Emergency Water Pump – The Plan

Earlier in the week when we were preparing for Hurricane Irene and looked at areas that we needed to improve, if there was an extended period of no electricity.  The biggest thing that we noticed was that we didn’t have the ability have a long-term drinking water option, after the initial emergency supplies are used up.

We have a drilled well and have an electric pump, which doesn’t work all that well without power (no s#!& Sherlock). There were a couple of options, because our well, has water that is only about 20 feet down, so that gave a few more options:

  • buy a generator and hook up the water pump – too expensive to buy and run and very noisy. Nice if you have one, but beyond our budget.
  • a three or four-foot skinny water bucket that can fit down inside well head, but I really didn’t like that solution, it would mean having to pull the electric pump out and we would have to manually pull up the bucket.  Also manually lowering and pulling up the bucket would knock rust and crap from the sides of the pipe down into the drinking water each time.  Also what happens if the rope breaks or comes untied (I would have two ropes to prevent the this with one tied off to something, but…) then you have a stainless steel bucket in the bottom of your well, which might cause problems later.  No I didn’t really like this option, even though it might be very reliable, it might be a good back-up to the back-up, if there were no electricity for a long period.
  • a pitcher pump, the old well pump that you see pictures of from the 1800s to around the Depression Era. This seemed to be the best and easiest long-term option for getting water out of our well. After settling on what we needed, I had to figure out where to get it and looked at a few, the prices ranged from $42 to hundreds of dollars.  After looking at them and researching what I really needed I picked the $42 one from Tractor Supply Co.  It seemed to be reasonably built compared to the others and the cost wasn’t too bad.  If this was going to be a full-time hand pump, I would probably opt for a higher quality one that would not freeze up as quickly during the cold weather as this one will.

Screwing on a 1 1/4 pipe on the pitcher pump was the recommended way to use the pitcher pump, but our power line is almost directly over the well head. So having a 25 foot metal pipe waving around while I was putting it in the well and then out again when the dust settles, didn’t thrill me too much – My hair gets curly enough and I don’t like the idea of being dead, because of something that I can anticipate and prevent.

Because of the powerline overhead, I considered that a safety hazard.  Also you would have to pull out the electric pump to make sure that if you drop the 25 foot pipe (shit happens) in the well, while screwing on the pitcher pump. That would probably make for a very expensive repair job to the electric pump.

I looked around for a way, to simply hook up a garden hose to the pitcher pump. I am not an expert plumber, but I knew that there had to be an easy way to hook something like this up. So I went to the local hardware store and wandered around the plumbing section. They had a 1 1/4″ screw-in reducer to female 3/4″, I then got a 3/4″ double male fitting and 25′ of garden hose (I wanted new and clean for this). When I put it together finger tight in the car, it worked easier than I had any reason to expect.  I had the parts and just needed to put everything together on a base.

Below is the finished product of my emergency well water hand pump setup

I feel a lot safer with this setup than trying to put a 25 foot pipe down into my well beside a powerline (energized or not). The other thing it stores all ready to go right on top of my cabinets in the back room, so that I don’t have to put anything together during an emergency.  All I have to do is loosen 3 bolts, take off the well cap and put the hose down the pipe, prime it and magically water appears.

A fairly simple solution to my long-term emergency water problem for less than $70. I have thought about how we would get for a couple of years in a long-term power outage, but never really got around to doing something about it.  Preparing for Irene was the perfect excuse to stop and do, instead of just thinking about it and waiting until later to figure it out.  Usually later is when you don’t have time to figure it out and take unnecessary risks or jury-rig something that may cause more problems. That is the problem with doing things “later”.

We now have access to an emergency water supply, if the power does go out for extended periods of time.  The one thing that I will probably do is go out and get a couple more reducers and double fittings, because while plastic does okay, it can crack or break.

Like they say 2 is 1 and 1 is none.  I would prefer to keep having emergency water supply and if going out and spending $5 for a couple of spares is all I need to do, it seems like the right thing to do. I might even go out and look around for 1 1/4″ 25 foot pipe just to keep out back, in case of a long-term power outage or if I want a more permanent setup in place for an alternative water supply outside.

I do like simple solutions.

What little things did you find out when preparing for Irene that were easy to do and a lot cheaper than you thought they would be, when you finally decided to just do it.

I came within 5 minutes of posting this on Sunday and actually had a chance to try this setup on Monday and Tuesday.  Part 2 will go over how well this emergency well pump worked.

