What Should I Do?

Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 1:05 PM

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” is an unofficial slogan among Marines made popular by Clint Eastwood’s movie, Heartbreak Ridge. Whether you plan to bug in or bug out should tough times occur, the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome problems will be necessary regardless of how well-stocked, tooled, provisioned, or conditioned you are.

Honing this ability will serve you well. These skills can be cultivated easily in any setting and without a lot of money. Moreover, to build your skills quickly, I recommend that you strive to develop them WITHOUT money. Get creative. No one can take a skill away from you. It boils down to changing your perspective, engaging your creative mind, learning to learn, and improving your physical, mental, and spiritual capacity. 

I am greatly indebted to my late father, who grew up on a remote farm without any money. If he wanted or needed something, he had to hunt, gather, grow, build, or steal it. (I don’t advise or condone stealing, but in a survival situation, it is a last-resort option). He taught me these skills. In childhood; if there was a toy or something I wanted, he encouraged me to find ways besides going to the store to get it. As a kid, I spent time with hand tools in a 8 ft x 8 ft garden shed (a.k.a. “the shop”), in junkyards, at yard sales, and in secondhand thrift shops looking for old things that needed TLC or a second use. I got through college doing odd jobs and dumpster-diving for food.

I have made a 26-year career as an engineering professional using these skills. I am a problem solver. When all the options are depleted by in-the-box thinkers, I am the pariah they send into the muck to get dirty and get things back on track. I have chosen a path in life and a career as a generalist, not a specialist. I am always on the lookout for a challenge, both in my career and personal pursuits. 

Specific survival skills are in countless books. Over the years, I have not found a single book which specifically teaches or develops the capacity of "improvise/adapt/overcome" when faced with a challenging situation. Many ideas, tips, and specific skills are offered, but all of the information seems to revolve around specific environments or tools or materials. 

Imagine you were put in the middle of a completely different environment and needed to survive - say, moving from a tropical environment, to which you are accustomed, into an arctic one. Or from a rural environment into an urban one. What would you need to survive? 

To survive, you will need to apply three strengths:

  • Physical: You will need the power, stamina, and flexibility to work with the tools and materials around you.
  • Mental: You will need the intellectual capacity to plan, prioritize, and apply yourself to the tasks at hand.
  • Spiritual: You will need the capacity to deal with discomfort, pain, and suffering while maintaining an attitude that you will use to overcome the problems facing you.

To Improvise, you need physical and mental strength. After you have exhausted all possible avenues to IMPROVISE a solution, you must ADAPT, which will require mental strength to change your approach to the situation. After you have exhausted all possible avenues to improvise and adapt to the situation, you will need your mental and spiritual strength to finally OVERCOME the obstacles.

Here I will define and discuss each part of this approach to serve as a guide to developing your capacity:

Improvise

This approach can be applied to simple things like building a temporary shelter, fixing a leak, building a water system; or complex ones, like building a part for a car. Anything you need to improvise will require: Materials, Tools, Knowledge of those materials and tools, Skills, and Time.

For instance, a temporary shelter can be built out of any materials: snow, sticks, sod, pallets or cardboard. Tools may or may not be available, in which case you must improvise using your hands, ice, sticks, rocks, or trash. Skills and knowledge are required to work the materials into useful function with tools. And, of course, time is a factor in putting it together and how long it will last. We take for granted the time savings that power tools give us; but bear in mind, EVERY manufactured item we possess is an evolution of centuries of hand craftsmanship and raw materials. Anything can be built with enough raw materials, knowledge, skill, and time.  

Given any challenge, four strategies are suggested:

Planning
  1. Think it through! Your brain is your most valuable asset – use it before you engage your muscles! Every hour of work is worth at least 10 minutes or more of planning. Assess and define the problem.
    • What materials and tools are available? My green-oriented friends say: “Reuse, Recycle, and Renew." Materials for shelter could be: leaves, snow, limbs, tarp, cardboard, pallets, blankets, skins, or abandoned cars. Tools can be improvised: a knife (broken shard of glass or flint, piece of sheet metal), an axe (a hunk of iron with an edge, a big hunk of flint) or a hammer (a rock or a hunk of metal). Keep in mind that you can get materials and tools in different ways, and everything takes a different level of energy. In order from least to most extensive use of energy, one can:
      • Find alternative uses for what is already at hand
      • Steal: Not recommended but an option
      • Beg or borrow: Altruism is a part of the survival of our species
      • Hunt and gather or grow
      • Simplify: Substitute complex parts or tools with simpler versions
      • Adaptation: Do without
    • What useful function or need(s) are you trying to meet? Back to the shelter example: You need to get out of the wind which robs your heat. You need insulation to avoid the heat loss. You need to stay dry. You also need sleep, hydration, and nourishment to survive. As you move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you need water, food, heat, security, safety, social connections, comfort, and, finally, self-actualization.
    • What skills and knowledge are available? The more complex the project is, the more skills are required. Tools and materials can be replaced with skills. But skills cannot be replaced by tools and materials.
      • In Boston’s Gun Bible, the author suggests that you spend $1,500 on a skills course rather than $1,500 on a firearm, because without the skills the firearm is ineffective. A personal example: I have stayed for several days in a snow cave in subzero weather. I had a snow shovel, sleeping bag, a foam pad, and food, along with some expedition-duty winter clothing. That equipment would have been useless without skills. On the other hand, with the skills gained from that experience, I could survive in a snow cave for a several days or so in winter street clothes with a little food.
    • How much time do you have? How long to build it? Example: If you are cold and wet and getting colder and wetter, you need to create a shelter fast while you have the energy. If you are comfortable and winter is coming on, you need to assess what you can do with the time you have. How long does it need to last? You don’t need a cabin to weather out a two-hour storm. A fire and some natural shelter may be all that is required when you are cold and wet. 
  2. Safety First! Consider the hazards and how you will mitigate those hazards. Take that extra time and energy to plan for safety of yourself and others. Hazards come in three flavors: PHYSICAL (e.g., falling, pinching, cutting, suffocating), THERMAL (e.g., burns or freezing), and CHEMICAL (e.g., burns, poisons).
  3. Implementing: Divide and conquer. Break down the big job into little jobs. Every job has smaller jobs. EVERYTHING complex is built from simple things. Back to our shelter example: Every shelter needs a foundation, walls, a roof, and doors. There is finding a location, gathering materials, cutting, tying, assembling, and testing. If you have a group, then divvy out the jobs according to skill level, condition, ability, and knowledge.
  4. Adjust. Don’t be daunted by the problems that arise during the process. In Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales writes about survivors who stayed alive by doing SOMETHING, even if it was just crawling that next two inches. Backtrack to Step 1 and think it through. If your snow cave falls in, improvise a roof or dig deeper walls or let the snow harden more before digging it out again.
  5. Keep it real. Worry about useful function; not what it looks like. Like my grandfather told me once after I helped him build a chicken coop: “A chicken doesn’t care about whether the coop is off square or the nails are bent. A chicken just wants to eat, drink, stay warm, stay dry, lay eggs, and not get eaten by a fox.” Chickens in the greenhouse:

Insulating the coop in sub-zero weather…

Adapt

At this point, you have improvised to the best of your ability using the time, energy and materials at hand. The situation maybe isn't secure or comfortable. But it is what it is. You need to ADAPT. 

Adaptation is an approach which requires change. If you are cold and wet and have no shelter, you need to simply adapt or die. We will come back to this example, but first let's wax philosophical and explore the nature of suffering. Suffering is more than pain or discomfort; it is our resistance to pain and longing for pleasure that multiplies our suffering. 

