Building Underground, More Thoughts

Going back to a previous post, I want to continue my thought experiment on building underground. There were a number of good comments on the previous post, which serve as a good jumping off point.

Re-purposing old silos is a tried and true thing, and there are some very nice ones out there. The problem on water is well taken, as I know one around Abilene, TX where the silo is/was actually used for swimming and scuba instruction last I heard. In pretty much all cases, silos can become cisterns, though the living quarters usually stay dry. Good planning is required if you want a dry silo.

The take on them still being targeted is quite valid. For all that our bureaucrats are horrible at getting things done, Russian bureaucracy is worse IMO and there is no guarantee that Russia has updated its targeting — though I hope it has. As noted before, if they have not, I am going to be (very briefly) amused and annoyed given proximity to former targets. Though I admit the strip mall now in one location is somewhat hideous in architectural terms…

The one I know of that was just left “as is” not for sale and buried quite deep. So much so I could do an underground house on top of it and a house up above that. If I had millions to acquire, renovate, build, etc. would be tempting.

As for former mines being converted into homes, that remains a very good option if one has the funds. Keep in mind that not all mines are pits (literally or figuratively). Many hard (or semi-hard) rock mines and such are actually up local mountains/hills. The ones I saw out in West Texas are literally carved into mountains, and are up above a canyon system. This simplifies water/sewage/other runoff issues and offers good opportunities for water mitigation.

One of the things I had looked at with shipping containers was going on top of a hill or into a good hillside, doing all the digging and such required for household and rain runoff, then putting down a concrete pad and going from there. The key point there are to involve a special type of geological engineer both to guide with where to put a well (and what depth and other considerations are needed) as well as dealing with normal and emergency runoff (any number of disasters will change rain/water patterns temporarily or permanently). Once structures complete, backfill and be good to go.

Problem is, as several noted before, shipping containers can make decent housing in certain circumstances. Sadly, underground is not one of them. The real problem is the need to put about a foot of reinforced concrete around them. By the time you do all the bracing and such just to pour the concrete, it is not worth it. You would be far better off just doing regular temporary construction bracing for such.

Another option that sorta combines both concepts is to do like Cheyenne Mountain: dig big “cave” and put up buildings in it. Works, but a bit expensive for the average homeowner. Smaller scale, however, is not impractical.

I really like Old Paratrooper’s idea from a personal standpoint. Again, my thought is to go into a hillside or take off the top of a hill. Though, to put in a decent small library may have to use two quonset huts with one dedicated to being a library (smile). Gives you more than enough volume for a home, the opportunity to build and even change the interior at need, and works on several levels. Again, get good geological/hydro advice (as well as structural engineering involvement), dig out gravel drain fields (and put in diversion walls and such if/as needed), then put down the pad, the hut, and upper concrete. With the right planning, you have water/air/other issues worked out well in advance.

For a limited budget, the above works. If you win the lottery, look at converting a mine or mining out “caves” for use a la West Texas. If you win insane amounts of money, there are other options.

Just a few thoughts on what I may make a continuing discussion/thought experiment. Keep those good comments coming!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Amazon Wish List

I hate giving them any business, but… Some have asked about donating things rather than funds, and I like that idea. So, I have created a new Amazon Wish List that if I’ve done everything right should allow people to send things rather than money. It should be showing up in the top right under The Bard’s Jar but I’ve been having some weirdness where it shows up, then is gone, then shows back up.

On a few of the things on the list, I’ve noted things I think you may be needing in the days to come. With the loss of the petro-dollar and other systems dropping the dollar, on top of the hordes of military-aged males from so many countries coming across the border (and missing police uniforms, complete vehicle markings/wraps, etc. in NYC), now is a good time to stock up. If you can help me do so, much (MUCH) appreciated too.

More soon, been a busy day already dealing with lawyers, government, and more. Hoping to get to a real post up in a bit, but no guarantees as the infernal ones (lawyers and govt) get first dibs on attention today. 🙂

UPDATE: Think I noted on the list, but stock up on supplements now. Not only do disasters not wait, but keep in mind all the attempts to control food production and distribution. Also keep in mind that if they go after that, the previous war on supplements will be nothing compared to what comes next. Paranoid? Perhaps, but keep in mind the “conspiracy theorists” are batting about a thousand and the so-called experts about zero. I’m opting for the CTs on that basis alone.