Who Do You Rely On in an Emergency?

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/26/11

Who do you rely on in an emergency?

With Hurricane Irene barreling up the East Coast as I write this, I figure that this is a valid question.

So who will you rely on during this emergency?

The Government (Federal, State, County, Local) or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) i.e. Red Cross or other aid agencies?

Emergency Preparedness people are doing a great job of attempting to tell people of the dangers that Hurricane Irene poses to the general populace. They are asking people to be ready for this event and are issuing evacuation notices to get people into safer areas. FEMA and the State Emergency Management Agencies are doing their best to tell people that if Irene hammers their area to be prepared to live without power or other conveniences that the public wants for 72 or more hours after the event.

How will people react to being in a shelter for at least 2-3 days with how many other people there too? What happens if it turns into weeks?  Gonna need a lot more security than they had in New Orleans for some of those big East Coast cities.

I wonder how many people have actually listened over the last couple of days about being ready?

I know that both State and Federal Emergency Management Agencies will do better than they did during Katrina, but I also have the feeling that if Irene hits the East Coast hard, they will be quickly overwhelmed (after all budget cuts have depleted most State Agencies to the absolute bare bones) and when you are running with a skeleton crew, it will be pretty hard to keep running on adrenaline for to the extent that will be necessary for a major disaster, especially once the initial event is over and we go into the Recovery phase of a disaster.

The EMA’s track record is not all that great and while they have made a lot of changes for the better, they are still bureaucratic institutions that have line and control issues (especially the control issues). Let’s see how they work this time at both State and Federal levels.

Corporations and Power Companies – The for profit people?

With their 3 day supply chain system, I wonder how many broken links there will be after Irene blows through?  There are images of empty stores already on the news, what happens if the infrastructure is damaged, then 3 days worth of supplies on hand will not be enough.  It will be interesting to see how the corporations and power companies react to this emergency and how quickly they are back up and running close to normal.

I know that power companies will bring in lineman from unaffected areas to get power back as quickly as possible, but they have an aging infrastructure and I wonder how badly this storm will damage that aging infrastructure.

Corporations that have little or no inventories beyond their normal 3 days worth of “just in time delivery”, with limited ability to re-stock quickly, will be especially hard hit, especially when people start wanting to return to their homes. This will be one of those interesting things that should be watched closely, so you will have a better understanding of how to prepare for the next time, because there will be a next time – unfortunately.

How are the insurance companies going to be after this disaster?  They are going to have a difficult time making a profit this quarter, if there are billions of dollars worth of claims after the hurricane.  Do you think that the claims process might become more adversarial as people who have paid their premiums for years and years finally make a claim, have to jump through multiple hoops designed to make it more difficult for them to receive a full claim?

We will see.

Making money during an emergency seems to be a tough thing, but some will find a way. I just hope that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and that the corporate bottom-lines are not the over-riding factor for those person-entities called corporations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

Local Communities

They are under so much pressure from all sides that many of them can’t do anything at all or are limited in what they will be able to do.  Their budgets have been cut to bare bones, they don’t have the resources that they had in the past.  That means that local communities and resources will be some of the last things back on-line if there is significant damage from Hurricane Irene.  Look at your town’s infrastructure and who maintains it and tell me honestly how well you believe your municipality will be able to respond to an overwhelming emergency situation.


Most people today don’t know their neighbors or neighborhood very well, if at all.  Emergencies sometimes bring out the best in neighborhoods and they all pull together and get things done to make sure that people in the neighborhood are safe and secure. Unfortunately, all too many of them will remain compartmentalized and people just worry about their own little piece of the pie and to hell with everyone else.  I wonder what will happen in your neighborhood?


The bottom-line is that eventually in most emergencies it will come down to your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (otherwise known as KSA) that you have developed to survive and be ready in an emergency. Most of the time your survival will be the result of the choices that you made well before an emergency situation even begins or are you just starting to think about this emergency preparedness thing now. If you are don’t you think it is a little late and that whatever you do is going to be a lot of knee-jerk reactions, instead of well thought-out plans?

Sure you can still do some things to help yourself before Irene hits your home, but wouldn’t it have been easier if you had prepared for more than a couple of days or started today?  I tend to think so.

