Back in December my Chevy Trailblazer, that I had been driving for over 7 years, caught fire on the way to work. I made it to the parking lot at the office, got out, popped the hood and saw a flame about 9″ wide. I shut the hood, got my stuff out, and called 9-1-1. By the time the firefighters got to where I was the fire had gone out.

For a few weeks I had been hearing a low-pitch droning or grinding sound when I’d shift into drive. I never heard this when backing up, only when I was first pulling away from a stop. I never heard it in Park or Neutral. I kept telling myself, during that time, that I needed to have it looked at. But I never got around to taking it to anyone.

All that changed on Friday, December 16th.

I called AAA and got it towed to a garage. I sat in the waiting area at the garage for a couple of hours waiting for a ride. While I was there the freak-out portion of the morning’s events presented itself in the form of overthinking.  I knew the vehicle would need a rebuild of the transmission at best, and a new one at worst. I also knew that I didn’t have the cash to have the work done. So I set an appointment with a sales rep at Carmax.

At Carmax I sat in a few vehicles, mostly other SUVs, but I have to give my parents rides to their appointments and they had a really hard time getting in and out of the Trailblazer, and it was lower to the ground that most SUVs I see. As I was taking with the rep I brought up the subject of cars. She let me sit in a few, and towards the end I checked out a couple of Nissan Altimas. There was a tan 2014 that was a couple of thousand lower than a 2015 next to it and had lower mileage. The problem was the claim tag. Carmax places a hold tag on the dash of vehicles someone has said they want. So I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it. The rep looked at the tag and realized that it had expired. You have 72 hours to come back and complete the purchase, and that customer failed to do that. So she filled out a claim ticket for me and we went inside to start the qualification process.

A couple of hours later I drove off the lot in a 2014 Nissan Altima with 20,100 miles on it.

It took a few weeks to for me to quit feeling like I was low enough to drive under the car in front of me. I had a pickup from 2003 to 2010, and a midsize SUV from 2010 to 2017. So I was used to a different perspective on the road. For a while. being in a car was weird.

The plan was to hold off getting into another car loan until this coming summer, but the universe and the Trailblazer had other ideas. I’m still  working on cutting costs so I can fit this car note into my budget better. The gas mileage is vastly improved over the SUV. So that was an immediate reduction. I’m still learning about the Altima, even the controls have taken getting used to, having had GM vehicles for nearly 20 years.

If there’s a ‘Hell’ I’ll probably be there, and that’s okay

Physically, as in a geometric location prepositionally oriented to the Earth (below), or a co-planar alter dimension of roasty torments, probably not. But in the hearts and minds of some of the people I’ll leave behind, I’ll be ‘down there,’ wailing and gnashing my teeth because I chose to no longer believe.

The trouble with the afterlife is that we have to die to find out what it is. We talk about it as if we’ve sent NASA battlebot rovers through the tunnel and into the light and we’ve been watching the live feed on the agency’s website. The truth is, we don’t know. We have no reproducible evidence of what, if anything, is over there, or if there is in fact an ‘over there.’ There is a lot of speculation and supposition among people, and most of it is very fervently held.

We live on in the hearts and minds of the people whose lives we’ve touched. That’s the only ‘afterlife’ that’s verifiable. It’s the only afterlife that we do know. That’s why forgiveness is so important, not because of a threat that God won’t forgive you if you refuse. It’s so that you’re not carrying around the burden of encounter after encounter, and situation after situation for years afterwards, and possibly to your grave.

When people die and someone sees them in Hell because they chose to not believe in Christ, or at least to not believe in the ‘Christ’ that was being preached at them, it means that they have a place in their heart for the purpose of burning and torturing people, and they’ve placed that person, their memories of that person, there. And if they have a particularly sick pathology, they take delight in the fact, and count it a blessing to one day observe it. That idea goes back to at least the 13th century, to St. Thomas Aquinas.

I personally know a few people who shine the outsides of their mental furnaces, and whenever I go, if they’re still here, they’ll likely toss me in with the others.