UPDATE II: Getting Zombie Car ready to sell, but am calling off further work on that due to rain and the possibility of thunderstorms. Oddly enough, I’m quite content to come inside and hunker down in the basement where it is cool and at least semi-safe. 🙂 Really do want to get back to building underground, both as a thought experiment and to respond to the excellent comments. Think Old Paratrooper hit on something that may well work for me in reality rather than in thought experiment.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Whew! What A Week

Okay, I am back (sorta) and hope to be back to regular posting this week. As noted in earlier posts, I was not feeling good most of last week. This didn’t keep me from visiting a new dentist, and doing some things down at the Church. Almost recovered from those activities…

Saturday saw the one-day-only opening of Brother Juniper’s at the Church as part of the Talbot Street Art Fair. See previous post for links. I had been told that it would be busy, and they were not joking or understating at all. There were people that drove in from all over the state to get the sandwiches, and I’ve heard that some may have even driven in from out-of-state. I didn’t get to talk to the customers at all, and frankly was too busy to do so anyway.

As for me, I have no idea how many sandwiches I made on Saturday (having volunteered to be a sandwich maker trainee), but would not be surprised if it were about a hundred — and I was the slow one. The man working next to me used to manage of the of the two Brother Juniper’s here in Indy, and he was doing four to my one, easily. Most orders were multiple sandwiches, quite a few to go. I was at least smart enough to toss some of the training and start following the lead of the man next to me, and both speed and accuracy (and sandwich “fluffiness”) improved as a result. Accuracy being consistency in both presentation and weight of measure of meats. Got where I could tell how much meat I had in my hand even before I weighed it.

It was a long, long day but a very good one. I only heard (of) one real complaint out of the hundreds of orders, so I’d say we did pretty good. Those that did this, then made it to Church yesterday, may have been moving a little slower than normal, but we were all bouncing back. Almost recovered, though I think I may can make a “Happy Hermit” sandwich (seemed to be the hands-down favorite from the number ordered) in my sleep at this point. Given that I screwed up the bread making last Friday, had been a bit concerned about how I would do. Told I did okay, will take their word for it. Also thankful the edema med really didn’t kick in too bad, though it has been making up for it yesterday and today.

So, more soon. FYI, did get the latch on the freezer door, and while I think I’ve found a replacement freezer for far less than previous prices, going to be a while as I need to get some other things (pizza stone, latching-lid slow cookers, food processor and/or blender — in that order more or less). Oh, and a wire-rack shelf unit along with some more dutch ovens. The latter are not an immediate, but… Really hoping to cook a lunch again soon for the Church if funds allow. Want to do one hearty meal (corned beef and cabbage or Moroccan-style chicken) and one light (salad nicoise variant). Hits last month prevented doing much beyond bread as I hit effectively zero funds about three weeks ago. Really looking forward to getting my stipend this week. Onwards!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Still Here

It’s been a week. Have not felt good, which may or may not be tied to switching out a medicine. The new med was working on the odd edema (which is not a sign of congestive heart issues per tests), but is sort of in a holding pattern right now IMO. Only issue is that the edema is having a small but negative effect on mobility. Grrr.

Yesterday, I visited a new dentist since it’s been a year or more since my last visit to such. My former dentist was always about the upsell: this test while you are here ($25/$50), this extra treatment ($25/$50), you need this ($5k), you need that (again $5k), you absolutely must do X (again $$$), etc. Dentist I visited yesterday was aghast at a couple of the things, basically ‘you don’t need that and they wanted to charge you how much???’ as we discussed things. She and her staff did a good job, and she talked WITH me and treated me as a patient who needs to be involved in treatments and planning, and not a mark. Even had some great suggestions on what I need to do in a year for Medicaid (I’m currently on Medicane: here’s a cane, good luck). If some work she wants to do next week goes well, thinking she will become my new dentist.

Despite all, managed to get in a mile or three of walking. I also helped with some of the preparations for something very special as part of the Talbot Street Art Fair. If you are a long-time Indy resident, be advised Brother Juniper’s will be open for a limited time SATURDAY ONLY. This only happens once a year for the fair, and I may have spent an hour or two yesterday helping with some of the preparations for that.