Here is a formula I owe to my meditation teacher, Shinzen Young:

Suffering = Pain x Resistance   AND   Suffering = Pleasure x Longing

This is HUGE! For instance, in the hospital, the nurse may ask, “What is your level of pain - where ten is the most extreme pain you have ever experienced and one is just barely feeling it?” Pain is absolute; suffering is relative. If you are feeling the pain of a twisted ankle and you have previously experienced extreme pain coming out of anesthesia after a major operation, then you might think, "Well, this ankle isn't as bad as the operation" so you tell her, “Aw, about a three”. But if all you have experienced is a paper cut and you are feeling the pain of childbirth, you will yell, “TEN!” What the nurse is really asking is what level of suffering you are at. Drugs don’t take away the pain – the pain is still there. The drugs render you unconscious, block the nerve transmission from the brain, disassociate you from the pain, or relax the muscles. So the pain is still there. Drugs reduce the resistance which causes the suffering. 

In Hapkido, beginners tighten up their entire body and even scream when joint locks are applied. As the student gains experience, he will develop the ability to relax and avoid resisting the lock in order to think through the counter move or simply avoid further injury by resisting. This is the essence of adaptation. Breathing and relaxing will allow you to adapt to ANY situation, be it social, environmental, or physical. The same goes for being cold and wet. The more you relax, the more blood will flow to the extremities (and to your brain) and the less energy will be required to adapt. The more you breathe, the more oxygen will be available for your tissues to maintain heat and biological functions. This is taught in childbirth classes. These classes teach pain management through breathing and relaxation. And it is also taught in public speaking classes and adrenal conditioning classes. Your mind will follow your breathing. Pay attention to your breath – your emotions follow breath – not the other way around.

If you are wet and cold to the bone, you will long for the pleasure of dry clothes, a warm fire, and hot coffee. This is the nature of suffering. But if that longing has you all tensed up - depressed and distracted from the task of gettting to those comforts - it can be life-threatening. Comforts can become desperate necessities very quickly while precious time and energy is spent lamenting.

In order to adapt, you must see what needs to be done and do it through the pain, discomfort, or social rules. If you need to give first aid and you are squeamish, it is time to dig deep, hold back the vomit and apply your skill. If you need to crawl neck-deep through a sewer tunnel to evade and escape, then you need to fight your resistance to it, empty your stomach if necessary, and get it done. If you need to eat bugs and roadkill to survive, then you do what you have to do. The body has an amazing ability to adapt to an extremely wide range of circumstances – but if the mind isn’t willing, the body won’t have a chance.

Overcome

By now, you have exhausted your ability and your resources to IMPROVISE and ADAPT. And perhaps it isn't looking too good for you. Maybe your shelter is barely adequate -- you are hypothermic, you have stopped shivering uncontrollably, and a sleepy calm overwhelms you. Maybe, you don’t have anything left in your body to go on. Now it is time to reach deep into your mind and soul. I keep a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Outlaw Josey Wales"When things get bad, really bad, and it looks like you're not going to make it, you gotta get mean, mad dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up, then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is." That is the essence of overcome.   

You have to focus on what you have to do, dig REALLY deep, and do it. This is where the physical and mental strength is drained and the spiritual strength must carry over. Maybe you need to come home to take care of a child. Or maybe you need to save a friend, or maybe you need to save your group. I am not talking religion here. I am talking about a deep realization that every moment is a gift and there is something greater to struggle for than ourselves.

You must know your physical/mental limits, test them often and push them with a safety net. In my youth, I would head out the door with my street clothes and backpack for the weekend. No food. No water. No gear check. Just what was in the backpack. I fished. I gathered. Sometimes, I starved. But the car was only a four-hour walk away. It was a controlled situation that taught me volumes. 

There is another aspect of overcoming obstacles. The men of the Shackleton Endurance expedition got locked in Antarctic pack ice, abandoned the ship when it became crushed by the ice, lived on the ice in tents they could see moonlight through, and in slept primitive sleeping bags while waiting for the ice to recede. They then sailed lifeboats hundreds of miles to a remote island. After 20 months of survival conditions and scarce food, several members sailed to yet another island, scaling a mountain without climbing gear in the process, to reach a whaling port and eventual rescue. The two pictures are only months apart, but look at the change in Shackleton’s face…

         

While this was going on, some of the 28 members wrote in their journals about it being the most spiritually uplifting time of their lives. Many attribute that to Shackleton’s leadership; however, he was tapping into an aspect of the human species which few understand. Once your ego is stripped down by fatigue and hardship, you see your strengths and truly begin to absorb the beauty of the world. It is truly unfortunate that we develop ego to insulate us from the challenges of the world, because it also blinds us to the true beauty of it. There are other words for this in differend cultures: zen, state of grace, rapture, finding God, being centered, nirvana, samadhi...

Continuous Improvement of Your Capacity

Notice how the Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome mindset requires an ever-increasing reserve of physical, mental, and spiritual strength. By improving in these areas over time, we can develop these abilities. How does one learn all of the above? 

Even if we are not ultimately tested in a survival situation, one can use these abilities to improve and thrive in our current situations. First, I believe it is necessary to take an honest self-assessment of our skills and our competency with those skills in a survival situation. The Self-Assessment on the PeakProsperity.com site is a great tool. Moreover, in our assessment, we need to gauge our ability to apply to those skills in the scenarios we foresee. After this analysis, we can understand where we need to focus our time and interests. 

For sake of illustration, here is my personal list of skill assets: engineering design, photovoltaic/wind/microhydro power system selection/installation, welding, machining, sewing, electrical work, carpentry, surveying, concrete work, gas engine mechanics, diesel engine mechanics, heavy equipment operation, winter survival, mountaineering, wilderness EMT, taekwondo, judo, hapkido, knowledge of edible plants, and a hunter’s level of competency with a bow, rifle, or shotgun. Most of these skills are still accessible if the grid goes down or the economy collapses. 

On the other side of the spectrum, an honest assessment of your liabilities in a survival situation is also needed. I live in an area that could be cut off from food and medical supply if the grid goes down. I can hunt game, but the game would eventually run out. Lack of gardening skill is one liability for me. There is no doubt about it. I am an awful gardener. Heck, I don’t know what those poor plants need. How to keep the bugs off? How to keep the weeds down? When to harvest them? When to water them? When is there too much water? When is there not enough water? What to plant? When to plant? I can maintain all the equipment to till, build elaborate greenhouse and watering systems from scrap, but I can’t grow a single respectable tomato.   

In order to prioritize our time and energy, we need to assess what survival situations are realistic. Every individual and every environment has different situations to consider. Circumstances may be due to geology, a nearby terrorist threat, a collapse of the economy, hordes of population in chaos, or a pandemic. We should strive to be ready for anything, but with finite time and resources, it is nearly impossible to be ready for every situation. 

I propose that you look at your chosen location, evaluate the pitfalls of that location, and assess what you may face, then develop a plan to deal with those pitfalls. Later on, you may decide to move to a better place and take your skills with you. I live in a fairly remote part of Rocky Mountains. My situational vulnerabilities in a time of societal collapse would be: uncontrolled wild fires, food shortages, fuel shortages, economic collapse, power blackouts, tornados, blizzards, clean water shortages, petty crime, and lack of access to medical care. 

After an assessment of your possible situations, assets, and liabilities, it is time to prioritize and develop a plan to fill in the gaps in your armor. Prioritize by time intervals: Situations to be prepared for in the next two years are top priority, the next priority, 5 years, and the next after that, 10 years. Give yourself some measurable goals to work toward. I use the New Year’s resolution tradition to do this every year. I carry that list around with me. I review it weekly. Every resolution has a measurable outcome. Here are some of mine:

  • Modify part of an existing barn for rabbits, at least, accommodating 15 does and 3 bucks.
  • Snag a paddlefish this May.
  • Get my greenhouse and raised beds in full production. Grow at least 50% of my food.
  • Double my chicken flock.
  • Install 4 Harbor Freight solar panel kits in strategic places on the homestead.