The thing is, eternity, the other side, whatever that is…whatever experience, if any that I’ll have when my time ends here, that’s between me and the creator. That’s between me and the universe. It’s not anyone else’s business. And it certainly has nothing to do with whatever movie is playing in someone else’s head, now or after I leave this experience.

An impulse buy for your fire-starting kit


I found this near the checkout at a local grocery store last night. I had been thinking about a small/travel-size container for petroleum jelly for the fire kit. This is the size I have been looking for. It was 97 cents. It seems to be a good quick buy item if you’re getting last minute provisions before going out to the field. In a disaster situation, these should go fairly quickly after the milk, bread, and D-cell batteries.

Terra Nova – Episode 2 Instinct

Terra-Nova-TV-Series-2 300The colonists have started survival training but they’re not going far enough with it. These are sheeple from our future who’ve been transported to the dinosaurs. They’re still relying on stuff…gadgets…tech. In survival training we need to understand fire, not just the fact that we need fire or that it can save our lives but that it’s sacred and alive. We need to know that it can both sustain life and end it.

I’d have felt better had I seen the characters using a bow or hand drill. The fact that their training begins with some sort of electronic lighters tells me that they’re still counting on having their stuff with them to get them through whatever. We have to understand that we may find ourselves having to survive with nothing but whatever we can find around us. We might not have a knife or rope and may have to make both of those. Survival might require breaking off branches and being lucky enough to find one straight enough to create a hand drill. Thoughts like “I wish I had this or that” are not going to be helpful. Stone-age thinking is what needs to be at the forefront. All our modern culture is little more than layers piled atop that of our lithic ancestors. What if something causes those layers to dissolve?

To consider the layering, for fire we have to have friction, something to ignite and something to burn. Then we start fashioning the tools to give us the heat and finding stuff to ignite and burn. As we evolve this process we start to pre-cut things to keep on hand. Later we come up with fancy things like butane lighters and bricks made of sawdust and wax which again we have to keep on hand. So at the end we’re relying on stuff and systems of support to provide for our lives and the survivalist gets ridiculed for always asking, what if those things suddenly aren’t there?

I hope the show includes more scenes of survival training. We’ll have to see.

That this knowledge shall not perish from the Earth…

That’s why I’m a prepper.

That’s why I’m studying primitive/aboriginal skills.

I’m fairly tech savvy. Computers have been a part of my life since the late 70s. When I was a junior in high school, there was a consumer math course I wanted to take. The counselor tried talking me out of it saying I was “too smart” because I was in 2nd yr algebra. I told her that working those problems won’t help me balance a checkbook or understand a mortgage. When it comes to preparedness and survival, I do not like the thought of encountering some massive devastation and having to rely on “services” because I was on autopilot with everyone else and did nothing to prepare or because I don’t know how to build a fire and all the body of knowledge related to that. A few hundred years ago everyone knew these things. I’ve decided that I need to know them as well… to be capable in both wilderness and city.

Society and its mouthpiece, the media, does us a disservice. When anything becomes overwhelming, we’re encouraged to look outside ourselves. Someone will come. Someone will fix it. Someone will make it better. Someone will make it not so. The price of that help is moving beyond most people’s ability to pay. Then if we are to turn to ourselves, to be self-reliant, it stands to reason must be something to rely on. We can’t rely upon gadgets or knowledge of how to operate them long term in a system-down situation.

That someone has to be me. And for you, that someone has to be you.

If we’re going to look within, there needs to be something there we can rely on. Just like you filled your brain with the technical you need to fill it with the practical. Knowing what to do when a certain error pops up on a computer screen won’t help you when you have to abandon a broken down car and you’re several days away from help. You’re going to need water, shelter, fire and security. How to make water filters, shelters, fire and monitor your area for security doesn’t come automatically. These are skills and thankfully there are people happy to teach them to you.

Granted, eventually people would figure out how to make a fire if given enough time but how much better would it be to already know how? Think about. There are people waiting to learn it from you as you learned it from someone else.