Being ready for an emergency comes down to what preparations that you made/make, the attitude that you have and how dependent on others you are to make decisions and choices for you. At some point you have to realize you are the person who is responsible for yourself and your family, not some faceless bureaucrat, local law enforcement official or politician who may be speaking out of both sides of their mouth at whatever level they are at.

Below is a quote to think about, as we prepare and live through Hurricane Irene.

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”

– Margaret Mitchell

Will Hurricane Irene give you what you expected and was ready for as possible, or will she leave you shell-shocked and dependent upon someone else?

The chances are that over the course of the next week or so, you will have several things happen that you were not expecting and you will have to deal with it – whatever it is.  If it comes down to a survival situation are you ready?  Do you know who you can rely upon or what to do if “they” don’t show up when you need them to rescue you, from the choices that you made yesterday, today, or will make tomorrow?

The truth is there is only one person that you can really rely on completely, in all situations and that is yourself. Am I being pessimistic – no just honest. So can you depend upon yourself in an emergency?

I hope and pray that the damage Hurricane Irene does to the East Coast is minimal and that many use this emergency as an opportunity to look at how to get ready for the next emergency and if there are things that you can do and be more ready next time.   Unfortunately, I don’t really believe that too many are going to take this opportunity and do that, they will try to go back to living the way they did before Irene and it might just be too late to do that.

Who do you rely on in an emergency?  Good question, do you know?

If you don’t maybe you better think about it.

This is just a few quick thoughts, each of these areas could be books and we don’t have time for that now.

Back to Basic Cable

We have been thinking about dropping back to basic cable for a couple of months now. The cost of HD cable and High Speed Internet was over $120 per month, which to our way of thinking was just too damn much money for our limited budget. So today I unhooked the cable box, put their remote in a bag and we took everything to the cable company’s office, gave it back and downgraded our cable to basic.

By dropping to basic cable we will save around $50 per month, which is a pretty big deal to us or looking at it a different way – about half of our property taxes for next year – so this change really makes a lot of sense.

How will this change affect us?

Not all that much really, even though we had several hundred channels there were only around 10 that we watched very often, when we watched TV, unfortunately none of those 10 are included in basic cable.  We seriously debated ditching cable TV altogether, but opted for the basic to see how much we used that an we can always get rid of it later if we find we are not watching very much TV.

The three of us are usually on the computers doing something online, so downgrading the High Speed Internet was not an option at this time. The more we looked at it, the more we realized that the TV was used more for background noise than watching most of the time.

The hardest part of changing to basic cable was remembering how to reprogram the TV without having the manual around as a reference, (it was in the drawer and I was too lazy to go get it) and to get the VCR and DVD players hooked back up correctly.  Still working on the VCR, it just doesn’t work correctly yet, but I will figure it out.

What will I miss?

I will miss ESPN, NESN (the sports channels – I enjoy watching the Celtics, Red Sox and Patriots games) and some of the history/educational type channels, but they were not worth the extra money we were spending to keep them.  Oh well, I guess this will give me more time to find stuff to write about here at Simple Is Working, work on learning new skills or even “believe it or not – read a book or two. 🙂

Busy Every Day

The garden is starting to wind down, we pulled out the string beans Tuesday and are drying what was left on the vines on some old screens.  We have done it this way for as long as I have been here and we usually get a few of servings of beans to bake up later.

I am really lucky, while I was giving my Google Docs presentation yesterday, the wife was home and rototilled and added manure/compost to the old green bean beds, made apple syrup from the early drops and somehow found time to make some pistachio muffins.  All I can say is wow!

I also got an email from the local sports shop, my Lansky Sharpening System came in and on the way home from the presentation I picked that up.  I know how to sharpen knives, but I never am able to keep the angle true, so I figured that with the money I got for my birthday, I would go ahead and get something that I’ve always wanted, but just never got around to getting.

I haven’t opened it yet to try to sharpen anything yet, I am going to wait for the next rainy afternoon, I have too many good weather projects that I have to get done before the bad weather arrives. Maybe this weekend – Geez, I can’t believe that I am learning patience, something is seriously wrong with me.

Let’s I got files to sharpen saws and now the Lansky to sharpen knives, I wonder what I have to look for next?
The reality is that I am very lucky to have a partner and wife, who works harder than I do most of the time. We tried the apple syrup on our oatmeal this morning, it gave it a nice mild but sweet flavoring. Another few items added to the larder.

It is amazing what you can do when you work as a team and how busy we are everyday. There is always something to do or a different project to start or complete.  I guess we are making up for all those years that we worked for someone else.