Now, with a plan with priorities and goals., here are some suggestions to develop your physical, mental, and spiritual strength:

Improvisation
  1. Keep Informed. Check three blogsites daily to stay current. There is a list of Recommended 3E sites on the right side of Chris Martenson's home page. Look for trends. Review your priorities. Review your assessment. If things fall apart, they will do so quickly, so you will have to re-prioritize quickly.
  2. Educate yourself. Get interested in something pertaining to your liabilities list and start by using every free learning source available on the net and at the public library. Find community education classes. Get the DVD archives from Homepower or Mother Earth News or Farm Show Magazine. Look at local college classes. Your local county extension agent can help you with reams of information and put you in touch with Master Gardeners who will give you classes or all the advice you can stomach. Look for a Backyard Gardener's group. Talk to people at farmer's markets. Go to www.smartflix.com and www.netflix.com to find videos on nearly any subject. Look for people with the same interests. Go to shops that sell equipment to find others who might have the same interests or have some advice. Google up PBS’ House series and watch how those folks coped with the challenges. Read 1940s thru 1960s vintage Popular Mechanics or Popular Science magazines. Go to the educational toy store and find toys that teach basic electronics, physics, or chemistry. I learned electronics from a 100-in-1 Projects kit from Radio Shack that I got when I was 13. Now it is 30 years old, and I pull it out with my 10-year-old daughter to relearn and teach. Here is a modern version of that kit: http://www.elenco.com/snapcircuits.html Go to www.lindsaybks.com to find books about how to do things by hand and with limited tools. Get online to find ways to build things from junk. Google “how to build a {blank}” and see how many people who are proud of the {blank} they built provide chronological documentation of their {blank}. A good website is: http://www.instructables.com/ or http://makezine.com/. Another good website for some educational humor is http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/ Great stuff on that one. 
  3. Apply yourself. Find cheap, low risk ways to apply what you have read about and talk about. (If you want a taste of what I'm talking about, read this.) You can grow a garden in a box on your balcony. You can go out with your law-enforcement-trained brother to the shooting range. You can build a chicken coop with hand tools, scrap wood, and chicken wire. (Remember what my grandfather said.) Standing back to see the results will build your confidence, knowledge and skill. Don’t listen to the hypercritical neighbors or voices in your head! Remember it is the DOING that develops the skill, not reading about it or assembling that kit or buying the latest tool.
  4. Find an elderly mentor. Go to your local senior citizens' center or find the local coffee shop where they hang out. Trust me – they will talk your ear off. Our neighbor has lived in our remote little town her entire life of 85 years. Her body is failing but she has a sharp mind and can remember life before powerlines and fast transportation. She remembers the blizzards that stranded folks for weeks. She remembers when there were gardens and chicken coops in every yard. Read the Foxfire Series or any of the books from the Museum of Appalachia. On display at the Museum of Appalachia are over 20,000 tools and implements. The particular display is of homemade tools to build blackpowder rifles. The apparatus in the foreground to the left is to cut the rifling in gun barrels.
  5. Create mock scenarios. Camping is a mock scenario for life on the run and off the grid if you look at it that way. Develop lists of skills and equipment needed and desired. Pay attention to the boredom factor as well as the anxiety factor - both need equal attention in a troublesome times. One mock scenario is to spend a weekend at home with the grid off. Another might be to go on a backpack trip with only a fishing pole and no food. Another might be to build a kitchen table with only hand tools. All these situations provide a chance to learn and build confidence. Here is a personal example: One time a friend was snowmobiling with vintage 40-year-old machine. He was nearly 16 miles deep in the backcountry with about two miles left to go to the cabin for the weekend. He stopped briefly for a nature call and got started again but the machine limped all the way to the cabin; he barely made it. At the cabin he diagnosed the problem and figured out that a gear was nearly stripped inside the ancient transmission. Using a small ammo can full of hand tools, he tore down the transmission. He salvaged the Reverse gear which was a close fit, and the oil. He cleaned everything up with fuel. He used a small flat file to file down the gear to fit. He used a piece of copper pipe found in the cabin to hold candles to build a temporary bushing for the gear, which he “welded” in place with JB weld. There were a few other improvisations with wire and a bolt robbed off another part of the machine. He made it back to the trailhead on a packed trail the next day before a storm came in. No, it wasn’t the perfect fix, but he didn’t have to get another snowmobile to tow him back, or wait until summer to pack it out either. That experience gave him the confidence to handle other situations.
    • Wild food gathering for a weekend is an example of a mock scenario.   Beaver tail, anyone? No, it doesn’t taste anything like chicken.
  6. Build kits to prepare for different situations. Develop lists. Research. Start with Googling “bug out bag list.” Personalize your list. For each item, list the uses, both obvious and not-so-obvious. For instance, I have an improvised repair kit with the following items: small roll of duct tape, roll of wire, 10 ft of paracord, multitool, JB weld, shoe goop, dental floss, large darning needle and assorted buttons, screws, and nuts. It all fits in a quart sided freezer bag. I have used it dozens of times, from repairing a ski pole to sewing up split pants to repairing the fitting on a carburetor. I have specific lists for backpacking, ice fishing, winter travel, travel with old vehicles, electrical repairs, gadget charging... the list (of lists!) goes on. I keep them all on a thumb drive, review, and share them when needed.
  7. Learn to learn. Check your bucket list. Follow threads of curiosity that intrigue you. Learn a language. Solve a math problem. Take up an art or musical instrument. Hack your kid's computer. Learn a card game with your bored, computerless kid. Don’t just read about it – just do it! Build or write something tangible. Stress your brain. Work your muscles. Every skill will enhance and refine another. 
 Adapt
  1. Explore the gifts of your ancestors. I owe this piece of wisdom to my martial arts teacher. We come with a set of gifts by natural selection which allow us to survive and thrive. Physical attributes evolved such as skin color, physical stature, muscle mass, hair color, lack of hair, affinity for cold. Mental attributes evolved such as demeanor, aggressiveness, cleverness, attention to detail and regiment. This is a list of assets that is well worth noting and understanding. Often times, a liability is a disguised asset, and the other way around. Small, short stature isn’t an advantage on the basketball court, but it is a tremendous advantage as a smaller target, in a cold climate where heat conservation is required, or you need to survive periods of starvation. Personally, I am of German/Slavic descent. My ancestors evolved in harsh, cold climates. I melt in hot, humid summer heat. Like my father and grandparents, I am a Type 2 diabetic, which is an asset in people that face periods of starvation. Recent studies indicate that the extra sugar in the blood may give added protection against frostbite. Cancer and allergies also run in my family. I have had both. Cancer is an indication of an overactive immune system. When you need to heal fast and get back to work or survive a pandemic, an overactive immune system is a pretty good thing, but you need to know how to manage it. Research your ancestors' social and environmental circumstances. What were their rigors of primitive life? What did their diet consist of? How did they socialize? What threats needed to be dealt with? Read about and explore the advantages of your gifts. Explore books about the anthropology and ethnography of your race or mixture of races through university libraries and internet. In particular, http://scholar.google.com/, has been a great resource for me.
  2. Get physically fit. Your body is your greatest asset! Take care of it. I don’t believe in all the Buns of Steel-type exercise classes and videos. Usually those classes and video last 20 minutes to an hour. How often in a survival situation can you imagine 20 to 60 minutes of sustained exertion? Not likely.We are better served by bringing physical work into our lives through walking, gardening, building things, carrying things, and fixing things. For those of you who feign time constraints, consider the sum total of the time deficit of driving to the gym, putting on gym clothes, warming up, working out, putting on street clothes then working extra hours to afford all that. For instance, this spring I built a fence. I put in one post per weeknight, which, with getting all the tools, etc., took about 30 minutes. I put up rails and wire on the weekends. It all took 26 days. I figured out that each post cost $21 in materials and earned around $80 of added value to my property. It felt good. I watched the plum thickets bud out and listened to the birds migrate in as Spring unfolded. I got a good workout for my arms and shouldersb along with good leg work carrying tools and materials. And I see something to be proud of every day. Pictured below is another project with plenty of physical exercise. I built this 22x48 greenhouse from a kit over one and half years. With exception of installing the skin, I did all the work myself. The endwalls were improvised from salvaged windows, doors and 2x4s.
  3. Eat good food and hydrate. Back to our ancestors - they knew what to eat to thrive before modern health care. Like so many things messed up in our government, our agricultural and medical system has been corporatized and scandalized by food corporation and drug companies. Go to www.westonaprice.org to learn what our ancestors ate to stay healthy and to use their bodies to live rather than their accelerator pedal and credit card. I have dealt with asthma, lymphoma, allergies, and diabetes during my life. Without an inkling of doubt, if I had followed the low-fat guidelines of the American Heart Associations, the diet guidelines of the American Diabetes Associations, and the preventative guidelines of the American Lung Association, I would be dependent on insulin, taking anti-cholesterol meds (known carcinogens), sick with every bug that comes my way, carrying around an inhaler, likely out of remission, and probably taking five varieties of anti-depressants for an obviously piss-poor life. Since following Weston A Price Foundation Guidelines for 10 years now (I'm now in my 40s), I can truthfully say that this is the healthiest I have ever been. I take one cheap available drug for insulin resistance and one cheap drug for a thyroid that was burned out by radiation therapy. I eat to everyone’s envy. I work vigorously physically 3 to 4 hours at least 5 days a week. I can throw a 50 lb pack on and carry it all day long in the mountains.
    • About hydration: one time in college while snow-cave camping in the Wind River mountains, one of our group of seven got lethargic, pasty looking, complained of a headache, and started shivering. He was adequately dressed. We had a fire. I noticed that he had not eaten a full dose of the morning gruel and had not filled his water bottle. While we made preps to haul him 4 miles out, I demanded that he drink a quart of water and some hot broth with an egg dropped in it. We were about ready to go but he was back to his stubborn self within an hour of getting hydrated and getting down some good food. He learned his lesson and we finished the next four days without incident!
  4. Study martial arts or yoga. Here is where I make an exception to exercise classes. You are learning a useful skill. Remember my philosophical wandering on the nature of suffering earlier? With a good teacher, you will be learning to relax, breathe and move your body during adrenalin and physical stress. You will learn to handle and dispense suffering. You will understand the nature of suffering. You will gain confidence with your body. If you have a choice, pick a program that has a mixture of disciplines in kicking, throwing, joint manipulation and grappling. Choose a teacher that has strength and humility with spiritual respect and reverence for his art. One that focuses on character and wisdom rather than simply mindless application of technique. With this in mind, if you visit and the teacher or class atmosphere doesn’t feel right, bow respectfully and never go back.
    • Don’t underestimate yoga as a complement to martial arts. By no historical accident, many yoga poses are strikingly familiar to martial arts poses and enhance performance in martial arts. I would be able to do what I do in martial arts at my age without yoga. It gives me the necessary stretching and static balance to perform the combination of kicks, throw, joint locks and punches required. If I had a choice between a good yoga teacher and a poor martial arts teacher, I would choose the yoga teacher, hands down. Teach a strong yoga student a couple of basic kicks and punches and you will have a deadly opponent even if Gandhi disapproves. Yoga has increased my threshold of pain immensely.
  5. Learn to adapt to discomfort. Go work out in the cold or rain or sun. Learn how to relax, hydrate and pace yourself to the rigors of it. Pay attention to how your metabolism adapts to the changing seasons. Pay attention to the fact that you didn’t melt when you got wet in the rain. Learn how to manage your clothing. Learn how to use layers to adapt to different temperatures and conditions. Read about the Princess and the Pea. Do you need another mattress or just to relax around the pea?
  6. Read up on the subject. Just go to Amazon and search “survival”. Here are some general suggestions:
Overcome
  1. Adopt a daily spiritual practice. Learn to pray. Learn to meditate. Go to a spiritual retreat. Walk slowly in nature. Whatever uplifts your spirit and allows you to appreciate the beauty in the world understand your place in the world. This is a highly personal choice. However, every spiritual practice provides an understanding of birth, life’s cycles, fate, death, oneness, and the nature of suffering. Dedicate time and energy to your spiritual understanding of these mysteries in life.
  2. Learn to be optimistic. Even in the direst of circumstances, there is still some wonder to behold in that moment. The fact that you are alive is one of them.
  3. Learn to be alone. So, many people struggle with being alone because they don't want to deal with the conflicts of their inner demons. Work through those conflicts. Each one that you deal with successfully will give you tremendous spiritual energy and confidence.
  4. If you have an addiction, be it nicotine, alcohol, sugar, shopping, or a pattern in life that repeats itself over and over, face it and deal with it. Look for help. Find a 12-step group. Look within yourself. Addictions are our teachers. They have a invaluable lesson for all of us.
  5. Read inspirational literature. These may be books of a religious nature or biographies of people who have overcome tremendous obstacles.
  6. Choose to be around people who are optimistic and energetic. Find people with whom you can trust and share your beliefs, triumphs, and struggles in a positive way.
  7. Be proactive. Expect the best, prepare for the worst, and enjoy EVERY MOMENT. Find things you can do now to deal with problems you may forsee in the future. In a survival situation, what often gets people through is doing ONE more thing - whether it is building a shelter or crawling one more inch. The same goes for a non-survival situation – there is always one more thing you can do in life to make your life better, whether it is to wash the dishes or to take a walk.
  8. Learn to enjoy the beauty all around you. Learn to absorb and appreciate that beauty. Love your family. Pay attention to what makes life worth living for you. Consider that heaven or hell might be what you chose to live right now.
  9. Cultivate passion for the things you are doing to make a living. In a world where material wealth and money is losing it's value, what do you value? Is what you value worth living for?
  10. Reach out and share your gifts. To teach is to learn twice.

