Monday, July 13, 2015

Skill additions post 1

I have recently just completed my 4th trip on a tall ship as a part of my job, one week a year for the past 4 years and have logged 725 nautical miles. The first was on a gaff rigged ketch called Provident,


and the last three were on a slightly larger gaff rigged ketch called leader. .

I have come to love Proverbs 30 vs 18-19 because of this experience:
18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.I have never yet seen a snake on a rock but have a friend who has and is obsessed with them, so I will take his word that they are wonderful to behold. I have experienced the other three and am in agreement with the writer of this proverb.
Sailing helps you to see the world from a different perspective; I am used to being on land and looking out at sea, when sailing it is reversed. Looking at land shows you that clouds do have an end and the sky looks so different from a seaward perspective. I suppose I have ended up with an obsession with weather because of this, to the extent that my PC opens up for the MET 5 day weather report for the town upon where I live and the first thing I do every day for 4 years is look at the weather forecast. At sea there are different birds than you see on land, I have come to love gannets and puffins because of this experience.

I have come to love cordage and rope because of sailing, it did take me a while to get my head around some of the rigging and how to tie a rolling hitch Another great thing about sailing is singing the shanties like Haul Away Joe as you haul on the ropes, teamwork in the hauling and singing forms teamwork better than any other thing I have experienced. Sailing has taken me to parts of my country that I may have taken much longer to see such as the islands of Tiree, Coll, Mull, Eigg and places like Lochs Sunnart and Loch Aline; overall what it has done for me is expand my observational awareness which is the lifeblood of tracking, I can honestly say that sailing has made me a better tracker as bizarre as that may sound. It’s all a jigsaw with interconnections and synthesis to be made in the maps of the mind.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cappadocia and ancient preppers.

Many years ago my wife and I went on a backpacking tour of Greece and Turkey for the Classics portion of her degree. One of the best things about that holiday (BC Before children) was that out of the month we only booked the first night of our accommodation. Years later I can see how useful this was to developing the independence required in a prepper mindset. Too often today we like to always play the safe route which in reality is beyond safe. Even where risks are minimal we tend not to take them. We found only booking the first night invigorating, waking up each day and thinking where will we go today and how long will we stay there for?

After about 20 days traveling we found ourselves arriving in Goreme in Cappadocia.
We arrived at night and it felt like we had landed on another planet. The silhouettes of the buildings with the lights shining from the windows was very eerie. While we were there we went to visit the ancient underground cities in Derinkuyu

In these underground cities they had everything from ventilation, light shafts, wine presses and stables. What impressed me was the protective mindset of these early preppers. Here is a door that could be closed from the inside. This place was very easy to defend.
 The reason I have posted this is that many people I come across in the prepper world are only ever thinking of me and mine and mouths to feed. Although this is important so is the community of the pack. You see the efficiency of wolves hunting and working as a pack or the African hunting dog. Community prepping is one of the harder things to prep for. When in this underground city on a tour, the guide told me that early Christians under persecution used these cities to hid as communities from the Romans. I did not read this on the wiki article on these cities but it is what I was told.

At the moment I am reading a book when I get the chance called:

 The Territorial Imperative. I found this book in the bibliography of Tracking, Signs of man signs of hope.

Tracking, signs of man signs of hope, is a fairly good tracking book and one that I am glad to have on my book shelf.

For me there is the difficulty of being a Christian. I think of the verse that tells us to go the second mile.

 Mathew Chapter 5
40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

This really flies in the face of hording loads of food for you and yours. Another aspect of the prepping mindset is that for many it goes into a mindset of fear. This is also a challenge to the Christian who also wants to prep and be careful for the future as my fear should only be for God, rather than that of man. 

The Gospel of Mathew also points out in chapter 10

27 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Does this then mean that a Christian should not be a prepper, I say no. The best example I can think of is the dream that Joseph interpreted for Pharoah in Genesis 41

Here is a small excerpt:  

33 “Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. 36 Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.”

In short I would summarize this post as saying, develop friendships and communities, do not live in fear but be sensible and prepare for the unexpected.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Semper Paratus

Being interested in the history of my genealogy from a young age meant that I knew the motto of my family name, McCready, was Semper Paratus. It is also used by the Scout movement and the US Coast Guard service. However having it as your family motto and being aware of it meant for me that it did have a full on  influence on my life. I have felt the need to diversify the focus of my blog for a while as tracking is such a specialised skill set that it also dictates a narrow viewership; I am therefore going to look at what it means to be always prepared.

I have been a part of the tracking and survival scene for the last 12 years of my life having initially trained in Northern Ireland and then spending most of the last decade with Shadowhawk Tracking school. As a civilian I have been able to make many more opportunities for myself within this scene than I did within my unimpressive service with the regular army in the  REME or the territorial army with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

I would say the best part of my time with Shadowhawk was mixing with the varied backgrounds of the other instructors as well as the clients; there was constant learning going on. Learning and education and personal development was definitely part of the group ethos. If I had to describe the predominant of the varied mindsets, I would use the words Tactical Thinking. I enjoyed this part of the tracking so much that I completed the Tactical Tracking course twice and will probably do it again in the future.

