The following questions are the most commonly asked ones while out and about; or in the chat rooms.
I. Ask the Author
How do you stay in shape?
It was more of a matter of consequence when I was younger. I didn’t have a car, only took the public transportation in a squeeze and had to carry 18 to 27 kg of rice once a month and about 15 to 23 kg of pet-food once as a month as well. Carrying 9 to 14 kg of grocery per side once or twice a week probably had more to do with with being fit than anything else. Also, living in mountainous areas like Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia also contributed. There was a lot of up-hills and down-hills, and to finish off the day one could always do the Grouse Grind! In the spare time available, we went rock-climbing.
Of course, carrying a 15-kg dog around on the transit system or a few heavy snakes all day long at conventions probably done it. Plus rucking it every day.
Moving to the Prairies, however, wrecked havoc on my physique. It’s so flat, the “see the dog running away two days later” is no longer a joke. Trees seldom have branches strong enough to support a bear-bag, let alone a person. Also, the city itself is smaller and grocery stores don’t always have good sidewalk access. It took about two years to concede that something need to be done.
Now, there is no need to go to the gym, buy a machine or anything like that. Notice many of the CrossFit arenas, military yards, and mountain athlete programs only have the bare minimum?
The strongmen of old didn’t have barbells or anything fancy like that. The invention of barbells and dumbbells came about as the result of the emergence of Victorian physical culture and the rising American and British middle class which marked the beginning of the Golden Era of Bodybuilding (or Iron Men) where people were fascinated by muscular people on display and amazing spectacular feasts which lasted from 1880s to about 1950s.
Much of those strength-training techniques disappeared during the ’50s after the advent of Hollywood body-building and beauty pageants for men. Unfortunately, those techniques are only preserved by outlier communities such as rock-climbers where total body strength makes the difference between life and death.
Instead, for written knowledge, we must look to the old texts from the Golden Age of Iron Men as well as areas of the world which modern bodybuilding haven’t penetrated such as the former Soviet blocs, India, and China. One does not even have to look to other cultures as the old methods are still strongly utilized within our penal system. Also, when our troops are deployed oversea, personnel have to make do with what was available lying around the base.
Of course, there are varying elements found in combat training, military training, Pilates, yoga, martial arts, gymnastics, and dance but those are merely partials of the total sum.
So what do we need? A psychometric box (20″ × 24″ × 30″); sand-bags (2.5 kg, 5 kg, 7 kg, 11 kg, 12 kg, 13.5 kg, 14 kg, 16.5 kg; all doubled up) for a total of between 135 kg to 165 kg which can be shoved inside a dry-bag, canvas bag or a duffel bag; and a pull-up bar is all that is required. Hell, one doesn’t need any of those if they just use old-fashioned calisthenics.
It is highly recommended to learn the art of body-weight training as knowledge can be taken anywhere in the world. We are not talking about just the lunges, push-ups, crunches, squats, calf raises or the sit-ups; and definitely not the flutter kick or the crunch. Seriously, just read some of the stuff from Earle E. Liederman, George Hackenschmidt, George F. Jowett, Eugen Sandow, Bruce Lee, Arthur Saxon and many more; they all use body weights. There are much more advanced techniques than just the basic.
Rings, climbing ropes, and Bachar ladders are stellar for strengthening stabilizer muscles and strengthening grips; however two or three layers of towels hung over a pull-up bar at home can do the same job. While the men of old had medicine balls, a simple basketball or baseball can assist with leverage.
Free-weights can be hard on the joints, and people who use them frequently are prone to ligament tears, wears of the joints and arthritis. The kettlebells (16 kg, 24 kg, 32 kg, doubled) are a good introduction to free-weights as they are unbalanced and requires strong grips. The major strong-point for dumbbells (either fixed weights of 25 lbs, 35 lbs, 45 lbs, 55 lbs, doubled; or adjustable ones from 2 or 5 lbs to 50 or 60 lbs) is measuring incremental progression. For the barbells (Olympic lift-bars weighing 45 to 50 lbs; bumper plates with 2× 10 lbs, 2× 25 lbs and 4×45 lbs; as well as iron plates with 2× 2.5 lbs, 2× 5 lbs and 2× 10 lbs), they are great measures of feats and accomplishments. It is important to remember many farm-hands and dock-workers who never lifted irons can accomplish deadlifts of astounding weights on their first try which many gym rats cannot do. So, keep in mind, free-weights are for measuring accomplishments and progress.
But do we really need manufactured free-weights? If one travels frequently, then free-weights are dead weights. One must constantly innovate.