I will conclude with a personal observation. For many years, I have collected old 40's ,50's, and 60's vintage manuals, books, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Science magazines. While doing some housecleaning, I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, even though most of the information is online. Here is my best explanation of why: The creative resourcefulness in these magazines is incredibly inspirational. There is an tangible undercurrent towards family values and conservation. There are articles about such projects as building a metal working lathe out of pipe fittings and a salvaged appliance motor, or electroplating with (once) common household chemicals and tools. You notice a can-do attitude and matter-of-fact resilience in the language of these articles. Also, there is a wholesome innocence and naivete that seems to be missing from our current publications. 

Whether because of cheap energy or our “when in doubt, sue them” legal system or both, it is very apparent that we have lost the resourcefulness and tenacity of a generation of people who moved from rural to suburbia. We have traded pride of craftsmanship for instantly gratifying materialism, cheap travel for paying attention to our immediate world, belt-tightening frugality and ingenuity for easy credit, electronic gadgets for real conversation, and character-strengthing work for easy comforts. As we progress down other side of the Peak Oil curve, we will be forced to reverse those trade-offs. My hope is that we will do it proactively and regain some of what we have lost. 


This What Should I Do? blog series is intended to surface knowledge and perspective useful to preparing for a future defined by Peak Oil.  The content is written by PeakProsperity.com readers and is based in their own experiences in putting into practice many of the ideas exchanged on this site.  If there are topics you'd like to see featured here, or if you have interest in contributing a post in a relevant area of your expertise, please indicate so in our Input on the What Should I Do? Series feedback forum.

If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series, you can find them here:

This series is a companion to this site's free What Should I Do? Guide, which provides guidance from Chris and the PeakProsperity.com staff on specific strategies, products, and services that individuals should consider in their preparations.  

