Friday, May 22, 2009

Using Water to Start A Fire. Carbide Lamps

Winter 1970

Tinkle on the Fire, Using Carbide Lamps to start a fire.

We were lost in the Woods and poured all of our water on the fire, but it didn't start, then we had to tinkle on the fire to get it started.

It was a super cold night but we were going coon hunting anyway. This was my first time going coon hunting and using coon dogs. I have never done this before, but I had friends that were experts in coon hunting and trapping of other animals. These survival skills will stay with me the rest of my life. I was just sixteen years old, and just like then, I still have a craving for adventure.

I can't remember everyone on the hunt, but I think it was Donnie, Danny, Larry, another guy and myself. The sun just went down and we took our .22 caliber rifles out for the hunt along with two black and tan coon dogs and Joker, a German Sheppard.

It wasn't very long before the coon dogs started wailing and barking at a coon that they had treed. Of course it was a dark night, there was no moon and the sky was extremely clear. The temperatures were at the minus fifteen degree point, but as kids, we were indestructible. In order to see we needed to use some kind of flashlight and the regular battery powered lights didn't last long at these low temperatures, they didn't really put out the amount of light that we wanted and they just weren't as bright as the carbide lights that we did use.

The carbide used a dark gray granule that was about a quarter inch in size. The light consisted of a reflector a water chamber and a carbide chamber. I now understand that it was actually called calcium carbide. CaC2. We light the lamps and it put out a small but very bright flame as the wet carbide provided an acetylene gas that produced the flame. The carbide lamps not only provided a brighter flame at a lower cost than a flashlight, it gave a wider, less focused beam that lit a much wider area making our peripheral vision much better too.

We finally came up to the tree where the coon dogs had the coon treed. With the carbide lamps we could easily see the coon looking at us. I didn't have my rifle with me because I was there to learn and not hunt myself. It was just another fantastic adventure into the extremes. My friend shot the coon with the .22 long rifle shell and we had no doubt that it hit. The coon was still alive and sitting in the tree and I said to shoot him again, but my friend said to hold on, he didn't want to ruin the pelt and that I will soon see what happened.

The coon was hurt and as we waited we could see that he was getting weaker and weaker and started to get dizzy. Finally the coon fell out of the tree, maybe a total distance of twenty feet. As soon as he hit the ground, the coon dogs were on him. I could hear the sound of bones breaking as they locked jaws and bite each other as hard as they could. The fight lasted for a long time and only consisted of a hard jaw lock for the whole time. Time and time again, it sounded like bones breaking. Finally the coon was too weak to hold up and he died. I never really like to see any animal die, even though we were avid squirrel and rabbit hunters. This poor guy wore a mask, but he too had a life and a family.

We picked up the coon and then went on and continued our hunt. Suddenly Joker, the German Sheppard had a coon treed. Again the story was the same, we shot the coon and waited until he fell. But with the German Sheppard, the whole fight story was totally different. Joker just grabbed the coon by the neck and gave him a real hard shake, breaking his neck, and the fight was over, so that was it. There was no extended fight or suffering for the coon. It was over in a manner of seconds. So we picked up that coon to and went off into the woods following the trail of the dogs howling as they treed coon after coon.

We were way out in the country in Western Illinois and we weren't paying attention to where we were going. The temperature continued to fall and we decided to head back out to the house. As we walked, we never came onto the road or even the creek, it was just patches of farmland and woods. I looked into the sky and it was the first time that I have ever seen the Northern Lights. They were very bright and absolutely beautiful. They hung just like a curtain and had the same types of folds that a curtain had. Their size was immense and they were beautiful blue, purple with hints of red throughout. They seemed to have no movement as the pictures of the Aurora that are commonly seen on TV. But their size was beyond anything that I could comprehend. Again, it was absolutely beautiful and one of the greatest sights that I have ever seen, even to this day.

We continued to walk through fields and patches of woods but were totally unable to find our way. What we didn't know that as we were following the dogs from coon to coon, instead of being in the woods south of the house, somehow we walked all the way to the north of the house and this is why we were totally lost. It was very late, very cold and we were very tired. We had to take a rest, our feet were near freezing and so were we and if we stopped, it could have very well led to the disaster of frost bite or even worse.

We had to start a fire. If you have ever tried to start a fire at very cold temperatures, you will soon find out that even totally dry tinder is difficult to start. Even the matches didn't light very well at these temperatures. So we dug through the snow and pulled the driest leaves out of the bottom that we could find. We gathered small sticks, medium sized sticks and larger sticks so as the fire increased in size, we would incrementally be able to sustain it's growth. Everything was frozen wet. The leaves were still saturated and frozen, so we had to overcome this barrier and dry the leaves before we could get anything going. We never applied the skills of making a whittle stick as I learned in the Boy Scouts so we just worked on lighting the small grasses, twigs and leaves.