Trying to get my regular Friday baking done today, but it is off to an odd start. Left out half the water from the bread at first, now trying to recover. Should be doable, but not an auspicious start to the day especially since I am very much feeling yesterday. That said, plan to push on. I haven’t needed my walking stick since my Baptism and hope that continues. Looking forward to getting the rest of the testing done in early July, and having data even if it only leads to better questions. Nice to be dealing with proactive medical types, cardio and dental.

So, dragging but still here and still moving. Heck, might even be able to manage a kick or two. More soon I hope!

UPDATE: Was not able to salvage the bread from the brain fart. Even if I had a commercial mixer, don’t think I could have salvaged it. Doing everything by hand (Church bread is a labor of love)… Months without a real issue on baking, so can’t kick too much, but still not happy.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Holding Pattern

Sorry, dragging a bit and hoping to avoid getting what the landlord had last week. Lots of good comments on the underground post, thought experiment to continue soon. Short version is there are at least two good ways to go, neither of which I can afford but may be options for others. Right now, I would be happy with about anything, but at least want a basement.

Having some apparent network issues as well, which is not making it easy to do anything right now. Taking that as a hint and hoping to rest and get back to what passes for normal tomorrow. More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Some Thoughts On Building Underground

If this seems a bit disjointed, blame it on this being baking day. I’m working on this between all the do-and-waits on the bread. Which means I write a bit, dash back upstairs to do-whatever to the dough, then come back and try to pick up my train of thought.

I’ve mentioned a time or two my desire to build a home underground wherever I end up. That desire remains, though I have worked it down to two basic concepts that might be within reach of my finances, particularly if I win the lottery.

Now, one option that I’ve had to toss as it truly is not possible absent a massive influx of cash is to find an old missile silo and turn it into a home. I actually know where one is out in Arizona, though it is not currently for sale. Given circumstances, and it being well buried at this point, I would not only refurbish and re-do the silo and control center, I would build a somewhat underground house above it, and a humble abode on the surface to mask what lies beneath. That’s a post in and of itself one day, but it would ride out most disasters quite nicely.

Which leaves the other two options. One is building into an existing mine. The second is to build a structure out of shipping containers and bury it.

Now the first has a lot of potential, if you can find the right type of mine. Most of the mines I found out in Arizona were not what you see in Hollywierd. Rather, they are excavations that meander and work around some of the hard rock and are quite organic if you will. There are few straight lines and large chambers unless nature made them. You can build into them, but they will require a lot of work and you will need to build structures within them to be weather (and critter) tight.

Now, out in the Texas panhandle and elsewhere, you have mines that are more typical of Hollyweird: straight shafts in, square(ish) chambers, tunnels on multiple levels, etc. You still would need to put walls and/or structures in place for many of them, but not all of them. There was a B&B-type place I saw an ad for out in the Texas panhandle where they mostly utilized the existing walls and structures, adding glass and walls as needed to make it weather and critter tight.

I will note that caves are an option and I’ve seen more than one turned into beautiful homes. For me, however, the price of the land is a non-starter. That said, if you have the means it is something to consider though the natural ventilation of caves will be an issue to be considered for certain disasters.

Right now, what I’m looking at — being a remote possibility — is to buy some land, excavate, and go in with modified shipping containers. I did have some more elaborate plans, but have downsized those via eliminating all but minimum needs. In fact, the only two things where I want to get semi-extravagant are with the kitchen and the library. More on that in a bit.

I’m playing with some ideas, but the structure would consist of a kitchen/great room/access to a guest room; a library; a chapel; storage; and a master bed and bath. Now, if you need it you can add more bedrooms, and if worried about housing in an emergency I’ve got some ideas on double containers as bunkroom and bath. For me, as things stand now, I’m looking at the minimum and adding to it if and as needed.

Note: when doing containers like this, plan on adding arched roofs. This improves structural strength, water drainage, and more. Doesn’t need to be a huge arch, but it needs to be there and not a flat roof. There also needs to be extra preparations for drainage as well as utilities, but that may be a post of it’s own.

My basic thought is to have a single container going in, with a quarter or half container entering into it about three quarters of the way down. That entry leads into the great room/kitchen/etc. set-up.

While it is not the best way to do things on some levels, I would like to have the kitchen with some energy-efficient disaster-resistant windows (not huge) looking outside. Part of that is knowing that from a psychological standpoint having such access is a good thing. Part goes back to childhood and the window in our kitchen as well as the windows in the kitchen of an aunt’s house where that side of the family often gathered. I should note that both sides of the family have always tended to gather in the kitchen rather than anywhere else.