Providing gDocs Training 8/24/11

Originally at Simple Is Working – 8/24/11
Today I went back and had a taste of what my former life was like and it was a great reality check.  I provided two, three-hour training sessions – Introduction to Google Docs for staff in my old school district. The training seemed to be well received by the participants and from what I could see – no one fell asleep.  ;P

Actually, I consider myself a pretty good trainer and believe that I did a good job facilitating the two sessions.  Even though during the afternoon session the computers were acting pretty “wonky” (technical term for not acting like they did in the morning), we got through it with only a few glitches and without skipping any important parts of the presentation.

My favorite slide was this one. I try to add something like it any presentation that I do.  This one slide helps me be more flexible if things are not going right (sometimes you just have to trash a presentation and wing it – due to whatever reason) or if I need to change the presentation to meet the needs of the participants.

Getting ready for this Introduction to Google Docs was about 10 hours of prep time for a 3 hour presentation.  In order to give a quality training, you do have to do a lot of preparation even for a subject you are very knowledgeable about, otherwise you get a crappy presentation and if there are glitches (and there almost always are), they will fluster you and really screw up your session.

When I left the house this morning, I was a little nervous, but confident of the content of the training session, because of all the prep work. Doing this prep work did remind me of how much work is involved in teaching: preparing, presenting, correcting, recording the results and then having to do it 5 days a week.  Boy I wonder how I did it all those years I was a teacher?

Soapbox Alert (If you don’t want to read this section skip down to where the Soapbox is over)

Every group is different and if an instructor doesn’t take those differences into account and just bulls their way through a presentation as is, without regard to the needs of the people you are presenting to, it usually turns out to be a very boring presentation.

I have found that most people learn by doing, much more than setting there and listening to someone pontificate about how great they are and how to do something, without letting them do something related to what you are teaching – preferably several hands-on sections. Teaching or presenting is not a see how great or smart I am opportunity – some forget that.

The students or trainees just tune you out and eventually walk-out (unless they are students, then they have to suffer through mindless or boring lectures where they don’t learn anything anyway). I know that I hate that kind of professional development and wouldn’t purposely subject others to it when I am the training facilitator.

I am now at the point in my life (yes it is official – I am getting old and crotchety) where I won’t be rude to a presenter (in most cases, because I know how hard it is), but at the same time if a presenter is horrible, I will not stick around – my time is much too valuable to me, especially if I am paying for the training or class.

As one of my students said when we going through their expectations “Don’t be boring.”

When I asked her after the session if I had been boring – She smiled and said “Nope you did a pretty good job.”  I’ll take that from another teacher any day of the week.

I will get off that soapbox.

Anyway going back into the building and seeing a lot of the people who I worked with last year or two, was great. Remembering old times and talking about what we did over the summer break was interesting and very cool.

However, there was a difference in most of those conversations, I was an outsider now and the conversations all seemed to end on a variation of “you don’t know how lucky you are, Harold”. Looking back at those conversations tonight, believe me I do realize how lucky I am.

I even went and looked at my old room and while the person who is replacing me hasn’t really started making changes to the room there were some. I didn’t feel the connection that I had when I left it in June and I knew that room was no longer a part of my life (it was then that I realized that I had made the right choice).

However, I did have to laugh when my replacement was having problems opening the bottom drawer to the file cabinet and all I did was go over and opened it, much to her chagrin.  I got a few choice words for that (I have worked with the person who is replacing me for several years and we know each other very well) and then we laughed a bit.  But even that was not the same.

Today was great reality check and reminder that I am no longer part of the new team, the many things that I will not miss about teaching and there really is not much of chance that I would voluntarily go back to that daily grind, without some significant arm-twisting – any time soon.

I am simply enjoying myself too much, even though what I am doing involves a lot more physical labor, but there is very little stress compared to teaching. The schedule that my wife and I have at home is doing things that we want to do at our pace and if they don’t get done today, there is almost always tomorrow to get it done – which is just a little different from the day-to-day stress of teaching (sarcasm). My diet has changed for the better and I get to see the results of my labor, which I am finding more important to me than I thought it would be. I am starting to get used to the simple life that I am living.

So here is to the unknown that the next year will bring to the table and I hope that it is as great as I think it will be.