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37 Comments

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
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Posts: 265
Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick7, that is one fantastic read!  WOW!  Encompassing skills, methodology, and attitudes that can be used in a crisis or in our everyday life.  I can't remember the last time a read such a comprehensive and inspiring article.  I personally have many of the IAO traits as you have.  I've always taken them for granted.  The article helped me realize that I'm perhaps better prepared than I think, but there are areas and opportunities for improvement.  I too am totally lacking in gardening skills- fortunately, that is my sweetheart's passion so we most likely won't starve.  Perhaps I should start studying over her shoulder.... Thanks again for an excellent article.   Aloha, Steve

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

OooooRAH! My hat is off to you and thank you so much for the best thing I've read in weeks. I will print this and read it over and over again.

EGP

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

Awesome work - this is exactly the kind of advice people need.
Very well put together, bold and conscious.

I dig it the most.

Cheers,

Aaron 

JRB's picture
JRB
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

Thank you!

- Jim

ao's picture
ao
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

What a superb, inspirational, and valuable article!  You are my brother in spirit.

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Ah, shucks....

Thanks for the compliments, everyone!

Woodman's picture
Woodman
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick, that is absolutely fabulous!  Your piece reminds me of so many times of adaptation, like when I was 19 and my 75 Saab wouldn't start again at the car wash and I was late to pick my date.  Using the basic improvisation skills you list, I narrowed the problem to a faulty fuel pump relay and replaced it with a paper clip I found to complete the circuit.  Do kids still do things like that today?!?  And ultrarunning has given me incredible lessons in Overcoming, like at a 100 miler in Vermont last spring in snow, sleet, and mud that took me 31 hours to finish third and last place. There were times it was like a death march, but I embraced the pain and refused to think negative thoughts. From experiences like that, there is little in everyday life phases me.  Yet that's nothing to what Shackleton and his crew went through.

Who else has stories of improvising, adapting, and overcoming?

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Ok, I'll give you a story.  About 1981.  I'm driving one of the best little cars I've ever owned- a 1964 Datsun 410 sedan- up to Lake Tahoe for a Thanksgiving Day family gathering.  About 2200 hrs, getting up into the Sierras, it starts to snow.  No problem, the Datsun has a great heater and I've chains in the trunk.  Traffic on Interstate 80 is heavy and slow.  I think I'm at about the 5000' level, creeping along, when the engine quits.  I roll the car over to the side of the highway, where the snow is piled about 6' high.  This could really suck, I'm thinking.   Pop the hood and check things out.  These cars had a little carburetor that had a handy glass window on the float bowl.  I could see that the bowl was empty even though there was a 1/2 tank of fuel.  Now, I was working as a auto mechanic at the time, so some of this stuff was not exactly rocket surgery.  My basic tool kit, which I never travel without, allowed me to do some basic diagnostics and determine that the fuel pump was not working.  I wasn't about to wait  'til morning to try to get to a parts store to find a fuel pump that was probably not available for two days.  So, by flashlight, I removed the fuel pump, got back into the car and disassembled the mechanical pump on my lap.  I discovered one of the springs on one of the poppett valves on the pump had rusted away to nothing.  This was, by the way, the first time I had ever disassembled a mechanical pump even thought I was in the repair business- usually they're just replaced, not repaired.  I found a retractable ball point pen in the glove box, took the spring out of it and inserted it into the valve, put the whole thing back together in about 45 minutes, and continued on to the lake and my family.   The storm got worse and the power went out all over the north shore of Tahoe.  On T'giving Day, out of the 5 family vehicles gathered, my lil' Datsun was the only one that started.  It transported all 7 of us to dinner 20 miles away, where the power was on at a great restaurant.  It was never really life-threatening, but I'm still amazed at how it all came together, with a bit of skill, luck, preparedness, and deternination.  Dang, I miss that car......What's your story?   Aloha, Steve.

bbroadhead's picture
bbroadhead
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

A magnificent post!  Thank you so much for putting skills development / mind set / spirituality together so well.

Take care.  Bob

britinbe's picture
britinbe
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

A nice read, I really enjoyed it!

Adaptability and opportunism will be the ways forward.

When I had my first car in '93, I did all the work on it myself and that continued up until about 2003 when I got lazy. Then for the last few years with a car that does less than 7,000km per year I started servicing it again myself and fixing any issues ranging from replacing a power steering pump, starter motor and replacing the discs and pads all round. I actually found that I was quite rusty and unsure of things when I started doing these jobs again, but remembered those time when I had issues and had to fix things by the road, usually in the rain and at night.

I guess for many of us, we either grew up with mothers and fathers who did many of the things around the house themselves usually out of necessity, be it plumbing, electrical work, plastering, or car mechanics. I have to say, I hated having to help at the time, but now, there is a huge range of things I can turn my hand to and if I've never attempted that type of job before, I can normally figure it out.

I'm really keen and encourage my kids to watch/help where ever possible, I even got them some overalls to get them into the spirit, in fact my 2 year old was wearing her's proudly last night whilst she "helped" me replace two cartridge bearings in a bike wheel. I feel very sorry for the masses that haven't got a clue of how to even attempt any kind of repair or job around the house, I think they will be in for a very hard time in the coming years!

goes211's picture
goes211
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

Wow.  That was truly amazing.  If I have 1/10th your skills and mental preparations, I would be a lot better off.  Thx for sharing...

suziegruber's picture
suziegruber
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick7,

Thank you for an incredible contribution.  I will be distributing this link widely.

You point to what in my opinion is our single biggest weakness as culture and that is lack of critical thinking skills.  Most people are quite content to let someone else tell them what the best solution is and that simply does not translate to survival.

With deep gratitude,

Suzie

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Sharing stories of IAO is a great idea, Woodman!  I liked hearing about your adapt/overcome trials in ultrarunning.  I am involved in the Big Horn Mountain Run, a yearly event that attracts ultrarunners from all over the world.  I am always impressed at the level of human courage and endurance displayed at these events. 

A reoccuring theme is vehicle repairs and it brings to mind a few points...

First, when it comes to improvising a solutions, complexity of the system we are trying to make work for us is an issue.  Vehicles have become increasingly more complex in the last 30 years.  That nasty ol' exponential curve can be applied: For every bell, whistle and comfort, the number of failure points seem to exponentially increase.  Here is an insightful article about this: http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-01-30/razor-blades-and-limits-complexity. 

Second, if one is considering purchasing a vehicle or keeping one for the long term, consider what it will take to keep that vehicle running without the support systems such as: just-in-time parts, internet support, exotic metal availabilty and grid up diagnostics.  Consider stocking up on maintenance items of your vehicle such as belts, starters, battery, hoses, etc.   As a rule of thumb, electronics and electrical systems in general are EXTREMELY difficult to troubleshoot and improvise solutions without special tools.   I prefer old, tried and true diesel vehicles.  (Diesels are simpler.) BUT, my wife - who is not so keen on IAO - prefers the bells/whistle/comforts - BELIEVE me, I have heard both sides of this arguement.   Here is a CM forum discussion on this as well.  http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/electric-hybrid-electric-plug-hybrid...

Third, thatchmo brings up a good point: "My basic tool kit, which I never travel without, allowed me to do some basic diagnostics"  Having lived in SD and WY all my life, I always carry a basic tool kit, a shovel, a sleeping bag or blankets, a little high energy food, a flashlight and an entertaining book.    Because I never know where I may need to repair something or if I will be stranded.  These items are useful for everyday situations as well, but; I am always reminded of my grandmother who spent 2 days stranded inside her car in a blizzard in SD. 

BTW my basic tool kit has: a set of common open end wrenches, filter removal tools, set of common sockets with rachet driver, a set of common torx and/or hex end drivers (if the vehicle has those), common screwdrivers, a cheap multimeter, a roll of duct tape, a roll of wire, a few zip ties, a lighter and a multitool.  