Tractor-tires, plywood, PVC, chains and gravel are easy to come by. All the factory-made weights would run at least 300 dollars or more. It is much better to put the money toward a high-quality backpack.
But the best way of functional training? Doing errands and chores. Volunteer to chop wood for your grandmother, shovel snow for the neighbours or haul bales of hay for the local farmer. The value of manual labour is diminishing every day.
Awesome hair! How did you do it?
It’s where my awesome powers come from. With the beard, it’s unstoppable!
Flippancy aside, I have always wanted locks for a long time. However, I didn’t bother forming them until 2013 since there were lots of negative associations with it: marijuana, hippie culture, uncleanliness, left-leaning politics. Only after seeing a few of hard-right and right-libertarian friends of mine with “dreadlocks” secure high-ranking office positions and in politics it became convincing that locks did not carry the same stigmas as before.
The other factor in why it took so long to jump in feet-first is that about 95% of my friends’ attempts appear to be filthy. It is only after meeting a few people (the other 5%) with clean-looking locks, it became revealed the clean ones were done naturally and takes up to a year or several years to be formed. The reason why so many locks look moldy or gross is because a lot of people put wax in their hair due to the myth that Caucasian hair cannot form locks. Once wax or any other similar substance gets in the hair, it is next to impossible to get it out and there is always some left behind even after years of washing and showering. So, please, don’t put stuff in your hair: it is absolutely disgusting.
The reason why so many locks look moldy or gross is because a lot of people put wax in their hair due to the myth that Caucasian hair cannot form locks. Once wax or any other similar substance gets in the hair, it is next to impossible to get it out and there is always some left behind even after years of washing and showering. So, please, don’t put stuff in your hair: it is absolutely disgusting.
The process is simple: don’t use a brush or comb. Shower every day. Use shampoo with minimal ingredients. Use the sun to dry your hair if you can. Use the towel as much as possible to dry and encourage the hair to tanglele Don’t go to bed with wet hair. Separate the locks before they mature to avoid having ones which are too thick.
There is no need to invest into specialized products as off-the-shelf Head and Shoulder is the only thing I have used.
Now that being said, if it takes more than a day to dry your hair, then the locks are too thick and will become a breeding ground for fungus and other nasty things. As a general rule, my locks are never thicker than my thumb at the base. Most of the strands are the width of a pinkie.
Patience is a virtue with natural locks. Results started appearing within a few weeks on the side where I slept the most, but whole head took about a year for all the strands to start forming; and longer than that for the process to be complete either from the base to the tip or from the tip to the base. I have known individuals who waited five years for their natural locks to start forming. Some people are lucky to have really tight curls and fully-formed locks within several months and others perserved for a decade. All hair will lock; time is the only variable.
If all the sudden you decided that locks are not for you, then coconut oil is the best way to get the tangles out if the locks have not progressed too far. Otherwise, it’s time for the scissors.
In the long run though, you probably would want to invest in visors, neck-gaiters or Buff headwears and loose hair-bands to keep them out of your vision and for better thermoregulation. Elastic ones or tight hair-bands will saw through the locks and cause long-term damage. And one thing? Woolie hats.
Why did you get rid of your locks?
The locks were awesome, up until the hair was so thick, they were much more efficient insulator than woolen sweater or heavy fleece. They also kept getting tangled in the branches while bushwacking and hair bands, toques, visors, buffs nor crotched caps provided any relief. Hikers with locks tend to cut them short in beginning of March in anticipation for the summer. Those who keep them long with
Hikers with locks tend to cut them short in beginning of March in anticipation for the summer. Those who keep them long with a thick set of hair tend to be rock-climbers or are only interested in car-camping. Long, thin dreads with thin hair don’t encounter these issues.
Locks are awesome, but if I wanted to keep them, it means forfeiting wilderness hiking, hunting or bushwacking. Short locks just look awful.
How did you keep your hair without cutting off the locks?
Time, and oil.
Get the hair really wet, and massage in the oiliest hair conditioner available. Coconut oil also works.
To understand the principle of locking, the hair forms into locks best when it is dry and stripped of the natural oils from the scalp. To undo them to preserve the original length of the hair, we do the reverse and tease the strands apart by hand. Most people just simply lop off the locks to save them. It took about half a day to undo the locks. Be prepared to use a scissor for sections which are too tightly locked to pull apart.
Can you review a gear for us?