The kitchen I want to do right. As in Viking double range if insurance won’t let me do commercial; extra oven or baking set-up; two refrigerators; meat aging and brining refrigerator set-up; large freezer (or two); commercial sink arrangement; lots of counter space. If I thought I could get away with it, wood-burning pizza/baking oven. No saintly moderation in setting this up I’m afraid.

The great-room would be a place to relax, entertain, and should include a fireplace or wood stove. A bathroom and guest room/bath should be just off it.

The chapel could be two half- or quarter-containers, and you should be able to get there from the master bedroom and the kitchen/great room area.

The master bedroom is not intended to be huge, but more functional. In some ways thinking more European on the bathroom (tile, etc.) and if needed you could use a quarter-container as a walk-in closet.

Now, the library is where I would like to go hog wild. Here are a few modest examples that I think have the potential to become a real library, even if only in the home:

I may sketch a few things out soon, but maybe tomorrow I will get into some of the prep and what I think would need to be done for a good underground house. This is a start, and while the photos above are a bit modest, they do have the potential to become a good home library.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Starship 4th Test Flight

Wow. What a flight! David Strom hits things on the head here, and I very much agree with his close: Elon Musk is a figure out of Heinlein. Love him or loathe him, he is making indelible changes on the world. From my viewpoint, most of those are good. Especially when it comes to getting us off this mudball.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to know and spend time with some interesting people, and to have done work for NASA twice. Today showed me several things I’ve been told were impossible, but I just watched them play out in realtime.

More years ago than I care to think about, Jerry and Roberta Pournelle took a callow young science writer under their wings. This led not only to interesting dinners but inclusion on several discussions of science and technology, often centering on spaceflight and heading out from Earth. Some discussions of such may have been a bit spirited, but it is interesting how they often led to investigation, experimentation, and change.

While my memory is not what I would like, I do seem to remember that Jerry was somewhat strongly of the opinion that landing rockets upright/vertical a la Golden Age science fiction was impossible. I’ve been watching SpaceX stick vertical landings on droneships for a while now and smiling. To be honest, think Jerry would be delighted at being wrong and seeing what is going on.

I’ve heard similar, but not nearly as spirited (and innovative) discussions at NASA at time or two. Then again, far too many there were wedded to the long, slow, expensive process at NASA. NASA is not only risk averse, but anything that smacked even slightly of failure was something never to be done again. NASA did not fail, it only succeeded — at great cost, lots of time, and one-off hardware. What Elon and SpaceX are doing is the best way to do real development: speculate, build, test, refine, test, refine, test, and then move out. Doing that is almost guaranteed to cut your development timeline by two thirds if not more.

Now, let’s look at all the pretty pictures, and even more importantly the massive amounts of data, that we got during reentry. Let me repeat that: DURING REENTRY. Another thing I was told at various times was impossible, beyond technical capabilities, etc. Never happen. Heh. Right. All made possible via Starlink and innovative thinking. If you think Elon’s companies aren’t meant to work together… I have suspicions about The Boring Company, which is anything but boring…

Now, when it comes to burnthrough the conventional wisdom was that pretty much any burnthrough was a catastrophic event. Even a pinprick spelled doom for a craft, and the idea that any external component or system that experienced such could function afterwards was nonsense! Nonsense I tell you Sir! Cough. Guess what I watched today? Heck, they invited some burnthrough by deliberately leaving off some tiles and putting sensors and such there because that data was needed. Not in a critical area, but still…

When the flap began to burn through, I kept expecting to see the rocket tumble and fail. Instead, I saw — even with the damage to the camera — the flap move and operate, and the ship continue to maneuver and function. That was amazing, and again I had been told impossible. I’m beginning to think Elon’s breakfast consists of multiple impossible things each morning.

Perfect mission? No, but an amazing success anyway. Right now, looks like they hit all the major goals, including getting massive amounts of data so they can improve and try again. In fact, a surface reading indicates that nothing that did go wrong requires the FAA to investigate and delay work on the next TEST flight according to the paperwork. That said, the Biden Regency hates Musk and has been trying to throw wrenches into the gears as they can, so I really do expect them to try to find a way to do so now. The offset to that is that the military and the Intelligence Community are now both having to back Elon given their dependence on SpaceX for reliable and cost-effective launches. That may reduce the interference. We can but hope.

