Monday, July 16, 2007

Getting lost with Delirious

My sister, who posts as Delirious, just commented on an article in National Geographic about why smart people sometimes don't survive when lost in the wilds. She mentioned several points brought up by the author, all of which were valid and interesting. I felt the need to add a few of my own--some serious, some not.

As opposed to Delirious, the authors I read tend to be a little less intellectual in their approach to survival. One of my favorites is Pat McManus, author of They Shoot Canoes Don't They, and The Grasshopper Trap, just to name a couple of his efforts. In one of his books, he discusses the idea of getting lost, claiming that he can do it faster, and in more situations than anyone alive. He also talks about what to do when you discover you are lost, and the different way people react to that discovery. My favorite--though I can't remember his name for it--is something like the full bore, linear panic. In this method, the person, on discovering he is lost, takes off running in as much as possible a straight line in the direction they are facing, running for all they are worth, and only changing directions when they hit the odd tree, bear, rock, etc. He says the problem with this form of response, is that often when they wind down, they are not only more lost than they originally were, but they are also considerably more beat up. To counteract this form of response, he says he has perfected the Stationary Panic. In this case, upon finding himself lost, he just sort of runs in place until he calms down enough to think clearly, then he sits down to await his rescuers. Now he does comment on several ways to make the rescue more interesting, but this is the basics.

Now to get a little more serious. I wrote a paper on surviving, and why some people don't. One of the things that was included in this paper was that we don't survive these situations because of our prejudices. We are often raised with certain ideas of what is edible, or potable, and therefore fit for human consumption. There have been people found dead in the mountains--dead from dehydration and thirst--who were walking alongside a river. Those found with them said they would not drink that "filthy water". We often limit our ability to survive in this way. People say, "I would never eat a bug-grubs-earthworms-grasshoppers-raw fish-you name it, I'd rather die", and they do. You need to prepare yourself mentally in order to survive by thinking, "I will do whatever it takes to survive." Now I have to admit, that there are lines here that I would not cross, things I would not eat or do. **Cannibalism.** Other than that though, I would, and have, eat just about anything to avoid going hungry. Another author of survival books mentions that almost every part of every animal in North America is edible. The only exception being the fur, feathers, and certain livers--like the Polar bear's--which are so high in vitamin A that they are poisonous to humans.
Now I hope we never need to do any of this, but it is interesting to learn about.
Keep your chin up. Eat your worms before they get cold. Take care. Stick.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

You're not qualified to do what!?

We took our kids downtown on the 4th of July to watch the parade. There were a lot of people watching, for the shortest parade we've seen up here. Now don't get me wrong--it was still a good parade, but shorter than normal. Usually all the car guys up here trot out their tuned up, tweeked out, polished up old cars and drive them in the parade. This year, there just weren't as many as before.

So we come to the point of this little episode. Rolling by our observation area came a beautifully restored '41 Ford Coupe. The proud owner driving, waving, and--most importantly to our kids-- throwing candy out the window. He was being followed by a huge Pea Soup Green BLM fire truck. Twenty feet past us, the '41 bursts into flames, with burning oil or gas dripping onto the pavement underneath the chassis. One of the bystanders runs to the BLM truck, "Quick! That car's on fire! Go help put it out!" Their response, "We're not certified for car fires." Luckily, a fast acting policeman, grabbed an extinguisher, and doused the car, then they pushed it off the burning spot on the road, and doused it too.

Now, I really feel sorry for the owner, but I've got to just scratch my head when it comes to the BLM guys. They had extinguishers on their truck too, and in fact someone saw that and grabbed it off anyway, but they acted like they didn't even want to get involved. Maybe it is too much red tape and paperwork if you put out a fire on someone elses turf.
It just makes you think. Take care. Stick