Britenbe brings up a good point about our children.  I believe it is absolutely imperative that we teach our children directly and by example to improvise, adapt, overcome.   We need to teach them to use tools, to work with common materials and to encourage their imaginations to find other uses for junk.  We need to encourage them to adapt to change.  We need to teach them spirituality to overcome adversity.  This reminds me of a speech by Joel Salatin at an Acres USA conference who talked about the greatest loss to modern agriculture is two generations who left the family farms behind.  He writes in this book about this: http://www.amazon.com/Family-Friendly-Farming-Multi-Generational-Home-Ba...

Do-it-yourselfers are among the most empowered people I know.  I have a neighbor without a lot of money who is fixing up her house.  She doing it a little at a time and insists on doing the work herself.  She asks me for advice and will often show me some of her work.   Even though some of it looks like soup sandwich, the real beauty of the work is the pride and sense of accomplishment she has in it. 

I love all your stories.  Let's hear more!

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Now *that* was a rockin' good read, Mooselick!  Thanks!

Becca Martenson's picture
Becca Martenson
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

This is an incredible post; thank you so much for sharing it with us.  I loved your formula for suffering- it is precisely  what I have learned through Vipassana meditation.  I need to reread your article many times as there is still much to glean.

Thanks again,

Becca

rhare's picture
rhare
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick, great read.

Woodman wrote:
Do kids still do things like that today?!?

If you don't know about Make magazine (mooselick referenced it above), it's a great way to help people build up the "improvise/adapt" mindset by working on small projects.  They sponsor the Maker Faire which is interesting to attend if you happen to be near one.  I have been to a couple of Maker Faire and there are a lot of kids doing quite complicated things.  They sell kits to help get you started.

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
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Posts: 192
Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Thanks, Becca.  Im glad to hear of others who are learning vipassana.  I think Vipassana is the most accessable form of meditation for the American mindset.  My teacher, Shinzen Young (www.shinzen.org) teaches an ecletic blend of vipassana and zen.  And, he is in your neck of the woods - at least by WY standards.  (Burlington, VT)  PM me for more information about him. 

I had these paragraphs in an earlier draft but maybe I should have left them in...

When resources are limited and travel is restricted,  isolation and boredom are ignored as  "adapt, overcome or die" situation.  Cabin fever is real and can become deadly.  Cabin fever is also not just being stuck alone in a Yukon winter - think isolation, crowded conditions and/or LOOONNNNGGG periods of simply nothing to do.    Without acknowledging this situation fully and understanding the nature of the suffering, the 5D's of Dysfunctional Coping come into play:  Distraction, Denial, Drugs, Depression and Divorce (both marital and from reality)  

The 5D's are dysfunctional because they tend to warp or mask our sense of the reality of situation.  Dysfunctional coping is resource draining, addictive and weakening.    The functional skills are to develop the capacity to be acutely aware of your surroundings,  to explore our inner self,  to  absorb the intricacies of each moment and to develop equianimity with all this.   These skills strenghten and require only our time.

"The foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of legitimate suffering." - Carl Jung

joemanc's picture
joemanc
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Posts: 834
Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Excellent work mooselick!

I've had some mental issues to deal with lately...it seems to want to snow every other day! I'm a new homeowner and this is my 1st winter in my house. About 3 weeks ago, it occurred to me that my roof had quite a bit of snow on it. I'm guessing 2 feet or so was piled up and packed down, on a pitched roof no less. I went looking around and found out about snow rakes for clearing roofs. My uncle just happened to have one and I borrowed his to clear a good part of my roof. Flash forward to last week. It looked like Black Friday where shoppers were lined out the doors to get a snow rake. Hot commodity. In the past 2 days, dozens of roofs have started to collapse and more are expected. My roof is mostly clear and I have had piece of mind for weeks. I can thank this great site for getting me to think ahead. However, the relentless snow and ice is taking a mental toll on me. I am shoveling what seems like everyday. It is really wearing me down, mentally and physically. I'm trying to improve my mental toughness to get through this stretch of weather. Trying to focus on the positives, the longer days, the fact that we are halfway through winter, cracking jokes about the groundhog!, etc. Fingers crossed, I'll get through it. I just hope nothing breaks!

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick, excellent post, thank-you so much!  I think you address a really important aspect of preparing for an unknown, dynamically changing future. It's also very inspiring, and I am glad for a dose of inspiration and hope right now!

You asked for other stories. I'll share one, but it's really a story about my husband, as you've hit on one of my husband's strengths that I most admire. 

I sometimes compare my husband to "McGyver" because "jerry-rigging" (creative problem-solving for real-life applications) is something he is gifted at.  For example, we bought our house cheap many years ago, before either of us had good jobs, so it was all we could afford.  My husband decided it was too close to the road for comfort.  He also wished we had a cellar.  Others might have felt stuck with with the existing situation.  But not my husband!  He devised a plan -to the good-natured ribbing of his friends- to dig a small cellar behind the house, and move the whole house back from the road on top of it.  Hydraulic jacks would lift the house up, he would get a crew of his friends to put metal rollers/bars underneath it, and then they'd pull the house back with ropes, on the metal rollers, onto its new cellar and foundation. 

Well, the day to "move the house" came, with pretty much everyone sure that it wouldn't work, but everyone fully enjoying the folly of the situation, (not to mention the free beer), and breaking my husband's chops.  But my husband had the last laugh on all of us, as his plan worked smoothly, just as he'd envisioned!  Needless to say he earned the respect of his friends (although that still doesn't stop them from busting his chops!). 

joemanc wrote:

I've had some mental issues to deal with lately...it seems to want to snow every other day! I'm a new homeowner and this is my 1st winter in my house. About 3 weeks ago, it occurred to me that my roof had quite a bit of snow on it. I'm guessing 2 feet or so was piled up and packed down, on a pitched roof no less. I went looking around and found out about snow rakes for clearing roofs. My uncle just happened to have one and I borrowed his to clear a good part of my roof. Flash forward to last week. It looked like Black Friday where shoppers were lined out the doors to get a snow rake. Hot commodity. In the past 2 days, dozens of roofs have started to collapse and more are expected. My roof is mostly clear and I have had piece of mind for weeks. I can thank this great site for getting me to think ahead. However, the relentless snow and ice is taking a mental toll on me. I am shoveling what seems like everyday. It is really wearing me down, mentally and physically. I'm trying to improve my mental toughness to get through this stretch of weather. Trying to focus on the positives, the longer days, the fact that we are halfway through winter, cracking jokes about the groundhog!, etc. Fingers crossed, I'll get through it. I just hope nothing breaks!

Hang tough, Joe!  I think this has been an unusually snowy winter here in the northeast US.  So if you can make it through this winter (and you will!)  you can make it through most any winter here.   Also, maybe if you look at this more as a "work out"  for "building your physical, mental and spiritual strength", per Mooselick's advice for "Continuous Improvement of Your Capacity", it will give you a better handle for coping with the situation.  I.e., you aren't just raking/shoveling snow, you're building up your reserve of physical, mental, and spiritual strength!   Winters are tough, but they also make you tough!

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Hang in there, joemanc.  I have lived my entire life in snow and ice country.   I could tell you story after story about "relentless snow and ice" - some very recent experiences...  But,  it seems the problem is not snow and ice but the physical exhaustion and mental anxiety that the snow and ice is causing. 

The physical exhaustion and mental anxiety could be part of any physical demanding work or duty.  Maybe this experience will help...

I managed a project once that required clean rail cars to ship coal.   In the winter, open rail cars would come in and some of them had from 1 to 20 tons of product in them mixed with ice and snow.   The work required using propane weed torches under each hopper to thaw the ice, then you got inside the hopper and with shovels and a long heavy bar,.  you broke up the junk, snow and ice until it came out the bottom of the car.  Then you hand shoveled the blocks of snow and ice out of the way.    I had a crew of 5 that would perform this work. But after an all night partying binge and a routine drug test elimination round, I had to let them go.  This was during the peak demand for coal.   it was up to yours truly to clean them. for a couple of weeks until we could rehire.   Otherwise, a college would be without heat and I would lose my best customer.   The weather was subzero cold.   I cleaned rail cars for 18 days straight.  About 5 cars a day was all I could handle.  I was exhausted every day.  All it seemed that I did was eat, sleep, drink and clean cars. 