As I’ve said before: Earth is the cradle of humanity, but crib death is still a thing and we need to be out on as many worlds — large and small — as we can as fast as we can. Even if not for survival per se, it is also a good idea for political survival. See Kotani and Robert’s Island World/Act of God series for the latter.

Right now, Elon and SpaceX are our best shot at getting that underway. We need them, so keep them in your prayers as there are a lot of people who want them to fail. Heck, need them to fail.

As far as living and working in space full time, think we still have some research to do. Some recent investigations into blood and other issues long-term for those in space raises some concerns. I’ve talked before about the issues with reproduction in space.

Which reminds me, the Chinese investigations underway with fish are a thing to watch. This could provide lots of good data not only on how they do in microgravity. This ties into issues of food in space and reproduction in space, and may be a good step towards ensuring safety on both fronts. I suspect that some gravity is going to be needed, but how much is the question. One that can be easily and fairly quickly answered at need.

That, however, is for the future. Right now, today’s test flight was amazing. Not only visually, but operationally and from the standpoint of gathering data.

Keep doing the impossible Elon and SpaceX! We need this more than most may realize.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

D-Day

Blackfive is gone, so the posts I did then are as well. However, here is a bit I published on X today.

Had the honor of covering D-Day anniversary a few years ago, and really wish I could be there again today. Met some amazing men and women, who are rapidly leaving this world. Their stories are amazing, to be polite.

Walked with a man, who had landed on Utah that day, as he took his walker cross country at PDH because the path would have been three times as long. He looked around, shook his head, and said “…I thought we had it bad…”

He also shooed off his daughter so he could tell me some of the tales of things he had done in England before that day. 🙂

I met a Brit who had to play dead twice as he went inland. Like pretty much all I met, he was convinced others were the heroes and he was just a bloke who survived.

Or the lady who had been Resistance, who was captured, tortured, escaped, and lived. Her captors and torturers, well, not so much. That sweet grandmotherly type making you the sweets was a true badass back in the day, and I wouldn’t want to cross her today.

Loved watching an old soldier blush as a 30-something French young lady came up, hugged him, kissed him (well) and said “Thank you for my freedom.” He blushed, but he straightend up as he had in youth, and don’t think the smile left him the rest of that day.

So many songs to sing of that day, and they are leaving us fast. Remember them, honor them, this day and forevermore.

An Aside: Back when I was younger, on my first visit to Normandy, I spent some time at Omaha and decided to try going up from the beach to the top of one of the bluffs where such efforts were allowed (at least at the time). I have at various times then and since paced off the emplacements, studied the lines of fire, and am amazed that any survived.

Few people truly realize today that on the eastern part of Omaha, the German machine guns and other delights were literally only a few yards from the normal tide line — and those positions held until well into the afternoon. In fact, one German gunner who finally did pull out, hid his machine gun in the woods between there and the nearest village. Never did say where as he refused to give it to the French and the French would not allow it to be given to the Americans. Stubborn bunch.

The fighting was intense and often at incredibly short ranges. The bluffs may not have been cliffs like PDH, but they were not an easy climb. That Omaha was taken amazes me to this day, and it was done so through more blood and sacrifice than can be imagined. The troops coming in on all the beaches had to cover hundreds of yards in places before hitting the true shore, as they had waited on a historic low tide to help deal with all the obstacles.

Omaha, bloody Omaha. There are no words for thee.

Remember them this day. In the words of Laurence Binyon:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.”

By Bread Alone

Been a little tied up, but more “serious” posting is to come. Right now, thought I should share a bit about some of the baking I’ve been doing. Pretty sure I’ve talked about this a bit before, but am really enjoying the baking. Friday’s have become my baking day, which also means it is laundry, cleaning, etc. day given that doing all the preparatory mixing, stretching, folding, spindling, mutilating, and such ends up taking about eight hours since I do everything by hand right now.

This morning, I tried my hand at making sourdough English muffins. Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.

Ended up eating a good bit more than normal, but boy howdy was it good. I also do sourdough pancakes, biscuits, and am hoping to try some other new things here soon. Not only tasty, but none of the additive junk that is in pretty much all commercial baking these days. Also, less salt, sugar, etc. as I rarely use any sweetener and when I do tend towards maple syrup or honey.

