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Showing posts from August, 2016

size matters when it comes to tents

Without any research I bought an 8 person tent; and I was wrong. 

My thinking was that my family consists of the four of us. Two kids less than 48" and two adults. The choice was made because I thought we would use cots. That's what my friends were using and so why not me. The problem is that unless you spend upwards of $75 per cot the feet are likely to damage the tent floor; assuming it has a floor. Also, the tent weighs enough that it's meant for car camping and not backpacking, Finally, it has a high ceiling so that I can stand in the center but to what end? This was still intended for simple camping and there are few activities to be had. Sleep, nap, change. Everything else should be out of doors.

Doing a little research I bought a 6 person tent; and I was wrong

I was uncomfortable in the first tent so I bought a Coleman that promised a 10% deperature differential and a dark, cave like, interior good for napping. Besides the floor with holes and the damaged tiedowns..…

making breakfast with RUCAS

If there was a lesson to be learned this morning it's practice makes perfect. It's not enough to boil some water with a new piece of kit. It means making some food, purifying some water, making camp and testing your skills and the systems you are going to depend on.

And here is why...


Here is my cook kit minus my long spoon. It's a RUCAS alcohol stove and a stanley pot.


The complete setup... minus the spoon. Making biscuits and gravy.


I tested a homemade windscreen as recommended. Either my tinfoil was inferior or the stove was too hot. The foil burned.

I cannot be 100% certain but I think the tab melted. There is a small ratchet in the tab that I did not notice when I started. I'm just not sure; upon close examination it's wonky.


I've boiled a few cups with this stove but the windscreen did something to the heat pattern that it stained my table. I suppose I could have started a fire if I had not been watching. On the trail this could be a very bad outcome.

The…

Ultra-lite Status

In my previous post I talked about just grouping my gear into categories. When most packers weigh their gear they do not include consumables. While I have not included my t-shirt, shorts, socks and underwear everything else in my pack just weighed in at 11.4 pounds. And if I go with the tent then I'm likely to be under 10 pounds. Pictures to follow.

Camping in Florida - shakedown prep

I'm planning my hike in Big Cypress as a shakedown hike. While gear is arriving I'm still trying to go as lite as possible with possibly one exception. Hammock vs tent.

ENO DoubleNest 19oz (the single is only 16oz so I would not be saving much)
Straps 11oz (there are some rope systems I could have used but I was trying to be friendly to the trees)
DryFly 22oz (I have another rainfly that weights 14oz but has limited cover.)
The tent is 24oz. (I'm not counting the footprint because I plan to bring it in either case.)

The hammock system weights in at 52oz or about 3.4lbs.
The tent weights 24oz or about 1.5lbs

There are three choices to be made... [a] hammock [b] tent [c] both. For some background I have been talking with a Big Cypress volunteer and he said he was on the trail a few weeks back and they used hammocks to stay off the wet ground. And while I trust his opinion I watched some video that suggested adequate trees were hard to come by.

I will eventually have to decid…

Hammock Camping in Florida

Living in South Florida and wanting to do some hammock camping seem to be diametrically opposed.  The county parks do not permit hanging anything on trees and if you watch any of the "Florida Trail" videos you'll see that there are very few hammock worthy trees in the prescribed campsites.

Videos (link)

Wikipedia (link)

Florida Trail (link)

Hennesey Snakeskin and an ENO DryFly

Initially I was not very happy with this recommendation. My ENO DryFly is not one of the biggest they offer but at the time I was OK with it. When I doubled checked the dimensions I wanted a larger fly but in hindsight this one will be sufficient.


Hiking the AT I wanted a tarp that would double as a ground shelter in case I was force to seek shelter in a non-optimal location. For the same reason a hammocks should leave a smaller footprint.

I did not realize that the package was going to come with two skins and for a moment I thought I had order too many. After watching a hennessey hammock setup I realized I was supposed to use both tubes.



This was a pain in the ass because the cords were still bundled and I had not "pre" organized the tarp so sliding the skins was a pain.