I Got LUCKY – Free Garend Raised Bed Frames

Originally at Simple Is Working – 8/23/11

We have been talking about creating some raised beds for more garden space (and less to mow). However, I just never got around to getting the material this summer, it has just been rather hectic and we are watching our pennies a bit more.

We were on our way to hiking over in Belgrade and we saw this pile of free stuff at the local lumber yard.

We decided that if they were still there, when we went back by that I would come back with the truck and get some. They were all about 4’x3′, almost the exact size I was going to build for my raised beds anyway, so I was hoping against hope that they would still be there later – around here you put free on something and it usually disappears pretty damn quick, if it is at all useful.

When we went back by some were gone, but there were enough left to go get, so as soon as we got home I turned around and took the truck and got six of them.  I didn’t want to seem too greedy.

Then as the day went on and I thought about it and talked with the wife, we decided that we had plenty of use for them, I went back and this time put as many as were left in the truck (yes someone else had taken some before I got back) and it was a full bed.

So this is what I ended up with:

If I double them up, I have perfect raised beds.  WHAT A DEAL!!!

All I have to do is either hammer or cut some of the nails out and figure out where to put the raised gardens in the yard.  Now to go see the neighbor and find out if he will either deliver or fill the truck up with manure, so I can put it in the bottom of these to get ready for next spring.

Funny how this worked out, but sure is going to save me a lot of work and buying materials.  Thank you local lumber store for having the foresight to know that these were exactly what I was looking for and then putting them out front in your FREE pile 🙂 or in other words I got totally LUCKY!!!!

I know that we will put them to good use in growing more veggies next year and yet another step toward being more self-sufficient.

Sanders Hill Hike-Belgrade Maine 8-23-11

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/23/11

We finally got out and did a little more difficult hike, I have been a little wimpy with my knee, but it did just fine and now I have the confidence to go out and do more 🙂 which is a great thing.


It was a perfect day for a hike, cool (never got out of the 60’s).  The knee was fine, a little creaky at the end, but nothing serious, unlike last year when I hiked it last summer, I was still able to walk and do stuff afterwards.  Finally, starting to feel as though I am making progress.

I do like this hike, it takes about 2 hours to complete and except for the part on the 4 wheeler trail, is a nice hike.  It is challenging enough, but not so tough that you don’t want to go out and do it again and is a confidence builder for something a little tougher next time.

The trail is well marked and you don’t have to worry about getting lost, which is a consideration on less maintained trails.

Overall on a scale of 10
Enjoyment:  9
Difficulty:   4
Tiredness: 4

Sanders Hill Hike is one of those local hikes that you do again and again. All I know is that it was fantastic to be able to enjoy the hike, instead of suffering through it!

Now to get rid of the lardage.

Eating More Simply

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/21/11

Over the past year I have changed what I eat for breakfast and lunch considerably.  As a result of my knee injury last year, I was putting on weight and my cholesterol levels were rising. I knew then that I had to start changing what went down the old pie hole.


Since about March this has been my usual breakfast.


Coffee, banana and quick oatmeal with blueberries, flax-seed, honey and cinnamon (I just recently started adding the cinnamon).  I have had this meal 90% of the time since March. If I don’t have this, it usually ends up being one of the Cinnamon type healthier cereals with the coffee and a banana.


Since June I have had fresh garden salads almost daily (the wife or I go out to the garden pick our salad just before lunch), a cup of tea and whatever is leftover from the previous night’s meal. Lately I have added in dandelion greens and looking at other “edible” weeds from the back yard that I can forage and add into a salad.

Yes believe it or not the avowed meat-eater is actually eating more greens and grains and a lot less meat.  Meat is becoming more of a condiment than the main focus of the meal, but we have a couple of pieces of mini chocolates (special dark or Mr. Goodbar for me usually).  I could probably get by with just the salad, but the frugal person in me doesn’t like to waste leftovers, so I get to eat those as well.


Varied, but usually a homemade something or other by my fantastic wife and then we put up the left-overs for lunch for me. Every other night we have a glass of red wine with our meal and I might sneak a second bottle of beer in on occasion on pizza night.  We seldom eat out and usually don’t have more than a couple mini chocolates for desert once a week when we have homemade chocolate chip cookie whoopie pies and coffee after eating our homemade pizza on Fridays. Unless of course there is a birthday, anniversary or some other special occasion where she or the step-daughter make some baked treat, that I have to “force” myself to eat.

