Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Comfort as a Priority

Larry Dean Olsen in his book Outdoor Survival Skills discusses attributes in a survivor that transcend specific environmental challenges.  The attributes that stuck in my head were
  • A task focus.  There is no time-clock that tells you to knock off work.  Industry is raised to an exalted plane.
  • Dump the fantasy.  Authentic methods and materials are effective.  Pipe dreams are not.  You will not be able to slay big game with arrows made of grass stems and baked mud, no matter how your vividly you can recall your mental picture.  Study what was successful.
  • Comfort is a luxury that you might not be able to afford.  People have died next to flowing streams that had an uncomfortable amount of sediment in the water.
I want to explore that last bullet.


Jared Diamond pointed out in his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail... that the failed Norse colony on Iceland probably could have survived with a few tweaks. 

One of the major puzzles of that colony on Iceland is the complete absence of evidence that they ate fish.  There they were in one of the world's greatest fisheries, surrounded by easy-to-catch, fatty fish.  They came from Norway, a great fishing and fish eating nation.  And they did not eat fish.  They starved to death instead.

There is much speculation regarding "why".  For my part, I think the earliest settlers were ravaged by food poisoning and decided that those fish were toxic.  But it is just speculation.  We will likely never know.

Big joke, right?

How many kids will not eat meat "with bones".  They grew up on chicken nuggets and hotdogs and hamburger gravy.  My  guess is that many would starve before eating a rabbit or squirrel, raccoon or carp.

I grew up eating 6" bluegills and sunfish (bream to you Southerners).  Bones were a fact of life.  I failed my children by not feeding them enough home-caught fish.


I drove the kids to school this morning.  Mrs ERJ usually drives them because it is close to where she works.  She did not sleep well last night and she asked me to take them in.  It takes 24 hour lead time to get a bus ride lined up so having them ride the bus was not an option.

It has been chilly around here.  Lows below zero Fahrenheit , highs around 13 F.

I got in the van, set the blower to "LOW" and the venting to "DEFROST" so it would blow on the inside of the windshield.  Warm, just showered bodies give off much water vapor.

Half way to town the windshield started to fog up.  That was strange because the engine should have been warming up and fogging should have abated.

I looked down at the HVAC controls and saw that the blower had been changed to "OFF" and the venting to "FEET".


It did not take long to determine that Belladonna had changed the settings because she did not want to be uncomfortable.  That triggered a short, very direct, one-way discussion about who controlled the HVAC controls and why.

I still got push-back.  "But it makes me uncomfortable!" Belladonna said.  She was of the opinion that I should apologize to her for bringing up the issue.

Back home

Back home I observed to Mrs ERJ that it is a good thing that our children have two parents.  We are laid-back about different things.  I am unbending about distractions and visibility when driving.  Mrs ERJ just works around it.

While children aged 3-to-6 are typically survival "over-achievers", kids 6-to-14 are "under-achievers".  I see that I have much work to do.


  1. If you ever see the book "Deep Survival, Who Lives and Who Dies, and Why" pick it up. Excellent read. The writer I don't think is an "outdoorsy survival type" but approaches it from a psychological standpoint. Excellent book.

    Off topic but thank you for the "not for posting" note. I agree, and we appreciate your best wishes on the marriage. Though I did smile when at the B and B we stayed at for our honeymoon, the owners, both engineers, chatted shop with him a bit as they got our breakfast (we had the whole place to ourselves) and I made a mention about being older and she said "what's 7 or 8 years" and I grinned and said "24". I had to show her my drivers license. Thank you good genetics, fine scotch and never getting in the sun without spf and a hat. My best to you and the Mrs.

    1. That is a fine book. One of my favorite bloggers recommended it in her "Random Books". I bought it on the strength of her recommendation.

      I was most taken by his exposition of how we become lost. I wrote a couple posts that were at least partially inspired by that book.

      Again, thanks for reading and, especially, thanks for the time you took to make a well thought out and well written comment.