Finally I had to lie one end to a chair. This made some steps easier. I do not think it's going to fit right until I complete my shakedown. Looking here it seems that the working ends of the tarp provid…

scripting in golang

There are a number of choices when it comes to scripting in golang. The first and most obvious is the template library. The point of the template library is to produce a document as a resultset and while data goes in and is partially mutable inside the template there is nothing other than the document coming out. Therefore as a general purpose scripting language it's not that effective.

When golang was younger there were a number of places where people could get reliable vanilla packages. A vanilla package is a package that has no dependencies of it's own other than the packages supplied with golang. This is a very big problem for nodejs because there is a lot of nested dependencies.

All of that mess aside I have many use-cases that are solved by having an embedded scripting language. First and foremost I direct your attention to the SQLite team. They implemented their testing framework on tcl. Historically a new phone came along that did not support tcl and they had to implem…

hiking shakedown

Next weekend I'm going to do a shakedown hike to campground about 3 miles from my home. There is no doubt that I will look out of place in my community because hikers are not the sort of people you see every day and while there is a major highway that is the most direct route I'm going to walk through my community instead as it should be safer.

My back should be a little lighter in that I won't carrying as much food but until I determine if there is a water community water source I'll probably carry 2 days worth of water. I also won't need 4 days of socks and underwear, however, i will probably carry my saw and bushcraft knife so I can make a campfire. I will also have to select my shirt and shorts ahead of time so I can pre-treat them with permethrin.

Part of a 1 day shakedown is figuring out what the typical activities are going to be during the day.

wake upbreakfastbio breakpack uphikecheck-in at the campgroundcamp shoessetup campget watercollect tinder and woodw…

very fast disaster recovery

Yesterday morning there was a fiber cut that effected everyone in Weston Florida. As I understand it this included every internet and cable provider in the city. Assuming that there is only one trunk into Weston would make it a very bad place for certain businesses that depend on reliable services.

Anyway, this prevented me from using my usual development machines because they are located in Weston and the databases that they connect to are at Amazon. Google's OnHub does not have a feature that would allow me to bridge my entire network nor would I want to given how much bandwidth my YouTube kids consume.

I managed to move my development and get back to work and this is how I did it.

Put mu phone in hotspot mode.Connected my desktop, a Chromebox, to my hot spot. Since it was already connected to my local network via Ethernet I was able to talk to both networks.Logged into Digital Ocean and created a CoreOS instanceLogged into the instanceCreated a key: ssh-keygenGave the key to git…

Open Letter to Bear Butt Team

I literally stumbled upon your website and products as I was in search for my first hammock. I had previously found hobo hammocks and while I liked their mission statement I was less inspired by your own mission.
"He also knew he didn't want to get a J.O.B." Maybe calling it a job instead J.O.B. would have given me a different opinion. Maybe he/they meant something else... but after seeing many different hammock re-sellers on Amazon and in one case identical artwork, specs and descriptions as another Amazon seller I was left with the opinion that Bear Butt was merely branding a generic hammock.

I could be wrong but I do not see or recognize any passion or vision in this company. I see a couple of twenty somethings that do not want to do the necessary work whether it's college or entrepreneurial spirit and rely on social advertising to do the work for them.

Passive annuity still requires some work.


I think John Cusack's character sums it up nicely. He's also n…

hiking, backpacking, bushwhacking as a technology metaphor

Going back a few years I used to refer to certain stages of software development as going rogue, the dark side, or cowboy. These term meant something to us because we were watching Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Star Trek, and a resurgence of the western. And now that hiking and bushcraft terms are now in my dictionary I've realized they are also metaphors for my professional work and in there are some lessons to be learned.

There are many different types of hiking. day hikers carry enough regular gear to make the day pleasant and to handle so normal survival conditionssection hikers will have a few overnights and so they need to carry more supplies and comfortsthru hikers have to make some choices based on total trip as well as just the next section Back in the day a backpacker was considered someone who might be traveling with a pack on their back. I would typically see someone hitching from NY to FL or maybe from the east coast to the west. Or maybe backpacking thru Europe. Much m…

Solo Shakedown

I have not weighed my pack yet but I can already tell it might not be big enough.