But what were going to use to start the fire. A match only lasted fifteen or so seconds and that was it, far too short to get a fire going. So we thought of a great idea, we had a can of carbide with us. So we made a pile of carbide and pour our remaining water on it so it would give out the acetylene gas where we could ignite the twigs and leaves and get our fire started.

We kept working on getting this fire started and were almost there since the leaves just started to dry out and had little bits of smoldering tinder going, but that wasn't enough. We finally poured the last of our water on the fire and it still wouldn't light. This sounds totally crazy, but that is the way we did it and it was the truth. We still didn't have the fire going and we were really, really cold and in a danger and emergency situation. Where were we going to get some water, was our next question. Well, with all of the water that I drank all night, I had to go to the restroom so all of us took turns tinkling on the fire. One bladder at a time we worked on supplying the carbide with its water source and continued to dry out our leaves and tinder. Finally, at the last drop, we had a fire going strong enough to dry other leaves and have a sustainable fire.

We just started to get warm and our hands and feet thawed out and the sun came up. Being too stupid to use the North Star as a reference earlier, we now knew that we were walking the wrong way the whole time and realized that we walked all the way around the house and were actually north of the house all of the time.

This is how a person can suddenly get into trouble, serious trouble, just a few hundred feet from safety and shelter. Many people die every year from hypothermia and other reasons just because of the lack of simple knowledge that is taught in every survival book or the Boy Scout Manual. If you just think about, just a simple thought can mean the difference between life or death. The Bible says, "He who shuns knowledge, is a fool."

Again, if we were smart enough to pay attention where we were at all times, we wouldn't have gotten lost. If we would have used our carbide lamps as a source of heat, we would have used the carbide much more efficiently and would not have to had used so much water or even tinkled on the fire. The lamp's flame would have worked just fine. But as most kids, they think they know everything and think that it can't happen to them and we were some of those kids.

Here's some information about Carbide Lamps. They are also known as acetylene gas lamps that have a valve to regulate the flow of water that create and burn acetylene (C2H2) which is created by the reaction of mixing calcium carbide CaC2 and Water, H2O. When the reaction is completed, the residue inside the lamp is caused caustic lime or Calcium Hydroxide. Calcium Hydroxide is toxic to animals and should not be dumped onto the ground where it can be consumed by animals. Over time the hydroxide will react with carbon dioxide in the air to form calcium carbonate, or limestone. The lamps first appeared in 1894 as bicycles and other uses and then were developed in the United states as mining lamps and patented in New York on August 28, 1900 by Frederick Baldwin.

When I was a kid, the calcium carbide was available at the hardware store in what appeared to be quarter pound containers that looked like miniature paint cans for a very low price. Today it is available from a company called Karst Sports for about $80 in a ten pound quantity. Their production description said that if they sell it in lower quantities that it would cost the same because the bulk of the cost is because of the HAZMAT Fees. The hazardous Material fees would cost the same for even smaller quantities. Here's another good link with real good information about the workings and chemical reactions of the Carbide Lamps.

Also, when I was a kid, in almost every comic book there were ads for the Carbide Canons. My friend in Chicago had one of these canons that really packed a punch and had a very loud bark similar to a high powered rifle.

Jeff's Adventure Timeline

Light your trail with a Carbide Lamp.
I am buying used Carbide Lamps and other mining tokens.
Buying Carbide Lamps on ebay
Books About Carbide Lamps
Carbide Lamp on Wikipedia
Survival Books, Videos and Supplies
Survival Books
Survival Equipment
More Survival Equipment
Survival DVD Videos

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The true story of my bird, Pete the Parakeet

My old bird, Pete the Parakeet, was a real eye opener.
We bought him a bird language training record which we played so much that it drove everyone in the house totally nuts. It said, "Hello Baaaaby," over and over along with other combination's of words but Pete never learned a single word from it. Yet Pete recognized everyone in the house and would call us by name as we walked into the house. He would say "Hello Jackie, Hello Jerry, Hello Jeffrey" as we walked into the door. He was never wrong. As a matter of fact, when we bought the bird, we bought a bird proof cage in which the bird was supposedly unable to open because you had to lift the entire door and then pull it out. It was only one day that Pete figured out which two bars that he had to squeeze together to pull the door up, then he would bang his body against the door to open it.