I am very much a novice and just getting started. A lot of what I do are experiments as I try recipes and production methods to see if and how they work. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, and give huge thanks to my friend Snarksalot for her guidance, suggestions, and encouragement. Between her and Lauren Gruel, I was enticed into culturing a starter from scratch and it’s gone from there.

Right now, I have two starters working. The first is Audrey, and yes she is named for the Little Shop of Horrors as while culturing her I could have sworn I heard a little girl voice going “Feed Me!” Rachel started as a clone of Audrey but it is interesting how each now behaves and tastes differently. Teasing both of them of sleeping on the job as the discard jar has been going gangbusters and I’ve even used it for some of the bread. Which is something to point out: your discard jar from feeding the cultures makes excellent pancakes, biscuits, English muffins, pizza crusts, etc. My goal is to eliminate pretty much all store-bought commercial bread and related from my life.

So, to share, I thought I would give a couple of basic recipes with you. The bread has become my basic for specialty loaves, with the only thing changing is either adding items like chilis, cheese, olives, etc.; or, changing out some of the AP flour for rye or other specialty flours at need. This recipe came from Lauren, and works well overall:

950g AP flour

650g warm (distilled) water (note below)

200g active starter (I tend to use a bit more, in fact up to 20g more)

20g salt (I use a mix of half smoked salt and half PHSS most of the time, otherwise sea salt)

Mix flour and water and let it rest for 30 minutes. Then, add starter and salt, and combine for five minutes. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Then do three sets of stretch and folds 15 minutes apart, then do three sets of stretch and folds 30 minutes apart. After the last, cover and put in a warm place (our oven has a bread proofing setting) until it doubles. The recipe says 1.5 hours, I find 3 works better for me in our temperature/humidity/etc. conditions. Lay dough out and cut in half, work both halves into balls and then let rest on the counter for 20 minutes. Then use a bench scraper, keep rounding the balls and building tension. Place into banneton baskets sticky side up, cover, and put into the refrigerator overnight. Next morning, preheat oven with dutch ovens in them (empty) to 500 degrees. Flip dough out of the baskets and onto parchment paper. Place a bit of flour on the ball, score, decorate as you like, then put into the dutch ovens and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. At that point, take the lids off and bake for 15 minutes at 475 (if you remember to drop the temp, sigh, stupid lightning) or until you get the color on the crust you desire. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack for two hours (or longer).

Now, a few notes. Above you can see one of the enameled dutch ovens (blue) I use for baking (and general cooking too). I have two of them and want more. They do come in handy for so many things, and am also wanting to add just a plain cast iron dutch oven to the mix for camping and other delights. One where the lid is designed to have coals up on it.

I use distilled water for almost everything these days, especially the baking. City water has lots of chemicals, some of which don’t play nice with sourdough yeast (or other living things); and, well water around here tends to be a semi-fluid state of limestone. I may miss a few minerals here or there, but what I don’t get makes distilled well worth using (pun intended).

The amount of salt is low, and you really can’t take it too much lower and have edible bread. As it is, with the two loaves, it is well within most dietary guidelines including most cardio guidelines. I use a mix of smoked and PHSS most of the time, as it adds flavor and complexity. When making specialty breads (olive, chili-cheese, etc.) I may vary the ratio and will also use salts smoked with different woods. It is fun to play with it, so have fun!

Yes, I do use the rattan baskets, and want to get a stone for the oven so I can do loaves here soon as well as the rounds. Really want to do a marbled bread here soon, especially if I do more homemade pastrami.

Today’s English muffins were an experiment, and combines a couple of recipes.

100g starter (I went between 120g and 130g since using discard)

20g maple syrup

240g distilled water

360g AP flour

5g sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand until combined. Cover with a thin (tea) towel and let rest for one hour. Dump the bowl onto a floured board and knead for five minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let sit out on a counter or other secure location (darn cats) overnight. Next morning, turn out onto floured board and press out to .5′ to .75′ thick. Dust with flour as needed to eliminate sticky parts. Cut into rounds with 3″ cutter or pint glass (what I used today), and put into cast iron or non-stick pan that has been heating on low, cover, and cook four minutes a side. If being precise, use an instant read thermometer to get 200F in the center.