Once I've added some snacks, water, and more fuel this pack is going to weigh more than I expected. This shakedown is going to be the first of many. It's not a question of getting stronger or endurance it's what most hikers call comfort. And yet many of my 3's and C's of Survival have not been packed.

I have a few of the Cs

Container - cup in my cook kit
Cordage - part of my hammock
Cover - liner, emergency blanket, rain jacket with hook, baseball cap
Combustion - fero rod

And I need some more

Container - 2x liter Smart bottles, 2x liter platypus bags, Renovo filter, water tabs, pack liner
Cut - Swiss Army Farmer, Mora 8" and a Silky saw
Cordage - 25' for bear bag
Cover - reflectix, sun screen, mosquito repellent, mosquito net, change of socks, tyvek, camp shoes
Combustion - lighter

and I have not decided if I'm going with ma pillow luxury item.

Looking at the contents of m…

Backpacking vs Hiking

Recently I read an article which tried to compare backpacking to hiking based in the length of time on the trail. I take issue with that comparison because AT, CDT, PCT and other thru-hikers travel at least 2100 miles. Similarly another writer suggested that a section hiker traveled a minimum of 500 miles. Furthermore the first author also addressed food, food quality, and cost. Apparently one or the other thinks that freeze dried meals are too expensive and another talked about how his 8 oz isopro only lasted 4 days. And yet another addressed the shelf life of various foods.
On the one hand I'm frustrated because I'm new to the concepts and execution but my intuition is screaming from every vantage.  For example, freeze dried Mac-n-Cheese only requires boiling water. Getting to a boil takes about 4-6 minutes and about 1oz of alcohol. On the other hand Craft with regular noodles requires a 9 minute boil which will take at least 3oz more fuel. This is going to translate additio…

Amazon... would the real hammock please stand up

Buyer's beware

Eagles Nest Outfitters Hammocks
Bear Butt Hammocks
Hobo Hammocks
Pro Ventures
Live Infinitely
Nature's Hangout

Let's face it there isn't much difference between these hammocks. My guess is that they all use the same fabrics, same hardware, and same ropes or straps. They all have the same costs centers:

internet e-storesocial media and other advertisingreselling through Amazonsalariesoffice space and relatedmaterials and manufacturing costswarranty costs There is no way that any of these startups is individually tooling up a manufacturing complex in order to produce the product. And there is a good chance they they never actually negotiated with the factory. Having a hint of how this works it's likely that they negotiated with a US based rep.
And so we have so many different hammock companies.
One thing I like about Hobo Hammocks is that they give back by feeding the homeless. On the other hand they are also charging about $5-15 more than the lowest. Keep in…

what is in your wallet?

I'm starting to think that preparing for hiking a segment of the AT is more like motorcycle maintenance than what I thought it was going to be. Recently I posted a comment on a hiker's gear review:
Looks like you have traded some big money for lightweight. But you've got some comfort items too. In the last month my AT segment pack has evolved from all the comfort of tenting in the backyard to sleeping under my poncho on a garbage bag. I've decided to partition my pack into 4 categories. Bindle (things I need), Survival (things for safety), Extra (just a little above the Bindle) and Luxury (something like a coffee press that takes me over the top). Things come in and out of my pack depending on the weather. Going north I do not need a puffy jacket until the weather drops to the 50 or 60s.  What I think I have discovered is that this seems to be a metaphor for life. In my bindle might be 3 square meals a day, and my survival depends on my faith, extra items might be mone…

keyring - tip up or tip down

I've noticed that the keyring loop is at the butt end of the Victorinox Pioneer but at the head end of the Classic SD. While I have watched a few videos representing the history of the SAK I do not recall if anyone mentioned the keyring.

In my setup I put my hand through the lanyard and give it a few twists to prevent my hand from slipping down the handle and onto the blade. Keep in mind that I fully realize that if that were to happen that clearly I was using the knife wrong. In a different setup I use a paracord knot that makes the knife body feel bigger and thus a better grip.