Then, one day I realized a few things.  First, it was absolutely beautiful out there.  The air was crisp and clean.  The snow and ice gave the landscape a bright wihite surreal glow.  Sounds were deadened but you could pick out the tiniest bird sound or water drip.  I liked getting my body warmed up and just picking my way though the day.  No politics.  No BS.  Just work, eat, drink, breathe, work, eat, drink, breathe,  work, eat, drink, breathe....

Second, I liked the sense of accomplishment.  I knew what I had to do, how to do it and what the end result was.  I knew people on the end of that shipment counted on me and it was up to me to deliver.   I was a part of something bigger than myself. 

Third, I was learning to love it.   I remember watching a Disney movie with my daughter called "Holes"  where boys at a corrections facility were required to dig a hole everyday as round and as deep as their shovel handles.  One boys to everyone's amazement (and worry for his mental state) exclaimed, "I LOVE to dig holes!".   I was geting to where I loved cleaning cars.  Like the boy in the movie, I was empowered.  Digging holes was supposed to be demeaning and punishing.  And for a degreed engineer and manager, cleaning railcars should have probably been demeaning and punishing but it wasnt - I friggin' liked it!

So, joemanc, here is my advice.  Safety first.  Dont kill yourself.  Pace yourself.  Hard work won't hurt you.  Stress and accidents will. Take each and every moment one step at a time.  Dont try to eat the elephant in one sitting.  Just take one bite at a time and work your way through it.  

Second, get the best eats, drinks and rest you can muster.  You need hydration and food to keep your body and mind going. You need sleep and rest for your body to heal. 

Third, engage your creative mind.  Relax and think it through.  Prioritize the work.  If the urgency is roof collapse, then figure out where the weak areas of the house and focus on those.   Get help if you can find it.  Find some youth to help you.  Maybe a neighbor with a tractor needs a snow rake.  Rake off his roof and have him move snow around the housewith his tractor.  Figure out a better way. 

Fourth, reach deep and enjoy the moment.  Eventually, winter will break and spring will bring new beginnings. 

Hope this helps...

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Great story, pinecarr!  

Eccentric geniuses always have the last laugh!   But, you only figure out the genius part after the fact.... Tongue out

nigel's picture
nigel
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Dear Mooselick

You inspired me. I went out today in the heat (southern hemisphere) and put a concrete / cement slab down for my chicken coop. It's a job I have been putting off for two months now.

I am tired and I am ready to go to sleep, but I am very satisfied.

Thanks.

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mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Congratulations, Nigel!  Sweat equity is an investment that will never let you down.  Sleep well.

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mobius
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

Simply Awesome.  Thanks for sharing!

Gr, Jo

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ComancheLee
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

mooselick7

This is a great article. I have shared it on facebook. The time and effort you put into this is apprecated. Hopefully by sharing it with others the ripple effect will continue to multipy the blessings that will come back to you.

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JAG
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Great contribution Moose....I really enjoyed the read.

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capesurvivor
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Interesting, moose, but you lost me at "steal". Maybe it was hyperbole or for effect but give me a break. If they spoke honestly, most of the posters here at CM would grab a Glock if they saw you stealing their stuff. Their families come first.

Clunked an otherwise interesting read for me.

CS

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mooselick7
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Posts: 192
Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

capesurvivor wrote:

Interesting, moose, but you lost me at "steal". Maybe it was hyperbole or for effect but give me a break. If they spoke honestly, most of the posters here at CM would grab a Glock if they saw you stealing their stuff. Their families come first.

Clunked an otherwise interesting read for me.

It was neither hyperbole or for effect or to be dramatic.  It is simply one option among many suggested.  And, I did say that I did NOT recommend it. 

The article was intended to encourage people to think critically and objectively through their options.  Critically and objectively, I would not walk into a CM posters house to steal a loaf of bread.  Especially not a Glock toting CM poster. If I did, being a critical thinker, I would make sure a Glock toting CM poster is not home in the first place.  And, I would make sure to make it completely worth the risks by cleaning out all your rations, firearms and PMs.  Again NOT RECOMMENDED for a multitude of reasons. 

But, let's change the situation.  If you were in a POW camp and barely staying alive eating bugs and weeds, would you steal a loaf of bread?  From your captors?  Damn straight. (I have a family friend who had to do just that.) How about from your fellow prisoners?  Probably not.   Would I cannabalize?  Damn straight.

If my daughter needed medical attention, would I pilfer medical supplies from a closed drug store if I had no other alternative?  Damn straight.  Would I steal gas to get out of a bad situation? Damn straight.  

If I were a college student and needed to get by for three more months without any money, would I poach deer (technically stealing from the public)?  Would I ignore the "Keep Out" signs on the dumpsters behind the grocery and dive in to "steal" stale vegetables cleaned out of the produce section every Tuesday at 9:30 pm?   Damn straight - I got the T-shirt on being a starving college kid. 

Let's say you were mountaineering and your buddy broke his leg.  (This was before cellphones and panic button receivers.)  You then performed first aid and left him with what was left of the food.  You hiked out 6 hours to the nearest trailhead.  You got to the trailhead and your battery is dead.  No one is around and probably wont be around for days.  It is 12 miles back to a more traveled road.  There is an ATV four wheeler there.  You hotwire it, get help and return it.  Was it the right thing to do?  No.  Did the owner understand the circumstances and not press charges?  No.  (Heard about this one on the local news)

Would I make amends in any way possible for all of the above?  Damn straight - because what comes around goes around - karma is very real.

If the article "clunked" at the word "steal", then the intent of the article was lost for you.

BTW go with a Rem 870 12 guage riot gun instead of a glock.  More to clean up but it is a lot harder to miss and usually the red mist scares away any of their friends.

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A. M.
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

This might best be served as an additional thread... So as not to distract from the main points here. 

Personally, I'm on Cape's side - Stealing out of necessity in certain situations can be justified, but once we start talking about the justification of thefts (which by nature have a perpetrator and a victim) and moral relativism, we open Pandora's box with regards to the "line" between right and wrong.

It's easy to "justify" theft based on need, but after a certain point, you've got to realize it's just plain wrong. 
If it isn't yours, you shouldn't be taking it. This is coming from someone who's been ripped off for valuables all his life, so I'll admit I'm biased. I absolutely *hate* thievery.

Also, I'm not advocating cannibalism. It just isn't wise.
Even in a pinch, it's a recipe for dis...dysentery. No pun intended.

While in most inter-species diseases that can be spread by consumption of contaminated meat, the parasite must 'mutate' in order to survive in the new species of host. With humans, you share a common immune system profile and common physiology - meaning any disease you ingest found in a deceased human being doesn't have to mutate (or mutate as much) to survive in your body. Afterall, you're producing the same body temperature, using a bi-carbonate buffer system, have common anatomical attributes and systemics. 

For this reason, I think the "At all costs" approach fails in some key logical aspects. 
The only reason cannibalism worked for the Uraguayan Soccer team was that the temperatures in the Andes were so low that the meat was essentially refrigerated. As soon as Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa descended - the meat they were carrying spoiled, leading to a horrifying and life threatening case of dysentery for Canessa. 

If you needed medicine, guns, ammunition, food or anything else - you'd be far better off just asking for it.
I can't justify certain things purely for my own survival...
Especially with regards to cannibalism - I'm carrying the fire.

Just my dos centavos.
Cheers,

Aaron 

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Chevy-SS
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Excellent!

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mooselick7
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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Aaron Moyer wrote:

This might best be served as an additional thread... So as not to distract from the main points here. 