Sometimes even home cooked food is not the healthiest, but we have improved a lot since the wife retired and has more time to prepare the food.


Usually a handful of peanuts in the afternoon, but my downfall is usually from 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., I simply want to eat again, as we settle in for the night and wind down.  However, if there is coffee ice cream in the house I will usually have a small bowl or one of Mary’s homemade muffins. I have worked on eating a 1/4 cup of hot air popped popcorn with nothing else on it at least once a week during this time and limit myself to a small bowl of chips (Cape Cod Plain) a couple of nights a week, instead of sitting down with the bag – yes I admit it I am a recovering potato chipaholic. 🙂

I am getting better with my snacks.  At least I am thinking about what I am eating before doing it and if I eat something that isn’t all that healthy, I have made a conscious choice instead of reflex or stressed eating (see my Dr. Pepper and Chips post).

After All That

You know something, I think that I really do like my simple life and I really feel a lot healthier than I used to when I was eating processed food and all the other junk food that I used to eat.  Once in a while I eat something that I used to and you know something most of the time it does really taste like crap and upsets my stomach for a while after eating.  That isn’t what food is supposed to do – make me wonder what they put in it to do that to me.

I still have a difficult time believing this is me eating this healthy.  Me – one of the original “junk food junkies”.  I am trying to do better and being at home full-time has made the transition to eating more healthy choices a lot easier. Fortunately, I have a feeling that my sweet tooth will never go away completely. 😛

Have you changed how you eat lately?  Why?  How is it going?  What happens when you try to eat what you used to?
Thanks for reading and I hope you take the time to comment.

Personal Transportation and Self-Sufficiency

Originally at Simple is Working – 8/20/11

As we have moved more towards a more “self-sufficient” lifestyle over the past few years, I have identified areas that we are reliant on or should I say prefer the convenience that gas or on-grid electricity provides us in many situations.  They make work simpler, quicker and usually with less physical labor in it for me, in order to do what we want or need to get done. I guess that is why we no longer do things the same way as they did in the 1800’s.

This is going to be a series of posts on different things that we do or use personally and how we could move to be more self-sufficient, using different alternatives and less dependent upon fossil fuels and on-grid electricity.  This will give me an opportunity to research, look at alternatives and possibly identify potential or manual backups to how I am doing things and possibly save a little bit of cash as prices continue to soar around us.

These posts are based on today’s world, not some future where things could be very different.


Gas-powered vehicles are tools that we use for many different reasons. They are the main form of transportation that most us use to get to work, school or just go shopping. Vehicles are a major part of the lifestyle that we associate with our independence – the ability to go when, where and with who we want, for our own reasons.

America as whole is an automobile dependent society of that there is no question. We have purposely developed a very suburban-based culture and the corresponding transportation system, since the end of World War II based on the idea of cheap gas and access to our cars.

Yes – we are part of this this suburban-based culture and live in a bedroom community between two larger towns.  We do not live within walking distance of anything more than a little country convenience store that is about two miles away and is more for getting booze, soda, cigarettes, a limited assortment canned goods or junk food than it is to go shopping for staples.

We presently have two vehicles:

2007 Subaru Forrester


For several years we worked in different directions or times, so having two vehicles was necessary. Now that we are both at home the need for two vehicles is much less and we did consider reducing down to just one. However, both are paid for, so when the truck finally dies or doesn’t pass state inspection, without significant repairs, we will probably turn it into a wood hauler/plow truck and beat it until it dies, then sell the Dakota for scrap.

What Alternatives to individual Gas Powered Vehicles are there around “heah”?

Public Transportation – There are not any bus routes or subways, taxi service would be cost prohibitive. Not an option.

Trains – Not an option the nearest set of accessible tracks is on the other side of a lake about 8 miles away or on the other side of the Kennebec River and bridges are too far away. The rail infrastructure would have to be completely re-built in our area in order to be of use to us, which is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Alternative Fuel Sources – None are really within our price range, hybrid vehicles or all-electric command a premium prices and other fuel sources need a lot lot more development before they are available, are not too costly or have a workable logistical fuel system in place.  Not a feasible option for the foreseeable future.

Bicycles – Yep I own a bicycle, but don’t ride it very much yet (it still bothers my knee quite a bit), riding a bike 10 miles or so, just to go get groceries or other needs in town, while doable, is not the most convenient way to do things.  Time would be fairly reasonable – probably less than an hour each way.