Now, I used water instead of milk as I want to be able to eat these on fasting days, and it avoids other dietary issues. I did put a little oil/grease on the bottom of the pan, but did not need to do so. Leave some space between the rounds as they are going to expand — which is why I prefer the .5″ thickness to the 1″ thickness that one recipe recommended. Find what works for you, but the thicker you go the more likely you may have to finish them in the oven to ensure they are cooked all the way through. Oh, and the maple syrup I used came from a monastery in Michigan, and is delicious. Again, about half and half smoked salt and PHSS.

If I get the chance, I will try to add some links to some videos I’ve found helpful as I explore.

If ya’ll are interested, I will post more recipes like this with notes here soon. If I can get someone to help me with the video, might even do a video or two. Let me know in comments if interested.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Fair Question

While I have posted about the cardiology consult, I haven’t posted a “real” update (though this is a bit of a tease of one) and gone into why I haven’t moved yet, etc. for a while now. By real, I mean a full system update, which should also answer some of the questions about moving, etc.

Let me start by repeating yet again, take lightning safety seriously! Keep in mind that the most common type of strike is indirect (hits tree or such, some or all comes over and gets you), while the most spectacular are direct hits. Not everyone gets the fancy burns, at least on the outside (inside may be a different matter) and the most common symptoms are the same as with a concussion. Know that, as your average ER doc likely does not.

Short version is that I was sitting on the porch, and lightning hit a tree just off the porch (no, no lightning within a mile before the strike). Part came over and got me, part got my car and fried the radio. Best guess is it hit just behind my right ear, though it is possible it could have hit in the ear (take that Chekov!) It then went down through my body spreading joy as it went, before exiting the ball of my right foot. The shoe got the fancy burns on its sole, no external burns on me. I’m very glad that it hit on the right and that the metal chair I was sitting in had arms. For the first, it means that it did not pass directly through the heart (likely fatal) but hit it a glancing blow. On the second, I locked up but did NOT fall over, which again might have been fatal since it would have changed the path to ground. I do regard both of these things as (not so) small miracles.

I had thought I retained consciousness throughout, but some doubts about that have come up. I remember my world going white, having my Buckley moment, my brain feeling like it was vibrating at a very high frequency, having things go black, some random thoughts as things went black, and being very relieved that when I could see again, was still on the porch, and alive. I had honestly wondered at one point during the black period if when the lights came back on (and I literally thought the power had gone out to the house) if I would see heaven, hell, or something else.

Let’s start at the top as it were (my sense of pun may be worse than ever). I lost pretty much all the higher frequency hearing in my right ear, and those nerves are dead, dead, dead. I qualify for a hearing aid in that ear, but with the nerves dead I just don’t see the point in getting one. My tinnitus is much worse, especially in the right ear. Which means not only do I have a hard time hearing (small children and voices in certain ranges are very hard to hear/understand), but I used to be very good at pinpointing the locations of a sound. Now, I’m about 90 degrees off on my original location though I am slowly getting a bit better.

Long term memory: they think most or all of the memories are still there, but the root directory is corrupted as it were, and the brain doesn’t know where/how to find them. I occasionally get a memory cascade, and have some things I do (including thanking whoever sparked it even if they don’t have a clue what they did) to try to set that connection.

Short term memory: Better than it was, but not all that good. I still live by lists, notes, and routines. Things that throw me off routine can make me a bit irritable as it generally means things don’t get done. That may be steps in a recipe or baking, or it can mean a major task doesn’t get done. The latter is very unwelcome and unappreciated, though it may be I need to learn more patience with others and myself.

Not Sure How To Describe It Memory: I do have trouble learning new things, and I blank on names and more all the time. Prayers I’ve said or things I’ve done literally hundreds (or even thousands) of time go blip and I can’t remember them/do them. Discovered recently that I had trouble with sheet music, which I used to be able to follow with ease. The guitar you all helped me get is an experiment, one I want to really dive into here soon. For the record, what little I have done has been fun and hasn’t tortured the landlord or the cats too badly. I will blank on what i am doing, what I am to do next, did I take my pills, etc. on a more regular basis than I would like. I would love to volunteer at the Church bookstore, but I don’t know how well that would go in terms of how you log things and ring people up. Again, there appear to be issues with how long it takes me to learn and how (if) I learn new things. Baking bread this week may have been the first time I actually followed all the steps in the recipe I’ve been using a few months now, and that’s because I used notes and lists to help. Oh, and the odd words/word choices, typos, and such here? Blame the brain blips as that’s one of the signs of such.