Personally, I'm on Cape's side - Stealing out of necessity in certain situations can be justified, but once we start talking about the justification of thefts (which by nature have a perpetrator and a victim) and moral relativism, we open Pandora's box with regards to the "line" between right and wrong.

It's easy to "justify" theft based on need, but after a certain point, you've got to realize it's just plain wrong. 
If it isn't yours, you shouldn't be taking it. This is coming from someone who's been ripped off for valuables all his life, so I'll admit I'm biased. I absolutely *hate* thievery.

Also, I'm not advocating cannibalism. It just isn't wise.
Even in a pinch, it's a recipe for dis...dysentery. No pun intended.

While in most inter-species diseases that can be spread by consumption of contaminated meat, the parasite must 'mutate' in order to survive in the new species of host. With humans, you share a common immune system profile and common physiology - meaning any disease you ingest found in a deceased human being doesn't have to mutate (or mutate as much) to survive in your body. Afterall, you're producing the same body temperature, using a bi-carbonate buffer system, have common anatomical attributes and systemics. 

For this reason, I think the "At all costs" approach fails in some key logical aspects. 
The only reason cannibalism worked for the Uraguayan Soccer team was that the temperatures in the Andes were so low that the meat was essentially refrigerated. As soon as Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa descended - the meat they were carrying spoiled, leading to a horrifying and life threatening case of dysentery for Canessa. 

If you needed medicine, guns, ammunition, food or anything else - you'd be far better off just asking for it.
I can't justify certain things purely for my own survival...
Especially with regards to cannibalism - I'm carrying the fire.

Just my dos centavos.
Cheers,

Aaron 

Once again:  Stealing - NOT RECOMMENDED!

Life or death.  The POW friend I spoke of.... He had to eat or die.  The people in his POW camp who survived, ate ANYTHING - weeds, bugs, feces,dirt,  bark, roots - ANYTHING. I was 10 when I heard his story and it has stayed with me to this day. He was very matter of fact about it.   I could go into finer detail but quite frankly it would sicken this audience.  In a nutshell... In his words," the only ones who survived were the ones who looked for EVERY opportunity to get food.  If you didnt, you died."

There was no charity.  There was no food.  There was no other choices.

Most people when faced with those choices will say no...they'd rather die.   Some people would rather die than go dumpster diving for stale vegetables.  Some people would rather die than eat a rat.   Some people will adapt to those choices.  Some will overcome those situations.  Some will not.

People can expound their morals or hygene or beliefs all they want but when it is a matter of life or death for you or a loved one, you WILL make different decisions.

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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Now, can we get back to stories about fixing cars with springs from a retractable ball point pen and moving houses with a few hydraulic jacks and a lot of beer? 

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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick,

Nice Post. This about wraps up the discussion on preparedness, self sufficiency & resiliance as far as I can see. How much more can be said on that topic? Of course we can go on with several more rounds of discussion but that would be just avoiding the real issue which is "what comes next?"

After a period of crisis/transition where are we going to end up? What responsibility does the prepared community have in making sure the social arrangements on the other side of the crisis are worthwhile? What obligations do we have toward our fellow humans along the way? It seems to me that by virtue of our preparedness we are obliged to take a leadership role in visualising and transitioning to a functioning, just, post crisis society. 

Appreciate your thoughts.

Max Bach

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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

maxwellbach wrote:

Mooselick,

Nice Post. This about wraps up the discussion on preparedness, self sufficiency & resiliance as far as I can see. How much more can be said on that topic? Of course we can go on with several more rounds of discussion but that would be just avoiding the real issue which is "what comes next?"

After a period of crisis/transition where are we going to end up? What responsibility does the prepared community have in making sure the social arrangements on the other side of the crisis are worthwhile? What obligations do we have toward our fellow humans along the way? It seems to me that by virtue of our preparedness we are obliged to take a leadership role in visualising and transitioning to a functioning, just, post crisis society. 

Appreciate your thoughts.

Max Bach

Max:

Here are my thoughts.

First, I DID NOT spend my life learning to improvise, adapt and overcome to prepare for impending doom.  I simply did it because I enjoy it.  Making do with what I have around me.   Learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.  Learning to meet challenges.  Some people flyfish or golf - I went backcountry hut skiing in CO and spend a night in a snowtrench. ( Long story.)  My point is this....   I am not a prepper.  My actions ARE NOT motivated by impending doom or crisis.   I simply love to learn and grow.    My father was the same way.  Many of my friends also share this.  Here is a book that helped me understand this drive: http://www.amazon.com/Flow-Psychology-Experience-Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi...

Even if suddenly, the world becomes a stable utopia of unlimited resources and exponential growth, I will continue to do what I have always done. 

"After a period of crisis/transition where are we going to end up?"  

I believe in Chris' prediction that change will occur in "short, sharp shocks".   There will be crisis after crisis where goods and services we take for granted become unavailable with promises of their return that are never honored. 

For sure, each step will bring challenges.  Our communities will be an intergral part of overcoming them.   We must start now building our relationships with our neighbors.   IMHO those that just sit on their rations, PMs and gear while cleaning their guns are practically just begging for a fight.  A fight they will never win because it will never end.

Now, with all that being said, I am really going to move out on the end of the limb by saying that, after the dust settles, the world will be a BETTER place.   I have to believe that we will eventually build a sustainable world that is cleaner, less hurried, simpler with more time to enjoy the natural world.

My role in creating that world will not be the same as your world or anyone elses.  My role will be part teacher, part leader, part father, part businessman, part engineer, part problem solver, part philosopher, part gardener.... part whatever I can contribute.  Everyone's role will be different.   I know there are movements such as transitions towns etc that organize all this action into a nice, proactive package.  However, not every neighborhood or rural community is the same.  I can tell you that my little community is probably one of the most resilient around and they dont even know it.  There are pockets of communities all over the US that will handle any strife with minimal disruption.

I will give until it hurts but some tough love will be required if they wont help themselves. I will fight but Im not going to look for one.   I will try to warn folks about whats coming but if they dont listen, it will be "Live and Let Live".   I will teach but only to those that are ready to learn.

I believe that people make choices out of fear or out of love.  Regardless of what comes down the pike, I hope to make choices out of love wherever possible.

Hope this answers your questions...

 

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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

mooselick wrote:

My role in creating that world will not be the same as your world or anyone elses.  My role will be part teacher, part leader, part father, part businessman, part engineer, part problem solver, part philosopher, part gardener.... part whatever I can contribute.  Everyone's role will be different.   I know there are movements such as transitions towns etc that organize all this action into a nice, proactive package.  However, not every neighborhood or rural community is the same.  I can tell you that my little community is probably one of the most resilient around and they dont even know it.  There are pockets of communities all over the US that will handle any strife with minimal disruption.

I will give until it hurts but some tough love will be required if they wont help themselves. I will fight but Im not going to look for one.   I will try to warn folks about whats coming but if they dont listen, it will be "Live and Let Live".   I will teach but only to those that are ready to learn.

I believe that people make choices out of fear or out of love.  Regardless of what comes down the pike, I hope to make choices out of love wherever possible.

+1 Mooselick, I like the way you roll!

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Re: Problem Solving: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Mooselick, I'd be really surprised if your last post didn't  resonate with and describe about 95% of the folks here at CM.  Well, at least it sure fit me to a tee.  Well stated.  Aloha, Steve.

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mooselick7
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Posts: 192
Well, this report has been

Well, this report has been archived and my five minutes of fame is over. 

I just wanted to thank everyone for their feedback and kind words.  All good.

Also wanted to invite you to contact me if you are working through a problem... Or need a resource.  Or maybe in a situation you are trying to adjust to.  Or, reached some insight.  Or, an ancestoral gift you discovered.   Or, were put to a test that changed you on the other side.  

Send me a PM and we will explore together.  And, if you need help that I cant provide, we will look for someone who can help you.  

These are the things I live for.   Thanks again for this fantastic opportunity!

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