When we ate, Pete would sit on my shoulder and ask for attention. He would nibble on my ear. But if I didn't turn and talk to him, he would nibble on it a little harder. Still if I didn't acknowledge him, he would bit my ear, I would turn my head, he would then bite my nose and fly away mad.

Also at the table, Pete would walk on the table at breakfast. So everyone had to be on guard. He wanted to eat the eggs and get the yoke on his feet then lick them off. You had to protect your food with a fork and try to jab him with he fork to be able to eat the food yourself. As we still ate breakfast, he would sometimes fly down toward a cup of coffee, drop his landing gear, and dip them in the coffee as he flew on by. After landing, he would lick the coffee off of his feet. He was a real character.

Another game that he would play was to bug who ever was sitting in the toiled. The game was when we went to the toilet, we had to pretend that we were walking into the living room and then make a sudden jump toward the toilet and close the door before Pete could get in. If you were sitting on the pot, you were fair game. He knew that you couldn't do anything because you were stuck and he would torment you continuously like a ravaging fly. So we ended up with the game of jumping toward the toilet before he could get in and then you can do your duty in peace.

Pete loved the mirror, he would look at him self and say "Hi Pete" and some other phrases which I can't exactly remember.

But one day my brother went to the bathroom and Pete made it halfway into the toilet and half way out. He was smashed in the door. I was still in seventh grade so I was just a little kid. My brother felt so bad that he went and bought me another bird that looked almost like Pete. I don't actually remember this, but my brother said that the second that I came home from school, I looked at the cage, across the room, and yelled, "That's Not My Bird." I knew it right away. So the next day my brother took the new bird back and bought a flying squirrel. I remember that very well.

I asked my brother what happened to Pete and he said that he opened the door and Pete flew outside and would never came back. I walked around for several days with my mom's hand mirror and called for Pete but I could never find him. The squirrel was a real nice little guy and was always very afraid of everyone. But cleaning up after him was a total mess so I asked my brother to take him back to the pet shop.

After twenty years I was in and out of the Navy and my brother came to live with me. He told me the real story of how Pete only made it half the way into the restroom when the door was slammed. I realized that my brother never intended to hurt the little bird and it was just a dangerous game that we played and we never realized the dangers until it was too late.

That's the story of my bird Pete. He too could recognize people and he was a living, loving little being that every right to a happy, healthy life like any one of the rest of us.

C. Jeff Dyrek

Monday, May 18, 2009

Attacks Against America

Do you get tons of emails about problems in America?

Do they say that President Obama is no good for one reason or another?

Do they say that In God We Trust is taken off of the money?

Do they cut our countries leaders down?

Do you get offers from people who have millions of dollars to get away if you just let them put the money in your bank account?

Do they sell drugs that will make you more of a man and make your wife happier?

Do they say that they want to date you and you should either respond or call?

Do they say that your bank, credit card, or paypal accounts have a problem and you need to contact them immediately?

These are all attacks against every part of our country. I'm getting sick of hearing how President Obama is messing things up when he is actually the president who inherited a huge mess and is the first president in years who is trying to get our country back on a straight line. There may be some truth to these emails, but the emails are being twisted and twisted some more just to make our country break apart. I get these emails in chain letters that make false claims that are very carefully crafted to sound totally legitimate. If we keep sending these chain letters, we are part of the problem and we are making more problems for our president who is working very hard to get our country back on it's feet.

I'm sick of receiving of Viagra, Cialis Ads telling me how my life would be better if I took their product. They don't know if I'm ten years or a hundred, yet your kids emails are being filled with this stuff to take drugs and get a bigger erection. These ads are illegal under spamming laws, yet they get away with it because it's offshore companies selling you these products, and at the same time, the suppliers of products to these off shore companies are never penalized

The credit card, bank accounts and paypal would not send you emails to check with them immediately, "Click Here" to resolve the problem. These are emails that are trying to steal from you. They want your bank account numbers, credit card numbers and paypal numbers so that they can take everything that you have. Many of these emails are coming from Nigeria, but some from Russia and really every country in the world because they have found out how to steal everything that you have.

Constantly we receive emails that tell us things that we can do nothing about. We are getting blogs, just the ones that I used to write that are nothing but gossip that is professionally crafted to cause stress and distrust in our government. We are being taken down from within by the worlds most powerful communication source, the Internet.

Be Aware Because All of These Things Are Happening and we are being Attacked from Within.

This is my last blog on these subjects because I don't want to be part of the problem of attacking our country. When people send me blogs I'm going to delete them. There is nothing that you can do anyway and most of it is a lie too.

We seem to be living on lies and propagating these same lies and all it causes is stress.

We need to stop this NOW.

C. Jeff Dyrek