It is very seldom gear-reviews are done as the only reliable ones are tested to failure. For this reason, dog products are more likely to get reviewed sooner as our canine companions are much harder on their gears. Now, if you think there there is room for improvement and wish for feedback, then feel free to comment on a blog post or e-mail me.
Keep in mind, everything comes with public disclosure.
You’re an ultralighter! You’re advocating unsafe practices!
“Smarter backpacking” is a better term. The classifications (Lightweight, Ultralight, Super Ultralight and Extreme Ultralight) are a misnomer as they encourage people to toss out essential safety-nets without the brains to know how to forego them.
Ultralight is only merely referring to third-wave of backpacking trend which emerged between 1990s and late 2000s. The other two terms are just an extension of that movement. The industry pretty much has stagnated since.
Look in the old reference books in-between 1880s and 1930s as there are mentions of “lightweight” and “featherweight”. One can still find how-to books from 1950s to 1980s advocating the same except with nylon and polypropylene.
Is there any difference between the woodcraft practitioners, brave trophy-hunters, daring mountaineering pioneers in the Rockies and polar explorers of old during the Great Era of Exploration? No. They are the same equipment made with space-age materials which became more affordable over the decades. Today’s athletes are no different from them.
Going out with less demands more skills and knowledge, and one cannot acquire either without practice and experience.
You are not authentic bushcraft practitioner!
Historical re-anctment is not a focus. Very few people actually want to lead a 18th or 19th century lifestyle.
Many followers defer to Nessmuk’s and Kephart’s works, but if one reads the texts closely, these men spent a pretty penny on the latest and lightest gears possible of their time periods. Folks following these men’s footsteps snapped up down-filled sleeping bags and insulated jackets as soon they became available.
Is it unreasonable to assume that these men today would adopt today’s technology? Townsend Whelen and Bradford Angier, who were experienced men of the woods and survival skills, were not adverse to using impregnated fabric, plastic or nylon instead of cotton or wool. Why are these men worshiped like Nessmuk and Kephart, but not today’s superstars?
Even today, Canadian, Russian and Alaskan trappers as well as many aboriginal and ethnic groups are quick to pick up the latest gears if it suits them. They still practice bushcraft daily, but they are not foolish enough to ignore valuable time-saving devices such as chainsaws and snowmobiles. Using a fire under a silnylon or cuben fiber tarp can be done safely, and it is regularly done by backcountry hunters every autumn; and by many winter-trekkers.
Those who judge others based on what is practiced never a hard’s day of labour, or experienced how truly unforgiving the wilderness can be. Only after experiencing the worst, one begins to understand why old practices are abandoned by woodsmen and aboriginals in favour of conveniences.
So, instead of focusing on the gears or materials, should we instead be focusing on the knowledge and skills acquired over the years and practicing them on a regular basis? Bushcraft is knowledge, not some piece in a kit.
Your opinion about dogs is wrong!
Provide the latest scientific inquiry and its results. I will change my mind if the evidence exists. I don’t have the time for Victorian toilet ideologies.
But, but! This famous show person said this!
Go to university. Take a course in conservation biology. Come back, and we will talk.
How did you find that information about dog training?
“Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.” (trans. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”) — Ludwig Wittgenstein (b. 1889 – d. 1951)
Learn to use Google Translate. There is a vast amount of resources available in German, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Russian.
But the Earth is 6 000 years old!
I don’t believe in God for the same reason you don’t believe in every other gods. Leave it at that.
II. Technical Assistance
How did you do the footnotes?
What citation format do you follow?
Generally, I try to follow the Chicago Manual since it’s the format I know best in my discipline. From time to time, an automated script is used to hasten the process. I am not a strict observant since the blog is for self-education and is something I enjoy doing during my spare time; so one might expect a change in formatting from time to time at my disposal.
How did you find the date of webpages?
google.com/search?q=inurl: into the address bar of the browser, copy and paste the URL of the webpage or article one wishes to cite then add
&as_qdr=y15 at the end of the query.
How does one subscribe to a certain category or tag as RSS feed?
Some topics and categories will be of no interest to a reader. They may view postings by category by selecting any category name. One can subscribe to any category by adding
feed/ to the end of the URL.
What’s up with the flip-flopping of Metric and Imperial?
Canada is messed up: we use Communist degree instead of Freedom degree for weather, kilometers for highways and kilograms in the education system. But because we are unable to severe our tie with our biggest trading partners, domestic products such as lumber and clothes are still measured in U.S. Imperial.
The units are merely a reflection of the societal norm.
How do I subscribe?
Google Reader died a few years ago. Switch to Feedly.