While I could have used the same cord on the Classic SD I decided to try the microcord instead. I didn't discover anything new except the lanyard was not going to steady the knife. All I was going to get here is something I can loop on a d-ring or hook with a carabiner.

Recalling my Champ and one handed the keyring was always tip up like the pioneer. The Cadet and the Champ have a smaller second blad…

'C' is for Cut - on the Appalachian Trail

In the Five C's of Survival it is recommended that you carry a knife. However after many countless Appalachian Trail gear reviews not many have talked about full tang, folded or any other cutting edge except in passing. One guy said he carried because it made him feel better and another said a friend gifted him a new one because his was too small. Another said he kept his small Gerber in his cook kit to open freeze dried meals. And one girl made mention that she had one and it appeared to be a Victorinox Pioneer.

The one thing that seems to be common is that the AT is relatively safe in that you probably will never go into Survival mode unless you get lost or possibly some other sort of disaster. (unlike the PCT). In fact one thing that is said about Survival is that you need water and for the most part there is water on the AT. If you lose everything except a container you can still scoop out enough water to get back to civilization. Of course you may have the runs but you will h…

Why do you want to walk the AT?

There are several interview vlogs where the interviewer asks hikers why they are hiking the AT. The answers vary.

walking to school in the north easttrying to find myselftrying to hidbecause it's hardbecause it's there and so on.
In the meantime I have been thinking about my own reasons for want to hike the AT. At first it was to completely disconnect but then I started to watch gear reviews and everyone seems to have an iPhone. So I gave up on that idea... even with a few dead spots I imagine it's not complete. Carry a big enough battery and making it between cities or towns is a snap.
And then I was thinking about my gear. I've been flopping between a tent and a hammock. Without having been on the AT I have no idea which is better for the task. I imagine that there are pluses and minuses depending on the exact time of year and the type of weather I might encounter. As I emerged from that part of my internal conflict I realized I was only going to be on the trail for 3…

Review: one handed serrated edge

This was a disappointing purchase.


I have yet to hear back from the merchant and Victorinox.... I have complained that the scales are not aligned properly and that the scales themselves seem cheap.

While the knife is very sharp and the serrated edge make it excellent as a replacement steak knife if the restaurant does not have anything better... But the real test was making feathersticks. During my first attempt I was not getting the knife to bite or even make the lightest feather. And when I was able to create a feather it took to much of a bite. Very frustrating

On my second attempt I was able to get some thin feathers but only from the fine edge portion of the blade. Once I started to slide the blade towards the serrations the serrations grabbed hard and I ended up putting more power into the cut and eventually shredded my previous work.

Finally, I started to take a closer look at the blade. The fine edge i not very fine. First of all it's only one sided; which probably has to …

Appalachian Trail

I like camping. I like the idea of hiking but I've never done any real hiking before. Bushcraft training is very interesting to me and Survival for the Zombie Apocalypse is mostly a waste of time except where it overlaps with Bushcraft. Hiking is kinda like car camping except your legs are your transportation and your carry far less supplies.

Sadly I missed my opportunity to backpack through Europe when I graduated college as I was on the 10 year plan. Secondly I missed any chance to take the summer to hike the AT because I didn't have those kinds of friends and it just never occurred to me.

Now that I'm older and possibly wiser I'm intrigued. The idea of going totally or almost totally off the grid for 4 months is a challenge as I have been plugged-in since 1980 or soon after.

So it seems to me that a small section hike is in order. Next summer I think I'll take the family to Helene Georgia and then leave them to hike the AT for 3 or 4 days.

Although it's a ye…

get what you pay for

I have no idea what I was thinking when I made this purchase, It was about the same time as the other money clip knife from CRKT but this one is cheaper and flimsy.

