Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Look at the Puppy!

Who doesn't like puppies? Well, I'm not too fond of them. They're cute but slobbery and needy. Then pets in general do require a lot of time and attention. And people too. Time that I could be devoting to internet porn. Stupid distractions taking time away from the important things in life.

I'm not really a dog person. I'd make a fine hermit if I could swing it. So long as I could get DSL hooked up in my cave.

But, when comes the apocalypse there will come a sad day when that connection to the net will become spotty at best. People and pets will become important replacements for companionship when you (I) lose the low-budget pixelated goodness that was so often relied upon in the past. Sad day.

What can a well trained dog do that porn can't? There are so many blue responses to that question, that I shall refrain from uttering even a one. You however may knock yourselves out.

Humanity's relationship with Canines began some 15,000 years ago. Unless you're a new earth biblical literalist, then it began sometime between yesterday and 6000 years ago. Anyhow, Canines are pack animals with a hierarchy that humans subsumed and took over in those last few thousand years before the rise of civilization.

The Human-Canine pairing has been an extremely beneficial partnership to both species. We are slightly more intelligent and have opposable thumbs which allow us to operate doors, vehicles and can-openers while they're talents lie in peeing on things (Even the best human isn't a tenth as talented as a dog in this arena), with extraordinarily sharp senses of smell and hearing.

Dogs are swift and tireless runners with hearing that extends well beyond our range and a sense of smell that dwarfs our own. As previously stated. This would make them valuable in the activities of hunting and sentry duty. As anyone out there with a dog can attest, especially when there is a particularly bad infestation of squirrels to be dealt with. They are ever alert and willing to protect the borders of their yards from incursions. They have in the past been used as pest control (rats and other varmints)

In addition to that, they're affectionate and obedient – which are the two traits that most of modern humanity seems to praise in their animal companionship. Dogs give the illusion of always loving their pack leaders/owners no matter what kind of an asshole you are. You always have the dog. I personally don't like that sort of slavishness in pet or person. I want some level of self-reliance in those around me.

But this is what they have been bred for. Some of them. Others seem to exist for celebutants to haul around in their purses. There are literally hundreds of breeds of dogs – all of which, no matter the shape and size, can interbreed with one another.. For those last fifteen thousand years, we've been selecting the traits that we like and reinforcing them. As such there is a breed for about every purpose imaginable. From herding to guarding to sitting on laps and barking at the neighbors.

As such, many breeds have become overbred and inbred to the point of weakness and collapse as their gene pool is narrowed to a very small spectrum. They have developed genetic psychological and physiological problems. I think I would prefer some solid and heavily mixed mutt. It is quite amazing how widely this species has been altered. Chihuahuas and Saint Bernards are part of the same species(and they would make some bizarre puppies).

When the chosen cataclysm arrives their acute senses will once again rise into ascension. Dogs will no longer be companions, but pack members. Where they belong.

Have I won you over to the dog's cause yet?

The one trick to having a dog around is that they, like humans, need to be trained. They need to be taught to crap outdoors and not to steal food from the table. They need to be instructed that the mailman is our friend. Many breeds of dogs are very clever and intelligent, about as much so as human children. They can understand words and tone, and are able to communicate in their own way. They're pack animals, but also creatures with needs and desires of their own. They understand fairness, if not equality. Many exhibit a range emotions beyond even the capabilities of some humans.

They will be a valuable addition to any pack, with aforementioned training. Consistent treatment. Dogs needs discipline, exercise and affection, in that order.

I must say, I know jack about training a dog. I've seen several episodes of the Dog Whisperer, but I've never put the man's teachings into practice. One day, perhaps, when I have a place to live that can bear a dog's inhabitation more than my small apartment. Then, I'll be joining the masses in teaching my puppy useless tricks. - I'm not a terrible fan of dogs, but for some reason I do want one, because in the end, I do like them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quoth the Bruce: Hooch for the Pooch

Wine, whiskey, beer. Booze. The Nectar of the Gods.

I am a teetotaler. I shall admit this right away. I'll let Penn Jillette explain it for you. Though my folks weren't teetotalers. And I've tasted wine and beer. I use wine for cooking – tip, it makes foods taste better. I've never at all been interested in getting drunk. Many of my friends and family are fond of imbibing.

On with it.

Aside from the obvious intoxicant purposes, Ethanol has many beneficial uses. Cooking was mentioned above. Alcohol can be burned in an internal combustion engine as a source of fuel. In strong enough concentrations it can be used as a relatively harmless anti-biotic on human skin as it kills bacteria and viruses on contact.

When consumed by humans and other animals it has a profound chemical effect on the brain and alters the function. This is why it has been prized by Western society for the last 10,000 years. In many societies, the English Royal Navy being one, booze was a part of the daily rations. It provides both the pleasant effects and also acts as a source of fuel for the human body. Alcohol is high in carbohydrates. The side effect being a tendency for it to be turned into fat in the human body. Think “Beer Gut”.

Alcohol is a liquid formed by the fermentation of various types of plant matter. Basically, a natural group of fungii feed on the sugar in fruits and grains and created the bi-product that is ethanol(among others, but ethanol is the one that humans consume for pleasure). That's right, alcohol is the excrement of mushrooms. This makes the first type of alcohol. Beer and wine are the most notable.

Step two, which is optional, is distilling the liquid. This involves slowly boiling the mixture in a still and separating the alcohol from the rest of the mixture and thus concentrating it. This is the process that they use to make the hard liquors such as whiskey and other spirits such as vodka and brandy.

Depending on the type of Apocalypse(come on Zombies!) there may be a plethora of available booze to choose from for years to come. Some of it gets better with time, for a while at least. But it can be expected that most alcohol will have a fairly long and stable shelf-life. How long? I don't know. Too many factors including how the bottles are arranged when they're stored, light and humidity. It seems that keeping the confection away from light and at a constant and relatively cool temperature is suggested by those in the know.

As a teetotaler why would I ever go into the alcohol business? Well there's the chance that I might gain appreciation for the nectar. But this is unlikely. Other people will want booze though. Humanity likes to drink when times are good and loves the sauce when times are bad. Getting drunk is escapism – and should be much more in demand if the world truly goes to hell.

Trade though is the biggest reason. If you've seen Romero's movie Land of the Dead, there is a scene where some of the scavengers raid a liquor store to trade to the folks back home. Which in and of itself is believable. The part that I can't buy is that society in the movie is still employing Yankee Geenbacks. Paper money is abundant and its value will be nothing after a cataclysm. Gold and gemstones are about the same, as any one of hundreds of jewelry stores across the continent will be rife with the sparklies. None of which have any real value and instead are more a symbol of wealth. They're tokens or coupons.

With a crash of currency, will come a barter economy. Skills and goods. Skills to make goods.

This is to say, booze will sell well and it's a fine trade item that, if you have the right knowledge and equipment, you can restock with relative ease. And unless the wastelands are taken over by overly moral religious zealots then booze will be eternally popular. If the zealots do take control, booze will still be popular, just more dangerous to deal in.

Urban Survival Guide I just read this, he has quite a list of different trade items to stockpile. Peruse at your leisure. Mind, he is quite serious about the subject.

If you want to practice now, there are widely available home brewing and wine making kits. They range from $25 on up. What makes one better than another, I admit no clue.