It would definitely be much more healthy for about 8-9 months of the year, but riding a bicycle 10 miles or more from December to March would be a big problem between the snow and the cold. Could we use bicycles most of the time, instead of a vehicle in today’s world – if we had to. It would require a different mindset and setting up the bike for carrying things differently or creating a cart to drag behind it, but it could work most of the year.

Critters – Horses, mules, llamas, etc. going back to the 1800’s lifestyle and have to drive a wagon or ride a critter to town. This had been the primary method of transportation throughout history, but is not a convenient way of transportation in today’s world.  We would have to completely change how we live in order to accommodate critters for transportation i.e., building a barn or modifying the garage, tack, making a pasture, feeding, cleaning up after, wintering, etc. (which might not be a bad idea in the long run, if you add in a cow, goats or some other critters). However, there is a lot to owning critters that people don’t think about until they have them.

On Foot – The oldest and most reliable method of transportation (as long as you are not injured). Walking to town could be done, but it is a bit to walk 10 miles one-way to get supplies. You would be limited by what you could either carry or pull in some kind of a cart to bring back your stuff. This method would also be an all day excursion to get there and then come back. In today’s world, while doable as a voluntary thing, would not really work.

What do I think?

Of the different alternatives, the most workable non-individual vehicle would be using a bicycle and even that would require a different mind-set and ways of doing things when you needed to go into town to get stuff. I also don’t think that my wife would be all that thrilled if I went out and got rid of the vehicles and told her we were using bicycles for our primary mode of transportation from now on. 😛 I think she might seriously think about getting rid of this old duffer at that point.  I am kind of happy with my life as it is right now so…

Realistically as long as our vehicles work, fuel isn’t exorbitant and available, I know that we will be like most Americans and continue to use our gas-powered vehicles for individual transportation. I like being able to jump into my vehicle and go to either town to get something we either need or want.

The biggest change to how we use our vehicles now that we both are not working, is that we don’t really go all that many places and we think first before we go into town to make as many stops as possible in one trip, so that we don’t waste fuel unnecessarily.

So could we get by without gas-powered vehicles in today’s world? I don’t believe we would like many of the changes that it would force onto or into our lifestyle, it would completely change how we live, but I have no doubt that we could do it – but only if we had too. It really is not something that I want to do voluntarily for any length of time.

There may come a day when individual vehicle transportation is not an option due to costs or availability, but until then, I will keep using my Subaru, Truck or other vehicles that I may have. However, I do think a lot more carefully about how and when I use them.

A limited budget does make you think differently about how you do things, but at least we are thinking 🙂

Pick-Up Litter – #CTWW Challenge

Every Wednesday at Reduce Footprints there is a weekly #CTWW challenge related to becoming a little more green. This Week’s Challenge:

“Let’s tackle litter this week. Litter is not only unsightly and bad for the environment, it’s dangerous for wildlife who mistake it for food or get caught in containers trying to get at food. So let’s get rid of it.
This week go for a walk and pick up litter as you go. If you don’t find any litter on your walk, then just enjoy being outside and “commuting” with nature. By the way, this is a great activity for kids so don’t forget to include them.”

Most days we walk Bennie (the Jack Russell) 2-3 times a day and I used to carry a plastic bag to pick up garbage, along with cans and bottles (they have a 5 cent deposit) for our retirement fund. To be honest I have been a little lax or more blunt lazy lately and haven’t been picking up as much of the trash as in the past.  This challenge spurred me to get back in the habit.


This morning I decided that I would do a better job and below are the results:

There is still some trash in the bag, but I didn’t want to touch it again so I left it in there (there was some rather nasty stuff in there).  I don’t pick up cigarette butts. One thing that was especially nasty was someone used a beer can as a spittoon and when I picked it up, all the brown stuff oozed out, I had several gag reflex moments and threw it in the bottom of the bag – nasty, nasty, nasty habit.

Based on what they leave behind, It seems that a lot of the people who throw out trash out on my road smoke cigarettes/chew, drink beer/coffee and eat junk food. Based my knowledge of the neighborhood I live in I have a pretty good idea of where most of these items are from and the people threw them on the side of the road.

The good news is – I have added 40 cents to my retirement fund 🙂

In the spirit of the challenge, when you go for a walk today, take along a plastic bag and some gloves and pickup trash along your walking route and take a picture of what you collect. Show us your collection of litter or maybe even a treasure item or two.