It is with a tactical thinking mindset that I approach any sort of praxis or philosophy of the concept of prepping. For me that means thinking things through and planning, having standard operating procedures not only thought out but practiced.

There are plenty of people out there blogging about what to prepare, youtube videos on what kit to get and such things. I am going to apply my thinking as a tracker to prepping so that my blog has its own niche within the growing plethora of other media that is already out there on this topic.

So for the newbie to this concept,  I will give a brief explanation from a standard point of view to the question of:

What is prepping?

Prepping is short for the word prepared on preparing. It is an international term now, well at least in the western world between the USA and the UK. It is about being prepared for misfortune, a common cliche statement is to prepare for the worst rather than hoping for the best. So I guess it helps in being a prepper if you are a pessimist or a pessimist who believes that he/she is a realist. To be honest, people prep all the time, when you get contents or car insurance you are prepping. When you carry a first aid kit in your car you are prepping, when you stock up on a few buy one get one free sales you are prepping. The question is to what shade are you prepping. My next post should be called 50 shades of prepping. Number 1 would be buying some of those buy one get one free snacks for a weekend binge and number 50 would be building an underground bunker complex and having genetic screening in place for re population after Armageddon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ibex in Israel

When I was planning my pilgrimage to Israel there was a prerequisite for me; I had to spend one day tracking in Ein Gedi park and look for some Ibex. I have always thought that Ibex were majestic creatures. A prime specimen would be a sight to behold. I did not have to wait until then to get to see one as there were some in the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem. They were too easy to get pictures of and to be honest would have been a way too cheeky for my ethics to pass them of as ones that I had tracked. Here are some pictures of Ibex in the zoo:                 

Zoo picture one
King of the harem, in the zoo.
It takes no skill to realise that the Ibex is basically a type of wild goat. Its genus is that of Capra in the family of Bovidae . It is jsut so impressive to see. If I had to market bodybuilding products, I would use the Ibex as a symbol; not because they are so muscular but because they just stink of testosterone, for a ruminant they are about as masculine as it gets. There are 8 types of Ibex, the ones in Israel were Numidian Ibex, if you want to know what the other ones are, look up wikipediaWikipedia Capra genus. The next one on my list however is the Alpine Ibex. They live well above the tree line in the Alps so that will require a fair bit of climbing. Not sure when I will get around to that but hope to do so in the future. I will get a better camera for that one than the one I used for these pics which is a standard point and shoot with minimal magnification.
Fear me, fear my shadow, in the zoo.
Here are some pics of less impressive ones I managed to get close to in Ein Gedi. It was not that hard and took little stalking skill as I am pretty sure it was rutting time or its equivalent, that is unless these males are horny all the time. When I next get back to Israel I will stay at the Kibbutz at Ein Gedi and spend a few days here following these guys about. I will make it around October as the heat was really hard to take. It was about 36 degrees in October and I would not like to experience it much hotter. Part of the attraction for me is the dry hot places. I find desert habitat to be very beautiful. That is one of the reasons that the film Laurence of Arabia is on my shelf.

Too distracted to worry about my presence, not in zoo, wild ones.

Pic of track of male in above photo.

These last pics have very small horns but I had a little difficulty in stalking close to these guys to get the shot, they were much more skittish than the others.

Fairly hard to see if they don't move.

Sillouette pic, love the leggings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jesus the friend of lizards

You know it has been too long since your last blog post when you struggle to remember your password for logging in. It is now four months since I was on holiday in Israel. While I was there I spent some time in the garden of Gethsemane which is on the slopes of the Mount of Olives just East of Jerusalem. Luke chapter 5 verse 16 says that Jesus often withdrew himself to lonely or wild places and prayed. (My paraphrase) Later on in the Gospel of Luke in chapter 22 verse 39, it describes the Mount of Olives as a place he was "accustomed, " to going there. For those who are vaguely aware, the garden of Gethsemane is the place Jesus went to to pray the night before his crucifixion and was also the place he was arrested. When I was there I wanted to get a sense of place because to me this was the place that Jesus came to Zone In (Zone In as mentioned in previous post). This was the place where he had his sit spot to use other tracking terminology. It was here that he attuned himself to God, his Father. When I was there I could smell the fermenting olives lying on the ground and felt the heat and imagined Jesus here in the shade. I saw lots of little lizards as well around six inches long, scurrying around; it was then that I thought of Jesus being amused by these little creatures.  Sitting, praying, watching, praying, meditating, watching more with possibly lizards becoming attuned to his presence and scurrying over his feet. It reminds me of when I was on a course in Castlewellan Forest Park in Northern Ireland about a decade ago and had been living in the forest for two weeks when a little bird possibly a sparrow came and perched on my foot. I just in my mind, see Jesus being in touch with his creation around him. People tend to associate this being in touch within  nature with Francis of Assisi, but now I relate it more to Jesus. Israel is a place I would like to go back to. I did get some tracking done in Israel when I traveled down to Ein Gedi near the Dead Sea, but that is for the next post.
Here is a pic or three of this place:

One of the older olive trees, dated at around the time of Christ

One of the younger olive trees

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tracking and Gaming

Sometimes to de-stress I do a little bit of gaming on my Xbox 360 and today I was thinking of an overlap of gaming tracking and natural navigation. In the types of games that I play you generaly have an option of how you view the world. You can play through the first person view also called remote person view; this is where you view events or pilot a craft from the pilots views. You look left you see what is left and vice versa. This is like our everyday life where we see what we look at or listen to. Here is an example from hunting a wolf with a bow in Skyrim:
In tracking there are two perspective views the Zone in and the Zone out. First, I am going to address the Zone out. The zone out is much like the Virtual camera system in gaming where it plots the character on the landscape. This is called third person perspective. Here below is a picture of an archer as a part of the landscape:
If I were to zoom out further the person would be smaller and you would see more of the landscape. this is where gaming can be used as a metaphor for yourself as an example to help you picture what I am writing about. You would be able to see yourself in relation to other people and animals on the same landscape. If you had studied natural navigation you would know why the landscape is shaped the way it is, what has influenced it and where you are within the landscape without having to look at the compass or revert to the map. The compass and map are useful and often necessary tools however being able to plot yourself on the landscape in an instinctual way will make your tracking much more fluid and faster. You can also plot the animal or person that you are tracking and what natural influence will become boundaries, fencing them in and helping you to know where to plot them on the landscape.

The Zone in is much harder to explain using gaming as a metaphor. So to recap, your everyday view is like first person perspective, the Zone out is a bit like a zoomed out third person perspective so what perspective is the Zone in like?

To me it is a bit like what I call the sub surface perspective or what others have called the split screen where the components separate. It is easier to show than to explain:

In this screen you are seeing in and through all of the graphics and under streets. In Tracking the Zone in is where you really slow down your senses in order to speed them up. It is when your awareness is heightened and you are observing a lot more. A better example or metaphor than computer graphics that I use to explain the Zone in is changing from one speed zone to another in driving; especially if the contrast is stark; for example driving at 70ish on the motorway and then having to drop to a 30 mph zone. For a little while you seem to be aware of so much as your senses is observing at high speed while your brain is being challenged at a lower rate. To do this in tracking you need to adjust yourself away from normal life to being in a tracking frame of mind. To start off with it is better to sit down  for a while and detox your mind of all your hastles and start to truelly observe the sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes that suround you. After some practice you can make this transition in a faster more fluid way and detox your mind and senses from all the junk that clogs them up. I guess this is why I love tracking and natural navigation so much. Both help me to see the world in much more detail, both use awareness as the anvil upon which the twin hammers of tracking and natural navigation pound against. I would go so far as to say that a good tracker should make a good natural navigator and vice versa as both are highly versed in utilising awareness and perspective.

Look back to the first picture and imagine that you could push a button and change the perspective from that of the hunter to that of the wolf. One minute you are looking through the hunters eyes and the next you are looking through the wolves eyes. This is a visualising perspective where the more you know about the animal and its habits the more accurately you can put yourself it its paws or shoes and know where to look for tracks

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Buying a couple of new axes.

Well, I am going to have very limited tracking and camping this year as I have ended up with a very painful rotator cuff tear in my left shoulder. It is so painful that my driving is limited to 20 minutes at a time. This is curtailing a lot of my plans for 2012 and I am having to rethink them while I heal up. I have my annual budget that I usually spend on these activities but am now going to focus on getting a few new bits of gear that I have had my eye on but have not bought as I would rather spend the money on transport to track or camp in a different place.

Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to carve a few spoons and am planning on continuing with that and progressing onto kuksa cups, bowls and canoe paddles. I have been looking at getting a new axe to use when carving and am struggling to make my final decision as to which I will get. I have a little choice in that as it s my 40th birtday this year I am going to spash out and buy two new axes.

At the moment I am looking at a Roselli as seen in this pic below. I came across this in this blog:

I have been following spoon carving first steps for a wee while now and find it quite inspiring. Thank you Jon Mac.

The other axe that I am seriously considering is the Gransfor Bruk Swedish Carving Axe.

I have used one of these axes and enjoyed using it. The one that I had the opportunity to try out had a single bevel and was designed for a right handed user. It did feel strange and tended to dig in a bit. Gransfor also do them with the standard two sided bevel. This is where my quandry lies. Do I get the single sided bevel or the one with the bevel on both sides? Or are there better axes out there for carving with that I have not heard of ???? This link belongs to Robin Wood who is another blogger that I follow. In this he would tend to go for the bevel on both sides as it can then be used as a more allround bushcraft axe. I see some strong logic in this.

The other tools that I am planning on buying are a couple of mocotaugans or crooked knives. As far as carving canoe paddles I hape to get to the stage of making them with only the axe and crooked knife. I suppose all of this gear shopping is to motivate myself for getting healed up from this injury. I have another 4 weeks of physio then it is onto steroid injections. I just hope that with resting that it does not have to go to surgery.

While it is healing I am limited to reading about what I normally prefer to do. Really hope this retail therapy helps with the cabin fever that is starting to settle in.