote in the 1990s.

    In reality, sonic weapons are much less sophisticated than the hype, and they involve significantly less diarrhea. They work by being noisy and obnoxious — which means that the crudest sonic weapon is loud music. In 1989, for instance, US forces unleashed a barrage of Black Sabbath and Guns N’ Roses to drive Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of hiding. In 1993, the FBI tried the same trick — blasting recordings of dying rabbits and Tibetan prayer chants in an effort to end a standoff with the Texas-based religious group, the Branch Davidians. (The attempt didn’t work.) Loud music has also been used to torture detainees at Guantanamo.

    The Department of Defense’s list of non-lethal weapons includes ones specifically designed to use sound — but these work by loudly startling their targets, not by subtly causing major health complications. The flash bang grenade, for example, uses a bright flash of light and a loud bang to stun its victims.

    The list also includes so-called acoustic hailing devices that can project both verbal commands and earsplitting beams of noise through the air (or underwater). One such device is called the Long Range Acoustic Device or LRAD, a sound cannon that can “send messages, warnings, and harmful, pain-inducing tones over longer distances than normal loudspeakers.” If fired too close to its targets, the LRAD can cause ear pain and long term hearing loss, according to the 2009 book ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons. The New York Police Department faced a lawsuit for unleashing the LRAD on protesters and journalists in 2014.

    Of course, the potential to cause deafness is a major design flaw for a sound weapon. Why? “[I]t can be expected that the weapon will cease to work if the victim quickly becomes permanently deaf from exposure to high intensity sound,” according to a report prepared for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center.

    [….discusses ultra- and infra-sound and chemical exposure, experiments and findings, but dismisses them…]

    It certainly would be wild for the existence of an extraordinary new sonic weapon to be discovered, but so far it seems improbable. It’s hard to jump to the strangest and most fantastical conclusion when there may be other plausible explanations out there. But for now, scientists still have a big mystery to solve.

  21. Pat: You are so right. I’ve thought about the fact that in a worse case scenario, I may meet some folks who haven’t prepped or dabbled and I will be happy to help them out. Both my sons are dabblers too so there will be knowledge to share to be sure.

    RE trump & DACA: I think it’s nauseating that people are already talking about praising him if he gets a good outcome for the DACA kids. He’s the one who officially wanted to kick them all over the border to begin with. Of course adulation is all he’s interested in so if it saves the kids I’ll have to stomach it. 🙁

    Jamie: First the GK piece from yesterday made me cry. I remember it from last year and if still has that effect on me. I so wish we had gotten a real President (Hillary) instead of the maniac, piece of excrement we have to deal with now.

    Love the darning egg. I used to have one with a handle. Don’t know when I stopped darning but in our instant everything lives it’s easier to buy a new pair of socks than to darn. Of course in our possible future, going without, lives, it’s another skill from history that we’ll be in dire need of. It’ll be mend it or do without! In that case better go find a nice big, smooth river rock 🙂

    Flatus: Thanks, but I don’t think my writing skills would translate to a 300 page tome LOL! Fortunately, there are many of them out there and many are free for the taking.

    RR; I’ve had Into The Forest on my list for quite a while, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Also they made a movie of it which is in my Amazon Prime video watchlist, but I haven’t watched it yet…The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get 😉

    Craig: If you have a rechargeable tablet you could download Mark Twain to a kindle app. Once it’s in there you are independent of the internet.  Here you go!

    KGC: You are among the best and the brightest! Having solar power is ideal for future survival. And you are doubly fortunate to be living in a rural(?) area, away from future throngs of panicked, unprepared potentially violent people in cities.

    BiD: Good point, we should always check our Go Bag supplies to be sure we are prepared with the best that will be needed. I think I’m lucky that I’ve always been comfortable in the woods and I always loved camping. I can fish, make a fire, cook, treat simple wounds, build a basic shelter etc etc etc. My son has a very expensive Go Bag but I just dabble and collect things as I go. It will all end up in a bag or in my RV if I get one.

    Happy anniversary to Craig & Pogo. Personal histories are as real and viable as any you read in books. Some personal mementos would be a must have addition to any “Go Bag”.  A lot of what we know about history in general comes from people’s personal recollections and precious mementos they saved to share with their progeny and generations of folks they didn’t even know.

  22. pleasant discussion about the woman problem from pov of a female politician and a Latina actor in today’s ny times 
    Table for Three by PHILIP GALANES: Hillary Clinton and America Ferrera on Pain and Progress (and Hiking).  here are the concluding paragraphs: 

    PG: As we speak, you’re days away from launching your new book. I’ve read the whole thing, not just the snippets that leaked. I found it human and vulnerable, not a blame fest. But the coverage has been angry. Are you nervous, or are you thinking about the 63 million voters who are ——
    HC: You mean the 65.8 million voters?
    PG: Say it again?
    HC (laughing): 65.8! Am I nervous? No.
    Haters are going to hate, but I’m determined to tell my truth and throw it to the future. The reason it’s important for my fellow Americans to pay attention is because what happened to me can happen again. It can undermine our democracy.
    PG: Your plan, America?
    AF: To become the biggest, best, badass version of myself possible to honor the lives of women like Hillary Clinton, like Gloria Steinem, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. To honor the sacrifices they made so women in my generation will have more access.
    PG: So, neither of you plans to “shut up and go away already,” as requested by several media outlets?
    HC: You are right about that, Philip!

  23. Flatus,

    I wish I could have known KumCho. Thank You for keeping her spirit alive. I remember fondly that lovely avatar you had of the two of you.

  24. Oh um, just got back from Daytona Beach and Barnes and Noble, got my copy of “What Happened”.. Can’t wait to get started, tomorrow out by the pool sounds nice ?

    I agree with all who said it was hard to watch HRC on Rachael. I just hope those who longed for Trump and of course thought Pence was OK are blissfully happy, NOT!


    Thanks for the video of HRC and the News Hour.

  25. Flatus

    I always love that they always close the Proms with Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.

  26. Jamie,
    Without their incredible sense of tradition and country, those peoples would have withered on the vine long ago. I look forward to the last day of the Proms every year to provide the assurance that no matter how many Trumps we may create, the values we hold dear will survive. Cheers!

  27. Looks like anniversary weekend, good wishes to all.

    Thirteen years ago this weekend, Mrs, Jack and myself flew out to Reno Nevada and did the deed. We got married by a Bishop in dirty tennis shoes. He must have been the real deal as we are still together.

    But the anniversary we really celebrate is the full moon in May and 2 years earlier. It was our first date. We ended up in the emergency room till 3am. We call it the moon of the broken thumb. It was my thumb and Mrs. Jacks lawn chair that mangled my thumb. It is why we are together. After all she broke me she had to keep me.


  28. As to the survivalist theme. I think I will pass but if needed, I still have my grain grinder, sausage grinder, pressure canner and several boxes of mason jars. Haven’t canned anything in years except my yearly pickled tomatoes. Like BID, our house didn’t have indoor plumbing and I watched my mother work in the garden and can food for us to survive. It was a lot of work for her just to put food on the table.

    So I really like decadent things like plumbing and super markets full of food. Kinda old fashion of me.


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