No, I do NOT need assisted living. A keeper might not be a bad idea, and if anyone knows a sweet young lady with poor eyesight and even worse judgement, let me know. Marriage required. However, my plans to move to the desert and become a bit of a hermit are being re-evaluated. Seems I need to be around people more than I might like. Seems I may need people to check up on me a bit, which is not a concept I particularly care for in some respects. For the record, I’m an introvert who can and does fake “normal” (badly I suspect) for short periods of time. My initial move plan would have given me that time via the job talking history to tourists. Right now, I get it via Church. Not thrilled with the idea of needing to be checked on, though right now if anything happened to me here I figure the cats will eat well for a week before the landlord notices and checks.

Cardiology issues are now getting a review and hopefully a lot more data and new or improved treatment. One issue that is bugging me is that the non-surgical/harvesting leg has developed rather bad edema, which affects how much I can walk and exercise. Trying something this weekend to see if it helps and maybe removes 3-5 pounds of fluid. May take a while, but at least the cardiology is getting handled and I’m more optimistic than I’ve been since I got hit.

There are some digestive issues and I have to be a bit more careful about what I eat, how much, and when. Not too bad, but yet one more reason I like routines.

I have had some balance and mobility issues, some of which have improved after my recent Baptism. The ball of my right foot still does a bit funny on occasion, both internally and in terms of the callus and how fast it can build up. My vision is still not great, but not apparently worse either.

The new shoulders are doing well, though I do miss not being able to get my hands back behind me. Makes it hard to tuck in, can’t go to parade rest, or do a few other things. Finding work-arounds for some, and continuing to stretch and do PT as I can. So much better than the almost 100% bone on bone before. Can’t blame the shoulders on the lightning, but they not only needed replacement, I probably waited a few years too long, which is why I had to get the reverse replacement.

There are a few other things, but this hits the high points.

So, I haven’t moved because I needed surgeries, PT, and we really don’t have all the issues dealt with. While my primary focus has been on the cardio issues, there is more than enough to go around and I have a good GP, ENT, and really like the new cardiologist. I also need to find comparable insurance where I move, and that’s going to be interesting. Right now, have decent insurance at a decent rate, and what I’m finding when I look is less coverage at a higher rate. Huge factor for me. Again, primary reason I haven’t already moved are the medical issues that keep/kept cropping up (not quite a cascade, but…) and insurance. It really did (and does) feel like every time I start to move something comes up to block me. May be a hint in there. Cough. I’m getting better at noticing those hints…

With my income limited to what it is via early retirement, insurance, rent/mortgage, and cost-of-living all have to be factored in. I would like to get a place of my own here if I could, but I’ve got a great deal price-wise where I am that makes it worth staying here for now. That may change, so looking at options.

So, for someone hit by lightning, I’m actually doing pretty good. Working on better and thankful that it is not (much, much) worse. It easily could have been/could be.

The cardio issues are the latest in a series of issues that have come up since the strike and the open-heart surgery. Seems like every time we got one thing dealt with, something else came up. Again, I suspect there is a reason for that. Not only was I in a good place and situation for getting those dealt with, I had the right coverage and right circumstances to do so. Also, several of the things led me to my new Church home, which has resulted in a number of other changes to my life. Good changes, and I like this new path more than I can say. Since dealing with the cardio and possibly related issues could take up to a year, this gives me much more time at that home and will put me on a much better footing if I do get to move out West, or if I stay here.

It has also caused me to re-evaluate plans and locations. Going to need to be nearer to people and good medical than originally thought. Can’t be three hours away from the right medical, need to be closer to an hour or so from one and with good emergency care within 20 or so minutes. May can stretch that a bit, but not a whole lot. So, recalculating.

If things go in such a way I can’t move from here, am going to be looking at options in this area. May be looking at such even on a temporary basis even if it looks like I can move in a year or so.

May go into some housing ideas on another post. Saw something done in the Texas panhandle where they used an old mine and came up with something that could have been in Architectural Digest. Bit more than I want, but have to admit it was fantastic. Been looking at using shipping containers to go underground and have a few ideas. Again, may do a post on some of the ideas I do wish I could pull off.

So, that’s what happened, what’s going on, and why I haven’t moved yet. As I said, I’m doing extremely well for someone hit by lightning and can’t complain. For all I wish I were out West, there are reasons I’m not and I’m glad for all that has come to me here. More soon.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.