What I was not expecting was this:



The two pictures above are the front and back of the same knife with the light source and camera at nearly the same angle. This is supposed to be the dark grey victorinox pioneer from DLT Trading. While the front MIGHT be grey the back is not. Also, the quality of the back plate's rivets are very poor such that I doubt the authenticity except they seem to have the correct box.

buildroot mission statement

I really like the buildroot project from the perspective that I can build a microsized custom container exactly the way I want it. What I find frustrating is that someone on the buildroot team wrote:
Why do we install gofmt on the target? Buildroot doesn't install tools to do development on the target, so installing gofmt seems weird. That's a particularly frustrating statement. Using buildroot to build containers seems common sense. Without some sort of package manager it's impossible to install the necessary tools especially when the only workaround might be RPMs or some other packaging that requires at least one boot.

Furthermore, while many of the interpreters on the target list it can be assumed from the statement that all 10-15 languages are integrated into the target because they are required. So then why are they optional?

I hope they reconsider that position. Seems wrong and absolute.

SoloStove and RUCAS

I read an article where the user has put his Trangia in his SoloStove. So why not a RUCAS? After the RUCAS warmed up it's flames were about 10-12 inches from the top of the RUCAS. You can see the pink/purple bloom to the right. I practically had to drop my 450ml of water onto the stove or else I was going to burn something. Needless to say this is no way to cook a meal, just heat some water.

This was approximately 1oz and it burned off in about 4 minutes. The water was warm but not hot enough to make a cup of tea. After the alcohol burned out I put another oz in the stove and it started with a quick spark. Since the stove was already hot the jets flamed right away and I nearly burned my hand again from the stove and the hot pot.


To confirm my previous suspicions: [a] gloves [b] wooden spoon [c] better stand [d] no actual cooking. I might be able to alter these parameters if I had [a] a windscreen, [b] a different base. Let me be clear; if 3oz of alcohol is supposed to be 14 minute…

RUCAS alcohol stove

I've been interested in all things Appalachian Trail and one of the interesting challenges seems to be a cooking fire. Hikers have written, blogged and vlogged that it's a challenge because [a] restrictions on where you can burn and frankly not all shelters are friendly. [b] dead fall may be picked clean [c] some areas do not permit specific tools like a saw [d] white gas stoves appear to have risks.

FIRE ring or fireplace usually found close to the shelterswhite gas; think about the old coleman where the tank has to be slightly preasurizedbutane+propane; ie jetboil or pocketrocketgassified wood stove like a bush buddy or solo stovenon-gassification wood stovealcohol stovetabletsside note: when I was researching campfires in US national parks they are all but restricted to specific locations typically a proper fireplace or fire ring. And any other fire must have an instant off which I think means something like a jetboil although an alcohol stove might be ok if you have a snuff…

Collision of ideas

blah blah blah bushcraft... blah blah blah camping... blah blah blah living with a SEAL.
Last night I was running reports and while the reports were running I watched some videos from "homemade wonderlust". It's not the first AT (Appalachian Trail) video I had watched but it was the second presenter. The first video was gear, then hygiene; which was more about pooping on the AT, and the last few were about just hiking away. The other presenter was telling a broader story and HW was telling a personal story.
In both videos I noticed a few things. These hikers have made interesting choices when it comes to cost, weight, and space. For example the Big Agnes tent is just about 2lbs but costs about $450. On the other hand using an aluminium cook pot with a home made cozy instead of a titanium pot. While there must be some knowledge acquired when in the action but common sense suggests that there is an advantage in fuel savings by using freeze dried meals instead of carrying …

not all containers need to be micro

Redbeard did a presentation last year and his hypothesis is/was "no large containers". On the surface I agree, however, it's not always fat and skinny.

I'll present a single argument.

I use my CoreOS host for everything from development to production. The idea that I can expect the CoreOS host to be auto-updated and leave me in the same general state is highly desirable. That I can load a different development environment in separate containers is also highly desirable. The last thing I want to do is manage and maintain Ubuntu and CoreOS hosts. This means that as a  true DevOps I have day to day experiences with the entire stack and not just intermittent as I deploy of repair systems. If that were the case then I should go back to RHEL or Ubuntu.

As for buildroot. That's an awesome project and having a container that could build images directly from buildroot in a way that RB likes would also be desirable as it is complicated to maintain. Anyway...